Q. What is grace?

A. Grace is God’s favor toward us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.                                      

   — The Book of Common Prayer

Back when I was in seminary, I bought a couple of basic theology textbooks and lined them up together on my shelf. High on my shelf, actually

I got them because I was a little curious to know the words and phrases professional theologians use in trying to express the mystery that underlies our existence, the mystery I as an amateur theologian know mostly by the experience of longing for it, and for which I can hardly ever find good enough words. 

A little curious, but mostly I got these books hoping that when the time came for me to be tried by the fire of the General Ordination Exams, enough of their words and phrases would stick to carry me safely through the flames.

Seems I made it.

Anyway, I still have the books in my office at church, and I was looking through them this week to see what they had to say about grace. And do you know what? Not one of them had a listing for grace in the index, which I found astonishing, because it seems to me that in my own experience, grace is one of the most important things I know about that mystery.

So thank goodness for the Book of Common Prayer.

But here’s a partial definition of my own: Grace is the heart’s desire that pulls you toward the bend in the road, and tells you to go forward even though you have no idea what lies past the part you can see. Grace is the light that shines through the trees, and somehow makes you believe that this same light will still be shining farther along the way. Grace is the love that lets you know you’re not alone, and the beauty that makes every hard thing endurable just to have more of it.

Grace is the desire, the light, the love, and the beauty.

And this is today’s picture of grace.