The overcast sky descended upon me like rainfall. My intent to enjoy a hearty walk was not deterred. It has been a few days of poor weather and I was desperate to get out and exercise. As I strolled through the picturesque village of my dad’s neighborhood on Cape Cod, I came upon a hidden trail in the woods. I decided to take it. Despite the lack of people outside, the trail brought a sense of peace and solitude that I had been seeking in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. There is something quite special about walking amidst the trees with no one else around. When the rain finally began to fall, I smiled at my good fortune of having a canopy of branches to keep me dry. By the time I finished my walk, I found myself giving thanks to God for the many graces that I had received during my hour long excursion – peace, silence, natural beauty and time to contemplate the current crisis and pray for healing for all those affected by the virus.
Many of us struggle with the proper meaning of the word grace. I found a great definition in a Catholic resource, “Grace is a gift of love that invites us into relationship with God.” I really like this definition, especially in light of the recent chaos in our lives and in the world. To be honest, for me, the coronavirus is just one more thing to think about on a daily basis. Most of my readers know that I have had the challenge of managing chronic back pain for many years. Just last week I had a nerve ablation procedure that was both painful and uncertain.
In spite of the discomfort though, the day of the procedure was one filled with many graces. Due to the “no fly” order from my husband’s company, he was able to take me to the procedure. Once there, the nurse was incredibly empathetic and kind. She wrapped me in warm blankets while I waited to be taken into the procedure room. She also drove me around in a wheelchair claiming that my blood pressure was too low to walk. (Hint…it’s always that low.) Her smile and genuine thoughtfulness made the experience so much easier. Once in the procedure room, the doctor and nurses told jokes to lighten the mood. I am sure they were more nervous than normal due to the risks associated with the coronavirus, but they never showed it. Their generosity and positive attitudes helped me remain calm which in turn allowed me to focus my mind on others. During the most difficult part of the procedure, I kept visualizing the faces of people who have asked for my prayers. Alone, I was not able to pray or endure the pain. It was God’s grace – His free gift of love, which I had received that day through my husband’s presence and the medical professionals’ kindness, which allowed me to turn my pain into a prayer. I actually felt quite close to God that day, despite what one would think. I thank God for his goodness and many graces which I have been blessed to receive during my lifetime. I also give thanks for my beautiful mom who showed me how to recognize God’s grace in my daily life. She lived in gratitude (not fear) during good times and challenging times and taught me how to find balance amidst the storms of life.
So – in this time of challenge and uncertainty – I invite all of you to turn away from fear and notice the many graces which you receive each day – a kind word, a smile, a home cooked meal, an emptied dishwasher, an unexpected call, email or letter – anything which draws you closer to the God of love, is a grace worth being grateful for. Perhaps you could then offer a prayer for the person on the other end? Your relationship with God will deepen and flourish if you pay attention to the graces in your life every day.