Today's blog post is written by guest blogger, Rev. Nayiri Karjian, General Minister, Living Water Association, Ohio NorthEast UCC. It was originally featured in Living Water's newsletter, Streams of Connection, on July 23, 2020.
When was the last time you recognized a moment of grace? Yes, I know. Grace is difficult to recognize in the midst of a chaotic, anxious COVID world when isolation and loss, uncertainty and instability, cries for justice continue to permeate our days. But then again, perhaps such times are the best times to be attentive and aware of the Grace that saturates our days.
Experts suggest that anxiety is an instinctive, innate response to dangers that threaten us. When the future seems uncertain, when we feel we have no control, when our world in upended with the unexpected, it is natural and reasonable to be anxious. Although I have never known life to be certain or controllable, I recognize that we somehow live with the conviction that if we plan the future it will be certain, and if we pretend that we are in charge, life would be controllable.
When was the last time you recognized Grace, even a moment of it? The food on your table, forgiveness you received or offered, a second chance you were given, digital connection with a loved one…
Grace is an unmerited, underserved gift. In a world where “deserving” permeates our thinking it is difficult to recognize grace for what it is. In a world where we are “self-made” it is difficult to acknowledge grace as it is. In a world where we forget that we are one human race it is difficult to remember that Grace is a gift to all.
This astounding gift of Grace, its recognition and acknowledgement can act as an antidote to the situational anxiety many are experiencing. (For clinical anxiety please seek medical help.)
Recognizing Grace is one of the most central, elegant and enriching of spiritual practices. We usually call its acknowledgement, Gratitude. The words, Grace and Gratitude share the same root. Grace is God’s action and Gratitude our response. In Armenian Thank you, shenorgahgal em literally means I am a recipient of your Grace.
That there is a source and spring of Grace we call God, who makes life possible and beautiful even in the midst of disaster, is an awareness that brings us perspective and focus. That we are the recipients of gifts we do not deserve or merit strips us of assumptions about our “self-made ness.” That we, each of us, are not the center of the universe, but part of a whole, interconnected and mutually dependent, expands our worldview and nudges us to embrace the one human family.
In a world so anxious, where our attention is focused on loss, disaster and grief we can benefit from shifting our attention to Grace and Gratitude, and developing an awareness of the Grace with which we are already blessed. It is easy to acknowledge Grace and be Grateful when life is smooth but we need to recognize Grace especially when life is rocky and not so cheery. For the more you recognize it the more of it you will have. The more you acknowledge it the more grateful you will be.
Let’s shift our attention from situational anxiety to Grace this week. Let’s receive the moments of Grace that come our way and nurture the seed of Gratitude in the garden of our hearts, so anxiety does not take root, flourish and take over our lives.
Be Gracious. Wear your face covering!