Grace has been persistent. After being cooped up in the house for more than a week with a nasty virus, I dared to hop on my bike earlier this week, before the forest fire smoke filled the Calgary skies. As I biked along, loving being on the pathways, loving the movement of my body, aware that my lungs were not where I wanted them, there she was again; Grace.
I could not get the word out of my head. Sometimes when I can’t stop thinking about something, my solution is to decide to really think about it; that’s where I’ve found myself this week. Thinking about and looking for examples of Grace.
I always thought I wanted to grow old with Grace. In my younger years, what I really think I thought that meant was that I would somehow defy aging, thus being graceful in my continuous youth. Alas, as many of us have come to realize, try as we might to stop them, if we are very lucky, the years keep coming. I always hoped Grace would just come along for the ride. And yet so often I have found myself confronting some of the new limits in my life with Grace nowhere to be found.
Such has been the case over these past couple of weeks. Not feeling well, not being able to do my regular things, not being able to train for my upcoming events, found me not only feeling physically worn out, but I was downright fed up. Grace took herself to a less miserable home I’m sure. She certainly was not here.
Grace, like her meaning is not easy to pin down. When I looked for Grace in the dictionary she seemed to have two main meanings. One is the Christian definition which refers to receiving the favour of God for no apparent reason. When we say, ‘There but for the Grace of God, there go I’ we mean that we recognize that whatever misfortune has befallen another, could just as easily have happened to us. In other words, there is no logic for why we were spared other than we were the benefactor of Grace.
The non-religious definition refers to many things. Grace was defined as moving with effortless elegance, a charming or attractive trait, and the quality of being kind considerate and thoughtful. Oh my, I really missed the mark this past week. Not only was I not moving with effortless elegance, I could not have been described as charming; cranky perhaps, not charming.
When I really think about the idea of Grace being effortless elegance, I bristle a bit. There is something about the word effortless that rubs me the wrong way. When I think of a dancer, I think of Grace. Although such an artist may move about on a stage in a way that is incredibly beautiful and gives the illusion of a lack of effort, the truth is there is great effort needed to achieve this effect of Grace. If it was easy, we would all be on stage. Interestingly, this idea of great effort is where I find my peace with Grace. I know how to do big effort; I must be able to achieve Grace.
I recognize that Grace will not simply come along with me for my ride into the rest of my life. She will not be content to be my pretty sidekick. If I want to be blessed with Grace in my life I will have to work very hard to convince her to take up residence with me. The effort may equal any effort I have made in other life pursuits I found to be life-giving and rewarding.
I will have to treat this pursuit as I am treating my latest training program for biking. I need to practice, risk falling and accept that the journey will not be linear. It may not even be pretty at times. And for a person like me who likes to check things off lists, I may never ‘get there’.
As I biked along pondering these deep thoughts early one morning this week, I saw a runner approaching me in the distance. Jealous of him being able to run, I watched as he approached from afar, waiting to give my cheerful runners’ ‘Hi’. As I got closer to him, I could see that he was not a fast runner. Even closer, I noticed he held one arm very close to his body; it seemed to have no motion and it appeared to hang heavily. It dawned on me that he was lagging on one whole side of his body. I don’t know for sure, but I assume he had suffered a stroke. I don't know how old he was. Younger than me. As I approached him, I slowed slightly, raised my hand in the runners’ ‘Hi’ and smiled as I said a cheerful good morning. He had no words in response, but he flashed me a huge smile. Ah, Grace, there you are.
I’m on a search for Grace these days. I suspect she’s closer than I realize.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Where can you invite Grace into your life?’
PS: I’ve signed up to ride in the Ride to Conquer Cancer next weekend. It’s a 200km bike ride over two days. If you are able to sponsor me, please click here and you'll be redirected to my Profile Page for the race. Thanks!
Elizabeth is a life and leadership coach in Calgary, AB. She provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups and she creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you or your organization to figure out how to incorporate Grace into your team.