MARCH 16 – BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED
THIS WEEK’S THEME: By grace you have been saved
DEVOTIONAL: What was I doing in one of San Salvador’s most dangerous, crime-ridden neighborhoods after sunset? Determined to use the public transportation system, I had passed by a line of taxis that could have quickly taken me back to my host family’s urban neighborhood after a day trip to a rural Salvadoran community. Instead, I took the bus I’d been told would take me to the city center — but I didn’t realize it was on its evening schedule. I also hadn’t asked the driver of the crowded bus about his route. But 45 minutes, countless stops and many tight turns later, I was one of only a handful of people left on that #7 bus. Now fully dark, no one was walking alone in that section of the city — including its residents — and it wasn’t advisable for me to try. But rather than feeling panic, I was filled with calm — even as I stuttered through my basic conversational Spanish to explain my predicament first to one bus driver and then another. When I finally arrived at my host family’s modest Colonia Miravalle home, my gratitude and relief was mirrored in the faces of my caring host family.
Whether we are lost in the world or caught up in our own internal mazes of frustration, challenge, misery or crisis, grace is always available to us if we are awake to its unexpectedness and power. Grace is “like a shift, it’s like a breath, it’s like a pause. … Grace against all odds can get in,” states writer Anne Lamott in an interview with Salon.com about her book Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. Furthermore, she says, “My experience is that grace is never in the direction you are looking for it and it never even vaguely resembles what you think decent grace might look like.”
Grace may not find us in the form that we envision. Such powerful Divine love is beyond our imagination — yet is capable of moving us through intellectual or emotional inner shifts, or by external forces, people or occurrences. And grace is never beyond our reach; we need only to be awake to the understanding that we are already living in the light of God’s loving grace. In the fourth week of this Lenten season, consider how you will open yourself to communion with your Creator in unexpected moments, sudden shifts, new directions.
Suggestion: Try praying with the palms of your hands open and turned upwards. Be open to what you might receive in this posture of invitation and openness.
Loving God, I am surrounded by your light in this world, no matter how difficult the journey or how much suffering I am exposed to. I invite the wonders of grace into my life — in the rituals of prayer and worship, and also in the possibilities inherent in each new moment. The doors of the spirit are open in me, to let out my fears and to welcome your love and peace as a constant presence in my blessed life.