A couple of years ago I was on a long-haul flight. There was nothing unusual about it but it is highlighted in my memory because of a stewardess whose caring and cheerful attitude never changed even when faced with the most demanding of passengers. Her graciousness touched us all, resulting in a relaxed atmosphere.
I’m sure all of us can recount instances of being touched by such grace – a salesperson who made shopping a pleasurable experience; a colleague who smoothed out a difficult business situation; an employer who graciously corrected a mistake; a friend who refused to react to selfishness or anger.
What is this grace?
One dictionary defines it as “a virtue coming from God”. I believe it is evidence of God’s grace expressed by His creation. The attractive and charming traits of thoughtfulness, consideration and unselfish love that epitomize grace have their source in God’s love. It is the outward expression of an inner stillness and calm that refuses to react to negativity of any sort. It is a consciousness of harmony that is undisturbedby friction because it is grounded in the recognition of God’s ever-present goodness.
How can we acquire this grace?
I’ve found answers in this advice from a collection of writings by American theologian, Mary Baker Eddy:“ We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities; with an equanimity so settled that no passing breath nor accidental disturbance shall agitate or ruffle it; with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it, — determined not to be offended when no wrong is meant, nor even when it is, unless the offense be against God.”(Miscellaneous Writings 1893-1896)
Recently I learned a lesson in grace. Being at the receiving end of a rapid succession of very accusatory and unjust text messages from a colleague, my first reaction was the need to justify myself. That’s when grace came to my rescue. It stopped my fingers from hitting the reply button. I paused. A gentle thought reminded me that I had a choice – to respond with grace or worsen the situation. I re-read the messages and found one minor detail that I could correct. So I responded with an apology for the oversight and assured my colleague it would be corrected. I heard nothing more but I was at peace. During routine correspondence a couple of weeks later, my colleague sincerely apologized for the messages. Touched by grace, our relationship continues on a friendly footing.
Whatever our role in life – employer, employee, buyer, seller, designer, team member, family member or friend – we can strive to acquire more of this quality of grace. When faced with difficult situations we can pause – listen quietly for that inner voice – that brings the grace of God to the fore. Then not just ourselves, but all those around us will be touched by this grace.
The author is a practitioner of Christian Science healing and writes about health and spirituality.