Last night we had a sleepover birthday party for my youngest daughter and seven of her friends. Now, those of you with tweens and those of you who work with them may be scratching your heads trying to figure out how a sleepover birthday party involving eight girls could ever be the subject of a blog posting about “Moments of Grace.” I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let me explain what I mean by “moments of grace.”
Grace is the free and undeserved gift of God’s love that is constantly and eternally poured out for each and every one of us. As Sister Kathleen Flanagan, S.C. so aptly puts it, “grace is a share in God’s divine life.” So when I talk about “moments of grace,” I’m not suggesting that there are times when God sends forth his grace upon us and times when he doesn't. I’m talking about the times when we recognize that a particular moment is an act of God’s grace; the times we plug into God’s ever-present grace, acknowledge it and appreciate it for the free gift that it is:
+ Seeing a beautiful sunset and knowing with every ounce of conviction that God made it just for you;
+ Choking up at the sound of your favorite hymn that God seems to send your way whenever you need it most;
+ Holding your newborn baby that you never knew you could love so much and realizing that God has entrusted you with the awesome gift of life.
These moments of grace are always out there for the taking; we just have to notice them and enjoy them.
In fact, just today I've experienced several moments of grace. When I took a hard fall early this morning, three parishioners rushed to my side to make sure I was OK, helped me up and carried my belongings into the rectory. Following Mass, another parishioner gave me a huge bear hug and told me that it was great to see me. Then, two dear friends thanked me and told me that they loved me after I had the great privilege of baptizing their newborn son. To top it off, I spent quality time talking and laughing with my daughters as I taught them how to make spaghetti with meat sauce. In each instance, I knew with all my heart that God’s love was in and around me, shaping these moments into precious gifts of grace.
So why so many moments of grace in one day? Well, as I said, grace is offered to us constantly; we just have to take the time to notice it. So the real question is why did I notice so many moments of grace in one day? Well, that’s because I had experienced an incredible, unexpected moment of grace the night before, which finally brings me to the sleepover birthday party.