Readings on Grace

These are not required readings, feel free to skim and simply read the ones that catch your eye. They are meant to kickstart your thinking about the concept of grace and perhaps offer a fresh perspective on what it means to be a people of grace.

You can have the other words-chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it. Mary Oliver

Community is another source of grace. In community we are meant to grace one another; to be sources of grace; healers by way of grace. Matthew Fox

The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.  Ramakrishna

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry

“I first developed the idea of an event of grace when I was in graduate school in 1966 in …New York City. At that time, I became acquainted with a woman my age who had many problems.  She came from a [troubled] home and was almost homeless. However, she was a devout Roman Catholic, and in spite of all her problems she would sometimes say, “Grace happened to me today!” This phrase startled me…when I listened to what she was describing, I concluded she was describing an event…in which something good happened to her, beyond her control….An event of grace occurs when things come together in ways beyond our control and give rise to new relations of mutual support such as new truth, new beauty, and new caring in communities.
Events of grace, opening up new possibilities for good, occur all the time. However, they can be facilitated or hindered by the attitudes we take towards what is going on around us….Events of grace may become more prevelant in our lives if we listen … a kind of silent listening, listening mindfully in the present moment… We also have to be open to being led by the events that are happening.”
Karl E. Peters (UU) from Spiritual Transformations: Science, Religion, and Human Becoming.

“All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. The imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass.”
Simone Weil in Gravity and Grace

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us. It strikes us when year, after year, the longed for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsion reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness. If that happens to us, we experience grace. After such an experience, we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed.”
Paul Tillich

Grace is the kindling of the heart and the illuminating of the mind. John S. Dunne

The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.
Frederick Buechner

I’ve always been a little klutzy. I remember being in grade 7, and feeling very self-conscious about walking past a group of the “Bright and Beautiful” clique at school,only to trip over my own feet. I blushed, and one of the “Elite” remarked, “Hey, your nickname should be Grace.” How I’d wished I was ‘graceful’, able to move with ease and seeming effortlessness; every gesture a dance…
But there is a saving grace… theologically speaking, as Unitarian Universalists, we are Grace-ful. That is, we all affirm the ‘inherent worth and dignity of every person.’ That inherent worth, without cause and without merit, is ours by the very fact of our being.Worth and dignity is a free gift from our birth – a gift we do not need to work for or earn. It’s just ours. And when we understand this as “Grace,” we have the means of transportation to transformation.
Rev. Jessica Rodela, Grand River Unitarian

I understand …grace…as the force that infuses our lives and keeps letting us off the hook. It is unearned love – the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It’s the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there….
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
Anne Lamott from Travelling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Reinhold Niebuhr

I know nothing, except what everyone knows – if there when Grace dances, I should dance. W.H. Auden


This article from the UU World looks at how Grace can rescue us

A sermon on grace from a UU minister Rev. Thom Belote.


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