It was a cold Thursday evening we were all sitting in our spots, carefully planned out with Stewartian precision, name tags marking our places, lest there be any confusion. All the best table settings were employed to lend a punctuation of sorts to the importance the meal held in the hearts of all in attendance. An embarrassment of riches set before us in the form of mains and sides and salads and company…and rolls. Grace was said, and the bounty was divided, enough for everyone and then some. Then the request was made, much to the consternation of all. “Could everyone please say one thing for which you are thankful?” What would we say? Is it safe, or sane to be this vulnerable, even given the spirit of the day? We sat uncomfortably plotting our next move while, outside, the winds howled, and the rain tried to beat its way in.
There were thank-yous for friends and family. Platitudes for employment and provision. A small one-legged Peruvian boy, almost to the point of tears, spoke with wide-eyed exuberance of his thankfulness for life itself, and rightfully so we realized, as he dazzled and amazed us with his tails of mayhem, and heroic conquests of hardship –both physical and moral. For what was I thankful, it had to good, after all the Peruvian kid was a hard act to follow.
I’ve family. I’ve friends. I am bi-pedal. I’ve all I need. I have all of these things, which is no insignificant miracle, given the fact that I’ve led a life that is remarkable in my propensity toward mistake making, if in nothing else. Which is not to say that the most remarkable things in my life are mistakes. By no means. The most remarkable thing in my life is that I could live such a blessed existence in spite of myself. Why? How is this fair? The short answer is it is not fair; there is nothing fair about it. I am in the process of learning that justice, while a great story arc in pulp fiction narrative, is a cumbersome wardrobe to don. It is the fairy tale rumination of the self-righteous. Over-dramatic? Perhaps. I am thankful that I serve a God of second-chances. None of the things for which I could be thankful would exist were it not for grace. Were it not for mercy. Grace and mercy trump justice and self-sufficiency every time.
My intent in writing these things is not to thumb my nose at those who lack this world view. I take no pleasure in flaunting grace like some spoiled kid who never gets his due. Grace and mercy is the bus on which I ride, its destination is redemption and I’m just saying that as I look around I see that there are some empty seats.