An Inch, and More, of Grace

We’re heading to Christmas and events are unfolding fast. These last two days have found me walking on the cold marsh with dog just about at first light, and there are a million tasks that I, like most everyone else, am trying to do. But a chance encounter at the local grocery yesterday provided a backdrop to think again about how we’re moving in this crowded and harried space together.

As I exited the store I came upon a woman with flailing arms. She was walking around my car waving a smartphone. She yelled at me to inquire whether this was in fact my car, and if so, how could I have not felt myself hitting her bumper?! This encounter degenerated into a demand to see my license and registration, threats that she’d involve her relatives in law enforcement and that “if there is so much as a scratch on my newly repaired grill costing $ 12,000, I’m coming after you.”

So I answered with words to the effect that her photos had better document that my car was not touching her car: my license plate was touching her license plate, but there was an inch of light between our cars. “My car is not touching yours, and if you come after me, I’ll come after you to prove my car is not touching your car.” Such was the conversation! After a few moments, she seemed to collect herself, apologized, and admitted that in fact, I was not connected to her grill. She went off into the rest of her day. And in the space next to my car sat two older folks, munching on muffins and watching all this go down. There was an inch of light. An inch of grace.

Fast forward to the expensive dog and cat vet visit later, the mounds of laundry to do before the trip, the nagging details of meetings and ‘away’ messages demanding attention. On the happier side, I received two birthday gifts I’ll unwrap tonight, and as I either light or blow out candles, I’ll consider that inch from yesterday a birthday gift too.

My hope is that as we prepare to enter the holidays, as I round up (or hide) the undone and look again for the crèche to which many of us are heading, I will realize that what I saw yesterday was a reflection of so much more grace than just an inch. “God in man made manifest” is right around the corner, and in this crazy, fast paced fragmented world, we need that grace extended to us. If we seek that, is that what we can learn to extend to others?

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