Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin gratia favor, charm, thanks, from gratus pleasing, grateful; akin to Sanskrit gṛṇāti he praises
Date: 12th century
1 a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b: a virtue coming from God c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
2 a: approval, favor barchaic : mercy, pardon c: a special favor : privilege d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency e: a temporary exemption : reprieve
You know that part in the movie Signs where the alien has the kid in his arms and Mel Gibson has the flashback to his wife, dying? She’s pinned between a car and a tree and she says “tell Merrill to swing away” and he thinks she’s out of her mind (dying, obviously) until that moment years later when it all hits him smack in the face in the living room with the trophy baseball bat?
If you didn’t remember, maybe you do now.
My mom used to call me two things that went beyond the expected variations on my nickname or even *gasp* my real, full name. All three of ‘em. Beyond Megret, McGarrett, Meggers and the like were these two: Clyde and Grace.
Clyde was because I’m a “heavy walker”, have been since I was a tater-tot dipped in ketchup and loaded with salt and pepper. I also had big feet for my age, calves that – in relation to my thighs – resembled a Clydesdale.
Grace was a slam she used on both my sister and I, one I can only imagine she picked up in the 50′s. “Way to go, Grace. I like the way you knocked that entire rack of Funyons over when you tried to be sly about grabbing one in the first place.”
“In youth we learn; in age we understand.” – — Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
I believe, my friends, I’m aging.
December 29th of 2004, I was in the bedroom of my apartment during my Christmas sabbatical. I’d read Blue Like Jazz and Lamb over the course of that week, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt Grace. It’s something I’ve been hesitant to tell others that I knew wouldn’t understand, or those that were outside of my immediate circle. There were a few I IM’ed or emailed about it because I knew they’d understand, I remember as clearly as I can feel this sub-dermal zit brewing on the bridge of my nose that Becky was one of them.
Nearly four years later with the onset of my existential crisis, I’ve been reading again. I’ve been seeking. Exploring. Groping in the dark for the light that will help me find my way. Everywhere I look, everything I read, every conversation or tweet loosely related to my journey brings me back here: to Grace.
I am admittedly a fuckup of epic proportions. I was a horrible student, have binged and purged when it comes to caring about my career, was more times than not a complete headache to both of my parents, and have failed at a million things without even including marriage. I struggle with depression, refusing to medicate for it, I have a hot temper at times and vacillate between a fiery, quick tongue and a jaw clamped shut when it shouldn’t be. I swear too much. I talk to other cars in traffic when I get frustrated.
Of all the things I’m not though, I am not a hypocrite. I know my flaws better than all of you combined and I beat myself up for them regularly.
How fitting; then, that Grace keeps coming…the reminder of what it is, and the peace it brings me and the want and drive and compulsion I have to be a better person every day. To speak from the heart when it hurts and the inherent (and problematic) want better in the lives of everyone I know. Learning to love freely, and accept love without question. To work and work and work to show compassion and to understand those it’s difficult to wrap my feeble little mind around.
A few months ago, Mary Jac and I reconnected after a year apart. I won’t go into details about that, but what’s important is that we each arrived back in each others lives at just the right time. We were in the same spiritual and psychological black holes, and together, we could pull ourselves out. We could lean on, lift up, fireman carry, counsel, coddle, and just flat out hug the stuffing out of each other while the bad man 30 feet up told us to put the lotion in the basket.
It happened over coffee before a cardboard box visit, one of us said “I want a new tattoo” and the other yelped with glee “me too” and when asked of what, the answer was “grace” followed by another “me too”.
So this last weekend when it was burned in us so hard and so fast that our eyes bled saline and we held each other in the dark (both physically and emotionally) I knew it was time. I knew I didn’t want to go a day for the rest of my life without thinking about it and feeling it.
I’m a transmitter. Sometimes I’m sending the signal, but more often, I’m receiving. And my mother? I like to think she was trying to tell me something then, even if she wasn’t. Because it stuck right where I needed it to, in the vulnerable places where I have no choice but to admit my flaws, and to try to do better.