I’m sure you’ve had it happen to you–a phrase in a book, a line in a song, a quote from a movie grabs hold of you and Won’t. Let. Go.
Last week, I read this phrase: the unforced rhythms of grace. I’ve been thinking about grace in general over the last few months, so perhaps that’s why the phrase caught my attention. I know people who extend grace–kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, love all bundled together–and I’ve even written about some of them. Gracious people, people who never seem to insult another person even accidentally. We recognize these individuals as being something different, something special, something wonderful–even if we can’t quite pin down the reason why.
But the unforced rhythm of grace? I can’t point to someone and say she’s got that rhythm. It’s not a tangible. I can’t hold it.
I desperately want to.
Unforced–“not produced by effort, natural.”
Rhythm–“a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound” or “a regular, repeated pattern of events, changes, activities, etc.”
Grace–“a way of moving that is smooth and attractive and that is not stiff or awkward” or “the love and kindness that God gives to people,” or “a simple and beautiful quality”.
Grace is a gift that arrives unannounced. It’s found in the unexpected, in the things we can’t control. It’s immersed in the realization that healing and curing are not necessarily the same things–even though it’s so painful to know friends can die in that space in-between. Grace could be in the form of unexpected financial help at just the moment it’s needed, parking passes at the hospital a young family must spend months at, and gift cards to coffee shops so they can pick up a sandwich on the go.
Grace is freely given, sometimes quickly, sometimes not. It’s time spent in prayer, interceding for those who face uncertain futures. It’s time spent questioning the tough things, and not asking “why?” but “what now?”
It’s not measured, nor is it manipulated. Sometimes, when every single thing seems to be going wrong, grace eases in to soothe souls and heal friendships and remind us that we aren’t in this life to be alone. We are here to help each other, to use our experiences to make it easier for someone else. It will come in unexpected ways, from unexpected sources, at unexpected times.
But it’s not just there in moments of crisis, though it seems to beat loudest then. Grace is subtle, and because of that, it’s presence is easily taken for granted. This is the place where unforced rhythms lie. Breathing in, breathing out, pulsing beneath the fabric of our every-day, until we forget that it’s there, because it’s always been there.
Like so many other blessings, we don’t notice because we forget to pay attention. It becomes the thing we seek, sometimes in artificial ways.
Restoring that unforced rhythm is as easy and as difficult as letting go of the things we hold to so tightly. Are you tired, like me? Worn out, like me?
Then rest, friend. The world will wait.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”