I wish I could describe certain experiences. No matter how much time I spend trying to craft the words, the only word which capture a piece of what occurred is “surreal”. It is as if the known and unconscious gifts of grace transcend any and all attempts to limit them to simple words. At times the experience is strictly personal. The shadows and juxtaposition of a basketball hoop I found myself staring into this weekend is one example. Even if you were there you may not have noticed the moment.
Today I found myself on New York’s A train. The subway car’s temperature was cold, extremely so. I was freezing! No jacket within reach. My luggage and stuff prevented any easy movement. The only avenue was a plaintive cry of desperation. I didn’t think it worthy of folding the desire into prayer, especially given the needs of others. Divinity had a solution. I sense the warmth even before I realized someone was beside me. Everything about their presence exuded warmth, assurance, and comfort. I never really saw the face. I did experience their presence.
Jesus’ disciples longed to see their Master. In the midst of seeing him again, catching more fish than at anytime in their life, and grabbling with the confusion at hand, as they came back to shore “they got out of the boat, [and] they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you've just caught.’” (John 21.9, 10) What is happening? What would “history” record?
The challenge for each is the simple fact of how wonderful, inexplicable, and awesome beauty, grace, and compassion are in reality. Many have tried to write about the experience, most with limited success. Many have tried to capture, in paint, sculptures, or photographs, a piece of the experience, yet the goal remains just beyond one’s reach. Given God’s gift to us, in this moment and the next, we can make it real for someone around us. It may seem surreal; gifts of grace can be that way.
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