As much as I'd like to finish the Year of Sundays project, that would mean I couldn't go to the to The Bridge every Sunday, which is where I've been for the past few months as part of my DO ALL THE THINGS mental health regime. Last Sunday, wild horses couldn't have kept me from being there (and not just for the free bread). Angie and Todd were on music duty again and they were so wonderfully loud, it somehow managed to fill in all my hollowest crannies. Which is some pretty fucking loud music. I loved it almost as much as I loved the sermon, in which Geoff did his best to explain grace, a concept a godless wonder like myself can only maybe sometimes BEGIN to grok on a good day. But one of my New Year's Resolutions is to LET IT GO and I can't stop thinking about how that might be the same thing as grace.
God-talk aside, I agreed with a lot of what Geoff had to say about how there's a difference between being a LOVING person and being a GRACEFUL person. I think it's possible to have love without grace. Love is something we need so much of that most of us are designed to give and get it pretty easily. It's impossible not to love our parents, our children, our partners, our friends. But most of the time that love has strings attached. Like, don't be an asshole. Don't hurt me. Love me back the way I need you to. Be there for me.
Grace, on the other hand, has no expectations. For Christians I think it's probably the idea of God having your back all the time so even if you fall, he always catches you. He fills in the gaps that you can't fill yourself. But since I don't believe in God, grace is pretty fucking terrifying for me. The way I see it, grace has no me. It's loving ANYWAY. It's practicing what Geoff calls, "extravagant benevolence," which is a beautiful way to describe a terrifying way of living.
After the sermon Joel described it as that moment Wiley Coyote runs off the cliff and realizes there's no ground under him anymore, which sums it up pretty damn well.
I'd like to think I've got the balls (or stupidity) to keep running off of cliffs. I want to be the girl who can catch herself when gravity sets in or at the very least, grab a branch to soften the fall. But here's a big shocker: it's not something I know how to do yet. I can love big and hard, but I also give my love about as gracefully as a linebacker. I'm not sure where I'm going with this or how it's all connected, but suffice it to say that I owe Joel so much grace that I'm overdrawn. I should be paying him interest.
But on the other hand when I think about how grace actually FEELS, I'm not sure I can do it. At least once a day I think, "but what if I'm wrong?" and my heart explodes in my gut so fast and so hard and so loud that the sound of my own blood thrashing toward my extremities makes my ears ring. My therapist asked what I call that feeling and I'm pretty sure it's heartbreak, but I don't know. Whatever I call it, I'm not sure I like it when my heart feels like a tsunami drowning me from the inside.
Is that the risk I take in pursuing grace without believing in God?
Whenever I think about that hovering moment of gravitational doom, I can almost hear that heart thrash murmuring from under my skin. I'm supposed to listen to my body, right? I just wish I knew what it was trying to say. Is it a warning? Some kind of emotional prescience? An omen? Or is it more like running - no pain, no gain. Maybe I'm just stretching my heart muscle in a way that's exquisitely painful because I've never used it before.
Gimme a hundred more miles or so and I'll see if I can figure it out.