The first week of July, Bob and I went to Pittsburgh to help our son-in-law with the five year old twins while their mother was out of town.  On the first day, I borrowed my son-in-law’s car, intending to take our grandchildren to the park. Because the car was in an unfamiliar apartment garage, I got somewhat confused on exiting, backed up to turn around and hit a concrete abutment that completely caved-in the rear passenger door.  And in my shock and grief, all I could hear was two five year olds chanting. “Papa is going to be sooo mad!”

Concrete abutments have appeared, often out of nowhere, my whole life long.

Sometimes it is just a minor knock, and sometimes the injury has been life changing.

I remember an early morning knock on my young adult bedroom window with two of my best friends insisting, “Let us in.” And then the bad news, “Your mother died this morning.”

Or a call from our son-in-law informing us that our daughter was in the ICU at 26 weeks of pregnancy and 8 cm dilated, “The babies are coming!”

And then there are the kind of concrete pillars that emerge when an epidemic suddenly has us isolated from one another, or the capitol building is raided, or we watch the real-life murder of a black man on our screens.

Those concrete pillars stop me in my tracks, and I find myself needing comfort and forgiveness as I berate myself for my short-sightedness, for unkind words I cannot take back, and for the harm that I keep contributing to the world.

And I’m often mad at a God who doesn’t take those concrete abutments out of my path and give us all smoother sailing.

On our last Sunday as interim pastors at FMC at the end of June, someone said to me, “I think at the end it’s really all about grace. Is there anything really more important?”

I have pondered that and know that my own on-going growth and transformation depends on how I give and receive grace… how I offer grace to myself, accept my son-in-law’s loving hugs after I wreck his car, and let the worst of life make me more caring. When I discover in my deepest brokenness a SPIRIT of LOVE who does not let go… then TRANSFORMATION happens by little and by little my whole life long. The challenge is to LET the Spirit breathe peace and LET the grace wash over me… until I become a part of that grace and peace for the larger world.  Is there anything more important?

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About the author

Mag Richer Smith

Mag Richer Smith, a recent interim pastor at FMC, experiences grace, as she and her granddaughter Rooney bake a cake together.

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