Today’s find: Year of grace

New Year’s Eve: What a great time to be reminded, as St. John writes in the gospel passage we heard at Mass today, ‘from his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace…’

When I look back on the many graces flowing in my life throughout 2013, this blog — and its predecessor, Steadfast Spirit 2013 — are certainly at the top of the list. It’s been a blessing to feel the stirrings of the Spirit in my heart, and to have a place (such as it is) to share those stirrings with others.

As I reflected on that blessing this morning, I was reminded of the words I wrote back in February:

…when Mardi Gras 2013 rolled around, it occurred to me that I was dreading the beginning of Lent. I found myself hating the whole idea of this season of renewal: the reminder that I am sinful, that I am slothful, that I am comfortable – or that, because I am loved, my practices and habits could actually change.

I remembered what I had journaled at the start of Lent last year:

Psalm 51 — My prayer, my refrain for Lent: “Create a clean heart for me, O God…and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” How often have I prayed these very words…but today at Mass I realized that I really meant them…and I felt a stirring of hope that You would answer them in me…that You desire to answer them in me: a clean heart, and a steadfast spirit. I desire them, too, Lord…and I pray for that desire to continue to grow in me.

It’s tempting to assert that my loving Father left that little prayer unanswered.

It’s probably closer to the truth to note that I have squandered much of the grace He poured out on me over the past twelve months. Squandered it, looking for guarantees…clinging to pride…pathetically longing for fame.

That’s my baggage. It weighs me down, even though I know better: “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey.” (Mk 6:8)

Nothing, perhaps, but the steadfast spirit I’ve been praying for all these months. Something tells me, it’s been there all along. So you could say this blog is my Lenten almsgiving: My pledge to pay attention to the spiritual bounty that the Lord sets before me…and to share that Good News with others.

‘It’s been there all along.’ All I asked for, and more: Grace upon grace, in every circumstance of 2013 — joyful or challenging, hum-drum or exquisite. So as the year draws to a close, I thought it would be appropriate to say a simple ‘Thank You, Lord.’

As the Psalmist proclaims,

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!

Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the Lord. The Lord comes, he comes to rule the earth. He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy.

–Psalm 96


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