We gathered the brotherhood at our eclectic venue for another meeting over drinks and dinner. We began sharing some of what we were struggling with since the last time we met a few weeks prior, and there was a common theme.
I just got back on a trip visiting with my girls at school in California and was feeling guilty at the physical distance between us. Why wasn’t I out there nearer to them, or visiting more often?
Joey opened up, wondering if he had done enough in the fight to beat the cancer. And John felt similarly, in how he and his wife overlooked the cancer signals for so long, only leaving weeks for the fight instead of perhaps a couple of years.
As I had done many times too, Steve was lamenting how he under-appreciated the healthy times, thinking they would last forever. How I wished I could go back and enjoy that time more, taking more time off to be with my beautiful bride and family together.
And each of us, feeling guilty that we were the ones who remain here, when they were the ones worthy of life. They were the one’s the friends cherished, the community needed, the kids relied upon every day, not us.
All of us were beating ourselves up, like heavyweight champs.. Did we do enough? How could we have wasted so much precious time? How could I have fretted over all that little stuff? Have we been good fathers? Why her and not me? Countless doubts, regrets, and guilt we collectively shared.
As I listened to our pre-dinner conversation, it became clear what the mealtime prayer would be about: Grace for Grace:
“Lord, thank you for bringing our brothers here together again with us tonight – to share, listen, lift and heal.
Throughout this journey you have placed us upon, there have been many times we believed we have come up short. That we didn’t do enough. That we haven’t been the best husband, father, friend, leader we could be through this process. That it should have been us and not our beautiful brides who were taken too soon.
Tonight I pray that we learn to have more grace for ourselves. That we stop beating ourselves up over what we could not and cannot control. This was your will and we are accepting this the best that we can.
And I thank you for your divine grace. That we don’t have to be perfect, as you bestow Your grace upon us: your love, favor and forgiveness, without regard.
Thank you for your Grace. Amen.”
In the Greek and Hebrew biblical term Charis (χάρις) refers to good-will, loving-kindness, favor, in particular to God’s merciful grace.
Grace was just what we needed to be reminded about. That we give Grace to ourselves, about the circumstances we find ourselves in and how we struggle to cope. That we are not on a healing schedule, with setbacks and challenges along the way, and our transition to growth may take longer than planned. That we give Grace to others, who don’t know what we are going through, and may not relate to us all the time, or provide us with the advice we need.
And most importantly, that we remember about the Divine Grace that God provides. Divine Grace is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to people – “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved” – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.
The Catholic Church holds that “by grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”