My Favourite Wife and I will celebrate 34 years together later this week. We are presently on a Grand-Tour of Grand-Children, some of whom we have not seen for almost three years. Last night we met our youngest granddaughter for only the second time, a gorgeous blonde toddler who – achingly – does not recognise me at all! Happily we have four days with them and affection will surely grow.
At fourteen days this trip is the longest we have ever taken together. When our Little One had been settled in her own home for just ten days (a month ago already!) it was the longest time my Dearest had ever spent together on our own. We were married with three children, all of whom accompanied us down the aisle, and so from the very beginning our home was wonderfully full. But here we are, suddenly, just Darby and Joan.
Defining moments in the course of life are infrequent, by and large, and habitually traumatic no matter if they are moments of joy or of sorrow. What I didn’t see as a young man, and see a little more clearly now, is how beautiful it is to be reborn. The cycle of beginning and end is universal: almost everything we see in our wide, wide world bearing witness to the arc of life and death. But while the long game of our life is being played out other seasons come and go. Many and varied things begin, and then they end, sooner or later. Some big, some small; some joyous, some dark. This particular rebirth is a big one for us, perhaps the biggest yet, and it is fearful and bright.
Martin Luther wrote,
“Grace is the experience of being delivered from experience.”
I’m not entirely sure what that means, although I enjoy wondering. The word ‘delivered’ is intriguing: we use it to describe birth, not as the delivery a postman might make but a delivery through and from the trial of labour. I think that ‘grace’ is the gift of a new beginning. Life, or God, occasionally resets. Suddenly everything is different and the experience of the past, good, bad, or indifferent, concludes. Everything is new and we inhale the grace of re-creation.
Whatever has gone before has gone; it cannot be altered or retrieved. What comes now is new, and, if we can just see it, full of grace. If only we can stop long enough to see and welcome the new day, then grace abounds.