You can also find this page for parents in kids in every FUS Newsletter, from our wonderful Minister of Congregational Affairs, Kelly Crocker.
The unmerited, undeserved and limitless gift of love, mercy, and goodwill shown to humankind by a divine spirit, by humanity when we give gifts toward one another; good fortune which directs or aids in a person using his or her unique talents to help the world; a prayer at mealtimes.
The Breeze of Divine Grace
There have been many times in my life when I have had bearers of grace come to the rescue. There was the college advisor who believed in me and my dreams even when I didn’t and encouraged me and sat with me while I filled out all those seminary applications. There were all the warm and loving friends who visited after each child was born, bringing meals and hugs, listening ears and open hearts. My mother’s favorite story is when she arrived home from the hospital with my sister to find out that her aunt had stopped by while she was in the hospital to fill the refrigerator and clean the bathroom.
Grace is all those gifts of love that we can’t earn and often don’t deserve. When we are actively compassionate with one another, and with ourselves, we are bearers of grace. We don’t know when we will be grace’s tool in the life of another. A call to a grieving friend, a hot meal to new parents and an offer to hold the baby while they nap or shower, any act that we can do to make the way a little easier, a litter gentler for another, this is grace. We can never know what effect we will have on the life of another, never know when we will utter the words they need to hear, never know when our hug our smile will be a soothing salve for a hurting soul.
Parenting is an exercise in grace. We provide guidance, comfort and love to a soul who has been entrusted to us for a little while. The next time you are wiping a sick brow, waking up in the middle of the night for the 5th time, teaching that shoe tying lesson again, know that you are the bearer of a beautiful force…you are a teacher, a guide, a loving presence acting with grace.
Be a Force for Grace
Experiment being a bearer of grace with acts of kindness:
*feed the birds or wildlife
*leave treats for a neighbor or a friend to find
*pay for the next person in line at a coffee shop
*give a compliment to everyone in your family
*plan a kind gesture for your teachers
*visit an animal sanctuary and learn about the lives of animals
*donate your old towels or blankets to an animal shelter
Dinner Table Discussion
Say Grace Before Meals. The acknowledgement of our numerous blessings is a timeless tradition. Make a habit of noting your good fortune and the grace in your life. Take some time to think of all the gifts that came your way throughout that day and share what you are grateful for with one another.
Share a Story. Talk with your loved ones about a time in your life when you had a difficult choice to make: choosing a vocation, deciding how to develop your skills in some area, maybe moving or deciding whether to do the hard work of rebuilding a friendship. Did something unexpected happen that helped you decide? Was there a person who came into your life who made a difference?
Celebrate the Coming of Spring. Some cultures around the world celebrate the Spring Equinox as the beginning of the New Year. If this was the beginning of a new year, what goal would you make? What would you want to accomplish? Who could help you? What could you do to be a force for grace – random acts of kindness, a family service project, share your gifts and talents with others.
Family Spiritual Practice
Loving Kindness Meditation is a 2,500 year old practice which intentionally cultivates Grace by expressing unconditional love for oneself and for a larger community. The practice gradually shifts the mind from judging others to mentally bestowing thoughts of Grace. It is done in five rounds: first, for yourself, the second, for someone easy for you to love, third for someone who is neutral to you (cashier, stranger walking the dog, someone you saw on the bus), fourth is for someone you have difficulty with and finally you bestow your loving wishes on all beings and all life on this planet. Here is one set of phrases you could try:
May I (he/she/they) be safe and protected from all harm.
May I (he/she/they) be happy and contented.
May I (he/she/they) be healthy and whole.
May I (he/she/they) live with ease and wellbeing.
Repeat each round as long as you would like and allow the good intentions to sink deeply into your body, mind, and heart.
Movies for Grace
Pay It Forward: A boy creates a pyramid scheme to solicit grace for others.
Secret Life of Bees: Set in the rural south during the Civil Rights Era, three African-American sisters provide shelter, wisdom, and love to a young white girl when she needs it most.
The Whale Rider: A girl must overcome prejudices and find the gifts and wisdom within herself to achieve her destiny.