You will read this on Monday, but I’m writing on Sunday night, the end of a full day.
It’s brisk outside, “a touch autumnal” as Bishop Ashby used to say. But the cool air is not enough to put me off stepping outside at 10.15pm to barbecue the steak I am now enjoying. If I can keep away from Netflix for the next ten minutes I’ll be able to post this “savouring grace” reflection before I head to bed.
Tonight in the city I led a formation session for a group who are seeking to grow in maturity of faith centred on Jesus Christ. We have been together for several months, including a weekend-retreat, and I find the sessions deeply inspiring because of the enthusiasm of the other members of the group.
One of our reflections this evening was on the importance of savouring the graces that can so easily be overlooked in a full day. Since I led this reflection for the group it was only on the drive home that I had my own opportunity to savour the graces of my day.
Last night’s Mass at Hanmer Springs was the first of my Palm Sunday Masses. I was the only reader for the gospel so it was a pleasant surprise at Hawarden this morning to find the parishioners willing to read the Passion in parts. I took the role of Christ who has a relatively small spoken part compared to the narrator and the other readers, and I was inspired while watching the parishioners who were carefully following the text and devoutly taking the crowd part.
At Waiau there was only one person present a couple of minutes before the midday Mass start time. Des and I chatted for a while then decided to start, just the two of us, with him doing the readings. Then, just on time, a young mother arrived with six of her children. Her husband had stayed home to care for a sick child. We took a moment to pick “palm” branches from the boundary hedge around the church, then began the liturgy.
When it came time for the first of the readings Des realised he didn’t have his glasses and young Thomas volunteered to take his place.
As Thomas moved to the lectern I was expecting the hesitant reading of a 12 year old. He began clearly and confidently with an evident deep understanding of the significance of the power of the words he was reading from Isaiah: “The Lord has given me a disciples tongue, that I may know how to speak to the weary…”
I spent time this afternoon at my desk preparing tonight’s session, then drove into town to meet with the group.
This evening’s session gave me the opportunity to focus on the graces of the day. If it hadn’t been for tonight’s gathering I probably would not have given the day’s graces another thought. I was helped greatly by the group tonight, and by a 10 minute car-park chat after the gathering.
Therefore the drive back home to Amberley was a pleasure. I chose to travel in silence, without radio, music or podcasts so that I could intentionally savour the graces of my day.
We need to do this, to savour grace, otherwise we stumble about from one demand to the next while missing the direct action of God in our lives. This savouring is delicious, life-giving and deeply encouraging. Of course the more difficult moments of the day also come into my consciousness when I seek to savour grace, but the Holy Spirit makes sure the grace and consolation of the day is what stays with me most vividly. We then see the difficult moments, even my failures and mistakes, in the light of God’s consoling grace.
For me the car is an ideal spot for reflection since I spend a lot of time driving – over 500km in the last 30 hours. Since I am usually travelling alone the car can give me the environment of a monastic cell, and therefore is an ideal place for me to savour the day’s graces.
You will find your own best place for this practice.
Blessings for the week ahead!