Thursday, March 17, 2011
A few thoughts on grace...
Yesterday, I overslept. I know. For those of you who know me, you know how I like to be places on time. There was grace from the students when I arrived over an hour late, grace when my co-chaperones agreed to go to the chaperone-less service site (another mix-up), and grace from all of the Spanish speaking Puerto Rican elders I was trying to serve at the Senior center as I stumbled and mumbled the few words of Spanish I could remember.
But the most profound moment of grace for me came when Lina agreed to get some Mexican food (yes Mexican, in a Puerto Rican neighborhood) with me. Lina was born and raised in Ethiopia and had never had good, non-chipotle/taco bell Mexican food. And so I ordered a bunch of tacos and encouraged her, repeatedly, to take one of the chorizo tacos (my favorite). And so, she did. After taking a bite she asked, “What is chorizo?” And I replied, it’s sausage with spices…and then my eyes got big and I realized that it was pork sausage. And as she spit it out, my heart sunk. I, after all, am the pastor here, an instigator (with the students) of this trip, where we’re supposed to be learning about and respecting each other. And I know Muslims don’t eat pork. My lack of mindfulness (and excitement about really great chorizo) was a pretty big foible – in my mind….and in the mind of the Mexican taqueria owner. In our broken Spanglish, I told him what all the ruckus was about. As soon as he realized that Lina was a Muslim, he looked at me with a look that was pretty close to, “What did you just do? Even I know Muslims don’t eat pork – and you’re her friend.”
And Lina, repeatedly, said. “It’s okay. We didn’t know.” “No, really Kate. You need to relax. We didn’t know.” In that moment, Lina was grace.
Lutherans love to talk about the grace of God. We love to write dissertations about it and preach about it and know in our hearts and minds that God is a loving and merciful God who forgives all of our sins.
I am one of those Lutherans. And still, I recognized yesterday, how often I forget about living that grace in my own life; about being grace in the world. This grace which came so easily, instinctually even, to Lina is something I rarely extend to myself. I also recognize that in my quest to “live love,” and “be justice,” I’ve forgotten about the power of embodying grace, and understanding that extension as a part of being the body of Christ in this world. And so, to Lina, and to all of my Muslim brothers and sisters which have so “graciously” shared and risked and loved with us this week, I say thank you….for reminding me about Grace.