Monday, January 16, 2012

Grace-bearing hand

The morning started out all wrong. My drive to church takes an hour, which I use as morning prayer and psalm-singing time. It's important to me as celebrant at the Eucharist to arrive as centered as possible, given the unpredictable nature of travel. This winter, I've taken to counting the cars I see on the highway as I make my way to church. Last week, there were 4. Yesterday, there were 7. The number unsettles me. A lone driver experiencing car trouble could wait there for a long time.

Once inside the church building, more unpredictability awaits. The scheduled reader cannot come in. His replacement is there; that's good, but he looks scared, because he's not done this before. We work it all out. But, without my knowing it, another robed person fixes this problem another way. (That's fine, except that there's no time to communicate the change.) And, I should know better, by now, how to stay nonreactive when I must chase down the chasuble and body mic from the previous celebrant with 2 minutes left till the service starts. But he was nowhere to be found, and my centeredness was fading.

So it was that I processed in without the extra hymnal needed. As I stood, humming along while others sang words, a small child walked right up front to face me, handing me the hymnal -- already turned to the right page. She is dear in many more ways than I would share in a public space such as this, but she has hands that do not look like everyone else's, and already has endured surgeries at her young age.

In that hand she bore the hymnal, offering to me not only words and music, but more than enough grace to sustain me through the long morning. I called to mind that outstretched hand later, before responding to two people at odds with one another. When the day began, I didn't know that a hand so small would bear such a generous helping of grace.