Found Grace

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One summer my sister and I were in Poland, biking south toward Germany when we looked up to see this massive cathedral. We stopped and went in to wander around the cool, dark building, saying hello to an elderly priest sitting in an open-style confessional booth. Having no confessors, he seemed very eager to talk, to know who we were. We introduced ourselves all around and when I said my name, Anna, he beamed. 

Anna! He said, and then gently, kindly, graceful child.

My name is Anna, (as in Anna and Elsa :). It means grace. Full of grace. 

Grace, in a strange twist, is a stressful concept for me. I am not exactly graceful. At my best, I am a take-charge person (bossy). I don't  always deal diplomatically with things that are wrong (difficult). I defend myself (sassy). Be graceful is a directive I've seen and experienced misused as a method of control. Gracefulness feels like a skin that isn't mine. An idea, a lifestyle, a heaviness that covers, blots out light, stifles breath, cuts out movement and freedom. "Grace" makes my skin prickly and sensitive.

I don't think I'm alone in this, and it's fair to say that certain understandings of grace are misguided. Forced grace loses something of its essence and becomes a cramped, constraining thing. Grace is not so much a practice as it is something one finds, something one is given. Found grace, and grace that is given, is expansive and broad, creating a place where one can breathe, stretch out cramped limbs, and find the edges of one's own self instead of the edges of a too-small idea.

When he said this, when a friendly, elderly priest, so happy to talk with us—so happy to escape from the boredom of an empty confessional booth—when he said, graceful child, I found a small relief. A thousand miles on a bike to meet this priest who said, graceful child. He wasn’t entreating me to be graceful, to embody the meaning of my name; to force what cannot be forced. Rather, he simply named it—said it, and so, spoke it into being. Graceful child, he said, as if to say, you are. You do not have to try to be, this you are. 

Bella Grace magazine recently launched Grace Notes, a blog about life's everyday magic. I'm thrilled to celebrate the launch by being a part of the blog hop (full participant list here), and together with Bella Grace, I'm offering two lucky readers a current copy of the Bella Grace magazine. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below. Giveaway is now closed. 


  1. I love LOVE Bella Grace Magazine and I am so excited to see that there is something like Grace Notes to look forward to while I wait for the next issue in May to come out. its such a LOOOONG wait! lol. my first issue I bought was this last issue printed and I am asking for my birthday all the past issues (40th bday is a good one to ask for this is think ;) ) anyways, I am happy to find Grace Notes.

    1. Hi Kelley! Thanks so much for entering the giveaway! Could you email me (details on my about page) with a mailing address so I can send you the latest copy of Bella Grace? Thank you!

  2. I've never heard of this magazine, but I'd like to be entered and give it a try! Thanks. :)

    1. Hi Kristin! Thank so much for entering! I'm emailing now. :)


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