Grace, to me, is the ability to act with dignity even when suffering indignity.
Grace, to me, is a powerful act - and act of being unbowed.
Grace, to me, is not an act of forgiveness, it's remaining true to humanity in the face of the inhumane.
He was a little lost.
Understandably so. We are regulars there so we happen to know the lay of the land well. It's a small, somewhat exclusive, if a cafeteria could ever be said to be exclusive, eatery. He'd finished with his meal, stood up, and looked for where to take his tray. We did the same thing the first time there. They, whoever they are, had placed it a bit out of the way - adding to the exclusive nature of the place. On our first visit a simple look of confusion lead to directions being given immediately by other diners.
No one spoke to him.
We were too far away, we'd have had to yell to him to have him hear us. Surely, I thought, someone will guide him. No one did. In fact, he seemed an island alone. Everyone near him steadfastly not looking at him. Some probably wondered why he was there alone, assuming that an extra gene requires an extra person. Finally, he approached a young woman working there. He, I assume because I couldn't hear, asked her for directions. By her hurried gestures, I figured I'd assumed right. But she was speaking quickly. As if she was fearful of catching Down Syndrome from him. Then she fled. The place had an atmosphere fragile to the breaking point. Messages were being texted by glance from table to table. No one knew what do do.
He was entirely alone.
Joe got up and headed towards him, he stopped, showed him where the tray was to be taken, and then continued on past and into the washroom a few feet behind where the man stood.
No man is an island.
Never has a bigger lie been told.
Difference causes moats to be dug, deep and wide.
No one spoke to him, simply as a person needing directions. People were awkward with him as if they didn't know what to do or say to bridge the giant gulf between their value, their sameness and his incredibly public display of difference.
But he never, not once, showed anything but incredible calm.
As he passed by me, one of the women at a table nearby said, to her friend, loud enough to be heard by others, loud enough that it was clear that she wanted to be heard by others, loud enough to want to demonstrate both her expertise and her compassion, "They are just so loving, they are."
Maybe she saw his act of grace as loving.
I did not.
I saw it as defiance.
I saw him as a man who refused to be lessened by others. He knew, perhaps from years of experience, that he would find the place, that a solution would come, and he did not panic in an attempt to hurry kindness along.
He was the picture of grace.
And in grace was strength and power.
Grace, to me, is a rebellion of respect.
May grace be with you all.