Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grace on a Thursday: Where God lives

I went to the Mission yesterday. I feel so fortunate to have such a beautiful piece of history in our area, and one so easily accessible. Hundreds of years old, it is one of the only relics of the past to be found on our glittery southern California coast.

I parked down the block a bit, intending to duck into a coffee shop first on the way to my destination. There, I ran into an acquaintance and chatted for a while, small talk, really. We parted with wishes for a good morning, and I pressed out the door. I pushed the wrong side of it first, though I've been there many times. I waited at the light, impatient to walk across the street to the entrance, and so I crossed against the flashing red hand between cars. My latte was no longer hot. My hair, just styled last night in curls, was going limp from the heavy morning mist. One more bit of wasted effort, I thought. My worries were chattering back and forth in my head as I flashed my entrance pass and twisted through the turnstile.

I walked past volunteers clipping dead weight off rose bushes, and stepped through the first welcoming, weathered stone archway leading to the courtyard. Suddenly everything changed.

I knew God was there. I could sense His presence as heavy as the mist. What was it, exactly, I wondered, amazed and breathless. Was it the place, this holy outdoor cathedral built by devoted followers centuries ago? No, I know better. God does not reside in a building or a geographical spot you can pinpoint on a map.

It was not the place. It was the pace. God was so easy for me to recognize and hear because, at the Mission, all is at peace.

I stopped every few feet to watch one thing or another and saw a rhythm, nature's rhythm, whispering His name.

Koi fish floated slowly and effortlessly in the great fountain, round mouths opening and shutting and opening again.

A group of four hummingbirds zipped and played over a vast purple-flowered bush. I've never known they had a song before, perhaps because I've never seen more than one at a time. I've never heard them sing to each other. Theirs was a rapid, waltzing song, groups of triple sounds, and something about it seemed to me to be incredibly joyful.

I looked at a plant of pink flowers and knew inside those buds was a rhythm, an order of growth, and waking and sleeping.

A group of tourists speaking French stood huddled, clicking cameras and speaking in low tones, hearts beating reverently.

Order and peace was over everything, and the hand of the Lord was evident, keeping all steady and lovely.

Giving thought to my own life, at a glance and in comparison it seemed rushed and messy. I thought it must appear so chaotic and ugly to my Lord. So peace-starved at times that His voice and His presence must be sought out hard.

I thought, That's grace...Him seeing my peace-less mess and calling me His own anyway. Choosing not the Koi fish or the hummingbird or the rose as the object of His choicest love, His richest blessing of Himself. But choosing me.

Me. Who is not graceful or singing or patient.

What kind of grace sweeps up a handful of dust and decides to transform it by Love into something beautiful, against the forces of a dark world and a clay-stained heart that would rather rebel? What kind?

As much as I write about grace here, at the moment, I know nothing of that kind.


{Note: All photos above were taken by my son when he was 5, last year, on one of our visits together. He used his birthday camera. It was a morning much the same.}


  1. this is absolutely beautiful!
    as if you have been reading my mind for the past few days...i need His grace. every day. every hour. every minute. thank you so much for sharing your heart today.

  2. "So peace-starved at times that His voice and His presence must be sought out hard."

    thank you, leslie.

    i get that. get it well. BUT, like you, thankfully i am getting that now with grace. knowing He sees me- who i really am in Him, and calls me His anyway. i know now when i am peace starved, i am no less His then when i am at peace.
    i love grace.

    looking forward to seeing you next week!!

  3. I found you through Denise. I love your writing and the beauty of the incites the Lord has given you! I look forward to reading more posts. :)