As we begin to explore our November theme of Grace, I have to laugh about the fact that I displayed a distinct lack of physical grace while hiking on October 24th. As most of you probably know by now, I broke both bones in my left ankle and sprained the right one. This is the most incapacitated I have ever been. Although I certainly wouldn't have chosen for this to happen, there are gifts that have come from the experience. Much of what has happened since my injury feels like grace to me. Grace can be defined in many ways; one is "unmerited divine assistance." For me, this kind of grace isn't about direct assistance from God, but about how things sometimes align in ways that feel like blessings. Perhaps some would use the word "luck" for those instances, but for me, it feels like grace, like an unexpected gift that is more than coincidence.
There were at least two things that felt like blessings or gifts of grace even before I made it off the mountain. First, we had strong enough cell signal on the portion of the trail where I was injured to call 911. Second, the responders to that call were not just the fire department but the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, one of the best rescue units in the nation.
Another definition of grace is acts of kindness, courtesy, consideration, and thoughtfulness. I have received many gifts of that kind of grace, beginning with the way the rescue group got me off the mountain--not just their technical skills, but their kindness and consideration for how I was feeling, both physically and emotionally.
There have been countless other acts of kindness: my mother immediately bought a plane ticket and arrived about 12 hours after I called her from the ER; my home congregation loaned me some equipment to use while my mobility is restricted; friends offered help of all kinds, including picking Mom up at the airport. I've received many kind emails and phone calls. It feels like grace to be on the receiving end of so much love and care.
The pastoral nature of this congregation--your loving spirit and your desire to be of help whenever someone needs support--has really shown up this week. In Sunday worship, we often use the phrase "caring community" when we are talking about how we share joys and concerns with each other. This week, I've seen firsthand the depth of your commitment to being that kind of community. You are truly grace-full. In fact, prior to last weekend's "adventure" the example of grace I would have been most likely to talk about in this column is the grace that brought us together, me to serve you, and you to welcome me to my first professional ministry.
I am deeply grateful for all the colleagues and congregants who are stepping in to take care of things for me while I recover. I will be off work for at least the first week of November, and will probably be working from home for a while after that.
Thanks again for your caring, and I look forward to being back with you as soon as I can.