Grace

It was somewhere between the Blacksburg/Earl exit in South Carolina and King’s Mountain, North Carolina, that I heard it the first time.

I was on my way to Charlotte to see my daughter, grandson and son-in-law. It was Saturday afternoon, sunny and bright, and I’d finally broken free of the traffic that had clotted I-85 since the Atlanta suburbs. The radio was on, and I heard “Hey, 19” and the Hendrix version of “All Along the Watchtower” (the only version, in my opinion) as I worked the SEEK button right to left.

Then it landed on a song I didn’t know:

When I am down, and oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until You come and sit awhile with me.

Nice melody, good production, impassioned vocals and a soaring chorus:

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up—to more than I can be.

I realize I’m listening to a Christian station, and the cool sophisticate in me is thinking Les McCann and Eddie Harris doing “Listen Here.” But I hear it out, and minutes later I hear it again on another station, and an odd thing happens. I choke up.

I am on my way to Charlotte for an audition, but far more than that.

My older daughter lives there, and just a few days ago i received an angry email from her. It caught me off-guard, because nothing I could think of had happened to cause an outburst. But it wasn’t the first time it’s happened. A year before, I’d received one from her and I was so filled with anger and righteous indignation it took six days before I could calm down and write a calm, reasoned reply.

She had good cause to be angry, though. She was six when her mother and I parted, and I was, for the most part, an absentee father with little involvement in her life. When I realized what a fool I’d been, I offered to participate in rehabilitating our relationship in any way I could, and it included attending a session with her and her therapist.

But with the second letter, I knew I could neither engage at the level of conflict, nor write another reasonable reply. First, I had to overcome my own anger at being attacked, and then I had to transcend all my default settings and respond in a way I never had before.

Without quite knowing what it was I wanted, I was asking to be forgiving and loving, to manifest something I’d never manifested before that would bring healing to our relationship. It’s called grace, and I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.

So I did some praying – quite a lot of praying, actually. Not once or twice, but several times a day. And within a few days, I got the call from my agent asking if I would go to Charlotte.

Even were I to believe that the call was a random occurrence in an uncaring universe, the calm and unflinching attitude that settled upon me as I drove to Charlotte was not. I felt peaceful, almost happy. I had asked for help, and something had shifted in me. Suddenly, improbably, I had an opportunity to do exactly what I prayed for.

It felt as if I had aligned myself with a force, an energy, a plan, that was already in motion. All I had to do was get aboard. And this, I decided, must be grace, and I was going to roll with it.

I went to the audition when I got to Charlotte that morning, then had lunch and meditated in a park. Shortly before my daughter’s office re-opened — she’s a chiropractor — I bought a dozen pink roses, and pulled into her parking lot just as she was getting out of her car.

Again, that I had that that the timing was perfect, as if I were being led.

She glanced over the back of her car, and said, “My God, it’s Dad!”

We hugged and I gave her the roses. Inside she introduced me to her staff, and we chatted for a bit. Then she adjusted me, asked me to stay the night and gave me the key to her condo.

We had dinner that night with her husband and talked for hours – but never a word about the letter. Not then, not ever.

I drove back to Atlanta the next morning euphoric. It was my birthday.

The following week my agent called again. Would I go back to Charlotte for a second audition? I did and spent another night with my daughter and her husband. Over dinner that evening, I gazed around at the plates, the glasses of wine, the candles, my daughter and her husband, and a warm feeling of love and connection washed over me.

This, I thought, is family.

I never did get that part I auditioned for, but it didn’t matter. I got the role I wanted most.

To respond, click below on “Post a Comment.” To contact me directly, send an email to jc@johnchristensenonline.com.

2 thoughts on “Grace

  1. PHIL CHRISTENSEN

    You da’ man Chester!! I just read this blog (and I think my friend, Bruno, did as well), and I’m just trying to stay up to date with my favorite oldest brother. Take care Bro’!

    Reply
  2. PHIL CHRISTENSEN

    You da’ man Chester!! I just read this blog (and I think my friend, Bruno, did as well), and I’m just trying to stay up to date with my favorite oldest brother. Take care Bro’!

    Reply

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