incidental graces

Posted on January 31, 2009



When we look at life, what do we see?

When we look at life, do we See???

In systems theory, in organizational development, and in individual development, research has indicated that what we pay attention to grows. If we look at the negative . . . the bad things in life, our life becomes negative. If a child is told they are naughty, they become naughty. In psychology this is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. In management, it is called the Hawthorne Effect.  Truth can be seen everywhere we look, but is that what we are paying attention to?

I love to watch couples. There is subtle interaction that gives off this sort of aura. They are attune to each other, not just with their minds but with their bodies. The best example I’ve seen lately is Barak and Michelle Obama doing their seven minute walk during the inauguration parade. They were completely intertwined as they, together, focused their attention outward to the crowds. There was a real sweetness between them that could be seen in their actions . . . sort of fussing over each other, sideways glances, holding hands, body position, and on and on. It creates real longing in my heart for such communion.

It has begun to occur to me, though, that life is full of moments of sweetness, coincidental kindnesses, incidental graces. Sometimes it is a comment from a friend or coworker, sometimes it is timely assistance, sometimes it is the sunshine after the rain, a rainbow, the wind in my face, a sideways glance of a child, a smile . . . oh the smile. After going through several years of such darkness of the soul that one wonders if light can even exist there anymore, the kindness of friends and family; unexpected, unpredictable, seemingly random and unrelated . . . leaving me in wonder and tears. God brings people (certain very precious people), experiences, and incidences into our lives at just the right time. These are incidental graces. By incidental, I mean “happening in connection with or resulting from something more important” (

As I have observed these wonderous acts of kindness and beauty in my life, I’m beginning to see . . . to See. Behind every incidental grace (most of which we still don’t see), is the hand of God, orchestrating a love relationship between Him and His people that is the source of the actions reflected by those special couples I observe here on earth. Why is it so hard for us to see? Why do we desire the tangible human relationships so much more, when they are only a reflection of the unconditional love of God? The unconditional love of God is the Source that makes possible the oneness of soul mates here on earth.

Seeing is difficult. It is about as hard for us to think of God doting and fussing over us as our great Lover, as it is to think of Him as the Hound of Heaven in relentless and patient pursuit of our hearts and lives.