Action, Evangelization, Faith, Grace, Life

Stuck at the Gate? or Open to Grace.


You know how when you attend a retreat, your heart is brimming with peace, love and joy?  …how you are swimming in an awareness of God’s grace?

Grace is the free and undeserved help that God gives us (CCC, 1996).

Well, for the retreat I attended, I had just written a book on how to continue that retreat experience—Continuing the Journey—and distributed it to my first group of readers.  I was not only on that retreat-high, I was on the precipice of a new chapter in my life.

And I was exhausted.  But it was that good kind of tired where the adrenaline starts to fade and your entire body begins to relax.  And there was all that grace.

Grace is a participation in the life of God (CCC, 1997).

Bonus: at the conclusion of the retreat, I headed to the airport to join my family in the Adirondacks for a vacation.  It was the first of four weeks of traveling to visit family; Upstate NY, then Boston/New England, then China, then Malaysia.

My plane boarded; I was all set to nod off and shift into vacation mode.  Except the plane wasn’t leaving the gate… we were waiting for someone’s bags… and the air conditioner was not working unless the plane was moving… in Houston… in July.  For 45 minutes, we sat and waited.  It was hot, humid, sticky, and people were getting cranky.

It’ll be ok, my peaceful retreat inner-voice said (again, and again, and again).  And it was; we finally rolled away, the AC kicked on, and my drink tickets were in hand.

And then I adjusted my watch from Central to Eastern and saw what time it was.  That’s when I realized that while the airline often “makes up the time in the air,” it was unlikely I was going to make my connecting flight unless they held the plane for me.  But of course they’ll hold the plane, right?  Wrong.

Though I managed to dash to the front of the plane upon landing, though I managed to run up the jetway to the terminal, though my connecting flight departed from the gate right-next-door, my connecting flight departed on time, 8 minutes before we landed.

They held my plane for 45 minutes without AC for someone else’s bags, but wouldn’t hold my plane for 8 minutes for me.

That was the moment when the peace, love, and joy of my retreat left me and I went all dragon-lady on the gate agent.

With apologies, the airline set me up with a complimentary hotel stay, a $200 travel voucher, and rebooked me to Albany the next afternoon.  My reunion with my husband and two kids would have to wait.  My vacation would have to wait.

I was deflated, but resigned to accepting the delay, gin and tonic in hand.  I prayed that this might be THE only travel snag for the next month.  (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.)

A good friend commented on my FaceBook post with two sentences that changed my whole outlook on this turn of events:

A sweet surprise…a hotel room all to yourself. Savor it, girl! There’s not gonna be much of that for you over the next month.

That was so true!  So, I sprawled on the bed and made snow angels.  I listened to the silence.  I smiled.  I relaxed.  I found my way back to the awareness of the grace of God, and the peace, love, and joy of the retreat.  And I began my vacation.

  •  Recall a time when you were struggling, and someone (or something) prompted a change in perspective.  What was the struggle?  Who or what prompted the change?  Why were you able to hear that prompting?

Reading that Facebook comment was a graced moment for me.  It increased my awareness and openness to a plan that was not my own.  It allowed me to embrace possibilities.  It empowered me to relax, enjoy, and reconnect with God.

Grace is like divine assistance: God invites us to cooperate with Him to accomplish great things, and offers us grace to make that possible (CCC, 1996).  With grace, God works in, and with, and through us.  When we are open to God’s grace, we participate in the divine (CCC, 1997).  But as St. Augustine pointed out, God’s grace is God’s; we do not control it.

“Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God” (CCC, 2001).

When it comes to grace, sometimes we need to pray: “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will” (Hebrews 10:9; Psalm 40:8-9) and remember that grace means God works in, through, and with us.

Other times we need to pray for an awareness of (and openness to) God’s grace, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).

In any given day, most of us need to pray for both!

  •  Identify some of the people, places, and things that help increase your awareness of God’s grace.

  •  Identify some of the ways you have participated in God’s grace this week (or month… or year).

  •  Right now, when it comes to God’s grace, what do you need to pray for?

23:50 by Ondra Soukup licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Julie Dienno-Demarest Visit Website
Spiritual Director, Author, Educator
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