Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Small Graces

This title, this thought, these small graces have been nagging at me and I’m not even sure what they want. I just keep thinking about the idea of ‘small graces’. I think I know what they mean (what I mean) when I think about them but I’m not at all sure how to make what I think I mean mean something (if you know what I mean).

I’m not talking about “there but for the grace of god” or grace before meals or a state of grace or ballerina-type grace or even my small dog Grace (though she is rather small and is Grace)

Small dog Grace

I am talking about the kind of grace we associate with people who light up a room without being conscious of it or accept an award with just the right words or always know what to say to ease tension or the people who are Jacqueline Kennedy or that pilot (Sully) who landed his plane on the Hudson River (the definition of grace under pressure I’m thinking). That kind of grace but in small doses. Little things that bring grace to our lives. People who’s grace make us feel better. Actions that give us a moment of admiration in the middle of a normal old run of the mill day.

(I know, I know-blah-blah, blather-blather. I did tell you I was struggling here.)

Let’s try this:

The first time ‘Small Graces” popped itself into my consciousness I was at work. I work with a young RN (Nakia, you know who you are). Nakia is always willing to help out and is unfailingly polite but one afternoon it occurred to me that Nakia ALWAYS does something that not everyone does (even polite people, well mannered people - or me). When one says ‘Thank you’ to Nakia she always says ‘You’re welcome’. She doesn’t say ‘sure thing’ or ‘you bet’ or (my go-to) ‘no problem.’ No, she says: ‘You’re welcome’ and every time she says it I feel good. She brings a bit of grace to my day. When I recognized it, that day, I stopped what I was doing, went back down the hall and told her what a lovely thing her “You’re welcome’ was.

I’m trying to remember to say ‘you’re welcome’ now. Trying to pay Nakia’s small grace forward. Trying not to toss off my classic ‘No problem.’ (I realized that ‘no problem’ was indeed a toss-off when one day, in response to it, my daughter said: “Well, but I still get to thank you.”) How graceless am I? ‘No problem’ I say, making the THANK YOU somehow less important. Other people should get to feel the same warm fuzzy I feel when Nakia says: “You’re welcome” so I’m working on it.

Many people bring these graces to my life.

My darling daughter, who facing a basket and a half of adversity this last year, still laughs herself silly over the weird side-effects her newest medication has thereby giving us all leave to laugh with her at “stroke tongue.”

My WORDS WITH FRIENDS friend James who never forgets whose turn it is to start the next game.

My friend Mary who fears losing her house but makes hilarious plans to live on a park bench with all of her belongings and her parrot Stanley. (Don’t worry-we won’t none of us let Mary live on a park bench. She has way too much stuff.)

Nancy from WeBook who always takes the time to give feed back.

My son-in-law, Joe, who doesn’t complain that I stopped keeping up with networking technology (or almost any computer technology) and leave it all to him.

My sister who drove across town (a lot of geography in the Midwest) coz I broke my foot and wanted chocolate chip cookies.

My husband who unfailingly holds the door open for everyone (even when my less-than-patient-self is thinking: “Oh COME ON!!! It’s freezing AND we’re late!”).

My dad who, as post-polio advanced, simply furnished every room in his house with stools so he could always sit down.

My mom who, when we were part of the little red-headed horde that left her little time for herself, would sometimes keep one of us home from school for a day simply because we were “blue” and needed to be with just her.

...and this place, this cyber-place, where I can think my thoughts and cast them out onto distant ears where time and distance slips away and people from all over the world offer laughter and comfort and friendship all at my fingertips, here for the reading.
(I know, getting sappy again - better wind this up)

Actually, I have no wind-up, no conclusion, no summation. These are some of the people that bring grace and joy and poise and civility to my life. I’m finished. I just wanted to talk about this and now I have.


  1. Well said. And well thought. I'll be thinking of "you're welcome" every time now.

    - Liz

  2. This was just lovely. I really think identifying small graces is a state of mind, something akin to an attitude of gratitude. It put me a tick higher on the small-grace-awareness scale just reading this. Thank you.