Grace, Easter, a calling, my calling, work, grace, free grace
This Easter weekend my wife and I had the occasion to travel from Portland to Spokane. The reason for the trip was the memorial service for a cousin, on the Williams side. I mention the "Williams" side because this clan is historically and currently identified with the Friends Church. The memorial service was held in the Spokane Friends Church.
The trip to the north side of Spokane happened to take us right by my grandmother Emma Colburn's old house on West Grace Avenue. Even before her husband's early death Emma supported herself (and him) by raising and selling flowers. They owned the house and two neighboring lots. Grandma raised plants on the neighboring lots, using all of the gardening techniques as they existed before the advent of mechanical tillers and chemical sprays. The result was gorgeous fields of blooms.
|This is Emma's little house on West Grace as it appeared on April 3, 2015. When Emma lived there, the lot on the right from curb back across the alley to the curb on the next street was filled with flowers.|
"Emma Colburn was an eagle," my father wrote of her in an epitaph.
She blessed a large following of customers with her beautiful sprays of flowers. The customers blessed her with repeat visits and provided her with income. I give many more details this amazing Grandma Colburn story in the book, "Growing Green Two Ways."
Grandma lived on Grace Avenue. I have no idea how a street in Spokane came to be named "Grace," but it's so appropriate that she lived on it. Grandma lived on Grace and in grace. I don't mean "Free" Grace, as some use the term. Grandma was blessed, but she worked her fingers to the bone and then was able to realize her blessings.
You may find it helpful to think of it in this way: Grace does not let us off the hook of normal effort. Instead, it surprises us in the results of our efforts.
One meaning of grace that's appropriate this weekend, when we remember the end of the earthly days of Jesus, is that grace reigns down during excruciating decisions and terrible labors. It's in the midst of such decisions and labors, that grace truly surprises, with a restoration personal health, community, or, in Jesus' case, a resurrection and the gift of redemption,
In addition to Emma, the other Spokane-ite, my wife's cousin, Don, was an adventurer in grace-filled living. Physical therapy was his calling, and he labored to apply his therapeutic skills in Spokane and in many cultures around the world. In his transmission of healing to different peoples and cultures, grace flowed into his life and the lives of people he touched.
From Emma and Don, two Spokane-ites, and from Jesus of Nazareth, we learn that by finding and working at our callings, we are surprised to find ourselves living on Grace Street (which is not Easy Street), no matter where our physical home is located.
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