If "Grace Actually" were a movie, this is how it might begin: We glance back at this year and wonder: where is the grace? Where is the kindness? Where is the decency? Where is the mercy? Where is humility? And what is wrong with humanity? But then we take a better look around and it isn't hard to see. Grace is everywhere. You won't read about it in the newspapers, but it's there, in a million small things and some big things, too. The truth is that every single day we are being rescued. Every single day someone is dying to one life and being reborn in another. Just go to a hospital. Go to a homeless shelter. Go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. In every single moment, we are upheld by grace. And when things fall apart, grace is what glues us back together. So all the bad news this year has given God all the more opportunities to give us the good news and it has made us all the more ready to hear it and to share it. Despite all appearances, grace actually is all around us.
In Ezekiel's vision is our lesson. At some point in our adulthood we are going to come to a place where we are the dry bones left on the battlefields of life. Some of us will have no sinew, no flesh, and our skin will have been stripped away. And even for those of us who will appear to be perfectly healthy, there will still be no breath in us. The new life that Jesus promises us and the Spirit gives to us, will come, but it can be a slow process. Yet it isn't all that complicated. In fact, it's as easy as breathing. So listen to your meditation teacher: Focus on your breath. For when we focus on our breath, we become more aware of the one thing that is even closer to us than breathing. We become more aware of and we begin to sink deeper into the presence of God.
From the beginning to the end of the Bible, rivers come from God, and deep in our collective consciousness is the notion that going down to the river to pray will bring us closer to God. It worked for Jesus when he was baptized in the River Jordan and the heavens opened and a voice said, "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." If you, too, want to be a beloved son or daughter of God, if you want to get closer to God, come down with me and get to know a river.