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A Time Apart

A Time Apart

by Kate Beeby

As our earth leans into the sun, I lean into the quieter rhythms the summer solstice portends: walking dogs and shucking butter and sugar corn in the long evenings, watching baseball on TV with my family after a simple cold dinner, staying up too late reading an indulgent mystery, breaking bread with new and old friends on the deck.  There was a time that the sun was thought to hang still in the sky on the solstice.  It still seems that way to me, with the longest day somehow marking and making way for a pace of grace.  Time for me to relish and guard and savor a whole season as it ripens.  

Summers are my time apart.  Ever since my family moved east from a small steamy midwestern city, to a very old and crusty New England town, embellished at its eastern edge with an enviable strip of silver sand that reaches into Massachusetts Bay in a vain attempt to fist bump Provincetown.   In our first years in that little town, we did not know many people and the people we did know wanted to do the same thing: loll among the gorgeous dunes and on the mucky tidal flats, for hours at a time; body-surf the chilly, kinetic brine; hunt, bent-necked, for sea glass and spotted rocks; maybe dig up some steamers from the bay side for our parents to throw into a lobster boil.  Every day we’d pack a lunch, pick a library book, load up the car and pass the time watching the tide rise and fall, tanned skin salted and savory.  It was perfect and peace-full, even if the greenheads were biting and a cold front sent sand into the wind, stinging our eyes.  Close to nature—its creatures, forces, cycles—among loved ones and friends–nearer our God.

This is life in slow motion with God in all things.  Summer’s abundance also abundant in grace.   How can this be?  Frederick Buechner, Presbyterian preacher, writer and theologian offers this: 

Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace. Have you ever tried to love somebody?

A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do.

The grace of God means something like: “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”

There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.

Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.

-originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words

There’s nothing you have to do.  Really.


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