Lately I have been thinking about an understanding of grace, which goes something like this. The action of grace is giving without expecting anything in return.
We often live in a “swings and roundabouts” world. Naturally, we like to “earn our keep”. We want to know that we have made a positive contribution to someone else and so have earned an affirming response. Isn’t there a phrase something like, ‘one good turn deserves another’? We like what we do to be noticed, we like to be appreciated, thanked. These are the unspoken rules of society, but its not grace in the way its described here.
I had an interesting experience, which tested that understanding of grace. A while ago, I had a conversation with a waitress in a café who said she grew up with an orchard at home and that especially she loved peaches. She’s away from that orchard now and shop bought fruit is not the same. This waitress is an outstanding positive presence in the café. She blesses many people every day: is always full of compliments and shows lots of kindness to other staff.
Remembering her comments about peaches, I took a couple of big ones in just as they were getting ripe. She was over-the-moon and so grateful. I then made my order (muffin and a coffee) and sat down somewhere quiet. The café was busy and I noticed there was a delay, so I settled in, checked my e-mails, sent a couple of texts… My muffin arrived… I waited… I ate my muffin – slowly… no coffee! After at least half an hour, I asked another waitress about my coffee. She checked it out and returned to say that my order had been lost and promptly provided what I had asked for. I needed to get moving by that time and so, drank it quickly and left, with a wry smile on my face. I could not expect special treatment, just because I had done a good deed.