Discover more from A Letter from Rocco
fancy hotel beagle
being open to grace
It’s been a minute since I’ve written here. Some day soon I’ll be able to tell you about what’s been taking up my time, but in the meantime please enjoy this exclusive picture of Rocco and me writing this very newsletter from our front porch.
Last week I went on retreat! The theme was Say the Word and My Soul Shall Be Healed: Jesus as the Divine Physician. It was absolutely wonderful and I didn’t realize how much I needed to sit in silence.
You see, when I was in the convent I was spending an average of 3 hours in silence daily. Since then, I spend an average of 30 seconds in silence daily. I still pray, of course. But it’s much more often prayer in crowded public places or with music or out of frustration. I rarely just sit.
Part of going on retreat also meant that Rocco and I got to go to a hotel! Rocco tends to be extremely well-behaved when we go away (unlike a few days ago when he chewed through my laptop charger at home), which is super nice.
One evening while on retreat, I took Rocco for a walk down by the beach. He had a great time frolicking through the sand, running away from waves, and trying to become friends with hermit crabs that clearly did not want to be friends with him.
Overall, it was the perfect 3 days. But why?
I did some work while I was away, so it wasn’t perfect because of that. The hotel bar only stocked Bud Light, so it wasn’t because of that either. The weather was rainy most of the time, so we definitely can’t give the beach any credit either. So what gives?
It was perfect because of the silence and the time I spent just playing, just being, with Rocco.
One of the things that I’ve noticed in my life recently is a tendency to feel like I have to do absolutely everything myself. From living alone to being in a director position for my job, I find that practically speaking I am often the only one left to do things.
We know that’s not true, though.
God is the one “in whom we live and move and have our being.” He never steps over our self-imposed boundaries, never forces himself into our lives. He respects us so much that He will not even force us to be with Him forever in heaven if that’s not what we want… even though that’s what He wants most.
The simple reason that these 3 days were perfect was because I was actually open to receiving God’s grace for the first time in a very, very long time.
It’s reasonable to ask how we can be open to grace, and I believe the best place to go for this is a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas, who says that “grace builds on nature.” Often people use this quote to justify a second cup of coffee, saying that they need to be awake to accept God’s grace. But it’s more than that.
Our human nature is one that necessarily comes with weaknesses and brokenness. It necessarily means that we can’t do everything, that we can’t stay up for weeks on end, and that we will inevitably disappoint people around us. Being human can really stink sometimes, mostly because it involves an awareness that there is a God and we’re not Him, despite what the newest ad campaign might suggest.
Accepting our humanity (and who He really made us to be) is the crucial step in being open to God’s grace. Because, you see, God doesn’t give grace to who we think we should be. He gives grace to who we really are.
God gives grace to those who acknowledge that they’re in over their heads. He gives grace to those who cry out for help when they’re in pain. He gives grace to those who say they don’t know what to do next.
He gives grace to us when we acknowledge that He’s God and we’re not.
The 3 days of retreat that I had were perfect because they were days when I was critically aware of my need for God. They were days when I treated Rocco like the playful dog that he is. More of that, please.