Sunday, March 14, 2010

The graceful soldier.

So, Scotland held England to a 15 all draw in yesterdays Six Nations Rugby. If the lads had tried a bit harder they could have won . At least there is solace in the fact that the English didn't beat us.

Watching the two sides shake hands after the match set me thinking about the word 'grace' . Is it the most mysterious word in the English language ? Is it one of the most beautiful? It has so many meanings, some of them obvious, others quite unfathomable to modern day sensibilities. It's a word that's now rarely used in anything other than its most obvious interpretations of attractive or elegant. Yet there's another , invisible, side to the word that intrigues me - 'grace' as a virtue. Sportsmen can be gracious in defeat, the troubled can be gracious in adversity, warriors can be gracious in victory. As a student writing my thesis in Atlanta I heard a choir at Martin Luther Kings church artfully sing ' grace is flowing like a river' to the old German tune ' O du froliche'- a lovely if elusive image beautifully framed. In St.Thomas' church in Manhattan 'Grace' sits alone looking down inspiringly on the worshippers from the chancel - not one in a thousand would know she was there or what she represents. Old Scots crofters sang about 'amazing grace' little knowing that 300 years later their tune would be played gracelessly in shopping malls around the world.. This last week a young New Zealand corporal serving with British forces in Afghanistan valiantly defused a hand grenade but firmly refused to be called a hero - ' I did it for my mates' - not a graceful phrase but one brimming over with old fashioned self-effacing grace.

The more I think about it the less I understand what grace is. Can it be taught ? Is it inherited? How do you define it? How do you recognize it ? Why is it amazing ? The best definition is that it seems to be some form of influence that comes to strengthen and inspire . It may be difficult to describe but it's easy to recognize . Yesterday evening I came across two posts that have a gentle rythmic grace about them , and - each shows a tenderness and dignity towards the passing of an old family friend while also describing the harsh pain that comes with having to make that final parting decision. These two posts are grace full in the proper sense of the word. Then there is Max in South Africa who is now into his second month of grace - it flows all around when you look for it.


  1. What lovely thoughtful post to read first thing Sunday morning.
    Not the most exciting rugby game ever though, was it?
    I had planned to celebrate the event with a (hopefully) amusing post about the English-Scottish rivalry between Hamish and myself in this household. I envisaged a picture of the two of us in front of the telly, posing with our respective national flags. Sadly it wasn't to be.
    Gail (in Aberdeen).

  2. Angus,

    I am speechless and full of tears. Thank you for reminding us of unselfish love.

    Hugs to you and your family,

  3. None of us could survive without it.
    Lovely post.

  4. While blog-hopping this early morning over a cup of coffee, I followed the crumbs which led me to your delightful (and insightful) blog. My son has been to Scotland twice on business and (altho he was very cold) he really loved the country. Umbria and Provence are places dear to my heart, as are dogs, so I think I am now officially a follower of your blog. I look forward to your posts!
    from Oklahoma, USA

  5. I have to agree with you, I think grace is an elusive thing that we all need to feel at times. Sometimes we need to give it and sometimes we need to recieve it.

  6. It was a tedious match, wasn't it? Too much time spent on broken scrums. No tries...v.dull for me! As for grace, I'm sure you know this, Christians believe it is a gift from God. There were many arguments about it in the early Church. People thought that if grace were bestowed by God, one could behave howsoever one liked, repent later and then plead to God for his forgiveness and grace.

  7. Hey there Angus

    My weekend has been hectic, so I have been granted ( the giver of time) to come and ponder over this post of yours. Indeed, I am pleased that I am the last one to comment!

    Here's the interesting thing..we all have paradigms within which we live and we use words to describe events within these paradigms. The word "Grace" finds value within each unique paradigm.

    If I introspect and consider the word "Grace", I realise that I (personally) have only ever ascribed one meaning to 'grace' (besides the little girl who washed her face.:)) and I have to (reluctantly) admit that this meaning has always had a spiritual quality to it!

    You see...In my opinion,Maxdog's 'Days of Grace' are a gift..given by my (and Max's) me, unexpectedly. This concept of 'Grace' is so clear to me when I consider that Maxi has 'overstayed' his welcome - at least as far as Scientific opinion is concerned!

    Indeed, when scientists can't explain a miracle, I (personally) regard that event as "grace".

    My intention in this comment is simply to explain another personal paradigm. Thank you for a thought provoking post!

    MAXMOM in SA

  8. I wanted to comment yesterday but my computer froze up after I wrote my comment. You describe grace, that intangible quality, with such eloquence. We all know it when we see it... but it is very hard to define.

    I think that Max's days are "Days of Grace" but also his family's attitude exudes grace in the most difficult of times.