Precious Pilgrim,

My world is rich and full and fast. It’s overflowing in abundance with grace-filled experiences. 

Recently, a dear friend gave me the admonition to constantly be on the lookout for what she called the “grace of the moment.” Often it may seem hidden and hard to discover, like in those picture puzzles that have disguised objects camouflaged in their backgrounds. We still must look. 

My concern is that right now during this campaign I might be missing even the most obvious such moments. Those that I do comprehend might not be recorded and thus be forgotten. Help! Over the last two weeks, I’ve reverted to jotting down a word or two, hoping they would jar my memory when later referred to. I don’t want to miss the grace of the moment, so when time allows, I leisurely revisit the scenes by writing about them to you, Pilgrim. I think looking at these treasures can be very much like capturing and holding in our hands, ever so gently, a glorious butterfly. We can gaze upon its incredible, paper-thin, rainbow-like splendor, but then we must let it go, for it’s too precious to contain. Sometimes a little bit of that iridescent dust from their wings remains, just as the grace of a moment sometimes penetrates our minds and leaves a slight impression. We sense that a wisp of God’s glory has left a trail of wonder. Such a moment was experienced ten days ago. I scribbled down, “Hi, I’m Jeffrey from Brewbaker.” And now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to revisit that shimmering scene –

That day I went from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to Montgomery to Auburn and back to Montgomery. It was just another typical campaign day. My husband and I joined forces in Auburn, but by that time I had already begun to wilt. It’s hard to be “on” for that length of time. My spark plugs were about shot. On the way home, I was informed that we needed to make just one more stop at an environmental convention. I knew my husband was just as tired as I was. I also knew that at this point we would not be stopping unless it was deemed important, so I didn’t complain.

We walked into this big old barn of a room, which was surprisingly filled with many familiar faces. Oh, and it felt so good to be among friends and acquaintances that weren’t name-tagged. I received some genuine hugs and smiles and kisses. It was grand and a real fill-up time. But what was best of all, the icing on the cake, the pièce de resistance, the absolute grace of the moment, was the gift given by Jeffrey.

This precious, adorable, ten-year-old, redheaded boy came up to me and said, “Hi, I’m Jeffrey from Brewbaker” and then gave me a great big hug. I was overwhelmed. Being a mother of three grown boys, I knew to treat such a genuine show of affection with great care. I knew that this child’s spontaneous gift of tenderness would soon become almost obsolete. With puberty comes a self-conscious pulling-in, and embraces become rather rare commodities only made available to girlfriends or mamas when we catch them off guard.

 regained my composure and had enough presence of mind to ask him a few general questions, safe ones like “How’s the school year going?” and “What’s your favorite sport?” I tried my best to make conversation seem personal. I was racking my tired brain as we talked. Brewbaker? Brewbaker? Yes, I had spoken at the school, but it was to an audience of 300 students. How could I make Jeffrey feel as special as he was and as he was making me feel? When we finished our conversation, he gave me another big hug and I said, “God bless you, Jeffrey,” as he walked away.

Later on, I searched out and found his mother. She said he’d heard me last summer reading my children’s book at Vacation Bible School and then heard me speak at Brewbaker Junior High this past fall. She said I’d really touched him. I said he had really touched me.

Grace of the moment. If I become First Lady of this state, the first thing I’d like to institute is knighthood for chivalrous, gallant, precious, pre-puberty young boys. Already I have some deserving young candidates. First, there would be Sir Jeffrey who saved a tired, middle-aged, campaigning damsel in distress. Then I’d place my sword on the shoulders of Weldon of Doe and all the young men who’ve written me unexpected exemplary letters of encouragement.

If I’m unsuccessful in instrumenting this grand old form of showing gratitude, then at least I can take them out to lunch. We’ll dine on hamburgers and French fries and Cokes. We’ll sit in the round, like King Arthur. The only order of business will be my giving them each a sincere Thank You and reminding them of who the only King and Hero is. Also, if I’m lucky, I’ll sneak another hug from each, for in a year or two, as I said, they’ll become quite rare. Won’t that be the feast for a day?

As I write to you, Pilgrim, one other thing comes to mind. Never in my life have I been dependent on so many name tags. At almost every function we attend, we’re all labeled. Usually I don’t have on my drugstore reading glasses, so I can’t see the names. That’s embarrassing. Even more so is not remembering those people I’ve already met time and time again. I’ll say, “Hi, I’m Lucy MacLeod,” and they’ll reply, “Lucy, we’ve met you twice before.” As I said, it’s embarrassing. My not remembering precious Jeffrey, although he was one of 300 in the audience, was also embarrassing. But if you must know the truth, at this stage I’m lucky if I remember the names of my own children.

If we could get across to each and every person we meet the reality that the Lord Jesus Christ knows our names, our whole names, and that is what is important . . . If we could get across to each and every person we meet that it is by following Him that we get our true identity . . . He is the only true Celebrity. He is the only true Hero. He is the only true King. If we could just slip in a few God-bless-you’s and hugs like with Jeffrey . . . if we could then just quietly exit while leaving a few little shimmering glimmers here and there like the butterflies, then grace-of-the-moments might be popping up all over the place. Wouldn’t that be grand, Pilgrim?

Peace. Watch for the grace-of-the moment’s shimmering showings – hugs help bring them out.