Did you pay attention to the eclipse? I enjoyed how people put aside their differences for one day, looked up through protective glasses, and felt a collective sense of awe. I enjoyed all the eclipse photos shared on social media.
For a brief time, the moon and the sun and the Earth lined up spectacularly and we paid attention and went: Wow! Look at that!
And then, after a few minutes, the moon moved into a different alignment, the eclipse ended, and things went back to the usual.
The sun and the moon are no longer big news. I didn’t even pay attention to the moon again until yesterday evening when I spotted it just above the horizon, partially eclipsed by the shadow of earth. It was a different kind of eclipse, but one that’s so familiar that we don’t even look for it or feel a sense of wonder at seeing it.
When things become “ordinary” to us, they’re often out of mind, out of sight.
It’s a parable, isn’t it?
It’s much easier to pay attention when things line up in a spectacular way for a short time. Then when things soon go back to “normal,” we turn our attention to something else and stop seeing the miracle all around us.
Everyday moments of miracle
We overlook the reality that the sun and the moon are still amazing and still right there, just not in the same alignment. The moon is circling the Earth, and we’re circling the sun together, and we’re all zooming through space at a mind-blowing speed along with trillions of other celestial bodies.
It’s all there doing the same thing, just in a different path. It’s all a miracle, even when we don’t recognize it as such.
And the same goes for grace.
Grace is always moving around us and within us, pulling on us and directing us with its divinely gravitational powers. But we forget to notice it working in its “ordinary” ways to produce extraordinary things.
We all know those moments when grace gets our attention and it’s easy to say: Wow, God really is working here! Someone comes into our life at just the right time, or something falls into place in an unexpected way that we’d never imagined.
It’s easy to feel God’s presence when everything seems to be lined up in a grace-filled way.
Squint and recognize it
Then there are those common, everyday moments when we have a difficult time seeing grace in the ordinariness and the messiness of life. Things seem to be zooming along without any discernible pattern — discernible to us, anyway.
It’s easy to lose track of grace when we’re going through a difficult time – we lose someone, we can’t find a job, we get sick, a relationship ends, a loved one is struggling, we feel lost and lonely. It’s easy to forget about grace at work when we’ve settled into our daily slog.
Just like the sun and the moon, grace is right there doing its thing. Grace isn’t missing; we’re just less attentive to it.
Grace invites us to pay attention not only to the dramatic eclipses, but also to the everyday moments of miracle. Grace is spectacularly at work in our lives, even when it’s not in our line of sight or it’s lined up differently than we’d hoped.
It’s still right there. We just need to squint and recognize it.