Amazing Grace

Particularly close to God.

Particularly close to God?

That was the 10 minute free writing assignment that stumped me - write about a time I felt particularly close to God.

I’m not sure if it was the word ‘particularly’ but writing about an experience of God’s closeness, particular or not, proved difficult for me.

Nonetheless, I did just that. I wrote. I put pen to paper. I kept writing. I wrote that I didn't know what to write about. I wrote about my feelings and frustrations at having such a hard time coming up with something. I wrote about the noises I heard in the room. I kept my hand moving. I kept writing until something, a glimmer of an experience, emerged. But as I came to find out later, my experience of feeling close to God would come not in the writing and remembering, but in the sharing.

As was our custom during the week-long workshop we would each share our writings. Either by describing what we wrote or by reading aloud word for word. One by one the participants shared their stories of God’s presence.

We remembered. We shared the awe of God’s closeness to each of us.

We held close to one another’s words. We recognized similarities and common ground in our experiences with the divine.

Many wrote about the table. Of bread and wine. Of eating and drinking. As we remembered the table where life and forgiveness and hope was given to us, we remembered the One who always remembers us.

As I heard stories of all these bits and pieces of bread transforming hearts and communities, I looked around our table. Twelve writers gathered at the table.

Twelve people taking the words of our lives and turning them into stories of hope. Stories of understanding.

Twelve writers remembering. Giving thanks. Breaking open hearts and minds. Pouring ourselves out for the sake of the Gospel. Pouring words out for the sake of ourselves.

Being blessed and broken.

Later that day, around the table again, we heard the poems, heart, and honesty of former Kentucky Poet Laureate, Frank X. Walker. His words were a blessing for us. Transforming us. Inviting us into a narrative of hope.

His poem, Amazing Grace, needed someone to sing the first verse. “It works better that way,” he said.

A deep baritone voice rang out.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

Amazing grace.

During the song and in the quiet moments that followed, we didn’t need words or writing. Our hearts clung to the notes and melody of amazing grace. That was our song. That was our experience. That was God’s presence.

A moment teaching us the power of words to convey both the knowing and the unknowing of God.

This was my closeness with God.

This was God’s presence in, with, and under the pieces we offered. The pieces of our hearts. The pieces we received from one another. This was God’s grace, amazing, for us.

This was the table where words flowed and the Word called.
A particularly close encounter with the Word of God.