I led the first of four noontime studies on forgiveness today, using Adam Hamilton’s book and DVD, Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go. I love Adam Hamilton, who is a United Methodist minister in Kansas. He explains his points clearly, and his studies make teaching easy. I set the stage and let Hamilton and the Holy Spirit go to work. The important thing for me is to get out of the way. But then people ask questions:
- If I haven’t forgiven someone who hurt me deeply, is that a sin? or
- What is grace?
The grace question stumped me. It’s like the word time: I know what it is until you ask me what it is, and then I don’t know. At Princeton I took a class on St. Thomas Aquinas from David Willis-Watkins. One day I asked what the difference is between the love of God and the grace of God in Thomistic thought; he said, “Grace is the effect of the divine love in us.” I remembered that. I talked to the woman who asked about grace after class and mentioned the father of the prodigal son as an image of grace. Grace is a gift I receive that I do not deserve, just as the younger son received an undeserved gift of being welcomed home by his loving father. The other question, on not having forgiven someone, I will have to work on more. It’s best to allow questions to linger in us until an answer presents itself. I’m inclined to believe forgiveness is a path, not a finished product, and the key thing is to stay on the path.
In the category of More Mundane Things, I bought a new pair of brown Skechers over the weekend and wore them for the first time today. I love Skechers. What a difference a comfortable pair of shoes can make in how you feel. Skechers and Adam Hamilton: two of my loves in life.