Philosopher friend and Grace

I enjoy conversations with a purpose and especially like time to discuss the deeper issues of life. This is a story which my “philosopher friend” wanted shared on the blog. Both of us would be interested in your thoughts.

The tale is essentially about grace – a difficult concept, unless couched in religious terms, but here goes.

P-F was visiting an elderly gentleman and noticed a fine looking clock. The conversation turned to clocks and time-keeping in general. E-G explained that this particular clock was an intelligent time-piece, one which continually updated itself by radio waves. P-F, originally of a scientific background was entranced, not having realised that such a thing existed. They talked some more about the wonders of the modern world and such like, and their time passed quickly as do all visits with kindred spirits.

Some time later, E-G turned up on P-F’s doorstep; he had a poorly wrapped package under his arm, and thrust it at P-F mumbling –This is for you….. P-F was taken aback – surprised and a bit confused – inside was a radio clock. Was it a gift? Should money be proffered? Was it perhaps even the original clock? What was the right reaction? There was also a sense of not being good enough for such kindness.

Eventually after a bit of stumbling and stuttering, grace took over. The grace to receive as well as to be grateful for the grace of the one who gave.

Hmmm……. That’s the beauty of philosophy, always more to think about.

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9 Responses to Philosopher friend and Grace

  1. JohnO says:

    We don’t do grace very well, from either direction, do we?
    I wonder how much of it is wrapped up in the language we use? We still tend to speak of grace in terms of ‘being let off”, ‘avoiding our deserved punishment’ and so on. It’s firmly rooted in the language of the law courts, of crime and punishment, of feudal systems and power structures. That language is, for many, becoming less and less relevant and so the impact of grace is being lost. Even the language of ‘free gift’ is becoming less effective as consumerism means we just buy whatever we feel we deserve, and piracy, in whatever forms – music, video, copy-cat watches, jewellery, etc – means that whatever we want is there for the taking at little or no cost anyway.
    What would the contemporary equivalent of these be, I wonder?

  2. Mina says:

    I have referred to my grandfather before and some of his wise words. I was brought up with the philosphy that it is better to give than receive. With this ringing in my ears it was many years into adulthood before I could receive an unexpected gift easily by saying thank you, that was kind of you to give / think of giving me such a gift. This also applies to kind words having been taught from early years if you cannot say something nice / good say nothing at all.

  3. Anne Gibert says:

    Yes, it is difficult to accept a gift or kindness from another without feeling trapped into obligation. I have resolved this in my own head to some degree by realizing that exact reciprocation is almost never possible. The best thing is to be grateful for what we receive and generous in what we give. Some people give more than they get in return, I hope making up for those of us who get more than our share.

  4. Why does it have to be “couched in religious terms” at all? This is an important issue and thanks for raising it. Whatever its meaning in a simpler time (whenever that was), the distortion of giving/receiving in consumer society is well described by John, commenter above.

    My young children often have to be instructed to say, “Thank you,” and I do relate that to the excess of Stuff in their lives.

  5. Lyn says:

    I think most of us have problems with accepting gifts simply. I do, to a degree, although there are some folks in my life that I understand their intent so that it becomes easy.

    My late husband was the worst at graceful receiving! He just could not accept a kind act or gift without returning in kind, in some way. It lead to many awkward moments, and actually, people backed away from him because they didn’t understand why he was so hell-bent to be the one who gave the last gift in the series! It was actually sad.

  6. Tabor says:

    Always a big smile and simple ‘Thank You’ are the best, but I would have followed it up with “What on earth made you think of me?”

  7. jimmy says:

    Some of the best gifts are given unnoticed – our safety – our comfort zone – our personal convenience – people are called upon to give these gifts and gifts like them without others and even themselves being aware of it. The grace of God is not confined to the structures of the buildings , hierarchy and the ritualistic sacraments of what Christians call church.
    un-church does not mean un-God.

  8. freda says:

    Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. Interestingly enough, the day before yesterday I was put exactly into the position of receiving an unexpected gift. Because it was also in the context of a business transaction of sorts, I found it hard to accept properly at the time. It can be easily sorted by sending a thank you card, but it again illustrates how we can struggle. And it was not couched in religious terms, though the giver was a Christian person. Probably my thoughts are coloured by all the years of preaching about God’s grace. But thinking of what has been said, I realise that teaching how to receive a gift gracefully given is an equally important part of sharing grace.

  9. Pingback: Further thoughts on Henri Nouwen | What’s the Story in Dalamory

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