What does it look like to live in grace on a college campus? As we live today, do we really have time to live as grace-filled people? What would it look like to make grace a priority in our daily schedules and agendas?
These were the questions that got us talking yesterday in a Lenten reading group that I've joined. There were nine of us there, and many of us were meeting for the first time or only knew each other by name--six students, a professor, a maintenance staff member, and me. You wouldn't think this would be the place to take up tough life questions, but we'd agreed to read The Cure together and to meet weekly to talk through the chapters, so there we were, digging right into the hard questions.
I suppose that where we landed was a bit ironic: we got to this discussion after reading a chapter that emphasized that we don't do anything that brings us God's grace--the whole point is that he sees the brokenness, shamefulness, and shortcomings in each one of us, yet seeks us out in spite of ourselves. We fail at "being good," and yet God offers us his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his renewing and transforming power.
So what's this about "making time" to live in grace? Our discussion wasn't about trying to earn God's love. Quite the opposite. Rather, we talked about what it would look like if we were to stop wearing our masks--to stop trying to fool others into thinking that we have it all together, to freely acknowledge that we are much in need of grace.
One of out student leaders reflected on how we rush past each other in hallways and on sidewalks, often exchanging a superficial "Hi, how ya doing?" and "Fine" even when we or our neighbors aren't fine. And that's where the question came in: what would it look like if we made time to live in grace? What would it look like if we made the time it takes to linger, to share together in our need for grace and the thanksgiving that we have for it?
Our group had a few practical ideas: maybe we would allow more time for traveling between classes, meetings, and other responsibilities--valuing sidewalk conversations enough to plan time for them into the day instead of always rushing from here to there. Instead of filling our schedules to the top, we'd allow some open spaces each day, expecting the unexpected in our relationships with others and allowing time to listen and learn together.
Along with turning the clock forward tonight, I'll also be making some adjustments to my calendar. I think the students had it right: living together in a community of grace works better when we intetionally allow for the time it takes to travel the road together.