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Grace and Gratitude

I need grace.
Because grace is my grounding.
Without grace… I lose track of where my soul is awakened, sustained and reborn.
And I love stories about grace, the kind that do your heart good, and nourish and replenish your soul with gratitude. Stories it is imperative to tell again. And again. Because the story, and the grace, spills to a world that needs it.
In the town of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, there is a church named Lagniappe (“lan-yap”). It is an old Creole word that means “something extra”.
Pastor Jean Larroux explains, “Down here if you go into a seafood shop and order a pound of shrimp and they put in an extra handful, that’s the lagniappe. It’s something you can’t pay for. Something for nothing. Something for free.”
In an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Jean began this church, in his words, with people “primed for grace.” Accustomed to teaching church people how to celebrate, Jean was surprised to find himself in a community of people who already knew. Even in the middle of their hardship.
Here’s the good part.
This celebration (fullness of life from lagniappe) is not predicated on life as we expect it.
The party doesn’t start when our fear is gone.
The party doesn’t start when our beliefs are unadulterated.
The party doesn’t start when doubt has been appeased.
The party doesn’t start when our circumstances make it feasible.
If we wait for all that, we miss grace and gratitude every time.
And this I know; Grace and Gratitude help you fall in love with the life you already have.

When you do pause, and pay attention, there is, literally, an internal recalibration. While nothing is “added” to your life, there is a new awareness of the light that is (alive and well) within. Let’s call it our new internal wealth account.
So. Grace allows us to risk loving, to be unafraid of a life that can be messy.
To make a space for something less than perfect in ourselves and in one another.
To offer kindness and compassion. In a glance, in a word, in a touch.
To create spaces, sanctuaries, where healing and hope are offered.
To believe in goodness after harm. And to know that this light and love will always spill to the world around us.
Lagniappe indeed.
I love to write about Lagniappe in Sabbath Moment. Remembering some of the stories my Grandmother used to tell, after which we’d eagerly say, “Please tell us that story again.”

Emotional and spiritual hydration are go-to themes here. Because we live in a world where burnout is real… the big three symptoms of emotional exhaustion, cynicism and feeling ineffective. So, it is no surprise that we live in a world (inundated with the need to outdo or outrun) where grace is suspect.
Did you know that the Greek translation of the Gospel of Mark (the first gospel written) stops in the middle of a sentence? It’s not so neat and tidy as we want to make it, and ends oddly, like a Game of Thrones cliff hanger, leaving us wanting more. But maybe that’s good. We get hung up on our need for control and a future we can predict.
Lagniappe necessitates a paradigm shift. Without it, we stay stuck in our head. We like to say that we teach or preach grace. Which makes grace something to comprehend, like the answer to a test question.
Robert Capon’s reminder, “We live life like ill-taught piano students; so inculcated with the flub that gets us in Dutch, we don’t hear the music; we only play the right notes.”
Here’s the deal: when our focus is on keeping score, we miss the party, the fundamental reality that grace lights up our day, and our world. Regardless of whether we fathom it, or are able to put it “in a box”.
We miss that the wakefulness grace bestows, is fueled by two simple words, Thank you.
Gratitude and Grace indeed.
And we miss the power of Lagniappe. The something extra? How about the joy in the ordinary, in dollops of gentleness, kindness, connection, empathy, compassion, generosity, wonder and healing.
Ordinariness opens us up to our humanity, now absorbed in moments of grace. Instead of needing to fix or analyze, we absorb and invest; we notice and listen and feel and love. We are safe, at home in our skin.
Life may be uncertain, but the party is on.
And there is only one requirement–bring who you are.
This is not about who you are supposed to be. Or who you should be.
This is not about the denial of pain and suffering. Or the denial of grief and loss and hardship. Or even the denial of death.
It is about what the people of Bay Saint Louis knew. If there’s a party, jump in with both feet. Jean says, “they take every drop of juice out of the lemon that they can get, and they love it.”
And this we know: Lagniappe, grace, always spills.
And, we are primed for grace.
So. When someone asks what you are doing this week, tell them, “I’m practicing Lagniappe.”

“Maybe it’s the peanut butter ice cream he still enjoys. Or the fact that his first-place Atlanta Braves are cruising toward the playoffs and he wants to see another World Series. Or as many of his loved ones and former advisers suggest, maybe he is just too stubborn to follow anyone else’s timetable. Whatever the reason, seven months after entering hospice care, Jimmy Carter is still hanging on, thank you very much, and is in fact heading toward his 99th birthday on October first.” (Thank you Peter Baker)
Happy birthday to one of my heroes.

Quote for our week…
“Be the hand of a hopeful stranger, Little scared but you’re strong enough. Be the light in the dark of this danger, ‘Till the sun comes up.’”  Sara Barielles, A Safe Place to Land, Amidst The Chaos.

Note: Jean Larroux story from Sin Boldly, Cathleen Falsani


Today’s Photo Credit: “Hi Terry, Thanks for your  inspiration. This is sunrise at Virginia Beach. Morning has broken once again!” Jill Hunter… Thank you Jill… And thank you to all, I love your photos… please keep sending them… send to 

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Letters that do my heart good…
–Ah, flower in the crannied wall… I pluck you out of the cranny. I hold you here, root and all, in my hand… If I could but understand what you are, root and all, I would understand what God and man are… or something like that. One of my favorite poems ever. So simple. So meaningful. Your message on “dirt” is also quite meaningful. Thank you! Patti
–Love Love Love the sweet pea (and amazing photo… and message)! I hardly ever see them. My mother grew them when we were growing up in Atlanta. Peace and love, Susan
–Yesterday, a lovely red bloom of portulaca blessed my day. It was very unexpected as all the other blooms have been white. Terry, your daily reflections help me focus on what is most important, living to the full. Thank you. Pat
–Terry, Your words made the experience Real! Thank you for the time you took to soak yourself in those experiences and sift until you captured the precise words to let us feel the vibrant intoxication of the present moment! What an awesome experience! Sylvia
–Good morning Terry. Blessings to you this day and every day. My day does not get underway until your message reaches my heart and energizes my old bones. Years ago when I joined your daily meditations I was drawn to your books This is the Life and Soul Gardening. I don’t have the physical books so I must not have ordered them. I remember the beautiful iris that introduced Soul Gardening and I think of that often. Are these books still available? I would love to add them to your two recent books which I have. Thank you for making us so aware of God’s plan for all of us by meeting Him in the sacrament of the moment and the work of the Holy Spirit. God bless you. Christine
–Thanks for inspiring so many and helping us Belong to the beauty of the present moment. I’d love for you to explore the concept of self-love for I believe our mission is to give ourselves the love, light and grace so we may become a beacon for others. Matthew


Gratitude and Grace help you fall in love
with the life you already have.

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
Father Pedro Arrupe SJ

Autumn begins.
The gifts of earth, in autumn,
Are fruits of labor bold;
The faithful sower reaps
In harvest time his gold.
It twines the wreath of gladness
Around that son of earth.
As he turns from care and sadness,
To his joyous household hearth!
Charles William Butler

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