“I wondered how in hell I ever got myself mixed up in a project that couldn’t be carried out. It was like starting to write a novel.
When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do
it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate
and I eliminate the possibility of ever finishing.” This is an excerpt from John Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie. It can
ease one's self-condemnation and despair when one realizes that such a great writer as Steinbeck had such regular struggles as this
in the midst of his writing. To struggle is to be human. To doubt is to be human. To persevere in the face of this is also open to
us as humans.
The question of grace for me is central--both to life and to the healing process. It comes so often in the midst of trouble, despair,
and the messiest things in life. In my own life, years ago and feeling life-shaking despair and anguish, I walked in the night. For
a few moments, it was as if I had reached the eye of the storm. A stillness overtook me and I heard the following inside: "You will
write, you will love deeply, you will bring peace to many, and you will eat." It is moments of grace such as these that
can carry a person through immense hardship. I have experienced them with clients during the counselling process. I look for them
and I draw clients' attention to them. They are real.
Rather than to try to describe grace with words alone, I include here
some examples of its power through art. In the one instance, an older Judy Garland in her last performance--at once more wistful and
voice less silky sweet--leaves me tearful and yet less tense. It isn't only about having our dreams fulfilled; it's about dreaming
In another way, the clip at right from a Tom Hanks movie depicts someone who is given the grace to rediscover the meaning
and beauty of life. What do you ache to discover again?
And at bottom, John Steinbeck highlights how the greatest of human achievements
seem to rise out of/in the midst of despair. And it's usually long, hard, and slow.
Touched by Grace
Hit the 'full screen' button at bottom right for this scene from Joe vs the Volcano for maximum effect
Start by clicking on Judy