On Friday morning, I opened my Bible to the psalms as part of my usual morning routine of prayer and reflection and read the above passage.
God is all mercy and grace -- not quick in anger, is rich in love.
God is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace.
I read those lines -- especially the last line -- over and over.
Everything he does is suffused with grace.
"It doesn't feel that way," I told him. I thought about the Old Testament and all its violence. I thought about the nations that didn't get to know the God of Israel. I thought about my ongoing struggle with the contents of history.
It sure doesn't seem like everything God does is suffused with grace.
I sat at my desk, staring at those words, and eventually told God my resistance to their testimony. Then, after a while, I went to sit on the couch in our living room. This has become a place for me to curl up and listen to God when I'm crippled by the noise inside my head. I curl on the couch under a blanket and rest my head against the chest of Jesus.
So there I was on Friday morning, curled up on the couch, that line in the psalm ruminating in my mind. Suffused with grace.
And Jesus began to talk to me about it.
He didn't come at it directly. Lately, in my prayer times, we have been walking back and forth along a beach shoreline. We walk and we talk. A lot of the time lately, I do most of the talking. I tell him the ways my heart hurts at all this pain and suffering that I see and know exists and has existed. I sputter and accuse and sometimes cry.
I want him to give me answers for these things, but truthfully, I haven't slowed down enough to let him speak. I'm too aware of my pain and the magnitude of the questions to let any other voice in.
He has waited for me to be ready, and on that Friday morning, I finally was. I stopped my talking and opened myself to listen to him. And he took his time responding. He looked up at the sky, contemplating where to start responding. He looked over at me and smiled but still walked along the shore with me in silence.
I walked and waited for him to speak. I knew eventually he would.
And he did.
Eventually, he looked back up at the sky and began to speak to me of the time before the beginning of time -- the time before creation, when the Godhead of the Trinity existed in pure communion with itself, unadulterated love in cosmic joy.
He led me to contemplate what that pure communion of love and joy among the Trinity was like. True perfection and the fullness of all goodness -- a being than which, as Anselm of Canterbury called it, nothing greater can be conceived. Perfect love, perfect truth, perfect justice, perfect kindness, perfect goodness, perfect action: all that is the best, most perfect existence.
Suffused with grace. It occurred to me to ask, "Would grace have existed at this time in God?" There would be no need for grace if nothing but perfection of being -- nothing but God -- existed at that time. Nothing fell short of perfection or lacked any good thing to render grace necessary. The perfect Godhead acted justly -- in perfect correctness and rightness in all things.
Perhaps it was only the introduction of creatures other than God's own perfect self that rendered the active attribute of grace in God necessary.
So we turned to the act of creation next . . .