We have a choice about how we behave, and that means we have the choice to opt for civility and grace.”~ Dwight Currie
With Lent in full swing, it seems like a good time bump up the notch on my civility self training. It can have a two-fold purpose in not only making me a better person overall, but in becoming a Lenten practice. It’s a two for one thing, which I always think is nice!
The quote today has one of my favorite words in it. Grace. Growing up, the last adjective someone would have described me with would have been grace, at least not in the physical sense! First off, I was left handed, that means doing everything from learning how to write, to tying my shoes to learning to iron meant everything was backward for me. It was extremely awkward for me to iron clothes especially when Mom left the ironing board up. I tried to imitate her but the small end and the large end were always at odds with my left hand moving the iron. That is until I figured out I could just switch sides and things got a little better. But these were the days before they put the cords in the middle of the iron and that stupid cord was always getting caught under the iron. I actually melted a couple of them when I didn’t watch out where I was setting it down on the board!
I was long legged and clumsy, my hair was long and hung down over my eyes (it was the sixties, everyone wore their hair like that!) and I loved to wear bell bottoms which got in everything from slamming doors to bicycle chains! On top of all that, the only way I did things was fast. Run through the house, run outside, run to the swings, run to the kitchen table. I still run up and down the stairs at work to the fluster of my co-workers. And in the midst of all that running, I had my run-ins with chairs, tripped over dogs and cats, feet caught in the carpeting. My knees were always in a state of scabs, cuts, band aids.
In other words, grace was definitely NOT my middle name.
I admired people like Princess Grace of Monaco who just seemed to flow with grace, Audrey Hepburn who had style AND grace and my grandmothers who didn’t really appreciate the fact that I could jump three stairs and make it to breakfast in record time. “Do we have a herd of elephants in the house?”
So it is really pushing it for me to look at this quote and think grace will have to be a partner with my civility. At 53 I don’t think I can totally change my whole physical personality and become Princess Grace.
But perhaps in my way of thinking I can be graceful. In the way I look at other drivers on the road, or the people who come to the office door looking for help, or my choir students who laugh and giggle their way through choir practice. Grace would mean I could l look my students in the eye, without getting mad at their behavior and still correct them. Grace would mean I would welcome anyone to the door with a smile and send them in the right direction without sighing at the interruption. Grace would mean I would smile at other drivers, slow down myself and see the world through their eyes.
Perhaps I’ve given myself the excuse to not be graceful in my civility because I’ve never thought of myself as graceful. Well, guess this year will be the time to change that line of thinking. Just because I am a physical person doesn’t mean I can’t do everything with grace. I lift lumber, move furniture, lift my 45 pound dog into my car (his legs are really short!) climb ladders, work in attics, spar in martial arts. All of those things can be done with more grace than I already do. There’s always room for improvement.
I’ve always envied women who could do physical work and hardly show they have broken sweat. I get dirty, nasty, but I have fun doing it. Maybe grace isn’t so much how you look. There has to be a way to still be physical, still run up and down the stairs with grace and yet look like Grace Kelly doing it!
But for now, I’ll be working on the mental side of grace, grace in my manners, how I treat interruptions. And I'll let you know how becoming more graceful physically goes too! It's Lent after all, why not got for the gold?!