…is a child sleeping. I am sometimes awed by just the feeling that rises up in me when beholding one of my daughters asleep; it is an intense experience of grace.
What makes that statement more than pious nonsense, I think, is the fact that the experience can come unbidden even a short time after the child has had a tantrum. Parenthood can sometimes feel like consolations and desolations on steroids, rushing frenetically on top of one another within the space of several hours. There is fun, there is disobedience; there are smiles, there are wails. By the end of a day I crave a little silence. I love to sit by the bedside as they go to sleep; sometimes I will do an Examen and sometimes I will read or write. And yet every now and again–not every day, mind you, life flies on– I am knocked down by grace. (Not a bad image to consider today, on the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul.)
Aristotle described the good life as being characterized by megalopsuche, “great-souled”ness. An encounter with grace reminds us that when we love, we really are doing nothing but allowing God to work through us, in us, expanding our souls so that God might use us for the sake of building his kingdom. Beholding a child sleeping, being struck by beauty: that’s about as close as I can point to in my own life of megalopsuche. Life for a moment seems so very beautiful, so very worth sharing, so very worth struggle.