Graceful Virtues: A Reflection on the Grace of Yes by Lisa M. Hendey

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It is a gift to discover a companion on the spiritual journey from a tradition different from one’s own. Lisa Hendey is a Roman Catholic; I am a Presbyterian Protestant. Yet in reading her book called The Grace of Yes, I found that there were many places where our paths were similar, if not identical. We both grew up in homes where faith was practiced and taught. We both spent time as full-time caregivers to our children, and we both write blogs, although Hendey is founder and editor of a much larger enterprise than the one in which I participate. I read her new book with a sense of resonance and empathy.

Hendey frames some basic spiritual qualities in terms of virtue and practice. Some of those qualities will be familiar to those who read spiritual literature, but she introduces some contemporary critiques in areas where not many writers have gone. In her chapter on the grace of Humility, she ventures into the present day territory of being a leader and an exemplar in the brave new world of technology and social media, in which there is so much latitude for cheap shots, ephemeral trending and anonymous comments, both plaudits and pans. She places the virtue of humility squarely in a faithful one’s understanding of the Holy, as a child of God. And powerfully, she links humility with the mandate and practice of forgiveness: The energy I give to not forgiving or to holding on to a grudge is an unhealthy and often sinful self-indulgence I permit myself. In my lack of humility, I want to believe that I am right. (78) I find much to keep pondering here.

She is equally powerful in her chapter on vulnerability, linking it with the process of aging, and accepting the limitations which come with it. She invokes a healthy attention to appropriate self-care coupled with an acceptance of frailty.

Some of the theological and spiritual resources to which she refers are not ones that are useful to me, but I find her intention and her tone inviting, and challenging to anyone on the journey who longs to live more deeply into an faith journey that walks the walk, as well as talk the talk. Hendey graces her readers with reason and hope!

Visit the Patheos Book Club on The Grace of Yes here.

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