When we are sitting down, mugs of coffee in our hands, awaiting eggs and hash and monkey toast (which is caramel banana French toast), she looks at me and asks me to keep talking. "You were saying..." she smiles and settles into her chair to listen. We trade this position back and forth, leaning forward and back, the toddler at the next table making us laugh as he sends a plate, the tip and a pile of napkins onto the floor. We sit on the big front porch of each other's hearts, and look out at the world together.
This week I am trying to tell her, tell myself, what I've learned about grace. I think that's what I'm going to talk about. I think I'm going to talk about how when you find the dream inside you that gives you life, when you find the thing which you must do, then your heart expands towards the rest of the world. You aren't jealous of other people's success. You are no longer worried about the future. You know only the work that is before you and you pour yourself into it.
But the funny thing is, instead I find myself confessing as I put a piece of banana in my mouth that I really want to be wanted. I find the words leaking out of my mouth that I know that being desirable isn't as simple as having someone desire you, but that I wish I had it. The corners of my mouth pull down. I fiddle with my coffee mug. I cross, and uncross my legs.
She looks at me and gets it. I see the recognition pass through her eyes like I'm wearing a sweater she knows. She fiddles with her mug, too. And when she looks at me, as she settles into the porch chair in my heart and looks outward at the world I see - I realize, the bigger grace is the space to say how much I do not know.
The grace I would have talked about is true; and discovering what you love to do is a grace that widens and expands you to see and love others better. All the words that I imagined myself spilling across the plastic table are true. But the bigger grace is the space to live out the confession that I don't believe it yet, that I do really want to be wanted, that I long for an answer to that question.
Sometimes when we go to talk about grace we receive it. Sometimes when we set off to tell a friend about the lesson we've learned, we learn a different, bigger one.
Her hands move across the air between us, reminding me about the difference between our small college and the bigger world, or about what beauty lives in us despite others and ourselves' seeing it. We pick up our bags and sign our receipts, and push open the door. We step onto the street in silence, travel in step towards the car.
This is the bigger grace: she makes the space to tell the truth. This is the bigger grace: between monkey sweet bread toast and house coffee, and two girls at the beginning of it all, she offers me the space to be uncertain, to be wondering, to grow.
The bigger grace is the love.