Welcome to the first-annual Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club! We’re reading The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living by Lisa Hendey.
By Carol R. Younger
Each chapter’s “grace” is a gift discovered sometimes later rather than earlier in our life relationships and work. As Lisa writes, the “Yes” of the grace grows larger, more intentional as we recognize and practice it—with prayer.
Not many of us would introduce ourselves with “I’m very creative.” Yet, each of us is creative: whether it’s with leftovers becoming a grand dinner for surprise guests, or inventing a game that entertains bored children, or producing a new thing out of old things hanging around in attics. So often, creativity is found in the very ordinary and the daily.
Unlike Lisa, I studied in college not what I loved, but what I knew how to do well: Literature and the English language. My mother says I loved teaching teddy bears when I was small, and so she encouraged me to teach. Teaching seemed a good choice in college, as I couldn’t think of anything else to do with English. I certainly wouldn’t earn much writing books in a garret.
I left teaching when I married and didn’t think too much about it. After all, I hadn’t really chosen it. But it had chosen me. Or perhaps, that grace of creativity, the gift of teaching others to learn and love knowledge was what God placed within. Soon, I found opportunities to teach in the West Indies, then in Washington DC, and then wherever my husband worked. Children came along, and addresses changed, but the teaching continued. And I became adept at keeping kids involved in language and character analysis. Like Lisa, I gave myself to teaching tasks, knowing I was somehow supposed to, dimly aware of God coaxing me, unaware of the grace of creativity.
All along, however, I wondered why was I only “teaching.” You know the old saw: “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” I believed that logical error. I was just a teacher, I told myself, holding a textbook. As culture became sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, I kept at it, trying whatever seemed to interest kids so they would know how important the subject was, even if nobody else thought so, hoping for change in their lives. All the while, I had only the classroom, the books, and my perseverance.
Fifteen years into teaching a letter with no return address arrived telling me I had impacted a young woman’s life when she was a teen in my class. She said I had changed her direction, her sense of self, and she was grateful. She thought I had given her the chance to create a new way of being herself, she said.
I have no idea where that letter is now. But it changed me. A student taught me: about being created anew. Teaching changed; I focused even more on each student encounter. More than textbook, more important than course is the human creativity in relationship. As Don said to Lisa, what you do is …different from who you are. Teaching and learning are creative gifts, one person to another.
To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:
- Try to recall a teacher or a school experience which left an indelible memory within you. Why do you think you remember that particular person or event? When you reflect on it now, what does it contribute to your sense of yourself?
- Is there a daily or frequent activity you have never thought of as creative? (Think: shopping, cooking, dressing the kids, straightening the closets, laundry) Think about it carefully now. How can it become creative as you do it now?
Below, please comment on your thoughts from Chapter 3, your inspirations and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
About the Author:
Carol R. Younger, Ed.D. Formerly a public school teacher, counselor and administrator, Carol teaches at the graduate level in counseling psychology and catechetics. Carol is a Senior Fellow for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and has served on the Advisory Board for the Great Adventure Bible Studies. She is the published author of the Retreat Companion (2012) for 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, and a contributing author to Created to Relate: God’s Design for Peace and Joy by Kelly Wahlquist (Servant Press, 2015). She has presented at numerous conferences, led Cursillo ministry and conducted pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Europe’s many Catholic shrines. She has three married children, seven grandchildren, and a great granddaughter.
Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 4: The Grace of Integrity. For the complete reading schedule and information about our online book club, visit the Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club page.
WINE thanks Ave Maria Press for supporting our Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club. Specifically, thank you to Heather Glenn and her team for their marketing expertise.
Order your copy of The Grace of Yes, at St. George’s Books & Gifts. Free shipping on orders of $30 or more, and WINE will receive 10% of your order to support our evangelization efforts.
Carol, thank you for this beautiful reflection on Chapter Three. I loved learning more about you and your creative endeavors and teaching!! I have a huge feeling that you have (and will continue to in the future) touched and impacted many lives!
As I am getting into the rhythm of reading this book, I realize there are so many rich parts to both the book and the book club. Lisa, your style makes the reading easy and your willingness to share so much of yourself just draws me into a greater understanding of the graces about which you are writing. The questions at the end of each chapter cause me to look deeper within myself to examine where I am in my journey toward reaching ‘my best yes.’
The prayers at the end of each chapter soothe and lift me up. The reflections done by invited writers and speakers provide another context in which to consider the graces described in each chapter and help me to understand even more. Finally, there are the comments from other book club members where I learn how others are living out these beautiful graces. It’s far more than I imagined it would be! Thank you all!
Carol Younger wrote in her reflection this week: “Each chapter’s “grace” is a gift discovered sometimes later rather than earlier in our life relationships and work.”
I am certainly coming ‘later’ to discovering that much of what I attributed to my own doing (pride here) over the years, is in truth, graces from God which I just didn’t recognize as such.
Since joining a Cenacle of The Divine Mercy where our meetings are filled with prayer and readings from Holy Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and St. Faustina’s Diary, I have come to realize the there was so much I didn’t know about grace.
One paragraph from the Catechism (#2011) seems to fit well with our readings so far and especially Chapter 3. It opens with:
“The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.”
It fits well with the prayer at the end of Chapter 3, especially, “May my work always be worthy of the gifts you have placed within me.”
Wow Laurie, thank you for your very kind comment, but especially for that special Catechism quote (which I must admit is NEW to me!). How beautiful!! I am so glad that you are reading and praying with us. You have blessed me today in a very special way with what you’ve shared!
Hello again from the highways and byways of our beautiful land of freedom.
Laurie, your response reminds me of a quote ascribed to St. Therese: “Everything is grace.” It has taken me a good long while to understand that insight from Therese, Doctor of the Church. And, I learn it anew in each grace I recognize in my life events. Truly, Christ follows each of us in our wanderings toward heaven, just as the Rock followed the Israelites in the wilderness! We are His and He is ours! All praise to ever present Grace in our lives! And like you, Lisa, I appreciate the Catechism reference!
Those of us who are mothers can also put in our creativity the gift of being an part of God’s creative powers of bringing a new life into the world.
Thanks for the thought of making leftovers into a creative meal. I have done that often
Indeed, Dolores! We women who are mothers, whether naturally or as adoptive mothers, participate in the Creator’s action! What a gift that grace of creativity is, too! Thank you for mentioning this! My children are my greatest creative gifts back to God in His world. Thanks for reading and sharing. And Blessings on those creative leftover meals!
Dolores what a lovely reminder of the most important kind of “creativity”. May God richly bless your family – they are fortunate to have you.