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.
The word vulnerability sometimes evokes negative, or at least worrisome, impressions for me. Every day, though, the word is almost never used outright. I am urged to obtain products, plans and prescriptions which, in essence, promise to shield me from vulnerability.
But in these pages, I see emerging an image of vulnerability which sounds more like victory, not defeat—strength, not weakness—and an openness to life and love that is freeing, not frightening. This, I see, is the Christian vulnerability to which we are all called. I think I first really understood it when, on Page 104 of The Grace of Yes, Lisa Hendey presents the Scripture passage from Isaiah which reads, “A glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit” (Isaiah 61:3).
Such Christian vulnerability—this glorious mantle—breaks through fear, guards my joy, and grants me access to a life without limits, where I can expect to meet Christ not only in my potential, but also in my limitations and where I can live life generously, no matter how little I may have to give.
It now occurs to me that I am usually very careful about the way I dress for specific circumstances or occasions. I want to make sure I’m warm enough or cool enough. I want to look professional for those I encounter in business situations and comfortable for those who join me in recreational activities. And I take the time to choose special clothes when I want to look beautiful for someone I love. But I am less careful to “dress” myself appropriately for the spiritual situations I encounter every day—for the choices I have to make, for the interior battles which sometimes take place, or for the compassion and empathy needed to deal with others and sometimes with myself.
In Romans 13, Saint Paul tells us to put on the armor of light. In First Corinthians, he tells us to put on immortality, and in Ephesians 4, to put on the new nature. Throughout the Old and New Testament alike, we are encouraged to put on righteousness, glory, splendor, faith, love, and hope.
It is time for me to pick out a new wardrobe—certainly to prepare myself for whatever circumstances I encounter each day, but also because I want to look beautiful for the One I love.
Suddenly, I find that I have the desire to run to my limitations, to my weaknesses, to my losses. I am excited to meet them face to face, for the Lord is there. “I have come,” Jesus reminds me, “not for the well, but for the sick” (Matthew 9:12). He has come for me!
To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:
- Pray for the grace of Christian vulnerability.
- Take some time to ponder the Isaiah 61: 1-3. In your journal, write down any impressions you may have, or anything that the Lord brings to your mind or into your heart.
- Use the following two questions to begin a dialog in prayer:
— Lord, I desire to be clothed in this glorious mantle. Tell me what this looks like on me.
— Lord Jesus, what do my limitations look like in the light of your love?
Below, please comment on your thoughts from Chapter 6, your inspirations and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
About the Author:
Lynne lives in historic Newark, DE, where she enjoys writing and blogging about her love for the Catholic Faith on her website Fellowship of the Lamb.
Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 7: The Grace of No. 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.
Lynne, I am so very moved and inspired by your reflections on this chapter. It was actually one of the most challenging for me to write. I pray that there work we will do this week to break it open together will be a blessing for many. Thank you for your sharing!
When I think of vulnerability – my own and that of those around me – I think about everything I have learned about Divine Mercy over the past few years and the words below the Image of Jesus who is The Divine Mercy: ‘Jesus, I trust in you’.
There’s a paragraph in St Faustina’s Diary where she records the words of Jesus regarding trust: “…The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is – trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive…” (Diary # 1578)
Lynne: you provided such an important insight when you spoke of the strength there is in vulnerability. You are so right. I do believe the more we trust in Jesus in our vulnerabilities, the more spiritual strength we gain.
Lisa: I liked the way you pointed us to those around us where we may help others in their vulnerabilities – especially those in our own families and in our communities – the places where we have been ‘planted’. And like Lynne, I was drawn to one of the Scripture verses you used: “A glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.” (Isaiah 61:3).
Bryan Thatcher, MD who started the Cenacles of The Divine Mercy defines mercy as ‘love that seeks to lessen the misery of others’.
I love that definition.
Our Cenacle (small prayer group) of The Divine Mercy includes works with our prayer and study. One work we do regularly now is to spiritually adopt and pray for unborn children – then we hold baby showers to benefit our local Pregnancy Support Center joining our spiritual work (prayer) and our corporal work (clothes and diapers).
I suspect many of the groups reading in this book club may be doing works in their communities – I would love to hear some examples of how other women are helping the vulnerable around them.