During this series I have taken advantage of posting two or three posts together. This was done in part because of the approach we’ve taken in discussing grace. I used the four types of probability, a mathematical construct, because in considering grace, I had to consider the probability of its existence. The question for today is this…. Have you?
The odds of someone extending grace to another are what? What are the odds that you showed grace to someone yesterday? Today’s posts, three-fold and connected by their axiomatic approach to grace, are both simple and complex. And our very future may depend on their example becoming a real probability in our lives. Grace is not just something we might extend to another and perhaps, depending upon your belief system, receive from the Creator. Grace might very well be the key to a future for us all.
Advent 23 – Overthinking Grace
Many times I write my blog entries in advance and schedule them to be posted. Sometimes it is because I am on a roll with my writing must working overtime and other times it is because of my schedule. I either will not be in an area that is technology-friendly or am uncertain I will have the time to write and post. Usually the scheduling works out fine but sometimes, Mother Nature steps in to throw a hurdle in my schedule. The advance scheduling of post Advent 22 went as planned but two seemingly contradictory weather alerts disrupted Advent 23 being posted.
Precipitation is dependent upon temperature. Not only do colliding air fronts result in precipitation but the type of precipitation that falls from the skies is determined by the temperature. If it is cold and below freezing, one will experience either sleet, freezing rain, or snow. Ten inches of rain equals one inch of snow, by the way. If it is warm, it will rain. However, if it is warmer than seventy degrees Fahrenheit, there is also the possibility of thunderstorms and/or tornados.
Sunday we have both the warm weather prediction for tornados and sleet. During the early morning hours, the area did have two tornadoes and then, later in the evening, sleet fell. High winds accompanied both weather patterns, unusual to experience within an eighteen hour timeframe and it all wreaked havoc on some communication towers. This my post became a victim of the weather.
This all is connected to grace because, if you are reading this, you have evidently shown me grace. You weathered the storm of silence in my usually daily posts and stayed a true reader of these posts. And you most likely did it without thinking too much about it. The self-evidence of this is evidenced by your reading this post and illustrates an axiomatic approach to grace. Yes, it really can be just that easy!
Probability is one of those words that get used all the time but we seldom stop to define it. There is no mystery about this word. It simply means what it seems like it means. The word “probability” comes from the word “probable”, derived from the Latin verb “probabilis” meaning “likely”. It was first introduced to the mathematical world in something entitled “Doctrine of Chance” and has ever since been connected to statistics.
Probability is simply the science and mathematical way of determining the odds, based upon the current and projected state of things. The axiomatic approach is the summarization of the other three approached we’ve already discussed: classical, traditional, and subjective. Many fail to consider it a true science since it relies on the ever-changing and highly unpredictability human behavior. In devoting this series of Advent to the probability of grace, I offer to you that it might be the very science that saves us all. Once given to another, grace becomes easier to each time you offer it.
Sometimes, in our busy, hectic lives, we take time to do something completely unnecessary. We overthink grace. We make far too much out of the goofs and fail to just move forward as politely as we possibly can. We waste time assigning blame and reminding people that they are human instead of being kind. Kindness is an innate part of our beings. It may be lying dormant but once received, it is truly quite easy to share. I thank you for extending it to me by reading this, albeit it is a bit tardy.
Advent 24 – Team Hoyt
“Dad, I have to do something for him. I want to let him know life goes on even though he’s paralyzed. I want to run in the race.” The son Rick was speaking to his father Dick about a charity road race for a fellow student lacrosse player who’d been badly injured in an accident. Dick was proud of his son as any father would be of a child wanting to do something for someone else. However, Rick was asking to extend grace to his classmate in a way that most would have considered impossible. You see, Rick was paralyzed himself.
Like most fathers, Dick wanted to give his son everything he could and so, although he was not in great physical shape himself and had never considered running anything except perhaps to the store in his car, the two participated in the race, Dick pushing Rick’s wheelchair. Rick suffers from cerebral palsy, the aftermath of oxygen being cut off to his brain when he was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. His mind is sharp but he is unable to speak or control his limbs. A computer does his talking for him and on this day, Dick did the running.
The father-son Hoyt team has run over 1100 races in the thirty years they’ve beaten the odds. They designed a special wheelchair for their runs and gave inspiration to many in similar physical predicaments. They not only have shown courage and grace, they have personified the concept of “Yes, you can!”
In 2013, when Dick turned seventy, the two decided to run their final Boston Marathon. The explosions of two bombs set off by two brothers prevented them from completing so they returned in 2014 to make their final run. The pair still do shorter runs but their legacy is one of commitment, spirit, and grace and hopefully, we will all continue to do a marathon of those. Dick Hoyt reminds us: “There isn’t anything you can’t do as long as you make up your mind to do it. And there’s no such word as no.” That includes showing grace to others.
Advent 25 – Cindy Stowell
People watch game shows on television for many reasons but few tune in to learn how to a live a life of grace. Current viewers of the program “Jeopardy” have been doing that during the month of December as they watch contestant Cindy Stowell compete. The Texas native taped her programs in August but is no longer alive to watch herself on television winning, having passed away a week before her episodes began airing.
Her contestants on the program had no idea that that the soft-spoken Science content developer who listed pub trivia as her hobby was ill but Cindy knew. When she qualified for the program she told the producers she estimated she had about six months to live and offered to give up her spot if she could not participate soon. She began taping three weeks later and made arrangements to donate any winning to cancer research charities.
No knew that at the time of taping Cindy was becoming seriously ill and experiencing a blood infection. On her first day with her infectious smile, Cindy defeated the current champion who was on a seven-day winning streak. She went on in the next few days to come from behind several times and win the Final Jeopardy round. Her versatility from her pub trivia served her well and she has amassed over one hundred thousand dollars so far. While the show’s producers know the outcome, the rest of us will have to keep watching this week.
In writing for Yahoo Sports, Seth Rosenthal took note of the grace with which Cindy Stowell lived the last months of her life. Calling her “the most impressive competitor sports has to offer”, he described her as a “brilliant woman earning every last dollar she can for the causes dearest to her, building a sum of infinite potential in the face of her finality.”
When we extend grace to another, we also are building infinite potential. It is not just a spur of the moment thing. It is the living of the concept of hope, of kindness, of potential. As Rick and Dick Hoyt proved, “Yes, we can!” Life gives us hurdles, whether it is a technical glitch due to nature or an accident of birth or genetics that results in a life-ending disease. Grace is the path we should all travel when living. It is the best path to take in our relationships and reactions. It is the key to a better living for us all. It is how we can all become champions. Grace offers the world infinite potential.