The door opened, and out she went.
As usual, Chloe, the little red-coated Golden
Retriever, burst out of the screen door like a
rocket to the moon. She does this every morning, on
her first trip out.
I imagine her excitement is less about doing
“business” and more about chasing after the
burrowing bunnies and the trespassing squirrels that
often occupy the yard. Her eagerness often echoes in
the slamming of the screen door, like a shot of a
gun that sends any and all wildlife scurrying up
trees and under fences.
Today though, it all happened so fast.
As the door flung open and Chloe barreled through,
puffs of gray rose up from the ground like ash from
a fire. Despite often being flighty, Chloe caught
sight of this and returned to me excitedly. In slow
motion, the little robin who’s bosom hadn’t turned
copper orange yet, flew to the open door and for
dear life clung to the screen, her wings flapping
furiously, desperate to remove herself from danger.
As she rose, Chloe lunged, chomping—tasting only the
delicious humidity of a warm spring morning.
Immediately I grabbed my golden girl, letting the
screen door slam, leaving the tiny bird in the
sanctuary of my garage, hanging delicately onto the
I grabbed my gloves and crept ever so slowly towards
this tiny bird. As I treaded softly toward her, I
couldn’t help but wonder if this is what grace
Not my actions, per se: I don’t mean that grace was
(only) reaching out and grabbing this terrified
robin. As I stood, I thought that maybe grace comes
from both sides of the relationship: what is equally
significant about grace is our response to God’s
goodness and love.
When I opened the door, her eyes darted quickly back
and forth. Her grasp tightened as I saw her little
claws hook tightly around the screen. Terrified and
uneasy about the possibility of freedom, she
remained paralyzed in this moment of possibility.
Gently, I placed my gloved hand around her back,
keeping her wings closed, and her claws away from my
Still, as I pulled, she wouldn’t let go.
Afraid to hurt her, I took a step back and simply
held out my hand just inches from her perch. If I
couldn’t force her off the door, the least I could
do was ensure her safety. The decision to detach
from the screen had to be hers: if she fell, I would
be there to pick her up. My hope, though, was that
she would fly off on her own.
Instead, she fluttered from the screen and sat on my
index finger. For what must have been 3 seconds, I
held in my hand the lightest form of life I had seen
this spring. It was both intimidating and holy to
handle such a tiny life with such care.
As soon as I started to walk out of the garage, she
realized her opportunity, springing free from my
finger and flying into the tree. She had found the
courage to go and fly again.
Perhaps, grace is just this: that God comes to us,
no matter the season, no matter the circumstance, no
matter what screen we have flown ourselves into and
now cling to in our desperation. What we learn in
scripture is that God is a God who loves us, forgive
us, and longs passionately to come and be with us.
It almost seems too good to be true. But perhaps,
this isn’t because we doubt God—but instead because
we doubt ourselves.
I leave you with these words which I have shared
before but that I hope continue to have renewed
meaning each time you hear them:
“The grace of God means something like: Here is
your life. You might never have been, but you are
because the party wouldn't have been complete
without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and
terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am
with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you
I created the universe. I love you. There's only one
catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be
yours only if you'll reach out and take it. Maybe
being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”
[Adam Quine, Pastor First Presbyterian Church in