A few weeks back I took exception to the word “nice” and banished it from the “Half-Full” vernacular. To swing the pendulum the other way, today I write about a most unappreciated word that should be used more frequently as a means to characterize good “personhood”.
That word? Grace.
What brought this squarely into my mind was an article in Sunday’s NY Times about the use (or non-use) of proper sign-offs in e-mail correspondence. An etiquette and manners expert said this about the subject, specifically in the case of those who didn’t use them at all:
Many e-mail users don’t bother with a sign-off, and Letitia Baldridge, the manners expert, finds that annoying. “It’s so abrupt,” she said, “and it’s very unfriendly. We need grace in our lives, and I’m not talking about heavenly grace. I’m talking about human grace. We should try and be warm and friendly.”
What about this “human grace”, and why do we need it? First let’s take a look at the key definitions, courtesy of Dictionary.com:
As a Noun:
– elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
– a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
– favor or good will.
– a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior
– mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.
– favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.
– the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
– a virtue or excellence of divine origin: the Christian graces.
– Also called state of grace. the condition of being in God’s favor or one of the elect.
– moral strength: the grace to perform a duty.
As a Verb:
– to lend or add grace to; adorn: Many fine paintings graced the rooms of the house.
– to favor or honor: to grace an occasion with one’s presence.
When taking a quick read of these many variations I suppose it’s easy to understand why I don’t see the word “grace” in many books, essays, lists or any other form of life “how tos”, but once I spent a little more time with all that nuance, and then painted a picture of a person exhibiting grace, I really wondered why it shouldn’t be the bedrock of any Half-Fullers existence (or all people, for that matter).
Here’s the picture:
When one lives with grace, it means that in one’s manner, talk and action, there flows an elegance and warmth that respects and honors all individuals with kindness, compassion, understanding, and tolerance. This warmth is capable of spreading to everyone this person encounters, so that the person is described as adding “grace” to an occasion or to any other gathering (or a blog, for that matter). When one lives with grace, they also possess grace, in that they draw moral and spiritual strength from it, and ultimately, true happiness and fulfillment.
Yes, Ms. Baldridge, you are so right – we all need grace in our lives. And to attain a “state of grace” is truly as worthy of a goal as any other human attribute. So I say let’s bring this beautiful word a little bit more into our conversations and dialogues – gracefully, of course!