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Grace • Posted: Jul 09, 2018 19:51:33Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Words are interesting. We learn them mostly by encountering them within the context of other words. And, we learn the meaning of those words within the context of both other words and physical actions, like smiles and caresses or snarls and sharp strikes upon our bodies. In response to those early other words coupled with actions, our bodies either relax and enjoy or tense and recoil. New words continue to modify and enlarge the cognitive space between those two autonomic responses. They lead us and twist us, toy with us and enlighten us, as we continuously learn the subtle variations of living within our individual communities and the surrounding environment.

In reviewing images for this blog post, I became fascinated by a quality of demeanor I saw depicted in both of the above images. My brain wanted to put a name to that demeanor. The word “grace” came to mind. But, I had to ask myself if that was really the correct word? So I looked it up. It is the right word, but it also isn’t. I’ll explain.

I believed “grace”, as inspired by the images I was looking at, to include in its meaning both effortless poetic ease, or poise, and self-protecting benevolence, sensitivity, and accommodation, quite the opposite of impetus to dominate, bend to will, and exploit, as you might see depicted in images of at least some men. However, per the dictionary, there are also religious connotations to the word “grace”. From God, it implies forgiveness, largely unearned forgiveness. It also implies piety or adherence to orthodoxy, which may at times be self-serving and false, as if to hypocritically proclaim “I am better than thou”, more clean, more worthy.

Because of the innocent thoughtful curiosity displayed within the above image at right, and the scarred humbleness displayed on the left, I don’t think the hypocritical piety connotation applies. But, I do think my willingness to see grace depicted in both of those images does betray a serious error in my everyday thinking. Again, I’ll explain.

I recently interacted with a middle-aged woman in the state of Vermont. She was traveling in an old small box truck which she had modified to live in. At first, there was little about her demeanor that inspired me to think “grace”, in the same sense as the images above. Rather, her demeanor seemed to reject the concept entirely as some sort of cage we men have inflicted on women. Her overripe unkempt body, her t-shirt denouncing abuse of women, and the spray painted scrawling all over her truck condemning abuse of all humans, both men and women of any ethnicity, and of the entire planet, emphasized that point quite strongly. And yet, in the end, by my estimation, I don’t think that she was without a kind of inspired noble gladiator kind of grace of her own, a grace that included sensitive, caring, and concerned. But, she was definitely not self-protecting and humble.

A lesson learned, I will, from here on out, caution myself whenever contemplating use of the word “grace” that I am not inadvertently advocating for a kind of cage that women should live within. The cognitive space within my head where the concept “grace” resides has been enlarged.

(My apologies to the creator of the sculpture in the image at left above. I neglected to record his or her name. But, that very interesting sculpture resides on the grounds of the Fernwood Botanical Gardens in Buchanan MI. The young lady at right, and her parents, were visitors to the same.)

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017