Truthfully, I inhaled.

On the blacktopped road, late spring, early evening, I rolled windows down, drew in the honeysuckled air and felt alive.  I could have been 7 or 70 or any number of years in between.  There’s just something about 75 degrees, blowing in through the car window at dusk.

I joke that I’m a nicer person in spring and summer, but I'm sorry to say it’s not really a joke.  I am nicer.  It’s easier to exude warmth when I feel warm, and easier to be light when I am actually in the light.

And it’s easier to exhale grace and peace, when grace and peace are the oxygen we breathe.

In his book, The Peacemaker, Ken Sande writes:

“Peacemakers are people who breathe grace.”

I want to learn to forgive.  I want to be able to imagine a “side of the story” different from my own and to say, “I’m sorry” without choking.

What I tend to do is hold my breath and count the injuries.  Or run to the people or places that affirm my perspective, and there take in…what?  Bitterness.  Self-righteousness.  Judgment. Complacency.

But I want to be a real peacemaker, so I will have to learn where to go for grace.

And here it is:  We must go to the Living Word and meditate on the most scandalous story of grace ever told.  We return to our own scars and failures all graciously dressed, bandaged, and covered with new cloth.  We seek out the sages who unfailingly ask us to point to the evidence of the Creator in our lives, yes, even mid-winter.

And at the end of a May day, we roll down the windows and breathe deeply the ever-returning beauty lavished on a turned-away world.   Spring keeps coming back!  Every year she saves us from the cold and dark.  Restores joy!  And we, surprised, say: Yes!  You have come again afterall!

No matter what we’ve done or failed to do in the months of her absence.

And the branches we were so sad to see bare shoot out longer, greener and fuller than before the frost.

The return of the sun is God’s grace exhaled over us.

The truth is, we must inhale.