With his eloquent brevity, Ernest Hemingway gave us the phrase “grace under pressure”. Now is a time of pressures. Lives, livelihoods, relationships, health and more are under strain. Grappling with this mess, unshaven in our leisure wear, it can feel hard to connect our current experience to the concept of grace.
The ancient greek concept of the Three Graces have had shifting origin stories, purposes and composition over history to suit the adorning virtues of each era but they revolve around our common meanings of grace, such as beauty, elegance, courtesy and joie de vivre. In Christian theology, grace is a bestowal of undeserved blessings and the three graces are faith, hope and charity, supporting an optimistic and outward engagement with others. Each of these sentiments are much needed as relief in this time.
We don’t need elegance in our current crisis. Like the ancient Greeks, we should treat the graces as a flexible to the needs of our time and our narrative now. We need to be able to respond to the pressures with grace, but we each get to choose our own three. There is a long list of much needed virtues in this time. To be able to practice our choices from these, under everyday pressures, is to shift our virtues and our values from hobbies to habits.
Here is my list of three graces for our time of pressure:
- Compassion: There is real suffering now. We can look beyond ourselves and our losses to acknowledge the sufferings of others and work to alleviate them. Compassion will strengthen our hearts and our communities.
- Joy: We lack many of our every day joys. We can find happiness and uplift in the smallest of our gifts. Joy will strengthen our lives & relationships.
- Generosity: Today is not a time for how much we take or make. Today is a time for how much we can give to others to help them through. Generosity will strengthen our (common)wealth and societies.
The final word on grace is to remember that grace can be an undeserved blessing. You may not feel worthy of blessing today or any particular day in the future. Worthiness is not the test for grace. Practice self-care and self-compassion. Give yourself the good grace of your company. Forgive yourself and look for the little moments of beauty in each day.