Part of my personal Lenten journey this year is being spent with the Jesuits and their “Igniting Our Values” series.  Today’s reflection centered around “Our Lady of Aranzazu” and the writer today’s reflection (Father Jack Bentz, SJ) aranzazu_interior_altar_statue_closeup2wwrote about his attempt to understand with St. Ignatius was entranced by “Our Lady of Aranzazu”.

I really connected with the reflection today – emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.

He likens his search for understanding that the way we do when anyone we love brings someone home to join us – “what does he see in her?” And that is so true of all of us. Whether we are part of a family or a group of friends or even a company, when someone we know and love and trust “brings someone home” to meet us we want to understand but also fear what the “new” person will do to what we know.

I’ve been on both sides of that – bringing someone home that I love and hope my friends and family will also love. And, I’ve been the person being brought home and sat while feeling as if I were being picked apart and judged as people try to figure me out

And, let’s face it: we humans want to understand other humans – especially those we love – so we can feel what they feel and learn from their stories.

As the writer continues, he says that he then tries to befriend his friend’s loves. I love that he includes not just people, but historical figures and authors within that. What reader hasn’t fallen in love with an author or a fictional character? And we want everyone we know to love what we love, so we share the tales of romantic gestures and oft-read books.  Alas, we find that despite our desire to fall madly in love with everything others love, some things we do and others stay in the vein of “nodding acquaintances”.

For me – it’s so true from all ends – I want to befriend everyone my family and friends love – be it real or fictional – ancient or new – lover or friend – and try as I may, I don’t always get there, but I try.

And then, this most beautiful question: “Who was he to judge that grace was not happening?”.

Each of us has unlimited access to grace, yet we often deny our worthiness to it. We look at impossible or painful situations and see no way forward and no way out. We cannot imagine that any good can come from pain, yet within everything around us, we always have the opportunity for grace – love, acceptance, forgiveness.Grace is one of the most beautiful words I’ve learned. What a loving reminder that it’s always there within reach.