Grace comes, but not often, and you don’t get to say when or how.

– Helen Macdonald author H is for Hawk

I didn’t recognize her at first. The ceremony was over and people were milling about. She appeared to be heading directly toward me.

The determined look in her eyes took me back decades to the last time we had met.

I was on the receiving end of a terribly long tongue-lashing from her that day. It was in the wake of an explosive headline in which I had accused her of being directly responsible for the death of several children with disabilities.

She was a Cabinet Minister. I was a righteous advocate.

Even though I was misquoted, I was cavalier about the implications of my remarks. I cringe when I think about it now.

Those were my warrior days.

I suppose I saw it as ‘collateral damage.’

My operating philosophy was, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”

I wouldn’t hear it any other way.

I hadn’t yet learned the difference between standing up for what you believe in and trampling on others.

Thirty years later she takes my hand and accompanied by the warmest of smiles says, “I’ve been following your career and want to offer my congratulations. Our province is so much better because of you.”

No award can replace the unexpected blessing I received that day. The stain of that forgotten conflict was heavier than I expected. Grace feels light hearted.

Her name is Grace McCarthy. With a bit of luck and less patriarchal bias, she should have been Premier of British Columbia. No matter, well into her 80’s she is now pursuing another passion with the same intensity she brought to politics, a cure for Crohn’s disease.

She was popularly known as Amazing Grace. Now I understand why.

May you recognize grace when she comes your way.


If you want to find grace in a culture that is constantly devouring itself alive, if you want to live in hope and not fear, you have to tell the truth and declare your fragility.

– journalist Ian Brown reflecting on Jean Vanier’s message. Read his essay in the Globe here.

This post’s musical accompaniment is Maybe This Christmas by Ron Sexsmith. Listen here. Buy here.

Maybe this Christmas forgiveness will ask us to call

Someone we love, someone we’ve lost

For reasons we can’t recall…


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