Defining Grace

3600 Words15 Pages
Defining Grace

The Dictionary of the Accademia della Crusca, dating from 16th century Italy, defines grace as "belleza... che rapisce altrui ad amore." Grace is beauty which seduces one unto love. Grace is the prayer before nourishment, it is the passing of power through blood, it is a classical muse, it is a verb, it is liberation, it is a head-ransom, it is a gazelle, it is simplicity, it is complexity, it is sanctifying, it is controversial, it is desired, it is metrical, it is ubiquitous, it is rare, it is actual. "Grace is in all, yet beyond all," quotes a medieval anchoress. According to Castiglione, grace springs from "that virtue opposite to affectation," as an unconscious extension of a certain je ne sais quoi within the soul. Grace is the nature of language, of number, of beat, of silence. Grace is pervasively elusive.

Grace is fueled by its own roots in the Greek charis, with its shadows of liberality and courtesy forwarded to Latin rhetoric, as the tripartite gratia, functioning as attractiveness, favour, and gratitude. The word flushed the face of Europe in its own blushing migration from tongue to tongue, from Italian gratia to Portuguese graça to Spanish gracia to French grâce. Gliding from thought to pen to heritage, grace seeped over the Channel into Chaucer's father's smalltalk and a pair of listening ears waxed attentive. The patients of his Doctor's Tale questioned, "Goode fader shal I dye? Is ther no grace? is ther no remedye?" Grace is the ripping of change through the fabric of time, loosing the weave to weft in bright, unwashed strands of witty innovation. "Is not great grace to helpe him over past, Or free his feet that in the myre sticke fast?" beats the iambic pentameter of the Spenserian stanza in the Faerie Queene. Is it not grace that proved the continuance of its own existence, a linguistic parallel intertwining with the branches of biologic generations to produce the graciousness of freedom in both the fruits of the opposable thumb and the serpent's apple?

A rugged, mottled bark of genealogy stretches gracefully into the blue sky of infinity. Grace, the present of the future, the gift of tomorrow, the cornerstone of the past, vaults us forward into the lives of our progeny and the evolution of our species. Born from the randomly graced confluence of organic chemicals in small pockets of lipid bilayers, life sparked and sputtered.
Open Document