A Year of Grace

Resolving to blog again in 2021, I latched onto the idea of a word as an organizing principle. Kind of obvious for a writer and writing teacher, but since blogging is an add-on to my overload of projects, I need something simple that will inspire me to jot a thought or two in the brain-dying hours between 4 and 10pm. As 19th-century clergyman Henry Ward Beecher said, “All words are pegs to hang ideas on.” But which word?

I love the end-of-year lexicography festivities, when dictionaries choose their word(s) of the year. For 2020, Merriam-Webster picked pandemic, as did Dictionary.com. Collins chose lockdown. Oxford English Dictionary went with a handful of key terms–so many, in fact, that I found a downloadable report rather than a bulleted list on the OED website. That’s a very inclusive approach, but also a bit of a cop-out.

For all its entertainment value, the fourth-quarter word-popularity contest strikes me as reactive–crowd-driven and, of course, so last year. I need a proactive word, something that I can use to shape my experience of these unprecedented times rather than just to summarize it. A word supple and encompassing enough to let me roam.

I walk a lot these days (more than 50 miles a week, according to my step counter), and the word that has been resonating for me over the past few weeks in the shows streaming from my public radio station (WUSF) is grace. I aspire to grace. I admire its many dimensions.

So, more about grace this year. Lots more.

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