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Grace is an Exception

I rolled down my window to hand my membership card to a masked woman in a park ranger uniform. She reached for my card and answered my first question with, “yes, reservations are needed to enter the park.” She looked at my face, my dry-eyed disappointment, and listened to my request: “I’m sorry. I have no reservation. I was just hoping to drive to the overlook above Horseshoe Park and visit my son; his ashes are there. I’d like to sit with him for a bit; then I’ll drive out.” She hesitated only moments, then returned my pass and with kindness said, “I’ll make an exception today.”

I thanked her and drove forward. As soon as I passed her gate, my grateful, relieved tears began.

September holds Matt’s death anniversary, but this month doesn’t automatically bring me to tears. Different years bring different needs, hopes and responses. Actually, I was really surprised at how important it was for me to be with him on this day . . . at how much I needed to be sitting on those rocks, close to the small two-trunked pine tree just to my left, to quietly look down into the area where Matt’s remains had long ago become part of the earth.

Looking back at my drive toward that entry gate into Rocky Mountain National Park, I recall mentally slapping myself around for not remembering the importance of reserving a park entry time during the traditionally-busy fall of the year. But, I couldn’t turn around. My heart was in charge, and I had no plan beyond driving to that spot where I had said a last goodbye to my boy.

By the time I reached the entry station I had stopped thinking or planning. Instead I found myself spending about 3 unplanned minutes to let a stranger into my most personal pain. . . and received the grace of compassionate forgiveness – an exception to an important rule I hadn’t followed.

Today I sat under a beautiful blue sky, watching the trees gently sway in a cool breeze, and looking down at a ground that’s become sacred to me. Today, I am profoundly grateful for the compassion of one stranger to another. Today, I learned, once again, that no matter how uncomfortable it may feel, opening your heart is how peace begins.

May you feel, receive and become the grace of kindness and compassionate forgiveness as you journey onward. Jane



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