Solidarity, Serendipity, Grace: a brief story from my morning

This is probably from 2013:

Yesterday I reposted a three-year old piece about Hess’s, the famed and sorely missed downtown commercial icon that owned the 20th century not just in Allentown but really across this part of Pennsylvania.

As you know if you live here, Allentown is undergoing half-a-billion dollars in new capital investment.

This morning, I had a breakfast get-together downtown. I was early, and I found myself sitting in the lobby of one of the new buildings to pass the time.  It also occurred to me to pray.  At some point, a kind woman I’d never met before who works somewhere in the building asked me if I wanted anything to eat or if I could use some coffee. Yesterday, I had given a little extra at a local coffee shop and said if you don’t want the tip, please do pass it on to a homeless friend in need.

The kind woman from this morning may have thought I was homeless or just simply hurting, and maybe that’s on her mind because of all the awareness being raised about the needs in Allentown. Maybe looking out for others is part of who she is.  In any case,  I’m grateful for her kindness and her courage, and I know that someday soon it will encounter someone with needs I can’t begin to imagine.  Maybe it has already.

Karma Police

is probably my favorite Radiohead song.  I remember the first time I saw/heard it on MTV back in the day.  It sounded right.

So I was working in the yard the other day and thinking about it.  There’s this Christian concept of Grace, right, very Pauline, very Lutheran, which Bono says is the opposite of Karma.  Karma is about the balance sheets and Grace is supposed to be about ripping them up.  But I think a lot of people who say they believe in Grace really just use it to reset their Karma.  There’s no freedom in it for them.  Grace cleans them up for the moment and then they inevitably fuck up and there’s all that guilt.  All that having to make things right…not because you owe it to people you hurt (sure, you do), but because you’re thinking somewhere about the kickback.  I think it’s tough to know if your piety is piety out of reverence for God or piety for the sake of keeping your karmic shit together.  I wonder if you can know.

If Grace is real, it makes Karma unintelligible, doesn’t it?  Yet I’m willing to bet that most people who say they believe in Grace live like they’re bound by Karma. Can one be bound by Grace?  I’m not sure that makes sense.