Gathering the Graces: When Human Words Fail

September 13, 2020

This month’s blog series is “Gathering the Graces”.  St. Ignatius invites us to ask God for a grace each time we pray. This month, blog contributors will share stories about the graces God has given them and where God is leading them.

One night in mid-August, I walked into my twins’ room to find them sleeping head to head with an ipad lying across their faces. It was a sight to behold. 

This sight was especially meaningful to me because this is how they slept when they were still inside of me waiting to be born (sans iPad, of course). Head to head, hearts resting close. They stayed in that position for so many months of my pregnancy that the sides of their heads were a little flat and fit together like puzzle pieces for the first few months of their lives outside the womb. Instinctively, their heads would float back together every time they were placed in the same bouncy seat. Head to head, hearts resting close. 

It had been a long time since I saw them lying in that position. In fact, over the past few months, I felt like they were always warring with each other. Instead of heads fitting together as two perfect puzzle pieces, they were often using their heads as battering rams both figuratively and literally. But that particular night, they were worn out. Perhaps they were tired of fighting. Perhaps they were instinctively longing for the closeness they once shared for months on end.

That night, they put aside their disagreements and the strain of the past few months and cuddled together in bed, warm comforters drawn up to their necks, watching movies on an ipad held up by two little arms. As they watched, the arms slowly grew more and more tired until they finally gave in and let the iPad come to rest right plop on their faces. Moments later, I quietly entered their room and removed the iPad prepared to coax them back into their own beds. But before I moved them apart, I found myself pausing just to look at them. 

Head to head, hearts resting close. A perfect display of love.

As we enter the Fall season of this mixed up year, it feels like everything is falling apart at the seams. We are swept up into a world where we doubt each other’s dignity, where we doubt each other’s worth as a precious child of God. Pulled apart by rules of social distancing and masks upon our faces, we are struggling for how to effectively communicate with one another. Like twins cooped up for way too long, we are letting our minds become like battering rams instead of perfectly fitting puzzle pieces. And our hearts feel distant.

As I contemplated this month’s theme of “Gathering the Graces,” I honestly struggled to put into words what exactly I was asking from God and what God was giving me in return. I spent days contemplating what it was that God was showing me in the messiness of this time. In the end, I found myself praying for grace that I couldn’t put into words. 

Despite my inability to name the exact thing I was searching for, God answered the request found deep in my heart through the sight of two little boys head to head, hearts lying close. God reminded me that it is okay for me not to be able to put into human words specifically what I seek. God just cares that I showed up and asked for help. In the end, I still can’t qualify the grace God gave me in that moment with a word like “hope” or “joy” or “light” or “perspective”. It does not seem to have a clear name. And that bothered me as I received it. But now, as I reflect on it to share it with you, I feel compelled to give you the truth: Sometimes the grace God gives us is simply a feeling. A moment where you have come to prayer empty and God has read the depths of you anyway. A moment where you can almost feel God right there. Head to head with you, hearts lying close. 


Go Deeper?

  • When the words are hard to come up with and we’re struggling to express what we’re asking God for, the Holy Spirit comes to our side. Consider praying with Romans 8:26-27.

Photo by LorileeAlanna on Pixabay. 


Gretchen Crowder has served as a campus minister and Ignatian educator for the Jesuit Dallas community for the last fifteen years and counting. She is also a freelance writer and speaker. She has a B.S. in mathematics and a M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame as well as an M.T.S. from the University of Dallas. She resides in Dallas, TX with her husband, three boys, and an ever-growing number of pets.

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1 Comment

  1. Liz

    Well said even without human words ❤️🙏🏼


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