I am unapologetic about my love for the television series "The West Wing." Magnificent writing.
You don't have to be a fan or even to have watched the show to get why this scene is so wonderful. It's a scene that depicts grace in its simplest form.
"A guy is walking down the street, and he falls into a hole. A doctor walks buy and the guy yells, 'Doc, can you help me out?' Doctor writes a presciption and drops it into the hole and moves on. Then, a priest walks by. 'Father, can you help me out?' Priest writes out a prayer and drops in the hole, moves on. Then, a friend walks by. 'Joey, can you help me out?' And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, 'Are you stupid?? Now, we're both down here!' The friend says, 'Yeah, but I've been down here before, and I know the way out.'"
How many times have we found ourselves at the bottom of that hole? And how many times have we looked for answers in places where they aren't - in our work, in our habits, in our rationalizations, in our behaviors?
How many times have we been at the bottom of one of life's deepest holes, and we find a friend right there with us - a friend who knows the way out?
A friend recently lost her son. I attended his visitation, and I could tell that things were still too new, too fresh, too raw. I told her, "When the dust settles, you will need to start accepting help from people offering it." She nodded. I think she understood.
We have all been in that place, and if you're like me, you think you can will, fight or work your way out of it. And, if you're like me, you have probably found that approach doesn't work.
Grace is a two-way street. It needs one willing to bestow it. It needs one ready to accept it.
Generosity is a value I have chosen to focus on, but I think we need to remember that accepting help from others is a form of that practice. And it's an act that we find uncomfortable because accepting help puts us in a vulnerable place.
When we find ourselves in one of life's holes, we will sooner or later find someone who has been in that hole before and knows the way out. Allowing ourselves to be open to that help and empathy is the first step to starting the climb.
Whether you're there or have been there, my prayer is that you recognize it.