Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grace and Courtesy; or, why my Mother called me "Grace" as a child.

A part of Practical Life in every Children's house are the lessons of grace and courtesy. These impart to the child various skills of physical and social grace, and are, in a sense, the "social lubricant" of a classroom. These lessons, given to the children in small groups, include things like: How to passby, how to greet a guest, how to answer a phone, how to blow one's nose, etc.

I have always considered myself at least (relatively) courteous. I know how and when to say excuse me. I know how to introduce myself. But grace? I don't know if grace is something I've ever had.

When I was little, My Momma would call me "Grace" for my utter lack of it. I am doubtful that any child fell, tripped, tumbled, bumped, bruised as much as I did. And every time, without chiding, my Mom would patch me up and ever so lovingly call me her Grace. Dance classes as I got older certainly helped, and getting to dance in our high school production of "The Secret Garden" was a surprise and joy. It's been a few years now since I've fallen and scraped myself up. But being in an environment with a million materials that are out of scale to me has made me feel bumbling. Holding the spoon is hard. How can I sit in this chair? The bowl is too small for me to grasp. Slow down, I remind myself. Slow. down.

My classmates and trainer defined grace together: fluidity. precision. purpose. exactness. organic. natural. internal calm. internal peace. lightness. a beauty that is owned. the essence of movement taken to a level of elegance. The finest of movements, where precision becomes natural.

It is the guide's job not just to model grace, but to own it, to make it incarnate, a part of ourselves. So I ask myself: do I move and live with fluidity? With precision? Is there purpose? Am I exact? How do I incarnate something which I've never...embodied before?

I am working to embody grace. I am working to own it, so that I can offer it to the child. Remind me, if you see me, to slow down; you may be unconsciously assisting me in my goal.

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