Recently, I had the privilege of being with one of my sons on a 6-day vacation in Tokyo, Japan. Through the lens of awful grace, I found myself more attuned to the relationship in a context outside the familiar. For one, this is the most time I’ve spent with him in a one-on-one setting. A boy on the cusp of young adulthood finding himself and forging his identity, and his mother who is seeking to facilitate that journey as best she can without getting in the way of his discovery.

In the movie, ‘Message In A Bottle’, there is a gift of a compass from one of the main actors to the other. The inscription on the compass read, “So you know where you are and where home is.” Therein lies my sacred responsibilities as a mother – to orientate my sons so they will always know where they are, and wherever they are, to always know where home is.

On this trip, I was given a renewed sense of these responsibilities. As we parted ways at the beginning of each day to explore the city on our own, there was always the taking of our bearings as to where we were and eventually, where we would reconnect. I knew that at the end of each day, no matter where he had gone or what we had done, he would find his way ‘home’ and we would share the last meal of the day together.

There is the assured safety that comes from having taught him to take his bearings and to always know where he is, no matter how off course he may have drifted. And also the assured sanctuary of knowing that however beaten down by life he may get, he knows where home is, where there is sanctuary for him amidst the brutality of life.

This is awful grace, awe-filled grace. To always know where you are, and eventually where home truly is. Awful grace is about helping those who have lost their way, either as a consequence of their own doing or because of circumstances beyond their control.

I hope my son enjoyed the time with me as much as I did with him. The beautiful journey of life continues….

Grace and peace.