Holiness in our midst – Session 13

Holiness in our Midst



My first brush with true grace (unconditional mercy and pardon) played out when I was in first grade at the Fernald Consolidated School. Our grade, taught by Miss Mowry, sat on the right side of the classroom, and the second-grade, taught by Mrs. Crosby, on the left. This typical Iowa-in-the Fifties classroom (smelling of sweaty kids, Crayolas, and chalk dust) held 20 of us. It overlooked a playground, farm fields, and a beautiful historic barn. One morning, when both teachers were out of the classroom, I was my usual rambunctious self. I was caught talking to my classmates. My name appeared on the blackboard (blackboards were black, not green), recorded by the second-grade boys, appointed as monitors. There was no appeal process; I had been yacking it up with the kids in my row. My punishment was to sit in a corner during morning recess. I dreaded sitting still.

The bell rang, and the rest of the class headed outside to do our routine fun things: swing as high as humanly possible, go down the Big Slide (real fast with sheets of waxed paper under our bottoms), and capture yellow-and-black spiders in old Anderson Erickson milk cartons. A bit mopey, railing to myself against the injustices in the world, I found a seat near the window. I heard footsteps beside me. My classmate since Kindergarten, Louise Heinz, had followed me. She sat down beside me. And she stayed with me during the whole recess, laughing and talking, keeping me company. No recalling my offense. No hints to behave in the future. The teachers reminded her that she could run out and play. She wouldn’t budge.

I went home and reported my school transgression to my father. I also mentioned that Louise had stayed with me. “It was probably because she was talking, too, and she felt guilty,” he said.

“No, she behaved,” I said.

“Maybe it was because her brother Tommy had written your name on the board,” he suggested. Word had gotten to him of the incident before I told him. Misbehaving in school was a family crime.

“No, I asked her about that, and she said that wasn’t the reason she stayed.”

“Then, why would she give up her recess?” he asked.

“She said she was my good friend and she didn’t want me to be alone. She also said she liked me anyway.”

“But you didn’t deserve company,” he said.

“I know.” Dad walked away, shaking his head.

Through the years, Louise’s kindly ministry of presence has served as an example of how to pass along God’s grace on Earth: Be there unconditionally with others even though they are guilty as sin.


STORY CIRCLE QUESTION: Recall an experience of grace. Where were you? What made it memorable?


  1. Read the above reflection aloud.
  2. Write a journal reflection on being the recipient of an act of grace. Also recall a time when you were an agent of grace.


  1. Read aloud Session XIII.
  2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Question.