blur alcohol drink bottle at pub in dark night background

Grace for close calls

It was too late

It was midnight

Too late for old, raggedy women

to be out wrestling with a busted radiator.

Surprisingly, the broke-down car

was not the close call.

It was the broke-down woman.

I was tired, scared, out of grace.

At 1:45 a.m. I walked into a bar

close to last call,

but not close enough

for it not to be a close call.

I was out of faith, hope, and love

and thought I’d refill me

by abandoning me.

The young, beautiful woman

waiting to pour my close call

smiled at me and asked

what she could do for me.

Before I could tell her what

I thought I needed,

I caught a glimpse of a tattoo

engraved over her heart.

My old cried-out eyes

couldn’t quite make out all the words.

“What does your tattoo say?”

She smiled, ready to pour Grace

into my broke-down heart.

“It’s from the Bible,” she said.

“God is within her, she will not fall.

God will help her at break of day” (Psalm 46:5).

Grace seems to show up especially

for close calls,

when it’s too late,

and I’m too broke down to believe.

Grace reminds me

at a bar (can you believe that?)

from a cocktail waitress

fifteen minutes before last call

that when it was too late for Him,

He carried my pain,

was crushed by my disfigurements,

beaten bloody by all the things wrong

in this broke-down world.

Grace was broken for me

so that He could be with me at every break of day.

I thanked this accidental saint and

filled with Grace

I walked out

knowing yet again that nothing,

absolutely nothing happens

by accident,

even when it’s a close call.


Little boy, jumping and playing in muddy puddles in the park, rubber ducks in the puddle


Grace that smells like Resurrection.

I caught a whiff of it this past week

in some unlikely places.

I smelled new life

in the ruins of addiction
when a brave young man –
literally shaking in his boots –
stood to get a “desire chip”
in a musty church basement.

Keep coming back,” I whispered
as I hugged him.
I recognized the unmistakable smell
of life breaking through
the boozy ether of death.

The perfume of awakening wafted
across another gathering in a church
bathed in stained glass sunlight.
I counted one, two, three, and then four
people camouflaged
amidst the Sunday faithful.
These four had individually, silently,
angrily, or shamefully vowed to
never again risk the cacophony of smells
that can sneak up on you at church, of all places.
But there they were reeking with the
fragrance of risk.
I recognized my favorite perfume
poured from the Easter flask
of beginning again.

I didn’t know that scents could be heard,but I listened to resurrection last week
in the aromatic words, “I forgive you;”
in the fierce fumes of, “I’m not giving up;”
and in the sweet hope emanating from,“I see who you are becoming.

Grace, this world smells like death
everywhere –
high school hallways,
the presidential twittersphere,
a car bomb in Baghdad,
budget cuts on Capitol Hill.

Grace, keep us from suffocating
in the odors of this world.
Thank you for scents of another world
where gravestones roll,
death dies,
and all things live.
Keep us from missing a single whiff of it.
Give us the abandon to roll around in it
until it gets in our pores
and we walk around this dead world
smelling like Resurrection.


Antigua, Guatemala - March 22, 2015: Local father & daughter decorate cross shaped carpet with floral pattern of dyed sawdust using cardboard stencils for Lent procession to walk over on cobblestone street in colonial town with most famous Holy Week celebrations in Latin America.

Grace in The Shack.

My son was five years old

when he saw The Lion King in the theatre

and fell in love with the art of film.

He could not contain his dismay when

a friend chided his enthusiasm,

Movies are bad. Our family doesn’t go to them,

because we are Christians.”

With innocent faith my son silenced

the scoffers from this sanctuary,

I think God would say, ‘Enjoy!’”

Today I sat in an almost empty theater

in the luxury of a mid-day pause,

and I lost myself in a world far away from

work and politics, laundry and to-do-lists.

As the story of sorrow, doubt, and injustice

began to unfold, I thought of the words

of the great storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien:

You can’t keep the gospel out of stories.”

I could use some good news.

I think we all could.

I saw the good news today in high definition technicolor.

The Christ figure said, “Follow me,” and the

kindness in his eyes made me want to get out of

my theater seat and follow him wherever he was going.

The invitation resonated in my heart more than anything

I’ve heard lately from pundits or presidents or preachers.

Papa, the character of God, cracked light-hearted jokes

and entered human suffering.

He told the truth we Christ-followers know,

Love always leaves a mark.”

The art of the story made all my scars

look a little beautiful to me.

One lover of art wrote,

All sorrows can be born if you put them into a story.”

No wonder God tells His-story in us.

The personified Wisdom of God in this movie

reduced me to the ground of my being.

I saw myself in the protagonist.

I’ve tried to judge the world and only found the

weight of judgment pressing into me.

When Wisdom asked, “Will you trust Love

to be the judge of good and evil, of heaven

and hell . . . of you?”

I could not answer.

Tears of surrender mixed with my popcorn,

and I could smell the salty fragrance of relief.

My favorite moment was when the character

of the Holy Spirit showed off his garden –

absurd with untamed greens and flowers of every color.

The spectacle of beauty was not nearly as

breathtaking as its meaning.

When the character – whose name means breath –

explained that the beautiful mess is a picture of us,

I felt the breath of good news fill

my heart weighted down with old news.

Maybe the message is true,

this world has a way of making us forget that

we were ever created to fly.

And maybe the story is even more true –

that God loves us, cares for us, dreams for us

in wilder ways than we can imagine.

Today I believe the good news

of Grace in The Shack

and the wise words of a five year-old,

I think God would say, ‘Enjoy!’”

©sharon hersh 2017 all rights reserved

Valentines day table place setting. Holidays background

Grace for Valentine’s Day

It was my freshman year of college

and the big event of the Winter was

the Valentine’s Day Banquet.

I couldn’t wait.

I imagined the dress I’d wear

(a maxi-dress true to the style of the 80’s),

and the red rose corsage on my wrist.

But as February 14 approached,

I had not been asked.

Much like modern-day Bachelorettes,

I was frantic with desire for the rose –

the symbol of belonging,

of being wanted.

A week before the big day

another college freshman followed

me out of the Dining Hall.

I went to college in the ancient days,

when everyone ate dinner at the same time –

in assigned seats in rows of tables.

There were four men and four women at each table.

Jim caught up with me and began to stammer,

“Will . . .um. . . I mean. . . um . . . will you go to the

Valentine’s Banquet with me?”

Jim was not the most desirable man on campus,

but apparently I was not the most desirable woman.

I didn’t know whether to feel relieved or reluctant,

but I said, “Yes.”

“Thank God!” Jim proclaimed.

“I’ve already asked every other girl at the table.”

Humiliation stings me as I recall that Valentine moment.

There are have been other February 14’s

that have not been Hallmark moments.

Lonely, broken, disappointing days

of not feeling chosen.

And then I think of the humility of Grace.

I ask everyone else at the table –

looking for Love in all the wrong ways and places –

while Grace waits patiently for me.

I am the one Grace was thinking of when

He hung stripped and naked to a tree

for the love of me.

I was the joy set before Grace

when He arose from the dead.

Grace stands at my door knocking,

waiting to choose me.

The scars on His hands and feet

are the symbols of my belonging

to Him.

Grace never gets tired of waiting,

and Grace is never ashamed that

He asked me first.

©sharon hersh all rights reserved 2017


A woman in a very depressed mood covers his face

Grace for narcissists.

We have a new picture by the word “narcissist”

in the Dictionary.

I’ve been outraged, amused, sad, and a little afraid

by the self-absorption, self-adulation, self-congratulation . . .

I’ve been shocked that an entire country has allowed

one person’s world to become their own.

And then my outrage turns to conviction,

my amusement to sorrow,

my sadness to self-awareness,

and my fear starts to creep toward Love.

I feel convicted about my judgments of others

who don’t share my perspective or laugh at my jokes.

Grace, keep me from putting down others

as a path to identity.

I feel sorrow that the Way, the Truth, and the Life

can become a small story,

and that doesn’t make my story bigger.

It makes it so much smaller, because

when it’s all about me –

my pain, my problems, my ideas, my agenda –

the fabric of our country unravels;

our sense of connectedness erodes –

leaving us in the hollow of inner emptiness.

I feel sad, because I know my own heart –

prone to wander toward some soapbox –

only to find myself sitting in the ruins

and dust of chasing the wind.

Grace nudges me, whispers to me, and moves me

away from fear with the pull of Love.

Grace relentlessly asks, “Now, do you believe this is not about you?”

It’s not about your president, your perspective, your plan . . .

It’s about Love.

And that means it’s about God, because God is Love –

not the sentimental, gushy love of Hallmark cards –

but the Love that stretches “the tent” to make room for more,

the Love that is not willing that any should perish,

the Love that wants all to be rescued.

Grace, fill us with the Love of God,

and when we get off track,

because of press conferences, protests . . . and people;

breathe new life into our discouraged hearts

so that we might know – heart and soul – that

Nevertheless, You persist.

©sharon hersh all rights reserved 2017


heart and blood on wooden background, medical symbol concept





Grace for the desperate parent.

I’m awake at 4:00 a.m. filled with stories of parents desperate for their children.

Children who are depressed, who are addicts, who are afraid, who are filled with themselves, who are lost in a maze that seems to thick for them to ever find their way.

I don’t know what to tell these parents (so much like me) – if they should turn right or left just stand still.

Grace assures me, “I am the Way, so you don’t have to be.”

I’m not brave enough to enter this pain, all too familiar and close to home.

Grace knows. He reminds me of the astonishing truth, “Act brave, and you will become brave.”

That truth feels small when life and death or even Algebra and learning to drive are at stake.

Grace tells me the inexplicable mystery that He is the only Truth I need to know, so I don’t need the answers.

I’m praying for desperate parents to hold on, to feel steady,to believe that the Light always pushes through the dark.

It’s hard to believe at 4:00 a.m. in the morning. It’s still dark.

And this year it has seemed especially dark.

I have seen the death of children lost in the maze, I have smelled the rot of booze on the breath of those filled with so much promise.

I have seen the vacant eyes of depression in those who cannot even look for hope anymore.

Grace quiets my storming heart, “I am the only Life, so you don’t have to be.”

And then He draws me close, promising there is no age limit to His invitation, “Let the children come to me . . . for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
© sharon hersh 2016 all rights reserved

Empty swing in nature, blurred green background

January Grace.

I used to believe January was for

new resolutions,

until I broke a few before February.

Still Newness haunts me in this month.

A new year.

A new president.

A new budget.

A new diet.

An old me,

who has lived too many Januarys

not to know

that in shiny new moments,

I take me with me.

In hours of promises kept,

I feel new on the outside,

but I’m still me on in the inside.

In months of exhausting work,

the possibility of new hides

around the next corner.

The January longings for new

stir old longings for Home . . . .

for a place where time will be no more,

where budgets and diets,

principalities and powers,

promises kept and broken,

will all be old shadows

eclipsed by the Substance

of Grace.

Dear God,

whose name is Grace,

remind me

when the news reports threaten

the end of insurance,

the treachery of Russians,

and injustice to immigrants

that I am not Home.

When politicians promise

new ideas, new leaders,

and new deals

that I am made for a country

whose builder and maker is Grace.

And when my life is haunted by old –

old struggles, old failures, old me –

that You are making me new.

Give me Grace to surrender

every moment of

tired, poor, yearnings to breathe free.

Give me faith to believe those surrendered

Moments become gold bricks paving

a new path in the Eternal City.

Give me January hope

that every surrendered moment

fits perfectly in the new place

You are preparing for me,

Grace, haunt me with new

that fills me with the joy of

knowing I am in the wrong place.

Grace me in between calendar months,

Inaugural parades, and all the starts

and stops of this new year

with Your promise

that I am not Home yet.

©sharon hersh all rights reserved 2017

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