Wherein I Learn The Meaning of Grace [Hyperbolic Tendencies]
Generally speaking, I’m in awe of grace.
It’s not a trait I possess, though one I deeply admire and have been on a 25-year quest to develop in myself. And when my life is touched by grace it’s almost always profound. It sticks with me, teaches me, and incrementally opens my heart, making just a bit more room for the grace I long for.
Over the past twenty years, I’ve been a devout follower of singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash. And I, like anyone who’s been fortunate enough to have been steeped in her amazing talent, understand the meaning of grace.
Last week, I finally got this print, signed by Cash, framed and hung up on my office wall. It makes me happier that nearly any material possession I’ve had in my lifetime; not just because of the quote’s sentiment, which is powerful and accurate beyond measure, but because it makes me feel just a bit closer to grace.
As a little background, Rosanne Cash – daughter of the late icon Johnny Cash – was one of the most popular female country artists of the 1980’s, but walked away from a career trajectory so many people disgrace themselves to achieve, relinquishing what would have surely provided her a perennial slot on country radio. She did this in exchange for full creative freedom. That she recognized this at all is grace.
Recently, she released The Essential Rosanne Cash – thirty years after her hit “Seven Year Ache” climbed to number one. This album is a stunning, career-spanning compilation featuring 36 songs hand-selected by Cash herself.
The single “I Was Watching You” from her 2006 album Black Cadillac is one of the most exquisitely wrought songs in the modern canon. It creates one of those moments that inspires, enriches, and conveys the essence of humanity.
There’s a sense of humanity and, even in her darkest songs, optimism running through her work that’s a rare gift. Her ability to observe as well as understand that which makes us human and put it down in poetry and melody is a rarer gift, and one that’s inspired me over the years to continue striving for grace, which always seems just beyond my outstretched fingertips. Her music’s always on my playlist and I count on Ms. Cash and her songs to help me retain perspective, to understand my own world a bit more clearly.
But what makes Cash so remarkable is what she also does outside the studio or concert hall and how she does it. That she chose her own artistic path instead of simply following the footsteps of her father and that the music that came naturally and had already put her in the limelight was simply the tip of the iceberg.
Her longtime charitable work is as impressive, worthy, and yes, as graceful as her music. Whether its her work with Pax (founded in 1997 to bring new and effective solutions to the problem of gun violence in America – a public health crisis that claims the lives of 8 children every day), Children, Incorporated (a non-profit international organization assisting children of all races and creeds, administering to their physical, emotional, and educational needs), or SOS Children’s Villages (focuses on family-based, long-term care of children who can no longer grow up with their biological families) Cash contributes to the world in a way that’s inspiring, necessary and yes, graceful.
It’s rare that I’m moved to foist my own artistic loves upon readers, but Rosanne Cash is simply a person worth creating a connection with even if only through her music. Her music and intellect, her kindness and warmth create a beauty and sense of grace that’s rare and deeply inspiring.
And that kind of grace is something the world can never have enough of.
If you don’t know Rosanne Cash’s music, I invite you to explore.
Developing or displaying grace a bit too daunting to tackle today? Instead, read a copy of Hell House: The Awakening. It’s guaranteed escapism as its finest! That’s not enough fodder for procrastination? Then follow me and my hyperbolic tendencies on Twitter at @rbripley.