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An Excerpt from A Pretty Good Person by Lewis B. Smedes

Lewis B. Smedes brings ethics down to earth in this book about being a pretty good person. Here is an excerpt on the spiritual practice of grace.

"The moment of grace comes to us in the dynamics of any situation we walk into. It is an opportunity that God sews into the fabric of a routine situation. It is a chance to do something creative, something helpful, something healing, something that makes one unmarked spot in the world better off for our having been there. We catch it if we are people of discernment.

"All around us, at any hour, people show up who ask us to do something about them. In the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the shop, in the neighborhood, in the oval office, at a party, in a conversation, in a crisis, in a lull, at home, at work, in church, in politics—anywhere, everywhere, somebody may at any moment cross our path and ask us: What are you going to do about me? When they ask it, they give us a moment of grace.

"We can write beautiful life stories out of our moments of grace.

"Some people think that we make a good life by remembering the ancient moral principles that come to us from the past; when we have to make critical decisions, we simply hew to our principles. Other people think that we make a good life by dreaming dreams for the future; we set our sails and make all our decisions en route by asking which move will take us to where we want to go. There is something to be said for both points of view.

"But there is another way of making a good life. The American scholar H. Richard Niebuhr suggested that we look at life as a conversation: as we enter each new situation, we engage in a conversation with it. It asks us a question. We listen. We make our response. And then we go on to another situation. Gradually we create our lives by the responses we give to the people we meet in all the different situations where we meet them.”


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