Sandro Botticelli's Three Graces in Primavera courtesy of The History Collection / Alamy Stock Photo
She said the maple tree
As we sat by the lake
There was fire
In her eyes
As she spoke,
A prayer sung
Once, twice, three times,
As the autumn breeze
She’d never seen
And her endless restless energy
I stirred my coffee
For her grace,
Until I heard a break
In her voice
Jill Haber Pallone
3 November, 2014
When Jill presented me with this poem, I was moved to tears of deep joy and gratitude. Nearly four years later, reading this poem still touches my heart as the first time, and each time I read it somehow it penetrates deeper into my soul. Jill’s poems do this, they reach into the heart and leave a light and lasting imprint on the soul.
In my case, what Jill did not know when she wrote this was that as a young girl my father teasingly called me Grace, and his meaning was that I had none. Like many adolescent girls I was awkward, lacking confidence, and with the extra aspect of having boundless energy which I was never sure where to put. Grace escaped me long into my life, and it was a characteristic I always wished to have, one I have consciously cultivated my entire life. A few years ago I even taught myself the song amazing grace, to generate the energy of grace within myself, to be able to summon this state of being. Because if there was one thing I understood, grace is not a thing one can buy or put on, it is a state of being to embody.
As a child I had one friend, who even at 12 was graceful, her complete connection to herself was evident in everything she did, in all about who she was. Nearly 40 years later, she is still one of the most graceful women I know and appropriately she is the friend who has followed my journey around the globe, in equal parts sharing and welcoming me into hers, whose friendship I can count on to this day.
In university I observed people who seemed to me to be graceful, what did they have, what did they know that I was missing? One friend in particular, was for me the embodiment of grace, natural, funny, easy-going, a friend to all, she appeared to always be in peace with herself. To this day when I think of her I feel an aura of peace and self-respect. The latter, self-respect, I came to realize was a big part of grace, to respect one’s self was a gateway to grace if you will.
One of my dearest friends in life is a South African woman whose female grace is so a part of who she is that I suspect she would only recognize herself by the mention of her home country in this sentence. My time in Russia brought an expanded concept of grace to my attention, as I watched women with little to nothing in the way of material possession hold themselves erect in mind and body in extreme situations with a courage and grace that astounded me.
Living in Switzerland brings this concept of grace even more to the forefront of my attention. Grace is somehow a part of the culture here, tied together with privacy and a practicality that are globally considered Swiss traits. Blessed with two fairy godmothers here, both of who are for me in their unique ways embodiments of grace, I observe them with equal parts love and awe. Our neighbors in Italy have their own kind of grace, with a flair that Italians seem to have in all matters of bella figura.
And, until the moment that I read this poem, I was never entirely sure if my cultivation of grace had become a part of me. Grace, as a way of being, a powerful feminine energy, grace, me aligned with me. Thank you, Jill, for inspiring me, for reminding me. The world awaits your book of poems, your light is a graceful gift of inspiration.