During the counselor training at summer camp, my group undertook "challenges," really opportunities to work on communications skills and to get to know each other, too.
Led out into the woods, we arrived at a slight clearing where a wire ran between two trees, about 18 " off the ground. The object of the exercise: to start a person at each end, have them cross in the middle and then get them each successfully to the other end.
In my higher mind, I saw the purpose of the exercise, but in my clumsy bird’s heart, I determined the best I could do was help keep others from falling off the wire and hitting their heads on a neighboring rock. When we handed out jobs, I took that one.
I remember too well the terrible surge of toxic adrenaline that comes with physical failure, with shame at my lack of coordination–my grace deficit.
We moved from the first setting to another challenge, something called "The Zig Zag." The challenge in this case? To move the whole team from one end of three zig-zagging narrow boards to the other. The problem? The three boards had to be used in four places, which meant leaving team members teetering on one board while another was passed back and forth.
The boards were very low, a mere hands-width from the ground, but staying on board proved to be a problem even for some young and lithe members of our group.
I watched and waited and hoped and prayed.
I worried about my inappropriate footwear. (My sneakers had been forgotten at home.)
I really wanted to do well, and I had a sense that if I could curb my own self-critical feelings, I might be able to make it across.
It felt like a long wait, wavering on the middle board as the moving piece transfered from one end to the other. We had to hold onto one another, all these strangers, learning to work as a team. I focused on balancing and on helping my neighbors do the same.
As I came across the last board, now in its place, the young man waiting at the end high-fived me!
There really is no deficit of grace.