“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound!” (John Newton).
FEW THINGS IN LIFE ARE FINER THAN THE DAILY DEMONSTRATION OF GRACIOUSNESS. When the things that are done are not only correct from a legal or technical viewpoint but they’re also warmed with the goodness of grace, that’s a beauty that makes us glad we’re alive! A friend compassionately notices that we’re struggling. A coworker kindly covers a task for us. A neighbor beautifully remembers our birthday. A child charmingly says thank you. A spouse tactfully helps us with a weakness. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound!
Attentiveness and thoughtfulness. The most basic element of graciousness is that it pays careful attention to another person. It’s considerate in the literal sense of the term, that is, it considers the other person. When we act graciously, we’re saying that we’ve taken thought for someone else and that their needs are important to us.
Kindness and courtesy. To be gracious, however, we must not only take thought for others; we must do so with a desire to be merciful. The essence of kindness is that it is compassionate; it desires to deal gently with other people, even when they’ve not done their best. And that’s why the help that gracious people offer actually does help.
Charm and beauty. Good manners are not a waste of time, nor are they finicky or pretentious. To endow our deeds with a bit of charm — and even elegance once in a while — is to say to those around us that we think enough of them to act graciously for their sake. The beauty of gracious conduct is one of life’s happiest pleasures.
Many people have the resources to be gracious but lack the character to carry it out. On any given day, most of the opportunities for people to act graciously toward other people are probably lost. So when we encounter that rare person who cares enough to have acquired the qualities of kindness, courtesy, and beauty, we are deeply refreshed by them. Thank goodness for the gracious ones! Like daffodils peeking out from a spring snow, they strike us with hope and happiness. Our days would be dreary indeed if it weren’t for their gift of graciousness.
“Riches may enable us to confer favours, but to confer them with propriety and grace requires a something that riches cannot give” (Charles Caleb Colton).