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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

Mistaken for Grace



We take to the de Anza Trail these cool, fall mornings before the rise of sun to meander in whatever random pattern suits us.  The sun, it seems, always lingers just below the horizon for more than its allotted time, and we are grateful for the sweatshirts brought out of storage for this autumn season..


As the sky lightens, a golden hue begins to seep into the landscape, often creating a halo of sweet light through the fur on our golden retriever.  The tall grasses glimmer with dew these mornings touched by higher humidity, and as the shafts of light begin to escape the sun’s embrace, a holy Light settles on the world.


This is a landscape that is hard to walk away from, though the morning’s “to do list” is ever present, requiring a checking of watches and coordination of plans.  But if time allows, as it did this day, we go back to the path around the lake, just now beginning to come alive with a few souls willing to fight off sleep and cold and come welcome the sun.


As we walked the path to our car this day, we noted a woman coming towards us, many yards away.  We could see her face illuminated by the first true rays of light appearing over the Santa Rita Mountains.  As she neared us her face suddenly exploded into a smile, and she waved vigorously at us and called out a cheerful hello that cut through the dawn.

My husband and I looked at each other. “Is that someone you know?” he asked.


I watched her approaching, still smiling broadly. “No,” I answered. “Perhaps as she gets closer, we will be able to figure out how we know her.”


We watched as her footsteps quickened, and her spirit seemed hungry for community.  Finally, she was within a few yards.  Coming to a stop under the protection of a mesquite tree, the sun was no longer in her eyes.


Oh, I thought you were Grace.


I have been obsessing about this case of mistaken identity since she spoke those words.  I think about the elements of our meeting.  A light so bright it obscured her vision.  A friendship so dear it engendered joy in its anticipation of an encounter.  A hunger to welcome the source obscured by the light but still known in a deeply personal way.


And then I wondered, what would it be like for you....for me...

to be suddenly mistaken for Grace.


Because here’s the thing about our encounter with the woman on the trail. She could not see our faces, obscured as they were by the sun’s rays.  But the anticipation of what love and acceptance she thought waited on the other side propelled her forward towards that Light, filled with joy.

In our current culture, it seems, people are more concerned with being the source of the light themselves, or at least have the light focused on their own faces, their own accomplishments, their own stories. Hungry for attention, the mission then becomes to have their own identity take center stage.


But no matter the cultural pressure, it cannot be our mission in this life to stand so that the light falls only on us.



No. It is our mission to place ourselves so that the Light shines into the faces and lives of someone else.  It is our mission to fill the air with the sound of someone else’s voice telling the story only they can tell.  It is our mission to have someone else walk away from every encounter feeling seen and heard and accepted to the core of their being.


And this mission requires a complete surrender of our own precious identity.


We have to hunger to be the one in the cheering, faceless crowd, always noticing and encouraging someone else. We have to desire not to be on the marquee, but rather only to be in the small credits at the end of the movie of someone’s else’s life. We have to get comfortable with standing in the shadows of the wings and not on center stage, and let the spotlight shine on someone else’s face.


Then, and only then, will we be ever mistaken for Grace.



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6 Comments


Marian Severt
Marian Severt
Nov 14, 2023

That is beautiful, Char. A gift that you give to all reading it. Thank you for that gift today. See you at the Good Shepherd.

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Char Seawell
Char Seawell
Nov 25, 2023
Replying to

Thank you,Marian. We always look forward to seeing you...anytime our paths connect! But especially at our new spiritual home. How blessed we feel to be there.

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pat.sylvia
pat.sylvia
Nov 14, 2023

❤️"It is our mission to place ourselves so that the Light shines into the faces and lives of someone else." Char, you and Tim have ALWAYS done this - I have watched you do it many times. Thank you for the reminder and the example.

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Char Seawell
Char Seawell
Nov 25, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Sylvia. We were first drawn to you because of the light you shared so extravantly with all of us and your love of beautiful music. We miss those days.

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rockytop5
Nov 14, 2023

A timely read for our world today. It also reminds me of the Pastor Keith's talk at Ken's memorial, about letting our light shine. You two certainly let your light shine to a dark world with your music and your words. Thank you Tim and Char.

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Char Seawell
Char Seawell
Nov 25, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Doris... I think why Tim and I have loved you all these years is because you are a kindred spirit. Your light, and Ken's always shone brightly.

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