Grace

I have been thinking a lot about grace lately; perhaps it’s because Easter has just passed, or maybe it has to do with the resurrection that’s happening all around us: flowers are budding; birds are singing. Nature is coming back to life. 

More than likely, though, I’ve been thinking about grace because I have witnessed it firsthand this semester at my internship with Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard. 

Too often, we turn to national and international news sources to find our heroes; we don’t realize that some of the best people live among us. 

Take, for instance, some of the people I've written about this semester.

I did not know that Kitty Hoynes, a downtown pub, has been leading the world in donations for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization that helps fight childhood cancer. Nor did I know that one of the highest fundraisers for Kitty Hoynes is a 13-year-old boy who raised over $26,000 for the foundation this year. Who would ever expect a child to raise that much money for such a worthy cause?  

I visited the Auburn Correctional Facility to write about a program they offer called the Crochet Squad. The inmates who participate learn how to crochet hats, scarves and baby blankets, and then they ship their products out to local churches and organizations that distribute them to people in need. I was in a room with convicted murderers, child molesters and rapists, and I watched how they looped the yarn around their crochet needles with so much care, taking their time to ensure each stitch looked the same as the last. If that’s not grace, I’m not sure what is. 

I never met Scott Griffin, but after talking to those who loved him, I feel like I have a good idea of who he was. Scott was an alcoholic who spent most of his time in Syracuse on the streets. Scott’s battle with alcoholism, though, did not define him. His friends said he was someone who would’ve done anything for anyone, and when he died from the injuries he sustained when he was hit by a car on Burnet Avenue, I knew I had to tell his story. Days after it was published, I attended Scott’s funeral. Some of the attendees said they decided to pay their respects after reading my article. I have never been given a bigger compliment. 

A man at Scott’s funeral sang “Amazing Grace,” and as he sung the lines “Amazing grace, How Sweet the sound/That saved a wretch like me,” it hit me how very similar human beings are. We are all a little bit broken; some of us are just better at covering up the cracks. 

What’s even more remarkable, I think, is that I reported all of these within a week of each other. I wrote about inmates at a maximum-security prison, a middle schooler on a quest to help find a cure for cancer, and a homeless man who had a heart of gold. Each story made me realize that every single one of us is saved by grace--even me. 

There is no greater privilege for me than when a source trusts me enough to tell me their story, knowing I will tell it truthfully and in the best way I am capable. Often, I do not feel worthy of their trust, but I try my best to honor it through my writing. That feels a lot like grace, too.  

Jamie Jenson