Paul Tillich

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“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual because we have violated another life, a life that we loved, or from which were estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility and our lack of direction and composure has become intolerable to us. It strikes when, year after year, the longed for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is though a voice were saying, ‘You are accepted’. After such an experience we may not be better than before and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed. In that moment grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual supposition, nothing but acceptance. In the light of this grace we perceive the power of grace in our relation to others and to ourselves. We experience the grace of being able to look frankly into the eyes of another, the miraculous grace of reunion of life with life; we experience the grace of understanding each others words.”

(Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations, p.163)