A poem closes this book, a poem that Brennan must have written in his later years, perhaps for this autobiography specifically.
In it, he describes the changes that have taken place in him as he ages... and he whispers "Still, all is grace."
He describes his wondering- does Jesus love me still? And he hears his Father say, full and plain, "All is grace."
All is grace.
Every poor choice and aching regret and disappointment that Brennan dealt with? It was all bathed in grace.
Every act of kindness and truthful word that he gave the world? It all sprang from grace.
It's the grace he tried to trust at the same time he that tried to outrun it... and that pattern sounds like one that most of us know.
Brennan Manning lived a varied and colorful life- he was ambushed by Jesus over and over again through so many people and so many places.
He invites us along with him, on a turning and tumbling journey of memories and images of mattered to him.
We get glimpses of his childhood- his first moments of rejection and his first best friend.
We see him young and happy in the priesthood- stationed in a desert village in Spain, he drove a mule wagon to fetch water.
We see him in love, and we see his wedding and his new family of a wife and two daughters.
We see him overflow with the glory of God- encountering that Golden World, where Christ is so near to the heart.
We see him struggle- "the cheese falls off the cracker so many times," as he puts it.
And we see him fall. The falls hurt him, and they hurt the people he loved.
Yet as Rich Mullins sang "If I fall, let it be on the grace that first brought me to you."
For all is grace.
And he is Brennan Manning, the witness to that grace.
Reading this book now, we know that Brennan is home with his Jesus.
And we know that the words he spoke, the grace he clung to and dispensed, is face-to-face reality for him now.
And that is a beautiful thing to think about.
Every step he took in the "right" direction, every stop he made at the "wrong" place- it was all grace that brought him safe that far, and grace that led him home.
Thank you David C Cook for providing me with a review copy. It's joining several other Brennan books in my library.