Merely speaking the word grace, I find myself breathing more deeply.
I feel my focus settling inward rather than on the many concerns of my life. With these, peace bubbles up from somewhere beyond my conscious mind. Did I invite grace just by speaking its name? Or did I embrace what was already given but not acknowledged? What in the world is grace anyway?
My passion is to help lead others towards an ever-deepening awareness of the divine voice that whispers to each of us continually, and that work has most naturally intersected with my focus on the dying and their loved ones. Where in our life cycle are any of us closer to our sacred essence than as we face our mortality, begin to resolve our lives, and to prepare for our life beyond the physical? I support people through this walk both as an End of Life Doula as well as an Inner Life Coach. I use reflective writing with many spiritual healing tools to help access these depths of our being, and to help to relieve the many emotional blockages within that journey. My Reflective Writing Workshops usually guide the audience in a retreat format where we explore meditations and prompts about a spiritual aspect. Grace has become a thread of almost every topic, and one that creates calm and peace among all present.
Ok, what is Grace?
Mirriam-Webster has pages of meanings and synonyms for this elusive word. Grace can be a noun where it is defined as divine assistance or a virtue; it can be an attribute such as staying in his good graces, finding approval. Grace can be a blessing such as grace before meals and much more.
Grace is defined as a verb as well, such as to honor or confer dignity, to adorn or embellish….The list goes on and on. After our English lesson here, I want to explore the sensation of grace. The experience of grace. The emotion of grace. What grace means to each of us. This is what is important to me in living intentionally, creating a spiritual life.
As I observe ballet or my grandson giving his complete self to making a basket on the court, I find my breath taken away as I experience the awesome beauty of a body in complete harmony with the moment. When I see a sunset and the reflection of light on the water that surrounds the peninsula on which I live, tears come to my eyes. Holding each of my children, and later grandchildren, for the first time, I felt as though my heart would burst. This is grace in action for me. I am unconcerned whether a noun or a verb, the very essence of grace carries me beyond my world into that of spirit.
Grace also becomes something that we choose, a way of seeking a life of honesty with ourselves and our feelings.
It became a mantra as I gradually entered middle age and has served me well as I continue my walk into my senior years. Aging gracefully allowed me my discomfort with many of the physical changes to my appearance that heralded my loss of youth without creating a need to alter them. Over time, my mirror has softened as I grew accustomed to the image that reflected at me. But the most wonderful part of this choice, is my walk into the sacredness of this time of life; I’ve recognized the enormous gift of living into my wisdom years, acting as an elder and sharing from this very deep place. Grace indeed was the gift of my choice as the culture of our life resisted this at all costs.
As I faced my brother’s rapid decline and death earlier this year, my sorrow wanted to capture my attention. I felt the tug downward, my emotions wanting to obscure the beauty of life. Yet during his illness, he provided a direct model of living with an open heart, filled with grace while surrendering to the truth, seeing nothing but beauty as those closest to him opened their hearts. He provided true inspiration to me then, and his spirit continues to guide me towards each awesome moment since.
Life carries us gently at times, forcefully other times.
There are joyous peaks and sorrowful, angry valleys. Yet when I step away from my human experience and pause in meditation each morning, I am reminded of the spiritual view of my life. And in that, grace washes through me creating receptivity and surrender. I feel supported and loved, reminded that there is a purpose to it all, and that my living is connected to all of life. I am not alone, my choices for thoughts, words, actions, and even emotions affect all others. I am given the gift of compassion and empathy and turn again towards a life lived as a prayer. It matters not whether a noun or a verb or whether I sought grace directly. Grace is a gift freely given; one I reach for as often as I possibly can. And one that opens me to enormous gratitude for life in every dimension.