Grace is something flowing in and around us at all times. Grace, if it could be solidified, is that nugget of wisdom helping us affirm our own lives, as well as the lives of others–when we listen and allow.
Grace is natural generosity, mercy and compassion. Grace removes the harsh strictures from our hearts when we will to forgive and choose to move forward in the face of our own or another’s non-life-affirming behavior.
Listening and allowing, initially, take consistent practice, committed intention and attentive effort. Quite often, we must participate in our own behavioral “retooling” to learn the way of Grace. And, yet, the path need not be difficult. Let go.
Love will begin to fill the spaces of your days with Light
A man has come to sit and talk with me in a church where I am visiting. We are talking about finding that sweet space in the heart where Peace resides.
“If they are growing up in a supportive environment, I think children ages three to six know who they are. Who were you when you were that age? What did you enjoy doing?” I offer him these questions. “In my experience, if we access this place in our hearts, then, we can move forward in joy. It nourishes the soul to be spontaneous, creative and genuinely–uniquely ourselves. We are at our most authentic during our early, formative years.”
Among my closest friends, I have observed a trend. Most of us have taken serious forays into the practices, theories and sacred literature of a variety of spiritual traditions, as well as the theologies of Christian denominations, including phases of attendance among many devout peoples. We have neither strayed nor lost our identities nor misplaced our moral compasses. We have not abandoned the dearness held in our hearts for the religious traditions in which we were reared, but which no longer seem a fully adequate fit. Nonetheless, in listening to the questions raised in and around these forays, I hear my friends looking for the “oldest, closest to the original, best translation or most authentic” sources.
And, I have to ask, “Of what? Sources of what?”
In my own case, my phase of comparative spiritual study involved wanting to discover and build a vocabulary—which I simply did not possess from the context of my childhood tradition—for the states I was experiencing during meditation, receptivity or periods of contemplation. Then, at some point amid my search, I realized that the authenticity I sought—which was the “oldest, closest to the original, best translation and most authentic”—could neither be found nor adequately represented by an external literature or tradition. The road to authenticity, in my experience, is opened only through one’s own ability to connect with that something deep inside, which is radiant and whole in each of us.
Now, I am able to talk with you using three different words, from three different spiritual traditions, about that authentic something—the place of peace. But, in the end, words are completely inadequate.
Search for the oldest known texts, closest translations, most original practices or the best of teachers. The very act of searching, in safe circumstances, aids us in building lines of communication to our place of authenticity. But, what I tell you is that the daily practice of remaining in that precious seat, involves picking up the ringing phone in one’s own heart to listen and know peace.
On late Saturday mornings, my father would sometimes walk up from the office to the house and make an inquiry, “Hey, want to go for a ride? I have some bushings that need to be repaired.”
Three hours later and halfway across the state, I find myself in the smallest of cottage-industry shops in the middle of nowhere. There are streams and lakes and fields and forests—and very few people. The late-afternoon sunlight comes in through the dirty windows of a repurposed filling station, standing as only one of three buildings at a singular intersection, marking the community’s center. Half a dozen people are bent over vice grips wrapping copper wiring around parts—by hand.
Unable to stifle my surprise, I lean into my father’s space to verify, “They wind these by hand?”
“Yes. The labor and new copper wiring are less expensive than a brand new part. They will ship them out when they are finished.”
On the drive home, we take a forty-mile detour (eighty in total) to purchase all-beef bratwurst from one of the only small meat suppliers left in the state. There is an upcoming drivers’ picnic to celebrate the end of the school year. Forty miles is nothing when considering some of the travel distances that the contracted drivers cover for charter trips or a single high-school athletic meet: three hours out, play ball and three hours back. In time, I learn to ask my dad about how far or how long the ride might be before making any solid commitments to a Saturday ride.
The bus service my parents owned, coupled with a propensity for long family road trips, means that I grew up reading maps and on the road again. There were “day trips” to Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee or the Quad Cities, when a minor-league ball team needed transportation. There were driving marathons to and from Florida, California and the East Coast.
A keen observer of design—both natural and manufactured—my father never tired of heading out on a road trip to appreciate the world around him and the people he served. A teacher by vocation, he was inherently curious and ready to discuss potential design improvements on almost any object or subject. He relished his personal time while driving. In retrospect, those long hours were the essence of his personal practice.