Grace is the flower, the fragrance the sunlight of life. How can we tend the thoughts in our head in order to create a fertile field that nurtures grace?
I recommend a simple experiment. Imagine a scenario – play it out in your head from start to finish. It can be something simple, as long as there is a desired outcome. Here’s a possibility – you’re in line at the grocery store. You’re in a hurry and the person in front of you is taking a long time unloading their cart. What do you do? One option is to get mad, frustrated, tap your toes, sigh loudly expressing frustration. Imagine that fully. What do you suppose that is creating in the general area? Are others supportive or possibly disgusted at your behavior? Ponder this. Then, imagine the opposite. You move up and lend a hand, helping unload the cart, and in this process discover that the person you’re helping is actually handicapped, and only has use of one arm. Oops, in the other scenario that was overlooked, as selfish priorities completely took over. The minute that kindness and gratitude were introduced there was a complete paradigm shift and in this instant you are living in the world as you truly wish it to be.
Now, extend this outward. During the day the “attitude of gratitude” has an effect on others around you and a deep effect on yourself. It sounds so simple but doesn’t always prove to be easy to maintain. It’s a work in progress!
Then there’s grace. Is grace accidental? Is it completely random, or is there a way we can create fertile ground for grace? If there is, then gratitude is the bedrock, the compost, the essential nutrient for grace. Despite circumstances, despite everything, we can be grateful and in that very feeling is opening to grace that makes life worth living. Sometimes it seems to evade us – where does it go? In this interactive life there are definitely ways to invite back the honored guest and offer her the seat at the head of the table. Most religious and spiritual teachings are about this – how to nurture grace. The ten commandments of Christianity, the Eightfold path of Buddhism, the 8 arms of Yoga… all are profound wisdom, distilled to bring the most benefit to our lives.
Once again, as in all true teachings there is no reason to just believe them, they are all possible to confirm through personal exploration and experience. Give gratitude a try, make a charitable donation or help a person or animal in need. The reward for selfless service (called Seva in sanskrit) is immeasurable grace. Perhaps sainthood is elusive in this life, but living in the light of love, well that is a worthy goal. Each step taken has the option of moving towards love or away from it. Choosing mindfully, with conscious awareness means paying close attention, bringing awareness back over and over to the simple truths that belie their power.
It is a hard won realization for me that when I’m struggling and heading towards suffering, the best thing to do is find somebody who needs help more than I do. That’s not hard to do in this world, there are so many down and out, or handicapped in ways I’m not or injured, or…..well the possibilities are endless. During one of the hardest time of my life I was living in Hawaii (hmmmm) and would just get in the car and ask the universe to guide me to someone I could help. Then it turned out that they were everywhere – the sufferers. I know I can’t help everyone, but supporting just one person or animal is important to that one. Making a positive difference in life – that to me is truly meaningful. Go for it!