O Lord, truly, Your grace is not from our work,
but from Your mysterious giving.
Save us from what our own hands might do;
lift the veil, but do not tear it.
Save us from the ego; its knife has reached our bones.
Let us turn from ourselves to You
Who are nearer to us than ourselves.
Even this prayer is Your gift to us.
How else has a rose garden grown from these ashes?
... Mathnawi II: 2443-2449, Mevlana Rumi
... Mathnawi II: 2443-2449, Mevlana Rumi
Years ago, I read these words from Joel Goldsmith: "Thy Grace is my sufficiency." He referred to this verse in the Bible, which I didn't actually read until a few years later, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." ( 2 Corinthians 12:9 ) I couldn't figure out what Goldsmith meant, what he saw, what his view was all about. At the time, and since then, I was also pondering abundance, and not just in the material sense, but in the spiritual as well. I had been practicing gratitude, making it a point to look at, remind myself daily, and see all that I have, instead of my gaze being constantly fixed on what I lack. With that daily practice my personal sense and definition of abundance began to change. Within that practice something began to happen within me that is beyond description, and can only be found and experienced by personally doing it. Mere words don't cover it. They don't even come close. Reading about gratitude, talking about it, even writing about it is a far cry from the act of practicing it. However, I new I was still missing something, could feel the lack of connection with what true Grace is all about.
Then last week, I read a comment on Zebra Sounds made by a man named Michael that hit me on such a deep level I've been walking in a state of profound amazement over it's simplicity ever since. ( Be sure and read the post by Judy Clement Wall that he was responding to, because it's awesome! ) Michael wrote, "We can always choose to offer grace to a person, even if we can’t condone or praise their behavior. That applies to strangers, or family, or friends, and perhaps most important – to ourselves."
I understand offering it to others, and have been in the practice of it for years. However, the element I was missing...and it even sounds strange, with a big DUH, to my ears...was the concept that Grace is always offered to me, in all my imperfection, and every single one of us, in a big ole Universal way if I just open myself, and my mind to receive it! Since participating in j's love project, the month of practicing self love seriously opened my eyes to how important it is that we include ourselves in all the love we have inside us, and that is available in the world. The biggest thing for me to understand personally was allowance.
All my life I've had what feels like a wall, this thing getting in the way, where it felt and looked like I was not included, or allowed in some way, to be a part of all the good in the world. As friends and some family can testify, I've been hammering at that wall for years, reaching for understanding. It finally kicked in after I wrote my love letter to self as part of j's love project, and most especially after what happened with my friend who went homeless. The funny thing is I've been leaving myself clues all over the damn place! That wall in me was an opinion about myself, a definition I took on, believing I was a burden. I'm sure you've noticed the smattering of I AM statements throughout my blog, especially notable in the love letter to self. That letter was all about me, and my finally proclaiming to myself, "Hey! I'm here! I'm right here! See me!"
What I finally realized is I needed to see me!
I discovered years ago if someone doesn't feel like they are being heard, then there is something they are not listening to within themselves. I learned this from journaling. The more I gave myself a voice, and really listened to what I was voicing on paper, the more I felt like I was heard. I no longer have an issue with feeling unheard. But I've known for a long time...(really, I'm doin' this big ole DUH in my head right now)...that I've had this sense of feeling invisible, not seen. Of course, at first, like we do, we think it has to do with everyone else not seeing us! When it was I that didn't see me...and I mean really, really see me. Through loving eyes, because Love sees me.
I could seriously sing it from the mountain tops! I AM! And my God, am I so glad and grateful that I AM! That simple statement finally broke through the undeserving, filled with ego wall, that said my being here, even existing, was a burden. I kept trying to figure out how I could make myself less of a burden without disappearing altogether! How awful is that! My own hand was the wall. And once I lowered it...duh...Love came flooding in.
Love and Grace go hand in hand. They are one and the same. Love never, ever sees anyone as a burden. When loving someone it doesn't even enter our thoughts! We simply love them, and wish to make their way in life a bit easier for them, giving them a grace, a breath.
I didn't know how to unload. I didn't know how to lift the burden of myself off others. Now I realize...I never had to. I was already welcome. And where I wasn't welcome by others, well, that's not a loving environment for me, and it's okay to cart myself right out of it, and move toward a more loving one. Love welcomes me with It's Grace. And I am humbled beyond measure for a gift so great.
And yes, that Grace, that Love offering, available to all, is enough. It is more than sufficient. Because in the recognition of it, from my eternally grateful soul, I can now include my imperfect self, open myself to receive good. And feel good.
The following quote is one of my favorites. The man in the story, even though he felt impoverished, admitting his weakness in gazing upon God, the very Spirit of Love and Grace, didn't hesitate in opening himself to receive love in whatever form it was given. Not with a sense of entitlement, but with a truly grateful heart for Love's very presence.
"When the kings had died, a pauper, barefooted and hungry, came and sat on the throne. "God," he whispered, "the eyes of man cannot bear to look directly at the sun, for they are blinded. How then, Omnipotent, can they look directly at you? Have pity, Lord; temper your strength, turn down your splendor so that I, who am poor and afflicted, may see you!" Then--listen, old man!--God became a piece of bread, a cup of cool water, a warm tunic, a hut, and, in front of the hut, a woman giving suck to an infant. "Thank you, Lord," he whispered. "You humbled yourself for my sake. You became bread, water, a warm tunic, my wife and son in order that I may see you. And I did see you. I bow down and worship your beloved many-faced face!"
~ Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ