Grace in Action

Grace in Action

Advent 7

 

Grace in motion is the continuous practice of showing grace to another and ourselves.  All too often we forget to let ourselves be the recipient of grace from within.  William Shakespeare once said: “Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners.“  When we fail to give grace to ourselves, we then try to plant in very dry, hardened, barren soil.

 

Eckhart Tolle spoke of this in his writings.  “Emotion arises at the place where mind and body meet. It is the body’s reaction to your mind — or you might say, a reflection of your mind in the body.”  Rather than thinking of grace as a religious concept or even a description of concise movement, I invite you to consider that one form of grace exists within ourselves.

 

This internal grace often has the power to move us or to cause us to freeze and literally shut down our action of living.  “The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly—you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you.”  Tolle realized the power that inner grace can afford us if we connect to it.

 

“Nobody’s life is entirely free of pain and sorrow. Isn’t it a question of learning to live with them rather than trying to avoid them?  The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.  The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind.”

 

We hold ourselves up to what is often an impossible standard.  We feel we haven’t responded fully or perhaps in an appropriate manner.  Maybe we are not happy with what we have accomplished thus far.  If we are able to question ourselves, then we have been able to learn something.  IF we recognize that there might be more, we are partway there.  We do need, however, to allow some grace to reach our inner self.

 

“The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”  Tolle recognized the importance of living grace not only for others but also for ourselves.  Without it, we limit our own progress and severely handicap our actions.

 

Eckhart Tolle encouraged people to live in the present and I encourage you to do so by allowing yourself some grace.  “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are cause by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

 

When we give grace to ourselves, we become free.  “To be free of time is to be free of the psychological need of past for your identity and future for your fulfillment.  Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.  Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally.”

 

We do not control the world or even the person standing next to us.  Ask any parent of a toddler and they’ll agree that their control is minimal.  That toddler has learned the power of grace and forgives him or herself for falling down in their effort to learn things.  No one ever walked without falling and yet, by giving some grace to the effort, we do learn how to walk.  When we put grace into our own lives, we become free to act more productively and effectively.  “As far as inner transformation is concerned, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.”

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