I wasn’t raised with any sort of formal religious training, so in my younger years, when I heard people talk of “grace”, I wasn’t really sure what it meant. I’m not referring to the kind of grace that makes one a beautiful dancer or the prayer people say before dinner. I’m talking about the kind of grace people sometimes say they give themselves or others, or that they aspire to live by. This kind of grace is part of the mystery of life, only truly understood once directly experienced.

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. – Anne Lamott

Grace might be conceptualized as the unasked for and unmerited, life-affirming, inspirational, and fortifying forces of the universe that are available to every being without discrimination. They’re experiences that help us face difficulty, remain in alignment with our highest values, begin anew, and accept endings. If we pay attention to these forces, we may notice a sense of gratitude – for the air we breathe, the ground under our feet, the sun and rain that warm and hydrate us and the Earth, plants that give us food and oxygen, and other beings who support us in times of need.

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life. – John Updike

Grace can also represent a way of being that’s balanced and easeful, with presence and lightness of heart. Perhaps someone has been an instrument of grace for you, loving you even when you felt unlovable, being kind to you even when you were unkind, forgiving a mistake you made, standing up for you when you were being mistreated, being your calm port in a storm, or doing something that inspired grace in you. Maybe you’ve been a vessel through which grace flowed for someone else – or maybe even for yourself?

For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile. – Elie Wiesel

The next time you sit down to meditate, I invite you to bring to mind a time in your life in which you experienced grace, whether the universe aligned itself into a life raft, a destiny changing opportunity, or a second chance – perhaps a time when you tapped into a well of strength or courage you didn’t realize you had, a time when someone touched your heart deeply with unexpected kindness, or a time when you spontaneously and freely offered grace to another. Allow yourself to reflect upon the situation, the beings involved, what it felt like in your body, emotions and thoughts that were present at the time, and what you are experiencing now remembering it. If its available, you might even connect with any sense of gratitude that arises for this mysterious gift that arrives unbidden and flows through us all, often when needed most.

I am greater than I knew.
This frail and vulnerable
little biped
has roots in the stars,
and boundless black space.
I am the effect
of invisible cause
that I can sense,
and feel, and express,
but I can never see.
I dance with the galaxies,
and swirl with the suns,
as I sit at the
breakfast table,
eating my cornflakes.

– Don C. Nix, Grace: A Relationship with the Cosmos

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