*Brian Wilcox. 'a moment of grace'. Flickr.
Today, I share three events around the theme: moments of grace. Then, I share some pointers on these moments and our relationship to them. By herein sharing this, possibly you will recall times when you have been gifted with a moment of grace, or divine visitation. I think we have all had them, but sometimes we may not recognize it as a moment of grace. The moment may pass. One way it passes is our simply not living in awareness, another is a cultural tendency, amid being inundated with materialism and intellectualism, to distrust or deny such happenings. We need to recognize them as moments of grace, and cherish them with gratitude.
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When a teenage preacher, I had a clergy friend, much older. He shared with me of going through a long time of joylessness. He could not discern why this was so. One day, in the midst of this feeling sad and apart from his God, he went into his field and prostrated himself on the ground, doing what we called pouring the heart out to God. He began praying in this ache for relief, and, suddenly, everything changed within him. The way he spoke of this was that a joy descended on him that he could barely receive with the physical body, so strong and heavenly was this bliss. He got up, after being bathed in this blessedness, and the sadness and sense of alienation from his God were no more.
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Ajhan Brahm, a Thervadian Buddhist monk and teacher, shares in his Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung? the following...
When he was still a young boy, a friend of mine was playing with his best friend on a pier. For a joke, he pushed his friend into the water. The friend drowned. For many years that young man lived with crippling guilt. The drowned friendís parents lived next door. He grew up knowing that he had deprived them of their son. Then one morning, as he told it to me, he realized he didnít need to feel guilty any more. He walked out of his own prison into the warm air of freedom.
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This morning I visited a new Quaker Meeting. I went alone and had felt well since getting up four hours prior. When the gathering in Silence began, I started feeling unwell, after about ten minutes. So, I went from feeling a little unwell, to more unwell, back to a little unwell over the about fifty minutes. So, there I sat, amid a group of persons whom I had never met, everyone in Silence, and wondering what to do. One time, I considered leaving. I, instead, remained mindfully present with the others gathered in Silence.
Why the ill feeling? I knew of possible explanations, but did not know what was the cause, or causes. Regardless of causation, I am glad I did not leave, that I remained gathered in the Silence with others.
After the time in Silence, I met a few persons during fellowship afterward. During this time I still did not feel back to normal, but was feeling better.
After about twenty minutes, I got my belongings and walked outside and on my way to my vehicle, to return the fifty minute trip home. Outside, it was cool, and I inhaled the fresh air.
As I left the Meeting, and got on the highway, my entire body became light inside, like almost weightless, and I felt infused and surrounded by the deepest peacefulness I had known in a long time. I had known only a few times of being bathed in such deep peace as seemed to embrace me in Love. As I drove, I was enveloped in calm. I could give no explanation for this, as the mind witnessed this sudden caress of solace. I could only relate it to the past, when alike visitations arose, giving calm and assurance.
On the trip home, this deep, hovering peace never left, though varying in degree. I contemplated, as though while driving inside this center of tranquility, what was being felt and exploring what this could mean. By the time of arriving home, the experience was of driving and, yet, the sensation of not being focused on any one thing happening within me or outside me, but a sense of being open totally to everything, as though being only consciousness conscious spontaneously of everything, including all together, excluding nothing. The space, also, inside the vehicle and outside were included in this lucid awareness.
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When reflecting on the above narratives, the words given were these: moments of grace. From whence arose this spontaneous forgiveness by Brahm's friend, after all the years of guilt? Why did it occur at all? From whence was given this bliss of peace, in contrast to the feelings I had lived through the prior over an hour? Why was this given? The same questions could be posed of the sudden, overflowing bliss gifted my clergy friend.
These moments of grace are spontaneous. In an odd way, we could say, they just happen. We do not think our way into them. We cannot decide when and how they will occur. We cannot explain them. We cannot simply provide one or any number of psychological causes that lead to the grace.
As we draw closer to Grace, however we understand that, we are more prone to these moments of grace. And we distance ourselves from a moment of grace when we try to pull it down, so to speak, into a logical explanation. To one who trusts in Spirit, these unspeakable graces might be surprising, but nothing to try to explain away or doubt, at all. To say one denies these visitations, is to say he or she is unconscious of the workings of Grace, the very presence of Spirit. For other persons, these are normal, even if infrequent, blessings.
And when such a moment of grace arises, it is always experienced as given, not gotten. The moment shows up, manifests, and may leave quickly or linger. Indeed, the effort to seek such a graceful moment to arise becomes a hindrance to it arising, for Grace is freely given, and this goes much against the mentality of acquiring. We cannot acquire Grace or graceful moments. We cannot manipulate in order to receive Grace. We can be in a receptive posture, however, to make it more likely for a graceful moment to arise. And this graceful moment is simply a way Grace shows Itself, Its love and presence.
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This is why surrender is so central to life. Surrender is relaxing into our limitations. This relaxing allows openness to unfold, and receptivity is the spaciousness of welcome. In this openness is the space in which Grace is allowed to express.
So, surrender is not a manifestation of weakness, but of the wisdom in realizing the futility of clinging, which blocks Grace flowing. Surrender is a beautiful act of worship, an opening in Love to Thy will be done, as we find in the Lord's Prayer, or Our Father.
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And, yes, Grace visits, for Grace is nowhere, anytime but always here. Grace is already inside the house, and comes knocking at the door. And when Grace visits, who opens the door? Not you. Not I. Grace.
*Brian Wilcox. 'embrace'. Flickr.
*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019