My wish for you is PEACE of mind, JOY of heart, HEALTH of body, GRATITUDE for blessings, KINDNESS both given and received, INSPIRATION that fuels CREATIVITY, and GRACE—the immediate presence of Spirit.
Rather than make New Year’s resolutions, each year I select a single word to focus on in the upcoming year. In 2017 my focus word is Sankalpa—a Sanskrit word that means determination; a practical step to harness willpower. With this resolve I’m going to plant, cultivate, and and nurture three seeds:
HOPE — optimism, joyful expectation
GRACE — the immediate presence of spirit, be the change
PEACE — reconciliation, unity
My practical and idealogical steps to ensure a good harvest include exercising intentional kindness. To build up, not tear down. To unite, not divide. To accept, not merely tolerate. To be better informed. To be transparent and vulnerable, not guarded and closed. And to actively listen, not passively hear what people with opposing viewpoints have to share.
Recently I said to Kathy over on Lake Superior Spirit, “Isn’t it grand to be grateful, to be appreciative of the things we sometimes take for granted? Just the other day on a bike ride I was thinking about the many freedoms I enjoy and I started singing out loud.”
In thinking about my comment—and also being grateful for the 1,100 photographs that were retrieved after my hard drive died—I thought I’d pull some of the photographs to support the song I was singing:
Oh beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
Grace has been shed on thee
Crown thy good with peoplehood
From sea to shining sea
In order of the lyrics, the locations where the photos were taken are listed as follows:
Spacious skies – Mackinack Island, Michigan
Amber waves of grain – Owasso, Oklahoma
Purple mountain magesties – Mount St. Helens, Oregon
Above the fruited plains – Capron, Illinois
America, America – Belgium, Wisconsin
Grace has been shed on thee – Poplar Grove, Illinois
Crown thy good with peoplehood – Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL)
From sea to shining sea – Cardiff by the sea, California
What was the last song you sang out loud out of sheer joy or gratitude?
University of Life – Divine Grace Course Description
“There but for the grace of God go I.” I have a difficult time with this familiar phrase. In my experience, it’s usually said by someone when they observe a person in an unfortunate circumstance. To me, those words mean, “I’m somehow special—elect—and don’t have to encounter that type of thing.” As if God imparts some people with a healthy dose of favor and leaves others to flounder.
Grace. We all have it. We’ve all been endowed with this innate gift. But what is it? Some say that it’s compassion or divine love; others say it’s the protection of God. I define it as the immediate presence of Spirit. One of my clients offers this definition, “Grace is the breath of God.”
The famous Latin writing, “Bidden or unbidden, God is present,” means that God is everywhere—not just with a select few—but with everyone in equal measure in the University of Life. We’re all here to gain understanding. Most of us learn by making mistakes. Some of us are taking basic courses; while others are in accelerated programs. Regardless of the level of difficulty, the classrooms have an ever-changing terrain. Having a strong and secure internal foothold—divine grace—helps us to stay the course.
If love is an act of compassion, then grace is divinity in action. The next time we see a person and think, “There but for the grace of God go I,” let’s put our divinity into action instead and be the immediate presence of Spirit for that individual; giving them a smile, a word of encouragement, or lending them a hand. Grace not given is grace lost.
I am currently attending the University of Life. Each class I complete takes me a little closer to graduation. At some point I will have gained all of the necessary wisdom from this coursework and return home. Right now I’m carrying a full class load with:
Mindfulness – (prerequisite, Touching Life Deeply)
Being Still – 301
Letting Go – (remedial course)
Divine Grace (no cost, freely bestowed)
Living Meditation (prerequisite, Insight)
Over the next few days I’ll share the course descriptions, but right now I’ve got to go; I’m studying for finals.