Do you believe that life has something wonderful and creative and victorious in store for you? If you do, it is probably because you have received a measure of grace in your life. Grace is the beneficent creative power of the universe that moves through all of creation. The power of the creative process moves through everything, but most importantly it moves within us. We have the opportunity as human beings to open up to the grace that is full of creativity and goodness. Grace is behind the building of something wonderful and beautiful.
To be saved by grace, we have to open to it. By definition, grace is something that we don’t have to invent. It is not something we create as human beings. It is something we open to, and in opening fully to it we bring grace into our world.
We also know that grace can pass us by. Haven’t you had the experience of grace missing you? That happens to a person because they haven’t opened to it. The sad alternative to being saved by grace is falling prey to our own humanity. People have that experience too. You might say that falling prey is a turn of phrase, but in this case a very apt one, because people do have the experience of being eaten up from inside. There are negative attitudes and energies associated with them that consume them. We are saved from our own worst tendencies by grace, by the beneficent creative power that lies within us and within all things.
We understand that the forms of life pass away after a time and nothing lasts forever. We understand that life is not going to break cosmic laws for us, so if we act destructively we are going to pay the consequences. If we are willing to accept these unalterable truths, life has something grand in store for all of us. Grace is available to save us from the common human tendency to rail against what is.
To experience grace we have to surrender to it. We have to open to greatness and wonder. We have to find a way to welcome it. Part of our surrender is in becoming honest about the ways we haven’t been welcoming it. Surrendering to grace requires that we look at our own stance if we are holding grace at arm’s length in our life and not letting it come into us and through us and into our world. We have to be able to take a look at how we are falling prey to our humanity, and then release our grip on that pattern and open to grace, open to the wonder and creativity that life has in store.
I find it to be one of the hardest things in my life to witness another person constantly dodging grace in their life. I’ve witnessed people who have all of the wonderful things of life available to them—success, relationship, creativity, abundance—it’s all there. If they would only embrace it, it would come to them. But they have become experts at fending off the goodness coming to them and keeping it at arm’s length. How sad! When we see that in someone else, perhaps it moves us to wonder how we could assist them. How could we open a door for them and help them to find the grace in their own life?
These issues are up for me with the passing of a friend of mine and many others, Ray Helm. Ray took his life on December 17th and there was a celebration of his life recently at a place that was a spiritual home for him, Edenvale Retreat and Conference Center outside of Vancouver, Canada. About two hundred people came, and Hugh Duff, who hosted the time, did a wonderful job of bringing love and understanding into the situation, and support for the family and all the network of connection that Ray had. In many ways it was a sad event, and yet you can’t think of Ray for too long without remembering his passion and joy, just because that was the kind of man he was.
For me, the whole experience made me think about what more I can do to assist men to be saved by the grace that is within them. I came up with two things: I want to be more honest and I want to be more loving with the men in my life. It is natural, when someone whom we love takes their life, that we start thinking about what we could have done. Who knows if I could have done anything, or any of us could? But still, I want to use this situation for good and for learning.
The tendency for a person to fall prey to their own irrationality manifests in many ways. It could be the expectation we have of what other people should do, and the tendency to be engulfed by disappointment that they’re not doing it. That could eat a person up inside. Or a person can attempt to satisfy their needs and wants on some kind of arbitrary, self-determined basis. The needs and wants might be beautiful and legitimate. But you have probably watched people try to satisfy their needs in a way that ends up disappointing them, poisoning their lives, and leading to addiction of all kinds.
If we are falling prey to our humanity, we have to be saved by grace. Part of grace is finding that the universe does satisfy our needs. And it just feels so much better and it goes so much better when we let the universe satisfy our needs in its timing and not demand that it be done on ours. It is so much sweeter, and we find that the universe knows what it is doing.
So what is the test that we might apply for our own approach to life and our own attitude in our living, our own thinking, to know whether how we are thinking about something and how we are approaching it is bringing grace into that situation, or whether we’re tending to fall prey to our own humanity? Four of us who provide leadership at Sunrise Ranch spent the day together yesterday. We thought deeply about our world and our leadership. We agreed to create a forum weekly where we will consider together how we are leading and, very specifically, how we are with people. We agreed to create a forum where we can, in an open and honest and inquiring way, consider how we are thinking about Sunrise Ranch and how we are acting. We developed these tests:
- Can we be proud of this way of thinking and acting as an embodiment of who we are?
- If we think and act this way, will we bring the optimal accomplishment of our mission, strategy and plan?
- Is this way of thinking and acting empowering to us as people and as leaders?
These tests might help keep us from falling prey to our humanity. They might assist us to find grace as individuals and to bring grace for our community. I suggest you apply these tests in your life. See if they free you from falling prey to your humanity. See if they bring you the grace that is available in your life.
O Creator, God of this creative cycle, we open to Thee and know that within Thee is grace and power and wonder and glory and beauty. We surrender and let go to Thee, knowing that this is our reality. It is what is most true of us and true of all creation. And we play our special part as human beings, conscious and aware, ever more so, bringing the light of Being into the world. Aum-en.