Tag Archive | Community

These Are My Graces…

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Yesterday, was my father’s birthday. He passed 4 years ago and so with the day brings a deep sense of melancholy, and yet… all I feel is JOY at the myriad of ways his spirit shines through me every moment of every day.

Today, I am in more physical pain then I have been in years. Meds have been changed, symptoms flared, and yet… all I feel is GRATITUDE that I am able to be with my closest family today; the ones who do not expect me to be anything other than me.

A couple days ago a dearest friend called in deep distress over the sudden loss of her closest mate, her dog. And my mind reeled with the age old question, “Do we close ourselves off to love to protect against the pain of loss?” And yet… all I feel is BLESSED at the way every being in my life has shaped me; has made me a better person. I have lost a lot… and yet I have also lived a life full of love.

Today, I turn on the news and once again bear witness to the tragedies of war and famine, death and disease, throughout the world, and yet… all I see is STRENGTH in the faces of my brethren, and the little acts of KINDNESS that are woven through the stories of strife.

THESE ARE MY GRACES…

The way I live my life… the way I view the world.

Threaded through my heart, coloring all that I see.

Influencing the way I treat others, and in turn, the deep compassion in which I am treated.

It is seeing a world full of ABUNDANCE instead of loss.

Grace, no longer reserved for just the Christian community… it is there, right there. Every Where. For every one of us.

Ripe for the picking.

Grace is not a thing you can earn, or deserve, or create, or even lose.

You do not have to be “redeemed” by grace; we are all gifts of grace.

It is always there. It is in the sparkle of newly fallen snow, blanketing the world in a clean, new slate.

It is in a child’s smile as they crack open from ear to ear at the mere sight of you.

It is in the gentle pressure of two hands as they encircle you in love, in support, in comfort.

It is the feeling in your heart when you give of yourself, passing the grace, to another.

It surprises us. When we are at the end of our ropes, Grace appears with an extension piece to help us get our feet placed firmly on the ground again.

It astounds us. A reminder that “no matter how tragic or bleak things get, the bad simply can’t shut out all the good, the dark can’t squeeze out all the light.”

It is our safety net: woven from the hands of loved ones, the history of passed ones, the memories of times survived, the hope that there will always be a brighter day ahead, and the knowledge that this too shall pass, and that in this moment, grace shimmers below the surface of everything.

And although GRACE is an unexpected, yet utterly amazing, gift waiting to be opened anew each day, you can still be an active participant in grace….

Pull grace into your life. Tonight at dinner, invite everyone to share their best “Grace Story.” This a great way to express gratitude for the ways grace has graced your life; and to role-model this attitude for others, especially children.

Be a witness to Grace’s magic. We’ve all heard of Bird Watchers, now it’s time to become a “Grace Watcher!” Keep a grace journal, where you document the ways grace has worked or appeared in your life each day. Review it at the end of the week and be uplifted.

Be a Giver of Grace. Look around today. Who in your life needs to be reminded that grace is still working in their lives; who needs to be uplifted by a moment of grace? Is there a way you can pass the grace this Thanksgiving, without that person ever knowing where it came from? Challenge yourself to this. It will be surprisingly rewarding: doing a random act of grace just because.

Turn yourself over to grace. Choose a day during the upcoming holiday season where you put your calculated “To-Do List” down for a day. Let grace guide your day instead. Trust that what needs to get done, will.

And most importantly, be open to grace. Center yourself each day with a short mantra. Mine is, “May my mind, eyes and heart be open today to seeing and receiving the gifts of grace that cross my path.” The challenge comes in accepting the gift of grace in whatever form it comes. No “return to sender.” Remember if at first I doesn’t seem like the right fit, try again. Grace often appears in unexpected ways and at unexpected times, and yet it is always just what you need in the moment to get by.

“The winds of grace are always blowing,

but you have to raise the sail.”

{Ramakrishna}

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An Award That Got Me In Touch With My Roots

I’ve been away from my blog for well over a week now.  It’s been a challenging week.  I recently read a blogger refer to her days as either “Green Light,” “Yellow Light” or “Red Light” Days.  She uses this as a communication system with loved ones. When the inevitable, “How are you” pops up, she can respond with the appropriate stop light… indicating: “Not too bad, proceed ahead,” “Rocky road ahead, proceed with caution” or “STOP! Body under repair, do not enter!”  Well, I’ve just come off a string of “Red Light Days.”

But after this rocky week, I returned to my blog to discover that I had been awarded not one, but three Blogger Awards!!  This is a huge honor and I am humbled by this gesture.  Not only was this a surprise in and of itself, but I received these awards from a blogger I wasn’t previously aware of.   Someone who just recently discovered my blog, and was so touched that she chose me for one of her ten nominations. Remarkable.

After the initial shock at receiving these awards faded, I started to buckle under pressuring thoughts: “What did I do to deserve these?” and “What will my next ‘inspiring’ entry be to live up to these nominations?!”

I forgot to stay in the moment and just feel the happiness and hope over receiving these awards.  To know that I have touched others as they have touched me is the true reward.  Especially coming form a new-to-me blogger… the “silent” readers who find comfort and connection in my words.

And, in the end, isn’t that the point of blogging?  Not to feed my own ego or to feed others; but to grow roots in a community of like-minded, supportive people.

When ecologists look beneath the surface of a forest floor, they discover an interconnected web that holds up the entire colony of trees.  One tree cannot stand alone (for long)… it needs its forest.  Just as I tried to stand alone with my own shallow roots for far too long; I was afraid to reach out my branches for help and to admit my daily struggles with chronic illness and pain.

Thanks in large part to the blogging community, I no longer feel alone.  Unlike Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest,” plants in a forest system do not survive individually.  They actually help each other survive.  They will share nutrients back and forth according to who needs it the most at any given moment.  And they will help each other withstand unexpected events (storms, fires, disease).  They do not discriminate; they help each other “inter-species.”

Not only do we provide a root system for one another, I feel like we all play the role of ecologist, as well.  We look beneath the surface (the “oh, but you look so good on the outside…”) to get to the root of things that lie beneath.  We accept each other (as I like to say, “warts and all”).  We trust each other.  We believe in each other.

And when one of us is too weak to weather the next inevitable storm, we hold each other up.  One day I hold you up, and the next day you return the gift with encouraging, validating words of kindness.  We remind each other why we need to stand strong and try again one more day at a time… why we should never give up.

Ecologist Suzanne Simard states, “AMAZINGLY, WE FIND THAT IN A FOREST, 1 + 1 EQUALS MORE THAN 2.”  Isn’t that also true of the WordPress Family?! (and our supportive readers!)

In my heart, these blogging awards are for each and every one of us; for every blogger who has the courage to tell it how it is, to be vulnerable, and to stand in their own truth.  I wouldn’t be here without all of you.  And I wish I could nominate all of you in turn…

I have been instructed to nominate 10 bloggers to pass these awards on to.  I want to be thoughtful in my choices… to recognize others as well as to give everyone an opportunity to explore a blogger they may not yet have discovered on their own.  As well, I want to think of the introspective questions I have been asked (as a nominee) and post those separately so you can get to know me even better.

In the meantime, I want to sincerely thank Life Beyond My Window (click for link) for passing these awards on to me.  And for giving me the opportunity to discover another inspirational blog!