Driving by St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Santa Clara, CA, I saw that their message board out front had the message, "Got grace?" I know the Rector at this particular church, Rev. Canon Linda S. Taylor. She does indeed have grace, and lots of it. She's been through good times and bad, and is unfailingly kind and welcoming.
This got me to thinking on the subject of grace. One of my yoga teachers, Maria Alfaro, has a phrase about breathing into your back helping you to open to grace. Opening to grace helps us open to community, to being helped and to helping others; it is so hard for us to allow ourselves to be helped. Even in extreme circumstances we will try to stand stoic and alone. Islands we are not, and there are times that only with helping hands can we be lifted out of crisis. The trick is to remember that this is true in situations that are not life and death, that strength in numbers - clasped hands - can move the world.
Do I have grace? I certainly try. I have in the last few months faced the fact that my background, all my early training, was to stand alone. This is inhuman. My training was inhuman, and I do not wish to pass it on. Let those difficult lessons die with me in the fullness of time. This is a good thing. I am retraining now in ways that are much more human, much more sustainable. In fact, this process of integration that I'm working through will help me be stronger than I could ever have been with the system of my hereditary training. We can be both fully human and Divine, we can embody Love.
I practice breathing into the back of my lungs. I feel the support of my community flood in; I am learning to embrace this support, to find and accept the love in it. That is the hardest part - it's so much easier to accept anger and hatred than love. It is so much more painful for me to feel loved rather than criticized. I sometimes find that when I expect to be berated by those I respect that the loving and nurturing I receive hurts even more. Feeling my heart open like that is so difficult to bear. And yet I will stand for it, hoping that I can pass along the love and that another person will also learn to stand for love.