What a lovely thing it is to possess grace. When we move with grace, we join in union with our bodies and find strength and beauty in every step. When we speak and act with grace, we create warmth and ease among our companions, and allow our hearts to open to each other’s presence. When we live with grace, we find joy in the most ordinary things, and blessings on the hardest days.
We live with grace when we accept that, while we are unique, we depend on each other, and the world. We cannot live without each other’s sustenance and support.
We live with grace when we accept that we are flawed and fallen, and forgive ourselves anyway. In every one of us there is good and bad, peace and violence, hatred and love, heaven and hell. The sacred and the profane are joined in us in strange communion.
We find grace when we are grateful for the daily miracle of our existence, for the beauty of life, and for our ancestors. We are their continuation: they live in us. We live with grace when we find the humility to let life teach us what it has to share, and accept its lessons.
I am not a Christian, although I grew up in the traditions of the Church of England. I do not believe that God sent his perfect son to live in the world and die for our sins on the cross, at least not as a literal truth. I do believe in the enduring power of religion and spirituality to help us lead healthier, longer, happier and more fulfilling lives. (I don't actually have to believe that: the scientific evidence for it is overwhelming.) I also believe in the power of myth and ritual to transform our experience of the world and give it meaning.
According to the Christians, God grants his grace to the unmerited, through his love and forgiveness. Grace is not something we earn from God through our good deeds, or our righteousness. He offers it to us all. We are equally worthy. How are we to accept such an extraordinary gift? "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble," says the Bible (James 4:6).
I turn inward to find my God. (Christian mystics did the same.) I sit down, close my eyes, bring my attention to my breath, quiet my mind, and practice loosening the hold of my ego on my consciousness. What do I experience? A sense, some days stronger than others, of a universal and timeless mind that I join with as a drop of water joins with a bottomless ocean. A deep and profound peace. Love, sometimes so overwhelming that it makes me cry. God's grace.
It is interesting to look back on my career and think about the times that felt like defeat, or failure: a big story I never got to publish that marked the end of my 14-year career as a foreign correspondent; a reshuffle during my executive career that had me exiled to Siberia, nursing wounds; a negotiated exit from my last corporate job just before the stock price tripled.
It all felt so hard at the time: unjust, unfair, unmerited. But with hindsight, I can see so clearly that each "failure" marked a moment of change in my life that cleared the way for new learning and growth, and for new ideas about what success even meant to me. What a blessing that has been!
Each week I explore a life metaphor that has touched me in my coaching. Subscribe to get my scribblings every Sunday morning. You can also follow me on Medium, or on LinkedIn. Feel free to forward this to a friend, colleague, or loved one, or anyone you think might benefit from reading it.