My intention for 2016 is Grace. That sounds good, right? Grace is good… yet as I’ve been thinking about it, I’m realizing what an interesting and slippery idea it is.
We may experience Grace as something that happens to us — we feel it or hear it, and “how sweet the sound.” Or we can be full of it ourselves, the embodiment of it — graceful.
Often, it seems a thing of physicality and movement, like a graceful dance. But it can also be totally intangible or still, a moment of mercy and compassion, a divine blessing.
We may speak it before a meal, giving thanks. Or speak it as a pretty name, sweet and kind of old-fashioned. Or speak it humbly as a title denoting aristocratic or religious rank.
We may use the term sarcastically: “She graced us with her presence.” Yeah, right. Or in all seriousness: “Your presence is a thing of grace.”
We may think of it as something bestowed upon us or as something that we bestow.
I notice that the common thread running through all of this is Relationship. Grace is about how we conceive of ourselves relative to someone or something else, and how we conceive of something as it relates to us. And the really interesting thing is that we’re always coming at it from both sides — both the way the world occurs to us, graceful and gracious, or not — and the way we are in it, graceful and gracious, or not.
It seems to me that our greatest experiences of Grace — when we grace to the top — happen when we recognize ourselves as both subject and object, creators and created, receptive and active, graced and graceful. When we give ourselves to the idea that Grace does happen to us, that it is indeed being bestowed upon us all the time through everything we experience. AND when we own our responsibility to be full of Grace, to embody and bestow Grace upon the world as we meet our lives.
That’s when it becomes Amazing. That’s when all these different ideas of Grace start singing the same song. And the inner and outer, living and life, we and everything else, become One.
I can’t wait to see you Saturday, January 2. Sid Fendley and I will be joined this week by the amazing Patty Stephens. And Patty will be with us the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month going forward! Refreshments, community, and cheer at 5:30, then service at 6:00pm, at Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living. XOX, Rev. Andrew
Author Ursula K. Le Guin said, “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”
Boy, it sure can feel intolerable, uncertainty. If you're anything like me, you'll recognize in yourself a driving compulsion to understand, to figure-out and master and define every darned thing. Like that will somehow make it easier or more manageable or more successful. It’s really tempting, and so we end up pre-packaging our reality into the tidy boxes of what we think we already know, into routines and the way "it's always been." We think we need to prepare for every contingency, leaving nothing to chance. We attempt to think of everything beforehand so nothing can possibly go wrong…
And yeah, good luck with that.
Because the thing is: the very best of our living-breathing reality is, in truth, a lot more about what we don't know, about our uncertainty, about everything chancy and dicey and unprepared-for. I think Ms. Le Guin really nailed it when she said that this is actually what makes life possible. It is our not-knowing that makes possible the exploration of new ways of being, the discovery of new horizons, the creation of new worlds, love.
I love the in-between time — after the Christmas season and before the beginning of the new year — because it feels like a perfect time to practice not-knowing, a time to be with our uncertainty. Everything can be up in the air. Nothing needs to be fixed in place yet. Nothing needs to be pinned down in our firm plans and resolutions for the coming year Right now, in between, in the breath before it all begins again, life is pregnant with possibility.
It's all about possibility. I'm not talking about a shut-down, I don't mean not-knowing as a conclusion or stagnation -- "After careful consideration of all the evidence and options and my lifetime of experience I've decided that I don't know, so there, the end." That's a bullshit way to end the year and start anew. What I'm excited about is embracing not-knowing as a great beginning -- a chance to stumble upon previously hidden vistas, to move and dance unbound by our preconceptions, an opportunity to open our hearts and untether our minds and come alive in an expansive way!
Join me for Boxing Day, December 26, at Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living, as we celebrate the up-in-the-air of it all, allowing life to be fluid and motile and rich in wonder… Service Saturday at 6:00 pm. Refreshments, community, and cheer at 5:30. XO, Drew
Now, more than ever, we need all the Light we can get.
And if we look for it — if we simply allow ourselves to see it — we find that it’s already all around us.
Here in the principles of community & purpose & creativity that are the Light of Kwanzaa.
Here in the miracle remembered through the Light of the menorah candles.
Here in the Festival of Lights, Diwali's celebration of Good triumphant over evil.
Here in the passionate love for the Divine that is the Light of Islam.
Here in our own enlightenment, which we choose & create as we contemplate the Buddha’s awakening.
Here in the radiance of open hearts embracing the audacious possibility of love & kinship between all people, promised in the story of an infant born to be the Prince of Peace, Joy to the World.
Here in the beauty of sunlight sparkling on snow, and the sparkle of wonder in the eyes of children.
The Light shimmers in all the tinsel and twinkle and trappings of this Season — sacred and secular, commercial and holy, universal and personal.
Here it is, and I accept it. All of it. I delight in it with wonder and gratitude.
Happy Holidays, everyone!