Being alert to grace

Being prepared for where life's impactful moments will presence themselves


Will you be alert to grace when it is in your presence?


Yesterday and today I took a late afternoon shower. The early October afternoon sun, unobstructed by cloud or shade tree, manifested the cascading water in just the right way to create an ingratiated cross section of water and air elements. Yesterday, the angle was such that it nearly looked like words were formed in the negative of the air between the streaming water and today the cone was thicker and at eye level.


Grace may be my favorite religious word that I’ve chosen to give a more ordinary and illuminated meaning to. Grace is finding beauty and even assigning a sacred meaning to an ordinary event. Grace is the act of determining that you will appreciate—to the fullest extent you are able—something that illuminates the grandeur of existence or your experience of it. To be gracious is to act in harmony with a story that you want people in the present, and even people in a future without you, to tell about you. A legend built from your grace.


The practice and training of attention, both in the formal practice of meditation and in the slog of the ordinary moment-to-moment that is our lives passing away, helps us be alert to the subtleties of grace. But wait, there is more. Our compassionate practice, both in the good intention of loving kindness and in the act of service toward those who find the present life difficult, is an act of grace. Our smile or caring posture, of being at the right place with the magic words or the necessary and sufficient action, will play graciously for those on the receiving end.


This is why we pay attention and study our loving awareness—to be alert to moments of grace both for andfrom ourselves! We can play a key role in the grace of the world around us. If we feel angst or are overwhelmed by the world, seeking grace hones our attention to what is illuminating the ordinary... but we can do more, for others that are similarly seeking grace. We can be gracious, acting in small ways that bring solace and kindle a fire of strength in another. It doesn’t have to take much—mentioning the cloudless day, pointing out the playful laughter of children, or playing a few bars of soothing music—and letting grace take its course.