Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grace Happens

The church I belonged to as a teen-ager at one time gave out bumper stickers with the simple phrase “Grace Happens” on them. I forget now what the occasion or event was that triggered this slogan, only that several people had them pasted not only on cars but on office doors, home windows and notebooks. I had mine stuck to the white dresser which occupied my childhood bedroom. Over the years that saying has come back, unbidden to my mind several times in various situations. It has become a bit of a mantra for me – “Grace Happens”.

In the last year or so I’ve been studying Buddhism as part of my yoga experience. It began with a desire to learn more about the sense of peace I feel from my yoga instructors and those who live the yoga lifestyle (and attempt to capture for myself). It has gone quite a bit further than that now, including an ultimate desire to share what I’ve learned with others and go deeper into my yoga practice as an instructor. But that’s all for “some day”, that mythical day we all seem to be waiting for when finances will be as such that I can afford not only the advanced study but also the decrease in my earnings.

It has been interesting to compare the ideals and beliefs of my Christian upbringing with those of Buddhism. Surprisingly (to me, perhaps not to you) they are quite similar, if you subtract most of the radical intolerance (which I do) as being more about various churches and religious organizations and less about being “Christian” in the original sense of the word. In fact, it has been comforting to me and has renewed my interest in studying my own religion again. It has given me back my faith (or at least my faith in faith), and for that I am exceedingly thankful.

One of the main things that yoga has taught me is that grace is more than balancing beautifully on one foot or transitioning from pose to pose effortlessly. Grace is the way we move through the world, interacting with our loved ones. Grace is the way we interact with those we DON’T particularly love also and how we act when there is no one to judge us. It's the way we accept the world as it appears before us, and acknowledge our power to step in and create change, or to sit calmly by and take what comes. It’s the ability to find happiness in the little things, to find beauty in our world no matter how dark and dreary it looks from the outside.

I am resurrecting my old mantra and am being mindful to practice grace as much as possible - remembering to breathe in, breathe out. It is harder than I thought it would be, but I feel a sense of happiness and serenity in it that has been missing from my life almost entirely in the past couple of years. I wish I still had that plain white bumper sticker with its bright blue lettering – Grace Happens.