Sunday, 29 March 2015

Moving Towards Grace

If someone were to ask me to describe my younger self, I would have said I was extremely shy, preferring to blend into the background of life. Now, however, I suppose the correct label would be 'oppressed introvert'. In part, it was due to my personality and also it was my way of building a wall of protection around myself. Ironically, this worked only until someone needed a scapegoat to feed their narcissistic appetite; then I lit up like a neon sign.

By the time I was in my mid to late twenties, my personality changed dramatically. Becoming bitter and angry about my lot in life, from being knocked down and kicked while I was down there, I came to face life and everyone in it with utter contempt. With the slightest provocation, I would tear them to shreds with my razor sharp words. I was a version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, morphing without a moment's notice. If my daughter happened to be near during one of these episodes, she would saunter away pretending not to know me. This personality change was not something I consciously decided to do or become, but was a gradual shift. It was something that I was very aware of, but didn't seem to have the know how to control.

I lived this way for many years until one day I 'woke up' and realized I HAD to make a change somehow. Going through life being angry all the time was extremely exhausting and this wasn't the real me. Deep down, I really didn't want to hurt anyone else; it was my protective armour. The real me was somewhere underneath this charade.

There's a Buddhist proverb that says, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” I had a hunger for spiritual information and knowledge … anything I could get my hands on. I started on my journey towards God. I read many books, watched PBS programs, youtube videos, and visited various spiritual websites. There seemed to be an endless buffet of resources. I went from one thing to another, and kept feeding the hunger, never getting enough. It would be a couple of years later that I would be given a book called A Course in Miracles. This seemed to be 'the one', the spiritual fit that was right for me. The undoing was also a gradual process as I walked towards God, in an attempt to leave the ego's tyrannical ways behind me.

Along the way, I picked up this phrase, in the form of a question, "What would Jesus do?", that I carried around with me in the back of my mind. This became an incredibly helpful tool to use in a situation that would otherwise have been resolved by an egoic reaction.

One evening, the end of a work day, I boarded a transit bus and sat myself in an aisle seat near the back. I proceeded to get my mp3 player out and put on my headphones. I sat back with my eyes closed and listened to music while I transitioned out the work self into the personal self. Every once in a while, when the bus was at a stop, I would open my eyes to see who was getting on. At one particular stop, a group of 3 or 4 teenagers, of about 14 or 15 years of age, got on. It was nothing out of the ordinary, just a noticing. There was only standing room left, and they positioned themselves just behind me and to my left. I closed my eyes again and as we were travelling along, I felt the sting of a slap across my face, my eyes flying open in surprise. I had been practicing mind watching for a while at this point, and was very aware of the thoughts that came up. The first which was, 'this is a test', soon followed by my default question, "What would Jesus do?" Then I was aware of the thought, "Do something, this was done on purpose, probably a dare," very obviously the ego speaking. Another thought soon arose, "They probably just lost their grip and went off balance", which was no doubt my higher self. It was as if my mind had been split into three entities, the ego, the higher self, and my personal self which was observing this banter, of which also had the choice of which action was going to be taken.

I suddenly became aware of the silence in that area of the bus, as if time had stood still awaiting my response. Finally, I made a decision. I removed my headphones, turned slightly in my seat, and smiled (somewhere between a smirk and a smile) up at the group of teens, resumed my position and put my headphones back on, enjoying the rest of the trip home. The decision I came to in those few seconds was: if it was an accident, I would have made a utter fool of myself by getting up and ranting and raving and possibly embarrassing the teens (as would have been my old way of handling things). On the other hand, if it was done on purpose, I failed to provide them the satisfaction they were looking for by my non-reaction to the situation.

A couple of years later, I watched the movie Tree of Life, which had a quote or passage that seemed to envelope me. I felt the presence of God in this passage, and still do when I hear it. It was like a warm summer rain after a long parched summer.

The term 'nature' in this passage refers to the self-oriented human 'animal' nature … being apart from God, while grace of course, is the way of God.

“The nuns taught us there are two ways through life … the way of Nature… and the way of Grace. You have to choose which one you'll follow.

Grace doesn't try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy ... when all the world is shining around it ... when love is smiling through all things.

They taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ... ever comes to a bad end.
I will be true to You. Whatever comes.”

Also, upon hearing this passage, I was taken back to that incident on the bus a few years previous, realizing that was a moment towards grace.


  1. An enlightening post, through faith and grace you were able to take control during your incident on the bus.

    1. Thank you Diana ... When we stay as one with God, we walk with spiritual light. God Bless.