One of the central themes of the Soul of Christianity workshop I recently attended was that of grace. To me, grace is those moments in life when greater understanding unfolds and I am gifted with a sense of wholeness. Grace is an ever present gift that flows naturally into our openings – those times when our ego cannot fathom the bigness of the Mystery and it breaks down – allowing for a little pocket of the Mystery to be known.
Grace waits for us to open to it, I think, and we often must be shocked into knowing it by instances that disrupt the ego and call us into such presence that we can finally sense Spirit’s presence. The most recent and poignant example of this happened for me at a road side stop in the middle of our mountain vacation. We had decided to take a break in our trip at a place called Numa Falls in British Columbia. I was a little disappointed at first when I saw people gathering on a bridge not far from the parking lot and assumed that the “waterfall” that I was hoping for may not be more than a few rapids flowing beneath the bridge. We sauntered over to check it out anyway and as I made the corner around a thicket of trees to the bridge I was taken over by the soft spray of what lay below. As I got closer, I was deafened by the sound of rushing water. I looked down and was taken aback by a deep canyon, overflowing with violence. As water spilled from the river into this gorge it tossed in all directions in furious torrents and I was overwhelmed. I held tightly to my three year old’s hand, and then continued to bear witness to this raging display and my own fear. As I stayed with both experiences, I was surprised when I was brought to tears. In a moment of what I would consider grace, I realized that I was witnessing not only a waterfall, but the universal force of Shakti. The divine feminine was laid out before me and two things were most obvious: her beauty and her immense violence. She is the kinetic potential of all things, the life force energy that moves and animates. Never had I seen it so poignantly. Life was moving in that cavernous womb with terrifying force in a way nothing would survive – no outdoor elite athlete, holy person, politician, nor militia would match this force. Shakti, has the ability to levelize all things. And it was beautiful. Despite it’s violence, or perhaps because of it.
I was graced with seeing something universal in the mundane. This was not just a waterfall at that moment. The paradox of the beautiful violence that my ego experienced caused it to break down, and I felt the presence of a greater understanding. I saw a waterfall, but Shakti showed herself to me in my openness – my vulnerability – and now I live with a greater understanding of both her and grace.