Grace and Gratitude
Grace is always present. You imagine it is somewhere high in the sky,
far away, and has to descend. It is really inside you, in your Heart.
Grace is the Self. . . .You are never out of its operation.
--Sri Ramana Maharshi
Whether life appears to bring tears or laughter, it is all grace. Grace fills the world, but only a heart awakened to Love will taste its depths. In awakening we understand that grace is always present. As Ramana Maharshi reminds us, "Grace is an ever-present ocean," but how much we receive depends on the size of our container. If we go to the ocean with a thimble, we will imagine we can receive only a thimble-full. If we become the ocean, there is no end of grace. Each moment is a moment of grace regardless of whether the gift is sweet or bitter. Do we have eyes to see?
Whatever is here expresses life's wholeness and can be an invitation back to its Source. Awakening allows us to freely appreciate the gifts of impermanence and continual flow, no longer bound by the suffering that comes from perpetually wanting "more," different, or unending experiences.
How much are we taking and how much are we giving? Would we experience a single moment without the Consciousness that was given us by taking birth? How much do we take for granted? What are we taking from the world or demanding from Reality and what are we giving? Right now, most of us have sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing, thinking, heart beating, lungs breathing, a form to enjoy walking on this earth, enough food, a bed to sleep in, a roof over our head. When we realize the true interdependency of life, we see that each is a gift of grace that we can no longer take for granted.
When we realize the movement of grace in our lives, the natural response of the heart is gratitude. Gratitude is not simply being thankful for things we deem beneficial or pleasurable. It is really a way of living and an expression of the peace we discover that is right here in all circumstances. There is a basic trust in life's movement and its goodness. We realize that whatever is here in the moment is a gift, if we can receive it as such. We may even discover that...
It is not happiness that makes us grateful,
but gratefulness that makes us happy.
--Brother David Steindl-Rast