Thank you for reading my articles here. If any piece resonates with you, I encourage you to share your reactions, as they will likely resonate with other readers, too. I also invite you to visit my website to learn more about REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life. Much Love and Many Blessings, Alice
Thursday, April 7, 2011
The Power of Grace
A few months ago, I read Marci Shimoff’s book, Love For No Reason, which is all about unconditional love. Shimoff said she was warned by fellow spiritual authors and teachers that she’d better be ready to practice the subject of her writing. Sure enough, in the three years it took her to do her research and write the book, her long-time marriage ended (amicably), her mother passed on, which led to the sale of her childhood home. As she said, she lost three great emotional anchors in her life. She had to practice feeling love within herself, no matter the objective circumstances.
Well, I’m having my own big opportunity to walk the talk. One of the messages in my forthcoming book is choosing to live in a state of grace. In Thanks!, Dr. Robert Emmons describes grace as the goodness in our lives that has nothing to do with us or which exceeds what our efforts merit – whether it’s the picture-perfect blue sky or the unexpected kindness of a stranger. Perceiving grace, like all other observations we make in life, is a matter of choice. Unless we make a point of paying attention to the gifts of grace bestowed upon us, we take them for granted.
About 36 hours after I submitted my manuscript to the publisher, I was in a high-speed collision on a freeway. My car spun a few times, and so did the car that hit mine. That car spun off the freeway, past the two lanes of an interchange to another highway, and ended up on the right shoulder there. I later found out there was a third car involved somehow. In the few moments when the world spun around me, I had “flashbacks” to my near-fatal crash at the end of December 2008. (“Flashbacks” are in quotes as I still have no memories of that ordeal, and my “experience” of the incident was from what I read in the CHP report.) A thought flashed in my mind: Was I going to make it this time?
So, where’s the grace in all of this?
First of all, considering the severity of the crash, no one was carried off by an ambulance. Way off on the shoulder of the other highway, two young men got out of their car and hugged each other, probably in gratitude for being alive and unharmed. As I witnessed that, I remember feeling the same gratitude very deeply – I still do. It was utterly by the grace of God that no one was hurt.
Grace was in the paramedic who woke me up from my daze to direct my car off the freeway onto the shoulder. I can’t remember precisely what he said to me, but he was caring, while being firm with necessary directions for everyone’s safety. If I had my wits about me then, I would have instantly adopted him as my new best friend.
Grace was also in the first CHP officer who came to talk with me. He was light and breezy – even charming – in the way he asked me questions. Perhaps feeling compassion for whatever state I was displaying, he even tried to make small talk. Unfortunately, the crash had temporarily shoved my sense of humor to the back seat. Nonetheless, I distinctly remember feeling grateful to him.
Grace was most certainly personified in the tow truck driver, a lovely gentleman originally from Malta. He was as close to a protective father figure as I got in that vulnerable time. He bent company rules to take me home, going opposite the direction of where he was supposed to head. As I was carried off to the familiarity and safety of my home, I was filled with grace, grateful that the universe sent me this angel at my time of need.
Grace has continued to pour into my life with well wishes from some of you, my friends, who know about the incident. You have offered your love, prayers, rides, and whatever else I may need. I’m truly and deeply grateful for the grace of you. (To the rest of you, sorry you’re finding out this way!)
In choosing to focus on grace, I’m not in denial about the objective realities of this situation. It’ll be weeks of dealing with car repairs, insurance claim, etc. (Actually, I’m grateful to say that the people from AAA and the repair shop I’ve spoken with so far have all been very caring and nice.) More importantly, I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be ready to venture back on the freeway again, and what that would mean for my day-to-day life. I have no illusions that it’ll take some time to deal with the fears and anxiety, to process the greater significance of this incident, and to honor my human vulnerabilities through it all.
All the more reasons to notice and be grateful for the gifts of grace in my life.