Tag Archives: grace

The Grace by Which we Live

I came to understand the real grace by which we live the other day. It’s nothing extra-terrestrial.   That is to say that it’s not above us, invisible in the sky.  Nor does it exist in some hero that we’ve created to fill an immature need for a leader.  Really and truly, the grace by which we live is more tenuous, more real, and more meaningful than we have given thought to.  And we have the universe to thank for it….

The real grace by which we live lies in the fact that nature and evolution managed to produce us at all.

Since we’ve come to know evolution in more intimate terms, thanks to developments such as the electron microscope and the doggedness of many scientists, there’s one thing we’ve learned:  if we were to wind the clock back and start the evolution process of earth all over, there’s no guarantee that we humans, as homo sapiens, would emerge.  The turns and twists that accompany the process at any one time could theoretically lead to some other sorts of life, and perhaps without any dent of awareness whatsoever.  Yet, here we are.

Can you see it?  Do you understand what this means?  Millions of years of fine-tuning, millions of years of trying out this or that physical characteristic, millions of years of other species that have come and gone, millions of years of change, millions of years of challenges from climate variations to illness inducing bacteria…and we manage to adapt enough to come out on top, superior to every animal and with the bonus and enormous ability to manipulate our surroundings to suit our lifestyles…… THIS is the grace by which we live.

And when we stop for a second, right now, to consider that out of billions of years’ worth of time extant, we humans have the opportunity to LIVE and be aware and enjoy the benefits of nature, then we really get an idea of the grace we have as such infinitesimally small bits of matter in the whole of the universe.  Our time here is no longer than the seasonal cycle of a leaf upon a poplar tree.  We are here in one blink of the universal eye and then gone the very next.  A very short time indeed, but the grace by which we live at least allows us a moment in the annals of the cosmos.

So then, what of it? What of this brief life we live and the grace by which it comes?

One of my favorite professors used to tell her classes that “we were the elite, one of the few that are educated, we have a certain level of accountability to society as a whole because of it.”  I took that to heart and would even apply the same stance to our short time on earth:  WE of all creatures , having awareness and consciousness, have a certain level of accountability to one another, to our fellow creatures, and to our mother earth.  With the grace of life given to us, we also have a responsibility to live that life as best we possibly can.

We are, thanks to the gracious movements of evolution, a very gifted animal.  We have, thanks to the graciousness of the universe, a brief moment to enjoy our awareness.   This is the grace by which we live – tenuous, real, and more meaningful than we might have thought.  Let’s make it count for something shall we?

Be Well,



authors note:  this article was inspired by the song ‘sirens’, pearl jam, off of their most recent album, lightening bolt.



Grace: A Human Trait…..

Grace has long been one of my favorite elements of human compassion.   I learned quite a lot about it as a child in the rooms where Jesus’ gospel was taught and I hear-tell that C.S. Lewis even touted it once as the single most significant thing that Christianity contributed to humanity.  Christianity is big on grace and it must be since it also promotes the idea of original sin.  Alas, after years of life outside of the church (and that more abundantly) I have come to the conclusion that grace is certainly not limited to religion, nor is religion the only avenue for grace to be expressed.

The idea of grace implies pardoning, giving someone clemency, demonstrating mercy, showing favor where perhaps favor is difficult to find. Within the matrix of Christianity, grace is an absolute necessity since, according to its storyline, humans are born evil and only the grace of god can save them from eternal damnation.  The redeemed cannot get into heaven without a full pardon of the sins they committed because they are inherently evil.  Really, Christianity doesn’t contribute grace to the human race so much as it defines our existence so narrowly that grace must be included or else there’s no point in living at all.

Outside the realm of religion though, grace takes on a more simplistic role: we all make mistakes, it is a human attribute.  The right thing to do then, the sensible thing to do is to be gracious to my brothers and sisters, since I myself am I need of grace from time to time (I painfully acknowledge that I am not perfect either).  Considering that what goes around comes around, or I reap what I sow, or karma is a bitch or a blessing, I am always willing to delve out grace with enormous generosity.  We can all have a bad day, for instance, so I if my husband is particularly cranky one day, I am willing to be patient with him because I certainly have my days too and I would hope he extend s the same mercy to me on those occasions. I am known to have been lenient upon receiving the dreaded ‘red alert’ note from one of my son’s teachers, they’ve been few and far between, and we’ve focused more on the lesson learned rather than the transgression itself.  If a colleague makes a mistake on some work gig, I am quick to forgive since I know I make some colossal blunders myself.  If a fellow driver cuts me off, I extend all manner of grace because I know damn well I’ve done the very same thing myself, sometimes because I’ve been pre-occupied with this or that thought.  Extending grace is a simple matter of acknowledging that at any time, we are capable of committing some unintentional infraction and a pardon by our peers is the one gift we can count on in order to move on from our mishap.

Grace enables the wheels of existence to operate without grinding and grating on each other.  When there is a lack of grace, the excruciating noise is unbearable and harmful to our soul and our civilization.  Do you recall the brilliant youngster with a stellar academic career who was expelled from school over an accidental chemistry explosion?  Like the uncomfortable screech of fingernails on a chalkboard, this injustice, this utter lack of grace, drives us to escape and scream ‘Stop!’ at the same time.  Grace would see, instead, a curious youngster whose imagination and inhibition is a gift to our future.

“Grace finds beauty in everything” sang an Irish crooner once, and I could not sum it up any better.  We always have the option of heaping it upon our brothers and sisters; indeed they are in need of it….not unlike ourselves.   We can afford to be generous with this favorite human trait of mine, especially knowing that we’ll need the generosity of others at some point ourselves.

Be Well,