Love Made Manifest
“She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace” – Lord Alfred Tennyson
These words, whispered to me by an elderly gentlemen who timidly approached and, so gently as to be almost reverent, laid his hand on my arm, were not the treasures for which I was scouring the bookshop in Chester, England on that cold and wet March day. Yet, like so many seemingly innocuous brushes with the divine, it put my feet firmly on the path of a quest that I have lived every day for the past 21 years.
As a youth, aware of my gifts and how they made me different from my peers, I was a voracious reader. One of my favorite works, Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, has very profound spiritual themes—those of knowing and remaining within one’s limitations, choosing to direct one’s destiny even against the will of the Fates, living truly and completely, accepting the consequences for one’s actions and, lastly but certainly not least, the concept of grace in all of its myriad forms.
I recalled how, when we studied this piece in English class, many students felt that the Lady was a tragic figure, though I found her to be courageous and liberating. How they felt pity when Lancelot saw her laying dead in her boat and said the same words that my mysterious stranger said to me. I saw Lancelot’s words as verification that we must embrace our true natures and define and pursue our own destinies if we are to create and experience grace in our lives.
Though I had been and continue to explore many other spiritual and metaphysical topics, my 14-year-old self was not quite ready to investigate these particular aspects of spirituality, and so it was not until 16 years later, when the “Powers That Be” decided it was time for me to undertake that stage of my spiritual quest and sent me a messenger in the form of a kind stranger that I began to consider seriously the subject of grace and what it meant to me.
And so it began in earnest, this quest to identify and define grace…
As grace is a complicated subject to quantify, my thoughts were all over the place. Some dictionary definitions include, elegance in movement, comportment or behavior; bestowing honor on someone with one’s presence; effortless beauty; charm; refinement; and mercy; whilst spiritual associations include unmerited divine assistance, the love and mercy extended to us by the god(s), or the unearned favor of the god(s).
My cognizant awareness of grace certainly supported all of these definitions, yet, I still felt that there was some point I was overlooking which caused my assimilation of grace to remain incomplete.
Then, one day while out walking on the beach during a storm, I stopped to watch the parasurfers and could not help but admire the ease, the grace, with which they communed with both wind and water and understanding came to me so suddenly and clearly that I could not believe it had managed to elude me. The problem was that my logical mind was complicating an idea that is perfect in its simplicity: Grace is nothing more, or less, than love made manifest.
I felt both exhilarated and humbled as I felt the “click” in my solar plexus that signifies knowingness via a physical verification in my third chakra, and was simultaneously energized and filled with a deep peacefulness. Like the phenomenon reported by those who have had near-death experiences, my mind’s-eye was filled with rushing scenes, though what “flashed before my eyes” was a montage of all of the definitions of grace and how they all were rooted deeply in love.
Be it the love of an artistic discipline or sport that compels us to refine our abilities until we demonstrate grace; the love for a person that allows us to grace them with understanding, forgiveness, or unconditional acceptance; or the magnanimous love bestowed on us by whichever entity we believe controls our world and lives, the underlying common denominator of grace is love.
I continue to be thankful for that grace-full stranger and my first conscious encounter with the embodiment of grace. His gentle sharing set me on a path filled with daily encounters of the exhibition of love made manifest and allowed me to define for myself the concept of grace and so, in the same spirit, I invite you to explore grace in your life and share with us here what grace means to you.
Wishing you grace-full days,