When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. – Wendell Berry
What does grace look like to you? What does it feel like? When do you experience grace? I distinctly remember hearing the word grace a lot growing up in the church. We said “grace” at meals, we were often encouraged to pray “God, in your grace”, we sang songs about “amazing grace”, and I’m sure I heard a few sermons about grace too. I was taught that grace is the free and unmerited gift of favor from God. And I still believe that, but it seemed as if this gift of grace was not always easy to unwrap.
Then in the mid-90’s, I began to genuinely understand much more about grace and spiritual practice. The greek word for grace is “charis” which is related to charisma. Charis and charisma cannot be earned, taught, bought, or learned, but you can simply have more grace in your life by engaging in spiritual practice.
So how do you “have” more grace? Take Wendell Berry’s advice and make a list of things, activities, images, whatever where you have experienced grace. Do more of that and indeed you will have more grace. If you doubt the efficacy of this, you can also make a list of things that produce stress and when you do more of those things . . . well voila! You will have more stress in your life. This is a basic piece of body wisdom that I primarily learned doing InterPlay.
Grace-filled spiritual practices are essential in times of stress, grief, and transition. They are also even more potent when practiced in spiritual community and that my friends, is another answer to the question, why church?