The presence of Grace can be felt, you can never understand it though!
Over the weekend, a young friend and I were having a drink at a party. The young man said, “AVIS, you shouldn’t mind me saying this, but I think you are very privileged. You don’t have to slum it out despite your grave and often excruciating circumstances.”
I helped the young man understand that his perceptions on both fronts were misplaced. We are neither privileged not have we really escaped slumming it out. At many times, over the past 9+ years, we have been hanging there, at the edge of a precipice, workless, penniless and often with no idea of what more we need to do or of what will happen next. So, if slumming it out means being on the streets and without food, water, clothing or shelter, well, we haven’t yet have had to do that. But if slumming it out means living off a grant at most times, living in a compassionate relative’s apartment, rent-free, receiving material stuff – like gadgets, clothing and money – from friends and sometimes, even rank strangers, well, we have done that. And we continue to survive precisely this way. Occasionally some work will come and give us something to survive till we reach the edge of yet another precipice and then someone, something, will always haul us up.
It is not as if we have not tried for employment or marketed and sold ourselves well. We have. But this is one phase in Life in which our efforts on all fronts, to earn an income, have not produced the results that we must ideally have seen. Yet, miraculously, we have always been given a hand and have been heaved up, or have been given wings, so we can fly; that explains why we have not come crashing down every time we found ourselves in a precarious, impossible, end-of-the-road situation.
This ‘irrational, illogical’ presence in our Life, that has been holding us up, to me, is Grace. I have no other word to describe this experience of getting whatever we need to survive yet another day. So, Vaani, I and our precious family, are soaked in Grace. Undoubtedly. I am not sure though why we are and am not even sure if we deserve so much compassion from people who come and help us every single time. All I can say is that Vaani and I, through this experience, have realized that if you have been created, trust the process of Life; and when you trust, you will always be provided for and cared for, you will receive everything that you need. In fact, I see my God in each of the people who have touched our lives in their own special ways so far. They continue to show how humanity thrives beautifully, in abundance, in a seemingly self-obsessed world. And each time this happens, I feel humbled and small.
Now, to be sure, Grace is not exclusive to us. I believe in Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s (1836~1886) saying thoroughly: “The winds of Grace are blowing all the time; but you must hoist your sails to catch them.” Hoisting your sails, I have learnt, means letting go. When you don’t know what to do, just trust Life. So, Vaani and I don’t question anything, anymore. We simply flow with Life.
Let me share a recent instance. We got a call from a friend who said he wanted to help us by having us lead a series of workshops for his managers. He is a CEO. And if he reached out proactively and offered to use our services, he certainly did that because he valued what we had to offer. He even promised us an advance payment on the fees that we had quoted. When we did not hear from him for several weeks, despite our follow-ups, we stopped calling him. Interestingly, we met him the other day at an event in the city. He was very cordial, very warm, and yet he did not show any signs of wanting to renew the conversation on the business opportunity he had promised us. I sent him a WhatsApp message that evening asking him if he planned to kick-off the proposed engagement. I know he saw the message but he did not respond. Around the same time, an acquaintance, reached out and said he wanted to help us and offered us some money. I took the money gratefully. Now, how do you explain this? Isn’t it bizarre? You don’t get what you think you justly deserve but you get what you need – somehow, from a completely unpredictable, unforeseen quarter!!!
Vaani and I, however, have stopped analyzing. We make our efforts sincerely. But we remain unfrustrated when the results don’t add up. This unfrustrated state, to us, is what hoisting your sails means.
I don’t think it’s a great privilege to be unable to solve your problems yourself. I don’t think having to depend on someone else for your everyday survival is a very easy thing to handle. From experience, I can tell you, either situation is very, very, very, very painful. But it is a blessing to be soaked in Grace. And that blessing comes when you choose to be unfrustrated when things don’t work out the way you want them to. When you are unfrustrated, you are non-suffering. When you are this way, you can only be happy, despite your circumstances. And perhaps Grace always chooses the unfrustrated, non-suffering, happy kind to bless?