I have heard it said that it’s in the life moments that bring you to your knees where Grace can be found, and that if you’re lucky enough, you might have one such moment in your life. My moment happened 25 years ago, July 29, 1992, when I received the middle of the night phone call that my brother had been killed.
In an instant my life changed. I was struck by a tidal wave of emotions. Intensity and visceral impact that I hadn’t experienced before and haven’t experienced since. I was flooded and overwhelmed by the rising and falling emotional tides: from heaving sadness to doubling-over despair, to frozen-numb shock, to core-deep emptiness. Grief filled all parts of my body, especially my lungs, my belly, my breath, my skin. My skin was suddenly broken out, I couldn’t breathe, needing to fold over to fill my lungs. I couldn't move or sleep. Deep grief remained for months, like a slow-moving storm system. I actually wondered if part of me had died, and part was somehow here on earth subsisting in a half-living state.
I was in a liminal space between between being who I was prior to then - a 22yo young woman not very conscious about her thoughts, emotions, choices and behaviors - to the more intentional and directed woman I was becoming.
A life takes time to become.
In my early months of grieving, my mind wasn’t functioning in it’s “normal” automatic, habitual ways. This is where, in retrospect, I can see the first signs of Grace working in me.
Grief pointed out that I absolutely could not tolerate anything that was not of the utmost importance for my survival. My body led the way, instinctively sensing and shaping my first steps on a life path that felt more true. My body knew what I needed to heal, my mind could not resist.
- Because of the heavy, despairing feeling I felt in my lungs I could no longer continue with my pack-a-day cigarette habit. I quit, cold turkey.
I ended a 4-year relationship which, until then, I silently, unhappily remained in because I didn’t think anyone could ever love me as much.
I moved out of the apartment I shared with my (ex) boyfriend and moved in with a work colleague and friend who exuded the absolute opposite energy as mine: enthusiastic, bubbly, and spontaneous. Her energy trickled into me, transmuting and clearing away the stagnant, heaviness that continued to dissolve over time.
In my last year in college, I met someone who became a life-long friend who remains in my life to this day.
I started eating whatever the heck I wanted, no longer having time or any energy for food fixations and restrictions.
Somehow, without knowing what the hell it was or why I was going, I went to a yoga class. Almost immediately and like a sponge, my body soaked in the soothing, immediate impact of breathing deeply and wanted more.
That yoga class became the first step in an immersive study and practice of yoga, and eventually led me to train to teach yoga in the wisdom tradition of the Himalayan Institute.
In tiny steps, only knowing the step to take right in front of me, I began to have a better sense of who I was not any more, and inklings of who I was meant to be. The gathering recognition was not describable with words and also immediately familiar.
I went from questioning if I wanted to live to feeling the momentum of a life direction, the details of which were still uncertain and unfolding.
Of course, much more of my life became clearer in the past 25 years than I can write about here. Along the way I was led to the practice of meditation which I now have the privilege to share with others. I began coaching others to follow their leadings.
Although I couldn't see it as it was happening, I can see now how Grace was with me, moving me from my darkest life experience and nudging me in a direction and on a path of a life that took time to become. It's still taking time.
What I hope to remember in the next 25 years:
- Grace arises in "not knowing" and following the magnetism of my leadings anyway.
- Follow what feels more true.
- One step on a path of truth always leads to another. The path unfolds in moments.
What do you not know that you're moving towards? What of your life is becoming?