angry_disregard (angry_disregard) wrote,

Peck: The Road Less Traveled: Grace: The Welcoming of Grace

...At the same time, however, I know that that's not the way it is at all. We do not come to grace; grace comes to us. Try as we might to obtain grace, it may yet elude us. we may seek it not, yet it will find us. Consciously we may avidly desire the spiritual life and yet find ourselves vigorously called to it in spite of ourselves. While on one level we do choose whether or not to heed the call of race, on another it seems clear that God is the one who does the choosing. The common experience of those who have achieved a sate of grace, on whom "this new life from heaven" has ben bestowed, is one of amazement at their condition. They do not feel that they have earned it. While they may have a realistic awareness of the particular goodness of their nature, they do not ascribe their nature to their own will; rather, they distinctly feel that the goodness of their nature has been created by hands wiser and more skilled than their own. Those who are the closest to grace are the most aware of the mysterious character of the gift they have been given.

How do we resolve this paradox? We don't. Perhaps the best that we can say is that while we cannot will ourselves to grace, we can by will open ourselves to its miraculous coming. We can prepare ourselves to be fertile ground, a welcoming place. If we can make ourselves into totally disciplined, wholly loving individuals, then, even though we may be ignorant of theology and give no thought to god, we will have prepared ourselves well for the coming of grace. Conversely, the study of theology is a relatively poor method of preparation and by itself, completely useless. Nonetheless, I have written this section because I do believe that the awareness of the existence of grace can be of considerable assistance to those who have chosen to travel the difficult path of spiritual growth. For this awareness will facilitate their journey in at least three ways: it will help them to take advantage of grace along the way; it will give them a surer sense of direction; and it will provide encouragement.

The paradox that we both choose grace and are chosen by grace is the essence of the phenomenon of serendipity. Serendipity was defined as "the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for." Buddha found enlightenment only when he stopped seeking for it--when he let it come to him. On the other hand, who can doubt that enlightenment came to him precisely because he had devoted at least sixteen years of his life to seeking it, sixteen years in preparation? He had to both seek for it and not seek for it. The furies were transformed into the bearers of Grace also precisely because Orestes both worked to gain the favor of the gads and at the same time did not expect the gods to take his way easy for him. It was through this same paradoxical mixture of seeking and not seeking that he obtained the gift of serendipity and the blessings of grace...

...So it is with grace. We have already seen that dreams are but one form or way in which the gifts of grace are given to us. The same paradoxical approach should be employed toward all the other forms: sudden insights, premonitions and a whole host of synchronistic, serendipitous events. And to all love. Everyone wants to be loved. But first we must make ourselves lovable. We must prepare ourselves to be loved. We do this by becoming ourselves loving, disciplined human beings. If we seek to be loved--if we expect to be loved--this cannot be accomplished; we will be dependent and grasping, not genuinely loving. But when we nurture ourselves and others without a primary concern of finding reward, then we will have become lovable, and the reward of being loved, which we have not sought will find us. So it is with human love and so it is with God's love.

A major purpose of this section on grace has been to assist those on the journey of spiritual growth to learn the capacity of serendipity. And let us redefine serendipity not as a gift itself but as a learned capacity to recognize and utilize the gifts of grace which are given to us from beyond the realm of our conscious will. With this capacity, we will find that our journey of spiritual growth is guided by the invisible hand and unimaginable wisdom of God with infinitely grater accuracy than that of which our unaided conscious will is capable. So guided, the journey becomes ever faster.

One way or another, these concepts have been set forth before--by Buddha, Christ, Lao-tse, among many others. The originality of this book results from the fact that I have arrived at their same meaning through the particular individual byways of my twentieth-century life. If you require greater understanding than these modern footnotes have to offer, then by all means proceed or return to the ancient texts. Seek greater understanding, but do not expect greater detail. There are many who, by virtue of their passivity, dependency, fear and laziness, seek to be shown every inch of the way and have it demonstrated to them that each step will be safe and worth their while. This cannot be done. For the journey of spiritual growth requires courage and initiative and independence of thought and action. While the words of the prophets and the assistance of grace are available, the journey must still be traveled alone. No teacher can carry you there. There are no preset formulas. Rituals are only learning aids, they are not the learning. Eating organic food, saying five Hail Marys before breakfast, praying facing east or west, or going to church on Sunday will not take you to your destination. No words an be said, no teaching can be taught that will relieve spiritual travelers from the necessity of picking their own ways, working out with effort and anxiety their own paths through the unique circumstances of their own lives toward the identification of their individual selves with God.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment