Sunday, September 15, 2013


For many years, I've felt that reincarnation needs to be true because for me it seemed reincarnation was the only afterlife scenario that would be fair. I haven't put much time or energy into the study of reincarnation but I couldn't reject the idea because of this: What about all the people who are born into terrible circumstances and are never given the chance to know love? How can they possibly experience God's love if they never feel safe and cherished? If reincarnation was not true, then those people would live and die (and probably cause a lot of harm in the interim) without seeing their worth reflected to them in another's eyes. I can't imagine a worse hell.

Cate's flowers with Bill's cross
Lately, though, I've given a lot of thought to Grace. The word has a lot of meanings and nuances amongst Christians, but the way I mean it right now is an awareness of the gift of God's love. Many traditional Christians mean salvation when they talk about grace. It is possible my definition aligns with theirs from a different angle: Enlightenment, Grace, Salvation each mean to become awakened to the knowledge that we are all of God and living in God all the time. But that's a thought for another post.

What I've been thinking is that we're all granted the same amount of Grace but not the same measures in the same time. Some of us are gifted with plenty of God's Grace at birth when we are born to parents who love us and nurture us and guide us. We have stability and tenderness in our lives. Others are born into love but with less of one or more of those other elements: perhaps we're born into a loving family but live in poverty, or we're born into material comfort but inconsistent love, or our parent loves us but has an illness that prevents them from always being able to nurture us as we need or any of a million situations. And then there are those of us who are born into heartbreaking circumstances with no love nor nurturing at all.

If we all get the same amount of Grace and some of us get most of it up front, that means that some of us get it in increments throughout our lives and maybe some of us get it in one big chunk right at the end.

And not only that but I think maybe those of us who get a bigger helping early in life and who have more resources and abilities as a result have a responsibility to share our Grace with others. I think we are supposed 
to help provide those dollops of Grace so that those of who weren't so blessed at birth get to experience love, tenderness and stability through the actions of others. Perhaps as we live up to the Grace given us, we're given more to share (“Live up to the Light granted thee...”).
Photo of St. Francis statue by Mary Linda

“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality really pisses me off. It implies that we were all born with exact equal measures and anybody who is not as successful (whatever that means) according to a socially defined standard has failed through their own fault or weakness. If Grace works the way I currently understand it, we are all responsible for one another. I have been given a tremendous amount of Grace and it is my responsibility to share as much as I can with those who have less. I am called to share my love, my acceptance, my compassion and my awareness of God's transformative presence as well as my home, my money, and my other resources.

If Grace is true, I don't need to hold any undefined hopes for reincarnation. But, if Grace as I understand it is true, I am called to a much greater level of responsibility than I have previously been aware of. Thankfully, another way I understand grace is that God allows us to be able to start over anew as many times as necessary and welcomes us back each time with joy and nary a bit of impatience.


John Mott said...

Every day we get another chance. That is part of grace to me.

Joann said...

In another setting right now, I'm noticing that one thing that is hard about passing along the Grace is that people who got shorted in the beginning are sometimes defended in ways that push me away or otherwise strike preemptively at me. That's when I need Spirit's eyes to see them as God does and turn my velcro into teflon so the hooks slide off. Your metaphor helps me with that -- seeing it as evening up the Grace takes it out of the realm of expecting mutual and reciprocal effort. I already got my share early; of course it needs to be put back where it's the thinnest! Nice!