Happy New Year!
It’s funny how much hope is generated just by swapping out a used up calendar with a brand new one. But there’s always hope in fresh starts, and anticipation, in a blank page, a new morning, the first stitches of a crochet hook.
My usual New Year’s Eve ritual was ignored. I usually write a sort of word meditation for myself, a combination of giving thanks for the year that has passed and affirmations on what I want in the year ahead. I would light candles and go over my reflection a little before and a little after midnight, stopping right when the fireworks start and enjoying them for a bit.
Not this time. I’ve heard that crises reduce one to the basics; there is no energy for anything beyond crisis management. 2020 has had us all in a crisis mode—some of us in the thick of it, some of us trying to avoid getting in the thick of it. We’ve been forced to withdraw from regular life and many of us found that the lack of former routines and human interactions has made us lethargic, driving us further into withdrawal.
So I found myself absolutely fed up with 2020 and an entire Christmas season spent at home; the few times I ventured out, it was while wearing a required mask (we hadn’t had to before this fall). My neighbors seem to be just as fed up: There were more fireworks than usual and they went on for longer this time. Everybody was focused on it not being 2020 any longer. That’s all. Just that. Out you go, 2020!
All the sitting at home has eroded my physical health and my connection to others. I was listening to an old guided meditation this morning and one image that popped up in my mind was of many boxes labeled with different relationships, and they were all empty. So I thought about how to fill them up. Then the meditation mentioned grace.
I know grace can mean mercy, but also perfection in movement. Those seem so different from each other so what’s the connection?
First hit at Dictionary.com:
elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action
First hit at Merriam-Webster.com:
unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
Effortless. That’s what the two uses of “grace” have in common. It just comes naturally, without force, without strain, instantly perfect.
I have a friend who picks a word for her year ahead, like a theme that is going to be in focus for the coming 12 months. It’s a challenge she gives herself: A quality she wants to experience or learn or get more of.
Grace is a quality I’d like to experience or learn or get more of. The two definitions suggest that grace is related to flow: that state where there are no blocks to what you are doing.
With that, grace is also the opposite of anxiety. Anxiety does nothing but throw up blocks and worry about the process—a worry born from thinking you can’t do something or can’t do it right. Anxiety is not “unmerited divine assistance”!
Unmerited. That’s why grace is seen as mercy. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to bargain to get divine help. It’s already there. You just have to accept it.
My word for 2021 is Grace. I am going to explore being unmerited, of letting go of my fear of not being good enough, of not being deserving enough, and accepting that whatever good I get comes with no strings attached. As for the elegance in action part, I see how yoga can assist in that. I’m going to follow the advice of Paramahansa Yogananda:
Be calmly active and actively calm, it is the way of the yogi.