I can’t believe a year has passed since I had this wonderful Amazing Grace moment! (See below.) I’m going to share it again. Hope you don’t mind. I may start hauling this out as my Thanksgiving tradition to help remind myself of the beauty of the state of grace, and the absolute delight I felt the day that it flowed so directly, so tangibly, though my ears into my soul.
There is much happening beneath the busy surface of our lives. The undercurrent of love, support and spiritual connection is strong, but it can be hard to hear its messages through the din of ordinary reality business. When we make time to pause and listen, to be thankful, we are often rewarded in unexpected ways.
Please read on. I hope the Amazing Grace message uplifts you too.
Wishing you a peaceful, happy Thanksgiving,
I had an interesting experience with grace recently. The Sunday before Thanksgiving I went to services at my local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF). Reverend Deb Cayer gave a thoughtful sermon on the concept of grace. She talked about grace as a spiritual gift, a blessing from the divine. Although I love the idea of grace, what fascinated me most was her description of the origin of the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
John Newton was a British man who spent time in the Royal Navy, and eventually captained slave ships in the mid 1770s. During a particularly violent storm he asked for God’s mercy to see him through the night. He survived the storm and (albeit sometime later) had a change of heart. He gave up the slave trade, found a new career as a preacher, and wrote what was to become one of the most popular hymns in existence, “Amazing Grace.”
We sang “Amazing Grace” at the service that Sunday. As you probably know, it’s a song of redemption, of having faith (or perhaps finding it) through difficult times, and of the eternal nature of our existence. I went to coffee hour after service. Had some pleasant chitchat and went to my car, uplifted and enthused to get on with my day.
I turned the car on. A song began to play from my iPod. It was a song I didn’t know I had and the screen said “Unknown Artist,” but I recognized it right away. You have one guess. Yes. “Amazing Grace” began to play. I have 11, 711 songs in my music library. I could play music 24 hours a day for more than 35 days and never hear the same song twice. Amazing. Grace. Played.
What clearer sign could a person want that they are not alone in the universe? I did not know the topic of the lecture before I arrived at church. This song was not playing when I got out of my car to go to church. I was unaware that I even owned a version of “Amazing Grace,” and don’t recall ever hearing it before. I used my Shazam app (gotta love technology!) to determine that the version (which was awesome) was by the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Merriam-Webster defines grace as “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” In musing, journeying, praying and talking about this experience I was guided to share it. Grace may be a state of being, a blessing, to be bestowed by the divine; however, I believe we all embody divine energy (see title of my first book, Inner Divinity). I think we can pass along that energy, that light, be a conduit of sorts when needed. If there is the slightest possibility that by reading my experience you might feel the spark of joy, reassurance and compassion that I felt surrounding me that day, then I want to pass it along. The message had a very personal effect on me, but I don’t claim it as mine. It’s for you as well.
I don’t know exactly what to make of how “Amazing Grace” was gifted that Sunday. It may be pointing to something vaster than our comprehension allows, but I think it’s a reminder of the unseen source that flows in, around, and amongst us always. I will leave you to interpret in your own way. But as a group, if we can feel graced, reassured of our sanctified place here, our connection to one another and the sacredness of this world, then perhaps as a collective we can come closer to understanding the fuller picture, mapping the divine landscape that we walk each day.
As always, wishing you a peaceful heart,