Our idea of grace is often a feminine one. Poise and ease in motion, elegance and beauty in form, don’t seem much like “a guy thing.” But, when a couple is dancing the rumba, tango, or waltz, when they are figure skating together, poise and ease are needed as much by the male body as the female body to manifest beauty and elegance in form and motion. Grace as Movement is the Divine Energy of Life that moves everything in the Universe, from the tiniest atom to the stars and planets in the cosmos, with unfailing precision. It is the Sacred Sureness and Divine Directive that allows all things to freely move without anything bumping into anything else! Grace is above, beneath and within all things and can be expressed by anyone, but today, Mother’s Day, we are focusing on the Amazing Grace that flows through motherhood. The Mormon leader, James E. Faust, said, “The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.” That’s why, even if our mother has left this earth plane, she can still invoke from us, and provoke within us, a depth and range of emotions like no one else can.
Though it is a wonderful thing for us to celebrate on Mother’s Day those beautiful women who have been like a mother to us, our focus today is on the Grace within our birth mother that allowed her to allow us to come into this world through her. From the moment she felt our heartbeat, she chose to say “yes” to a shared journey within her that would lead to our physical arrival. She was the one willing to go the distance with us, and that is cause for celebration because none of us would be our particular human self without her. No matter how she expressed life on the surface, the Sacred Energy of Grace lived, and still lives, within her at the deepest level of her soul. Like the Universe, Itself, that always says “yes” to us, our birth mother’s first word to us “yes,” no matter what she said next once we arrived. When we were placed in her arms, she may have looked at us and seen a lovable, innocent, perfect little being. Or she may have looked at us and seen a project she needed to work on before we turned into anything pleasing.
It doesn’t matter whether we learned to love ourself through our mother’s eyes, or learned to look within ourself for that love instead, she wanted to be the best mother she could be. Every mother does, no matter what she does. That is why it’s so important for us to remember that her life didn’t begin when we came along, and like everyone else in the world, a mother is only able to give to her children or anyone else from the qualities that are most alive in her in any moment. The life she lived before us, the life that told her who she was before she was called “mother,” affected her perception of her children when they came along because it affected her perception of herself. Some of us may have learned our early life lessons from a mother that couldn’t help but to be gentle, nurturing, sweet-tempered, and supportive because that is what her life taught her to be. And some of us may have learned our early life lessons from a mother who could not help but to teach those lessons through tough love because that is how her life taught her to be. But either way, in her heart she wanted to succeed at motherhood, to do right things even when she wasn’t sure what those right things were.
I gave birth to my son when I was 17-years-old. Before I held him, I’d never held a baby. I wanted to do everything just right from the start, but I worried I wouldn’t know what to do. When the time came, I was pretty scared to bring a baby into the world. Though I love and respect nurses very much, and they were my heroes long before these heroic times, at the little hospital where I gave birth, the head nurse in Labor and Delivery, was a lot like “Nurse Ratched” in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” If you didn’t see the movie, let’s just say she was kind of scary. When my light labor pains turned into productive intensely painful ones, she stopped by the labor room and said triumphantly, “Now, that’s what labor is all about!” Just before I was taken to delivery, she looked down at my long pink-painted fingernails, and said gruffly, “You’re going to hurt your baby with those nails!”
Back then, birth mothers stayed in the hospital for three whole days, so I’d brought an overnight bag that included a manicure set. After my son was born, he was taken to get cleaned up and I was taken back to room. I took the scissors out, cut off my long fingernails, and filed my short nails smooth. I didn’t do it because the nurse had scared me, but because I wanted do the right thing for my baby. And, I knew from what the head nurse had said, and the way she’d said it, cutting my nails was something right I could do. When she came into my room to tell me they’d be bringing my baby to me for the first time, I noticed she looked down at my hands but she didn’t say anything before she left.
A little later, when another nurse walked into my room carrying a tiny, tiny bundle, just before she put that bundle in my arms, I felt my stomach jump. I couldn’t tell if I was excited or scared. But once my newborn son was in my arms, and I looked into his sweet face looking back at me, I knew I wasn’t afraid. I was in love. In that moment, I felt what I’ve come to know as a state of Grace. Grace flows on the currents of Love, and I could not have loved anything more than that baby.
After I fed him and he was taken back to the nursery, the head nurse came back into my room carrying a small bowl of water and a comb. She sat down on the bed next me and began combing the rats nest my long hair had become after twelve hours of labor, a mess that looked like it would need to be cut out rather than combed out. She dipped the comb into the water, and slowly and gently combed out all the tangles. It probably took her an hour. I’m convinced now that the Grace I’d felt within me had touched the Grace within her. While she was silently combing my hair, I felt so safe and cared for. It was my first experience of the expression of Grace being offered to me by another. To this day I remember her as one of kindest and most loving women I’ve ever met. Grace feels like love because It is God’s Grace and God is Love.
We read in A Course in Miracles, “For in grace you see a light that covers all the world in love and watch fear disappear from every face as hearts rise up and claim the light as theirs.” We won’t change the world by raising our fists against one another. We won’t change the world by trying to force someone else to be different than they are. We can’t walk into a new day dragging yesterday’s conflicts with us. This world will change as we do. As Gandhi said, “we must be the change we want to see.” There is no other way. We can only meet Grace with Grace. To feel Grace is to be Grace, and to offer It through our gracious, kind and tolerant thoughts, words and actions. It is only as we feel Grace within us that we can see It, and experience It in another. And, it is only in a state of Grace that we will be able to watch fear disappear and see a world of love.