In the last week, this poem, by Denise Levertov, has come across my radar several times.
‘As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.’
I spent a good part of the weekend doing the spirituality input for a group of young adults. On Saturday afternoon we had an interesting conversation about the relative importance of our effort and God’s grace. There was a strong plea for the need to ‘do your bit’. And it is hard to argue against that position. The longer I live the less I trust myself to show up with the goods. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make the effort, but I no longer trust my effort to get me to where I would like to be.
One of the concerns on Saturday, was the idea that people know you have changed by your actions. And I guess that is part of the shift in me – I am really not trying to be a good example, or bear witness. Where in the past I would have been aware of others watching me, now I care much less about that. I am simply trying to live a life of faith because I believe it is the best life I can live.
I am invested in living a life of faith because I have seen God’s grace in action in my life and I don’t want to give up on that. The generosity of God is utterly extraordinary in ways that I never expected. I’m not sure that there is any thing else to do except to surrender.
There is a prayer at the end of the Spiritual Exercises which I prayed with great trepidation the first time I encountered it
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me. To you, Lord I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.
When I first prayed that prayer I thought I was being asked to stake something significant against something so tenuous. How can the love and grace of God be sufficient?
Now I realise that what I offer in that prayer pales into insignificance in the light of the grace of God.
I think that may be a lesson we can only learn with time, and through the grace of God.