We eagerly opened this book by Dawna Markova. the author of No Enemies Within and a cocreator of Random Acts of Kindness. She always has marvelous stories to tell and a keen grasp on everyday spirituality. One of our favorite spiritual teachers, Sylvia Boorstin, says in the foreword:
"We are empathic animals. We are moved by suffering to the desire to console, and we are also moved by beauty and marvel at the desire to celebrate. We sing along with the singing waiters who have brought a birthday cake to the table next to ours in a restaurant, knowing that whatever the birthday person's situation is, he or she has made it another year and is wishing for something good, just as we would if it were our cake. . . The capacities to encourage, console, and appreciate come as standard issue of human beings, ready to be activated by real-world relationships."
Then there is this quotation by Mark Nepo, another one of our most cherished spiritual guides:
"Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace." (Unlearning Back to God: Essays on Inwardness, 1985-2005)
Markova, Boorstein, and Nepo all affirm that daily life is a theatre of grace with continuous performances. The sacred is here and there and everywhere. "Grace happens," Buddhist Joanna Macy observes, "when we act with others on behalf of our world." An attitude of caring is a natural outgrowth of grace, and this is manifest in our countless acts of kindness, encouragement, empathy, love, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.
For this book, Markov sent out an email to 2,500 people saying:
"Settle in for a few minutes and think about a person, a group of people, an animal, or a place that helped you realize that you are unique and have something to contribute to the rest of us. Or think about someone whose spot of grace you recognized and encouraged. Then scribble it down and send it to me."
We discovered several key points in this collection of inspirational stories:
• We stand on the shoulders of others who have inspired and encouraged us with their words and deeds.
• Spiritual teachers come in many different forms, shapes, and species.
• We all are nourished by the affirmations and positive words of others.
• When we are sick or depressed or feeling alone, gold is found in the kindness of others.
• The grace of God moves in so many ways, it is inexhaustible.
• Our life has meaning when we see and accept the gracelets which happen to us.
• We can be angels in the lives of others.