"Grace reveals how the spiritual is not the opposite of the material but aligns with it and works through it. Grace shows us that the transcendent is accessible in everything. This means that our birth was a grace and the events of our lives have been graces too, every one without exception. Death will also be a graced moment of letting go." So writes David Richo, a teacher, workshop leader, and psychotherapist in Santa Barbara and San Francisco. He combines Jungian, Buddhist, and mythic perspectives in his work. Richo is the author of many books including The Five Things We Cannot Change . . . and Daring to Trust.
In this accessible work, the author points out that grace as a spiritual practice is not the sole domain of religions and those who believe in God. What he calls "the gift dimension of life" can be received and relished by all human beings. Grace enriches the lives of those who accept that there is something more than just you and me. More happens to us than what we plan and seek to control. And grace signifies all the mysteries that surround us.
For Richo, once grace is accepted, we are animated to receive it joyfully and pass it on to others. Then he takes it even further, imagining the Big Bang as the first grace! This quality arrives in our lives by supporting and sustaining us, helping us to discover our destiny, and taking us to places we never dreamed of going.
Grace is beyond our plots and plans; it transcends our penchant for dualism and separation, and it has nothing to with merit or dismerit.
The Christian theologian Paul Tillich put it this way in The Shaking of the Foundations:
"Grace is more than gifts. In grace something is overcome; grace occurs in spite of something; grace occurs in spite of separation and estrangement. Grace is the reunion of life with life, the reconciliation of the self with itself. Grace is the acceptance of that which is relected."
Moving confidently in his exploration of this virtue, Richo relates it to synchronicity, choices, and chance before moving on to grace in the deminine, on the dark paths, in religion, in Buddhism, in nature, in ourselves, and in relationships. The final chapter looks at spiritual practices that are allies of grace such as gratitude, peace, letting go, and wisdom. We commend Richo for his insightful and lyrical overview of this gift dimension of life!