May 2012 Salon
The Gift of Seven Extraordinary Days of Grace
Grace comes in many expressions. It intervenes in raging arguments, calming your anger so that you do not say what you can never take back. Grace whispers thoughts of hope in desperate times, giving you the stamina to hold on through the storms of life. And grace delivers inspiration, awakening creative resources deep within your being. The power of grace is endless, silent, and powerful.
A rare and rich but much too brief discussion of the activity of grace given in a graduate school lecture was brought to mind the other day while I was watching a program about the devotion the great opera star, Rene Fleming, has for assisting up-and-coming opera singers. It’s so amazing, really, how and when these flashbacks arise. You have no idea they remain hidden in the vast archive of memories that you are carrying around in your brain, like the words of all the songs from the 60’s that just pop into your head the moment you hear the melody.
First, I’ll share the long ago memory of this graduate class. I was in a class on mystical theology and while we were discussing something or other, the professor noted that one mystical phenomenon is that each person is given the gift of seven extraordinary days of grace each year. The grace given on these days is of the quality that it organizes the events of that day to transform your life – that is, redirect your life – in a most significant way. The rest of the class, as you can well imagine, was immediately devoted to the details of identifying that grace and the content of these extraordinary days. (I’ll get to that later – don’t worry.)
Anyway, I could not turn off this program about Rene Fleming, which actually intrigued me as I am not really an opera fan, but I have seen Fleming perform in person, thanks to my dear opera fan friend, Andrew Harvey. And she is beyond magnificent. During the program, you saw Fleming giving hands-on instruction to four lucky opera students, instructing them on how to advance their voices. She offered them the most interesting techniques that would assist them in perfecting a single note, a precise tone. Their devotion to the art of opera and to the art of their voice was stunning.
Later, Fleming was casually walking through the opera house with her four students when she said, “Remember, you have seven extraordinary days a year. You can’t waste them. You must be on alert for them.” As soon as I heard her say that, the memory of that day in graduate school flooded into my mind. How in the world did she know that? Why did she say that? Did she mean the same thing as my professor? And why don’t I have Rene Fleming’s phone number???
Immediately I dusted off my memory. What were the details of that lecture? I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, leaned back on the couch, and drifted back through the decades of my life to graduate school. I waited,waited,ah, yes. I remember,.
Your Seven Extraordinary Days of Grace
Let’s start with the obvious first question: Why seven? Perhaps it’s because there are seven days of the week, or seven days of creation, or seven chakras, or the scale of life is numbered at seven. Seven is a mystical number that notes a resonance to your soul. Let us, therefore, assume – though we have no proof as such – that this might be the reason and leave it at that. When it comes to mystical theology, we operate on observation, subjective experience, and the nature of law and order as revealed in the order of nature itself. A scale of “seven” is a repeated scale throughout mystical systems of order; therefore, it may well be that this scale functions within this phenomenon. (That was your first lesson in mystical theology.)
Next, in order to understand the nature and content of these seven extraordinary days of grace, you have to be very clear about what they are not. So, grace is not – repeat – it is not an obvious force. Grace is a silent breeze that enters into your essence, often to protect you from doing harm to yourself. Grace does not protect you from the consequences of your negative or foolish choices; rather, it seeks to prevent you from making those choices in the first place.
Now, let’s think about an ordinary year of life, beginning from January to December. During that year, you will plan or attend a handful of special occasions or trips that rate as extraordinary. Among these are: weddings, vacations, parties, dates with someone special, surprise events, holiday gatherings, birthday parties, spa trips, etc. What these have in common are the following:
· You know about them ahead of time;
· You will have expectations of how the event will play out;
· You will either exaggerate the good time you intend to have or the bad;
· In either case, your expectations will be disappointed;
· The event will not go as expected in some way.
· For all the above reasons, these days do not qualify as one of your Seven Days of Extraordinary Grace because you are fully convinced you are in charge of the event or you are directly influencing the psychic field with your attitude. In other words, you are exerting too much control toward wanting a certain outcome.
· Finally, days burdened with expectations translate to you having to get what you want, the way you want it. From another perspective, these are days that reveal a sense of loss of control and personal insecurities.
The Nature and Character of Extraordinary Grace
Yet another mystical theological teaching is discernment: to look through the eyes of your soul into a situation in order to see and understand the significance of what is unfolding in front of your eyes. Discernment is unlike judging a situation, which tends to be an immediate and reactive response. A discerning response is one that requires reflective thought. With this teaching in mind, we now proceed into the deeper waters of discerning the nature of extraordinary days of grace.
You have no authority over your seven days of extraordinary grace; that is, you cannot decide when these shall be given to you. They come as they come. They are considered “gifts of the spirit,” bestowed upon you at a particularly advantageous time in your life – the operative word being advantageous. Now, how would you define advantageous? If I had you in a classroom at this moment, I would stop the lecture and ask all participants to answer that question in their notebook as I have little doubt that none of you has ever asked yourself this question. What do you consider a spiritually advantageous moment? Are you even prepared to give an answer to that question? Or should I begin with this question: Do you even understand the significance of that question?
This is the type of question that is introduced in a class on mystical theology. Inevitably the discussion that it opens up is intriguing, to say the least. A spiritually advantageous moment is one in which the “agents of change” in your life come together in such a way that only one spark is required to set them off. You may have several change agents at work in your life, none of which has the potency to motivate you to a next step. One more is required. Perhaps all that is needed is one more conversation, or a delayed flight that would allow you to make one more phone call to exactly the right person, or running into an old friend who happens to be the link to exactly the person you need to meet. You are not able to calculate when you have amassed a sufficient number of change agents in your psyche. You are able to discern, however, that an event or opportunity carrying an extraordinary potential of power has just been introduced into your life. As a result of making that phone call or running into that old friend, something new was provided to you. Maybe it was a suggestion, maybe it was positive feedback, or maybe it was a new contact. But you are left feeling renewed, as if you’ve just been rebooted in your own skin. One spark of grace lighted at the perfect advantageous moment is all it takes and life feels good again. Your life feels good again.
Let us examine the characteristics of a day of extraordinary grace:
· An opportunity that requires a spontaneous response comes along. The ingredient of spontaneity is required, lest you begin to project fear and failure into the opportunity, thereby self-sabotaging the potential to redirect your life. While other opportunities come and go, one surrounded with extraordinary grace fills your solar plexus and not just your mind, making your “head swim” with greed and ambition. Grace goes to your gut, right into your sense of who you are and what you should do. It symbolically “grabs” hold of your identity.
· Another expression of an extraordinary day of grace can come through finding out that plans you had set in motion months or even years ago, which you had given up as failed, have been resurrected. The time wasn’t right and all of a sudden, the time is right. A day of grace is the day everything “fell into place.”
· Yet another expression of a day of grace occurs when you encounter a past love – only now both of you are available to be together. A day of grace is the day when life begins again.
· A day of grace delivers an unexpected path of healing, which could be in the form of a renewed inner resilience or hope, or meeting a person who knows exactly how to understand and treat your condition. A day of grace is day when the tide turns in your favor.
· Another expression of grace is endless delays, confusion, and chaos shattering all of your plans. You can only give up and survive the day, bit-by-bit, going wherever the road leads you. A day of grace is when all the wrong things deliver you to exactly the right place.
· Yet another expression of grace is the day you discover that somehow a great mistake was righted through something else that you did. Perhaps it was something conscious or maybe not, but on a day of extraordinary grace, the forces work in your favor and a mistake is made right. A day of grace is when the rules are somehow bent in your favor, just once.
· Another day of grace is when your life is saved, perhaps from a car accident or something exploding in your face or a random street incident. A day of grace is when your life is shielded from physical harm, knowingly or unknowingly.
As you can tell, you cannot coordinate these days. You cannot make them happen. They happen because of other circumstances you have set into motion. In other words, your extraordinary days of grace come into your life because of choices that you have made that have created gaps and needs – open spaces – that require filling.
Your challenge is to realize that you are experiencing a day of extraordinary grace and to appreciate the meaning, power, and significance of that day. Further, it is vitally important to act on opportunities offered to you on that day. Suggestions for your new business venture, for example, that came from a synchronistic meeting between you and another person should be followed up on. Merely telling friends about this incredible synchronistic conversation you had with someone is a waste of an extraordinary day of grace, to be direct. It’s up to you to follow through, to take action, to make things happen for yourself.
Remember, grace does not do work for you. It will not “heal” you if you are not doing your part in your own healing. Grace will not interfere with the law of cause and effect; that is, for every choice we make, there is an effect or a consequence. If we make a foolish or stupid choice, we pay a price by having to deal with the consequence of our choices. Grace does not compensate or erase our stupid or foolish choices, any more than prayer does. In order to appreciate the nature and power of grace, and the gift of an extraordinary day of grace, you have to grasp how the power of grace manifests in your life and how it does not. Grace is not a “fix-it” force. It is an inspirational, mystical power that awakens you from within.
As I thought about this subject, I queried a few friends on this question: Would you want to be in charge of determining when you received your seven days of extraordinary grace each year? We had such a fun discussion. One friend said, “I’m very frugal. I would hold on to them.”
Another friend determined that she would be very nervous about having that type of “wealth in a safe in her own home.” What a great analogy, I thought, yes? She was exactly right, as seven days of grace is exactly like having gold in a safe at home and you left to determine when and how to spend it. A third person said he would absolutely use all seven days in one month. He would “go for the gold” in one blast.
I asked each person, “Would you be more inclined to use a day of grace in the midst of a crisis or when you are calm and undistracted?” Would you see your days of grace as financial crisis solvers or a day of soulful renewal? Which is of more value to you?
Those questions ended up leading into one more fascinating area of discussion after another. It seemed like this subject opened a vast discussion. For that reason, I am carrying it over to the June Salon, which will be Part II on this topic. In the June Salon, I will explore those questions along with:
· A discussion of grace and prayer.
· What would most people do: take charge of their seven days or let heaven determine when they receive the gift of a day of grace?
· Merging the Seven Days of Grace with Your Seven Chakras, just for discussion
· Could each day contain this grace?
Let me encourage you to think about the days of this year – just this year – that have been game changers for you. They have contained certain ingredients that have motivated you to move ahead, to make positive changes, to do something you’ve been postponing, but on that day, you acted. See if you can identify the presence of grace in your life that day:
· What was it about that day that made it different?
· Do you remember how you felt that day?
· What types of choices did you make that day that you would call “out of character?”
· What results have occurred in your life as a result of those choices, and would you consider these results as special or surprising?
· Have there been any changes in your life that qualify as “beyond your expectations” as a result of acting on a grace that you identified?
I’ll close this Salon by asking you to reflect on whether you would want to be in charge of when to receive your Seven Extraordinary Days of Grace, or whether you would leave the wisdom of that decision to the heavens. We’ll continue with this discussion in the June Salon.
Meanwhile, Happy Summer,