Just like most kirtans (Sanskrit chanting session) that have a call and response rhythm, (the leader chants a line of the chant by him/herself followed by the group responding by chanting back the same line), we are in a constant call and response rhythm with grace. Sometimes grace calls and you respond, and other times you call, and grace responds.
What I’ve noticed lately is that grace is constantly being dispersed. But I’m almost always asleep to it. Last week was different. I began noticing how grace was absolutely working in my life. The more instances of grace I became aware of, the more I observed that grace truly is happening in every moment, not just to me, but to everyone.
The key to following your heart and having a spiritual connection to life, is having a deep-seated belief that grace is happening all of the time. If I could just tune into it all of the time, my life would probably go a lot smoother, or at least I would enjoy the cosmic joke or Lila (Lila in Sanskrit means play, sport, or game). What is great about this idea is that the Tantric tradition considers life a dance, a play, or a Lila. In fact, the universe is constantly playing a game of hide-and-seek with us every day. This is why I try not to judge myself when I sleep through a grace moment or forget that I’m divine. If I never forgot my connection to source, I wouldn’t have the joy of remembering!
Last week there were several distinct moments of grace that turned my world around. I got a new title for my car which requires a new registration and new plates. I was all set to take my plates off my car at the RMV when I noticed that before I drove to the RMV, I only checked the front plate screws which were flat head style. I grabbed my flat head screw driver like any good common-sense person, right? Well, when I went to the back plate at the RMV, it needed a Phillips head screwdriver. Ugh. “I’m screwed.” I said to myself, laughing at my own joke.
So, I looked around and saw a maintenance guy cleaning the sidewalk with a blower. I asked him and he said he could help me in about 15 minutes. So, I waited. He brought out a Phillips head screwdriver and I got one screw off just barely. It was on so tight I nearly blistered my palms. However, I couldn’t get the second screw to budge. I tried everything. I went back to the maintenance guy and he brought out a hammer and wrench. But neither of us could get the screw off. Oy! I thanked him, and he walked away.
I noticed that the truck parked right next to my car was a maintenance truck. The driver of that truck noticed me when I was trying to take the plate off and offered to help if I needed it. At that time, I didn’t need help because the other maintenance guy was on his way with tools. Remembering his offer, I tracked him down inside the RMV. He was working on the elevator and said he would be right out. He worked on the screw for about 30 minutes and finally had to get a metal cutter to cut the plate off. Once he did that, he was able to loosen the screw. Yay! I was so grateful to him. I reached into my wallet and was about to hand him a $20 when he waved his hand and said, “No please. I don’t need to be paid for this. I believe in karma. Your payment would be an insult to me.” I said back to him, “Are you sure?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Thank you. I’m a yoga teacher and I believe in karma too. I really appreciate your help. You are a godsend.” He thanked me and went back to his work.
I waited in line at the RMV for about 40 minutes when my number was finally called. I went up and the clerk went through all of my paperwork. But she noticed that my registration was dated for the next day. She said she couldn’t issue new plates until tomorrow. “Oh no, you’ve got to be kidding,” I said. Then I saw that the insurance agent put the wrong date on it. The clerk said that if I could get them to redo the form and fax it to the RMV, she could issue my plates today. So, I made a quick call and miraculously the receptionist at the insurance company was able to accommodate me and I got the new plates. That was grace.
I go back out to my car to install the new plates when I remembered that I only had a flat head screw driver. “Damn. I still can’t get the back plate on because I need a Phillips head.” In that exact moment, the second maintenance guy came out to his car. I swear to god, it was in that exact moment. He looked at me and smiled, “Looks like you’re having a bad day.” I said, “Yeah, I need a Phillips head screw driver to get the back plate on.” He said, “No worries. I’ll help you out.” He grabbed his drill and brand new stainless-steel screw and in a matter of seconds got my back plate on. I thanked him and went on with my day. That was grace.
The next day I’m on my weekly call with my marketing director, Michelle, and near the end of the call we started talking about my 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training which is beginning to grow in attendance. I had to cancel last year’s 300-Hour course due to low enrollment. But this year I put it out to the universe that if I get less than 12 people I would cancel. Now the numbers are around 19 plus the assistants! I told Michelle, you know, I think the numbers are increasing because I redesigned the program into a more user-friendly structure. And I am valuing this course more and more. I see the great potential of this course to help bring teachers into their heart and find the courage to step through their fears and find their authentic voice.” I continued, “This is my dharma (life purpose). This is what brings me joy – to empower others to find their true self and share their wisdom and joy with others thereby spreading more light and love in this world.”
Now you have to understand that when I talk on the phone, I use my headset and I’m usually ambulating aimlessly around the house. This helps me think. I sometimes go out on the deck and put my leg up on the rail and stretch. But in that very moment, I had wandered into my office. I looked out the window and saw a doe and her fawn moving across my backyard. I think they were white tailed deer, which I’ve never seen before in the middle of the day walking across my backyard. My jaw dropped as I told Michelle what just happened. They were so beautiful, precious, so natural.
To me, this image of the baby deer following right behind the mama deer, made me reflect on my dharma, my purpose in life, that brings me so much joy. It was the mama deer leading the baby deer. You have to put this into perspective because truth be told, I learn just as much, if not more, from my students. I don’t mean this in any kind of diminishing way. It’s just the idea that in the moment I had a revelation about my dharma, my joy of teaching yoga, the positive numbers in my 300-hour course, and the deer, I took this as a sign from the universe as if it was saying to me, “Yes. Teaching is your dharma. You are a teacher, a leader of the heart, and it’s all unfolding naturally. Trust and let go. Stop trying so hard. Let grace carry you now.”
In the first instance with the mechanic, that was like me calling and grace responding. But in the deer experience, it was grace calling and I responded by making meaning of that image, choosing to see it as an affirmation from the universe. I felt uplifted, joyous, and certain. In that moment all self-doubt vanished. It was just me, the deer, Michelle on the other end of the line, and grace. Then as most kirtans build to a climax near the end of the chant, both the caller and responders chant in unison. They merge together as one. In the same way, when you follow your heart, you recognize your true nature where you and grace, you and all that is, was, or ever will be, merge together as one. This is yoga – union.
How has grace called to you recently? How have you responded? How have you called out to grace recently? How did grace respond? What would be the possibility for your life, if you noticed grace more often, if you really stopped to reflect on how the entire universe is a kirtan chant?