You would think with a name like mine that gracefulness, that state of being full of grace, would be inborn. After all, Nancy stems from the Jewish Hannah, which means “grace”. Most of my life though, I considered myself to be the opposite.
Of course, when we talk of someone being graceful in this regard, we are generally talking about physical coordination. And yeah, when it came to physical coordination, I was probably one of the least graceful kids around.
I now know that a great deal of this awkwardness came about because I wasn’t really emotionally and mentally present inside my body. Imagine, if you will, that your awareness of who you are and where you are in time and space is slightly out of sync with your actual physical body. Just that tiny inch off to the left or right.
In technical terms, I was disassociating. Except that I was doing it so much and had been donig it for so long, that this was my normal state of being.
When we talk about grace from a spiritual standpoint most definitions ignore the physical state of grace and focus entirely on the emotional/mental/spiritual. One website defines grace as being: a Divine dispensation of mercy. Grace dissolves karma, changes matter and creates miracles. (The Spiritual Law of Grace)
From this point of view, grace isn’t really a state of being within yourself but instead it is an act of forgiveness granted to you by a divine source. We do good deeds and engage in acts of forgivess in order to receive grace from this outside Source. While I can find several references to grace from the point of view of New Age spirituality and various mainstream religions, a search specifically for ways of looking at grace from a Pagan standpoint have thus far been non-existent. (Though I have come across several references to saying a Pagan grace at meal times in order to give thanks for food.)
As I have grown in recent years, I have come to understand that grace is something more.
I have talked a few times about the tasks that my Patron Gods and shaman teachers told me to do as I was recovering from the emotional andmental breakdown of 4 years ago. I went to them pleading, “What can I do?” And they told me, “Don’t do, just be. Don’t journey, just be. Practice being inside your body.”
It was only when I began to consciously practice being inside my body that I realised just how much of my life had been spent not inside my body. And it was not easy. Because the other thing I came to realise was just how much physical, mental, and emotional pain I was blocking through being disconnected. I had incredible flare ups of rheumatoid arthritis as I made the adjustment to being present and connected.
At first, I had to set aside time and just focus on being. I did this in part through journeying into OtherWorld space. Once there, I would just sit or lay on the ground and sink into the Earth. At first I still spent more time disconnected than connected, but gradually these times of being present within my body became longer.
I learned to identify those activities and behaviours that would cause me to become less connected, more ungrounded. I learned that many activities that are typically proposed as being ways of strengthening that connection to self had the opposite effect with me. Eating, soaking in water, physical exertion – these all caused me to become more disconnected.
I began practicing staying connected while doing these things. I suppose some might call this being mindful. I just called it – focusing on doing one thing at a time.
Grace, as I define it today, is not a divine dispensation of mercy. It isn’t a divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation. (Wikipedia)
Grace, is a state of being fully present within your self. Through grace I am able to connect with the divine within myself. Because I have this connection to my own divine self I am able to forgive my self . I am able to release resentments and angers and fears that have dwelled deep within for decades.
I’m still not the most physcially graceful woman around. I would say though that I have found grace within myself.
So, maybe my name fits after all.