The Mathematics of Civility Part 2
Last week I asked myself the question, “Why would you want to add to all the pain that is already in the world?” I decided to subtract my critical attitude and desire to lash out at the owners of the B & B who didn’t perform up to my exacting standards. In doing so, I have no regrets! In fact, that decision made the rest of my stay most enjoyable, and I know that, rather than adding pain and causing them to curse my memory, I was able to bless them, gift them with Grace. They would be happy to see my face again, I know.
So I am thinking again about addition – the addition of Grace. Grace is another of the Aspirations of the St. James Tearoom, and a basic foundation to Civility. If Justice is getting what one deserves, Grace is getting what one does not deserve. Grace is that good pleasure that inclines one to bestow benefits upon the undeserving. It is generosity lived out in the often sticky, nitty-gritty grind of daily life. I call it Large-of-Heart Living: living large out of a heart that is overflowing with good things it delights to share, like a bird who owns nothing but sweet songs which it delights to sing. The music bursts forth! It must! It falls on all who are near without exception. It sings because it is full of songs! A little child who owns nothing can still live out of abundance: picking dandelion bouquets, singing songs, blowing kisses, making pictures.
It has nothing to do with success, prosperity, or advantage, but with rarer riches: our time and attention, our patience and forgiveness, our smiles. All of us have unique inner abundances also, qualities not everyone has to share, such as a special ability to encourage, or a singular sense of fun and joy, or exceptional problem solving skills, etc. Living Large – out of inner abundance.
Grace gives freely, to those who deserve and those who don’t. Perhaps this is why in some cultures high ranking people are addressed as “Your Grace.” Here is a leader who is able to live out of a grand abundance. A gracious person has something to give and gives lavishly, without reserve, like water flowing – a bird’s song, or a smile, bestowed on any and all alike, gifts given without regard to being appreciated or even noticed – unmerited gifting.
Then there are great, black holes, demanding and NEEDY! I call these the Leech, who will attach themselves, but only for the purpose of getting something. The Leech has nothing to give; its sole purpose is to GET. It is impoverished, stingy, a swirling black hole of self-protection, self-promotion, and self-fulfillment. “If I am not noticed, pleased, and indulged, you will feel my wrath!” “Grabby-Snatchy” in kindergarten parlance.
We can see both the Leech and the Large-of-Heart in every grocery check-out line and on every freeway in our city. Oh, let me be the one, and not the other!
A person of Grace is appealing and winsome, a spark of light, always. As a bird gifts its pure, sweet tones on those that listen and those that won’t, and as a rose sheds its fragrance abroad, to be noticed and appreciated or not, Grace gives out of its abundance, to all. What a lovely way to live! How much easier it is to be rubbing elbows in a community where Grace is evident!
A spark of light, yes, this is Grace. I would like to gift you with a picture of Grace as a spark of light.
The picture above is from a gorgeous music video, a feast for your eyes, ears, and heart, created by my friend Chris Hale and his group, Aradhna, filmed in India. Here you will truly see the mathematics of Grace: Addition – gifts left willy-nilly, hither and yon, and, by the end, you will see its Multiplication effect, as well. This is my gift to you – a picture of Grace.
Yours for a return to Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, and Excellence,