2 minutes of grace

February 24th, 2010

I’m reading a biography of Grace Kelly right now. Why would I need to do that? I know perfectly well how the story ends: it’s how all stories end. One way or another, each of us drives off a cliff at the foreshortened end of a long and winding road. Still, grace stands in perennial service.

As we do with other earthbound deities, we invested so much in Ms. Kelly. We made her the paragon of the good girl, the icon of good looks and the fairytale princess of the good life. She bore it, needless to say, with grace.

I bring this up because of a message recently received in complete sincerity from a dear friend endeavoring in all ways to be good. She said she was scouring Momma Zen to re-read those parts that might help in her search for courage and patience. I told her to give that up.

Words you read won’t transform your life. Words I write won’t transform my life. Only one thing transforms my life: practice. I mean both my formal practice on a meditation cushion, and my everyday, standing-at-the-sink, emptying-the-hamper practice of giving up my chronic search for something else. The life we are most devoted to is the life we don’t have.

More to the point, I told this friend of mine that if I didn’t have a practice of silencing my inner screams, I would have hurt someone a long time ago. I would have hurt either myself or someone I profess to love. I cringe when people ascribe to me such heavenly virtues as calm, peace, patience and wisdom. They don’t yet realize that I do what I must to keep from destroying my life and everyone in it out of anger, fear, frustration and resentment.

I don’t practice Zen because I’m a better person. I practice because I’ll never be anyone else.

Practice is the most fundamentally sane and loving thing I can do, and here’s why. For those five, ten, or twenty minutes I sit down with myself, whether I’m still and calm or quivering with rage and distraction, the world is safe from me. My family is safe from harm. You’ve done the same in only the time it took to read this post. You’ve procured for yourself two minutes of grace. The relief is sweet and everlasting.


  1. I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this today. Thank YOU!

    Comment by kathleen — February 24, 2010 @ 9:16 pm

  2. Thanks for this.

    Comment by Fanny — February 24, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

  3. Thanks for this!

    Comment by Fanny — February 24, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  4. Exactly as much as I needed to write it.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — February 24, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

  5. It’s funny how we have these little hero worship things, how we thing some other person has it SO together and if I could just be more like you … but truly, we all just struggle awkwardly along and wish people wouldn’t tell us nice lies (at least I do), but it’s still nice to hear them, I guess, and wish they were true.

    Thanks for being real and perfectly you and I always wanna be a better person after reading your posts!

    Comment by Mrs. B. Roth — February 24, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

  6. This was so good and perfect timing. I didn’t sit today and the day shows it. I’m going to get off here and go “sit” before the evening begins. Thanks again!

    Comment by turquoisemoon — February 24, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

  7. As per all the graces I learned as a Girl Scout: amen!

    Comment by J — February 24, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

  8. I laugh because I have been…AM in…that woman’s position. All too often I read, blog hop, clamor for more information and wonder why I still don’t feel better. Yet when I practice – with my meditation, my yoga, my kids, my Life – things “magically” work out. Thank you for sharing your humanity.

    Comment by Lisa — February 25, 2010 @ 12:18 am

  9. So good to read that you, who seems to have it all sorted, is on just the same difficult journey as the rest of us. Such wise words .Thanks- so happy I have found your blog.

    Comment by Ingrid — February 25, 2010 @ 12:25 am

  10. Gassho, darling.

    Comment by Kim — February 25, 2010 @ 1:25 am

  11. Yes, practice is all there is. To be where we are now and not who we aspire to be. That’s difficult, but doable.

    Comment by hadeveyra — February 25, 2010 @ 1:38 am

  12. This is a timely reminder. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give myself two minutes of grace.

    Comment by Steph — February 25, 2010 @ 2:09 am

  13. beautiful, thank you. the word ‘grace’ has been showing up for me a lot today. i found out this week that i didn’t get the job i was up for and though i tried to remain positive, i caught myself feeling angry and bitter a few times. today i looked at my wall where my wordle (http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1164400/Values) is pasted and the first word i saw was ‘grace’. then i clicked over to your blog and found this.
    no matter how many times the universe reaches out and taps me on the shoulder, i’m always surprised.

    Comment by kelsi — February 25, 2010 @ 2:56 am

  14. 🙁 The surprise is the grace.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — February 25, 2010 @ 3:00 am

  15. Gosh, and I thought it was just me. xoxo

    Comment by Emme — February 25, 2010 @ 3:48 am

  16. I have been thinking lately about this very thing, so timely that you are writing about it. It seems in the usual ebb and flow of inner well-being and spiritual practice, we (and I mean me) sometimes get stuck in the ebbs. At those times, the words of others can nudge, push, pull, and help remind us of the practice, inspire us to find our way again. Your words have done this in my own crooked path so often, so thank you for that. They are not a substitute for my own practice, of course, but they help remind me of it. Also, I really want to applaud for acknowledging your own moments of anger and frustration here, those difficult and lonely emotions that lurk in the shadows of motherhood for so many.

    Comment by Stephanie Rayburn — February 25, 2010 @ 4:03 am

  17. thank you, karen. my response to this beautiful and honest post is so visceral. i feel your words in my body. they are true at the cellular level. oh, how i too needed this today. my sincere and immense gratitude.

    Comment by melissa — February 25, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  18. Well put, as always. Thank you.

    Comment by Christa — February 25, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  19. Well put, as always, Karen. Thank you.

    Comment by Christa — February 25, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  20. amazing grace…amen. amen.

    Comment by Meg Casey — February 26, 2010 @ 5:16 am

  21. G’day… I’ve just landed here via blog hopping.
    This is a lovely place that you have created.

    I too am a big fan of meditation. It has become an integral part of my daily life.
    A quiet mind leads the way to a clear heart I feel.

    best wishes
    be well

    Comment by Ribbon — February 27, 2010 @ 12:28 am

  22. Beautifully spoken. I love how you keep things real!

    Comment by Lorna — February 27, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

  23. This was so timely and amazing. Like the sister before me, big thanks for keeping it real!

    Comment by Donna Kiel — February 28, 2010 @ 3:12 am

  24. Some days I am desperate to save myself from myself (oh, irritation and anger!!), and yet I often end up being driven (by my self) into ever deeper despair.

    Sometimes, though, like you say, I find I can remove my self from the situation (oh, practice and practice!!), and find a moment of grace. What a relief!!

    Also, ditto what Meg Casey said: “amazing grace!” I know your words aren’t the moon, but they sure have a way of taking me there. 🙂

    Comment by Stacy (Mama-Om) — February 28, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

  25. thank you so much for the reminder. i really needed it today…

    lots of love to you!


    Comment by alyson — February 28, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

  26. Thank you for reminding me why practice is so important. I’ve been feeling on edge lately and it’s been hurting my relationships with the ones I love. Something this morning made me get out of bed early to practice my yoga (something I’ve been neglecting) and I feel like my whole mood changed … just that act of taking a little time for myself – without guilt – made a world of difference in my outlook.

    There is a quote I recently posted on a blog I write for that I think is also quite relevant and generated big sighs of relief with my audience:

    Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me. – Alice Walker

    Comment by Jamie Lee Wallace — March 1, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  27. Metta.

    Comment by MamaShift — March 3, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  28. […] and hope, and space, and searching for solutions (what exactly do I do and where do I go to save my children from my bad-mood self?) and eventually I let go of the edge and I served breakfast, and then we got ready to […]

    Pingback by Six Going on Sixteen — May 10, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

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