The Chaos and Grace of Life

Scattered leaves

“Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.” ~Henry Miller

As I opened the door to leave my house, the wrath of the wind shoved me right back in. The skies were angry. The rain unapologetically slapped me in the face as I dared to step out.

Walking in that weather felt like an extreme sport. I could barely keep my balance on the slippery ground peppered with lifeless and discarded leaves underneath my feet.

It was a dreary day by all measures. Everything was unravelling and out of control. I thought to myself: What a mess!

Needless to say my mood mirrored my perception of my surrounding environment. I felt frustrated that I had to go out in this weather. I resisted everything. I did manage to get my errand done and come back home, but the dark mood persisted.

I can’t tell you what inspired what came next—other than the life within me connecting with something much bigger than my depressed little ego.

Standing in my office, looking out the window at the maple tree across from my house—almost twice the height of the building—I witnessed nature’s torture of this innocent tree. The gusts pushed and prodded; the relentless rain pummeled it mercilessly till the mission was accomplished: the tree was stripped of what was left of its leaves, standing bare and exposed to more of the same.

Yet, this magnificent tree was standing tall, dignified and silent, bending when it needed to—but rooted in its truth and the loving earth that holds it closely.

Then my imagination kicked in. In that moment I thought: What if this was the first time the tree ever experienced such violence? Would it try to kick the wind, or punch the rain? Would it fight back for its survival? Would it try to run away, not knowing that it would be a suicidal mission?

Did the tree ever wonder what had it done to deserve this punishment? And if it wasn’t alone, did it compare itself to other trees?

What’s the intelligence behind this calm reaction?

All I can think of was the grace of life that binds us together with every living breathing being—the quiet intelligence that transcends the unfathomable violence, the deep knowing that there is beauty and order beyond what appears to be ugly chaos.

The grace behind the mess

The tree didn’t need religious teachings, or schooling to gain faith and knowledge. It didn’t need to search for the best location to plant itself, or go shopping for the best soil it needed.

The tree simply exists and knows how to exist by the grace and power of the life within.

What is grace?

I couldn’t think of a better word than grace to describe what the neighboring tree inspired in me.

Grace is all of the following, and much more.

Beauty

There is beauty in everything—if we’re willing to let go of our conditioned responses and revert back to our true nature.

Birth is shockingly painful, bloody and gross. But it also is one of the most awe-inspiring moments of existence—witnessing the emergence of new life. We’re used to accepting the mess because we fully appreciate the beauty that follows.

Death is stinking decay and rot. We learn to abhor death. We ignore the peace of a journey coming to an end. We mourn the loss of what was, instead of celebrating the beauty that existed and will continue to reverberate in our memories.

Between life and death, we face our own seasonal changes in health and circumstance. The grace within endures personal storms, knowing that there is beauty within that shines through, no matter what.

Dignity

All of life moves with silent dignity, even in the most tumultuous of times.

The wrath of nature may strip a tree of its leaves, but it cannot take away its dignified stillness, even if the storm was strong enough to uproot it out of life.

No amount of force, can strip a human being of their essence and dignity, without their permission.

We may be forced to withstand pain and hardship. But we can always hold our heads high and remain true to who we are.

Ease and surrender

The tree knows that fighting the wind will only break it, and rejecting the rain will only deprive it of its vital nourishment. Instead of fighting reality, it bends and yields.

A tree doesn’t whine, or feel bad for itself. It chooses to hold still, and survive.

When we allow life to unfold without resisting and complaining, we can ease into change, and emerge much stronger than we’ve ever been.

The tree might consider the wind nature’s leaf blower that’s helping it shed the old in preparation for the new. We can view the pouring rain in our lives as a way of cleansing our minds and hearts before a fresh start.

Elegance

Nature is messy, and life is chaotic—not very elegant on the surface. But when we look at the bigger picture of creation, we see the graceful hands of energy and matter shaping stars and galaxies, and molding planets and moons.

There is equal elegance in the subtle waves of tranquil waters and the high monstrous waves crashing ashore.

The rhythm of life that’s been refined over billions of years beats in everything and everyone. We just need to tune in.

Faith and trust

The inner knowing that all is unfolding as intended is what sustains life in all its forms. Grace manifests in the calm knowing that any challenge serves a purpose greater than its pain.

We trust that life will take care of our newborns as much as a tree trusts that there will be spring after winter.

Grace—the calm yet ceaseless resilience—is what gets us to pull through, pick ourselves up, and try again.

Life is messy and changeable. It doesn’t unfold in neat packages. No matter what life throws at us, we can always choose grace.

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