GraceNotes: Holding the Space for … Reflection

#77 — September 1, 2018

Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.

— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Greetings, Inspired Seekers!

“It's not easy for you to be kind to yourself, is it?” Her words stung as she asked them but, even in their stinging, a kind of self-righteousness welled up inside of me. “I suppose that's true,” I replied. “I'm my harshest critic.” “Well then, you have work to do.” I was perplexed. Being a staunch self-critic, I mused, should be a good thing. It should keep me humble, my feet on the ground, my ego in check. I had a big lesson to learn — one that is echoed by many spiritual leaders of many traditions.

In Taoism, The Flow is often referenced as a metaphor for life. Being in step with this flow is the key to everything and yet, the struggle is that we fight it. And, as we all know, when water — the source and necessity of all life — flows, it flows in both directions, depending upon the perspective of the seer. The Tao reminds us that this flow can be viewed as towards or away from simultaneously. And so, I was reminded that this flow, this back and forth, give and take, inward and outward pouring must flow in both directions. For spirituality is not a one-way direction. It requires this powerful exchange. How many of us have forgotten that? I certainly had.

In the Christian tradition, the commandment is to “love your neighbor as your Self.” So, if we are continuously deriding our Self, if we lack Self-care or Self-compassion, we cannot fully extend it to others. And in that emptiness lives the void of connection and blessing. If we do not allow love, compassion and blessings to flow into us, they cannot flow out of us.

As the Buddhists say, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”

And, as for keeping humble, well, humility doesn't mean that we think less of ourselves; as the saying goes, it means that we think of ourselves less. And in that lessness, there is holiness. That is TheSpaceForGrace. That is the place for a higher level of consciousness and greater love.

So, how do we get into that Flow? I think it is not about the doing but, rather, about the un-doing. Once again, the letting go becomes important. Letting go of anger and resentment, letting go of judgment and shame, letting go of those things that do not serve us well — like that harsh inner critic. For when we let go, the Divine picks it up and, in that uplifting moment, love can flow in both directions — in joyous acceptance and in generous giving.

Grace-Fully Yours,
Reverend Deborah

Monthly Affirmation: I am in the Flow of grace. I accept great love and return it to the world.

The Reverend Dr. Deborah Darlington provides spiritual coaching to people of all faiths and no faith who want to lead a joyous, giving and sacred life. She can be reached at or at 215 260 1611.