Yesterday I woke up in a slump. I felt out of whack, angry, sad and grumpy. I was lying in bed and found myself getting angry that I was angry, which only made me feel more angry. Off for a run I went, in my agitated state, still frustrated. I just wanted to push away from the intensity I was feeling. Ironically, the more I pushed and ran from the pain and discomfort the worse I felt!
Suddenly, a hawk burst out of the bushes next to the trail and began a languid circle a few feet above my head. I froze, immediately recognizing this angel as the harbinger of a message. A rush of tears welled in my eyes and I doubled over. Thank you, I whispered, for bringing this signal to stop running. The reminder allowed me to pause long enough to feel the discomfort with which I'd awakened.
My perspective panned back, as if I was seeing through the eyes of that beautiful bird and I saw all of myself, the light and the shadow. I saw myself as whole and I knew this simply to be a key aspect of my human experience. This was the cosmic game of hide-and-seek that God plays by contracting herself into a body. It is natural; sometimes she forgets who she is and I recognized that this forgetting happens to everyone. A sense of solace washed over me and the light inside me grew a little brighter, matched by the depth of the strength lying in the last place I would look, inside the shadowy cave of my own heart.
In yoga language we call this the process of concealment and revelation. Vilaya, or concealment, is the perception of separation. In order for the One to engage, embodied, in this world she has limited her unbounded state. Through her choice to limit herself, she has created the fabric of space and the objects in it, the opportunity to have rational thought and linear time. Through these condensed forms of the One the world unfolds; it creates a sense of you and me, then and now, here and there.
This is contrast at its essence. When there is contrast we can more easily distinguish the whole. God does this so she can see and know herself more clearly. Light brings the objects of our perception into focus, but without the dark—as if staring directly into the sun—we see nothing at all. We need the dark as a place of rest and a place to reconnect with the power of Grace that exists within us and everything.
Grace is not bestowed as payment for right action or some extra good karma. The power of Grace is Divine will itself choosing to constantly contract into all of this. If we do not receive Grace it is not because it isn't being offered, it is because we are not open to it.
The revelation of Grace, or anugraha, for me was the hawk. It is often birds and feathers for me, but it could be anything. It was a reminder to reconnect and see the whole, to see the One, even in the intense discomfort of the emotion with which I'd awakened. The more you look for these revelations of Grace, the more you see them. These special messages from the Universe are constantly being sent direct to you. There is no need to convince someone else that 1:11 on the clock has some life altering message, because the message is for you and you alone.
The next time you find yourself running from the shadows, pause and breathe it all in. The concealment is part of the process and the shadow is often where the very peace you are seeking lies. Pause long enough to hear and see the messages being revealed to you and honor this flow as another magical part of your human experience.