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  • When I was a child, maybe 5 or so, while vacationing at the cottage on Pymatuming Lake, a terrible storm occurred, part of a hurricane system that had swept up the coast and moved considerably inland. There was much wreakage wrought by the howling wind gales and driving rain - a large yacht was just tossed up onto the beach and laid on its side like some toy boat, trees were ripped up and tossed aside like toothpicks. The sturdily constructed cottage survived, as did we inside it. I remember how frightening it was as we huddled inside while the storm raged outside for hours.

    But my most vivid memory was of the incredible calm on the day that followed the storm. The sun came out - the world looked beautiful, albeit a bit disheveled. It was just so peaceful after the terrifying violence of the night before.

    The memory of this scene has come back to me at different times in my life. Periods of calm that have followed my two bleakest periods of being suicidal, when that powerfully desperate inner drive to simply end it all that had stormed and raged within me finally ceased, and there was nothing to do but look around, and breathe - a similar sense of peace in a beautiful, though somewhat disheveled inner world came over me, then.

    Similarly, after my brushes with death from an accidental overdose, and the time that I was trapped inside a burning engine room fire on my first ship and I caught on fire and just barely made it out alive, a similar sense of overwhelming calm, and a new awareness of the peace and beauty surrounding my world came over me.

    I recognize this as the grace of which they speak in spiritual literature, and of which they sing in the famous song. Indeed, it's pretty amazing. So unexpected when it comes. It seems to say "Rest now, take it easy - life is going to go on, and there's nothing to do but let it. Just for now, right here, in this moment, just live".

    There are no answers to seek, no pressing need to be or do anything, but breathe, and let this calm, this grace if you will, infuse you with new life.

    I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything. They are a part of who I am, and they ushered in new chapters that led to new stories, and eventually led me to this point in my journey.

    Little presents from the universe. Reminders that it isn't about me. There's something, a force if you will, just a little more powerful than I am, that is there to sustain me, if I'll just get out of its damn way, now and then. No need to even name it. I just know it's there, and that's good enough for me.

    Grace. I'll take it, and simply say "Thanks!"
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