The endings I love most are the ones where appearance is turned inside out by the fall of this one little domino—think Sixth Sense, or Interstellar, or another personal favorite, The Thomas Crown Affair. (Or what actually set me off on this post, which was the final episode of the Showtime series Homeland.) When that last piece falls, the meaning of everything that came before it is transformed. I particularly like when this reveals an outcome far better than we would have previously imagined possible. We see then how the seeds of this beautiful realization had been there all along, in all the strife and doubt and muck and grime and whatever else it was that had to be endured. It all becomes worth it in light of this final revelation.
I think our lives are like this. No matter our path, the territory we’re exploring is that of grace. And what’s amazing about grace is that it shifts beneath our feet and we never know it. We’re wobbly, heavy of heart, uncertain… or disciplined, rehearsed, confident—and either way, grace responds unerringly with the moments and circumstances we need the most. Grace ensures the path is perpetually arriving at the time and place of our renewal, at the moment of our heart’s recovery.
I read a beautiful line recently that Jesus gave to Mari Perron. He said, “Trust your mind completely. Not a little bit. Not in certain situations. But completely. This is the only way certainty will come to you.” (When Jesus says mind he’s talking about the heart and mind together, the unified mind we share that is distilled uniquely into each one of us—not merely the analytical or conceptual part of ourselves.) I thought this was really profound. It’s the idea we can depend on what we’ve been given. Even if we’ll never know everything, we always know enough.
Those endings I love are the moment when we realize this is so, and always was. In that sense they’re not endings at all, they’re beginnings. That’s what’s so great about them! The entire journey that brings us to this point, where we finally discover that we can trust, is recast as prelude. And then we face the real choice: to explore what this new knowing makes possible, or to set it aside and restart the cycle once more. If we take the discovery to heart, what lies beyond is not some new debacle through which grace clears a path once again to our beginning, but the full-hearted expression of who we are. Which is everything.
It’s easy to look at all the challenges facing our societies and the planet in general and wonder just how in the heck we could possibly turn things around. We’re wondering this pretty intently these days, but the truth is we can’t. The primary misconception is that we, who occupy these various circumstances, are uniquely qualified to undo them. On our own, I mean, in the seeming separateness that obtains when trust is absent. From that vantage, we think we’ve got to do the right thing, muster the right response, make all those difficult choices and turn this leviathan beast of our own momentum in some new direction. We think we’ve got to somehow be other than we truly are.
The paradox is that it does depend on us, of course. Just not in the way we think. The transformation we seek comes not of “making” it ourselves, in a vacuum, through our own disparate devices, but of recognizing that all Life is in movement together. We don’t need to be the heroes of some mythical, epic battle against our lesser natures, but authentic participants in the beauty unfolding all around us.
To move with trust is to see this. Trust is the perfect fuel for transformation because it enlivens us and laces our every breath with meaning. Without it, we languish and labor, we rely on resources outside of ourselves, we shackle ourselves to ideologies and to great thinkers we admire, and our own voice is lost in the shuffle. We plot, plan, and preempt. And this ultimately pits us one against the other. Trust might seem as if it is the opposite of engaging, of caring, or moving into the throes of things with passion, but it isn’t. It doesn’t mean any of us care less about the elements of Life that have been placed in our care, it simply acknowledges that what is at work here is greater than any one of us can see.
Do we do what is in our hearts to do because of some calculus that confirms, yes… it’s a worthy investment of our time? Or do we do it because we simply can’t do otherwise?
Trust frees us to express and become that which is ours alone to express and become, because we don’t have to understand how doing so will accomplish the outcome we desire. We don’t have to conceptually or intellectually understand how the callings of our heart, the uniqueness of our interests and desires, or the avenues into which we channel the time and energy that are ours to channel, add up to something more. They simply do. The fact that they do—the fact that billions of people don’t need a plan to participate in the ebb and flow of Life, and the creative transformation that is upon us—is what we call grace. Grace simply is. The truth is that each of us is precisely where we need to be. The fact that we can’t understand how this could have happened without us, without our being in charge of the process and formulating some sort of conscious plan to make it happen, just doesn’t matter.
We simply are coordinated.
When we let ourselves be.
When we trust…
When we recognize the ending is only the beginning…