The fact is that we live only in communion - not only with our present but with the past and future as well. We are haunted by a whole poetry of living, by lullabies half remembered and the sound of train whistles in the night and the scent of lavender in the summer garden. We are haunted by grief too, and fear, and the images of childhood terror, and the macabre dissolutions of age...But I am sure that it is in this domain of our daily dreaming that the Holy Spirit establishes communion with us. This is how the gift is given which we call grace: the sudden illumination, the sharp regret that leads to penitence or forgiveness, the opening of the heart to the risk of love...  Morris West ~ The Clowns of God

How do we come to this knowing - this grace - this courage to "open our heart to the risk of love"? My own experience tells me the beginning comes with a compassionate acceptance of ourselves - present in full communion - in full presence - in full awareness of our deepest Self - the darkness and the light. This isn't easy. In fact, we (I) tend to run from it because sitting within yourself is, at times, scary. Risk it though, and the rewards are more than we can possibly imagine.

In the beginning, this self-communion comes in "glimpses" - glimpses of this Love waiting for full experience and full expression. We may see the possibilities of this Love in the opening of the clouds as sunlight pours through an otherwise cloudy day. Perhaps we see it in the sweet moment of meeting the beaming smile of a child. I believe we know and recognize this grace - this sudden illumination - the Holy Spirit in our lives each time we catch a glimpse. This takes practice and perseverance. It takes a strengthening of the heart. And, the amazing thing is, this strengthening comes with the Will to open and stay there - even just for a second. We can test this "muscle" of a willingness to stay present, then, test it again, and test it again and again. With perseverance, the muscle is stronger. The glimpses become pictures; the pictures become US. We begin to reside in Communion with our Self. Do we have the courage and strength to cultivate this Love in ourselves and knowingly accept our Self - just as we are?

One immediate way we can cultivate this courage to open our hearts and expand these "glimpses" to a fuller and more profound "knowing" of this grace and sudden illumination is through a daily, disciplined practice of presence. Whether through a solitary walk in nature, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, self-Reiki, or other mindful practices, we can begin to fill our hearts with an acute awareness of the incredible beauty, trials, and depth of experience available to us in the comings and goings of this courage to Love.