On the last day of the Eight Winds Festival, an hour or so before heading to the airport, I sat around the fire with my fellow ADF members and participated in a discussion with the Senior Priests about the future of ADF’s Dedicant Path (DP). For those not involved with the organization, the DP is a means of introducing people to ADF’s cosmology, philosophy and common ritual format, and it is the first step in a course of study that can eventually lead to priesthood.
There was a moment in the conversation when Ian Corrigan said that his was a religion of will, not of grace. Now, for those of you who read that sentence and drifted away to sitcom-land, come back to us — he was not talking about Will and Grace. He was saying — I believe — that will, the ability to direct, or at the very least, affect one’s own fate, reality, or circumstance, is more important — more central to his worldview — than grace, which he seemed to connect to a theology of sin and redemption, being fallen and needing to be redeemed.
Something about the idea of a religion that was all will and no grace sat wrong with me.
Grace, I think, is best understood from the human perspective. Getting inside the mind of the gods — especially if you understand them to be in possession of distinct consciousnesses — is no simple matter. Some say it’s impossible; a feat only a fool would attempt. The mind of the human, however, is something we all possess, so perhaps it is better to begin any theological discussion by first looking at how the theological concept influences, or is influenced by, being human.
From the perspective of this mortal man, I see grace as a process of surrendering to all which one does not have control over. As powerful a mage as you may become through your religious work, I don’t believe one can control everything. Your will, after all, is not the only will. I do not see one needing to connect grace to a particular theology, or to a single deity, in order for it to have relevance. An atheist, for example, might experience grace by remembering and recognizing that they fit within a greater, more complicated, more interconnected ecosystem. Grace occurs in conjunction with that kind of humility.
I’m still piecing this together for myself, but I think my religion might better understood as a relationship between one’s will and one’s openness to grace. Perhaps I’m attempting to strike the balance between the two in order to discover and negotiate my place within the cosmos. Perhaps thinking that my entire life is simply a product of my will alone is more pressure that I’m willing to accept. I don’t know.
These thoughts come up at the close of my Indiegogo Campaign, an attempt at raising funds for an EP of Pagan-centric music, which did not succeed. I’m close-examining my will, my intentions behind this project, and holding all of that up against the idea of grace. Perhaps one might encourage me at this moment to uncover the ways in which my will was not clearly executed, but I’m choosing not to do that. Rather, I’m attempting acceptance, surrender, and humility. I’m taking a moment to be soft with myself, and to remember that there are lessons to be learned in every situation, even when the outcome was not in line with one’s will.
Let me take this opportunity to thank all of the 75 people who contributed to the campaign, whether publicly or anonymously. You gave generously, you shared many words of encouragement, and your contribution and support will not be forgotten.
Thank you to:
David Salisbury, alan928, Lori Davies, Rowan Pendragon, ibyogi, handheldmgmt, gaiascolours, Rob Henderson, dennisray62, dottiemoore1, Pamela Jones, carmiac, Mary Davis, tis.caitlin, Brann Armstrong, Snowcrashak, Jhenah Telyndru, mzlott, jeffharrison, Valerie LaVay, David Dashifen Kees, karenfox1, kkimminau, starling.foster, bard3, John Halstead, naomijacobs10, davidhughes123, T Thorn Coyle, jaimelws, Stephanie Gunn, slleedodger313, jesse.stommel, themon, kairamoon, birchtreenymph, btmanassa, stevestaj, Elizabeth Abbott, prophat77, leonaoigheag, celticphoenix03, thedrewbrody, negelhoff, Jason Hatter, contribute1341274389, knottydragon, druidbetula, dandelionlady, Ellie Smith, Brendan Myers, Krisdrickey, Michael Smith, druidkirk, jtel99, Ivo Dominguez, libradragonmo, Ashtore Ash, icatsnitram, nancy.batty, hernesman, Brenda.titus, Urban Haas, vegaspipistrelle, vheiderich
May your own will bring the changes you wish to see. And when it does not, may you come to know grace in a way that softens your heart.