I am Cathy, the web weaver for this site. I am a mother, wife, scientist, teacher and web designer. Trained as a scientist (Ph.D. in microbiology), I take a scientific (questioning) approach to everything, including grace.
Over the years, I’ve had some experiences that filled me with intense ecstatic gratitude for existence, for life, and for the awareness to appreciate it ALL. I was curious about this beautiful state of being. In my initial investigations, the closest state of being that matched my own was from people reporting a religious experiences of grace. It was the sense of profound gratitude for the gift of life and love. Over time, I have discovered that this state of grace belongs to all people, whether religious or not. In hopes of achieving the grace state in a more predictable way, I sought to understand the science of grace. Over the years I have studied meditation, psychology, endocrinology, DNA, neurotransmitters, and brain structures.
Now, I discover that grace fascinates me more than ever. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm for it. My life feels so much more joyous. Now, in the light of grace, even the rough patches don’t seem so rough.
Many years ago, while hiking in the mountains of southern Colorado, I experienced a profound and magical sense of oneness and bliss. For a long time, I thought that this event was nothing more than some weird, although pleasant, brain glitch. Years later, while nursing my baby, I felt an exquisite sense of gratitude, bliss and deep connection to my baby, to extended family past and present, and to the entire cosmos. This profound sense of ecstasy and oneness happened again years later while I danced alone in preparation for the first ever dance class I was about to teach.
The overwhelming intensity of ecstasy I felt during these experiences led me to question my sanity. To discover if these feelings of ecstasy were normal, I began to pay attention to the extraordinary experiences of other people.
I found I was not alone.
Now, after what I have learned, I look back at my experiences and know that they were not brain glitches, but rather, moments of grace where I experienced a deep connection to myself, to others and to the creative process of the cosmos.
Later, I realized that people of all faiths and philosophies have reported similar experiences. For example, Buddhists refer to it as “Enlightenment,” athletes as being in the “Zone,” artists as being in “Flow”, Hindus as feeling “Oneness” or “Samadhi.” Others call it “attunement” or “integration.” I realized that my experiences were what Christians call the state of grace.
I like the term “grace” because it is related to the term “gratitude,” which, to me, is integral to this experience. I began to read about this phenomenon and to listen to other people’s stories of grace. Soon after the dancing experience, similar episodes of feeling deep connection and bliss became more frequent. Some have been as intense, although none as startling because I have now become familiar with the experience of profound bliss.
The feelings of grace include a sensation of unconditional love, as if the power that creates the universe loves me and everyone else. This used to be an odd sensation for me, given that my old understanding of science had made the concept of God and Divine Love seem improbable. Today, my old concept of God has disappeared, replaced by the awareness of an even more mysterious power that is more all pervasive, more loving and more awe-inspiring.
It has become more apparent to me that the feeling of grace is not a delusion, (i.e. a perception that is not based on reality.) I now realize that the only delusion is thinking that I am separate or that the power that creates the universe does not support me.
Humans did not evolve to know the “truth” of the trillions of ways that life and the universe supports us. We evolved to survive and pass on our genes. Until recently, humans did not know that each of us has over 50 trillion cells that cooperate to support our survival. Each of us as around 100 billion neurons that make over 100 trillion synapses that support our navigation through the world. Each of us has the amount of DNA in our bodies that, if unraveled and laid end to end, would travels to the sun and back 65 times. All of this in service of supporting our metabolism, growth and reproduction. Each of us is supported by quadrillions of bacteria that cycle nutrients (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and others). Each of us is supported by a complex web of millions of people around the globe contributing to an economy to feed, clothe, house, and educate us. The list of blessings goes on and on. It is a delusion to think that the power that create this universe is not supportive (aka loving.) . The delusion is to think otherwise.
That said, I am fully aware of the powers that destroy life. And I never mean to diminish the reality of a person’s suffering when life or it’s quality is destroyed. I am simply seeking to be “objective”.
For me, doubt has been the doorway to discovery and my skepticism has led me to realize the power of grace. The more I learn about it, the more wonderfully grace transforms my life. Grace is a truth that goes beyond any single religion or philosophy. What I call grace (and what is known to others by various other names) is universal to all cultures and spiritual traditions, whether they practice religion or not. My goal is to continue exploring grace and to share what I learn with others.
As I create this site, I am sharply aware of the limitations of language. I know that some of the words I use will alienate some people. I know that if I try to be more precise in meaning, my language will become cumbersome. Alas. I also know that I cannot convey the experience of grace to anyone. It must be a personal experience. If you have not experienced grace, all my words about grace probably sound like the ramblings of a mad woman. If you’ve experienced it, YEAH!
While I was having these grace experiences, I was exploring another seemingly unrelated idea, that of evolution. At first, the science of evolution seemed to suggest that grace was merely a delusional state of mind. However, the more I explored the science of evolution, the more apparent it became to me that the whole process of evolution is driven by energy. Sometimes this energy combines in unique ways to become synergy. Evolution has a direction. Some call this direction “Evolution’s Arrow.” Others call it “Arrow of Time.” In biology, we can see that Evolution’s Arrow results in the “Survival of the Most Harmonious.” I don’t know if it’s “chance” or “purpose”, but growing mountains of evidence show that the universe, (at least in our galaxy) has a direction toward greater cooperation, greater consciousness and greater compassion. Furthermore, organisms that harmonize best with the laws of the universe survive. These revelations are awesome to me! I cannot convey the sense of serenity it gives me to know that the power that creates the universe conspires on our behalf. Whenever I feel glum and remember Evolution’s Arrow I feel a sense of optimism. I immediately realize that “This too will pass.” More than this, I realize that “This particular obstacle may be an opportunity” and “if I align with the divine I’ll feel fine.”
I have heard stories of people who “had it all” including wealth, friends and health, yet they still felt unhappy, unconnected and spiritually impoverished. Then, through an accident they “lost it all”: health, friends, and/or wealth. Those who sought answers, for the first time in their lives, found what truly made them happy. It was grace, the experience of harmony with the WHOLE and a profound gratitude.
Not all bliss and bunnies
This path of grace has not always been easy. I don’t ever mean to suggest that one day I woke up and life has been a happy walk along a garden path ever since. Far from it. Some of my darkest moments have come since my first awakenings to grace. The contrast of my painful moments with the grace moments made the pain seem all that much worse. A dozen years ago, I became ill and was bedridden on and off for years. This caused huge strains on all my relationships, especially my marriage. The long spells in bed and uncertainty if I could ever again lead a productive life scared me and at times put me in a dark place. These dark moments have, on occasion, made me question whether grace was not just a delusion at best and a distraction at worst.
Thanks to my commitment to grace and to science, I recovered fully. Thanks to modern medical research, to surgery and to the internet with it’s access to research, I feel healthier and more energetic than ever. No longer sick or enduring chronic stress, my mind is clear and life is beyond amazing and beautiful to me. My marriage is a miracle of love and connection. My other relationships are stronger than ever, and getting better. Now, it is clear to me that the dark moments were moments of delusion. The dark times were times when my brain was not functioning optimally. When I was overwhelmed by stress or sickness, my perceptual abilities were impaired, and it was a challenge to connect to the gifts of this universe.
As a result of the dark moments, I have begun seeking ways to optimize my brain function so as to see more clearly on a more regular basis.
As I see it now, grace is an emergent property of consciousness, which in turn relies on a healthy brain, which in turn relies on a healthy body and a healthy environment. To better optimize my mind and to help others, I’ve been taking classes and learning everything I can about neurobiology, psychology, digestion, nutrition, and endocrinology. In the future, this web site will include information about what I’ve learned to optimizing health to more fully enjoy the gifts of grace.
The more stories I hear about grace, the more enthusiastic I become to learn even more about this magical state of awareness. If you have a story you would like to share with me, and my audience, I would love to hear from you. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.