Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Grace Grows Power

I have always liked the image of the leader who exercises his or her power by helping other people learn to lead themselves. Some of the greatest teachers I have had have also been the most humble. Thomas Berry, a great theologian, who I was fortunate enough to dialogue with when I was writing my first book, Living With Vision: Reclaiming the Power of the Heart impressed me with his grace and humility, which only fortified his wisdom and his impact on me. When a leader puts a graceful foot forward, his/her message is most easy to receive and digest. Sadly, we have too many examples of heavy handed leadership, and the kind of power that is traded in a zero sum game. In this model of power, if I have more power, you have less. If you take up the lead, I am threatened, because I move down the ladder on the food chain. Heavy handed leadership disempowers in the long run, and sometimes in the short run. When power is infused with grace, if I have more power, I can use it to put wind underneath your wings and help you fly. If you fly, I can celebrate your movement and direction. And whether I take joy in having been part of your movement or simply take myself out of the equation and celebrate YOU, there is more joy, energy, possibility and power with the graceful hand. Power with grace is also power with heart. The heart has enough space to see and embrace people for who they are, what they have to offer, with a soul deep lens rather than a critical judge. Hearts do not operate from the zero sum game model. Instead, power with heart only grows more power. Like a plant shooting of a tendril, which can be planted in a new garden spot to create more life. Heart power nourishes and fertilizes. Heart power enlivens and promotes growth. And heart power, when grounded knows no bounds in the best kind of way, while also respecting our own internal boundaries and the boundaries of others. The natural world offers many examples of power with grace. If you sit under a large tree in the summer, you can feel the solidity of its trunk and the expanse of its branches, and also bask in the protection it offers you from the summer sun. The tree is quiet and needs no compensation for being there with and for you. It just is there. The tree offers power through being. Rocks also provide power with grace. Whether you sit on one by the ocean or lean your back against one in the woods, the rock, like the tree, is just there, and offers power through being. If we can learn to recognize that power can the expression of life force and passion arising from within, naturally, when we are connected and move from our hearts and souls, we can be purveyors of graceful power--a power that empowers, instead of takes away. May we learn from the great wise ones, whose humility is as notable as their words and actions. May we strive to cultivate and nurture graceful power from the inside out. The world will be transformed to a much safer, more joyful and sustainable place. Copyright 2013 Linda Marks

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