“When you use your natural skills consciously and intentionally something interesting happens. Your skills and talents don’t just develop, they blossom and transform in ways that you cannot predict. By leading you into actions, environments, and situations that draw upon and support them, your innate gifts and skills open you to new possibilities that you could not previously imagine. New layers, new depths, and new meanings unfold that will draw you into new, unexpected manifestations and applications. You will not just discover; you will live your unique skills and talents. It’s magic!”
A recent experience encouraged me to consider that rather than “magic,” I should use the word, “grace”: “a moment of unmerited divine assistance given humans.”
Over the Memorial Day weekend, I went to California to attend a family reunion of my wife’s relatives on her mother’s side, and to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. She comes from a-long lived family in which seven of the nine siblings lived to at least 90 years of age (the ages of the three remaining are 105, 95, and 90).
Part of the weekend’s events included gathering to remember one of the recently deceased sisters (who died at age 98), and spread her ashes in a beautiful place along the Big Sur coast. I had previously only met a few of the approximately 50 people who gathered, so after people had spoken their memories and we had re-arranged ourselves to watch the spreading of the ashes, I was not surprised to see a man whom I didn’t recognize walking toward where I was standing alone on the path.
It was a cold, misty, rainy day, as it so often is along the Northern California coast in late spring, and we were a curious bunch ranging from 18 months young to 105 years old, obviously gathered for a purpose.
The stranger and I acknowledged each other, and then he revealed he was not a part of the family when he asked me, “What’s this all about?”
I explained it was a family reunion and that we had gathered to remember a recently deceased member. I pointed out the two sisters of the deceased, but was cautious regarding the spreading of the ashes, since I wasn’t completely sure of the legality (I have since found out that is technically illegal, but that it is a common occurrence and officials generally look the other way).
As we continued to talk, it was obvious he was just curious, unconcerned about legalities, and I ended up explaining exactly what was happening. His face lit up with a smile and he told me that his mother’s ashes were spread on the hill right behind us; that this was a beautiful final resting place. He explained how he was seeking to photograph a Swainson’s Thrush, but was unlikely to see one on such a cold and wet day. We stood silently for a few more minutes observing the scene, and then he wished us well and went on his way.
Even though I knew the woman whose life we were remembering, I had not shared any memories with the group. None of mine stood out as particularly significant, especially in relation to those of her sisters, children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. But I had liked her very much and had been feeling a little diminished by not participating.
But the interaction with the stranger left me with a warm, happy feeling and a sense of completion and closure.
It wasn’t until later, during a quiet moment reflecting on the morning’s event, that I was struck by the aspect of grace in my chance encounter.
As I mentioned, I had been feeling a little disconnected from the memorial because of my lack of participation, but the arrival of this total stranger presented me an opportunity to use one of my natural gifts – the ability to provide to others contextual understanding of what is occurring, in a way that includes them and makes them feel “a part of”.
Grace is rarely a one-way phenomenon, and I don’t know all of what the stranger received from our encounter, but I do know that in our brief interchange he got to remember his mother fondly, and share with a group of strangers a moment of connection and common experience. The experience remains a powerful one to me.
Discovering your natural gifts, talents, and skills is not just about success in business; it is integral to becoming you in all aspects of your life and sows the seeds for amazing moments of grace.
“If you work on your gifts they will make room for you.” – Jim Rohn
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