In This and Every Fall From Grace

by David King on November 4, 2013

You can try to hold on if you want to, but your grip is sure to loosen over time.

nature Grace is a virtue often defined in religious terms, but it need not be so. I have made the suggestion that many expressions of religion and spirituality are the mere products of our desire to reconnect with nature. In its purest form, nature is grace; grace is nature – effortless beauty, simplicity in elegant design, rounded, smoothed, and charming, even when it’s not at all.

It’s right there. It’s all around us, in every drop of water, in every moment of the hydrologic cycle. It’s in the bonds between atoms, in the synapses between nerves, and in the air between each breath. It’s both photosynthesis and decomposition; both mitosis and meiosis; stalagmite, leaf, and root. It’s the ice and the snow; it’s the way the ice melts and runs down the edge of the rock; the way the snow falls slowly, carefully onto the ice, and freezes instantly, or melts too. Grace is the herd, the pack, and the flock; that synergistic folly of all things living. Schools of fish, days gone swimmingly, back to the edge of the cliff and round again, no wings to stop it. Blades of grass moving, and standing still; grace in standing still. It’s both the climb and the dance, whether clawed or crippled, somewhere beneath the waves. Bioluminescence in darkness; grace at every turn of tail, in every thought of consciousness and reflex. It is the growl and the call, echoing between cliffs, soaring over dessert and into the cold. Birth of insect, birth of chimpanzee; birth of elephant and rat and seed. Grace is the in-between, and the outside; edges of rock and islands of moss and green. It’s carried in the breeze. It’s in the rain and in the storm; on the backs of bees, and washed away into sediment and dust, buried and forgotten, rejuvenated, hatched. Grace is the starlight, and the darkness. Grace is the slow fray; the rust. Grace is nature; nature is grace.

As we are born into this world, so we are born into grace, for we are made of nature. There is grace in existence, in this thing called life; it is a fundamental quality of being created. Products of evolution, results of refinement, each and every one of us.

And then we fall. Upon our birth we plummet – fallen almost immediately. But we maintain a slight grip, our heads bobbing up and down, in and out of nature as if nearly drowning in humanity. This humanity – it too is a product of nature. But it is a departure, an escape; it is the endless freeze, and the warming of the cold. Rock and dirt replaced with plastic. Cages and clothing thrust upon us, and from the womb we depart, forever dependent on that which removes us; grace lost, lost in grace.

As a species, it’s hard to go back. As individuals, we are worse off for it, searching endlessly for meaning and buying into notions of productivity and purpose – no, enslaved by them. Words fail at every turn, intangible constructions of thought and emotion; and further we fall. Days gone by, catching glimpses of its mastery; glimpses of its grace. Nature becomes more distal, like the end of some unusable extremity, nearly a relic of times past. An evolution of mind; a de-evolution of soul. A breakdown of beauty. Lost in the fall, every one of us.

It takes work to go back, real commitment. The same rules don’t apply. These things like progress and gain must be left behind. In glimpses of grace we find peace, however transient, and our hearts skip a beat, slow down; breathing calms and muscles relax. We ease into it, momentarily, as our grip tightens a little. Glimpses of something in between and outside; backyards without fences and trees grown wild. Existence without productivity; purpose in living, not doing. Befallen, but less so, struck with the recognition that one’s existence in and of itself is a beautiful thing. Nature in grace; grace in nature. Brief, but unabated. Lingering. Wrapped in romance and adventure; smothered in gratitude and generosity; opportunity. Carried in the wind, forever bound to mud and rain; held tightly to the rock of old. It is a possibility, that’s all. Just a potential. It takes a lot to go back – it takes everything.

But it took everything to fall.

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