Garland of grace
The other day I felt that things kept going wrong, and I began to mentally blame everyone around me for the dissatisfaction I was feeling. At a certain point, however, some insight kicked in that it might just have something to do with me and my outlook. When I thought of how unsympathetic I’d been to several different friends and co-workers, I felt bad. After work I went to the temple to chant on my beads, hoping that the chanting would put me back on course. One devotee there, who regularly strings the flower garlands for the Deities and Srila Prabhupada, suddenly went and removed one of the beautiful gardenia garlands from around Prabhupada’s neck and put it on me! What a kindness! And I barely know her. I was stunned, as in nearly two years of living in Alachua, it was the first garland I had received.
I remember having heard that one of the dictionary definitions of humility is ‘honest awareness of one’s own shortcomings.’ If so, I may have been tasting a slight bit of humility that day. I felt that getting the garland was a form of Prabhupada’s reciprocation, and thanked him from within my heart.
What’s that verse that says to pray properly, one should feel himself low, practice tolerance, not expect respect, but be willing to give all respect to others? Such an important concept. "In such a humble state of mind, one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly."
When I began to reflect over the events that had made me feel grumpy, I realized that in every case there was something that I could have done differently to prevent things from getting me down. A little introspection goes a long way. As I considered things this way, I became grateful for the tolerant friends who put up with my sometimes short-sightedness. Taking the blame off of them and putting it on me had the curious effect of making me feel very light, very free. Do hope to be able to remember this!