The spontaneity of love is not subject to coercion, method, or discipline. Nothing can bind this capricious grace, which makes everything joyful. The random kisses of love are intoxicating, and one never knows when they will settle on our lips. May that grace descend upon us one of these days, and may we remember to never forget that ineffable feeling of inexplicable bliss. From time to time in life, a rose is born in the midst of aridity, like holy water in a drought.

This living, looking for the meaning of life, is in the midst of a tidal wave of impulses and memories, some conscious and others not. Trying to understand, while pushed by the internal contradictions that drag us and lead us many times to where we do not want to go (but where perhaps we have to go), places and circumstances that may or may not be pleasant. Meditating on charted paths and exceptions, on destiny and grace, I wondered: if the design of the universe is inflexible, then how do spontaneity, quantum leap, creativity, i.e., grace, fit in?

My mind returned to one of those days when I was with Eruch, in Meherazad, in the countryside of the Decan plateau in Maharashtra, India. I remember that day, like today. We were sitting on the floor, listening to Eruch tell us stories, in that stable made into a rustic conference hall. The breeze that filtered through the square windows felt like a loving caress on our skin. He was talking that day about the concept of grace.

Grace, the spontaneity of being, the gift, the blessing that appears out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason to deserve it. I remember he was talking about how difficult it was to perform an act of selfless generosity. And then I remembered that biblical passage I was taught in catechism in my childhood, when Jesus warned those who took credit for their charity, "If you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." True generosity is born when the giver does not realize it.

I now clearly remember the context of the conversation, just as I remember the Maharashtra countryside where it took place. Eruch said, "This theme reminds me of a story." And then he went on to narrate it.

Once upon a time, there was a terrible drought in a remote village in India that, until then, had been the land of great agricultural productivity and the most fertile district of the region. People were starving; extreme poverty was visible everywhere, and the green fields were now eroded terrain. The elders of the village, in one of their meetings, heard someone say that, in a relatively nearby village, there lived a great saint and that perhaps the city should send some representatives to ask him to intercede with God so that it would rain in the area.

The selected group of elders undertook the journey. After a couple of days, they arrived at the village where the saint lived and begged him to intercede with God so that it might rain. He listened to their pleas with love and compassion. After they finished, he closed his eyes and was silent for some time. Then he said, ‘My dear ones, I am sorry; there is nothing I can do regarding your supplications; it is God's will that this drought falls upon you now; I cannot undo or ask you to undo what He has wanted, to undo what He has set in motion for some purpose for the further good of it all.’

They were all very distressed to hear this, and some wept over the misfortune that had befallen their beloved people. As they crossed the threshold, leaving the saint's house, he called them and said, ‘Wait, there's still one thing you can do.’ They stopped and listened attentively, and the saint said to them, ‘You could ask this woman,’ and when he mentioned her name, everyone looked down with embarrassment and dismay. ‘Could you ask this woman,’ he continued, ‘to lead a procession of people from her village and to come and pray on behalf of the village for the drought to end?’

They said yes, out of respect and with great reluctance, because they could not believe that this woman was being chosen by the saint to lead the procession, or even if she would agree, since she had neither their friendship nor their respect. In addition to being a woman of scandalous character, she was the owner of the largest brothel in town. They could not believe that she was the one chosen by the saint to lead a prayer.

Overwhelmed with this, they returned to their village, but eventually went to see the woman, as it was their last resort, so they opted for it. The woman, hearing their request, manifested her despise for them and laughed: ‘You must be crazy, me, leading a procession; in the name of the elders of the people, I don’t believe in them, nor render any obeisance to them, nor do I believe in God; out, get out of my sight.’

Saddened, they left the brothel; there was no hope now for their village. The woman was thinking, My business is declining because men have no money to pay. “Maybe,” she thought, “if the rain came back, things would bloom again; I have nothing to lose.” So she decided to lead the procession.

She sent her message of acceptance to the elders, and the procession was organized. The village procession arrived, led by her, to the saint's house, and she kneeled and pleaded on behalf of the village for the rains. The saint closed his eyes and, in a few moments, said to them, Your wish has been granted by God; rains will come. And it rained and rained, and everything turned green again, and the village regained its beauty, and its fields bloomed.

The woman was so surprised that her prayers were granted, while those of the elders and honorable people of the city had not been. Why, why she, of all people? She was a sinner; she never thought of anyone but herself. Why? So, she decided to secretly travel to the saint's village to ask him, since he had to know why she was there. He came to his house and asked, ‘Master, why was I the one to lead the procession? Why were my prayers answered?’

The saint embraced her lovingly and spoke. ‘When they came from the village to ask for my intercession before God, I looked inside to see if anyone in the village was worthy of grace, that is, if anyone in the village had done a totally selfless act that had resulted in helping another. At first, I discovered that no one had done a selfless act, but as they left, I saw you, the only person in the village who had done a selfless act of generosity.’

When you were a child, you were having a fight with your mother in the market, and, as part of your tantrum, you kicked a bundle of fodder that was in your way, and it rolled down, and it was in front of a little donkey that was tied up and that was very hungry and could now eat. However, you never noticed. Your selfless act of helping earned you the grace to ask.’

The story from Eruch was over. I felt in my heart somehow the perfect connectedness of life, the separation and fragmentation that are introduced by ego-centered actions, and grace as an ebb and flow of love, as the substance that nourishes all life all the time. And I felt for a moment that I understood that phrase of Jesus: "When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."

I thought grace was the continuity of being, and it overflows all the time, but only when being becomes aware of itself does it become present. That is, when the fragmentation of perceiving itself as a drop ceases and everything becomes one sea. An act of genuine charity occurs only when one connects with the other as one with no thought of self and links with the other without any pride in oneself, without any reflection indicating "I am helping the other," because at that moment there is only one. And I imagined hearing Eruch’s voice speaking as he walked in the world within: "Being is a sea embracing itself, which loses itself in drops surrounded by bubbles and foam, to feel its own embrace."