Disclaimer: This post is heavy on my personal opinions and interpretations, including some impressions of my spiritual Mother, Nebt-het (Nephthys). Others may have entirely different views of and experiences with Her, and that is a-okay. I speak only for myself.
Every weekday morning, on the drive to work, I say my morning prayers. In that short litany, I thank Nebt-het for Her compassion and grace; by that I mean not only the grace She bestows upon me, but also the grace I enact, which I consider to stem from Her in the same way a child inherits certain characteristics from its parents.
To clarify, the grace of which I speak is not physical coordination and smoothness of motion, though that can indeed play a part. This grace is an elegance of the spirit, a composure of the intangible self. My kind of grace, overlapping with zen and individual sovereignty, states simply that we each are responsible for our own selves, our actions, our reactions, our baggage, and our projections, and that we cannot and should not try to take responsibility for someone else’s stuff. Grace states that someone else’s distress is not about us and should not be taken personally. Grace states that sometimes, shit happens, but we can at least control how we react to the sudden manure in our way. And, of course, grace describes the way one acts and reacts: smoothly, self-controlled, benignly, gently, along the positive-to-neutral spectrum.
Sometimes I get the sense that grace is a lost art, especially among some men. (I really hate generalizing based on sex, but unfortunately, this is experiential and not blindly stereotyped; however, I know it’s not true for everyone.) I find myself wondering how often my own grace gets shrugged off as effeminate, or how often it’s mistaken for deference when it is only courtesy. I wonder if a tactful tongue and a compassionate heart are really heard and felt, or if the gentleness and the subtleties just make it easier for others to override it with noise and force.
Nebt-het, as a goddess who welcomes the newly dead, Who guides them through the Duat, and Who comforts those who mourn the deceased, is very composed and self-contained. She has experienced loss—Her brother Wesir (Osiris) died, the only god to experience death—and so She understands more than most Netjeru what humans feel when other humans die. She has keened Her grief and torn Her hair and stood guard over Her brother’s corpse after seeking it on the wings of a kite, but in the face of others wailing, She is quiet and still. She holds the space and makes it safe for us to scream and sob; in Her arms, we do not fear, and in not fearing, we can express our grief and begin to release it.
When I thank Her for Her grace, I am thanking Her for holding the space—not for me, but for every person who has ever wept, for every person who has been afraid and felt weak or vulnerable—and I am thanking Her for showing me by example how to act with such impeccable grace in service to others. Those who come to me distraught will see my Mother’s child first and foremost, a fallible and oft-emotional human animal second.
If this grace looks like weakness from the outside, I couldn’t care less; it is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and being a conduit for grace has demanded more strength and stability from me than almost anything else. And in that, I am glad to know Nebt-het as my role-model, and I am glad to walk in Her footsteps as best I may.
Last year’s first G post was on genderqueer and GLBTQ Netjeru.