In this profound and sensitive work, African spiritual teacher Sobonfu Somé invites readers to discover in the setbacks they encounter in life, a path to healing and rebirth. Her message is drawn from the ancient wisdom teachings of her village in Burkina Faso, and her experiences over more than a decade in the West.
Falling Out of Grace
Somé’s third book, Falling Out of Grace: Meditations on Loss, Healing and Wisdom is about the art of transforming failures into gifts. In the Dagara tradition the state of grace is that holy and contented way of being that each of us strives for. It is that state in which we work out all our difficulties with care, and function peacefully in connection with other people in the flow of life. But again and again, we experience a fall from grace that brings suffering, loss, and feelings of failure.
Crisis als motor voor verandering
For the Dagara people, Spirit brings the lessons of life through falls from grace. Crisis comes as an instigator of change; it takes you to somewhere new, where you find a higher meaning and purpose. If you are going to learn and grow, you can’t just be stuck in a particular place. Crisis breaks you out and creates the space for Spirit to teach you. This breaking away from a place of stagnation, a place of comfort, and moving forward to a more perfect way is what Somé would call a spiritual life.
A fragement from "Falling Out of Grace" On failure: “If we are going to achieve our purpose in life, we must be willing to fall out of grace and accept its lessons. When we feel righteous about ourselves, or deny our brokenness, we are fighting against the higher states of grace that await us.
Failure is built into grace. You cannot have one without the other. It’s like two sides of a single coin. Everyone who has achieved a state of grace is certain at some point to fall, and to have fallen many times before. Every successful person, everyone your respect, will tell you that they have mountains of failure behind them.
Dealing with reversals is much easier in my village than it is here in the West. In the village you have people concerned about you and support you, knowing that their own happiness is dependent upon you. They also understand that failures are life-giving, that they are the engines of wisdom. Failures, they say there, come to show you that you are stagnant or wandering or that you have work to do. Here is something I have been taught, and which I have had to learn over and over again through experience: To fall out of grace is a gift, one of the greatest gifts that one receives in life.
When we are in grace, we begin to take things for granted and we actually stop working on ourselves. Falling out of grace shakes us up. It reconnects us to the larger universe in order for us to see ourselves anew. It forces us to rediscover where our true center begins, and to learn what needs to be set aside.”
Somé (d. 2017) was a gifted storyteller and compassionate student of life who has contemplated deeply the nature of human triumph and defeat. The insights she offers, blending indigenous wisdom and hard experience in the contemporary West, are priceless. Without denying the suffering that accompanies loss and disappointment, she found in these events the underlying spiritual dynamics that carry us to higher states of knowledge and fulfillment.