Grace and Grit

When I first began reading Ken Wilber‘s works, I was drawn in by his unequalled intellectual framework, but when I read Grace and Grit the capacity for love he demonstrated gave me a very different relationship to the Integral movement.

Grace and Grit is an incredibly moving love story, the most beautiful and inspiring I’ve ever encountered. The book chronicles the relationship of Ken and his wife Treya through her diagnosis with cancer, her treatment, their service to each other and their spiritual awakenings. It is an intimate, powerful and instructive true story.

This past weekend Integral Life published a 2.5 hour video, “Grace and Grit: A Tale of Love, Loss, and Liberation“, of Ken reading from the book. The reading is incredibly touching and makes the account even more moving. The honesty and sincerity that Ken brought to the story is magnified when he reads passages from it. The description for the video eloquently expresses Grace and Grit‘s value:

In 1983, Ken Wilber met the love of his life. Her name was Terry Killam, or Treya as she later called herself, and she was absolutely stunning. She was beautiful, intelligent, deeply conscious, and more full of life and vitality than anyone Ken had ever met. She had a wonderfully playful sense of humor, was passionate about nature, art, service, psychology, and spirituality, and radiated warmth and kindness from her very core. As Ken says, “it was love at first touch”—there was a powerful and undeniable sense of familiarity that both Ken and Treya felt when they met. She was the woman Ken had been waiting for his entire life, and before long they were married.

Just ten days after their wedding, before they really had a chance to begin their life together, they received the harrowing news: Treya was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. For the next five years Treya and Ken did everything they possibly could to recover from this devastating illness, including a full arsenal of orthodox and alternative treatments, before Treya’s life came to an untimely end in 1989.

This is their story. It’s a story of incredible suffering, of radical liberation, and of an ever-present love that transcends time and space itself—a love that reaches so far beyond life and death, they both seem like very small things in comparison.

In the years since I read Grace and Grit for the first time it has changed how I approach relationships and spirituality. The unfaltering commitment to love and the practice of spirituality embodied in service to others that are so central to this story have become ideals for me, first intellectually and then, over time, as a heartfelt practice.

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