Reflect the peace of Heaven here
and bring this world
Those lines from A Course in Miracles make no real sense if we think of Heaven as a location presently separate from us yet to which we are headed, sooner or later. As soon as we indulge spiritual travel plans for the future, we are effectively dissociated from the present moment and from our capacity to be attentive to it in a calm, gentle and creative way.
Better, I think, to consider how we might bring “Heaven” into application right here and now without a lot of metaphysical fussing and postulating.
The response of holiness to any form of error is always the same. There is no contradiction in what holiness calls forth. Its one response is healing, without regard for what is brought to it (T-14.IX.8:1-3).
This is not as mystical as it sounds, in part because everything and everyone is holy, and so there really isn’t any pressure to either discover holiness or become holy. Once we are clear about that, then our capacity to give attention to the present moment and what is going on within it clarifies and becomes intentional in a non-selfish way. Dramatic interference, characteristic of the egoic self and our clinging to it, sloughs away. We don’t confuse someone else’s needs with our own. We aren’t limited to what “we” can get right now.
In Love Holds No Grievances Tara Singh observed that every relationship into which we enter brings with it a potential for correction, and that we are responsible for bringing that correction about.
There is a healing that is needed, a compassion and understanding that are necessary. And thank the Lord that it is so because now you can grow into being responsible. You know where to begin. You will never know the Peace of God until you do so (74-75).
I am talking about a kind of action here that is creative. By “creative” I mean that it is open and non-judgmental, as much as possible. In the same way that I can’t write a poem if I am demanding the poem conform to this or that ideal to which I happen to be attached at a given time, I cannot really be loving – in the divine or Platonic, not the sexual/romantic, sense – if I insist that love look this way or that.
It is always good to ask how the other party or parties is seeing things. Even if all we discover is that we don’t know, that’s good information. It means we can ask directly. Or we can give more attention in an effort to learn somewhat indirectly. But our focus shifts away from our needs, our perspective, our vision to the other person and, in a broader sense, to the relationship itself.
Am I giving you a hug because I like to think of myself as a loving and sensitive? While I am listening to you share, am I quietly congratulating myself on being such a good friend? Where is my attention in the relationship? Am I responding to my own needs, however subtly, or am I genuinely willing to accept what is, as it manifests through you and our relationship, regardless of how it comports with whatever order I want to impose on it?
Creativity might be understood as allowing expression without insisting it assume a particular form. It goes beyond the form to the content: the old idea of form as use. If you’re dying of thirst, who gives a damn what the mug holding the water looks like.
Anyway, this is part of what I am learning. It is hard. It is scary sometimes, too. You don’t realize how much naming and judging and compartmentalizing you do until you consciously give attention to it in an effort to not do it so much. We aren’t nearly as loving and selfless as we pretend. This was the interior desert to which Thomas Merton so often referred.
What is lonelier than death? To confront the emptiness, the void, the apparent hopelessness of this desert and to encounter there the miracle of new life in Christ, the joy of eschatological hope already fulfilled in mystery–this was the monastic vocation (Contemplation in a World of Action 253).
But – and this is the fun part – it is that very pretense that obscures the fundamentally holy and lovely and generous and creative self we are in truth. Holiness is inherent – it is what remains when we stop trying so hard to be holy. Reflecting Heaven is effortless once we realize it is natural, implicit in what we are, and hindered only by our stubborn and misguided efforts to be what we already are.