I read somewhere – Absence of Felicity perhaps – that Helen Schucman really hated the first 50 lessons and would only agree to do them on condition that she could start at 51 (which is the beginning of the first review section). I suppose the scribe could do what she wanted with the text. For my part, I think the early lessons are actually a lot of fun and help lay a strong foundation for the intensity – the radical undoing – to come.
The first lesson asks us to consider a meaninglessness world – which, for most of us – certainly for me – is asking a lot. In lesson 2 of A Course in Miracles, it is almost as if Jesus heard our interior grumbling and resistance – our inclination to accept some things as meaningless but not others – and made a concession.
Alright, he says. There is meaning – but you’re the author of it. All the meaning your goldfish have, the ricotta blueberry muffins have, and your rock collection have – it’s all your doing.
The first time I did this lesson, I kind of liked it. It made me feel powerful. You bet I’m giving meaning to the world – I’m giving left and right and sideways. Yee-hah!
I had a lot of learning to do.
This lesson introduces us to the critical idea that projection makes perception (T-21.In.1:1). We look inside, determine what kind of world we want, and then project that world outside. In that sense, we truly are authors.
As the lessons progress, we begin to redefine authorship – we increase our capacity to accept God’s vision in place of our skewed and crazy own. But at this point in the process, Jesus is simply asking us to consider that the “meaning” we see anywhere is our own doing. We don’t have to fix it or judge it. Just recognize it.
That, too, is actually a pretty big charge. For example, I don’t mind taking responsibility for the gorgeous sunset that I watched this morning. I’m completely okay authoring the male and female cardinals helping themselves to chicken scratch, bright and beautiful against the snowless winter landscape.
But the victims of a recent fire bombing? Not so much. The young men struggling with war wounds both physical and psychological? No, that’s not me.
Never underestimate your ability to resist peace and love.
Whatever you run into today – good or bad – is meaningless but for the meaning that you give it. That’s why it’s important not to make exceptions – not to withhold anything from this lesson. With the first lesson, our inclination is to keep our special loves at bay – we exclude our spouses, say, from meaninglessness. With this lesson, our inclination is to do the opposite. We don’t want to be responsible for what’s ugly, broken, cruel, dysfunctional, etc.
But remember: all lesson 2 is asking us to do is take notice of what’s going on – we aren’t supposed to explain anything, fix anything, or render judgment against anything. We don’t even have to understand it. We simply allow for the possibility that all meaning – all meaning – is of our own making. Undoing that is the work of future lessons.
And always take heart – we’re not going anywhere but home.