The light has come.
This lesson is not so much celebratory as it is an exercise in gratitude. Even if we do not know what it means to say “the light has come,” we can still be grateful. Gratitude – for the Course, for our progress, for our teachers both formal and informal – is an essential foundation of peace and right thinking. When we are naturally and seriously grateful, the light is with us, and we can extend it to others.
The practice of gratitude is also the practice of awareness. When we are unhappy or anxious or depressed or angry, gratitude is a simple way to lessen our investment in those feelings. We don’t have to let the apparent cause of those feelings go, we merely acknowledge that there is also cause for another feeling – even if it is just “less angry” or “less sad.”
For a long time, I held up other Course students as ideals. So-and-so was enlightened, so-and-so was a shrewd marketer, so-and-so was a lovely writer, so-and-so was humble and authentic. The reference point for those ideals was always me – Sean, in this body, doing this work, at this point in time. And it was always negative! I was always less than those other students. It was a handy way to remain unsatisfied and uncommitted.
Gradually, I began to question that inclination to compare and contrast. When I was in that state, I would catch myself. I would say, “okay, this student is incredibly smart and really good on the Course metaphysics. I’m not as good as she is. But at least I can appreciate her teaching gifts. At least I can recognize them. I could choose to learn from them if I wanted to. I don’t have to do that right now, but I could. Maybe tomorrow I will.”
And so forth. It was a gratitude practice – finding some tiny pebble for which I could honestly be grateful. Sometimes, that pebble was nothing more than a grain of sand. “Well, at least I can be honest about not wanting to be thankful for anything. At least there’s that.” And you know what? It was enough! A little gratitude begets a little more gratitude. Big giant spiritual strides aren’t required. We just have to move inch by inch away from fear and guilt and towards love.
Later, I began to apply principles of gratitude to other areas of my life. It became a practical way of noticing resistance and healing it all at once. And again, what is most powerful about gratefulness is that, like love, it naturally extends itself. It is effortless on our part. We simply invite it in and it does the rest.
So while it’s okay to have a party with this lesson – why not? – it’s also good to step back and see the call to gratitude. It’s good to reflect on what gratitude can do in our lives and its role in a spiritual practice. It is literally the path to Heaven.