Lately I have been reflecting on faith. It’s a funny thing, really – one of those intangibles that sometimes seems to be so everpresent I couldn’t lose it if I tried and then other times it’s like stumbling around in the dark. It seems like the light is never going to come on. Since becoming a student of A Course in Miracles, my practice – my daily routine or walk with Jesus or what have you – has become far less God-centered. That’s a strange thing to say but it’s true. I feel as if I am humbled, sort of studying my feet as they go rather than gazing wistfully at the summit to which I aspire.
So I own a faith in God that comes and goes. Or it seems to come and go. I wonder sometimes if faith is not what we measure through awareness and attention but something else altogether. For example, I talk about those days when faith is abundant. But it’s the days when I can’t find it that seem to matter more. That’s when I don’t want to practice forgiveness, don’t want to share anything with Jesus, can’t be bothered to invite the Holy Spirit to look at life with me, don’t want to reach out to friends and family, resist the notion that helping others feels good and is healing. You know how it goes.
And yet – for all my whining and resistance – I seem to keep on trucking. Not in a graceful way or even an admirable way. I used to describe the Zen practice of my early twenties as being deeply half-assed and lately I wonder if my ACIM practice doesn’t deserve a similar label. It’s almost as if I heal in spite of myself. Or, a better way to put it would be to say that I am not responsible at all for the healing. It’s just there.
That is a hard idea to wrap my brain around. It contradicts every thing I know about this world, this body and this self. But lately I wonder if there isn’t something to it. What if the apparent good times and apparent bad times really are just illusions? What if reality isn’t even related to this experience I appear to be having?
What if the question of faith isn’t the right question?
The course talks about waking up – it doesn’t talk about changing what we are, or improving what we are. The external world – from our behavior to the behavior of others, from the personal level all the way to the cosmic – is never referenced as a cause. It’s there – the course doesn’t want us to deny that or ignore it – but it’s not real. That is such a big leap, isn’t it? We are working out the terms of the illusion inside the illusion and all the while we are at home in God.
Sometimes the practice of A Course in Miracles feels dull. You know, you just practice forgiveness and keep showing up. You try to stay as close as you can to your new teacher. And you realize, little by little, that it doesn’t matter what happens in the world. You have faith or you don’t. You win the lottery or you don’t. You catch a cold or you don’t. It’s like what happens in the dream stays in the dream . . . and why not?