He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
One of the benefits of sustained prayer life – especially when it is combined with a concerted effort to take responsibility for our thoughts – is that our minds clear and in the clarity the voice of Jesus, which we might call insight or intuition, can be heard. I want to share my personal experience in this regard.
At some point in December of 2011 I began to shift spiritual gears. This was driven by a couple of things. First, because I was so involved in grading papers and wrapping up my classes, I could not read as voraciously as I otherwise did. I was aware that when I stopped feeding my brain the ideas of other people – whether it was Liz Cronkhite or Ken Wapnick – that I felt a surprising (and, yes, sometimes alarming) peace. I saw in that effect that I was addicted in a way to ideas about A Course in Miracles. I began to long for a more direct experience of it, and of God.
I also began at that time to pray more humbly. I began to spend time on my knees. I began to accept that I did not have the personal relationship with Jesus that I wanted – and sometimes professed to have. In that honest assessment, I also accepted that I did not know how to meet Jesus. All I could do was humbly ask.
I learned that spiritual growth – or awareness – or awakening – or enlightenment – is simply a gift and that the gift is that we are able to see things as they truly are – not as we would have them be. It’s not complicated. We aren’t inventing anything. We are simply being willing to allow our judgment to subside. We are opening our minds to Jesus, asking to be led to our right minds.
Thus, I am doing less. A lot less. I am not franticallly reading. And I am relaxing my obsessive need to “understand” or “get” the Course. There is less of a need to compare myself to other students and teachers. It’s nice.
But – and this is why I wanted to write this post – it is also scary. The other morning I experienced a great outpouring of communication. I could hear Jesus very clearly. And he was very direct with me. We talked. He told me that I was wasting myself by trying to have intense, supernatural experiences. He told me that my early morning wakenings were just a milder form of the more violent and dangerous self-abuse that I engaged in for years. He told me that my need to define myself and control everything – what I write, how it’s received, how I earn money, etc. – was blocking entirely his ability to communicate with me.
He asked me to relax. He asked me to sleep more and worry less. He acknowledged how hard this will be, but made clear that my ability to know peace – because peace comes from clear lines of communication with the divine – was contingent on it. He couldn’t force me but he could be clear.
He was quite specific. I mentioned that waking early protected by dog from snowmobiles. He told me to buy a new leash – even where to go to get it – and instructed me to follow a new pattern and path for walking. If you know me – and me and my dogs – then you know how radical this is, how major a change.
Some people say that when they hear Jesus this this way it is incredibly peaceful. I felt very grateful in the moment – to the point of tears (which Jesus gently reminded me were simply another, albeit mild, form of arrogance) – but when it passed and the lessons were clear, I felt scared and sad. Jesus was asking me to let go of almost everything that I have heretofore used to define me. He said – this was strange but effective – that he is the editor, not me. Every time I said “but, I need to do this” or “I need to do that” or “what about this” he would just calmly say, “I am the editor. You listen, do what I say, and I will ensure that the results are what they need to be. You don’t worry about that. I’m the editor. Not you.”
I appreciate that metaphor. As a freelance writer, I know the virtues of a good editor. I now what it means to let someone else take ultimate control. It is a shared experience to be sure, but a much less stressful one that having to control every aspect of the work yourself.
So this morning, for the first time in a long time, I willing slept in. It was hard! I naturally wake up around 4 and I do not naturally put my head back on the pillow. But I did this morning. I got up at 6:15. I felt very tentative.
But I also felt an unfamiliar – but undeniable – happiness. The world didn’t end.
Two things. First, I believe that Jesus reaches us when we make a concerted effort to reach him – by clearing the communication channels and by being brutally honest about where we are in our relationship with him. That means acknowledging what is not happening – and articulating what we want to see happen. We have to be willing to get out of the way and this requires humility and discipline and a willingness to be open.
Second, I experience Jesus as a clear voice. It is calm and authoritative and confident. It has no aural qualities that would allow anybody else to hear it. There are no visual qualities to this voice. It is interior but in a way that upends my understanding of what “inside” and “outside” are. It’s sort of like it comes from everywhere. Its knowledge and insight is greater than mine. All it really wants is to be able to share with me clearly and without obstruction. That’s all it wants.
Last night I responded to a comment without asking Jesus what to say – or whether to say anything at all. I was aware later that my comments came from a fearful and thus defensive place. Only then did I turn to Jesus who simply asked me to remember to ask him what to do going forward.
That scares me because I am afraid that what he asks me to do will conflict with what I want to do. To which Jesus responds: “Of course it will. And the difference will be constructive. Your way leads to pain. My way leads to peace. If you can accept that – and choose accordingly – then we are ready to begin the real work.”