On Patience, Prayer and the Radiance of Heaven

Much healing remains outside what we know – or think we know – in these bodies. Our understanding is very limited so patience is never not called for. Often, when I kneel to pray, or cry out to the stars on my morning walks, the answer is a calm and gentle request that I simply be patient.

Sometimes my spiritual practice is nothing so much as a matter of breathing and doing – as kindly and gently as possible – what is in front of me. God has the rest of it covered.

A Course in Miracles envisions a time frame most of cannot imagine.

There is no relationship between the time a miracle takes and the time it covers. The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years (T-1.II.6:6-7).

And yet we are simultaneously reminded that this is no big deal. When our brothers and sisters come bearing the face of Christ and the memory of God – and we accept those gifts and their bearers – time itself will fall by the wayside.

What is a hundred or a thousand years to Them, or tends of thousands? When They come, time’s purpose is fulfilled. What never was passes to nothingness when They have come (T-26.IX.4:1-3).

I was hiking with a friend the other day. We talked about the subtle ways in which the egoic self wheedles its way into one’s spiritual life by expecting – and arguing for – a big spiritual payoff. We pray and study and serve others and deep in our hearts – almost beyond notice – we are expecting a return. We are going to be enlightened. We are going to become a famous Course teacher. God’s abundance is going to manifest as millions of dollars.

But the real joy of the spiritual path is not the payoff Рnot the destination Рbut the traveling itself. David Bohm observed that the folding and unfolding of the universe Рat the levels of both matter and perception of matter Рwas unending and ongoing. In light of that, one could never reach its end, or an end of any kind.

[m]y main concern has been with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which is never static or complete but which is an unending process of movement and enfoldment (Wholeness and the Implicate Order).

Patience teaches us that the process matters. It brings our attention and awareness to the path on which we walk, the companions who walk beside us, the ones who are slightly ahead holding the light, and the ones behind who need our assistance.

Our focus shifts from the supposed payoff of Heaven to the lovingkindness we offer to – and accept from – our brothers and sisters.

But that shift is more than symbolic. When we stop looking for the end result, our attention moves from what should be to what is. In that instant, we are joined with God.

The holy instant is this instant and every instant. The one you want it tobe it is. The one you would not have it be is lost to you . . . beyond the past and future, where you will not find it, it stands in shimmering readiness for your acceptance (T-15.IV.1:3-4, 6).

Thus, when the Holy Spirit responds to my prayerful requests with something like “patience, grasshopper,” I am not being told to suck it up and accept delay. Rather, I am being told to redirect my attention to the present, wherein the peace that surpasses understanding dwells forever.

Would you learn how perfect and immaculate is the holy altar on which your Father has placed Himself? This you will recognize in the holy instant, in which you willingly and gladly give over every plan but His. For there lies peace, perfectly clear because you have been willing to meet its conditions (T-15.IV.4:1-3).

The grace of Heaven was already given to us. And we remember it the moment we stop looking for it where it is not. Be patient and do what’s before you: weeding the garden, baking bread, taking your kid to the dentist, doing a crossword, washing the bathroom floor . . . Have no expectation of what Heaven is, and you will instantly discover yourself in its radiant center forever.

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