God’s gift was given to us wholly and unconditionally. I do not have one part while you have another. Part of it was not held back for later extension. Love is. In this simple fact, all our seeking and yearning ends, and salvation is accomplished.
We do not experience God’s gift that way! We could, but we don’t. It is as if we have been set gently down in Heaven’s field and fall to the ground, bury our face in the mud, and complain that it’s dark and we can’t see and we can’t breathe.
If we would simply stand and shrug off our insistence that Heaven be other than it is – if we could set our decisions about Heaven and God aside and simple let them be – then quite literally all conflict and anguish and guilt and fear and hatred would be washed away, like salt dropped in the sea.
But instead we project God outside of us, and make him vindictive and angry, and we parse the world into myriad others who have things we want that we’re going to have to take by force or subterfuge, before they get to us, and if we’re lucky we might scrape a few moments of meager happiness together before the final iron curtain drops like a hammer on our heads. . . .
The whole time that we spin this dark and broken fantasy, the holy light of Christ shines and shines within – peaceful, beautiful and entirely for us.
How can we undo our resistance and projection in order to experience more fully – even here – the given Love that is God?
In truth, the closer we come to that Love in dreams, the closer we are to the real world in which God’s Presence is both unmitigated and unmediated.
The real world is the state of mind in which the only purpose of the world is seen to be forgiveness . . . No rules are idly set, and no demands are made of anyone or anything to twist and fit into the dream of fear. Instead, there is the wish to understand all things created as they really are. And it is recognized that all things must be first forgiven, and then understood (T-30.V.1:1, 4-6).
The seventh principle of miracles is not a bad place to start.
Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first (T-1.I.7:1).
The first time I read this principle I literally swore at it. I encouraged it to go perform a certain sexual act with itself.
I really really didn’t like the “p” word. Purification reminded me of everything I hated about Christianity, most of which could be summed up as: “you’re not good enough.”
On the other hand, the more I practice the Course the more I appreciate its essential benevolence. Often, the sections to which I am most deeply resistant are the ones I need to read most closely. We all have a lot to learn. The sooner we accept that, the better.
Eventually I got around to asking: what does A Course in Miracles mean by purification? In what helpful way can purity be a precondition to miracles? On what grounds can God justify postponing miracles while we purify ourselves – whatever that means?
If we say – as I do from time to time – that we are already perfect, and that what is perfect cannot be improved upon, then in what way or ways are we impure?
If miracles are thoughts (T-1.I.12:1) that “occur naturally as expressions of love (T-1.I.3:1)” when our perception is aligned with truth as God created it (T-1.I.36:1), then it makes sense to think of what we might call optimal conditions for receptivity. We need to be able to hear what God is saying. We need clear lines of communication.
Perhaps it not so different (while being radically different, of course) from cell phones. If the battery is run down, the phone won’t catch the necessary signal. If it’s in the wrong place – under trees, away from towers, in underground parking garages – it won’t work, or won’t work as well. If we drop them in water or fill them with sand they won’t work.
If we leave them at home, they won’t work when we need them.
How do we make ourselves available to hear God’s direction – and accept God’s gift – at all times and in all things?
We are called to be still and attentive and to have faith that through our stillness and attention we cannot fail to reach – and be reached by – God.
It is quite possible to reach God. In fact it is very easy, because it is the most natural thing in the world. The way will open, if you believe that it is possible (W-pI.41.8:1-3).
The question becomes: what brings us to stillness? What brings to that state of quiet attention and certainty?
The answer to those questions will be different for everyone.
Perhaps an early morning walk allows you to enter that space. Or counting your breaths on a zafu. Or gardening. Or reading some sacred text. Or verbal prayer. Or dance. Or baking bread or beekeeping.
I don’t know. But I know that you know: already you have been given the means by which to see and embrace the real world in which God’s Love is all there is.
Very gently, we need to find the sparks of holiness in our lives – those moments, those places, those rituals, those people, those songs, those texts – that awaken in us a fervent desire to know and be known by God. Don’t judge them! If baking enables you to reach the interior then just bake. Don’t worry that you’re not getting there like Joan of Arc did or Saint John of the Cross.
Those little graces – those flickers of light – are the spaces in our lives where the Love of God is able to reach us. Our fear is diminished and so what is given – Love – simply shines. It radiates.
We can enlarge those spaces by giving more and more of our lives to them: longer walks, more prayer, simpler food, careful study, service to others. Don’t sweat the form because that’s just an illusory container for the divine. We’re using the form to get closer to the content. When we’re ready, we’ll let form go altogether.
We purify ourselves by giving ourselves to God: by paying attention to those places in our lives where we allow God to simply be, and then nurturing those places so they can be deepened and enriched. This is not a process that we can force or rush; it is simply a matter of noticing what works and then staying with it.
I like to remember the promise made in Deuteronomy 33:27:
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms . . .
We are never bereft! But we do forget this fact. To be purified is to push ourselves in the direction of recollection, of recalling the gift that was given to us all in creation. It is impossible to fail in this because “the everlasting arms” are always there to catch us and lift us and assist us in our movement into grace.