On The Slow Train To Heaven

We often think in terms of all or nothing. It seems to be a natural function of the physical brain: this is good, this is bad. This is safe, this is dangerous. And I certainly talk about salvation and Heaven that way. You can’t be saved piecemeal. You can’t hedge.

Yet this morning, walking up a hill through light rain, I realized this is not entirely true. Jesus is happy to work with us by degrees, patiently doing a little of this and a little of that, until that moment when we realize it really is okay to surrender altogether. It’s important to see this because it relieves us of the pressure of WAKE UP RIGHT NOW DAMN IT!

When I walk very early in the morning – which doesn’t happen as often as it used to – and the weather is on the wet side, I often stay on the road. We live on a dirt road in the country and at 4 a.m. there’s no traffic and only one neighbor is awake. The dog enjoys these walks. For every mile I cover, she covers about three. I grew up on this road and in this town and so every walk can be – if I’m so inclined – a stroll down memory lane. It’s not always pretty.

This morning, passing a certain house, I was struck by the fact that even though some sad and painful memories associated with it were no longer as prevalent or anguished as they had once been, I still had them. I could pause in the road and bring up events that occurred thirty some odd years ago and watch them play out on the internal movie screen. One or two scenes and the familiar ache began. I shook my head to clear it and began walking again. But that tiny voice that I think of as belonging to Jesus brought me up short. Wait, it said. You haven’t give this to me to be healed yet.

And it made laugh out loud! Because it was true. I was lifting up the past into memory, then letting it sink back into the mental loam where it could keep up its low-level blooming until I needed it again to remind me of the separation. The way that we heal in A Course in Miracles is through forgiveness, which I (and others, I’m hardly the first) think of as a kind of right seeing or right thinking. Bring it up – hold it in mind – and then give it over to Jesus who knows what to do with it.

That’s it. That’s the secret of A Course in Miracles.You take note of that place where you’re insane and you ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to handle it for you. And they do.

But you have to ask! You have to surrender. That’s our part of the process, our contribution to salvation. We let go so the One who knows what healing is can handle it for us.

And the thing is, Jesus can only take as much as we’re willing to give. We might picture my problem as ten marbles. I’ve already given Jesus five of them. The five I held onto . . . they’re still mine. Jesus doesn’t grab and he doesn’t clutch. This morning, I handed over a couple more. Maybe three. And from the perspective of Jesus, that’s just dandy. He’s happy that we’re moving forward. He knows that one of these days I’m going to stop needing to keep little pieces of each problem for myself. He understands – because he’s been there himself – that it takes time to learn that I don’t actually have lots of problems that need to be dealt with separately.

In time, we learn to trust God. In time we become the willing patients of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. For now, we simply have to engage with the learning process (which is also the healing process) as best we can. You’re crazy. Give as much of the crazy to Jesus as you can. He’ll take it. When you’re ready, give him more. He’ll take that, too.

And one day – maybe tomorrow, maybe in ten years – you’ll see that you only have one problem and you can give it over entirely and at last be free and at peace. But there’s no hurry. Jesus isn’t going anywhere. Heaven doesn’t close for the season. Step by little step we’re going to make it.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • joel May 23, 2012, 2:57 am

    Gosh. So very, very beautiful. Thank you,Sean!

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