I was a good doobie when I first encountered A Course in Miracles. It was home right away to me and I gave it everything I had. I probably read the text in about a week. And it was all I could do to limit myself to one lesson a day. I read blogs, secondary material, hunted down study groups . . . maybe you know the drill.
Yet as my practice has deepened – or aged, is another way to put it – it has slowed. I realized that the text is sacred, and so it cannot be digested the way other books can. It’s not something we learn and then put aside. It’s not an accomplishment, you know? It falls outside the scope of our ambition, even if we don’t realize it.
And the lessons . . . I would not undo the early approach. A lesson a day is fine. But often, while practicing the one lesson I would be thinking about the next. There was a sense that a present was waiting at the end. The gift would come upon completion. But that is ego-thinking. It is the ego that is invested in self-improvement and which always projects the finished result into the future.
A Course in Miracles would wake us up now, and every sentence of the text, and every lesson in the workbook has the potential to do that. Yes, there is a cumulative effect, but that is not the only effect.
I read much slower now. I do not skip over those sections that confuse me. I reread them. When it asks a question, I pause and try to answer it. When my attention drifts, I bring it back. I start over. I won’t read more than one section a day, and often revisit a section for several days running. What’s the rush?
It’s the same with the lessons. How can I only sit with “I will not value what is valueless” for a day? It merits a lifetime. It really does.
It is not that I made a decision to approach the Course one way instead of another. It is important to see that. Rather, I allowed the Course into my life and the correction that is inherent in miracles was activated. When that happens, we are no longer in charge. We pretend to be for a while, but it won’t last.
When you give Jesus an inch, sooner or later he’s going to take the mile. And you’ll give it over gladly, and more besides.
I am not saying that you should slow your practice down. Or speed it up. Rather, I am saying that you should pay attention to it. If you are feeling called in some way, heed that. Maybe Jesus wants you to spend more time in prayer. Or to study with a certain teacher. Or to focus on one particular lesson. Guidance might show up as a clear voice in your head or simply an intuitive flash, soft and gentle. It’s different for all of us. We really have to sensitive.
A Course in Miracles meets us where we are. It provides what is needed at the moment. It does this of its own volition: remember, we did not create ourselves. God is ever present. Yet to the degree that we can bring out attention to bear – in study, in prayer, in sharing – then the beneficent action of the Course becomes that much more graceful. Our awareness is itself healing. It is itself the love for which we seek.
You are not led to A Course in Miracles by accident. Great companions guide you and watch over you. Only listen. Only pay attention. It will lift you, if you will be lifted. It will guide you in a very personal way.