Somewhat paradoxically, it is when we make a decision to take A Course in Miracles seriously – to give it attention, to make contact with our inner teacher, to heed the directions given – that our experience of healing, our transport to Heaven, commences in earnest.
This is the decision to be healed. It is the decision not to suffer, not to be a martyr.
But it is rarely a decision attended by angels harmonizing like our own personal Mormon Tabernacle choir, lit by streams of Heavenly light and a giant rotating disco ball beneath which Jesus does the hustle, delighted that we’ve finally gotten with the spiritual program.
Sooner or later we start to see that the only work that remains in this vale of symbols and narratives of separation is to love everything.
Our desire for sparkling and sexy spiritual paths – as the desire for solemn and ascetic paths – is a distraction from the only path there is, which forever lays beneath our feet (metaphorical and otherwise), and always extends gently back to Truth, even if we can’t make out much more than the next step, if that.
No, our decision to be healed is more likely to be made with wailing and gnashing of teeth than anything else. We are highly annoyed with our partner, say, and we’re settling into some familiar self-righteous fantasies: we’re right, they’re wrong, nobody gets us, and oh how we suffer on behalf of love (and Love) . . .
And in the midst of that – sensing its futility, its vain repetition of what has never worked and cannot work now and never will work ever – we reluctantly (and unexpectedly) choose to not be a self-righteous, spiritually pompous idiot and actually try to think with God (T-4.IV.2:5) and do as Jesus would do (T-5.II.12:1).
Of course I am thinking only of myself here but as the Prince told Cinderella, “if the shoe fits . . . ”
Consider, for example, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer is a twentieth century Christian martyr who returned to Nazi Germany to minister to Christians and oppose, on moral grounds, Hitler’s regime. He knew the price that he might pay and, not unsurprisingly, paid it.
On the one hand, Bonhoeffer is a martry. On the other, he writes persuasively about the incredible importance of being ready and aware – of listening actively – for the word of Jesus. That is the real model – the utter openness to, and the complete acceptance of, Jesus’ call to us. If we crave suffering because we think it is the apex of Christian love, then we are missing the point. Our job is to change our minds about the world and ourselves, the better to hear Christ and to heed Christ.
So instead of clamming up in stubborn silence when faced with wrongdoing, we mutter “I’m sorry.” And go bake cookies or wash the car or what-have-you. We concede whatever point was being debated because really, how right do we have to be before we see that being right and being happy are not precisely synonymous (T-29.VII.1:9)?
It turns out that there is never not something I can do for those around me. Whenever I ask if I can serve – however grudgingly – I always get a very specific affirmative answer, as if Jesus really doesn’t have anything better to do than wait on me to figure out he was serious when he said “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers . . . ”
So it goes in the world of form. We learn Love by loving – imperfectly, awkwardly, half-heartedly. It doesn’t matter. One of the not-so-secret secrets is that the form of love is never what matters. It’s only ever the love itself that counts. Sooner or later we start to see that the only work that remains in this vale of symbols and narratives of separation is to love everything, from the smallest grain of sand to the biggest jerk we can imagine, even when – perhaps especially when – that jerk bears more than a passing resemblance to you-know-who.
Jesus has a plan for you – the you you think you are and kind of wish you weren’t but also kind of secretly think is pretty cool (T-1.III.4:2). Avail yourself of that plan. Ask and it will be shoved in front of you about as subtly as a bolt of lightening. Odds are you won’t like it but so what? The point isn’t to be right about God’s plan for salvation, or to agree with it, or be impressed with it but to be humble enough and willing enough to give it a meager try.
Head’s up? It almost certainly starts with being nice to someone we’d really rather not be nice to. And it only gets worse (or better, depending on whether you’re a glass half full or empty kind of person) from there.
I am saying to decide today to be the saint that we know, deep down, we actually are. Don’t waste any more time with half-measures and stop pretending that we’re happy and it’s okay to fritter away time faking a life apart from Creation. I mean it is okay in the sense that sooner or later we’re going to make it Home, but why not sooner, right? Why not now?