The Means of Grace

I often say that we are in this awakening thing together. This can sound like a bit like the coach rallying the team for a big game. On some level, it is that. It’s good to know that you share my commitment to practicing A Course in Miracles, and to awakening, whatever that means. On a long and sometimes frightening journey, supportive companions are a blessing.

But on a deeper level, we need each other not only to say “good job!” or “hang in there!” but also because it is not possible to wake up alone. We are literally one another’s savior and – in one of those metaphysical twists you can spend lifetimes deciphering – we give to each other the power to awaken us.

It’s like I want to go to Boston and I have the car and the keys but it’s not until I give you the keys and say would you drive me to Boston that I can actually go.

It only seems like we’re alone. It only seems like we can do this ourselves.

You cannot wake yourself. Yet you can let yourselves be wakened (T-29.III.3:4-5).

And how do we “let ourselves be wakened?”

You can overlook your brother’s dreams. So perfectly can you forgive him his illusions he becomes your savior from your dreams (T-29.III.3:6-7).

Simple. And yet . . .

This has always been one of the trickier parts of the course for me. It invokes relationship. Some of you know – because I write about it a lot – that most mornings I wake quite early and walk with my dog in the woods and fields. Then I come back and drink tea and pray and study and then ease into writing.

Those are sanctified hours for me. Yet – and I am only just learning this – they are somewhat empty if they do not translate to the balance of the day. What good is salvation if it disappears as soon as my five-year old daughter pokes her head in and asks will I make blueberry pancakes?

Indeed, a salvation – a Heaven, say – in which I have to grit my teeth over students who didn’t read the assigned Emily Dickinson poems, grouse about having to clean the bathroom, or feel aggrieved because I actually have to cook dinner for my family isn’t much of a Heaven at all.

And so the movement in my practice these days is into relationship – I am working on accepting that my brothers and sisters (in all their myriad forms) are not impediments to grace but the very means by which grace reveals itself. It’s not that solitude is bad or that I can’t carve out chunks of time to pray and study – I can and even should – but that I have to be careful of the inclination to parse experience into what is sacred and what is not.

As I have written about recently, there is no middle ground in this process. If I am willing to really look into that – to undo my resistance to it – then it can bring a helpful clarity. It can facilitate a real peace.

I am drawn these days to the course’s introduction. I remember seeing it for the first time in my aunt’s house on Cape Cod. It was electric – so much so that I had to close the book and put it away for many years! But now I find in its uncompromising directive the key to a peace that cannot be undone.

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God (In.2:2-4).

Like Polaris – like Basho’s haiku – those lines restore a sense of purpose and certainty. They reawaken the awakening energy. In their calm insistence that confusion is optional and the end sure, I am able to remember why I am here, and you too.

Within the dream of bodies and of death is yet one theme of truth; no more, perhaps, than just a tiny spark, a space of light created in the dark where God still shines (T-29.III.3:1).

Forgive me – reflect that loveliest of lights – so that I can make my way back home! And I will do the same for you, as best I can.

Make way for love, which you did not create, but which you can extend. On earth this means forgive you brother, that the darkness may be lifted from your mind. When light has come to him through your forgiveness, he will not forget his savior, leaving him unsaved (T-29.III.4:1-3).

So yes. We are in this together. And I say: thank you. Thank you and thank you and thank you!

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Mary McCrink January 24, 2013, 6:41 am

    I LOVE TO BE REMINDED THAT I AM NOT ALONE
    PEACE

    • Sean Reagan January 24, 2013, 3:13 pm

      Thank you Mary! I hear you – it’s important to be in touch with that, that we are together, and that we have a teacher who shares our togetherness.

  • Gillette January 24, 2013, 9:55 am

    Sean,

    As usual, your thoughts are timely and exactly what I need to think about. Lately, these two ideas from the first chapter in the text have been especially meaningful to my process.

    “Ultimately, every member of the family of God must return.” (p. 13)

    “As long as a single “slave” remains to walk the earth, your release is not complete. Complete restoration of the Sonship is the only goal of the miracle-minded.” (p. 15)

    Gillette

    • Sean Reagan January 24, 2013, 3:21 pm

      Those early pages are incredibly powerful. They get knocked a lot for different reasons, but I think that so much of what we’re trying to learn is right there in plain sight.

      I am so resistant – getting less so but still – to this idea of relatedness, that we don’t wake up alone, or for ourselves alone. Those lines remind me of the Buddhist concept of the bodhisattva – the one who refuses to enter nirvana until everyone can enter nirvana. Yet it makes sense, the idea that not until all of God’s mind is awake, can God’s mind be said to be fully awake. The metaphysics boggle, but the application is always simple: love, love and keep loving, as best you can. We’re all going to get there, sooner or later.

      And it’s nice to have friends along the way . . .

      Thank you, Gillette.

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