It’s easy to forget sometimes that A Course in Miracles is about undoing. We are simply becoming aware of – and then forgiving – that which obstructs eternity. God – call it Truth, call it Love, call it Him, call it Her – already is. We aren’t establishing God or contributing to God. God is not contingent on our efforts!
It’s like polishing a mirror. As we clean it, the the easier it reflects the light. But its capacity for reflection exists independent of us.
We forget this because undoing is not always pleasant. In fact, it is often quite painful. It’s much easier to prattle on about God and love and how happy we are. It’s easier to crack jokes about how nothing is real. Don’t sit in that chair – it’s not real! One thing I sometimes notice in the Course community – and yes, in myself, too – is a real reluctance to do this inner work – to be rigorously honest, to unearth our secrets and give them over to be healed.
It is much easier to fake an experience of Heaven than to actually do the work that reveals Heaven.
This weekend, I was honored to share in a prayer ceremony from a tradition that is not A Course in Miracles. Even its ties to Christianity are thin. It was long – nine or ten hours! And it was very different from the prayer and meditation with which I am familiar. A friend I have known for many years invited me and because I admire his spiritual maturity and discipline, I went.
For the first couple of hours, I felt very out of place. I missed my family. I wanted to sleep. It’s okay to honor a friend for an hour or two in the middle of the day, but during your son’s bedtime? Not so much.
I began to get judgmental. I started looking around. I can tell that person isn’t very spiritual because they just yawned. Oh look at those two people gossiping. they’re not very spiritual. It didn’t take long before I was thinking, “You know what this crowd needs? A Course in Miracles.”
I’m not proud of that.
Somewhere round 1 a.m. though, I could feel the power I know as Jesus give me a little nudge. When I opened up to it, I felt Jesus say clearly – and not unkindly, by the way – “you are being very self-centered, brother.”
It was true. And I saw it so clearly in that moment. I was scared and lonely and rather than admit those feelings I covered them up with judgment. I projected my own spiritual insecurity onto everyone in that space. It brought me a lot of self-righteousness and sanctimony, but self-righteousness and sanctimony are not peace. They are not love.
My heart was closed so tight . . . it was scabbed over . . . and my mind was just all ego all the time . . . it really hurt to see that. Years of ACIM and still . . . I wanted to cry.
But you know, all we have to do is see the flaw. That’s all. We see the brokenness and if we don’t project it, don’t deny it, then it can be healed. We just have to see it and say yes, that’s what I am at this moment. There’s the egoic self and it’s pretty damn ugly and shallow. What else can we do? Holding it up into the light that way – the light of seeing, the light of understanding – is how the Holy Spirit gets hold of it. As much as we can release, the Holy Spirit can take. Projection is so instinctual. It has become our default defense mechanism. We really have to be vigilant against it.
So I began to prayer to Jesus. I wanted to make it about the people with whom I was sitting. But I was clueless how to that. I couldn’t get up and walk around. Couldn’t talk. I didn’t know the rituals. What was I to do?
Find the reverence, Jesus said. Find the reverence and pay attention to it.
So I looked for reverence. And it was there. For six hours I studied reverence. Whenever I slipped back towards the ego, the presence of reverence drew me back. I saw reverence in the way people tended the fire. I saw it in the quiet verbal prayers sometimes uttered. I saw it the attention to the rituals – the walking, the kneeling, the singing. I saw it in the way husbands spoke of their wives, the way daughters spoke of their mothers. I saw it in the way that when we drank water and ate food, care was taken that not one drop or crumb was wasted. I saw it in the way that laughter and tears were given equal space.
I was in the presence of a community that understood holiness. And I remembered to learn from it. Creation is so gracious. It is always taking care of us, even when we are actively resisting.
When we really notice a thing, we honor it. We don’t have to say “I honor you.” Our attention itself is the honor. It is a way of giving. This is true whether we are being attentive to the fear in our hearts, the blue jay on the wire, the dew on the daisy, or the friend sitting beside us. When the sun rose and it was time to rejoin our lives in the world, I felt deeply grateful for being able to a) see myself as a callous fraud and b) see my brothers and sisters as holy. The two events were not separate. And the one forgave the other and so both were lifted.
That’s what it is, you know? We show up in our lives and we try to discover where we’re being idiots. Where we’re being cold. Where we’re being selfish. Holiness is all around us. Heaven is constantly being reflected here. All we have to do is remove those blocks – the projection, the denial, the self-aggrandizing – and the light of the eternal is revealed to us. It’s waiting everywhere all the time. It wants to be noticed.
Undoing is hard work! Sometimes boring, sometimes anguishing. Often, the joy and peace that attain in its wake come slowly or only in dribs and drabs. Sometimes it seems they aren’t coming at all. But we have to persevere. We have to stay focused on our goal – becoming aware of what hinders our experience of God’s love. When we’re aware of it, we can give it over to be healed. And when it’s healed, the timeless Presence draws ever nearer.