I wonder sometimes about the little willingness that A Course in Miracles says is required of us. The lawyer in me raises his hand, clears his throat, adjusts his (too-tight) neck tie. “Would the witness Jesus please clarify what he means by little?”
Analyzing the course rarely leads anywhere but to the circular hell so cherished by the ego. It’s good to study the Course, good to let the lessons seep into our being. But when we start picking fights with it – under the guise of just wanting to better understand, of course – look out.
The first time I read Ken Wapnick say that the course doesn’t deal with behavior, I ran to the text and spent an hour thumbing through it until I found a reference to behavior. I’ll show him!
Behavior flows from a changed Mind. We are invested in the chaotic and dissembling belief of the ego and it drives us in any number of ways. We hurt others, we hurt ourselves. We get lost in the labyrinth of self-improvement.
And sooner or later, we get around to that wonderful observation of Bill Thetford: there has to be a better way.
That’s when Jesus comes in – when we throw up our hands. That’s when the Holy Spirit starts to guest spot in our dreams, guide our intuition, send us to just the right shelf at just the right time in the library.
There is an ease to our lives, a flow. We’re part of it and we’ve forgotten that. But we can call it back to mind. It’s always there.
Recovering this identity, this self-in-God, seems to happen in time, because that’s what time is for: learning that we are not these bodies, that we are not at the mercy of a dense and violent world. But each moment in the Presence collapses time. Decades of painful learning are erased in one genuine smile at a stranger. A whole century evaporates when we let someone be truly kind to us.
The little willingness is remembering one morning that we want to pray before we hop out of bed and start crashing through the day like the proverbial bull venting his woes in a china shop. It’s saying, “Oh right. There are rules for decision I can follow.”
It’s remembering that the cranky teen age cashier at the grocery store is a perfect child of God. He’s our brother, not an angst-ridden monster with acne out to make our lives miserable. Maybe his legs hurt from standing in one place. Maybe the last customer was a real bear. Maybe his Dad is sick. His crankiness is not about us. So we can be gentle with it, we can extend kindness.
The little willingness is saying “help” when help is needed and “thanks” all the rest of the time.
It happens, you know? Little by little the ego’s stranglehold loosens. We’re never quite sure how it works. The things that used to goose us no longer do. New space opens up. A sense of freedom, a deeply natural and enduring joy attends us. We can’t force it. We just accept it. It’s a gift, really.
We are never not in the perfect learning situation, and we are never not without the perfect teacher. This is the truth regardless of how we feel about it, regardless of whether we believe it. We can ignore it but we can’t make it false.
Close your eyes. Be still. It only takes a moment. God is with you. You aren’t – you are never – alone.