I am entrusted with the gifts of God.
Some clarity comes as we get clear about the futility of our designs and methods. We begin to see that we can’t fix anything and – deeper yet – don’t even really understand what “fixed” might mean. We can’t do a thing and even if we could do a thing, we wouldn’t know what thing to do.
In other traditions, we call this a “bottom.” We realize our powerlessness and the unmanageability that goes with insisting we can be in control.
So what do we do?
A Course in Miracles suggests this is not such a bad place to be. Note that it doesn’t say it’s a fun, happy or painless place to be – quite the opposite in fact (M-4.A.5:2-3). But it does suggest that once we reach this particular branch of the road, something useful and helpful is at last possible.
Your ancient fear has come upon you now, and justice has caught up with you at last. Christ’s hand has touched your shoulder, and you feel that you are not alone. You even think the miserable self you thought was you may not be your Identity. Perhaps God’s Word is truer than you own. Perhaps his gifts to you are real (W-pI.166.9:1-5).
When we come to that place where we do not wish to go back, accept – barely, perhaps, but undeniably – the presence of mighty companions, and have no clue how to proceed, then we are at last ready to perceive God’s gifts that are already given to us. We have slowed down enough, become willing enough – and spiritually unencumbered enough – to sense what is, and sense that it has always been here, independent of time and independent of our wish that it be somewhere or something else.
God’s Will does not oppose. It merely is. It is not God you have imprisoned in your plan to lose your Self (W-pI.166.10:1-3).
When we stop projecting an opposite or wanting something different or other, then God’s will emerges and clarifies. It becomes real to us. This is how the metaphorical veil lifts – we stop trying so hard to hold it in place. And most of us do not let go voluntarily. Rather, we simply exhaust ourselves – for years, lifetimes perhaps – in our efforts to keep God away. At last we give up.
And then what is always there – the gift that was given – is finally perceived.
[God] does not know about a plan so alien to His Will. There was a need He did not understand, to which He gave an Answer. That is all. And you who have this Answer given you have need no more of anything but this (W-pI.166.10:4-7).
Lately I have been praying on my knees. Who knows why? The pain and anguish of life has been intense and the temptation to just dump it all over everyone is strong. Meditation and reason aren’t helping. So I go back to where it all began – the simplest prayer I know. In a position of humbleness – signifying willingness – I hang my head and say simply “help me, Jesus. Help me. Please.”
And then I run through all my problems and resistances. I’m embarrassed to be praying in such a childlike way, I don’t think Jesus is “out there,” I’m ashamed that I’ve been an ACIM student for this long with no obvious improvement and so on and so forth. I apologize for rambling and then I ramble some more.
And I end the prayer by asking that I be reminded of what is already given. Just that. Despite my desires and ambitions, despite my fear and confusion, I know in the end that this is all I need. Whatever wanting stands in its way, the clarity of the need cannot be compromised now. I won’t ask for anything else.
Please: show me what is already given. Please.
I woke late this morning and didn’t walk the dog until close to 9:30 – after making pancakes, grading papers and that sort of thing. The sun was bright and I thought: where is my darkness? Where is my solitude? Oh my God what is happening?
“Keep it simple,” Jesus whispered. “Just breathe and keep it simple.”
And so the dog and I walked. And about a mile or so into the forest we came to a clearing. The pine trees were a deep luminescent green, lit by the sun. A breeze kept sifting snow from their limbs and in the sunlight each thin flake sparkled like a rainbow. So much loveliness all at once – it was like falling face-first into an Emily Dickinson poem. The chickadees were singing and in the distance I could hear crows. When I knelt to say thank you, I saw mouse tracks everywhere, and the tiny caverns where they duck back towards the earth. It was impossible not to laugh at how foolish I’d been. It was impossible to imagine anything other than this simple loveliness, this perfect unadulterated happiness.
And so what? It is not me but what we are together that renders what is broken and wretched beautiful and whole.
One walks with you Who gently answers all your fears with this one merciful reply, “it is not so.” He points to all the gifts you have each time the thought of poverty oppresses you, and speaks of His Companionship when you perceive yourself as lonely and afraid (W-pI.166.11:3-4).
And so it is done and all that remains is the happy laughter and the joyful extension of what was always ours together. Breathe. Keep it simple. Together we are home.