Love is the way I walk in gratitude.
In the world’s eyes, we are grateful when – comparing ourselves to others – we are thankful because we are not suffering the way they are, we have more than they have, et cetera. We don’t live in a war zone, we aren’t subject to famine. A tornado didn’t just pass through. It’s not that we wish these things on others. It’s that we don’t wish them on us.
But this is incoherent. How can the fact that others suffer more than us make us happy? How we can be thankful at all when suffering is present anywhere to any degree?
Hence the brutal judgment – and the inevitable fragmentation – of “there but for the grace of God go I.”
It is hard to imagine a more unfair characterization of God and Love.
Fortunately, there is – because there is always – another way.
It is insane to offer thanks because of suffering. But it is equally insane to fail in gratitude to One Who offers you the certain means whereby all pain is healed, and suffering replaced with laughter and with happiness (W-pI.195.2:1-2).
In other words, the distorted interpretation of perception offered by the ego forces us into a state of competition with our brothers and sisters – which competition is premised on scarcity – and denies the existence of God, Who is our Salvation.
But the Holy Spirit offers us the alternative – gratitude for the One Who can show us the way out of suffering and into joy and happiness.
When we can effectively discern between these two voices and ways of thinking, then we naturally lean into the one that brings us peace by exposing the other’s tyrranical use of guilt to keep us fearful and alone.
To know the Voice for God is to know the cause for eternal thankfulness.
In essence, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Love is the answer to all our so-called problems and that only Love is real. We can elect to see the world through the eyes of Love – which is the Holy Spirit – or through the eyes of fear, which is the all-too-familiar mode of ego.
Love does not compare, because Love does not recognizes any differences upon which judgment can rest (W-pI.195.4:2). Thus, the very concept of value is foreign to Love. When we commit to learning only from the Teacher of Love, then we accept the undoing of differences that Love entails. The end of differences is not the end of the self, but it is the beginning of the freedom and creativity in which and by which we remember our oneness with God.
Gratitude is yoked to Love because Love undoes the differences upon which our fear of loss, suffering and death are premised. What is not different is the same. This is not merely a statement about our own condition; it is a statement about the collective, about all our brothers and sisters, broadly defined to include whales and tulips and dragonflies. To exclude even a single one is to forget the cause for joy and peace.
. . . let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you; the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you (W-pI.195.5:2-3).
Perhaps it is easy to imagine a blue whale or a solitary moose sharing salvation with us. Perhaps it is easy to imagine horses or dogs partaking of Love with us. But it is harder to imagine a serial killer or a rapist. It is harder to imagine an arms dealer or a racist.
But A Course in Miracles insists that our gratitude extend even unto those we would exclude – perhaps especially those we would exclude.
Let us not compare ourselves with [our brothers and sisters], or thus we split them off from our awareness of the unity we share them, as they with us . . . We thank our Father for one thing alone; that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him (W-pI.195.5:4, 6:1).
Love holds everything, and we give thanks for all of it – otherwise our thanks is hollow (W-pI.195.6:3).
This lesson is reminsiscent of the eighteenth principle of miracles, which teaches us miracles are the “maximal service” we can render to our brothers and sisters (T-1.I.18:2). The miracle establishes our equality with all life, with all Creation, and we rejoice accordingly.
Tara Singh, who considered Helen Schucman one of his spiritual teachers, often talked about her insistence that he keep a gratitude journal, and remain always in contact with the many reasons to be grateful and thus to truly walk – and not just talk about – “the way of love” (W-pI.195.8:1).
When we are grateful for all things, and when we remember – and act in remembrance of – the fact that Love holds all things equally, because it recognizes only their sameness, then we are gently and naturally restored to our true identity in God, because we no longer fear God. We no longer need to exclude this person or that idea from Love. Our gratitude becomes as close to unconditional as it is possible to get in the human frame and narrative. It has surrendered the personal prerogative of judgment, and walks gently with the Spirit that infuses the Mind we share with Jesus, ever teaching us to become Christ.
Who loves this way, remembers Love. And who loves this way remembers that God loves us all and calls us His Child – what more could we ask for?
Gratitude goes hand in hand with love, and where one is the other must be found. For gratitude is but an aspect of the Love which is the Source of all Creation. God gives thanks to you . . . (W-pI.195.10:2-4).
Love is the answer to all our so-called problems because only Love is real. When we accept our responsibility to see as Christ sees and to not see as Christ does not see, then the illusion of the separate self and world in which it forges its own survival are undone and we remember our unity in creation. Together we share the one Love that creates us equal.