God is the light in which I see.
Last night I was walking my dog. We live right on the edge of the village – if I turn east, within a hundred yards or so it’s as if I have left civilization all together. Yet there are houses there – some well-lit – and some of them have dogs. At one, the family had let their dog out off-leash and she was very aggressive. I was scared and my dog was scared. And I got angry – at the other dog, the careless neighbors, the town without adequate canine bylaws, the world in which it is so hard to just go for a simple walk . . .
By the time I had gone half a mile, my anger – and my resistance to any kind of attempt to be less angry – owned all of me. The quiet woods, the crystalline stars, the bracing cold – all of it was lost in a tangle of rage, disappointment and guilt.
Yet cresting a hill a mile or so into the walk, sadness crept in. A small still voice said “you’ve handled this before – and worse. It doesn’t have to be this way.” The dog and I stopped. I studied the sky through bare trees, turned my face to the wind. Some wall inside me crumbled, peace flowed in over the ruins and I accepted it – haltingly, shyly, awkwardly. And in a few moments, the craziness was gone. I reminded myself that when it tried to come back – which it surely would – I would ask the Holy Spirit for help. The rest of walk was peaceful and happy. It was graceful in a clear and simple way.
That moment atop the hill – that sadness at how crazy I was and the voice of sanity saying “this need not be” – was true seeing. It was vision. It was the light in which God clarified for me what I really am and how powerful I am. Outside was total blackness save for the stars. Inside was a wreck. But deeper – and wider – than all of that was the Light in which I know I am Love and that I am not alone. It is not as hard as it once was to reach that light and be lifted or illuminated – enlightened – by it.
That’s what Lesson 44 of A Course in Miracles is about – not a blinding physical light, not little tiny faerie lights that dance around the edges of physical objects. Just the one necessary moment of clarity in the dense tides of anger, fear and guilt. In the craziness, a voice that is not crazy. And in that clarity, we hear the call to sanity and to love. We remember that love is not only possible, it is all there is. “Nothing real can be threatened” (In.2:2). “Nothing unreal exists” (In.2:3).
. . . light reflects life, and is therefore an aspect of creation. Creation and darkness cannot coexist, but light and life must go together, being but different aspects of creation (W-pI.44:1:3-4).
That light did not come because I asked for it. Please see that. There was no virtue involved. I did nothing but feel crazy. I didn’t fall to my knees, didn’t talk to Jesus, didn’t remember A Course in Miracles. Nothing. One moment I was hurting, the next moment I was blessed with remembering wholeness. When I remembered ot, I reached for it. And there it was. That’s how the course works. See the verbs in this lesson: sinking, letting go, slipping. Releasing. You need do nothing – it will all be done for you. How simple that is and yet how hard to accept, to bring into application!
As you sit for the day’s practice, remember those verbs. Remember how little is actually required of the “you” you think you are. Just getting to the practice is enough. Trust Jesus. Trust the Holy Spirit. You are not apart from God. You are not apart from Love.No matter how bad it feels, no matter how unbridgeable the distance – it’s nothing. You are already home. God is the Light in which you see this is true.
Thank you Sean. I started this lesson this morning and was feeling sad. I just started writing the reasons why but right now that seemed pointless, so I stopped quickly. Your reminder in the last paragraph is so helpful. Those verbs. Doing nothing. And trust. I’ll practice the exercise again now, differently. It is, after all, a practice which is required, not getting a result.
Thanks Sean, you seem very much a true seeker, yet very practical. I enjoy all of your commentary on these lessons. I understand that Helen wrote this course, and that her inner teacher was Jesus. I also believe that she really wasn’t a religious, or even spiritual, yet it seems God chose her. Would you mind commenting on that, and your understanding of how the course came about ? Thanks
Thank you for the kind words. I’m happy to share my thoughts about the course’s beginnings, but please take them with a grain of salt, or even the whole shaker.
Helen described herself as closer to atheism than anything else, but I think that was an intellectual position – not a spiritual one. The arc of her life – from Christian Science to Catholicism to studying the King James bible – was very spiritual. I think she was always asking questions and questioning the answers, but I suspect a lot of that was repressed or that she gave it another name – intellectual inquiry or something like that.
So I think that she was in relationship with God, however she defined it (or chose to look away from it), and that this was the defining relationship of her life. A Course in Miracles emerged from that relationship, and from her brilliant and highly-educated/trained mind.
It also owed a lot to the relationship between Helen and Bill Thetford, and their mutual willingness and commitment to find another way – which wasn’t mysterious or mystical necessarily but just very literally, a sincere desire to find a way to relate to one another – and to others – without a lot of static and mean-spiritedness and so forth.
So this brilliant, intensely spiritual woman (whose spirituality was probably quite subconscious) is in a platonic relationship with a brilliant, intensely spiritual man, and they are committed to finding a way to be kind and gentle and loving . . . that is where A Course in Miracles begins, that is what it flows from.
It is a lovely story but also a practical one: I think we overlook the mutual supportive nature of Helen and Bill’s relationship . . .
Thanks again for reading and for your kind words. They are much appreciated!
Lesson 44 / today Saturday feb13.2021
You brought the lesson to the light for me. I have studied the course for over 30 years and your way of expressing the intention of today’s lesson simplified the process for me. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Barbara! I’m glad it was helpful. Thank you so much for reading and sharing1
I always love when I hear Helen’s “there must be another way” all I can think is how that one little statement sums up all of ACIM for me. Some days it’s just enough to remind myself of that.
Yes, me too. Bill’s question and Helen’s answer ARE the course – the cry for love which is met by a willingness to join. That is love! That is the end of separation! The rest of it is just a long footnote 🙂
Sean, I am having great difficulty with this exercise, I do not understand it at all I did not understand how to go inward and downward and test my thoughts, where are my thoughts? How do I sync past them the words and descriptions of how to do this exercise are baffling me I can’t get past the words I can’t get a visualization of what I’m supposed to be doing so I just sit quietly and focus on my breathing. Do you have any insights for me? It is stressing me out that I don’t understand how to do this exercise I do understand what it is for and what I’m trying to do but I do not understand how to do it any responses appreciated thank you so much. Oh and this lesson is 44 that I’m talking about.
Thank you for your note, Crystal. This is a challenging lesson – a fact the lesson itself acknowledges! It employs “particularly difficult form for the undisciplined mind, and represents a major goal of mind training” (W-pI.44.3:3). You are not alone 🙂
For the record I don’t think that sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing is a bad move at all, ever. Stillness is the closest we come to Heaven here in the world of form. And, again, the lesson anticipates that the FORM each student takes with the lesson – the way in which they approach it (e.g., W-pI.44.8:1) – will necessarily vary. How could it not in a self-study course that meets us where we are?
What truly matters is the spirit in which we practice the lesson:
I think your frustration (which is a form of fear, i.e., that you’re doing it WRONG) actually testifies to a deeper understanding and appreciation that you are doing something holy here.
So I think that the best advice here is to just – no pun intended – breathe and cut yourself some slack. You are right where you are supposed to be; in fact, there is a nontrivial chance you may be making true sustainable progress towards awakening, and your fear is simply the ego flailing wildly in an attempt to distract you, slow you down, get you to quit.
Let it rant and rave. It’s no big thing.
Always remember these helpful words from later in the Text:
I think it’s helpful to work a lesson hard but then move on from it. Not all of them are going to flow like ice on a hot stove; some feel like rocks against which we break. But in both cases, we are still just water, we are still just flowing to the sea, to our home in God. If you can’t understand or feel like you’re stuck, acknowledge that, do the best you can, and move on. There are no winners or losers here; just friends helping each other remember how to claim the happiness that is their natural inheritance.
Thank you again for sharing, and keep in touch if it’s helpful.