God is the Love in which I forgive.
This is the first lesson – and moment in my current slow read of the text – where forgiveness appears in an active way. You can’t read or study A Course in Miracles without encountering forgiveness – it is the backbone of the Course, the means by which we make the Atonement a reality in our day-to-day lives. In today’s lesson, we are at last given a chance to begin to explore this critical idea – this healing gesture – in depth.
Prior to this, the most potent reference to forgiveness was in Beyond Perception from Chapter 3.
Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation. Correct perception of your brother is necessary, because minds have chosen to see themselves as separate (T-3.V.9:1-2).
That is a powerful revision of traditional notions of forgiveness. We are not identifying wrongs and patiently agreeing to look past them – to forgive them. Rather, we are engaging in a new way of seeing. We are practicing correct perception. This new mode of seeing does not acknowledge the wrongdoing – the sin, the error – at all. It sees only the perfectly healed and perfectly whole brother or sister.
It took me a few years to appreciate that, to understand it intellectually. But all that means is that I can repeat it. I can preach it or write it. But can I practice it? Can I really see my brothers and sisters as sinless? That is something very different than understanding. There is an active component to it, a willingness perhaps that surpasses the narrow capacity of my brain. How do I reach beyond the intellect to the right mind?
Lesson 46 is instructive on its face: God is the Love in which (and by which) we are able to bring forgiveness – the radical forgiveness proposed by the Course – to bear in our lives.
His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God (W-pI.46.2:1-3).
All of the recent lessons have been emphasizing – gently, patiently – that the ground of our being is God. God is the light in which we see, the mind with which we think. He is our Source and our Strength. All of these ideas testify to a simple Truth – that the separation never happened and that we remain a part of God. Forgiveness, as we adapt to the ACIM perspective, strengthens our faith in this Truth.
Forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear (W-pI.46.2:4-5).
To look past error is to refuse to make error real. To assert that Love is our Source is to commit to seeing and experiencing reality as God created it. On one level, this lesson is very simple: we are listing all those people who have wronged us to one degree or another and forgiving them. Then – having cleared the way a little – we forgive ourselves.
But on another level, we are actively undoing illusions – specifically, the illusion that we can be harmed or assaulted in any way. A child of God is not a body and not the narrative structure – the egoic thought system – to which that body attaches itself. As we forgive, little by little we crack the door so the Light can enter. And that Light will demonstrate that we are not what we think we are. We are, together, Love. There are no mistakes. There really is nothing to forgive.