I see nothing as it is right now.
In the early lessons, we move back and forth between “seeing” as an activity of the physical body in the physical world and “vision” as an action of spirit in the real but abstract – imperceptible to the physical eye – world. The goal of these early lessons is to help us recognize this shift – this back-and-forth – so that we can notice when we are seeing physically and choose instead to see with the Holy Spirit.
This morning, coming back from the field and forest, I passed a fir tree. Against the full moon – soft and blurred in a bower of cloud – each needle was perfectly illuminated, sharp and distinct, pure and still in the frozen air. I stood a long time gazing at this image, mind ranging as it does when I am outdoors walking.
The world presents both moments and images of beauty to us – pictures of perfection and glory, radiance and grace. You can’t photograph or even write about it without removing yourself from the fullness of the experience. God is there in those moments, fully present, fully willing to be seen and known. If you will accept the gift (and if you do not know how to accept the gift then ask yourself how, for you know how to do this because it is inherent in what you are) then you will learn that you have always had it.
ACIM Lesson 9 is a wonderful exercise in acknowledging that so long as we rely on physical seeing and the ego’s interpretation of what we see, then we will be clueless. We will fail to understand. As always, this acknowledgement is itself an helpful undoing. As we look about our lives – the room in which we read, the road on which we drive, the institution at which we work, the people with whom we interact – we are being consistently invited to consider the possibility that we are completely mistaken about all of it. For many of us, even cracking this door even a little will be too shocking, too unsettling.
But we should not fight this. We should not judge it but simply allow it to be the part of our experience it naturally is. The workbook lessons are not about getting anything right – rather, they are opportunities to practice a new way of living that enables us to remember the peace and love that is our natural inheritance. We have already passed the midterm and final exam. What remains is to bring them into application, excluding nothing in particular and including nothing in particular. That’s it. The rest is handled by God because it is already being handled by God.
Indeed, one of the joys of this lesson is the degree to which we can realize – or even just act as if we realize – that God cheerfully does handle the rest. To stare deeply at an orange or trout jumping in the river or an old dog or moonlight beyond the fir tree, and at the same time to accept that we are simultaneously actively disrupting our capability to see love, is to invite a new, a radical experience. Or rather, to perceive the ordinary with new eyes. The real world is given. We are not called to add to it or redefine it or even to understand it. Its accessibility is contingent on nothing but our willingness to let God show it to us, which God is always doing because sharing is what God is.
Thus it is given to us to look around: to partake of the world in its loveliness and complexity, its bounty and multiplicity. With the eyes we are given, we look. And we allow our looking to be infused with acceptance of the underlying confusion A Course in Miracles is given to undo. To look with open eyes from a posture of epistemic humility is to be open to the natural enlightenment of God. We can be grateful and in our gratitude wait joyfully for the answer God has already given.