In order to bear a message of love and peace, we must first hear the message. We must first consent to receive it. Only then can we share it to others.
That is why A Course in Miracles, in Lesson 154, teaches that the messages delivered by Heaven’s Messengers
. . . are intended first for them. And it is only as they can accept them for themselves that they become able to bring them further, and to give them everywhere that they were meant to be. Like earthly messengers, they did not write the messages they bear, but they become their first receivers in the truest sense, receiving to prepare themselves to give.
How, then, do we hear God’s messages? How do we make use of – as Jesus said so long ago – the ears to hear?
It starts with the willingness to hear and that starts with honest about its absence. Most of us, when we really dig into our longing for – and fear of – God will discover that we are at best ambivalent about that union. Often we are set firmly against it. We talk about love but our interior landscape remains riddled with fear and hatred and anger.
The slimmest of slim reeds will bear all the weight of love when given to God. Nothing else is asked; nothing else is required.
God is never not present but our awareness of God’s presence can be compromised indeed. Owning this is critical to opening lines of divine communication.
There is such relief is acknowledging that we are working against ourselves and God! It’s like rain falling on our head night after night and we complain and complain about how wet and miserable we are but then finally look up and see that that the roof is a mess. And it’s great to see that because now we can fix it. Now we can start to repair it.
Now we know why we are so unhappy.
So let’s say that through our willingness to give sustained attention to the poor state of our relationship with God, we open up some space in which we can begin to heal that relationship. What comes next?
In Sufi Talks: Teachings of an American Sufi Sheihk, Robert Frager wrote that if our intentions with respect to making contact with God are sincere it is not unreasonable to hope that our limitations will not impede our ability to reach – to be reached by – God.
Our job is to follow this path, remembering that we are imitating and hoping God will make it real. The little we do may be enough, if God wills. In a hadith qudsi, God says, “If you take one step toward Me, I will take ten steps toward you. If you walk toward Me, I will run toward you” (113).
That is very beautiful! And I think it sheds light on the nature of approaching – from a space of confusion and brokenness – God.
Simply put, we have only to take the first tiniest step.
It is not hard to be the student who can quote most fluidly from A Course in Miracles, or who can boast of having read all of Ken Wapnick’s work, or who went to a dozen retreats with Tara Singh. Those accomplishments may be good and they may be bad; they say very little about our willingness to reach God and – having made the first step in that direction – to keep on reaching for God, even when the effort seems doomed or silly or otherwise dubious, as it surely will.
It is possible in all things to turn in the direction of God: it involves nothing more than being willing to turn in the direction of God. God is not North while we face South, or West while we turn East. God is everywhere; and so when we become willing to perceive God, then we perceive God everywhere, even if only briefly. Even if only dimly.
This perception is in the nature of a gift, and it is always being given. When we are open to it, we open within it. This opening is itself the message of God and it extends naturally, without our effort. This can sound mysterious or complex but it is not, not really. It is the essences of:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God (T-in.2:2-4).
So we don’t have to panic. We don’t have to figure it all out today. We don’t have to perfect our practice or conform it to some ideal suggested by somebody else. All God asks is our attention: and willingness is a form of attention. The slimmest of slim reeds will bear all the weight of love when given to God. Nothing else is asked; nothing else is required.