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On the Virtue of Obedience

If we trust God, then there is no opposition, and we can live our lives without resistance. That is peace. In order to make contact with that which is not illusory, we need to withdraw our investment in the illusory. Paradoxically, we cannot end our reliance on illusion except by looking very closely and gently upon both our reliance and the illusion on which it rests.

We leave the world by paying a very loving and kind attention to it.

It is Spring where I live. Winter seemed to pass quickly but perhaps wants to make up for it now: it lingers. Snow squalls pop up out of nowhere. The other day it rained, and the rain turned to ice. Cold winds blow in from the North. The sun feels frail and distant.

In the morning, coming back from my walks as the sun rises (behind a bank of wet clouds or not), I always stop to check on the crocuses in the bare light. They are harbingers of Spring, along with Red-winged Blackbirds, peepers, the first Robins, and the rank smell of bears stumbling through the forest after many months’ rest.

The crocus is obedient: it responds to circumstances wholly, without question. As the earth warms, it begins to push its shoots towards the surface. As it meets the light, it spreads its bright petals. When the ice settles on it, it sags accordingly. It is not a matter of choice. To the crocus, choice is an illusion.

We are not so different from these flowers.

There is no basis for choice in this complex and overcomplicated world. For no one understands what is the same, and seems to choose where no choice really is . . . That there is choice is an illusion (T-26.III.6:1-2, 4).

Our lives in the world can own the same quality of non-resistance as the crocus. When they do, we naturally meet that which lies beyond our dreams: the Love that is our source, the Truth that is our reality. There is no effort in this. It is unrelated to what we think we are, where we think we are, and what we think we are doing.

But this vital encounter remains an intellectual exercise if we don’t create a space in which illusions can be undone. Lesson 139 is our touchstone in this regard. It asks that we spend five minutes – five minutes! – in the morning and at night, accepting atonement through the recognition that we remain as God created us.

Here is the end of choice. For here we come to a decision to accept ourselves as God created us. And what is choice except uncertainty of what we are? (W-pI.139.1:1-3)

What God created is without need or want. What God created does not know scarcity or lack. What God created does not run around wishing it were a thinner creation, or a smarter creation, or a richer creation. It has no levels and no limits. It simply is.

It’s okay that we’re not there yet. It’s fine that some days are better than others, that some minutes are better than others. Our identification with Christ – which is our recognition that we are perfect creations of God, unchanged and unchanging – comes on slowly, like a tide making its way up the beach, or sunlight seeping over the horizon. We don’t do it; we merely observe it.

Inside the illusion, in this world of bad dreams, we have to make a space of stillness. The lessons teach us how to do that. Heed them! Sit quietly for five minutes. Let everything be exactly as it is: the kids shouting while they play Minecraft, the birds chattering at the window, the neighbor’s dog barking, the telephone ringing. Let your thoughts be thoughts for five minutes: wisps of words and images that come and go like clouds. The dishes in the sink, the bill that needs to be paid, the email that needs to be answered, the friend whose call has yet to be returned. You don’t have to do anything with any of that. You just don’t.

You simply have to be still so that God can be inside you. Often – very often, actually – the most powerful healing is unseen and unfelt. Don’t worry if you’re annoyed or fidgety or petty while you practice. That is not the level at which God knows you.

Trust there is a place within you that is as pure and focused and holy as the Spring crocus.

You and I made a choice a long time ago to leave this world and go home. We have accepted A Course in Miracles as our map and guidebook on the journey. But we will be dropping them by the wayside soon enough. We are slipping outside of time even now.

In the interim, pay close attention to the world around you: the flowers, the people, the birds, the mountains, the songs, the bread, the moon. Tell yourself that you gaze on perfection: that no thing is not as God created it, and that deviation from God’s plan for salvation is impossible. Practice this in preparation of the moment when it dawns on you so full and bright that you will forget entirely your dream that it was once not so.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Mary April 15, 2013, 9:59 am

    Thank you for this beautiful post, Sean! I was just noticing the crocuses yesterday with my almost 90 year old Mom. Perfect! I love your references to nature and to springtime.

    BTW, I did read the “Rules of Decision” section of the Text that you recommended to me a few days ago, and really appreciated that guidance. I’m also inspired by your post today encouraging us to do as the Course suggests, to take five minutes, to put all else aside for awhile.

    Thank you! God Bless you! Happy Spring!
    Love, Mary

    • Sean Reagan April 15, 2013, 11:17 am

      Spring flowers are definitely meant to be shared. Our daffodils are struggling a little, though I am told I need to be patient!

      I’m glad you found Rules for Decision helpful. It is my favorite part of the text, though there are plenty of close seconds (and thirds and fourths . . . ). Sometimes I get lost in the abstraction and need to come back to something actionable. That section really helps me with that.

      Thank you again for reading, Mary, and for the kind words. They are much appreciated.


  • Claudia Theodore April 16, 2013, 2:08 am

    Hi Sean. 🙂 My heart was happy to read that “you and I made a choice a long time ago…we accepted ACIM as our guidebook.” I like that idea. And the reminder that “deviation from God’s plan for salvation is impossible” really resonated with me, and I felt the chain unwrap around my heart, which is the response I feel when I encounter truth. I’m not quite clear on the parameters of that – does it mean down to the last little action I take that feels so “choice-like” or is it more ephemeral than that? Either way, it helps, as I think it through. And I love the reminder that I’m gazing upon perfection. I can easily think of that with regard to my brother, and I accept it (not as easily digested when considering the illusion of the moon and the Spring flowers, beautiful as they are, but then again why would they be any different to the extent such creations reflect life??) I’m hoping to practice this ever more purposefully today. Thanks Sean. As always, it feels good and right to take in what you have to say. I’m glad you are my ACIM big brother.

    • Sean Reagan April 16, 2013, 9:39 am

      Thank you Claudia. It is the real joy of writing like this, sharing the way with one another. I am grateful for your presence too.

  • Aleta April 16, 2013, 10:55 pm

    Thank you, Sean, for this wonderful post, and for the reminder of lesson 139, of spending just 5 minutes accepting myself as God created me! This is the time of year when I get into full swing outside — we’re way beyond crocuses where I live, and I have almost half the garden planted, planted tons of grass seed yesterday. I have been busy, busy, busy, and it is easy to get caught up in it all and not just stop, be STILL, and commune with God. Thanks again!

    • Sean Reagan April 17, 2013, 7:32 am

      I am jealous of your growing season! Have you ever read A Course in Marigolds? It is silly and fun and sweet, especially for gardeners with a taste for miracles.

      Enjoy your day, Aleta!

  • Aleta April 17, 2013, 1:27 pm

    Sean – What a delightful parody on the Course! I never knew it existed. Thank you for the link!

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