Taken altogether – the introduction and the three subsections – this is one of the more detailed and thoughtful of all the sections in the text. It’s a good example of the idea that if you study and understand one section of the text, you’ve really understood the whole.
I find a special resonance in the introductory material because it relates to children and parents. I know not everyone chooses to raise children, and I honor those decisions. I certainly don’t think that you need kids to understand what Jesus is talking about here! But for me, being able to see my own experience as a father to young children, deepens my appreciation and acceptance of the idea that I am a child, and that God is a loving parent who seeks to gently awaken me from bad dreams.
I have written before that my experience of God – in a deep-rooted way – has not always been a loving one. Often, it has been more judgmental and even cruel. But this imagery helps to undo that considerably. My ability to be loving is strongest with children and dogs. I’ll always take the last cookie on the plate unless my kids are around. There is something in the experience of parenting that awakens in me a capacity for selfless (relatively selfless!) love and generosity that is otherwise not really present in my life.
When I think that God loves me the way I love my son and daughters . . . I can be open to that love, at least a little. I can let it work on me, through me.
Moreover, I can appreciate the metaphor of being awakened from nightmares. It’s true that you don’t go crazy turning on lights and rousting your kid and shouting “what’s wrong!” When they have bad dreams, you touch their forehead. You rub their shoulder. You speak in a soft voice. “I’m here, I’m here. It’s okay.” And they settle and fall back to sleep. You sit with them until you know they’re okay.
I so appreciate the model of teaching presented in this section! And it’s not just because I aim for it in my own parenting. It’s also because it makes me better appreciate my experience of being an ACIM student – a child of God who yearns to go home. I’m not alone. I don’t have to figure it all out by myself. There is a better guide and teacher and my salvation is in their hands. There is great comfort in that, there really is.
There’s a reason this brief introduction starts with such an explicit – and to my mind helpful – exploration of how the Holy Spirit teaches and why. We’re about to start three subsections, each one of which is uniquely powerful and capable of radically altering our experience here in the dream. When we understand these principles, we are well on the way to reestablishing our lines of communication with God.