It is important that we not confuse the veil that obscures Christ’s face with the face of Christ itself. The veil terrifies us; but Christ integrates us instantly and wholly into Love. So long as we are scared, even to the tiniest degree, we behold the veil before Christ’s face, and not Christ itself. We don’t need to denigrate ourselves for doing this; it happens. It’s okay. We all do it. But we can help each other undo it, too.
The veil before Christ’s face is a symbol. It represents the fear and guilt that underlie our experience of separation from God and Love. Thus, the veil is not external, though sometimes what is external can help us to get a handle on where and how to look for it. There is a point in one’s practice of A Course in Miracles where the interior landscape begins to clarify and we can move around in it easier. So we know where to go to look at the fear and the guilt, and we know the safe spot to which we can safely retreat, regain strength and come back again.
This is the work! It is why we study the course – to learn how to look in a gentle sustainable way at the blocks that stand in the way of Love, which is to say: the fear and guilt that function as a veil obscuring Christ. Nothing else matters. Our income tax bracket, our broken marriage, the books we haven’t read, the bottles of booze people we love kill themselves in . . . none of it.
All that matters is looking at the veil in order to learn that the veil is not there.
The veil hangs dark and heavy and still – more like a wall of iron with terrifying faces painted on it in blood – inside of us. It’s there when we’re burying a beloved dog and it’s there when your child gives us a Valentine even though it’s April. The outside means nothing to it. Don’t look for the veil in what is external. Don’t look for anything there – not even Christ.
All we are learning to do – all this lifetime and this study and this practice is for – is look at the veil. And when we make contact with it, then all that matters is coming back to it over and over until at last we are ready to draw it aside and give attention to what it has long kept hidden from us.
The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they are all different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him (T-31.VII.9:1).
This is not hard to understand intellectually. We are one and our failure to recognize this is the separation. So the atonement is simply the acceptance of our oneness. Our brothers and sisters are not apart from us and we are not apart from them.
We know this at the level of mental thought. But we do not feel it as the truth of our being. And so we do not live it. I look around the room as I write and you are not here. You are in your room, with your prayers and your books and your people. And thus I still labor under the illusion that my body and your body are what really matters. Thus do I perceive the gap that separates us as real. Leonard Cohen sang about this very beautifully in his song Closing Time.
I loved you for your beauty
that doesn’t make a fool of me
You were in it for your beauty too
and I loved you for your body
there’s a voice that sounds like God to me
declaring, declaring, declaring that your body’s really you
We get confused. The world seems so real to us. The way it tastes and feels, smells and sounds. The way other folks arise in it as friends and enemies and lovers. Parts of this world are so lovely, we can’t imagine giving them up. Parts are so horrifying, we can’t even allow ourselves to think about them. Our bodies please us one day but fail us the next. We try to understand it and figure it out and make it mean something, but it doesn’t. It can’t. Not consistently. This world was made to hide the face of Christ, not reveal it.
Sooner or later we see this function of the world and at last let it go. We close our eyes and grope for the hand within – the hand of Jesus, who leads us to the Holy Spirit, who perfectly enfolds us and leads us gently and surely to the veil that we have placed between the Love that is God and everything else and helps us pull it aside. Nothing is real except what lies on the far side of the veil. The whole journey was a dream: only this is real.
When one reaches this place, it is possible to become frozen for what feels like a lifetime. We find ourselves wanting another spiritual practice or a better teacher or improved life circumstances or another run with psychotherapy or a new exercise regimen. And all of this – however appealing, however apparently logical – is merely a form of delay. All any of it means is that we are going to come back to this moment again later. Why wait? Why postpone love?
If you are reading this, it is because you have done the work and found the companions who both guide you to the veil and then stand beside you while you decide whether – finally – to reach out and brush it aside. If my word counts for anything: there is no better time and we are not joined for any better purpose.
We do not need to be afraid of God any longer. We do not need to be separated from Love any longer.
Let us join together in a holy instant, here in this place where the purpose, given in a holy instant, has led you. And let us join in faith that He Who brought us here together will offer you the innocence you need, and that you will accept it for my love and His (T-19.D.i.9:6-7).
We stand with each other in order that we might each turn within and find the imagined source of darkness and pain. We are joined as one that we might look at guilt and fear and see it dissolved. The veil before Christ’s face is undone in our mutual service and attentiveness. And seeing it – and knowing our brothers and sisters stand with us, and that we are joined by the mightiest of companions – we at last are ready to undo it. We reach out with trembling fingers towards this last obstacle to Love: it shifts: disappears: and then . . .