[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
(February 13, Lesson 44)
This morning I had an amazing practice time, for which I am very grateful, and which I’d like to share with you.
The changes in James’s workplace continue, and an atmosphere of uncertainty and negativity pervades the whole site. The practices that we did (which I related in my last blog) were very helpful and the benefits lasted for over a week. However, as James has been relating new developments to me on a daily basis, I have become fearful and angry–despite my practicing. As I get older, I have concerns about our financial security, and this growing state of uncertainty has activated those concerns in a big-time way! I also have a tendency to place my faith in disaster rather than in the Holy Spirit (T-16.II.8:4), and my disastrous “what-ifs” have been very present.
I have been practicing my lessons, but during the past few days they have not been penetrating. Yesterday’s lesson was “God is my Source. I cannot see apart from Him” (43), and James’s work situation offered me plenty of raw material for practice. In the longer periods I let related thoughts come; for instance, “I can see only with the eyes of love and forgiveness,” “I can see only what is holy, pure, and blessed.” I applied the frequent reminders to both the situation and the people at the decision-making levels. I responded to the temptation to feel angry and scared by applying the lesson specifically to the situation: “God is my Source. I cannot see this situation with James’s workplace apart from Him.” Some of my anger thoughts were directed to particular people in the company, so I also applied the lesson to them, naming them directly.
Nothing seemed to work, though, and–on top of feeling angry and scared about the situation– I ended up feeling frustrated and angry with myself! I wanted to see things differently; I wanted to see peace instead of what I was seeing now; I wanted to see everything through my holiness; I wanted to see with healed perception. So how come I wasn’t succeeding?! This called for emergency measures, so before I went to sleep, I determined that in the morning I would spend as much time with God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus as I needed in order to see peace and be at peace.
When I got up this morning, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with this time. I often seek guidance though journaling, but that didn’t seem to be what was called for. In fact, I thought that in this case writing more about the situation would probably make things worse. I could have done the same exercise that James and I had done previously, but that didn’t seem to be the route to go either.
As I picked up my Course, the answer was right there in my mind: Go through the lessons one-by-one, starting with Lesson 1. So I did. I read each lesson title slowly and reflectively, pausing with each one, applying it to the situation at hand, and sometimes reading part of the lesson itself. The instant I started to say the lessons to myself, I felt peaceful and calm, and that continued, and even grew as I read through each one.
I ended my quiet time with a longer meditation on today’s lesson, “God is the light in which I see” (44). This lesson introduces my favourite approach to practice: bringing to our meditation an attitude and sense of confidence, desire and determination, importance, and holiness. I entered into this meditation reminding myself of these attitudes and focusing briefly on each one: “I truly desire to reach God. I am determined to reach God and really do have confidence that I will succeed. This is important for my salvation and the world’s. There is a holiness about it, because attempting to reach the light of God in me is a holy endeavour.”
All of this prepared me for a very powerful meditation, in which I actually did experience a deep sense of relaxation, and a feeling that I was “approaching, if not actually entering into the light” (10:1). I came out of the meditation with a smile on my face and feeling completely peaceful, calm, and loving, and most of all–totally trusting.
In reflecting on the experience, I could truly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in it. I have never read through all these early lessons as I did this morning, nor have I ever thought to do so. So why this morning, why such an unusual practice for me? I think the answer lies in something Jesus said in Lesson 42:
The idea for the day is a beginning step in bringing thoughts together, and teaching you that you are studying a unified thought system in which nothing is lacking that is needed, and nothing is included that is contradictory or irrelevant. (7:2)
As I have been going through these lessons and teaching them in our Workbook Practice Program, I have been noticing more than ever how all the thoughts connect one with the other, how all the ideas build on and relate to one another. I have been aware of the clear progression from Lesson 1 on and how each lesson flows naturally to the next.
So here I am presented this morning with the opportunity to see first-hand the connections among the thoughts in this “unified thought system,” and to experience that nothing is lacking in it and nothing is irrelevant! I may have had the unconscious desire to experience the connections and the relevancy of them to my situation, but the Holy Spirit whispered in my mind and gave me the way to do that.
My gratitude for this Course grows daily!