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Who is suffering?

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

I have just had a most remarkable experience–a miracle actually.

I awoke this morning feeling dispirited, discouraged, tired, and weary–all those things that the Course says come from believing the ego’s lies and looking in its dark glass. I couldn’t settle on a lesson to practice, but I did try to meditate, although I wasn’t very successful. I talked to Jesus, telling him that I needed his help and asking him to tell me what I needed to know. I ended by saying, “Surely there is something you can tell me. I am willing to listen.”

Then the phone rang. It was a student, who had been through the Text and Workbook Programs with me, and with whom I had done a lot of one-on-one work. Because of a complicated work schedule, he couldn’t come to classes, but he still checked in with me from time to time. It had been quite a while since I had heard from him.

He has a job that requires him to travel around the city, and his car had broken down yesterday, obliging him to make his way around town via public transport. As he was waiting for the bus on this below-freezing Ottawa morning, he was thinking about his life, which seemed to be a series of “one thing after another.” Now, on top of it all, he had to stand outside shivering in the cold. He asked, “Why me? Why are all these things happening to me? Why am I suffering so much?” Then, out of the blue, he heard a voice asking him a question that contained the answer: “Who is suffering?” That stopped him in his tracks. Then the words, “I am not a body. I am free,” came to him, and he asked himself, “If I strongly believe that I am not a body, then what are all these things about? They can’t cause me to suffer. They’re not even real.”

He said that he remembered hearing me end prayers and practices with the words, “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” He had said them many times himself, but until now they had remained only words for him. This time they brought him an actual experience. As he stood there, he was aware of the sensation of cold, but he felt no pain and was not suffering at all–not from the cold, not even from the circumstances of his life.

As he related all this to me, I recalled a question from a Text passage we had read the week before, “Who is the ‘you’ who is living in this world?” (T-4.II.11:8). In a flash, I saw that everything I was feeling was related to my seeing myself as a body, and I realized that his answer was mine as well. This is what Jesus had to tell me! With that, all the upsetting feelings I had been experiencing totally disappeared, and I felt light-hearted and free.

I told my brother about how I had been feeling when he had called, and how everything had changed as he shared his experience. I was sure that this was the handiwork of the Holy Spirit. He had heard my brother’s call and mine and answered them both. With a simple question (“Who is suffering?”), He had shone the truth into my brother’s mind, healing it, and then my brother–who was suddenly inspired to call me and share his experience with me–shone the healing of his mind into mine, healing it as well! We had experienced a miracle! I think that we were both somewhat stunned by the power of what had happened.

(Other than the Holy Spirit’s workings, what I really liked about this experience was the fact that, here was a student whom I had helped many times, and now he had helped me, his teacher! How cool is that?!)

To keep myself on track today so that I don’t lose this wonderful gift, I have decided to practice a favourite quote from Lesson 191 (7:3-4). I have slightly adapted it to include a comment about trust, because I am focusing on trust in my practicing this week:

I am the holy Son of God Himself.
I trust that I cannot suffer, cannot be in pain;
I cannot suffer loss, nor fail to do all that salvation asks [of me.]

And, of course, I’m ending it with…

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me!