A while back, I wrote a blog about resigning as my own teacher and letting myself be a pupil to Jesus (“Learning Disabled,” posted May 10). Several weeks went by with me all but forgetting my decision. Obviously there was some resistance to letting go, so when I went on a recent retreat, I decided to truly spend time being his pupil and letting him teach me what he wanted me to learn.
The first day there, I could feel that I was afraid to be alone with Jesus: who knows what he would ask of me, or even worse, what if he didn’t show up?! I also felt that there was some other fear lurking about in me, so I decided to journal about it. I started to write, “The Course teaches” and then stopped short, hit by a huge realization. Here’s what I said to Jesus about it:
It’s not really the Course that’s teaching. How can a book, an inanimate object, really teach anything?! It’s you who teaches. It’s not the Course saying anything––it’s you! As long as I say, “The Course teaches,” or “The Course says,” or “According to the Course,” I can keep these teachings once removed from you. Perhaps it’s also a way of keeping you once removed from me!
As long as I can say, “The Course says,” I remain a student of a book of teachings. As soon as I say, “You say,” or “Jesus says,” I become a pupil of a real person, of a teacher––of you! This may seem like a trivial detail, but to me it’s big––very big. So big that tears come to my eyes just thinking about it.
I think that I’m afraid to be alone with you, because I’m afraid of being your pupil. If I accept that it is you speaking through these words in the Course, speaking these words to me, then I really have to accept you as my personal teacher. I have to put myself entirely in your hands and follow your direction. I have to stop being a separate being, in control and deciding for myself. Perhaps greater than the fear of losing control of my life and of having to let go of all that I’ve taught myself, is the fear of actually losing this self. Perhaps I’m not so much afraid that you won’t come, but that you will!
Here is part of what he said in response,
All I ask is that you follow me––not to death and destruction, but to eternal life. Fear is where you are now, Mary, not where you will be if you take my hand and follow me. Let me lead you out of the desert you have made for yourself and through which you wander lost. Step back, Mary. Really step back, so that you can finally step forward. All that I ask is that you lay aside all self-deceptions and follow me to the endless joy that awaits your glad acceptance. Let me in, Mary. Let me in.
Since then, I have been reading the Course differently, seeing it differently. These are not simply words on a page. They are words spoken to me by Jesus, who is teaching me directly and personally. In the past, I have often read parts of the Course inserting my name from time to time, to make the words more personal, but now I’m doing it more and more intentionally. I am aware that I am a pupil learning from a teacher who is speaking directly to me. Doing this, I can’t just skim over the words or let them remain on an intellectual level. I have to pause and really take them in, hearing them being spoken to me. I have to appreciate the devotion and love of a teacher who really wants me to learn what he’s teaching. Every lesson in the Workbook, every paragraph in the Text is taking on deeper significance for me. I am much more willing to sit at the feet of Jesus and let him do his job as I do mine.