In a recent Teacher-Pupil Initiative (TPI) phone call, the discussion we were having seemed to invite me to finally state that I was going to dedicate myself to the teacher-pupil training next year, even if it meant that I had to cut back on some of our local activities here in Ottawa. I thought that this training was so important that I wanted to devote myself to it fully, to make it my priority. I had felt this for quite some time, but this was the first time I had actually stated it publicly.
Gerry later sent me an email saying how pleased he was that I was accepting this aspect of my special function and said that he was sure that there would be someone else to take over some of the local activities.
I had been encouraging Paula in this direction for some time. She is so dedicated to the Course, to applying it in her life, and to Course Oasis. She has been my “right-hand man” for some time. She has known that the Holy Spirit has been calling her to step into a teaching role with us, but she has chosen to put it off. She wanted to take the teacher-pupil training and move into working with people individually, but she wanted nothing to do with teaching classes.
The next morning, Paula and I had a teacher-pupil session and I brought the idea up again. She reiterated that she knew she was called to it, but was very clear that she wasn’t ready. Something clicked for me, and I told her that there was a difference between being ready and being willing. If the Holy Spirit had told her she was ready, if He had prepared her, who was she to deny that?
Then I said, “I think that you know you’re ready, Paula, but you’re just not willing.” I told her that as long as she held onto the idea that she wasn’t ready, she’d be safe. She’d be off the hook, because not being ready seems to be a legitimate and justifiable reason not to do something. She could just sit and wait until one day when she felt that she was ready!
However, if she looked at from the point of willingness, she had to be responsible. She couldn’t blame it on some outside thing like needing more of this or more of that. It was simply a question of, “Am I willing? Am I willing to accept that it’s a matter of choice. Am I willing to accept that there is nothing in the way but my own lack of willingness? Am I willing to stop hiding behind, ‘I’m not ready’?”
We felt that we were really on to something here, and Paula agreed to talk to the Holy Spirit about this and be open to being willing.
After our session, Paula was staying to help out in the office, but before we got to work we stopped for lunch. As we were eating, I told her what I had said the day before about my role in the teacher-pupil training, and then I said, “I don’t know what to do about having a Workbook Practice Program next year. I don’t want to not offer it. “Paula very calmly and naturally said, “Well, then; I guess I’ll just have to teach it with you.” My mouth dropped open and I almost choked on my sandwich. Paula looked at me and said, “That wasn’t me. There’s no way I would have said that. The words just came out of me. The Holy Spirit put them there.” (Since then, she’s been on the outs with the Holy Spirit, although she has started to come around!)
I couldn’t believe how the Holy Spirit had worked all this out. My statement in the teacher-pupil meeting the day before, Gerry’s comment about “there will be someone else” to take over some of my roles, Paula’s willingness to step in and fill the breach––all of it was so perfectly orchestrated.
“Not ready or not willing?” seemed to be the key for both of us. Both Paula and I had to come to the place of being willing to take the next step in our respective special functions. I had to accept and commit myself fully to being a teacher of teachers; Paula had to accept that she was ready to move into being a teacher of pupils and students.
It’s not quite the same thing, but I’ve been thinking about what Jesus says about the holy instant in “The Little Willingness” (T-18.IV.5):
The answer is given. Seek not to answer it, but merely receive the answer as it is given. In preparing for the holy instant, do not attempt to make yourself holy to be ready to receive it…. Atonement “comes” only to those who offer it nothing more than simple willingness to make way for it…. Rather than seek to prepare yourself for Him, try to think thus:
I who am host to God am worthy of Him.
He Who established His dwelling place in me created it as He would have it be.
It is not needful that I make it ready for Him, but only that I do not interfere with His plan to restore to me my own awareness of my readiness, which is eternal.
I need add nothing to His plan.
But to receive it, I must be willing not to substitute my own in place of it.
Of course we need to be ready and prepared, but it can’t stop there. We must have that “simple willingness” to accept and not interfere with our readiness, and to make way for what we’re called to do. I’m wondering if we are all eternally ready to answer the call, and all that is needed is our simple willingness to answer.
I’m sharing this here with you, because I think that it may be helpful when you are looking at your own state of readiness and willingness to step more fully into your function and answer the call. I also think that it can be useful when your pupils or students say that they are not ready. Please let me know if this had sparked any thoughts or reflections in you.