The other day I was practicing Lesson 346, “Today the peace of God envelopes me, and I forget all things except His Love.” When I first said the second line—“and I forget all things”—something struck me.
What I realized is that I love the idea of having permission to “forget all things,” and get absorbed in one thing. I feel a real pull in the evenings, for instance, to switch on the TV. Usually, I can’t find anything worth watching, but I still feel pulled to have it on, even if only for ten minutes. The reason, I finally realized, is that I can just forget everything and get absorbed in something that soaks up my mind and senses.
For the same reason, I love seeing a good movie. I recently saw a show (on TV!) about the best family movies of all time. Number 5, I think, was Mary Poppins, and a movie critic came on saying, “While you were sitting in the theater watching Mary Poppins, one thing was sure: Nothing else existed.” That’s what I love about watching a really good movie. While you’re sitting in the dark of the theater, it’s like nothing else exists, just this one thing that is pleasantly filling your mind.
Of course, this is why we go on vacations. In our normal lives, all the little affairs of the moment are almost like people crowded into our house, splitting our attention into dozens of anxious little compartments. We look forward to the time when the party will be over and everyone will leave. But of course, this crowd never does. So we have to leave. Hence, vacations.
This angle made the lesson come alive for me. I think the second line for me had always collapsed down to “I really remember His Love.” Now that line had two parts: “I forget all things (which I’m always dying to do) while one supremely happy thing fills my mind.” I hope this doesn’t belittle God, but it frames God’s Love as the ultimate theater-going experience. I can switch off to the jostling crowd of tiny affairs, so that even while it’s in my face, in some sense it doesn’t exist, and I just sit back and enjoy the show.
This little twist made such a difference that I (for once) couldn’t wait to steal away and do my practice periods. So the next day I picked a similar lesson, this one from the end of the The Gifts of God: “Forget all things except My changeless Love. Forget all things except that I am here.”