I have just had two of the most amazing practice days I’ve ever had. When I came out of my morning quiet time on the first day, all I wanted to do was somehow give you the experience I had had, so that it could be yours as well. I couldn’t do that, of course, but perhaps through these words I can give you a hint of what I experienced.
First some background: I had been quite concerned about this macular degeneration that I have, because over the past few weeks I had been noticing that my sight was being more affected. I couldn’t imagine losing most of my sight or what that would mean for my life and my work with the Course, and I was quite scared.
However, as I said to James the other night, what scared me even more than the idea of living without full eyesight was the thought of living without God. That was what I had also been feeling. No matter how much I practiced and prayed and asked, I had virtually no sense of God being with me. Crying, I told James that the pain of not feeling God’s presence was unbearable, and I didn’t want to go on that way––I just couldn’t.
That day, we had been practicing Lesson 239, “The glory of my Father is my own.” I wanted to accept the truth of myself. I was thankful for “the light that shines forever” in me, and I wanted to “honor it,” but I couldn’t feel it. God, in His great love for me, had given me his glory and I wasn’t in touch with it! I realized that by not accepting the truth of what I am, I was dishonoring it, dishonoring myself, and, more than that, I was dishonoring God. That caused me even more pain!
That was the state in which I went to bed.
The next morning (Tuesday), the lesson was, “Fear is not justified in any form.” I really took the words in the commentary paragraph to heart, especially those about fear being self-deception. I knew I was deceiving myself about myself, but I couldn’t seem to stop. As we went into our quiet time of meditation, I prayed the prayer over and over, letting the thoughts wash over me. (Hmm; now that I think of it, as I let them wash over me, I think they cleansed me and healed me.)
Of course God wouldn’t let me, His Son, suffer. In His mercy, He wills that I be saved from everything, from every thought, that seems to hurt me! Every time my mind wandered, I repeated, “Give me faith to recognize Your Son in me, and set him free…. Give me faith to recognize Your Son in me, and set him free.”
Those words took me somewhere deep into the heart of me, and I began to feel, in the words of the lesson, that I was recognizing myself and forgiving myself in God’s Name––for God, for His joy, in honor of Him––and that I was starting to understand my holiness and even feel love for myself. By now, of course, tears were flowing freely! Then I moved naturally into applying this to others, and I felt that I was forgiving everyone in my life, everyone in the whole world––even Stephen Harper (our George Bush-wannabe prime minister) and Adam Sandler (don’t ask!).
When James reached his hand over to me to end our quiet time, I couldn’t stop; I couldn’t come out of the place I was in. I just sat there filled with love for everyone, eyes filled with tears and heart filled with joy. I really felt that I had set myself free and everyone else along with me. I had never felt anything like that before––not anywhere near that extent. My heart had expanded to embrace everyone and everything. My gosh; it even embraced the pigeons that invade my bird feeders!
When I finally did come out of it, James said I looked radiant and joyful, as if I was filled with the glory of God. This carried on throughout the whole day and into the next.
That was yesterday, and we practiced “This holy instant is salvation come.” Again, I had a profound experience in my morning quiet time. I actually felt that salvation had come, not only for me, but also for those “countless millions.” I don’t know how or why I knew it; I just did. I really understood that I needed––truly wanted––to forgive everyone, to set everyone free. I knew that in this way I was honoring the light in me, honoring my brothers, and honoring God. It was the way I would also honor Jesus and set him free too! It’s all he wanted of me. And I was actually doing it––or rather, it was being done!
Once again, I could hardly come out of our quiet time, and again the love and joy––and gratitude––continued on throughout the day––in all my teacher-pupil meetings and in the Workbook class I taught in the evening.
In one teacher-pupil meeting, my brother asked for help in relation to one of his pupils. At one point, we stopped and asked for guidance, and instantly I was saying to his pupil, “You have carried such a burden with you everywhere you have lived, and you have suffered so. You don’t need to do that anymore. Lay your burden down. You have done nothing wrong. All the hurt and hate you have ever expressed has been cancelled. You are forgiven; you are free.” I really do believe that, at least in that moment, salvation had come to him. My brother responded with, “Wow. That was guidance, and it’s going to be very helpful.” He has since met with his pupil and just let me know that they had a “great session… a great beginning” and that the guidance was “a huge help.”
Today’s lesson (“This day is God’s. It is my gift to Him”) would seem to be a perfect lesson to carry this one, but…! It’s been an okay practice day so far, and I have had moments, but it hasn’t come close to bringing me the experience of the last two days. But, that’s okay. I know it’s there and it will come again. Most of all, I know that God is here; the smile on my face reminds me of that. And even if I don’t have that overwhelming sense of His presence right now, I will again. Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow!
Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention that for now I’m not feeling afraid about the macular degeneration. I will continue to do my healing work around it and treat it with the supplements that appear to help, but it’s not a big deal. No matter what happens with my sight, I haven’t lost God!