I’ve been away from this blog for what seems like ages. I got sunk into both the holidays and a very consuming project, and I’m just now starting to bob back up to the surface.
What I want to share about is that I did a class for our teacher of pupils training the other night and it’s had a spectacular effect on me. The class was on a topic I’ve been resistant to for ages: hourly remembrance, the 1-5 minutes of practice the Workbook often asks us to do every hour on the hour.
Of course, I’ve done countless hourly remembrances. But they are typically fairly ineffective. I don’t like removing myself from whatever I am doing, I tend to do them halfheartedly, and my mind often wanders a lot.
I’ve adapted to this, settling into the idea that the most important components of my practice are my morning quiet time and my frequent reminders (repeating the idea briefly throughout the day). Those two components have historically had the greatest impact on my state of mind. So I’ve seen the day hinging mainly on them.
Therefore, I didn’t approach the class the other day with any great enthusiasm. But as I was preparing for it, bit by bit a pattern began to emerge, one that I had never really seen before. The pattern was this: Jesus is extremely aware of just how much we don’t want to take that time out of the middle of our day, the very thick of our activities, and so in multiple ways he deals with this.
He helps us adapt to the external circumstances, deal with guilt over missing, deal with resistance over giving the time, face honestly why we missed. He motivates us with talk of the benefits, and emphasizes the benefits to others, given how irresponsible we’ll be prone to feel for taking time away from our responsibilities. And he helps us approach the practice periods with a whole new attitude, in which we do them gladly and gratefully, and even spend the hour looking forward to our next one.
Once I saw this whole pattern in the Workbook, I realized that Jesus knew precisely the resistance I experience in relation to the hourlies and had a carefully conceived edifice of solutions.
The class was Sunday night (for me here in England), and since then I haven’t missed a single hourly practice (even in the late evening) except for ones I literally couldn’t do. And even then I did a quick practice and sometimes made it up later.
My attitude toward them has totally changed, and as a result I am approaching them very differently and am suddenly getting the most out of them. The result has been that the last three days have been entirely different than my normal days.
One difference is that my practice has been transformed. I’ve been staying with every aspect of the practice—morning, evening, frequent reminders, response to temptation. Somehow, the hourly practice periods are turning out to be the key to the whole structure. As a result, I’ve been in a noticeably more peaceful and loving state of mind.
The other difference is that I am doing different things in the day. I am going about my day differently. This is due to the practice of asking for guidance for the hour to come. I’ve tried to make that a habit in the past, but to be honest, I shy away from it because I often hear that I should do something I don’t want to do! But in the last three days, asking for guidance on the hour has been a huge key. I have been getting messages to do different things than I normally do, and the result—I shouldn’t be surprised—has been that everything has been working better. It’s been an almost total change. I could go into specifics, but this post is already long. Maybe I’ll tell some stories later.
What is especially weird to me is that this practice is something that I know like the back of my hand. I have done, I expect, tens of thousands of hourly practice periods. How could an extremely familiar thing like that, this old shoe that I’ve had an ambivalent relationship with for years, suddenly become this lost key? It makes me wonder how many other things there are in the Course just like that.