I was watching an extended interview with a man named Andy Petro, who in 1955 had a profound near-death experience during a drowning accident. At one point, he attempts to describe the love he felt while “in the Light” (i.e., with God):
There was a feeling of overwhelming unconditional love. I felt so loved by everything and everyone that I’ve struggled for over fifty years now trying to find the right words in the English language to explain the level and depth of love that I was consumed with. And there are none.
He then offers an analogy. He mentions the various types of love he has felt on earth, and then says,
Comparing that to the love that I felt in the Light would be like if I held up a match and I lit a match and then right next to me was the sun. And then I say “This is the best love I ever had on earth compared to the whole sun.” There is no comparison.
Clearly, we on earth cannot imagine what love like that would be like. Our minds and hearts in this state are simply not big enough. Yet I have heard so many NDErs struggle to describe what sounds like the same love—even using similar analogies—that it’s hard to resist the idea that they are all experiencing the same reality. Moreover, what they describe is an uncanny match for what the Course describes as the Love of God.
Then I had an additional thought. In our Teacher of Pupils Training, we are reviewing the various elements of the Workbook’s discipline. Each element seems to ask a lot of us—such as stopping for a few minutes on the hour to dwell on our lesson. Yet with each one, we are seeing the Course tell us that we should do it gladly, thankfully, and happily, because it so purely promotes our happiness.
So my additional thought was this: I should be seeing the Workbook’s discipline as an expression of God’s Love, the kind of love that Andy Petro reports. In His Love, in other words, God so purely wants my happiness that He has given me the means to be happy. It’s like He has given me a pile of Christmas presents because He loves me.
Then I had one more thought: I should see the lessons that my life dishes up for me as an expression of God’s Love. The reasoning is very much the same: God in His Love wants my happiness, and He knows that I will only find happiness through learning salvation. Therefore, He (through the Holy Spirit) makes sure that in each second I meet exactly the lesson I need to further my learning, to gain total happiness.
In talking about all this with Nicola, I realized that I have been absolutely convinced that God is pure Love. Yet I have separated the Workbook practice and my life lessons off from that, without realizing it. I had seen them, rather, as almost the workings of some kind of impersonal law. It’s as if some big machine turned its gears for a while and spat out this stuff for me. I haven’t seen it as God punishing me or testing me, just more like cosmic gears turning, if I had to put a finger on it.
If I really took this to heart, it would obviously mean a much more positive attitude toward the practice and toward my life circumstances. I’ve tended to approach the first as a duty and the second as patently unfair. Now I want to approach both as God loving me through the veil of my sleep, surrounding me with the means to learn so that His child can be happy. This reminds me of one of my favorite spiritual poems, by Elizabeth Browning:
But still I feel that His embrace
Slides down by thrills, through all things made,
Through sight and sound of every place:
As if my tender mother laid
On my shut lids, her kisses’ pressure,
Half waking me at night; and said,
“Who kissed through the dark, dear guesser?”
That’s how I now want to see the Course’s discipline and my life circumstances: God kissing me through the dark. I think that simple change of attitude, if I really let it in, could change everything.