First off, I want to apologize for being away for so long. I’ve had quite a lengthy illness, which the rest of my family here got, but I got worse! That’s why we had no CCC classes last month and why I’ve been so silent here. I’m feeling much better now and as a result am getting back on track with my practice, and I wanted to share a bit about how it’s going today. I’m doing Lesson 343 today:
“I am not asked to make a sacrifice
To find the mercy and the peace of God.”
I find myself relating to this lesson in a way I haven’t before, and it’s really because of a single observation. This morning I realized that I see every little thing that I’m asked to do “to find the mercy and the peace of God” to be a sacrifice. Pausing for a practice period. Saying the prayer for this lesson. Forgiving other people. Giving to other people. Dispelling wandering thoughts when I meditate. Asking for guidance. All of it seems like a sacrifice. Now I know it’s not really, but that hasn’t kept it from feeling that way on an emotional level. When I think of getting to God I feel this enormous sense of payment. It feels like purchasing the world’s most expensive car when you’re poor.
What came to me today is that this is really a problem of mislabeling. I’ve labeled all those things I mentioned above as sacrifice. And I’ve labeled the things I would do instead as pleasure, as kindness to myself. That simple act of mislabeling makes a huge difference. Those labels become self-fulfilling: I call practice a drudgery and so I (at least partly) experience it as drudgery.
So today I’ve been trying to label all the elements of the Course’s program as a kindness to myself. I’ve been trying to see them all as joyous acts of laying hold of the mercy and the peace of God for free. So far it’s had two effects. One is that I’ve been keeping with the practice really well. My usual ambivalence seems gone. The other is that I am finding the thought that there’s nothing to sacrifice in order to find God to be an astonishing thought. How incredible! Could it really be true? Is it possible that there is absolutely no cost, nothing (real) to give up, in order to find God? What a deal! Why have I been doing so much procrastinating on the journey home?