These Words Dispel the Night

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

I’ve had a close relationship with the written word as far back as I can remember. I received my first books on my eighth birthday. King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table opened me to a lifelong quest for peace, equality, and justice. Toby Tyler and Ten Weeks with a Circus beckoned me to adventure beyond my limitations and comfort zone into a new world. Little Women offered me the model of a strong and creative young woman, unbound by gender constraints. I walked miles to our local public library and read right through the shelves of books in the children’s section. Novels about girls who overcame the limits of their life situation, had adventures, followed their dreams, and found happiness taught me that so could I. Nonfiction books satisfied my thirst for knowledge and understanding. As I look back on those days, I can see that the books I read prepared me for the day I would open the pages of A Course in Miracles.

I’ve had a personal relationship with the words of the Course from the moment I opened the book. I knew instantly that what I was reading was the truth, that Jesus was writing these words, and that they were meant for me. My thirst for truth, understanding, and knowledge, would be satisfied within its pages, as would my quest for peace and happiness and the desire to overcome the limitations of my life as I knew it.

Over the years since I first embraced the Course, my relationship with its words and with their author has deepened steadily. Just as my childhood books opened me to new worlds, the Course continually opens me to a whole new world of meaning. However, this is not a fictional or a physical world, but the real world, one lit with true meaning.

When I read its words, I don’t just read through or over them, as I might a novel. I read them slowly and intentionally, paying close attention, and taking them personally. When Jesus asks a question, I assume that he wants me to answer it, instead of casually reading it as if it were just part of the narrative. I often read as if Jesus is speaking to me directly. I imagine hearing him addressing me by name, really wanting me to learn what he’s teaching. If I’m not clear about the meaning of something, I’ll stop and reread it, searching out the meaning. I sometimes stop and ask Jesus to help me understand what he means––“after all, you did write these words.” In this way, the words don’t remain just words on the page, but words that are meant to teach me, show me, open me to that new world of meaning.

The words of the Course also transport me into a new experience. Jesus writes so beautifully and poetically. When I really take in his words, letting them find a home in me, and allowing the Holy Spirit to fill them with all the meaning they have, they become a door to a transformative experience that goes beyond words.

It’s primarily the practices and prayers of the Workbook that do this for me and certain passages from the Text that touch me deeply. One such passage is, “For still deeper than the ego’s foundation, and much stronger than it will ever be is your intense and burning love of God and His for you” (T-13.III.3:8). Sitting with that idea for a while, repeating the words slowly and thoughtfully, allowing them to reach into my heart and mind always has a profound emotional impact on me.

I start and end my practice periods and meetings with “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me” (W-Re.6.In.3:3-5). I’ve taken Jesus at his word when he asks me to make this a part of every practice period! As I practice, I repeat the words, not by rote but sincerely and intentionally, really focusing on each sentence, trusting that by doing so, one day I will have “finally accepted [the words] as the truth” (W-284.1:5).

I’m far from fully believing and living the Course’s words, but “perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow” (W-124.9:1), I will. They haven’t yet dispelled the night, but they are dispelling it, making inroads into my mind and heart slowly and surely, leading me beyond the words to “the wordless, deep experience” of God and His love (W-PtII.In.12:2).