Montezuma’s Forgiveness?

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

I had a physical healing a couple of nights ago that felt like a kind of miracle. It felt like experiential evidence that the Course is right when it says we cause our own illnesses, and we can let them go whenever we decide we have no use for further punishment. Let me tell you what happened.

I’ve been living in Mexico for over a month now. Before coming here, I heard all the clichés about “Don’t drink the water” (which at least for Xalapa’s tap water turns out to be true) and “Montezuma’s Revenge”: gastrointestinal diseases caused by exposure to bacteria those of us from other parts of the world aren’t used to. So far, I had been spared this particular indignity. Though I’d eaten a lot of food from numerous sources, I hadn’t yet experienced any problems.

Until Friday night. Soon after going to bed that night, I got that old familiar feeling that told me something I ate didn’t agree with me: waves of stomach pain, nausea, hot skin, and a cold sweat. “Hoo boy,” I thought. “Mexico has caught up with me at last.” Surely, I thought, it was something from the Mexican Independence Day party I had attended with Patricia earlier in the day. There was all sorts of delicious food, and I had happily eaten my fill. Well, it seemed that Montezuma was finally getting his due.

Immediately, I started wondering what to do. When I’ve had similar ailments in the past, it meant several days of emptying my stomach the hard way and lying flat on my back in bed. And who knew how much worse this case might be, especially since it was probably my first exposure to this particular bug? I just didn’t want this to happen, especially with my Spanish class final exam coming up next week.

So, I asked within for guidance as I lay there in bed, and I got something surprising. What immediately came to mind was this passage from the Manual:

The patient could merely rise up…and say, “I have no use for this.” There is no form of sickness that would not be cured at once. (M-5.II.2:12-13).

I felt strongly that in this instance, this was exactly what I was supposed to do. So I just kept repeating over and over, “I have no use for this….I have no use for this…I have no use for this….” Behind this repetition was a feeling that I didn’t articulate very clearly at the time, but went something like this: “I’m not a sinner. I don’t deserve to be punished. God wants me to be free of this.” I would guess that this was inspired in part by the Workbook lesson I had done that day, “Let me remember that there is no sin” (Lesson 259).

Long story short: My condition vanished completely! I felt it gradually dissipate while repeating “I have no use for this,” and eventually I fell asleep while continuing my repetitions. I don’t know how long it took because I didn’t look at the clock, but I can’t imagine it was more than a half hour or so, probably less. I remember waking up later that night and marveling at the fact that my stomach upset, fever, and chills were completely gone. Hallelujah!

Now, the skeptic would say that maybe this particular ailment was a very mild thing, and it just went away quickly on its own. That’s possible, but I don’t think that’s what happened here, for at least a couple of reasons. First, I had experienced those symptoms in the past, and every single time it meant a condition that took me out for at least several days. At the very least, I would have had to take several trips to el baño to empty my stomach. (I’m trying not to be graphic here.) But in this case, the symptoms came and went in less than an hour, with no need to empty anything except my mind of thoughts of sin. It is truly unprecedented for me.

Second, my decision to repeat that line felt strongly guided. The line dropped right into my mind out of the blue and there was a strong pull to repeat it, as if the Holy Spirit detected some sort of readiness in me and was ready to take full advantage of it. I felt a much stronger conviction than usual as I was repeating the line. Something out of the ordinary was going on here. A brick in that “I’m a sinner who deserves punishment” wall was ready to be removed this very day. I think this healing really did come from God.

So, there you have it. I’ve come away from this experience with strengthened conviction that yes, we really do cause our own sicknesses, and we really can let them go completely when we are fully ready and willing to do so. God is ready whenever we are.

I don’t think this means that every illness will just vanish with one little practice session like mine did this time. There have been plenty of times in my life when doing such a practice session had no apparent effect, though I’m sure it helped on a deeper level of my mind. So, don’t feel disappointed if you try this at home and don’t experience what I did this time. The Course says that such miracles will happen when we’re fully willing, and we should happily remind ourselves that every practice period brings that full willingness closer.

I’m writing about this experience to share the good news that, as we keep walking the Course’s path day by day, we do have those wonderful moments when our willingness meets with God’s and miracles happen. For me, these are great foretastes of that inevitable, joyous moment when our willingness is absolutely complete, forgiveness washes away that wall of “revenge” in all its forms, and we awaken from the dream of sickness and suffering forever.