Lesson 78 in the Workbook is one of those lessons that gives us an exercise for forgiving a particular person in our lives. First the lesson directs us in how to select this person. Then we review at some length our current picture of him, including the things we resent him for. Finally, after three and a half paragraphs, we are given the core of the exercise, the words which will guide our minds into a place of forgiveness. These words, however, can seem less like a transformative exercise and more like a confusing jumble. They take the form of a very long sentence, broken by only one comma:
Let me behold my savior in this one You have appointed as the one for me to ask to lead me to the holy light in which he stands, that I may join with him.
For years this exercise meant little or nothing to me. In recent years, however, I have come to treasure these lines. To really feel the transformative impact, it helps to break this sentence up and take in its meaning and its imagery one piece at a time.
“Let me behold my savior in this one”
In this opening line you are asking the Holy Spirit to reveal something you haven’t seen in your brother, something that lies beyond your ugly picture of him. You are asking to “let your mind be shown the light in him beyond your grievances” (as the line after the exercise says). Just past your image of him as a callous attacker, you are asking to behold in him your savior.
Now, “savior” here does not mean “the one who gives you all those juicy opportunities to forgive.” What does it mean? The line that introduces the exercise says this: “Then let us ask [the Holy Spirit], that we may…see our savior shining in the light of true forgiveness, given unto us.” In reality, your brother is someone so holy that he radiates the light of true forgiveness, given unto you. He is your savior because, when you gaze on who he really is, his holy light streams into your mind and shines all your guilt away. That is how he saves you. That is what you are asking to experience.
“You have appointed as the one for me to ask”
This brother holds something so valuable that the Holy Spirit has appointed him to be “the one.” That is why, when the lesson was asking you to select a person, his name popped into your mind. He has been appointed, and something in your mind knew that. In particular, he has been appointed as the one that you will ask something of. The next line tells us what that something is.
“to lead me to the holy light in which he stands,”
You are asking him to take you by the hand and lead you into the light. Notice that you are consistently portrayed as being in the receptive role. You are being saved, being answered, being led. Seeing yourself as the humble recipient of the salvation he imparts is a total reversal of your current view, in which you are the superior victim of the damnation he brings.
This line paints a concrete image. So visualize it; see him leading you into “the holy light in which he stands.” Of course, you need not wait for him to consciously lead you there (or you may be waiting a very long time). You need simply see the truth in him, for its very nature is to lead you to its light.
Standing is more than a physical act. It carries a wealth of connotations. To say that this is “the holy light in which he stands” is to say that this light is the state he exists in. It is where he has established himself. It is the stand he has taken. This light is what he is about. He is of the light.
This is what makes standing with him in the light such a powerful image. For, of course, once he leads you there, you will be standing there together. The Course likes this image so much it uses it again just nine lessons later (in 87.2:3), where it gives us this suggested practice: “You stand with me in light, [name].”
“that I may join with him.”
The exercise now concludes. Your savior has led you to the light that is his home, and there, standing with him, bathed in light, you and he unite. Now, everything he has is yours as well. The light in which he stands is your light. The salvation that was his to give is your salvation. For you and he are one.
That you are not just joining him, but doing so in light, gives the joining a sense of holiness. It implies that what is uniting is only what is true and pure in the two of you. And it implies a three-way joining, in which you and he join not only with each other, but with the light as well.
This exercise has taken us through an entire process of healing, through a complete reversal. We began by seeing this person as dishing out to us darkness and grief. In our eyes, he stood not only apart from us but beneath us. Then we learned that he was appointed by the Holy Spirit for a holy task. He is the one of whom we are meant to ask salvation. As we asked, we saw him lead us by the hand into the light of our salvation, the radiance in which he lives. And there, standing together in the light, we united with him, so that what he is are we as well. Now he no longer stands apart from us, nor beneath us. We see past that false image of him as our attacker and our judge. Now, at last, we behold our savior.
[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]