Once again we repeat this "holy instant" lesson. It seems as if the author is telling us, "Having received all the thoughts we have given you, there is really nothing left for you to do except to put your life into the hands of the Holy Spirit." Helen Schucman, who wrote the first parts of the preface to the Course some time after completing the Course itself (the final section of the preface, "What It Says," was taken down from the same inner dictation as the rest of the books), said there:
The Course makes no claim to finality, nor are the Workbook lessons intended to bring the student's learning to completion. At the end, the reader is left in the hands of his or her own Internal Teacher, Who will direct all subsequent learning as He sees fit. (preface, pp. ix-x)
That is exactly what these final five days are reinforcing, leaving us in the hands of the Holy Spirit for our further instruction.
The Workbook is a primer, one that is intended to ready us for the ongoing instruction of the Holy Spirit. It serves as a kind of crutch while we are too weak to stand on our own. I sometimes like to think of the Workbook as training wheels on our spiritual bicycle. The training wheels are there to keep the child who is learning to ride from falling over. Once he learns to keep his balance, the wheels become unnecessary, while the rider continues to learn to ride his bike better and better, perhaps learning to do wheelies, ride with no hands, or even do off-road dirt bike maneuvers. The learning isn't over when we are done with the Workbook; there is much yet to learn.
The training of the Course is a mind training. The Workbook offers mental "training wheels," the structure of daily thoughts and suggested practice exercises. Its purpose is to initiate us into the Course's form of spiritual practice, which consists of mentally engaging with God, morning, evening, and moment to moment throughout the day. Its words give us something to grasp while we try to form this new habit. In the beginning it is very structured, and the structure gets fairly demanding. Over time it eases off, in the assumption that we have begun to form the habits it is attempting to impart. Here, in the final lessons, the structure is about to fall completely away; the training wheels are being removed. We are left in the hands of the Holy Spirit alone, with no book to guide us.
Some, perhaps, may be motivated enough to apply themselves diligently throughout the entire first year they do the Workbook, following its instructions (or trying to) every day. If indeed one were to do this, a single year would be enough to form the habits of spiritually engaging with God. For most of us, however, once is not enough.
I have to confess at this writing, this next year (1997) will be, I think, my ninth pass through the Workbook. My first took me most of three years. Since then I've done it once a year except for one year I decided I wanted to do something different for a while. I'm a slow learner; as this year ends, I still haven't formed the daily habits the Workbook is trying to teach us. I'm doing much better each year, but it is still a rare day I remember to practice my lesson every hour, much less recall it briefly five or six times in between the hours—and that is what the practice instructions consist of once we are several months into the book. So I am doing it again, not just so that I can share daily comments with you folks, but because I still have much to learn myself.
Yet even though I don't feel I can take this lesson as fully as it is meant, letting go of the Workbook to go on in my private instruction with the Holy Spirit, I can still take it for each time of practice and remembrance through the day. "This holy instant would I give to You." Every instant can be a holy one. Let's try to remember, today, as often as we can. Each time we do, let's give the instant to Him to be made holy. Or rather, let's give it to Him for His purposes in recognition that it is holy.
As the introduction to this lesson stressed:
Unto us the aim is given to forgive the world. It is the goal that God has given us. (W-pII.FL.3:2-3)
That is the purpose the Holy Spirit has, and each instant given to Him is used for that purpose: forgiving the world. "It is our function to remember Him on earth" (W-pII.FL.4:1). We remember Him by forgiving: "For all that we forgive we will not fail to recognize as part of God Himself" (W-pII.fl.3:5). Our brothers are our saviors; through our forgiveness of them, we remember God.