II. SECTION 11. What is Creation?
Lesson 330 I will not hurt myself again today.
- Let us this day accept forgiveness as our only function. Why should we attack our minds, and give them images of pain? Why should we teach them they are powerless, when God holds out His power and His Love, and bid them take what is already theirs? The mind that is made willing to accept God’s gifts has been restored to spirit, and extends its freedom and its joy, as is the Will of God united with its own. The Self Which God created cannot sin and therefore cannot suffer. Let us choose today that He be our Identity, and thus escape forever from all things the dream of fear appears to offer us.
- Father, Your Son can not be hurt. And if we think we suffer, we but fail to know our one Identity we share with You. We would return to It today, to be made free forever from all our mistakes, and to be saved from what we thought we were.
Today’s lesson idea completes the study of Part II, Section 11, What is Creation. It is important that we learn how accepting forgiveness as our only function frees our mind from all that would disturb it and set it against itself. In a day-to-day application of this idea, we practice our only function as we train our minds to return to God – we forgive the upside down world that we have substituted for Creation. We accept this forgiveness as our only function. Obviously as long as we are here, we will have other things to do. We have responsibilities. We have families, friends, and pets. We have houses and jobs. But our only spiritual function, the only function that we perform that has true and everlasting meaning and frees our mind from enchantment with the illusion, is practicing forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not what we have come to think of it in the world we made. While we may consider forgiveness a favor bestowed by someone bigger and better and holier towards those who have repented of their sins and beg for another chance, Jesus teaches us that forgiveness is recognizing the world we made for what it is and letting it go. Letting go of the past and all that happened in it. Forgiving the whole shebang – what we consider sources of pride and what we consider sources of shame; recognizing that we are doomed to keep repeating the past until we understand what time is for – to learn our way back to the oneness and unity of Creation.
When we fail to remember our function, we identify with our bodies and egos. In our efforts to regain a sense of completeness we place a lot of demands and expectations on ourselves and others, especially during holiday occasions. One of the starker lessons we learn over the years in ego world is that the harder we work, the more we sacrifice, the more material we accumulate, the wearier and less satisfied we become. The good news is that we do not have to work for what is already ours. We do not have to sacrifice our happiness or make undo demands upon others to sacrifice theirs for the freedom and joy that is ours in God. In the spirit we cannot sin against Creation and because of this, there is no suffering.
When we surrender the ego, when we grasp the meaning of separation and begin to use time as a curriculum, a course of study, a spiritual pathway to God, our minds are restored to spirit and naturally extend freedom and joy. Rather than identify with our history and our flesh bodies, our reality is our oneness with Christ, Who cannot sin.
I learned this lesson over our most recent American holiday. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite. I love everything about the day. First of all, giving thanks is an important value to me. Each evening, I complete my journal entry for the day with a thankfulness list. James and I encourage one another and our family to remember to bless all the people, animals, plants, machinery, and technology involved in bringing food to our table. Gestures of gratitude whether it be a gift, a helpful deed, or simply a heartfelt note beautifully express the giving to get/the getting to give principle of Creation.
Thanksgiving Day symbolizes all the special relationships that make this dream seem real and worthwhile. It is a time to get together with family and friends and celebrate with traditional food and beverages, rites and rituals. We have turkey and mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and creamed corn, coleslaw and green bean casserole. There are a lot of desserts that involve pumpkin and perhaps pecan. At the Friar Patch, to honor both Southern and Northern tradition, we make half bread and half cornbread sage stuffing complete with chopped oysters. This year, James made a southern style white gravy to take the place of the turkey giblet gravy that I usually make. While not exactly my idea of gravy, I had little to say about it, because I was simply too depleted to make it myself.
Not only had I depleted myself, but I chose to be sick. Following the path of the women before me, I worked way too hard and failed to enlist the helpers that were all around me. I fell into a sense of being the martyr. I nursed a secret grudge toward my grown daughter who sat and watched me prepare all the festive food while she stuffed her face with Almond Joy bars and crunchy rice bits and complained about how big her belly was. Instead of sharing the joy of planning and preparation, I took it upon myself to fulfill my picture of what Thanksgiving should look like, taste like, and smell like. When something failed to match that picture, I got crabby and bossy and felt put upon. I made up stories in my head towards those who did not pitch in or expressed a differing view.
Needless to say by the time we sat down to eat on Thanksgiving Day, the holiday had lost its shine for this old girl. Although everything tasted delicious and the loved ones around the table raved about how tasty everything was, I barely enjoyed the yummy dishes. I was tired, out of sorts, and full of secret grudges. Lover, sensing my distress, insisted that I stretch out. While our kids and grandkids took walks, played with the pets, and threw skippers across the pond, I was in bed nursing what felt like the flu. When I finally got up, James regaled me with a detailed account of all the cleanup measures that he took, as if he had done me a personal favor.
When I took this to the Lord in prayer, Holy Spirit showed me how I had made an idol of Thanksgiving Day. I had separated this day from every other day, by making it “special,” thereby heaping high expectations toward myself and others. It was a good example of specialness in that I had made an image in my mind and then sacrificed my health, well-being, and happiness to the perfect turkey and all the fixings. While there is no sin in celebrating holidays, my mistake had been to think of myself as single-handedly pulling off what was actually a joyous, joint effort that celebrated the contributions from all that gathered. Much like the women before me, I allowed my ego to convince me that I worked harder, longer, and sacrificed the most to make the celebration special. Nursing grudges clouded my awareness of how far our daughter had come and the measures she took to spend Thanksgiving week with us. When our son showed up with the delicious green bean casserole that he makes every year, my ego told me how nice it must be to show up with one dish and get all kinds of acclaim. Instead of taking joy in the happy exclamations of our young grandsons running in and out of the house, shouting and having fun, I found myself getting perturbed over the racket and the dirt on the floor. In other words, instead of practicing forgiveness, I practiced specialness. I attacked my mind and gave it images of self-pity, martyrdom, and sacrifice. Instead of relaxing and having fun and enjoying the process, I did too much and ended up spending the better part of the day in bed.
Today’s prayer is a prayer of health and healing, for it is a prayer of recognition and taking responsibility. When we remember our true Identity as God’s Son, we lay aside all false expectations and the hurtful measures we take to make special that which is only in part. We enjoy the contributions of all without judgment and resentment. When we forgive, we remember to laugh and to enjoy ourselves and others. Free to love, every day is Thanksgiving Day. For we are saved from what we thought we were.
A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 330. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992). p. 466.
Audio credit: the friar patch @ http://www.eckiefriar.com