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301 And God Himself shall wipe away all tears.

Thank you for these words, JC. They never fail to move me. They resonate with a generations-old feeling of buckets of tears waiting to be cried—the tears that my family couldn't afford to cry, because crying was a luxury, because one had to move on and take care of life and watch for the other humans just around the corner, ready to take one's property and one's life.

I know my folks believed in an avenging God, ready to mete out the harshest of sentences, taking our side (as long as we were good) against those who committed unjust and unfair acts. You have replaced that image with that of a gentle God, a true caring father, one arm around my shoulders, a tissue in the other hand, patting down my cheeks.

These words do two things. They say it is all right to cry, and they tell me there is no need to cry. Every bit of God's creation is in place, as it should be, as it will forever be.

301 And God Himself shall wipe away all tears.

What a promise! All things of Earth are silent, and the vengeful God with furrowed brow has passed. The Father leans over and gently wipes away a tear. This is our Father. He loves us, and we love Him.



302   Where darkness was I look upon the light.

This world has in it such impenetrable darkness! Just out from a century of war, genocide, death camps, and now beginning another century with war, genocide, and little short of death camps (I'm thinking of Darfur, but this country too is fighting, "in the name of God" no less), what hope is there for us humans?
JC: You watch the news with more dedication than you meditate or study the Course. You reinforce the prevailing world view, and then you say "ain't it awful." Why not be part of the solution instead?
MT: But aren't the wars really happening? What about denial?
JC: I ask you to deny the denial of truth. Affirm that war, genocide, death camps are against the will of God and therefore do not exist. Think about it. War exists only as agreement. It is made by human minds, or rather, the misuse of human minds. When humans stop agreeing on the need for attack, war ceases to exist.
MT: You mean, when we all stop agreeing.
JC: That's where you come in. You have to stop agreeing. That doesn't mean to fight against the prevailing beliefs. When you fight the illusion, you make it real. Mankind has to stop agreeing on the need for attack, but that begins with you, today.
MT: So-this world I think I see is an attack on God and therefore does not exist. When enough of us agree on that, it will be so.
JC: Or when one of you accepts the Atonement, wholly, completely. It only takes one. But it helps immensely to have others on the path with you.

302 Where darkness was I look upon the light.

What is it about words that they can impact me so deeply? Where darkness was . . . I know about darkness. I stumbled about in the dense, dark, foul marshes of my ego relationships for forty years. I saw no way out, despair the prevailing emotion, the only distraction came from games or trivial preoccupations--or anger and sadness, self pity, resentments, the mind going round and round in futile search of what could not be found.

Now I see that no salvation is possible within the world of separation. I see that what I sought could not be found. I see that I wanted the answer to problems I set up to be incapable of solutions.

Now I step out to look upon the light. Behold the light! Behold the Light of God, without which nothing exists. I am a creature of light. To light I belong, to light I shall return, and I thank God that this is so. Behold the light, my friends!


302 (2006) Where darkness was I look upon the light.


Such profound words, JC. I moved about in darkness, and I called it light. Now the Light of God has come to illuminate the way. For They have come, and I one with Them. Love is the way I walk in gratitude for Them, for us.



303 The holy Christ is born in me today.


MT: Coming from a strong religious tradition as I do, perhaps because of it, this lesson is one of the more difficult ones to absorb. The past impinges on me. What comes to mind is the hypocrisy of the Baptist congregation that raised me, Father's hypocrisy especially. He would not give us, his daughters, the love and tenderness he reserved for the congregation. In fact, in any dispute, he would take their side against us girls. What happened to family? I'm sure he thought he followed in your footsteps. He justified his stance thus: the Bible says Jesus rejected Mary as mother, therefore I should reject my family because my congregation is my family. That, and the stuff about not sparing the rod. . .
JC: I do not think you were being singled out, dear sister. Your father's ego had little love and tenderness to offer anyone, including you, his congregation, himself.
MT: So what do I need to know from today's lesson?
JC: You need to remember that you deserve as much love as anyone else who walks the Earth, no more, no less than limitless love. Accept from God the tenderness your father wasn't able to give you.
MT: There is a quiet hush of Christmas in those words. Let the Christ be born in me this season. That's the true meaning of Christmas.


303 (2006) The holy Christ is born in me today.


MT: The Child is reborn in me. To approach the world with the innocence of a child, how lovely! To experience the pure joy of a child . . . but babies cry too, and when they do, it's a total experience.
JC: You have almost forgotten how to feel, whether it is joy or grief, ecstasy or despair.
MT: Yes, and I ascribe it to aging. There's a flattening of experience. I could never enjoy the seashore with the totality I did when I was young.
JC: Did God ever say your experience should flatten out? Or is that a belief you made up?
MT: Nah . . . I'd like to complain, but the reality is, I am still capable of enthusiasm. It's just about different things.
JC: To search for joy and enthusiasm and ecstasy begs the point, doesn't it? It negates relationship. It negates function--your holy function of forgiveness.
MT: If I focus on forgiveness, then feelings are frosting on the cake, so to speak, you are telling me.
JC: Yes. Healing happens in relationship, in connection, in being One. Healing happens for you as you offer healing to others.



304 Let not my world obscure the sight of Christ.



I know exactly what you're saying, JC. If I don't keep practicing these lessons, the world I made creeps in again like a dense fog. I should have learned to think with God after all this studying, but it's oh-so-easy to think the old way again. My world obscures the sight of Christ like a storm that brings darkness and chill. The sun is there as always, but leaden skies let no light through. My mood changes, my body gets tight and shivery. With the sun, there's warmth and gratitude, a soaking in of grace. With the sight of Christ, the world returns from cold darkness to the brilliant light of God.

I am grateful for another day that I can choose between peace and suffering, between gnashing of teeth and resonant laughter, between God and the shabby world I made.



305 There is a peace that Christ bestows on us.

MT: "A peace?" Strange way to put it, JC. You speak of "a peace" like an object among many objects, like a gift--guess that's what it is.
JC: Or "a treaty" or "a conference." Yes. A holy instant, the moment when you are reborn. A moment when your pact with God is clear to you.
MT: An aside here--I always go through a moment of fear, that this time it won't work, that your Voice is a fake that I make up. Tell me it ain't so.
JC: This is a special peace that comes from God Himself. Not the peace of indifference, the peace of denial, the peace of death. It is the peace of those who have faced their worst fears and seen their unreality. It is the peace of those who practice forgiveness, who ask for help to see their brother as themselves. It is the peace that lets your heart soar with joy, the peace that only the memory of God can bring. That is the peace that Christ bestows on us.


305 There is a peace that Christ bestows on us.

Peace — a gift, a garland, a lei, an honor that the Christ in each of us bestows on all. When I allow in the Christ, I receive peace as a bonus. It saves me from judgment, of others, and especially of myself. God knows what a harsh judge I am of myself, how many laws of the ego I throw at me. The ego "throws the book" at me, but the remedy is there: the book of unconditional love and acceptance. So thank you, JC, for sending this book, my blue-and-gold companion, the book of forgiveness upon which it is written: I am the Holy Son of God, in whom the Father is well pleased.



306  The gift of Christ is all I seek today.

 
What do I see out there? Do I see bodies through the filters of resentments and projections that congeal energy into form? Or do I see the boundless energy that emanates from all things, the burst of light in a drop of dew in the morning sun, the delicious color of a teaspoon of oil paint I squeeze onto the palette, the softening of the face of a brother who feels heard and understood? Who would want more, when you can have the experience of God?

306 The gift of Christ is all I seek today.

MT: I understand that this gives me one-pointedness, the Holy Grail of awakening. I still don't get it what I'm supposed to do with it. In fairy tales the story ends when they find each other. You see, striving is the only thing that makes a story. If there is no story, then what?
JC: Would you not want to be the one with no tale to tell?
MT: But what, then?
JC: Let me say this: you are there already. You were never not there. For a moment only, contemplate all that might have been different, had you accepted life as it was, accepted yourself as the Son of God that you were.
MT: It's too painful, JC. But I guess I'm doing the same thing right now.
JC: All you have is this moment. The past is over. It can touch you not. Rejoice in this moment, the eternal Present.
MT: To be a light in darkness . . . to show the way to others. That is the gift of Christ, isn't it.
JC: That is the gift of Christ, yours to have, yours to give.

306 The gift of Christ is all I seek today.

MT: So what, JC? I don't know what to say.
JC: But you want to say something.
MT: Well, so many times you've offered me a startling new insight. That's what I seek: change. I seek to see things differently.
JC: And you would like to have that ancient memory returned to you.
MT: Yes. But I back off, again and again.
JC: The memory is here, now. It lingers in the background, waiting for your welcome.
MT: Yes . . . it waits on welcome, not on time.
JC: And it is right here, right now. Come as you are. God welcomes you just as you are.



307  Conflicting wishes cannot be my will.

How direct is that? If I'm battered around in a dozen different directions, I'm obviously not one with the Will of God. As St. Paul said [I think it was Paul, does anyone know the reference in the Bible?], "that which I want to do I do not do, and that which I do not want, I do." Something to that effect. It is so accurate. I love Paul—he's such a philosopher, and, of the apostles, he comes closest to the thinking of ACIM. So remind me, JC, how I get in touch with the Will of God.
JC: You have to experiment. You have to go boldly ahead, and place your actions in the hand of God. Keep the end in mind, and let your actions spring from that.
MT: You said this before.
JC: But have you done it?
MT: At times.
JC: And what was the outcome?
MT: Lightness. The outcome was lightness.
JC: What keeps you from acting without a dozen considerations, if lightness is the result?
MT: Fear. Fear keeps me doing the familiar and agonizing even as I do it.
JC: So??
MT: All right. . . I'll go and "sin no more." I know you don't like to use the emotionally-charged word "sin," but it occurs to me that sin is not stealing or fornication or telling a lie. If there is sin, it's what we all do in our effort to be "good" and "proper." Sin is the measuring of my life in coffeespoons. Sin is the failure to acknowledge the Christ in me and act accordingly. Sin is the thought that I am of no importance, that no one cares, that my life does not matter, that I may as well eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow I die.
JC: God loves you. The birds sing their songs for you. The flowers on the path bend down to honor you. The sun rose today in all its glory to honor the light in you. That is the truth.




308  This instant is the only time there is.

 
MT: When I think about the past, or dream about the future, I am hallucinating. I am making up what is not there. I drive down the street making up conversations with people who are not there. People who behave like that and don't know they are doing it, are prescribed Haldol and Thorazine.
JC: I'm curious: why do you suppose you dialogue with ghosts?  
MT: I do it to "prepare" myself for interaction. That's how I "keep safe." It's a lesson from early childhood: make sure you always show respect to others, to the parishioners, even their children. That lesson was imprinted with a belt.
JC: I am sorry. God would never treat you like that.
MT: I wonder if Dad realized how terrifying that was for me, and what it did to my self-esteem. In The Color Purple, when Oprah is released from prison, you get to witness the broken spirit under her broken face. That's how I feel. My punishment, in front of the complaining woman and her child, broke my spirit. On top of it, I'm ashamed of having been abused! What a startling recognition! Having been abused is a defect that I try to conceal beneath a mask of bluster. It's like Dad's opinion of me rubs off, makes a permanent stain. 
JC: A painful place to revisit. If your Dad—he did love you—if he had known what you now know, if he saw the situation differently, how might he have acted differently?
MT: He would have taken me in his arms and reassured me of his love, before he attempted to correct me. He would have used that event to teach me better ways to use strength. He would have pointed out that strength is essential for a full life, that you don't ever want not to have strength. He would have pointed out that to use strength wisely is one mark of a grownup.
JC: He didn't know this, did he? When he chased you around the table with a belt, he was using his strength to create weakness, just as you had used your strength to pull rank on the other child. That's attack. I'm sure he couldn't see it, but that's what he did.
MT: Thanks for helping me see this differently.

308 This instant is the only time there is.

MT: I am concerned that I do not exercise enough, JC. The old drive is gone. I am steadily retreating into old age.
JC: And you would like . . . . ?
MT: I would like the spunk of youth. I want to keep the promise I made: to do a serious hike twice a week. By serious, I mean climbing Cerro San Luis. But it takes all morning . . .
JC: Right now, this instant, what are you doing?
MT: I am talking to you--and making up a problem for us to solve.
JC: Yes. In this precious instant that you fear is slipping away never to return, you are making up a problem. Basically, you are asking me how to be 25 in a 71-year-old body. But at age 25, you did not worry about exercise. You were too busy to worry about it.
MT: I need to see this differently, then. This is another "problem" impossible of solution within the framework my ego has erected around it.
JC: Use this instant well! Right now, instead of worrying about what is wrong, you can be Home. You can be Home right now.

308 This instant is the only time there is.


MT: What do I need to get, for myself, right now, out of this statement, JC? I love you. I love your sure guidance and your abiding love.
JC: This instant is the only time there is.
MT: No point in worrying about the future, or rehashing the past.
JC: No. Right now, this is It. God Is. s
MT: God Is, and all is well. Thank you, Bro.



309  I will not fear to look within today.

 
I have feared to look within for so long! My Baptist upbringing entailed a dread of hell and damnation if I didn't rigidly follow The Law as handed down to me by church elders. From Mother I inherited the belief that, deep down, I'm really inappropriate, that my body is out of control or could be if I ever stop being vigilant, and then watch out! I'll be like a bitch in heat. It matters not that I have never been out of control like this. It could happen today or tomorrow. I think I'll carry this fear to my grave. Will I see the truth on my death bed? That would be a shame, wouldn't it.
 
So, JC, that's the situation as it is. How I long for the carefree attitude of some people I know, their grace and lightness, their humor. I need help with this.
 
JC: And help shall be given you. God's delays are not God's denials. In fact, there are no delays of God, only delays in your willingness to see.
 
MT: I pray to be willing. Guess I'm not there yet. Let me surrender my view of myself to You. I give my thoughts to God to change, that I may see things differently.

309 I will not fear to look within today.

What damning evidence could I possibly find? No, forgiveness has done a major housecleaning in the recesses of my mind. What freedom, to have nothing to hide!

309 I will not fear to look within today.

MT: At first glance, it's an empty statement. I don't believe I've ever feared to look within. I've feared the judgments of others, yes, but not my own.
JC: The judgments of others ARE your own.
MT: Well, I guess, since everything is really a projection of my mind. So I've been totally fearful to see the truth, then.
JC: You fear God. Totally without reason, you fear love above all.
MT: Yes, love melts down all defenses. I am left naked to the world.
JC: And what a blessing it is, to walk the world totally without defenses!



310 In fearlessness and love I spend today.

MT: My remaining fear--I've gotten over a lot--is the nagging illusion that there is still a core I can not show, a part of me that's so ugly and shameful, sullied and stained, that if the world knew about it, I would be tied up, taken to the edge of the abyss, and tossed out into the blackness. I would be the goat of the old Jewish tradition, the receptacle of all the sins of the community banished from the encampment. In my early Baptist training I choked down resentments to present a holy appearance. Schooled in making up a false front to show the world, I hid a "real" me that I shared with no one. Back then, I didn't even share my anguish with God, because of course God was on "their" side.

JC: It need not be so, dear one. This is the dawn of a new day. This is the second coming of Christ. Today is Christ born in everyone. Let the spirit of approaching Christmas, God's love upon the land, envelop your restless soul.

310 In fearlessness and love I spend today.

Let it be so. I allow love in. This the Father wants for me. This I want for myself. In fearlessness and love I spend today.


 

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