Live This Holy Instant Only

ACIM Workbook Lesson 308 – for Friday, November 4, 2011

Affirmation:  “This instant is the only time there is.”

“Thanks for this instant, Father.  It is now I am redeemed.  This instant is the time You have appointed for Your Son’s release, and for salvation of the world in him.  (WB453)”

Reflections:

1 – We Live In the Present Always

There is no past and no future; we live only in the present.  The only exception to this is what we do with our minds.  We can imagine ourselves in the past or the future, but never can be go there.  The time is always–now.

2 – Make This Instant Holy

This instant of time can be a holy instant if we are open to it.  Holy instants are harbingers of the Heaven on earth to which we all are headed.  Holy instants, for which we do not have to prepare (a Text tenet), are evidence of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  And our blessing will come from the holy instant that He has prepared for us.

3 – In the Now We Are Redeemed

It is only in the Now that we can be redeemed.  What does it mean to be redeemed?  This is another word for salvation, and ultimately for Awakening.  As we practice living in the present, our worries will diminish.  As we see a long “to do” list for the day, we try to go down one item at a time, not looking ahead in frustration that there is too much to do.  Taking one item at a time on  our “to do” list is an example of living in the present, living in the Now.  It is the best way to live, and this ensures that we will live aright.

4 – May We Be Healed Healers

We are meant to bring salvation to the world.  We first become “healed healers,” or what we do will be misguided.  According to ACIM, an “unhealed healer” needs to turn within and seek for his or her own healing.  Then we reach outward.  All of this doesn’t happen at one time, but in repeated evidence that we are not totally healed.  We oscillate between being healed and being unhealed.  And when we recognize that we have fallen into the latter, we are to turn to the Holy Spirit, and, once again, to ask for healing.  He will answer.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would practice living in the Now, the present, today at every point of which I live in awareness.  I would take one item on my “to do” list at a time.  I would not focus on the future, in fretting; and I would not focus on the past, in worry.  I would remain serene and calm in this moment.

Help me to deliver on this intention.  I know that to do so will not be easy.  But You are always there to guide me, and the Holy Spirit, inwardly, leads me home.  Be with me as I seek home often today.

Amen.

Holy Instant = Salvation Comes

ACIM Workbook Lesson 241 – for Monday, August 29, 2011

Affirmation:  “This holy instant is salvation come.”

“The day has come when sorrows pass away and pain is gone.  The glory of salvation dawns today upon a world set free.  This is the time of hope for countless millions.  They will be united now, as you forgive them all.  For I will be forgiven by you today.

“We have forgiven one another now, and so we come at last to You again.  Father, Your Son, who never left, returns to Heaven and his home.  How glad are we to have our sanity restored to us, and to remember that we all are one.  (WB414)”

Reflections:

When we forgive others, including Jesus for what he and they have not done, then we are freed.  Jesus is particularly keen on the idea that we forgive him for what he has not done, for we often hold negative feelings toward him.  We may not even be aware of the extent to which we are ambivalent toward our savior.  We may not realize that this is our own downfall, and that it will delay our homecoming by much time.

When we forgive, our thoughts affect “millions.”  The passage says this, but we do not really believe it.  We do not believe that our minds are that powerful, because we are really afraid of that power (an ACIM tenet).  But the psychic nature of our world is true.  Salvation, Jesus says in the Manual, would be impossible if only the channels that the world recognizes were true.  When we become more psychic, we are merely becoming more natural.  There are no unnatural powers.  And knowing this is not a cause for a greater egotism.  (All of these sentences are paraphrases from the Manual.)

We are united with our brothers and sisters when we have forgiven them.  Let us forgive today, that we may know the joy that Jesus holds out to us in this day’s lesson.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would choose holy instants today.  I would choose salvation in its most pristine form.  Be with me as I seek You grace today.  Do not lead me into a dark night.  I would ask for the felt presence of Your Being.

Thank You for the holy instants that I have known over my lifetime.  Some came before I studied A Course in Miracles.  I did not know what lay ahead, and I am particularly thankful today for those early holy instants.  

I would invite holy instants today.  Be with me so that I am not tempted to turn this holy experience into something ego-driven.

Amen.

A HOLY INSTANT

by Celia Hales.  Revised with title change; previously published.

More than three decades ago, on a hot summer night in June, I checked into a Holiday Inn in Dallas, Texas–half a continent away from family and friends.  The national conference of my professional organization was underway.  It was good to be among so many people who shared a common vocation.  Still, the trip to Dallas had been long, and I looked forward to an evening alone, an evening to relax and to reflect upon the directions that my life seemed to be taking.  I did a lot of reflecting at this point; it was a bit of a preoccupation, as I had been through much change, including a change of vocation, and I needed time to sort out all of this change.

The room was quiet after I turned off the evening news, leaving a dark television screen.  There was no radio.  The telephone was silent also, the call back home already made.  Propped up on pillows, I read slowly and easily some favorite inspirational leaflets.  Casually I thumbed through the Gideon Bible, selecting favorite passages for the comfort that they provided and the quiet frame of mind that they induced.  Peace of mind and soul crept in.  I began the kind of leisurely, non-formalized prayer that had characterized my “alone” times as a child.  I felt gratitude for a life that I was finding increasingly abundant in both inner and outer ways.  I seemed to reach downward into the depths of my soul, a sense that came unsought but which I much appreciated.  Moments sped by, but time lost all meaning.  My gratitude opened my heart to another feeling, a deep, profoundly deep sense of being loved.  I realized that this sense, felt in my own way, was the peace that passeth understanding.

I lay down the Bible, pushed aside the leaflets.  Letting this wondrous peace envelop me, I let my mind wander in total relaxation.  Very suddenly, but not totally unexpectedly, I felt new intuitions rise to the surface.  I sensed, as though from God Himself, that God’s love meant something more than I had known before.  A realization, half-formed in revelry, became clear words in my mind:

God’s help in this life is a free offer–a gift that He longs to share with anyone who will open up to Him in total and utter-self surrender.

And there was more:

Only in surrender can come help of the intense degree that God would like to offer, because only when self gets out of the way can God’s silent action in the heart take root.

As I reflected over these ideas, I felt immense relief, a sense of “too good to be true.”  What about the Protestant work ethic, the belief that faith without works is dead, the belief that God helps those who help themselves?

Surely the works would come, I mused, but they would be God’s works, works done through me, not by me, and infinitely better than would ever be possible by self-effort.  Life did not have to be lived laboriously; indeed, life should not be lived laboriously.

“Let me handle it,” God seemed to say.  “I want to handle all the myriad details of everyday living.  I want to smooth the way for you.  All of this, if you will remain surrendered to me–and you must remain surrendered or I cannot act in all of these countless ways, as much as I might wish to do so.”

I relaxed in this new intuition.  I could have read the same message in any number of inspirational books, and I could have deduced it from biblical teachings.  Why had I not before realized this great gift?  Why had I striven so hard, even in the midst of affirmations of faith?  Perhaps life is not meant to be a struggle.

Radical thoughts, perhaps, but they came to me with a certainty that I had come to recognize as God’s Voice.

Several months later, as I sought to put form and order to the experience, I would wonder if this were the secret in the words, “He that findeth his life shall lose it:  and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).

This night, though,  there was no reasoning about the experience–only a kind of wondering surprise that God’s truth could be so simple and yet, heretofore, so elusive.  Why, indeed, had I struggled so hard?  Why, indeed, do any of us struggle so hard?

Postscript

OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD

Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavently Father
Such as cares for you and me.”

–Elizabeth Cheney

“YOU’RE SOLID AS A ROCK!”

by Celia Hales.  Revised and previously published.

Many years ago, not too long after my graduation, I scheduled an appointment with one of my former professors at my university.  On that particular day as the meeting approached, I was quite nervous and ill-at-ease, and in an attitude of complete surrender, I spent a short while alone in the university chapel.  I left the pew much calmer and more self-contained.  Little did I realize that the professor would himself emanate a serenity as tangible as the blue coat he wore.

Our hour together went smoothly, despite frequent telephone interruptions.  As the time wore on, I became conscious of a sense of almost unreal strength in this man.  Looking back upon the hour, it has seemed to me akin to the eye in the center of a hurricane:  a brief interlude of shared ideas and feelings, untouched by whatever storms preceded or followed it.  He seemed to possess a stillness within, a calm center that allowed him to function with exceptional tranquility in his work and in his life.

It had not always been thus.  He had been my teacher, on and off, for the last two years of my university experience.  He was quite outstanding then, with many recognized talents and competencies.  But because I understood him, from a distance, somewhat intuitively, I saw a measure of hesitancy that in all likelihood eluded most colleagues and students.  At the very point of exuding self-confidence, he frequently drew back, his abilities in abeyance, as he regrouped his resources for another assault on life.  Quite conscious of his age (early 30’s), he expressed doubts that older and more experienced colleagues would find value in his proposals–seemingly oblivious to the fact that they usually did.

But this was a couple of years after I had made these observations.  As the hour drew to a close, I was aware that his old doubts had fallen away.

I broke into the conversation, interrupting him  saying in wonder, “You’re solid as a rock!. . .You are solid as a rock.  How did you get that way?”

He turned aside, avoiding my eyes, and then said, quietly but carefully, “Prayer.”

Then, looking steadily at me, he turned his chair back.  I slowly nodded my head in a moment of nearly mystical comprehension.  Yes, he was possessed of a new solidarity, a new steadiness, and even in a gentle man, a deeper measure of gentleness.

In the years since, I have returned in memory to those words.  My visit to the university chapel earlier had been instinctive, but now the whole experience of that day has acquired new meaning.  Was God present in some way inexplicable to me, directing my life in those moments as we of religious inclination pray that He will do?  I believe so.  Certainly the difference in my own prayer life since that October morning has been marked.  I recognized that this professor whom I respected and admired attributed to prayer; I have reasoned that God would do the same for me.

Certainly one does not learn how to live as one would sign up for graduate courses.  Nor, I think, does one learn direction from other people, however meaningful such peak experiences as I have described may be.  One learns in patience and in stillness, when the lights are out and we commune with our God as we conceive Him to be.  Here prayer may acquire the life-shaping power that it is meant to have.  Surely then we may affirm in our own experiences, “. . .in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. . .” (Isaiah 30:15).