ACIM Text Reading for August 31
Chapter 29 ~ THE AWAKENING
I. The Closing of the Gap
There is no time, no place, no state where God is absent. There is nothing to be feared. There is no way in which a gap could be conceived of in the Wholeness that is His. The compromise the least and the littlest gap would represent in His eternal Love is quite impossible. For it would mean His Love could harbour just a hint of hate, His gentleness turn sometimes to attack, and His eternal patience sometimes fail. All this do you believe, when you perceive a gap between your brother and yourself. How could you trust Him then? For He must be deceptive in His Love. Be wary, then; let Him not come too close, and leave a gap between you and His Love, through which you can escape if there be need for you to flee.
Here is the fear of God most plainly seen. For love is treacherous to those who fear, since fear and hate can never be apart. No one who hates but is afraid of love, and therefore must he be afraid of God. Certain it is he knows not what love means. He fears to love and loves to hate, and so he thinks that love is fearful; hate is love. This is the consequence the little gap must bring to those who cherish it, and think that it is their salvation and their hope.
The fear of God! The greatest obstacle that peace must flow across has not yet gone. The rest are past, but this one still remains to block your path, and make the way to light seem dark and fearful, perilous and bleak. You had decided that your brother is your enemy. Sometimes a friend, perhaps, provided that your separate interests made your friendship possible a little while. But not without a gap perceived between you and him, lest he turn again into an enemy. Let him come close to you, and you jumped back; as you approached, did he but instantly withdraw. A cautious friendship, and limited in scope and carefully restricted in amount, became the treaty that you had made with him. Thus you and your brother but shared a qualified entente, in which a clause of separation was a point you both agreed to keep intact. And violating this was thought to be a breach of treaty not to be allowed.
The gap between you and your brother is not one of space between two separate bodies. And this but seems to be dividing off your separate minds. It is the symbol of a promise made to meet when you prefer, and separate until you and he elect to meet again. And then your bodies seem to get in touch, and thereby signify a meeting place to join. But always is it possible for you and him to go your separate ways. Conditional upon the ‘right’ to separate will you and he agree to meet from time to time, and keep apart in intervals of separation, which do protect you from the ‘sacrifice’ of love. The body saves you, for it gets away from total sacrifice and gives you the time in which to build again your separate self, which you truly believes diminishes as you and your brother meet.
The body could not separate your mind from your brother’s unless you wanted it to be a cause of separation and of distance seen between you and him. Thus do you endow it with a power that lies not within itself. And herein lies its power over you. For now you think that it determines when your brother and you meet, and limits your ability to make communion with your brother’s mind. And now it tells you where to go and how to go there, what is feasible for you to undertake, and what you cannot do. It dictates what its health can tolerate, and what will tire it and make it sick. And its ‘inherent’ weaknesses set up the limitations on what you would do, and keep your purpose limited and weak.
The body will accommodate to this, if you would have it so. It will allow but limited indulgences in ‘love’, with intervals of hatred in between. And it will take command of when to ‘love’, and when to shrink more safely into fear. It will be sick because you do not know what loving means. And so you must misuse each circumstance and everyone you meet, and see in them a purpose not your own. It is not love that asks a sacrifice. But fear demands the sacrifice of love, for in love’s presence fear cannot abide. For hate to be maintained, love must be feared; and only sometimes present, sometimes gone. Thus is love seen as treacherous, because it seems to come and go uncertainly, and offer no stability to you. You do not see how limited and weak is your allegiance, and how frequently you have demanded that love go away, and leave you quietly alone in ‘peace’.
The body, innocent of goals, is your excuse for variable goals you hold, and force the body to maintain. You do not fear its weakness, but its lack of strength or weakness. Would you know that nothing stands between you and your brother? Would you know there is no gap behind which you can hide? There is a shock that comes to those who learn their saviour is their enemy no more. There is a wariness that is aroused by learning that the body is not real. And there are overtones of seeming fear around the happy message, ‘God is Love’.
Yet all that happens when the gap is gone is peace eternal. Nothing more than that, and nothing less. Without the fear of God, what could induce you to abandon Him? What toys or trinkets in the gap could serve to hold you back an instant from His Love? Would you allow the body to say ‘no’ to Heaven’s calling, were you not afraid to find a loss of self in finding God? Yet can your self be lost by being found?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 31
Today I will judge nothing that occurs.
I will be honest with myself today. I will not think that I already know what must remain beyond my present grasp. I will not think I understand the whole from bits of my perception, which are all that I can see. Today I recognize that this is so. And so I am relieved of judgments that I cannot make. Thus do I free myself and what I look upon, to be in peace as God created us.
Father, today I leave creation free to be itself. I honor all its parts, in which I am included. We are one because each part contains Your memory, and truth must shine in all of us as one.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #20: I would like to understand why many of my relationships with men begin with a notion of romance but do not sustain themselves as friendships. I value the people I meet and I would like to develop and grow to the point where I can express brotherly love for women and men. As a single woman, I meet men who are often attracted to me, then we date or whatever, and then it ends. I’m responsible for what and how I am communicating. Is there a way to communicate “let’s be friends” when something more was expected or desired and disappointment has set in?
A: Our egos are not proud and will use whatever forms of specialness work to get us involved in relationships that in the end do not meet our needs. Although we are usually not aware of this, we have an underlying goal of demonstrating that love can only fail us and that we are the unwitting victim of others’ misleading and confusing overtures. The Course is unique — and for this reason probably also not that popular — among spiritual paths in identifying this underlying intent behind all our relationships in the world, no matter how good we believe our intentions may be at the start, until they are given over to the Holy Spirit for healing.
And, often to our disappointment, the Holy Spirit only works with content and not form, so that there can be no guarantee of what will happen in our relationships except that we will be given another opportunity to get in touch with our own buried guilt and feelings of unworthiness and self-hatred so that they can be healed. But if we are able to put the Course’s principles of forgiveness into practice, we will find that over time we experience a sense of peace and joy in our relationships, regardless of whether our brothers or sisters reciprocate in any way on the level of form. And we will know that we are truly “friends” who have a shared purpose of healing the pain buried in our minds. But this is a process that can take time to achieve. So, in the meantime, just know that you are doing the best that you can and don’t stop trying. Jesus needs our special relationships to teach us the other way. It is only fear that ever stops any of us from allowing ourselves to experience greater intimacy in any form.
Q #200: I am in my first year with A Course in Miracles. I was sexually molested as a child. The severe shame I feel from this has made relationships difficult. With each new failure to keep or maintain a relationship, they seem to become progressively more difficult. I don’t mind being in the constant process of forgiving the perpetrators. But my life struggle seems to be in sustaining forgiveness of myself. Is there any way I can address this specifically in my renewed relationship with God?
A: It is your ego that has convinced you that the shame you feel now is the result of those traumatic and shameful abusive experiences of your childhood. That way, the problem remains in the past, never really capable of being undone. But you are not alone in thinking this way. This is the purpose of the world, to keep our focus away from the real problem in the mind, the original and only source of guilt and shame, and on events in our lives that have happened to us and cannot be reversed.
This is not to say that those childhood experiences were not horrific or that you don’t continue to be haunted by thoughts related to those experiences. But what the Course offers you now is another way in the present of looking at all of that so that it need not maintain the grip on your life and your mind that it has up until now.
The guilt buried deep in our mind over the thought that we would want to and could separate ourselves from love is the real source of all of our shame. And it is a shame so severe that we believe that we do not deserve to be loved, that a lifetime beginning with abuse by those who are responsible for us is a fitting punishment for our “crime” of assaulting love. We carry the belief that we are somehow fatally flawed and that is the real cause of our shame.
But we never go back and look at that source of shame in our mind, where with the gentle support of Jesus, God’s symbol of love in our mind, we might begin to question the validity of that original self-accusation. Instead, we shift our focus to the world of bodies and the shame associated with being helpless and abused by others over whom we have no power or control. And then this seems to be the shame that poisons our whole life, and all the relationships we embark upon in search of the love that is missing that we yearn for. But the good news of the Course is that the problem is not where we are seeing it, in the world of bodies, but rather in our minds, where the solution — forgiveness — is as well.
And so this is where your renewed relationship with God and His representative, Jesus, and his Course, offers hope. For as you are willing to uncover the deeper ontological guilt and shame that your lifetime of personal shame is pointing to, looking at it with Jesus’ love beside you, you will gradually allow yourself to recognize that there is nothing to be ashamed of. For with his love there with you, you will begin to recognize that you have not abandoned or betrayed love, and love has not abandoned or betrayed you.
For a discussion about forgiving the perpetrators, see also Q#174.