Somehow, I missed today’s ACIM lesson (#316, All gifts I give my brothers are my own) last year. I never realized it until this morning. It is the natural compliment to yesterday’s lesson. (Lesson 315, All gifts my brothers give belong to me.) As the Course says repeatedly, “…giving and receiving are the same.” My egoic mind does not believe this fully since it still identifies with separation. Certainly within the realm of the finite, although it believes it more than it used to, there is still an unhealed section that has not yet fully accepted that if I truly want to be able to give as I receive, I must learn that giving is not sacrifice. The Manual for Teachers says, “You may believe this course requires sacrifice of all you really hold dear. In one sense this is true, for you hold dear the things that crucify God’s Son, and it is the course’s aim to set him free. But do not be mistaken about what sacrifice means. It always means the giving up of what you want. And what, O teacher of God, is it that you want?”
In other words, if “giving” feels like sacrifice, then I must still be caught in illusion.
Only the love is real. Going back to Lesson 187, (I bless the world because I bless myself) which says, “4 Protect all things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them. What you thought you did not have is thereby proven yours. Yet value not its form. For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time, however much you try to keep it safe. No form endures. It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable.”
In the dream, in this world of form, it is easy to forget all that. I find myself trading the eternal for the ephemeral because I am attached to the illusions. Going back to Lesson #187 again, “6 Never forget you give but to yourself. Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice. Nor can he fail to recognize the many forms which sacrifice may take. He laughs as well at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death. He recognizes sacrifice remains the one idea that stands behind them all, and in his gentle laughter are they healed.”
All gifts I give my brothers are my own.
As every gift my brothers give is mine, so every gift I give belongs to me. Each one allows a past mistake to go, and leave no shadow on the holy mind my Father loves. His grace is given me in every gift a brother has received throughout all time, and past all time as well. My treasure house is full, and angels watch its open doors that not one gift is lost, and only more are added. Let me come to where my treasures are, and enter in where I am truly welcome and at home, among the gifts that God has given me.
Father, I would accept Your gifts today. I do not recognize them. Yet I trust that You Who gave them will provide the means by which I can behold them, see their worth, and cherish only them as what I want.
This lesson takes us deeper into the idea of the eternal with the admission that “I do not know what anything is for.” This lesson states, “Father, I would accept Your gifts today. I do not recognize them. Yet I trust that You Who gave them will provide the means by which I can behold them, see their worth, and cherish only them as what I want.” Beyond appearances, in the place where perfect trust in God resides, my bliss lies waiting for me. It requires letting go of what I think I know. It requires stepping back to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me.
When I listen to what God would have me do, when I let go of the petty ideas I still cherish around “sacrifice,” then I arrive at the place that allows me to let go of thinking I am being taken advantage of, or asked to give something I do not want to give. All those notions are ones born of fear of lack. “I have said that if a brother asks a foolish thing of you to do it. But be certain that this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you, for what would hurt one will hurt the other. Foolish requests are foolish merely because they conflict, since they always contain some element of specialness. Only the Holy Spirit recognizes foolish needs as well as real ones. And He will teach you how to meet both without losing either.”
Somewhere in the mix beats the heart of forgiveness. Forgiveness for myself for not being the person I daily tell myself I “should” be. Forgiveness for my brethren for asking “foolish” things. For if I am to let go of ego, of resentment, of anger and pain, or death and destruction, of sickness, then I have to get over my own foolish ideas of how I think things “should” be or “should” have been. None of that matters. If I am ever to reveal that truth of who I am, to embrace that rather than the idol I have made (ego), then forgiveness is an essential component. Not because there was anything wrong with what was – it was only ever my perception that was skewed – no, it was always all in Divine right order, but I could never recognize it whilst I was busy judging it.
So today, I forgive myself for having missed this lesson last year. I pardon myself for skipping church this morning and for, once again, being less than as productive as I think I should be. Sure, I have wasted time, but time is part of the ephemeral. “Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time.” The idea that it has been “wasted” is just ego trying to make me feel bad.
“Everyone defends his treasure, and will do so automatically. The real questions are, what do you treasure, and how much do you treasure it? Once you have learned to consider these questions and to bring them into all your actions, you will have little difficulty in clarifying the means. The means are available whenever you ask. You can, however, save time if you do not protract this step unduly. The correct focus will shorten it immeasurably.”
What is my correct focus? Over and over again, I give it to the Holy Spirit. “All gifts I give my brother are my own.” There is really only one of us here and so to “cheat” anyone else is to “cheat” myself, but I can’t even use that word because it makes me feel bad.
It’s time to be generous.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.