I could see peace instead of this

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

If you have been joining us in our Lessons in Light series that follows the forty days (traditionally known as Lent) leading up to Easter, today’s lesson is “I could see peace instead of this.” (W-34) In the wake of what is occurring in the world right now, this lesson is a welcome and powerful refocusing of our minds.

The purpose of all of the lessons in this series is to help you refocus your attention on God’s Will for you, which is not a life of sacrifice and darkness but of love and light. When we began these lessons, we started out by affirming: “Into His Presence would I enter now.” (W-157) This lesson was a focus on the fact that every day, and at any moment, we can enter into God’s presence and allow that miraculous healing power to lead the way in our lives. As we dwell in this healing presence, we become empowered to reenter the daily experiences of the world, but now with a touch of Heaven upon our minds and hearts, transforming not only us but everyone we meet or even think of.

You are entitled to this transformation because of who and what you are. You are God’s precious child in whom He is well pleased, and nothing you have done or not done — no matter how worn or tattered you may be — can change your truth. Our 2nd Lesson in Light stated that the truth of our essence is immutable and will always remain, and “Light and joy and peace abide in you because God put them there.” (W-93) You are and will forever be exactly as you were created. You cannot change the truth of your creation, but you can attempt to cover it with unworthy thoughts. These thoughts, however, can only dim your awareness but never destroy the truth.

The 3rd Lesson in Light is “God is the Love in which I forgive.” (W-46) This lesson offers us the path for moving past any of the diminishing thoughts to our eternal truth. Forgiveness is the Course’s chosen path for our awakening. This lesson tells us that God does not forgive us because He has never condemned us. His healing Love is nevertheless the means by which we can forgive our condemning thoughts toward others and ourselves. From our limited perspective, it may seem impossible to forgive things in our lives because we have such an investment in them, but God is not focused on right and wrong, only Love. His Love can give us the strength to offer the gift of forgiveness with no hooks or attachments. All we need do is be willing to allow His Love to transform our pain and suffering through the power of forgiveness.

Last week we took the concept of forgiveness a step further to look at the cost of holding grievances with the 4th Lesson in Light, “Love holds no grievances.” (W-68) When we hold onto our unforgiving thoughts, we are losing the awareness of our real power, our True Self. This truth is what we were created to be, and light and joy and peace abide in us. Even though we cannot change this truth (it is forever a part of us), we can choose to ignore it. This ignorance does not change our reality, but it does seem to conceal our power with illusions, if we let it. We can choose to wander away from truth, but truth will never leave us. The moment we focus on truth, on light over the illusionary lies of fear and powerlessness, the distractions become ineffective. “Love holds no grievances” — this is a powerful and transformative lesson for our challenging times.

The 5th Lesson in Light, “I could see peace instead of this,” (W-34) reminds us of the mighty power and control we have over our thoughts as the light of this world! This lesson offers us the vision that light and truth represent. It says that peace of mind is clearly an internal matter and must begin with our own thoughts. We cannot wait for the world to bring us peace, because peace is not an external matter; it must begin within us and then extend to our world. The world will only reflect the peace we first experience within, as it says…

“It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.”

I know you may feel the world is scary right now, but a focus on a scary, frightening world only shows you a scary, frightening world. So, this lesson simply asks us to look at what is scary and frightening and say, “I could see peace instead of this.” Look at every anxious thought, irritating person or event, or anything else that makes you afraid and say:

“I could see peace instead of this.”
“I could see peace in this situation instead of what I now see in it.”
“I could see peace instead of this.”

You are not asked to solve the problems of your world – you are only asked to bring them to the light of truth. We are asked to be willing to introduce light into the darkness, for once even the smallest ray of light enters seeming darkness, the darkness is no more. It is not God’s Will that we stay in fear and darkness, for He is always holding the door of light and release open for us. Actually, there is nothing to keep us out of His Kingdom but our own mistaken thoughts.

Just as the prodigal son was afraid to return to his father because he thought he had squandered everything, so are we afraid we will be punished for all our dark, hateful thoughts. But, God is not the author of our darkness, we are. He is the Author of light and peace. No matter what frightens you, say: “I could see peace instead of this.”

The problems of the world seem to be legion but that is only because we try to solve them at the level of effect and not cause. As one problem is resolved, another sprouts up to take its place, and on and on we go. It is time we bring the effect to the cause; our fearful thoughts to the light of truth and let them melt away.

We all probably remember the movie The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy had problems that she felt could not be answered, and so she ran away thinking she could escape them. A kindly man showed her the error of her way and pointed her home. But before she could get to safety, she was knocked unconscious, and, in her dream-state, she was swept to Oz. The rest of the story is about Dorothy trying to get home, and all the problems that stand in her way. As one problem is settled, another arises. She finally makes it to the place that she thinks is her salvation: Oz and its great wizard. This, of course, is not true either. The great wizard helps all her friends by pointing them back to the answers that were within them all the time, but when it comes to taking Dorothy home, he inadvertently leaves without her, and she is again left alone and lost. Finally, she is told that the answer she was seeking, just as with her friends, was always with her. As she clicked the heels of her ruby slippers together and said, “there’s no place like home” over and over again, she found herself awakening at home – the home she had never really left.

You have your very own ruby slippers –- it is the light of God’s healing peace within you now. Let us call upon it in the 5th week of our Lessons in Light by affirming:

“I could see peace instead of this.”
“I could see peace instead of this.”
“I could see peace instead of this.”

We can awaken to our home of light and joy and peace; it is as close as a thought…and clicking your heels together might be fun, too!

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