by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
As we approach the holidays, we may be yearning for a deeper experience in our celebrations. It’s not that we have to celebrate any differently or change family traditions, but we can hold a new purpose in our hearts. The following thoughts from A Course in Miracles are offered for the upcoming observances to provide a deepening guide.
Although the Course does not speak of Thanksgiving, and some of our readers don’t live in the United States, where this is a major holiday, I would like to offer insight into the spirit of this holiday. Traditionally, we in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving as a time when our forefathers, after a hard struggle to survive in a new land, came together to celebrate the fact that they did survive — they made it! Other countries may have a similar type of day with a slightly different form of observance, but what is constant is the desire to celebrate overcoming the struggle and to give thanks.
Perhaps you are going through a struggle right now. Maybe you are exploring a new experience, and you feel like you are on shaky ground. Let us take a moment to give thanks, not necessarily for the struggle but for the fact that we do not go through this alone. We have each other, and we have the power of God to transform any struggle in our lives. The Course asks us not to use these struggles as a sign that we are separate from God (which is what our egos would like us to do) but as a reminder to give the struggle to Him, who would show us how everything is an opportunity for healing and peace. We might use this affirmation as an invocation for help and healing:
“Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.
Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.
Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace, but
let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming.” (T-19.IV.C.11)
In admitting this and coming to Him with open hands, we place God in control of what we so incapably tried to control. By our release, He will work through our life situations and relationships to help us feel His peace and power. Let us give thanks for His love that is eternal and for His creations of love, which are each of us. “For love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and a thankful mind.” (M-23.4)
Christmas is one of the two holidays the Course actually addresses (the other being Easter). The Course tells us that:
“The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come.” (T-15.XI.2)
This is a beautiful thought, but have any of us truly accepted the time of Christ that God is holding out to us? Perhaps we don’t understand the conditions. According to the Course, the time of Christ means there is no sacrifice asked of us; there is no loss. Love must be total in our hearts. We must see our fears for what they are and release them because they are illusions that hold no value to us and actually cost us the awareness of Christ. We must invite Christ in (and truly want Him there) and thereby see He is there already, for He never could have left.
You may say, “Well, I think I’ve done this.” But the question is: Have you done this for all of God’s children? Is there anyone you have left out of your circle of love? For if you have, you have left yourself out and thereby missed the meaning of Christmas.
Now, as we search our minds for those who provide our greatest challenges (be they personal relationships or global ones), let us not feel overwhelmed by all the areas that still need healing. Remember, God is not limited by our limits or limited thinking, nor has He ever left us alone. The moment we ask for His Help, it is there. It is time we become aware of His Help by being willing to allow the Prince of Peace to be born to us this Christmas. Let us bring to mind those with whom we have even the slightest irritation and invite the Christ to be born in these relationships. Here is how the Course invites us to awaken to the Christ in our lives:
“This is the time in which a new year will soon be born from the time of Christ. I have perfect faith in you to do all that you would accomplish. Nothing will be lacking, and you will make complete and not destroy. Say, then, to your brother [any relationship that challenges you]:
I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself.
I know that you will be released, unless I want to use you
to imprison myself.
In the name of my freedom I choose your release, because
I recognize that we will be released together.
So will the year begin in joy and freedom. There is much to do, and we have been long delayed. Accept the holy instant as this year is born, and take your place, so long left unfulfilled, in the Great Awakening. Make this year different by making it all the same. And let all your relationships be made holy for you. This is our will. Amen.” (T-15.XI.10)
No matter the holiday or season, may we take assurance in knowing that we are always cared for and supported in even our smallest attempts for healing and joining. As we are told in A Course in Miracles,
“You do not walk alone. God’s angels hover near and all about. His love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless.” (W-Epilogue.6)