C 2: III. The Altar of God, P 2
2 For perfect effectiveness the Atonement belongs at the center of the inner altar, where it undoes the separation and restores the wholeness of the mind. Before the separation the mind was invulnerable to fear, because fear did not exist. Both the separation and the fear are miscreations that must be undone for the restoration of the temple, and for the opening of the altar to receive the Atonement. This heals the separation by placing within you the one effective defense against all separation thoughts and making you perfectly invulnerable.
When I first started using forgiveness the way A Course in Miracles describes it, I would try and fail, I would use it sporadically, I would vacillate on whether to use it or not, and I would also vacillate between forgiveness to destroy and the right use of forgiveness. So it was as if the idea of forgiveness was something out there on a shelf somewhere and sometimes I would borrow it and sometimes not. When I was done with it I would put it back on the shelf until I needed it again.
I made a choice at some point to commit to the Atonement, to accept this new definition of forgiveness, the recognition that nothing was done, and to become vigilant for opportunities to use it. I still did not do this perfectly, nor did I really understand it all the time, but I was strongly committed and my decision made the outcome certain. I had decided to buy it instead of borrowing it from time to time. I got better and better at remembering to use it, and, with practice, it became more meaningful to me.
What has happened now is that I have fully embraced the Atonement and forgive is what I do. I might resist from time to time, and usually that resistance is disguised as uncertainty or doubt, but I always, in the end, forgive. Maybe the Atonement is now sitting firmly at the inner altar. I think it is. I think that is the reason it is more effective, the reason I never question the need to forgive, and the reason I no longer have trouble distinguishing between forgiveness to destroy and true forgiveness.
I also think that this is the reason that even when I am confused and experiencing doubt or anxiety or some other effect of confused thinking, I am aware of that current of truth running beneath all of it. I know it is just a matter of dipping into the truth and drinking deeply. This is the only way to quench my thirst for peace, and I know this. Even if I do try other methods for first, I know that this river of Love is my real desire.
I am still in the process of accepting this new way of living. I still become tempted by the ego voice and sometimes briefly confused by it. I still fall prey to fear and anxiety at times. I still block the joy that is in me, but always I feel it pushing gently against the walls of unworthiness the ego has erected against it. All of this happens in the ego thinking mind, and maybe I still feel enough attachment to that self that I forget I am not that.
But I see now that it is just a phase of the process and it is fading as I continue to watch my mind and turn to Spirit when I feel the ego intrusions. My friend, Alisha, gave me a journal for Christmas and I wondered what I was to write in it. Then I noticed that the newest ego defense against this inevitable turning of the tide was forgetfulness.
When I felt some form of fear or anxiety, for instance, I would notice it quickly and ask Holy Spirit to heal my mind. As the outer circumstances continued I would notice my attention returning to it and my anxiety rising again. What I usually do in that case is that once the thing is looked at and handed over, I would focus my mind on the truth instead of the ego thoughts.
Now I was coming up against this thick fog of resistance and my mind went blank. I couldn’t for those few vital moments find a single real thought. It felt very uncomfortable, and raised doubts in my mind. Eventually, everything would right itself, but in the meantime I was having these brief periods of distress, sometimes bordering on panic. The thought that Spirit gave me about my journal had to do with this situation.
I had the idea to write down my favorite and most helpful passages from the Course and NTI and study material from Pathways, really, any place it showed up. My favorite one so far is from early in the Course. Jesus says, “You can do anything I ask.” That is very reassuring and strengthens my resolve. And if the ego blanks it from my mind, I just reach for my journal. I am enjoying doing this and in doing it I am putting the ego on notice that I am no longer willing to tolerate its painful intrusions on my mind. The peace of God is all I want.