II. The Atonement as Defense, P 6
6 Evolution is a process in which you seem to proceed from one degree to the next. You correct your previous missteps by stepping forward. This process is actually incomprehensible in temporal terms, because you return as you go forward. The Atonement is the device by which you can free yourself from the past as you go ahead. It undoes your past errors, thus making it unnecessary for you to keep retracing your steps without advancing to your return. In this sense the Atonement saves time, but like the miracle it serves, does not abolish it. As long as there is need for Atonement, there is need for time. But the Atonement as a completed plan has a unique relationship to time. Until the Atonement is complete, its various phases will proceed in time, but the whole Atonement stands at time’s end. At that point the bridge of return has been built.
Jeez, my head is spinning as I try to make sense of this. Ok, I see that I return as I go forward. As I do a lesson and something happens, I fully accept it and my mind is healed of a belief. Then I read something from the Course and the same thing happens again. I forgive what I have believed, and something else has been undone. It seems that I am cautiously taking tiny steps and then more confident strides are made. I definitely feel like I am moving forward. But really, I am returning.
The Atonement frees me from my past errors so I don’t have to keep repeating them over and over again. If I were looking down on my past life, I would see many circular paths. These would be the places where I retraced my steps as I kept making the same mistakes over and over again. The form of the error looks different at times, but the error itself is the same mistaken beliefs being projected onto the world. For instance, I think I am a victim and this is projected as money I was depending on being lost, and another time as being cheated by a contractor, and another time as being molested. The same belief projected in different forms.
Later in life, the path has less of these circular places. The remaining circles are smaller, and some are just curves, and lately, the path is much straighter. The difference is that I have learned to forgive and ask for healing. The Atonement principle has gone into affect in my life and the past forgiven is the past undone. No need to return there. This is how I go foreword to return and do it more quickly. This is how time is saved.
The last part is a bit more confusing. The Atonement is part of time for as long as time lasts. It saves time, making chunks of it unnecessary, but it does not abolish time. I understand that part pretty well. It is like miracles, which are useful here where we think we are, but once we return our mind to God and remember who we are, we will have no use for miracles. The same thing is true of the Atonement.
However, the next part is hard for me to understand. The Atonement also stands at the end of time. It is the bridge that we use to return home? Or as the Atonement is being used in time, it is building the bridge and so at the end is the Atonement that is the bridge home. Well, I am just not sure about that. Maybe what he means is that the Atonement undoes whatever we could not undo, and thus is our bridge home.
I don’t know that I need to understand or even that I can understand. The important thing to me is that the Atonement, which is forgiveness, or as Jesus says, undoing, is the way I am healed and the way time is saved. This undoes the past and takes me forward on the path home at a good clip, with fewer side trips. And as I go forward I return to where I never left.
See, nothing to it!