"Today I learn the law of love; that what I give my brother is my gift to me."
What if we realized that only what we give away to others will be left to us in the end? What if we recognized that everything we try to hold onto for ourselves alone will be lost? How would that change the way we live?
The lesson is referring to our gifts of love and forgiveness more than to anything physical, although the physical often symbolizes that love. "Yet he whom I forgive will give me gifts beyond the worth of anything on earth" (1:6). The Course teaches us that everything is an idea, and ideas, when given away, only increase; we lose nothing in the giving. On the other hand, when we try to save our affection for ourselves alone, we wind up empty-handed: "And as I looked upon the treasure that I thought I had, I found an empty place where nothing ever was or is or will be" (1:3). Only what is shared is real because only Oneness is reality, and separateness is illusory. We can't have something for ourselves alone because we are not alone.
How do we arise and return to God (1:9)? Through forgiving our brothers (1:6-8). Each one we welcome "fills my store with Heaven's treasures, which alone are real" (1:7). There was a short poem I learned back in my fundamentalist Christian days that seems applicable here:
"Only one life, 'twill soon be past; Only what's done for Christ will last." Only the love is real; only the love is eternal.
"How near we are to one another, as we go to God. How near is He is to us. How close the ending of the dream of sin, and the redemption of the Son of God" (2:1-3).
I don't think that as yet we have any idea how inextricably we are all linked to one another, or how near we really are to one another. Each time you choose to listen to God's Voice instead of your ego, in however little a way, you help me on my way to God. Each time I open my eyes to Christ's vision, you see a little better. You and I and all of us are really one. "I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts," says Lesson 19. If, through my willingness to see another as whole today, I help her or him on the way to God by reminding them of who they really are, I have literally helped myself equally, because our minds are joined. How many opportunities await each of us today! How eager I should be to spread forgiveness over all the world!
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