Commentary on Lesson 274: Today belongs to Love. Let me not fear.

by Robert Perry

From the title, we can see that this lesson is all about spending the day in a state of love rather than fear. To appreciate this, we need to realize—really, to admit—that fear is the human condition. It is not a sometimes state. It is the state we live in. It is the self-concern we walk around in, the anxiety we carry, the worry about little things, the dread with which we face foreboding situations, the desperation that, at any moment, it all might go terribly wrong.

This lesson, therefore, is about, for just one day, giving ourselves permission to step out of that chronic state of fear, and step instead into its opposite. We may think the opposite of fear is peace, and that's true. Peace is the calm and rest, the state of safety and tranquility, that comes when fear is gone. But the full opposite of fear is love. In fear, we recoil in pain from a source of danger. In love, our heart gladly goes out to meet a source of joy. That is the state in which we are meant to spend today.

As the prayer for this lesson explains, this means love for our brothers. How do we find this love for them? This seems like one of the most vexing questions in life, for most of the time people just don't seem that lovable. The answer is given in the first sentence. We let our brothers be as God created them; not frail, fault-ridden humans, but shining, perfect Sons of God. The natural outcome of seeing them this way is giving them the honor due their sinlessness. If we realized that a person really was perfectly pure-sinless-what could we do but give him honor? What does "honor" in this sense mean? The dictionary says it means "great respect and admiration." But this lesson puts it more succinctly. It means love. The "honor due his sinlessness" is "the love of brother to his brother and his friend."

I have put "friend" in lower case because a) that's how it was in Helen's notes, b) in the final edit, many lower-case "friends" were put in upper case, but c) this seems to have changed the meaning, implying that our "Friend" is not so much the other person, but the Christ, the Self we share. Yet there is no reason in this particular sentence to read "friend" as referring to Christ. Rather, "friend" parallels "brother," implying that both refer to the person in front of us. That person is both our brother and our friend.

With all that in mind, let's apply this lesson to someone specifically. Pick someone who you expect to deal with today, but who you'd rather avoid. Say to him or her,

I let you be as God created you.
I give you the honor due your sinlessness.
I love you like a brother and like a friend.

This is a little taste of the state we are supposed to spend today in: free of fear and anxiety, calm and at rest, while love constantly rolls out of our hearts to everyone we see, not as an unmerited gift, but as the honor that is due them, as our recognition that they are all our brothers and our friends.

This reminds me of a favorite poem of mine. It is called "The Base of all Metaphysics," by Walt Whitman, and its final lines describe the kind of personal yet all-embracing love we are called to have today:


AND now, gentlemen,
A word I give to remain in your memories and minds,
As base, and finale too, for all metaphysics.

(So, to the students, the old professor,
At the close of his crowded course.)

Having studied the new and antique, the Greek and Germanic systems,
Kant having studied and stated—Fichte and Schelling and Hegel,
Stated the lore of Plato—and Socrates, greater than Plato,
And greater than Socrates sought and stated—Christ divine having studied long,
I see reminiscent to-day those Greek and Germanic systems,
See the philosophies all—Christian churches and tenets see,
Yet underneath Socrates clearly see—and underneath Christ the divine I see,
The dear love of man for his comrade—the attraction of friend to friend,
Of the well-married husband and wife—of children and parents,
Of city for city, and land for land.

Two things we should remember about this love. First, loving our brothers in this way is what it means to "Give this day to Him" (2:2)—to God. To give the day to God means to spend the day loving everyone, for God is Love. Second, this is the love that saves us. This is the love that wakes us up. "Through this I am redeemed" (1:2). If we "wake up" through meditation alone, and in our new state we feel a deep peace, yet are not so filled with love for others that we can scarce refrain from kneeling at their feet (W-pI.161.9:3), then we are not awake. Rather, through giving them the love that is their due as God created them, we will come to know ourselves as God created us.

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