I used to spend a lot of time traveling for business, including countless hours sitting in airports. In most instances I was able to get away with just a carry-on, but on a few occasions I needed to bring more luggage. And in every one of those instances, I stood for a long time at the baggage carousel waiting to retrieve my suitcase.

Inevitably, on another nearby conveyor belt, a bunch of unclaimed bags would spin round and round patiently waiting for their owners to come. And this image of unclaimed luggage is a helpful metaphor for how we spend so much of our lives.

We’ve all experienced, however briefly, the peaceful bliss that comes from letting go of judgment. We feel no anger or condemnation towards anyone or anything. But often that feeling doesn’t last. We rush back to what the Course refers to as our “special friends” of sin, guilt, and fear.

We are afraid of giving up the ego because it would mean giving up our identity. Our entire sense of “self” is tied up with this body. And letting go of that is terrifying. So we cling to what we know, which includes judgment. Descartes just as well might have said, “I judge, therefore I am.”

But true peace is like the waiting luggage at the carousel. I love this lesson from A Course in Miracles:

Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives. (W-pII.334)

Forgiveness in the Course has nothing to do with pardoning evildoers for their sins. Rather, forgiveness is the recognition that nothing happened. Nothing needs to be atoned for. That’s what letting go of judgment is like.

The gifts that forgiveness offers include a peaceful serenity in which we are filled with a joy at the connection (and sameness) amongst everything. And those gifts are patiently waiting for us. We can claim them anytime we want.

So the next time we find ourselves lacking joy in any way, we can conjure up that baggage carousel image and mentally reclaim the package of peace, reuniting ourselves with our true identity.