Are you beginning to ready yourself to hear this voice as your own? To express the voice of Christ-consciousness as only you can express it? D:D21.9
Lovely, gloomy, morning. Sunday. I have the corner light off and there is just enough light in the gloom to be able to comfortably type while remaining enclosed in the dark. What heaven!
A period of transition I’ve been going through has been evident in what I’ve written lately. Had a wonderful, exhilarating break through yesterday—the kind that makes yesterday seem like a long time ago—that has life feeling new again. That had me out with my camera to capture the poppies that are open to bursting, when a day ago they were only buds. What happened yesterday? It’s almost like I unfolded with the poppies, opening another layer of acceptance of myself, my power, my voice.
I have my old Dialogues book here in the cabin with me, and I go to it to look up transitions. I’m realizing the whole of ACOL is one long series of transitions; changes. In a short while I put the book down on the chair next to me and Simeon (the cat) promptly comes along, walking over its shiny white cover. This Dialogues book is the last of them that is still in good condition. I pick it up, stick my pencil back in it, and set it, face down, under the table lamp, noticing as I do a huge opossum wandering down the path as if heading to my door, her pink nose in the lead. Haven’t seen her since last year, or since winter anyway, but suspect she lives beneath the cabin and have been leaving crusts of my peanut butter sandwich nearby for her. I am glad to know she’s still in residence.
There is life beneath the cabin.
My gaze returns to The Dialogues. How I loved and agonized over its creation. It was the first book I ever created front to back. There is life in it still. And there is life here, in me, too. The Dialogues are about this life. I pick the book up again. Begin to rub at the smudge marks here and there. As I hold it lovingly, memories flood me. I begin to read my introduction to this volume. In it, I mention that I am forty seven-years-old. I think, Okay, I was born in ’55, I’d have been forty in ’95, that would make this 2002.
Propping the book open carefully with the nearby Writer’s Diary of Virginia Woolf, I am able to type from it:
“Receiving all of the text that would eventually make up the body of work associated with ACOL took just a few weeks short of three years. During that time, I felt as if I gave up “my voice” to “the voice.” I “got out of the way” to let “the voice” pass through me. I regarded the work as my “purpose” and I took it very seriously.
I was very serious—very earnest. I felt awed and honored, was disciplined and devoted. I dwelt in a state in which “the Course” was all that was important.
Despite being acutely aware of my “divine purpose,” I saw myself as a little self, small and inconsequential next to “the voice” of the Course of Love. The voice of Jesus was the only voice that mattered—there was no room for my voice.”
The rest of my introduction is about my odyssey away from that feeling. How bold I was, adding “Coming to Voice” to the title. I go back and look. That phrase appears nowhere in the book. I was making it . . . my own. I don’t know when the last time was that I read that intro. There’s a wealth of memories in it, for me. Yet I wonder if many readers of today are feeling as I felt then. In my early days with the Course, I wasn’t alone in my feeling of smallness or of wanting to get out of the way for something higher and better. It was, in a sense, the attitude of the day. In 2002, as I began seeing that my own attitude was unfortunate and not in keeping with ACOLs message, my new feelings were not always greeted with acceptance.
I’m finding no such hesitation now, in 2015. I’m seeing eagerness within readers to greet their own selves, and to come to voice as who they are. What a joy this is! I am immensely grateful! Coming to voice is precisely about breaking through something—any “one” or one of many things holding us back—from our own unfolding.
Concentrate on making the first transition and on the reversal of thought that it requires. Thus will you carry this time forward with you into creation of the new. D:D21.10
Dear Anne, Again I feel we are back touching on companionship. You “hanging out” with me in the cabin. Doesn’t it seem that this is the simplicity we lack in most forms of communication? Just “being with” each other? Perhaps, like me, Anne, you have to get these breaks to know yourself and your heart more fully, and to allow your creativity to soar in the spaciousness of solitude. Thank you for being my companion and sharing yourself with me.
just happened to be at the computer .. fees good to have you there and as you said so beautifully,, just being with each other feels so good and thankyou for mention that I probably need time in between to take a break, just be, listen to my Self and create… Yes that feels so true.
Mary, I have the same feeling as you, coming back to read these comments. It is almost as if in this “quieter” space (quieter than Facebook), and where we, or at least “I” can write longer, is more conducive to that feeling of friendship…more one-to-one. I am a “long” writer, in general…by nature. Here, I able to simply express whatever is in me to be expressed. When I get responses here, they feel like one-to-one responses, even when they are inclusive of others. That is truly my preferred way to connect, but this is almost as good! Thank you.
Ohh…Mary, Mari and Paula…I miss you all while taking a break from facebook which at the same time is doing me good..
But I feel happy about having a chance to communicate here instead and I love reading Maris post, Lauras beautifully comment as well as Marys last post which I agree with…
And I just enjoy so much hanging around in the cabin with you Mari… Maybe because you really see and feel all the small details in life and in that make them beautiful…. Yes I feel as ACOL says you are infomed by everything ….and yes there is life beneath the cabin… Isnt the house like our own consciousness and what beneath it like to Opossum is what we are to welcome and accept… So now ypu inspire me to see the charm in all these hidden parts and give them some peanutbutter crust…that might even be a good way to get them out to be seen and welcomed.
When shutting down facebook and the ACOL group for awhile I realized how much you all mean to me…and that feels so good…In a way I feel more connected to you now in my heart because sometimes my mind take over in the group…
I feel I now go deeper for awhile into my own experience of the course…really allowing myself my own interpretation and also melting a lot of things instead of just going on in my head to read and understand more….Life is teaching me now by its experience… I been living on an open meadow filled with flowers for some days…feeling how easy it is to feel myself more as this spacious self while out in nature ( at least I have a sense of that this is the spacious self)…without walls around me…and feeling connected to everything…
Yes Paula coming to voice, being my true Self and giving of Me…is such a beautiful gift that ACOL encourage us too…. And as you say Mari, writing is a way for me of coming to voice but also to come to see and experience more cleary my own rhoughts and feelings…
Thankyou for given me the oppurtunity to share … even if I am abit late here and none might see my comment it felt sooo good to write with the thought of you all in my mind.
LOVE Anne now I am returning to my meadow, reading chapter 16 Paradise refound.
And I forgot to say that I loved so much Paulas comment too…Yes it was a,wonderful feeling of friends joining this morning.
I was going to leave a comment for Mari and am unable to now. Reading this exchange between Laura and Paula has left me feeling fulfilled. Perhaps it’s the peace that I still feel from the post on companions. I feel I’ve just observed a friendship develop, an instant companionship between you both. What a lovely discovery for me today.
I’m so sorry I missed your comments on The Given Self on Facebook. I’ve gone back now and seen your post. I do still love that book. It was me…being boldly me. I thought it was so neat how you wrote of the baby eagles and that readiness for flight. (But now that I’m reflecting on it, I don’t know that I commented!) Anyway, thank you!
Yes, Coming to Voice has been an issue for me in a lot of ways, changing but never quite gone. I’m so grateful for writing. Very often, I have to write to find out what I have to say or what I’m feeling. It’s just a part of me!
But I love what you love! I feel like I could just sit and write about life outside my window. And of course I do. Years of journals about ice and melt and mud and new buds and baby bunnies and the color of the sky! Endlessly, endlessly the same and fascinatingly different. We are that way too!
I loved your last poem — the noticing and the awe. Thank you so much.
Mari, I planned on commenting to you on your compelling blog, but read Laura’s reply and felt I wanted to connect with her first.
I really loved this blog, it is so personal, so self revealing and relationship inviting. I thank you for these blogs. I begin with saying my poppies this year were the most beautiful ever! I don’t know if my capacity for receiving beauty has increased (it has!) or if they were just more beautiful than ever. I love your peanut butter crusts going to your opossum, and your sentence “There is life beneath the cabin” could be a book title! My cat Leo just jumped on my lap. It’s hard to type with a 15 lb cat between me and my keyboard!
“The Dialogue…” reminds me of the other book you wrote, “My Given Life” which I wrote a post about on June 8th. I’m sure you didn’t see it, but I recommended it to others. You brought to consciousness the blessing of our given lives in a new way. My background focused on the doctrine of original sin and the fallen nature as instigator of so much sin. Ug! I’m still healing.
“Coming to Voice,” is this part of your new challenge you have been facing? A fuller coming to voice? It is a process that continues doesn’t it. Thank you, Mari, for all your giving and receiving and coming into your unique voice! I love you! Paula
Laura, welcome to ACOL. I came to this comment section to write a post to Mari, but your ‘reply’ to Mari’s post touched my heart and so I’m stopping first to say hi to you. I love that you are a contemplative as I am also. I thirst for those quiet times when I can be centered. May I just say that your whole comment was a prayer in my view. I seldom say formal “prayers” these days. I feel my life is my prayer. My hunger for relationship with God and with others is my prayer. Maybe you are being called to a different way of prayer that fits more with who you are now.
I will share a bit of my experience with ACOL. I found the book last October, or really I think it found me! I began reading, but I had a whole range of reactions to the material which was and continues to be sooo powerful for me. As Jesus lead me further into Love, I found myself angry at times, then excited at times, and on and on. I hungered for other people to dialogue with about the Course, it was so life changing. I am now in my 8th month with ACOL and find my life impacted to an extent I could not have imagined. I could go on and on, but I will just say now welcome to a magnificent experience. When some of what Jesus is saying gets confusing, just go on as he will say it in different ways and pretty soon you will notice some positive changes, they will happen without effort, only your willingness. You are loved more than you can imagine at this time, I promise you!
Thank you for your response to my comment. Thank you for your observation that my comment was a prayer (and I agree with you.) I remember what Saint Francis said about using words when necessary, and I feel sure, if it doesn’t sound too cheeky for me to say it, that your life is indeed a prayer. I met with my spiritual director Thursday and feel much less frustrated with my prayer as a result. He is a kind, wise, gentle poet who has also been a Trappist monk for many, many years. He reminded me that there are so many ways to pray. He spoke too about how Jesus’s message of radically inclusive Love is still something that flies in the face of what he called the social consensus. He said contemplatives struggle with that consensus and that he’d be worried about me if I weren’t.
How quickly did you read ACOL? I am a quick reader when I need to be but am going very slowly with this, more slowly than I did with ACIM.
Thank you again for your kind reply. It means a lot to me and is very affirming. Blessings, Laura
Laura, I have written two responses to you, both went out into the the great beyond and I don’t know where they are. I’ll try again tomorrow! Paula
Hi Laura, I hope this comment can stay in this form today and not fly off into outer space! You ask about how quickly I read ACOL. For me it is not possible to read it very quickly. And, I found I could only read it when I was rested and alert. It takes my brain and pulls it in new directions and often I go through a stage of “Huh? what did Jesus just say here anyway?” I have been really involved now for 8 months and am on my 4th reading. Just did chapter 20 in the Course this morning. If you get discouraged as I did with all the ways I had been living in fear, and separation and all that, when you get to 20 “The Embrace” it will all be worth it! Thanks for reaching out. This was the way I got involved in the ACOL community and it is so rewarding. There is an ACOL blog. You might be interested in it. Let me know. I’ll check on this site again soon. Paula
Yes, sure, when you get a chance I’d love to know about the blog. I have a blog too—the website above—and it strikes me that almost everything I’ve written on it heretofore has been leading up to this coming together, this convergence of heart and word.
Do you have a blog or website where you post your poetry?
Peace and blessings,
Laura, I will submit your name/ email address. It’s a closed group. So give me your email address and I’ll submit it.
As far as my poetry goes, I post poems on the ACOL blog, and I have self printed booklet of poems. I could send you one if you give me your snail mail address. My email is: email@example.com.
Blessings back to you! Paula
my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you very much!
Mari, thank you for this post. I have been meaning to say how much ACOL is coming to mean to me. I was rereading the first chapter (I’ve only read the first five) by Talking Rock Creek this afternoon. This wild little park is my go-to place to be myself as a contemplative (oxymoron though that may be) and also to disappear in a way that feels healing and beautiful, if that makes any sense. I had been sitting at this battered old picnic table in the empty park beside the creek for maybe fifteen minutes when two children, a girl and a boy, maybe about 8 and 6 respectively, came up to me and asked me to watch their things while they swam. I said okay and the girl looked at the Course and said, that’s my favorite book, and here’s my favorite verse in it. She thought it was the Bible, of course, and proceeded to quote me 2nd Corinthians 5:17—“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” She beamed at me as if she’d known me my whole life. I ended up having a fairly long conversation with her mother, who came along a little while later, and the whole exchange felt like a tremendously synchronicitous thing. I felt like telling you about it because it does feel so connected to ACOL.
So, I am up against a wall of sorts with prayer just now, and have been actually for several months. It’s hard to describe. It is distressing for me but it feels like a part of my journey that has to happen. Reading ACOL hasn’t made the dryness in prayer disappear, but there is a shift happening, and it too feels tied to ACOL. I feel newly reassured that my own writer’s voice, and I suppose my photographer’s eye, aren’t things that I must deny in order to become more fully who I am. I don’t have to become the perfect ascetic; I can love the beauty in the world passionately and without feeling somehow stuck. Maybe I’m way off base with these thoughts, but your words about Voice feel resonant and important for me. I will take ACOL (all three parts of it, which I have in the combined volume) with me to Gethsemani in a couple of weeks for my retreat. It will be the first time I have done a retreat there as a Catholic, and though I expect it to be four days of plain old silence—no big spiritual breakthroughs or ecstatic experiences—I believe it will be beautiful and that ACOL will be important to that experience. Thank you again.
What a beautiful scene you painted for me, a scene so perfectly beautiful that it feels miraculous and touching. And such a quote from a child, and how incredible to have it said in lieu of ACOL’s call to the new. —“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” I did read this last week but it was late. I don’t know why but it seems like I start a post in the morning and never get it posted until I’m ready for bed! I so wanted to reply, but couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was mainly just plain pleased to hear from you again, as I’m pretty sure the last time you wrote you’d not yet started A Course of Love. It’s so seldom I hear from people “before” they start reading it, and with our common love for the contemplative life, I was hoping it would speak to you and that you’d keep writing. Yes you must keep writing. (And Yes, as Paula said, it is a prayer.) I’m so glad you feel reassured in expressing yourself and in enjoying the beauty of the world. And I love the idea that my beloved Course (if not me) get’s to spend time at Gethsemani.
Thanks for your reply. It’s interesting and beautiful how it feels like so much is coming together for me now. Then, of course, at other times it paradoxically feels like everything is somehow flying apart—but that isn’t a bad thing at all, even if it can be really uncomfortable and even frightening.
I was talking rather hesitantly last night in the book group at my ‘new’ parish, Transfiguration Catholic Church, about the Native American term “all my relations” and how it connects for me to the ideas in the book we’re reading, Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now. One woman commented, in response to my description of what “all my relations” means to me, “That’s just like the communion of the saints!” And so it is, I thought. Underneath this beautiful tapestry of conversation and learning is this revelatory experience of reading ACOL. Of course some of the ideas, such as those about relationship, have shown up in bits and pieces in other ways in my life, but the expression of them in ACOL just feels so strengthening, perfect, and complete.