Last week I wrote of the Christmas season’s capacity to take me out of ordinary time: “Being out of ordinary time is like visiting another state of being. Some would have us believe this only happens in meditation, or formal practices of some kind. But life is full of events that take us out of ordinary time.” A compelling aspect of this leave-taking is the return (or recovery). You return from non-ordinary time with fresh insights. My own insights have jumped forward in a surprising way—from Christmas to Conferences.
I have been a bit reticent in encouraging participation in the upcoming ACIM Conference in Las Vegas where I will be speaking for the first time. But it is as if I’ve woken up since Christmas with a new perspective, and it is due to the nature of time outside of time—due to dwelling within it in this seasonal way, and due to memories of other such times that took me out of the ordinary.
The only “major”—by which I mean “more than a hundred people” conferences I’ve ever been to were Miracles In The Mountains in 2012 and ACIM’s 2015 Conference in New York. Both took me out of ordinary time in a big way.
Yes, such conferences are big, and expensive, and busy. I would have told you last year and maybe even last month that, in general, “They are not my thing.” But in recent days, perhaps unbeknownst to me as I went about my seasonal immersion, an appreciation was arising for “all” that takes us beyond the ordinary, for “all” that lets us step out of life “as it is.” I do it every morning when I come to my cabin, and I too easily can stick with my own predilection for the quietest of “stepping outs.”
Maybe Christmas knocked me out of that with all of its activity and sounds and colors. The first thing I did when the house emptied yesterday was get rid of the red cloth and accessories on my dining room table. This table was passed down from my husband’s grandmother. It came with formidable padding and a felt-bottomed and plastic-topped under-cloth. The wood of it has never seen the light of day. Suddenly, partially due to a gift I’d received from an artist friend, I had to get down to the wood! As soon as I did, I was ready to declutter . . . everything! This is part of the return/recovery; one of the graces of coming back after time outside of time. Suddenly, you might not want your mother or grandmother’s dining room anymore. Suddenly, there is realization, like after a conference, of a change.
From my vast (ha!) experience, at two large conferences, I can say quite emphatically that they took me out of ordinary time. The words “full immersion” come to mind. Oh, I was still me. I went back to my room, as frequently as possible to catch ten minutes of quiet. I didn’t attend everything, even those things I thought I would enjoy when I packed for them. But even so, I was “in it.”
As I thought of this it reminded me of a retreat I was required to attend when I was fifteen and at the end of my sophomore year in a Catholic school. That retreat had a huge impact on my life. What happened was that all of us kids were together for a weekend, talking, under the skillful guidance of a few Franciscans, of all that we never talked about day-to-day. We cried. We laughed. Some of us kissed. For the first time, I realized that my peers had feelings similar to my own and that they were so much more than they presented themselves to be day-to-day. When I returned to school the next week and all the masks were back up, I was so brokenhearted that I vowed not to return to that school the next year. I didn’t, and the change truly altered the course of my life. But so did that glimpse behind the masks. It’s what can happen when you are “away” from the ordinary. And, at least after high school, some changes can become permanent.
The Miracles in the Mountains conference was also life-altering. It is what led to my connection with Glenn Hovemann and eventually to the republication of A Course of Love.
The ACIM Conference in New York last year opened the invitation for me to speak this year, and was an overwhelming outpouring of love that gave me confidence that the two Courses can share room in people’s minds and hearts, and that I can share myself in a new way.
This particular conference, for those of us of the ACOL family, is a chance to be there “at the beginning.” I know, I know, it’s fifteen years since the original publication of A Course of Love. But this conference holds historical significance. This is the beginning . . . of something . . . new. We can’t know what it will be in advance. But with certainty we can know that something will happen and that when we attend to it, and then return to our ordinary days, we will not regret that we left them. We will return . . . changed.
I’m even beginning to appreciate the idea of it being in Vegas. I see it as having nothing much to entice us to leave the haven of our hotel and each other.
I would love it if you can come. I would love to be surrounded by friends and to share this experience with you, and to remember it, years from now, as the spark that led us to . . . whatever it will be that each of us discover in our own ways.
For more information and discounted tickets, ($399 rather than $549) please see the Vegas Event page at http://acourseoflove.com/mari-perron-in-las-vegas/. Join me in heading Into the New.