When I left for my trip to Philadelphia, the trees in Minnesota weren’t budded yet. They were only fringed with new growth, delicate and feather-like, too fragile to even hold color. When I returned, the change of spring had arrived.
It feels like a metaphor for the ACIM/ACOL event, “Love and Miracles in Philadelphia,” and for what the trip revealed: a change in the landscape, the blossoming of new growth.
Any time we have a “first” we are talking about change.
There were two obvious and public “firsts” at the Center for Contermporary Mysticism where “Love and Miracles in Philadelphia” took place. One was that Jon Mundy and I were presenting together to nearly a hundred women and men eager to hear of ACIM and ACOL in a spirit of unity. The other was that my long-time creative partner and spirit sister Mary Love joined me, and shared for the first time, how the transforming power of A Course of Love affected her life. While in many ways we’ve shared ACOL from day one, in others, equally true, we’re now experiencing it in a “new” way.
The experience of the audience made up another hundred “firsts,” and there were side-bar firsts of meeting each other, of sharing one, or a half-dozen heartfelt connections, or having an encounter, perhaps, with one of the two ACOL publishers who were in attendance—Glenn Hovemann who oversees ACOL’s publishing worldwide, and Sebastian Blaksley who is bringing ACOL to the Spanish speaking world. There was a sharing of inspiration, of ideas, of stories.
Jon and I began a full day together on Saturday, speaking of our mystical experiences and, for the rest of the day, spoke mainly on the complementarity of ACIM and ACOL, answering audience questions to close out the day. On Sunday Mary joined us and we were each guided by our hearts to the sharing that we did.
What expanded through this sharing was union and relationship.
A joining of Heart and Mind
A Course of Love and A Course in Miracles
There were openings upon openings, like to the budding of the trees and flowers going on as we met.
There was more at work than any of us know.
Back at home afterwards, I faced fully the new situation with the backyard cabin that is home to my writer’s soul. Now I had the time to sit looking out at the logs that are all that remain of my maple tree, the nearest, and dearest, and most profusely photographed of my tree friends. The maple was a magnificent, towering shelter where the squirrels I feed would sit looking in the cabin window as if sharing a meal with me; the tree whose limbs embraced the cabin and hid us from view. It was the tree that was dying and threatening the cabin, and that, in the first thaw of winter, before the new snows came, was taken down.
I’d looked out the window from the house during the unending refusal of winter’s yield to spring, and see the cabin standing out there all alone, looking so exposed and bare without the maple’s presence. I felt as if nothing would ever be the same and I’d be exposed too, not sheltered as I like to be in that “out of the world” way that the cabin and the maple had always provided.
Yet now the change of spring is filling in the blank spaces. The trees that remain are receiving more light, and they’re standing in all their glory, full and lush.
When things change, new life begins.
Something has begun. The field in which we meet has widened and there’s a thaw, a new spring, a new warmth, and blooming going on.
Here are links to the Love and Miracles Saturday videos, to the video of the Sunday event published to the site of our host: The Center for Contemporary Mysticism, and to Miracles Magazine.
Saturday morning, Part 1: Jon Mundy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zniT1irRkcM
Saturday morning, Part 2: Mari Perron https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1Oyqx1eYzE
Saturday afternoon, Part 3: Mari Perron & Jon Mundy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIN0EtdQ0KA
Saturday afternoon, Part 4: Q & A, Jon, Mari, our host Joe Irwin, and the audience https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejltW7Tt8OI
Sunday afternoon: Jon Mundy, Mari Perron, and Mary Love with an additional question and answer period.
Miracles Magazine: http://www.miraclesmagazine.org/
[Y]our heart is the well of spirit from which true answers are drawn. Your heart is a full well, a wellspring from which you can continually draw with no danger of ever drawing an empty bucket. You need never thirst again when you have accepted this. D:11.10
I was drawn out of myself by love during the 2018 Course in Miracles Conference (CMC), mainly by one person or another, or by different configurations of people engaging in dialogue. But I was also “drawn out” by the quirkiness and inclusion of this particular conference, a conference hard to describe to anyone who has never attended one. The organizers are dressed in sparkly vests and hats and have been known to disrobe from time to time in controversial and revealing ways of sharing vulnerability and forgiveness. In the spirit of all this weirdness, no one questions being led in song by a man whose voice croaks (Rev. Tony), or having a Mick Jagger-esq performer (Rev. Rudy, who definitely can sing) strut the main aisle. It is a dramatic display, birthed primarily from the creative zeal of Rev. Tony Ponticello, who’s genius, once you get familiar with him (which you can’t help but do) is a blessed force laced with comedy and control.
You can’t help it. You are drawn out of yourself by love.
From within my quiet life, I am not particularly eager to participate in such events ahead of time—and must recover afterwards. This is my third CMC Conference though, and I’m feeling now that I’m beginning to hit my stride with the things—with their over-the-top nature and the intensity of it all. I actually enjoyed myself and was “in joy” over the people I got to meet and to know on a deeper level than I imagined could occur.
One of my favorite contemplatives, Thomas Merton, first spoke to me of “being drawn out of ourselves by love.” He also speaks of love as a “happening.” I spoke during the conference of the three things I feel most surely bring us out of the sphere of subject/object relating and into the sphere of happening: sharing, dialogue, and creation of the new. They all happened there—in San Francisco. These ways ask us, no matter our proclivity for solitary pursuits, to remain open and available to human encounter and exchange, and to embrace tolerance over fundamental beliefs.
The conference is serving now—sort of sneaking up on me to serve as a touchstone to the question that I’ve been hanging out with since November when, for various reasons, the busyness of my life increased, and my creative/contemplative time decreased. When I get away from that zone of deep interiority, I admit that I feel away from myself and my way of being. Then I begin to yearn for it.
Strangely enough, what I feel in that deeply interior place, is similar to what I felt at the conference. It is a spacious place where I am the same as everyone else…and most uniquely me. How that can be I cannot say, but I can feel. It has to do with the way that art is one person’s expression and yet has a universal voice (which is what makes it art). It is the way that we are many and that we are one. It is the way of our Creator’s love. Never is one loved more than another, yet each are loved for who they are.
This is, and was, a great breeding ground for connection and dialogue.
I left San Francisco with a list of folks interested in engaging in dialogue, and with a sense that dialogue thrived in that “coming together” atmosphere that crossed boundaries of thinking, loyalties, and solo reasoning. A dialogue between ACOL and ACIM—has begun. The dialogue between those of us representing ACOL and the publishers of the Course in Miracles Society (CIMS) edition of ACIM, (often referred to as the “original” or “pearls” edition)—felt like a reuniting, and a dialogue between those wedded to the “standard” (FIP) edition and those who embrace the original scribing was furthered.
We are drawn out of ourselves by love.
From the third treatise of ACOL:
[I]t will matter that someone will look at you and see that you are not so different than he or she. It will matter that someone will look at you and be drawn to the truth of him- or herself that is seen reflected there. What I am saying is that your differences can serve our purpose until differences are no longer seen. What I am saying is that you can remain confident in your personal self, knowing that your personal self will serve those you are meant to serve. What you have seen as your failings or weaknesses are as valuable as are your successes and strengths.
What has separated you will also unite you.
Here in Minnesota, I often look out in the late afternoon and see that the sun, held in a gloomy pre-evening sky, looks exactly like the moon. It’s a time when one could easily awaken and wonder if it is day or it is night. This is the time of the solstice.
Many ancient celebrations marked the solstice with various meanings, one of which was the victory of light over darkness. It is literally the time after which day gets longer and night shorter.
But the solstice is not exactly the reason for this blog, just a happy coincidence, or possibly a metaphor about light. I came to be writing on this subject because of an Elton John song, “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.” It would not leave my mind since the writing of my recent article in The Embrace.
Many of you may have seen it. It is a response to what is said about A Course of Love in Gary Renard’s new book. The article is called “Is the World an Illusion?” Today’s blog has to do with how I felt after writing it and receiving the responses to it that I did. It is also about the season in which it has come to be. A season that guided wise men to find a Messiah in a child born in Nazareth. A season that began in history, in documented human events. A season of miracles.
Some of you may also know that Jon Mundy has opened his Miracles
Magazine to A Course of Love. As he writes, “We’re going to begin working together with the January/February 2018 edition of Miracles. Sixteen pages will be turned over to reflection from the teaching of A Course of Love. Let the dialogue begin. It’s the way we can all grow while holding onto our inner peace, traveling ever forward to the Ocean and the Universal Oneness we all share.”
It is, indeed a season of miracles here and now for A Course of Love, for me, for us.
Even though Elton John’s song seemed to arrive in relation to that article, it wasn’t until today that his words called me to write. For some reason, these words, “Turn around and say good morning to the night” were the ones most frequently revolving, running over and over within me, as if from an old record album with a skip.
To me, it’s a song about redemption, a song that begins by saying that “Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true/You stand at the edge while people run you through.” The next refrain is: “And I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.”
I didn’t go so far as to look to see if there was a story from whence the song came, but I debated whether to name this blog as I did or to let his words speak for my own thankfulness for “people out there like you.” I chose the former because it spoke to me so of change, and the particular change that began with the birth of Jesus, a change that continues today in you and me.
The birth of Jesus is associated with the coming of light, which in turn is associated with knowledge. The presence of Jesus on Earth, brought new knowing into the world.
I cannot say enough that this change is “the light of knowing.” It is not knowing “about” something but the knowing itself, the experience, the felt presence of knowing as of another being altogether, an alive knowing, a “touching into the consciousness from which we came and in which we dwell” knowing. It is contact. It is interaction. It is relationship. It is to be an experience and an expression and a voice of the One, from all of us who can accept the knowing of Oneness as a field in which we abide. This is the actual state of affairs around which the current called “life,” with all of its distinction, flows.
In The Dialogues, we hear:
Fullness comes only from love, which is the source and substance of who we are being. I Am being you. You are being me. In this equation is fullness of being, which is love. Day 38.14
“Who we are being” seems to ask you and me to speak as clearly as we can about essential things. And so this response to Gary Renard’s claims (mine, and that of others as well) stayed with me. I believe it stayed because we may well be speaking of the greatest matter before us in our time.
Will we choose a way of oneness and relationship? Of heaven and earth? Of form and spirit? Will we dare to live meaningful, true lives? Are we willing to see ourselves—as neither greater nor lesser, as neither bound to external authority nor to who we have been as a consequence of teaching and learning—to see ourselves as the self given when we came, tabula rasa, heart and soul? Will we live by that from which we sprang and within which rests the ground of our being? Will we manifest that which we are, as we are, with all our “seeming imperfections?” (Day9.24)
This call to bring to life is the great feminine principle—not denying life, but asserting life and nurturing it into being—with care of the One, and the Many in the One.
You can only express the beauty and truth of who you are now, in the present. And you do. You just have not realized that you do. You have not desired to do so but desired to do something else! Desired to wait, desired to learn, desired to imitate. What might happen if you change what you desire? You might just realize your freedom. (Day9.25-26)
If we desire to have the freedom to be who we truly are, and to live from that freedom, you and I will create a new world. Alleluia! We need only stay steady and true to the light that shines from within.
With these words, I wish you all the blessings of truth in this season of light and, like Elton John, I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.
If you’d like to experience the young Elton John, creator, singer, player of this amazing song, click here:
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Past the ego’s guarded gate: empowering revelations
After my mom’s death in August, I was taken by surprise to realize there were things I was holding against her and myself. Things I had not forgiven. Things that came to me the day after the funeral planning was done, and I was taking my usual morning walk. There, on the street, in the open space of that walk, up they came. I cried my eyes out, stalled between one step and the next. I cried first for myself and things I’d never acknowledged, and then for my mom and that I hadn’t reconciled these feelings while she was alive.
A few weeks later, “the ego’s guarded gate,” a phrase from the third treatise, A Treatise on the Personal Self, sprang into my mind.
What empties space for love for fill?
Each time you have “fallen” in love you have emptied a space for love to fill. Each time you have felt true devotion you have emptied a space for love to fill. You have been emptied of the ego-self as creative moments of inspiration filled you and emptied of the ego-self in moments of connection with God. Conversely, you have been emptied by the lessons of grief as the loss of love has led to a loss of self. You have been emptied by a loss of self due to illness or addiction, depression, or even physical exhaustion. All these things you have brought to yourself for they have been the only way past the ego’s guarded gate. T3:5.2-3
Grief is a space. My morning walk was a space. That I looked up from wiping my tears that day, and looked into the eyes of a young buck deer standing on the edge of our neighborhood park, provided another space. We looked at each other for minutes. Minutes! There was such gentleness in those minutes! I felt so relieved.
What was going through my mind, causing my tears was a short-form of what Jesus asks us to do in Chapter 19 of the Course: to review our lives. And how perfect is it that he responds immediately afterwards, in the book and in life, by offering us the embrace of love:
This is a call to move now into my embrace and let yourself be comforted. C:20.2
It is here that he speaks of the loss of the ego for the first time. “You are no longer the “I” of the ego.” We move and move and move…beyond the ego’s guarded gate.
In Learning in the Time of Christ, there’s another call:
a.32 The entrenched patterns of the past are difficult to dislodge even when they have been recognized. Individuals can be encouraged here to “watch the parade go by” as what has gone unhealed is brought forward for acceptance, forgiveness, and letting-go. With the letting-go of each old pattern or situation that seems fraught with peril, a cloud of despair will lift, a little more of darkness recedes, and a little more light is available to show the way.
After a parent’s death, as after the death of the ego, a space opens in which we can take on a new Self. A new authority. My dad died ten years ago. With the death of my mom, my parental “authority” is gone. It seems kind of strange, but it makes a difference. I feel a difference. And how strange that the tenderest, most heart churning moments of our lives can and do bring us a new authority. I felt this too.
[T]here is no authority to whom you can turn. But in place of that “outside” authority, I give you your own authority, an authority you must claim in order for it to be your own.
Become the author of your own life. Live it as you feel called to live it. (D4.23-24)
With each acceptance, each forgiveness, each step past our barriers to love, you and I claim our authority, and become authors of our own lives.
(I used the above quote in an interview recently. You can listen to the interview here:
The topic was “Connection and Creativity.” You can find a copy of my “Call to Power for Women,” on the blog of my interviewer, Sharon Ann Wikoff: http://www.sharonannwikoff.com/VOICE-4-TRUTH.html
The mind cannot hold open the doors of the heart and yet we turn within, turn to the mind, and show it where its openness lies, where sweetness abides, where love’s knowing is found. All the mind can do is rearrange reality and hold it still and captive and rule bound. The laws of love are not laws such as these. The laws of love are not rules, facts, or right answers. The laws of love bring spiritual freedom, the freedom that lies beyond belief, beyond thought, beyond adherence to any authority other than one’s own heart. I:5
ACOL is a challenge to authority. This challenge may be the most controversial thing about it.
What an appropriate time it is to re-view and remember all Jesus says about accepting our own authority. These excerpts from A Course of Love relate brilliantly to what is going on in the world, but, as always, bring us back to what exists within us and can change as we change—as we cease to look to outside authorities. And so, in an unusual move, I invite you to re-discover the gift of the heart’s authority through these selected passages from The Course, The Treatises, and The Dialogues. In addition to being a comprehensive look at how Jesus presents the authority problem (and solution), they also show the difference in the way we are addressed as we begin the Course, the many invitations that offer us more, and our assurance that we can, will, and finally “have,” in union and relationship, accepted our own authority, the authority by which we can share in truth.
(Maybe it’s one of the things you realize newly with the death of a parent (as I wrote of last week). My dad died ten years ago. And now my mom is gone too. Perhaps upon becoming parent-less, you suddenly feel as if you are of the generation of elders in a new way. This photo of ACOL was taken at Mom’s. It took this new publication before she had it out in the open, on her coffee table. Me being the first receiver of A Course of Love was not particularly comfortable for her. When the combined volume made its way to her coffee table, sitting right on top of her book on Sinatra…I’d made it to the big time!)
The old way of viewing authority:
C:7.21 You have given others, whom you see as having more authority than you, license to provide you with their version of the truth, and for consistency’s sake you choose to believe in the version of the truth most predominate in your society. Thus the truth is different in one place than it is in another and it even appears to be in conflict. You cling to known truths, even though you are aware of their instability in time as well as place, and so you live with constant denial that even what is known to you is not known at all.
C:16.21 While you want those you have given power to protect you, you also fear them, and they in turn fear the powerless who might take away their power or rise up against them. What kind of power is it that needs to be constantly defended? What is it about the powerless that frightens you, except that they might not accept their powerless state? And what does this say but what history has shown you—that who is powerful and who is not is not determined by might or any authority that can be given and taken away. Power is possessed by those who claim it. By those who cry I am. For the beginning of power comes from the rejection of powerlessness. The rejection of powerlessness is but a step toward your identity achieved through the awakening of love of Self.
C16.22 What misery the world has suffered in the name of judgment, power, and justice. What misery can be avoided by finding the true power inherent in your identity. For you are not powerless. Those of you who think you have traditional means of power on your side turn not to your own power, and then you wonder why those most spiritual, both currently and historically, seem to suffer hardship. Yet it is often only those who suffer hardship who will rise up and claim the power that is their own instead of looking for it elsewhere. Your perception but looks at power backward and wonders why God has forsaken a people who seem to be so godly.
C16.23 God forsakes no people, but people forsake God when they give away their power and claim not their birthright. Your birthright is simply the right to be who you are, and there is nothing in the world that has the power to take this right from you. The only way you lose it is by giving it away. And this you do.
C16.24 God wants no sacrifice from you, yet when you give away your power you make of yourself a sacrificial lamb, an offering onto God that God does not want. You look back on stories of sacrifice from the Bible and think what a barbaric time that was, and yet you repeat the same history but in different form. If a talented physician were to give up his power to heal you would surely call it a waste, and yet you give up your power to be who you are and think it is just the way life is. You give away your power and then bow down to those whom you have given it to, for you are afraid of nothing more than your own power.
C:16.25 This fear but stems from what you have used your power for. You know your power created the world of illusion in which you live, and so you think another must be able to do it better. You no longer trust yourself with your own power, and so you have forgotten it and realize not how important it is for it to be reclaimed. As good as you may want to be, you would still go meekly through your life trying to comply with rules of God and man with thought of some greater good in mind. If everyone did what he or she wanted to do, you reason, society would collapse and anarchy would rule. You think you are only fair in deciding that if everyone cannot do what they would want, then you, too, must abdicate your wishes for the common good. You thus behave in “noble” ways that serve no purpose.
C:16.26 If you cannot claim at least a small amount of love for your own Self, then neither can you claim your power, for they go hand-in-hand. There is no “common good” as you perceive of it, and you are not here to assure the continuance of society. The worries that would occupy you can be let go if you but work instead for the return of heaven and the return of your own Self.
C:20.32 Acceptance of your true power is acceptance of your God-given authority via your free will. When I beseeched my Father, saying, “They know not what they do,” I was expressing the nature of my brothers and sisters as caused by fear. To accept your power and your God-given authority is to know what you do. Let the fear be taken from this area of your thought so that you can see the application of cooperative action. As long as you fear your own ability to know what you do, you cannot be fully cooperative.
And so we follow the way of creation, and begin the dance of cooperation.
C:20.33 The rest of the universe, existing in a state of compassionate free will devoid of fear, knows what it does. There are no opposing forces that are not in agreement about their opposing force. No atoms do battle. No molecules compete for dominance. The universe is a dance of cooperation. You are but asked to rejoin the dance.
We begin to read newly, and to move beyond learning to our heart’s wisdom and to co-creation:
T4:11.5 … I bid you to read these words in a new way. You are no longer a learner here and what I reveal to you must be regarded as the equal sharing between brothers and sisters in Christ, the sharing of fellow creators in unity and relationship. This is the beginning of our co-creation. Do not seek for me to impart knowledge to you in these concluding words. Absorb the following pages as a memory returned to your reunited heart and mind. No longer regard me as an authority to whom you turn, but as an equal partner in the creation of the future through the sustainability of Christ-consciousness.
D:2.22 Within is where you look to your own heart, rather than to any other authority, for advice or guidance.
D:4.23 Once again I remind you that there is no authority to whom you can turn. But in place of that “outside” authority, I give you your own authority, an authority you must claim in order for it to be your own. An authority you must claim before your externally structured life can become an internally structured life.
D:4.24 Let this acceptance of your own internal authority be your first “act” of acceptance rather than learning. Turn to this as the new pattern and to the thought system of giving and receiving as one. Let the authority of the new be given and received. Become the author of your own life. Live it as you feel called to live it.
D:4.26 I tell you truthfully, your release is at hand and it will come from your own authority and no place else. It is up to you to accept that your release is possible, to desire it without fear, to call it into being.
D:12.18-19 Some of you will have credited your personal or individual self with the “figuring out” of this truth. Others of you will have recognized the “voice” of authority with which this truth came to you as something other than your usual thoughts, other than your usual “self.” Either way, however, you know that your self was involved, somehow, in this coming to know of the truth, even if this coming to know of the truth wasn’t quite “of” the “you” of the personal self. The thoughts that come to you from unity can thus be seen as both your own thoughts and thoughts that arise from union. Union is not other than you, as I am not other than you. Union includes you, just as the All of Everything, the whole of wholeness, the one of oneness, include you. We are, in unity, one body. We are, in Christ consciousness, one Christ. We are, in wholeheartedness, one heart and one mind.
DDay:3.39 When you have felt the reality of union, you have felt the place in which no want exists. You felt this through the responsiveness of the relationship that is unity. You perhaps desired an answer that “came to you” through no process you had known before. We spoke of this as thoughts you did not think. We spoke of these thoughts you did not think coming with authority and certainty, a certainty you had previously lacked.
We move to what can only be given and received in relationship:
DDay:13.11 [Y]ou may feel unable to share or express all that comes to you from unity, and while you may feel unable to share or express the authority and truth you know it represents, you will, by living according to what you know to be the truth, form the very relationships and union that will allow the truth to be shared. The relationship or union, in other words, precedes the sharing of what can only be given and received in relationship.
DDay:15.13 It is to your own authority only that you must appeal for guidance.
You will, by living according to what you know to be the truth,
form the very relationships and union that will allow the truth to be shared.