Think not that your mind as you conceive of it learns without comparison. Everything is true or false, yellow flowers darkright or wrong, black or white, hot or cold, based solely on contrast. One chemical reacts one way and one reacts another, and it is only in the study of the two that you believe learning takes place.

You have not given up the idea that you are in control of what you learn, nor have you accepted that you can learn in a way that you have not learned before. Thus we move from head to heart to take advantage of your concepts of the heart, concepts much more in line with learning that is not of this world. C:3.12-3.13

From inside the house, letting Simmy (the cat) out, the sky looked like one dusty cloud. But walking out under it . . . so lovely. Clouds, some that dusty pink of morning, others startling white. Stars. The rarity of clouds and stars. The beauty of contrast. It got me going on thoughts of contrast: The seasonal change going on; the life changes taking place.

At Mass last night, Mom took Communion in her chair for the first time. She stood for the Gospel, but that was it. No more. She’d finally decided: no more of the ups and downs for her. She’s two weeks shy of ninety. Eighty years or more of the standing, sitting, kneeling—and now—enough. I felt the change, and I’m sure she did too. Each small thing in her life feels like one more step toward the helplessness she came into the world with. Henry (my grandson) is at the other end, one more and one more step toward independence, standing on his own. The contrast of life, the minuet, the ballet, the crescendos, the dips and dives.

As school started this year we bought Henry one of those “tablets” kids like with the idea of using it as a motivator for his school work. He’s in second grade. Last night he asked if there would ever be a time he’d have unlimited use of his gadget, with no “asking.” I said, “Probably not. It’s my job,” I told him, “to be sure you get enough sleep and I think if you could, you’d be on it all night.” He wondered when he’d be old enough to do that, and I said probably never because he’d always have school or a job or something. He then wondered how he could go about getting rich enough to have that freedom. I thought to myself, This is his “first thing.” The first thing making him begin to wonder in that direction. Do each of us encounter a “first thing” sometime in our lives? The thing that makes you wonder how you can find, earn, finagle the freedom to do what you love to do?

When I was with my friend Christie the other day, I was talking of how it is good writing that makes me drool—and has from way back. The falling in love feeling. Reading books over and over, even Gone with the Wind, which I read eleven times when I was about eleven years old. There are different reasons I’ve fallen in love with books over the years. My first love affair was with The Catcher in the Rye, and that one was for the glimpse I got inside the head of Holden Caulfield. In my early teens I was not above faking being sick after staying up all night reading or so that I could continue reading. Reading was my “first thing.”

My love affair continues to this day, even when, since A Course of Love, I read fewer books and with much less variety than I did before A Course of Love. Still, a few years ago I fell in love with the sound of The Secret Life of Bees. Ten years ago I fell in love with Thomas Merton. I truly do feel that particular way of falling in love as my greatest joy. I have one friend, Ross, who lives in Vietnam, who writes me so beautifully that I swear I just about swoon. But he is not the only one. Continually, I am touched by the way people use words. There’s something that feels like “everything” – words that seem to come into my ears as truth and beauty. I don’t know how reviewers manage to review the best of books. How do you describe what is there? Volumes as thick as A Course of Love can and do become one thing expressed truly . . . every day. In the world of books 40,000 words become like one word, one story, one philosophy, one . . . whole.

Now I am finding a new layer of words. I have never listened to an audio book, but I have set about recording the words of A Course of Love. Christie was telling me how she could hardly wait, and talking of the importance of just letting the words enter you. She’s been a companion of mine since the very first Course of Love group that met to read from spiral bound copies. She has read this Course many times. She has the new edition and has read a bit in it, but she’s longing to just lay back and listen, to not even put in the effort of reading. And she feels strongly that “it’s time,” and not just for her; time to have the words enter in a new way.

I did not know I was longing for this. The project wasn’t one I was eager to begin. But that changed this week when I had it come to me that I would “Receive the words of the Course again” in this way. What an inspiration to begin newly!

Another friend, Mary, said, “The ear is feminine. It is receptive.” Here I am, “speaking” the words. It seems dichotomous with the idea of “hearing” the words, of receiving them. As if I am “putting them out” rather than “taking them in.” Which circles around to the idea of contrast and the way, basically, that we think about things. What is “taking in” and what is “putting out?” What is giving and what is receiving?

See what I mean?

fall flowers darkThese words of love do not enter your body through your eyes and take up residence in your brain, there to be distilled into a language that you can understand. As you read, be aware your heart, for this is where this learning enters and will stay. Your heart is now your eyes and ears. Your mind can remain within your concept of the brain, for we bypass it now and send it no information to process, no data for it to compute. The only change in thinking you are asked to make is to realize that you do not need it. C:3.14