Choose once again, and again …

Spider_web_with_water_dews_on_it_in_sunriseI found a big black spider in my bathroom yesterday, hiding in plain view. It stood in freeze-frame against the eggshell-blue wall, like a prisoner making a break for it, suddenly caught in a roaming strobe-light beam.

I sighed.  After all, we’d talked about this. Not me and this particular spider, perhaps, but I’d definitely conversed, ad nauseum, quite frankly, with spiders of every seeming shape and size and hairy scariness, patiently explaining the territorial situation I found myself in this time around, in this segment of the dream. Living with my family in a house in Denver in which clear differences prevailed between indoor and outdoor habitats and accompanying rules, clearly marked divisions about which species belonged in which environment, which types of behavior might be tolerated without and within. I had even–in an effort to train them all by gentle example–spent many years capturing said spiders in all their guises and re-releasing them back into the wild following another repetitive conversation about these simple boundaries.

And yet, my efforts to portray myself as the Zen-like goddess I aspired to be, the, enlightened,  kind-to-all sentient and insentient beings I hoped this practice of true forgiveness would eventually reveal, had miserably failed. The more boundaries I set, the more these clueless creatures continued to brazenly breach. Culminating in the galvanizing incident last summer (recounted on these very pages) in which a spider snuck into my bed, apparently became lodged beneath my sleeping body, and continued to bite me on the leg until it eventually met its maker. Its venom causing an allergic skin reaction that grew and festered for nearly a month. Triggering a reluctant but nonetheless justifiable change in policy, proclaimed repeatedly to all living spiders, their vicious spawn, and yet un-hatched generations to come. Violate my turf again and I will have no other choice than to resort to capital punishment by toilet flush. End of negotiations.

And so I grabbed a hefty wad of Kleenex, waited for the spider to begin descending the wall within my reach, and attempted to capture it, only to recoil with a shriek as it catapulted to the floor and vanished behind the baseboard heater into one of their little foxholes. Leaving me to contemplate the prospect of a spider at large, commander of an entire unit, I suspected—God knows they never traveled rogue–to which I might again fall prey at any freaking moment in my vulnerable sleep.

As I began to consider my meager alternatives—spraying the area with some kind of toxic-to- spiders-and-humans pesticide, camping out with a book while awaiting its inevitable reemergence and ambushing the little sucker, etc.—a funny thing happened. I thought of the book Charlotte’s Web I had so revered as a child, that whimsical tale of a temporarily right-minded spider weaving miraculous-seeming messages in her web designed to spare a small pig from slaughter; that had not crossed my mind in many years.

The miracle message I read now in Charlottes’ web? Forgive. What if I just stopped right now, and let the spider be, forgave myself for dreaming up this showdown born of separate interests? Maybe I could simply join with the inner teacher of true selflessness in our one mind that always chooses the unalterable peace of our shared, true nature over the inevitable, frightening chaos of bodies competing for survival in a fictional world.

 “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity, Christ calls to you and gently says, ‘My brother, choose again.’ He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. …” (A Course in Miracles Chapter 31, VIII. paragraph 3)

And I realized that the choice always available to us in every circumstance had become more apparent and even automatic lately. Just the other day, I had attempted to describe to a Course-student friend the way in which–although disturbing forms kept cropping up in my forgiveness classroom with the rapid-fire speed and force of asteroids hurtling through space in a video game–they often did not seem to worry me the way they once had. I realized they would pass if I simply allowed them to be while also allowing the compassion I feel for fellow, frightened journeyers to expand to include Susan.

“That sounds like peace,” she said.

And it occurred to me with the deep release of a welcome yawn that maybe she was right. I kept expecting peace to arrive with all the pomp and circumstance of a sacred event when, just maybe, peace was the quiet, welcome yawn between, during, and beyond all events. The uninterrupted peace of our true nature, forever here, simply waited for me to stop and rest with it. I could experience it whenever I chose to identify with it rather than the passing asteroids of my “me-ness,” the continually invading spiders, the ever-morphing projections of nothing that peopled my so-called life in an imaginary body. I could simply stop and let my need to manipulate where the spider was going, what the spider was doing, go, return to that quiet center within, and relinquish my attachment to anything going “my” seeming way in form.

It’s tempting to think that if the cause of the body is in the mind then if the mind is healed so is the body. The spider takes a hike. The bone fuses, the virus dies, the cancer scrams, and the special love object delivers on his or her early promise. The problem with this logic?  There are no bodies in peaceful Truth. The cause of the body (the belief that the one and only we could separate from our inseparable loving source or would want to) had no effects. The effect of the ego’s belief never happened, despite the smoke and mirrors of its ever-transforming bodies of false evidence. Even the body’s inevitable deterioration and demise mean nothing, because the body never lived. So why not just be kind?

As A Course in Miracles tells us again and again, “ideas leave not their source.” The one we has never left its source in the one mind. The ego’s greatest ploy is to prove its plan had real effects by pointing to its power over bodies, using the body’s healing/obedience/change in form as evidence of healing the mind in an effort to prevent us from actually returning to the one mind. But a “healed” body or a “safe” form are just as much apparitions as a “diseased” body or “dangerous” form. Only withdrawing belief in a body created in my imagination as all bodies are as a fortress against God, with help from an inner teacher who knows not of bodies, heals the mind and brings me peace invulnerable to the comings and goings of bodies.

Until I know with perfect certainty in every moment that I’m not a body and neither are you, whoever the “you” might be, I need only re-identify with the eternal field of peace for all no body has, or ever could, alter. And, when tempted to battle or defend other seeming bodies, remember that peace is the only choice I really want and can ever really make.

The spider is no more or less confused about its real territory, no more or less frightened by possible predators, than I. After all, this dream of exile from all-encompassing, eternal Love is a frightening place for everyone and everything. Still, I can live in harmony with the horrors and delights of this world however they present, recognizing one as no more or less harmful or helpful than another, all born from the same delightfully (to the ego) horrid but nonetheless impossible thought that I could separate from the all and create my own territory to defend from its inevitable marauders. Somehow prevail against all I ever really wanted and already, as it happily turns out, have, if I will simply remember to choose once again.

“The images you make cannot prevail against what God Himself would have you be. Be never fearful of temptation, then, but see it as another chance to choose again, and let Christ’s strength prevail in every circumstance and every place you raised an image of yourself before. …” (From paragraph 4)

Thank you, Gary Renard, for adding my new collection of ACIM essays, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, to your Recommended Reading list: 

Honored that Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, is now available at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center in Denver, Colorado, where I teach regularly on Tuesday nights. Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want takes up roughly where my last ACIM essay collection left off, and conveys my growing faith that no matter how wrenching, wild, or wacky the dream of our lives may appear, we always have a choice about which inner teacher we are looking and listening with: the ego, the part of our mind that believed the “tiny, mad idea” of separation from our source had real effects. Or the “right mind” that remembered to gently smile at the bizarre thought of it. If you’re thinking about buying a book and live in Denver, please consider purchasing a copy from the RMMC to help support their great work. The new book is also available on Amazon.

Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and my previous book,Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, are now available from the ACIM Store: I am honored to currently appear as featured author. 

I enjoyed talking with Bruce Rawles recently about my new book; Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and the importance of cultivating a relationship with the inner teacher of forgiveness in our one mind. You can watch the video by clicking here: or on my home page.

You can listen to a recent conversation I had with my good friends and fellow ACIM teachers Lyn Corona, and Bruce Rawles about how to forgive ourselves on this journey home to the one Love we never really left here: on the Videos page of this site.

Also had a good time talking with CA Brooks, host of the 12 Radio show Simpletales, about my new book and recipes for true forgiveness. You can listen to the audio here: on my Audios page.

Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally clear and loving right mind, a mentor can help Course students apply its gentle forgiveness practice in their lives. In one-on-one phone sessions I help students identify and transcend the ego’s resistance to healing our split mind through forgiveness. By looking with and listening to our forever kind inner teacher we learn to recognize and release the unconscious blocks we use to push unwavering, all-inclusive Love away, begin to see everyone and everything as the same in God’s heart, and gradually awaken to our true, whole, eternally innocent natureFor information on individual ACIM mentoring; please click on the mentoring tab on this site. (Please note that no one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.)


  1. David Smith says:

    Charlotte’s Web aside, your essay is an incredible metaphor to events current. Well done. Thank you.

  2. Thanks, Susan … It’s all in the gentle denial of ego’s wicked-wannabe web-weaving for deceiving and territorial posturing … We really can forgive ourselves for dreaming up this surreal showdown born of separate interests, huh! 🙂

  3. Thank you, Bruce. And love the alliteration! 🙂

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