Empty Nest? Not!

800px-Creek_covered_by_ice_and_snow_in_winterMy daughter was packing her car again. We planned to catch a quick lunch—hot dogs, at Steve’s Snapping Dogs on Colfax–our shared guilty pleasure. During which she would give me the crash course in using my new iPad she had not had time to, until now, this last day of a winter break from college that seemed to have whizzed by, often without her.

Our little dog Kayleigh spun in mad circles of frustration as Kara’s bags, evidence of yet another impending defection, accumulated on the ice-crusted lawn.  I had planned to take her for a walk as my daughter finished up. But Kayleigh dug in her tiny heels, stubbornly attempting to anchor all six pounds of her heft, staring up in mute helplessness as Kara piled yet another belonging into her little blue car. And I found myself somehow similarly stalled. Riveted like a bystander at the scene of an accident. Engrossed in witnessing the impending departure of a well-loved form that seemed to come and go lately (mostly the latter) with a frequency that tested the strength of human and canine hearts. .

Once we finally got going and headed up the street in the unseasonably buttery sunshine,  I found myself once more inwardly “meeping,” a word I invented to describe the curious combination of silent muttering and tear-less weeping to which I seemed to suddenly succumb lately when I thought about Kara. Consumed by thoughts filled with regret for something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, a kind of deficit I couldn’t defend but nonetheless kept inwardly trying to. Although I thought I was so over with this parent-child separation thing, I realized I had completely underestimated its ongoing nature. Nonetheless, I seemed unable to resign myself to the continuing process.

As we turned the corner toward the park, I glanced up at one of the old, giant trees lining the sidewalks and spied yet another large nest, resting, relic-like among the leafless branches. I had been noticing them for weeks now as I walked and drove about these familiar streets. In my nearly eleven years in this neighborhood, I could not recall once observing an abandoned nest, leading me to wonder if some uncommon species of predatory hawk had settled in among us over the past year, perhaps to take out the burgeoning coyotes. But now this particular nest, backlit against a glazed blue sky, seemed a sign I could no longer refuse to heed, but an outer reflection of the gaping, vacant nest within.

“Jesus Christ,” I said. And he was instantly beside me, my imaginary inner teacher. Adjusting the hot pink shades I had given him a few summers ago against the glare.

Kayleigh staggered about on her hind legs, little paws curled in pleading position, as if sensing his presence, too.

“Where on earth have you been?” I asked. Because it seemed like months, it really did; since he’d deigned to heed my call.

“We’ve talked about this,” he said, smiling. Reading my mind again. Reminding me of who had really gone missing. (His consistency could get on your nerves, if you let it.)

Still,  I had to smile, too. “Anyway, long time no see with,” I said, stealing his usual line.

He laughed. “So how’s it been working out for you lately in dreamland?”

“Oh, my God,” I said. “You have no idea.”

He nodded.

I thought about bringing him up to speed on the seemingly random, incoming forgiveness opportunities firing like a meteor shower in my twisted little imagination. But I had at least come far enough along on this journey without distance to the place we never left to know the problem and the solution lay side by side, right now, in my puny willingness to look on this illusion du jour, right now, with him.

Kayleigh had exhausted herself and lay coiled at my feet.

I pointed to the nest above. “She’s leaving again,” I said.


“It’s like when I was pregnant,” I said. “Everywhere I looked there were pregnant women, I’d never noticed before. And now these.”

He nodded.

I tugged Kayleigh to her feet and we trundled on toward the playground, weaving in and out of more towering trees brandishing empty nests like trophies, mentally reviewing the last few weeks. My husband and I had both harbored high hopes for spending quality time with our daughter over the holidays and beyond. But she was 21 now, actually, in case we’d forgotten, and had made many other plans, as healthy young adults will. Filled with the bravado of growing independence; the promise of new people, places, and adventures beckoning from every turn. And not yet face-to-face with the impending challenges of making her own way in this seeming world. I thought about how unkind it was for me to take this very normal step in human development so freaking personally, and yet, the dull ache of longing remained. And I realized I had no clue whatsoever about how to let go of this, but someone very close at hand did.

We watched the children swinging on the swings and digging in the sandbox, smacking each other with their little plastic shovels and bursting into tears. Screeching and hollering as they slid down the spine of a purple dinosaur, ignoring the calls of their harried-looking parents stabbing at cell phones

“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.

“You always do.”

“ ‘It’s an insane idea to believe we can lose what we love,’ just like Ken Wapnick said in one of his academies.”

Jesus nodded.

Just as insane as thinking we can “hold onto it,” or even know what that means. “There are no empty nests in truth, is what you’re really trying to say. Just the one in the mind that remains chirpingly full.”

Jesus was swinging the hand I must have given him as we turned back toward home. Skipping along like a little girl with angel eyes who once thought I hung the moon. Kayleigh had fallen in at my heels, as if responding to the commands of an inner dog whisperer.

We walked back to find my daughter all packed up.

“One second,” she said, dashing back into the house for a final possession.  (No doubt appropriating another one of mine. :))

It was time to show Jesus what lunch was all about. “Have you ever had a Snapping Dog?” I asked.

He glanced down at Kayleigh.

Her eyes widened.

His brows shot up and down the way they do.

I picked her up.

We threw back our heads, and laughed.

“Relate only with what will never leave you, and what you can never leave. The loneliness of God’s Son is the loneliness of his Father. Refuse not the awareness of your completion, and seek not to restore it to yourself. Fear not to give redemption ovcr to your Redeemer’s Love. He will not fail you, for He comes from One Who cannot fail. Accept your sense of failure as nothing more than a mistake in who you are. For the holy host of God is beyond failure, and nothing that he wills can be denied. You are forever in a relationship so holy that it calls to everyone to escape from loneliness, and join you in your love. And where you are must everyone seek and find you there.” (A Course in Miracles Chapter 15 VIII. Paragraph 3)


NOTE: A Course in Miracles uses the character of Jesus as a symbol of the part of our mind that remembered to laugh at the “tiny, mad idea” that we could separate from our eternally, whole, non-dualistic, all-inclusively loving home. By learning to rely on him as our inner teacher in the classroom of our lives, to offer all our dark doubts to the light of his lucid vision, the unconscious guilt we feel and project on each other resulting from this mistaken belief is gradually undone. We become kinder and more loving with others and ourselves until we eventually awaken to the reality of our one Source and Self we never stopped sharing with him.

Here’s an ACIM hangout video with my friend Bruce Rawles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yogj9ckTXbc&feature=youtu.be . In this one, we talk about our love for our teacher Ken Wapnick, a demonstration of kindness to one and all, and how we can honor his life and heal our minds by living all he has taught us! 

HALF-HOUR MENTORING SESSIONS NOW AVAILABLE: Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally sane and loving right mind, mentoring can help remind Course students having trouble applying its unique forgiveness that the problem and the solution never lie in the difficult relationship, situation, behavior, health issue, etc., but in the decision-making mind. In every circumstance, without exception, we can experience inner peace and kindness toward all, unaffected by the seemingly random strife of a world designed to prove otherwise. By choosing to look at our lives as a classroom in which we bring all our painful illusions to the inner teacher of forgiveness who knows only our shared innocence beyond all its deceptive disguises, we learn to identify and transcend the ego’s resistance, hold others harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. One-on-one, hour or half-hour mentoring sessions are conducted via traditional phone or Skype (your choice). Please contact me to find out if mentoring is right for you before submitting a payment below. (No one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.)

I’m making some exciting new changes to my Tuesday-night forgiveness class, designed to deepen our study and practice and accelerate our learning in the New Year! (PLEASE SEE THIS SITE’S CLASSES/EVENTS PAGE FOR DETAILS.) We’ll begin 2014 by embracing true prayer, forgiveness, and healing as described in The Song of Prayer pamphlet (pamphlets available for purchase from the RMMC or already included within the most recent edition of A Course in Miracles). The Song of Prayer was scribed by Helen Schucman following the Course’s publication and helps clarify misunderstandings about its non-dualistic metaphysics. Our classes on this topic will conclude each week with an optional 20-minute true-prayer session.

We’ll devote the rest of the year to opening to the text, chronologically, from the heart, through selected readings, occasionally augmented by complementary workbook lessons and/or selections from the Manual, pamphlets, and recordings by premier Course Teacher, Author, and Scholar Kenneth Wapnick. Each week will conclude with an optional, 20-minute question and answer/comment/sharing session.

My latest book, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. If you read and find the book helpful, I would so appreciate you posting a brief (a sentence or two is fine) review on Amazon. 🙂

Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want is also available at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center in Denver, Colorado, where I teach weekly on Tuesday nights, 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.  Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and my previous book, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, are now also available from the ACIM Store: http://www.acimstore.com/default.asp.







  1. Isn’t that the ego’s unchanging (in content) but ever-changing (in form) ploy: to keep us searching but not finding – and projecting lack and loss – in a dreamscape that is essentially meaningless, empty, null and void … of course we must forsake (only in our imagination) the awareness that Perfect Completion is ever-present, hidden in plain sight behind and within every seemingly separate person, place or thing; aren’t we a well-training silly bunch! Thanks for another right-to-the-point post, Susan! 🙂

  2. Thank you Susan,
    This is excctly what I was glong through when our son left to start a new life in America two weeks ago. I was totaly surprised by my deep emotions, never expected them, because son already left home 8 years ago to go to university!
    So I was totaly overwhelmed and weeped and laughed and at the same time I saw this ‘gate’ to go through holding hands with J realizing that this was just another oppertunity to go through this ‘gate’ letting my grief re-use bij HS to find the gift of Oneness again at the other site of the gate.
    So Thank you for sharing this!

  3. An email friend says:

    Dear Susan,
    As I make my way through your blog, I landed here today and laughed and cried at this entry. Meeping. What a wonderful word!

    Your words gave me new compassion (which came with its own share of guilt for me to forgive) for how my college days must have pained my parents.

    And the discussion between you and Jesus is womderful…thanks for giving me a laugh at the end.mthe presence of Kayleigh always does that 🙂

    Your recent email acquaintance

  4. Thank you so much, Mareesa! Ken Wapnick called parents and children our most difficult classroom. I think that’s true on both sides. But such an opportunity to heal and learn to smile.

    Jesus and Kayleigh always make me laugh, too. I just wish I could get either one of them to agree with me on anything. 🙂


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