Holy Spirit AWOL

Just back from attending the week-long academy class at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula, California, a truly transcendent, mind-healing-for-all experience I am still processing. The inspiring staff presentations have truly deepened my commitment to, and understanding of, how to live this path. (I’ll report more on this in future posts.) For now, here’s an excerpt from my first book of essays, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, about practicing the Course’s extraordinary forgiveness in ordinary life. Hope you enjoy!

Here is the fear of God most plainly seen. For love is treacherous to those who fear, since fear and hate can never be apart. No one who hates but is afraid of love, and therefore must he be afraid of God. Certain it is he knows not what love means. He fears to love and loves to hate, and so he thinks that love is fearful, hate is love.” (A Course in Miracles, Chapter 29, “The Closing of the Gap”)

native grassesThe timothy stands tall and cocky in the breeze, the fisted purple clover swollen and sharp as thistle. A wounded magpie trips along ahead–bitter and muttering as I close in—before, with one last gulp of courage, dodging into the brush. But there are predators in the grass, too, predators everywhere you look this off-kilter Colorado summer. In a normally drought-plagued month of rising fire danger weeds instead quadruple in size before my eyes, exploding with pollen. The ozone thins and rains batter, straining to cleanse the earth’s toxins, toxins that run too deep to ever expunge.

“I am so over this,” my daughter said, last night, in the hotel room, before slamming the door to go sleep with her friends.

We had just driven her and two of her teammates into Steamboat Springs for a three-day soccer tournament in which her U-16 team was participating. The two teammates (whose parents could not make it) had rented their own room. My daughter wanted to bunk with them, of course, but my husband and I had told her no. We had recently grounded her for lying about her whereabouts and our trust in her had plummeted. But when we arrived in Steamboat, my husband must have had a change of heart because he told her she could stay with the other girls before heading back downstairs to park the car in the garage across the street.

“Three teenage girls alone in a hotel room,” the ego in my head shrieked. “What are you, crazy?”

There is really no upside to losing it with a teenager. The heated conversation that followed culminated in that great one liner of hers that still reverberated in my head this morning as I walked the hills at the base of the ski mountain searching for my right mind.

“I am so over this.”

And I wondered how that could be? I had hiked these hills before, years earlier in another season, my daughter a light weight on my back, snow sucking at my ankles, back when I was her ankles. Her weight all at once doubling as the cradle of the backpack rocked her at last to sleep. Teething, she had not slept in days it seemed and neither had I. I might have walked to Wyoming if the cold had not made a run at my toes to the rhythm of the unconscious thud of her between the blades of my aching shoulders. In the condo we warmed our hands by the fire. I boiled noodles and frozen peas and mashed a banana. I dropped Cheerios like coins into the larger Cheerio of her mouth and we were happy again.

I am still carrying her but the weight has grown almost intolerable and the time has come to put her down. The aspen leaves tremble like a lip at the thought. I walk in that limbo I sometimes experience practicing forgiveness, the gap between recognizing the problem is not out there and allowing the solution. Returned to the decision maker’s driver seat again but not yet able to shift from neutral to drive.

I recall my behavior the night before, the way my anger at my husband and daughter morphed to include her friends, teammates, other parents, Republicans appearing to sabotage health care reform, a colleague who appeared to have betrayed me. I swear out loud at an ambush of mosquitoes and try to choose again, noticing once more that when I am not in my right mind I am wholly insane, absolutely convinced the world and everyone in it has turned on me. How it all comes down to a matter of trust. Not trusting my daughter because I can’t trust the false self the ego created, the self I think I am, the self I think betrayed its parent’s trust by forging off on its own. But this is not a self-help Course. There is nothing helpful about enabling the hero of a dream that despite the plot details always ends the same way.

How difficult this trust issue becomes when I listen to the ego, reigniting my own guilt about the choices I made as a young person, confusing those choices with the real choice that haunts my dream, the original choice to throw love away, the mistaken albeit denied belief I have murdered oneness and can never find it again. That void nips at my heels all the time in the world the ego made, the black hole into which I believe I fell from grace, enveloped by eternal nothingness rather than the eternal fullness of truth. I ask for help in looking at this but no one answers. Holy Spirit has gone missing again, I think, even though a part of me knows this cannot be.

“There is no time, no place, no state where God is absent…The compromise the least and littlest gap would represent in His eternal Love is quite impossible. For it would mean His Love could harbor just a hint of hate. His gentleness turn sometimes to attack, and His eternal patience sometimes fail. All this do you believe when you perceive a gap between your brother and yourself. How could you trust Him then? For He must be deceptive in His Love.”

I assume my daughter is as untrustworthy as the self I think I am; a self I believe cast away the gift of the one love we really are. When I side with the ego, my love for my daughter is quite impossible. When she defies my wishes, my false gentleness turns to attack, my patience fails. I am deceptive in what I call love in this dream and the ego rejoices because as long as I think she has betrayed me the one love we are has no chance in hell of  resurfacing in my mind. But when I step back, when I put the burden of my special love down, when I ask the Holy Spirit to help me remove the conditions I have written into the script to keep the one love we are and have never really left away, my mind heals. In that moment of healing, I again allow the reflection of love that remains in my mind to shine.

By the time I return from my walk to meet my daughter and her friends for breakfast before the first game the Holy Spirit has returned. I joke with the teenagers as we drive to the field, marveling at the lush hills, the great inverted blue bowl of a sky, a hawk circling with great purpose, the girls’ witty repartee, my husband’s generosity. Filled with gratitude that nothing dire has occurred because I seemed to have once more turned away from love. And yet somehow managed to find my way home again once I allowed myself to accept what had really gone AWOL.

(Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness is available on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Extraordinary-Ordinary-Forgiveness-Susan-Dugan/dp/1846945585 )

My good friend and gifted A Course in Miracles teacher and writer Bernard Groom has been posting beautifully written, heartfelt essays about living A Course in Miracles for years at http://www.acimvillage.com/. I found his recent, kindly right-minded contemplations there on the death of our beloved teacher Ken Wapnick deeply comforting! Bernard lives and teaches in France with his dear wife Patricia. You’ll find a wealth of information in French on his website http://uncoursenmiraclesenfrance.com/ including recorded talks available for purchase or free download: http://uncoursenmiraclesenfrance.com/audio/.

Here’s another ACIM hangout video I did 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’ve made some exciting new changes to my Tuesday-night forgiveness class, designed to deepen our study and practice and accelerate our learning in 2014! (PLEASE SEE THIS SITE’S CLASSES/EVENTS PAGE FOR DETAILS.) We’ve begun the year 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. I Love your writing! I have just purchased a Course in Miracles and have begun this journey.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind response, Stanley! 🙂

  3. There really is no upside to losing our identity in an impossible dream of AWOL-ness, huh! 🙂 Great post, as always, Susan!

  4. Thank you, Bruce! 🙂

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