Home for the holidays

“RESPONSIBLY RAISED TURKEYS!”

Christmas candlesI sat in the parking lot in my little Subaru, staring up at the sign still standing outside the local Whole Foods store, although Thanksgiving had come and gone, along with the aforementioned politically correct fowl. Only a week ago, I had smiled at the irony of the sign’s message, the guilt it attempted and failed to conceal. But the idea of claiming moral superiority for the methods used to raise poultry for slaughter seemed less than amusing now with a refrigerator full of leftovers I had yet to “transform” and/or package and freeze. Then, too, I had spent “Black Friday” at a pet hospital in a neighboring community (when I could not get into our own) with my little dog Kayleigh, suffering the severe gastrointestinal consequences of well-meaning turkey-day dinner guests’ little covert “gifts.”

Judging from the pedestrian and vehicular traffic around me as well as the steady ping of retailer emails bouncing into my inbox as evidenced by the cell phone vibrating in my purse, the holiday shopping season was already off to a rollicking start. But I could not even seem to muster the energy to turn the key in the ignition. I had come here to score ginger, winter greens, and Chinese herbs, magical antidotes to the traditional rich fare I had spent nearly a week preparing that never has agreed with my puny constitution, and could not help but wonder about the nature of the word “nourish,” defined by Webster’s’ as:

“to provide (someone or something) with food and other things that are needed to live, be healthy, etc.” and “to cause (something) to develop or grow stronger” … 

Providing others with food had been a lifelong pursuit. I started cooking at an early age, partly in self-defense. My mother, although a competent baker, had zero interest in putting anything on the table other than sweets. With my father (attending night classes to complete graduate education degrees in nearby New York City) often away, she reluctantly dished up watery scrambled eggs, boiled chicken legs, Velveeta cheese sandwiched in squishy white bread, and a signature salad that involved a scoop of cottage cheese wobbling atop a canned half pear and wilted iceberg lettuce leaf.

Cooking became my way of attempting to improve our family’s all-too-precarious-seeming odds for survival. (What with both sides of our extended tribes plagued with illness and a tendency to prematurely perish). And maybe even providing those “other things that are needed to live,” such as security, love, faith, beauty, and kindness. But I quickly discovered the ephemeral nature of its effects that inevitably require both repetition and innovation. And, try as I might, I never did locate a recipe capable of delivering the approval and appreciation I craved in return for my efforts. Each failed attempt seemed to leave me a little hungrier and more filled with longing, albeit a little more determined to keep rummaging through my growing cookbook collection for more sustainable sustenance.

Fast forward several decades and here I sit following another holiday spent knocking myself out in an attempt to meet some fantasized ideal of culinary and family perfection. Painfully aware that what I have caused “to develop or grow stronger” with my compulsion to feed is the lack we all feel within over the guilty belief that we threw away our loving union with God. And the complementary fear that no substitute we cook up in this world will ever fill that void. A valid fear, as it turns out, since nothing in this world could ever substitute for that perceived loss of our only real Home, Hearth, and Heart. As A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 182, “I will be still an instant and go home,” so eloquently reminds us:

“We speak today for everyone who walks this world, for he is not at home. He goes uncertainly about in endless search, seeking in darkness what he cannot find; not recognizing what it is he seeks. A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents his restless mind. He does not understand he builds in vain. The home he seeks can not be made by him. There is no substitute for Heaven. All he ever made was hell.” (Paragraph 3)

A thousand “homes,” refers to what A Course in Miracles dubs our “special relationships.” The people, food, rituals, substances, objects, success, money, etc. we unconsciously christen as substitutes for the “oneness joined as one” of our Creator’s eternal Love. They will never content our restless mind. Why? Because nothing in an imaginary world born of our mistaken belief in the “tiny, mad idea” of separation realized has any real meaning or power, given that nothing unreal exists.

We will never find nourishment where it is not. Only returning to our one mind and looking at our compulsion to blame someone or something outside ourselves for failing to fill us (or ourselves for continuing to try to do so anyway) with our inner Teacher will begin to heal our mind. Split over the belief that the “crime” of running away from our real Home within all-inclusive, abstract Love has doomed us to an endless lose-lose game of seeking and never finding, in a hopeless effort to prove we exist but it’s not our fault. Eventually, nonetheless, coming face-to-face with the excruciating realization that this endless pursuit is our only hell, motivating us at last to begin to embrace another way.

The first time I came upon this workbook lesson nearly 10 years ago, I burst into tears. I could not have resonated more deeply with its description of the sense of alienation we feel here. Seemingly lost and struggling for survival within a conflicted world with no memory of how the hell we got here or could possibly bust out.

“This world you seem to live in is not home to you. And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true. A memory of home keeps haunting you, as if there were a place that called you to return, although you do not recognize the voice, nor what it is the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. Nothing so definite that you could say with certainty you are an exile here. Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not more than a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again.” (Paragraph 1) 

I had been aware of that tiny throb all my life, and nothing I had sought and found here in dreamland had ever answered its cry for help. Still, as the lesson goes on to say:

“Yet there is a Child in you Who seeks His Father’s house, and knows that He is alien here. This childhood is eternal, with an innocence that will endure forever.” (Paragraph 4, lines 3 and 4) 

“”It is this Child in you your Father knows as His Own Son. It is this Child Who knows his Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His Voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while. He does not ask for more than just a few instants of respite; just an interval in which He can return to breathe again the holy air that fills His Father’s house. … But give Him just a little time to be Himself, within the peace that is His home, resting in silence and in peace and love.”  (Paragraph 5, lines 1-7) 

The lesson continues, explaining that this Child within is our embryonic right mind, the symbol of our unwavering, all-inclusive innocence, the correction for our belief in an alien, individual child adrift in a punishing world of other individuals. This Child, as Ken Wapnick points out in his brilliant, recently released CD set Watching with Angels, http://facim.org/Bookstore/p-335-watching-with-angels.aspx will lead us back to the one Home of undifferentiated union in the mind we never really left, if we will only do what the Course is saying—forgive.

And what does that really mean? Ten years into encountering the Course’s unique brand of forgiveness, with deep respect and growing humility born of practice, practice, practice, I can only say I think it means simply looking from moment to moment at how much I don’t want to go home, with the part of my mind that knows otherwise. Fully aware, as I am at this point in the seeming journey, that I can’t ultimately take this personal self I call me with me. Or exclude those I avoid, judge, or outright hate (including the special self I still think I am). While also acknowledging that this is the cause of my suffering. And that a time will come when I will say I don’t want this anymore and mean it in all circumstances. This very practice guarantees it!

Perhaps especially during this busy season that too often devolves into a frantic stampede of giving to get that ultimately leaves everyone starving for more, we can also remind ourselves that we get home by being still, stepping back to look at what we’re doing with our right mind for just a moment. And that the way to prevent us from experiencing the “holy instant,” that little taste of Home beyond this dream of needy, homeless bodies that fills us completely, is to keep ourselves mindless.

As Ken reminds us in his commentary, we chose to journey down this ladder into hell and now begin the journey home again in each moment as we begin to claim this innocent Child within as our own by reminding ourselves that we are never empty, alone, and busy striving to fill ourselves up from an imaginary outside for the reason we think. This Child needs our “protection,” we’re told, our commitment to honestly looking at our ongoing decision for specialness (in all its creative manifestations) with our inner Teacher.

We need this Child! This Child needs our recognition that failing to hear its call for Love in others simply means we’re refusing to hear it within ourselves. Our observance and admission that a part of us—the decision-making mind that chose to believe the ego’s tall tale of separation realized—is still too fearful to want to go home yet, still too afraid of what the end of the journey in which our specialness disappears into God really means. But is willing to learn to be willing by committing to making our lives a classroom in which we look at everything we made to hurt us and fill us and fail us gently and patiently with you know who.

“You have not lost your innocence. It is for this you yearn. This is your heart’s desire. This is the voice you hear, and this the call which cannot be denied. The holy Child remains with you. His home is yours. Today he gives you His defenselessness, and you accept it in exchange for all the toys of battle you have made. And now the way is open, and the journey has an end in sight at last. Be still an instant and go home with Him, and be at peace a while.” (Paragraph 12)

NOTE: Merry Christmas to all! I will post again early in the New Year. Until then, I can think of no greater gift than sharing another of my interviews with Ken Wapnick, this one from October 2011, with you. Even if you read it a while ago, Ken’s wisdom (like the Course itself), is always worth a re-read! Hope you find it as helpful as I did—here’s the link: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/forgiveness-acim-style-no-big-deal

You’ll find multiple videos from 2013 about the daily work of the Course’s unique forgiveness of what never was on my Videos page: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/videos, as well as Ken Wapnick’s latest, wonderfully illuminating YouTube talks on my home page. 

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.

 

 

Comments

  1. I really got a lot from this posting. I will be using some of the quotes from A Course in Miracles in my own work. Would you recommend I purchase it? If so what edition?
    Thank You,
    Stanley

  2. Thank you, Stanley; glad to hear you found the post helpful.

    I would recommend you purchase the latest edition from the Foundation for A Course in Miracles: http://shop.acim.org/collections/frontpage/products/acim-hardcover It is also available in paperback. From their website’s bookstore http://www.facim.org/bookstore/ You’ll also find a wealth of free information on their site http://www.facim.org/

    Kind regards,
    Susan

  3. I’m catching up on your – always excellent – posts, Susan… and particularly in light of the news of Ken’s passing today, will be re-reading the superb transcripts of your interviews with Ken; thanks so much for these and your persistent and thoughtful commentary… We’re all – seen in the light of our Inner Kindness Teacher – just helping each other return home to the innocence – of total Inclusion – we never left!

  4. Hi Bruce:
    Thanks so much. I am so very grateful for Ken’s generous sharing of the process of forgiveness in these interviews. As well as sharing his own journey with the Course and loving-to-all, right-minded perspective. I am sure his conversations with his students will continue until we have no more need of words. This is a lovely time to remember that taking our inner Teacher’s hand means taking our brothers’ and sisters’. We go home together or not at all!
    Much love,
    Susan

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