Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

A couple years ago I had an epiphany of sorts while contemplating the recurring, ever-strengthening urge to begin formally teaching A Course in Miracles classes versus my colossal resistance to that preposterous idea. Since adolescence I had been seemingly crippled with a debilitating fear not only of speaking in public but of being the center of attention in any way. I had forfeited grades in college by refusing to orally present and been dinged for avoiding to do so on job evaluations. A simple request to introduce myself in groups sent me into full fight-or-flight mode; followed by a complete adrenaline meltdown and terror so intense I literally doubted I could physically survive it. Even walking down the aisle as a maid of honor at friends’ weddings required bouquets stashed with smelling salts. The only thing worse than the thought of addressing a group of strangers was the nauseating prospect of addressing a group of peers even more familiar with my many foibles.

As I sat reviewing the legacy of my nonexistent presentation skills stomach churning, pulse quickening, palms blooming with sweat, I opened the big, blue book craving solace if not answers to my “special” fragility and read: “I am so close to you we cannot fail.”

It was one of the first times I truly felt the presence of Jesus—that symbol of the forever kind, sane, awakened, gently smiling mind A Course in Miracles teaches us to call on—within. One of the first times in my life I felt truly and completely loved, loving, supported, innocent, and beyond all external need.  And although I knew the Course in its infinite wisdom could not possibly be offering specific answers to questions about what to do in an illusory world; I felt I had my answer to the question of whether or not to teach. Fear would not be a problem as long as I turned away from the ego’s terrified tales about “Susan’s” condition and leaned instead on the strength in my mind that would never fail me patiently waiting closer than my next breath. Our one inner teacher would be there for me always if I sincerely chose to use this body as a “communication device” (the Course’s term) for the healing of our one mind.

I bring this up because following a couple of weeks of seeming right-mindedness I must have once again become afraid of losing my identity as a separate personality, once again seduced into believing there was something real to lose. Another birthday was approaching; ego “evidence” that the expiration date on the seemingly separate self I identify with loomed another year closer. And I had a couple requests for signings and talks about my recently published book of forgiveness essays coming in, reigniting the story of Susan’s terror of public speaking.

In kneejerk defense of my bogus identity I had also once again begun noticing and attempting to interpret the many differences among my fellow dream figures. Illuminated by the ego in a steady stream that even followed me while driving around for a couple hours with my daughter to post fliers she had made to advertise her services for babysitting and other odd jobs this summer.  As she dashed in and out of community centers and cafes, I held on to our frantic little dog, asking to see things differently but apparently resisting. I could literally see the faces of the many objects of my projection reflected in my rear-view and side mirrors. The ego’s taut little power point presentation featuring the ones I loved to judge, including the one I think I am.

As my daughter climbed back into the car, I handed her the dog and pulled back into the street, glancing once more in my rearview mirror only to spy the face of Jesus wearing those fetching hot pink shades he’d been favoring so far this summer and grinning his knowing grin. Changing lanes I glanced in my side mirror and saw the words etched there as if for the first time:

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

Fortunately, I, too, was wearing shades preventing my daughter from noticing the tears welling up as I pulled into the parking lot of her next destination.  Despite my attempts to substitute a plethora of individual, imperfect, often problematic faces for that symbol of our perfect oneness, Jesus remained “So close to you we cannot fail.” I hugged my dog awash in gratitude for the reminder, watching his nodding image slowly fade.

The words in the mirror haunted me all weekend, each time I found myself judging one of my co-stars or guest co-stars in this dream of exile from the all-inclusive Love we have never left. Each time I caught myself siding with the ego in registering differences among the faces in the mirror or tempted to tally my progress with this Course versus the seeming progress of others in the dream–as if there really was a separate self engaging in a separate journey home–the words in the mirror came back to me, along with Jesus’ smiling face.

Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

If Jesus is as close as my next breath he is as close as yours despite every difference in form. It’s OK to notice individual differences but not OK to think they mean anything. As Ken Wapnick often says (quoting Plato) “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” We may seem to be at different points in our journey from unconsciously fearful mindlessness to consciously knowing mindfulness but everyone in a body shares the same split mind. When my unconscious guilt arises and I project it on you, I strive to judge you to prove my greater innocence. But when I turn to my right mind for a second opinion about that, I see that despite our differences in form, we are completely supported in our journey home together and, in truth, already home. We need only look beyond the illusion of our differences (defenses to our awareness of our true nature) to the content of our sameness until we no longer see any differences to awaken to our uninterrupted wholeness as the one child of God we are.

Objects in the mirror are (thankfully) closer than they appear!

“The Father and the Son, Whose holy Will created all that is can fail in nothing. In this certainty, we undertake these last few steps to You, and rest in confidence upon Your Love, which will not fail the Son who calls to You.” A Course in Miracles workbook, Part II Introduction, Paragraph 7, lines 7-8.

NOTE: A Course in Miracles uses the character of Jesus as a symbol of the pre-thought of separation/awakened mind we can relate to and call on in the condition we think we’re in here in the dream. He asks us to bring all the illusions that arise in the classroom of our lives to him for review and re-interpretation from evidence of separate interests to proof positive of the “atonement,” the certainty that the “tiny mad idea” of separation from our source never happened and we remain awake in all-inclusive, eternally worthy Love, simply dreaming our silly dreams of exile.

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  1. Okay, you made me cry again! And I was on my way to Costco; now I’ll have to keep my sunglasses on in the store! Indeed, everything is a lot closer than we think, everything is in our minds! Thank you again for another well-written post!

  2. Jesus seems so soft in those pink sunglasses. I sometimes think of him tapping me gently on the shoulder saying always, “I will never leave you comfortless.” Very nice image of His closeness.

  3. Thanks so much Pauline and Michael. And yes, SO much comfort when we choose the inner teacher of comfort. 🙂

  4. Great metaphor of the rear view mirror; isn’t amazing how we’re all so fixated on what symbolically has gone past, and we also conveniently forget that ideas never leave their source, so nothing is really far away, despite the persistent dream we keep inviting back in to our divided minds. 🙂

  5. Thank you, Bruce! 🙂

  6. The title of this post popped into my mind upon awakening this morning so I searched for it and found it again here; I realized that it’s meaning had ‘simmered’ a while since first reading it… It seems like this would make a great variation for a series of early workbook lessons, such as “this pen is closer than it appears”, “that person is closer than he/she appears”, “that computer monitor is closer than it appears”, “that clock is closer than it appears”, “that house across the street is closer than it appears”, “that scene on TV is closer than it appears”, … “that galaxy is closer than it appears”, etc. Thanks to the automotive safety industry and Susan Dugan for an excellent symbolic tool to remind us there is no ‘outside.’ 🙂

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