The ants go marching one by one

Ants“Still here, are we?” I asked.

He peered out at me over the reading glasses I’d bought him in an effort to correct the stupendous far-sightedness that prevented him from homing in on my dog-eat-dog world. Although they did nothing to correct his 360-degree Vision, they did lend a jaunty, Johnny Depp-esque panache to his otherwise humble attire.

“Love waits on welcome,” he said, smiling that win-win smile of his that can really tick you off, if you let it.

“I know,” I said. “And it’s not like I didn’t invite you. It’s just that, wait, what were we talking about again?”

“My sentiments, exactly,” my imaginary Jesus said, still smiling.

But really, it was hard to hear myself think, what with him hanging around like this 24/7. Ever since I’d returned from attending the March academy class at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula, California, and issued an open invitation, I’d sensed his presence (almost) always with me, right there in my peripheral vision, even when I couldn’t actually see him in my mind’s eye, as I did now. As if the walls of the imaginary office I visit to talk with my inner imaginary teacher about all the imaginary stuff that keeps derailing my plans for a smooth, steady ascension had dissolved. Leaving him “so close, we cannot fail.” His words, not mine, I mean, Jesus! It seriously creeped me out, at times; the feeling of him watching my every, faulty move, eavesdropping on my every ambivalent thought. Smothering, really, when you know came right down to it.

“Can I be frank?” I asked.

He nodded.

“When I said I wanted to invite you in to help me look at all my reactions and remember I’m wrong about everything, I mean.”

“You were kidding?”

“Well, let’s just say it was more along the lines of a metaphor.”

“Ah.”

“And, to be perfectly honest, that all and everything part might have been a tad exaggerated.  So, I mean, if you have something else you need to take care of. Some other Course student—and God only knows, there are a hell of lot of us out there who could use another way to see things—feel free.”

His brows shot up and down the way they do.

“I wouldn’t want to hog you all to myself, if you know what I’m saying.”

His lips twitched.

“This is no joking matter.”

“Something you’d prefer to settle by yourself?” he asked.

He had my number. He always does. “Well, there’s that.”

“And how’s that working out for you?”

But where to begin to describe the parade of wild imaginings arising this week to distract me from my renewed commitment to making healing my mind through forgiveness my only real goal, so many incoming questions requiring answers, problems demanding solutions. A couple of requests, in particular, seemingly intent on coaxing me way out of my fictional comfort zone into that all-too-familiar frenzied, anxious wasteland in which I came face-to-face with my inability to control anything where it doesn’t exist. Here in this nightmare of exile from the invulnerable everything of our true nature.

As my fear of stepping into the proverbial light arose once more in yet another earthly guise, I knew all too well that it sprang not from external triggers, but still found myself mired in its poison, even as I heard his voice posing the infuriatingly sane question: “What if you subtracted the fear from the equation of how to respond to these requests?”

“What if pigs could fly?” I countered.

“What if you just admitted you were wrong, as usual, without judgment, and just completely trusted in my confidence that it would all work out OK, since it was all just for learning nothing’s really happening anyway?”

“No investment in how it would go, you mean?  No self-doubt, insecurity, paralyzing panic attacks?”

He smiled.

“I have learned not to answer hypothetical questions,” I said. Even as he went on to remind me that when I’m willing to get out of my own way, take him along, and give this body the ego-free purpose of healing our one mind, I can’t even remember the problem.

“Wait, what were we talking about again?” I asked.

“My sentiments, exactly.”

“Oh, yeah, so what you’re really saying is that even if I crash and burn in form, it’s really no big deal. Just another opportunity to remember my self-worth doesn’t come from anything I do or don’t do in this wild, wacky world; it comes from my union in God.”

“Crash and burn?” he said.

“It’s a metaphor, for God’s sake. Promise me you won’t forget that.”

He nodded.

“Pinkie swear?” I said holding up the said digit.

He curled his in mine, shaking his head. (Really, that man will do anything I ask, except agree with me.)

“So back to what you were saving to settle by yourself,” he said.

I sighed. There was, in fact, a little incident involving ants I must have secretly tried to do just that with. It had not ended well. The unwelcome guests had begun to invade our kitchen. I had searched on Amazon for pet-safe traps and found these bait stations you were to cut open and leave in areas where ants swarmed. I followed the directions and set out the strange contraptions, assuring the ants it was nothing personal, but still feeling vaguely guilty.

 

When I went to check the bait stations, I discovered a couple leaking on the floor. They were supposed be pet-safe, for Christ sake! What if my dog had gotten into it? I found Kayleigh curled up in her bed in front of the fireplace, peering benignly up at me. I disposed of the faulty devices, cleaned up the puddles, relocated the remaining bait stations against the wall behind a wine rack that Kayleigh couldn’t access, and headed out to my Hatha yoga class. But despite the normally soothing, closed-eyed, contemplative practice, my mind was preoccupied with the past possibility that Kayleigh had ingested the detergent which was already wreaking havoc with her fragile constitution. I rushed home, near tears, scooped up my little dog–still fine, thank God!–and held her close. All too aware that my very existence appeared to hinge on her welfare, even as I continued to allow the ants to guzzle away at the nectar of their demise.

“Where were you then?” I asked.

“We’ve talked about this.”

Ad nauseam, really. Even though I had pushed him away again in my secret fear, despite my best intentions, my efforts to prove myself a guilty, needy, punishing and punished body still had no real effects. So I wasn’t ready to give up my special relationships, I’d get there. I wasn’t being asked to let the ants take over my kitchen, either. Just to look at the real (and only) cause of the spilled guilt it stirred up with him. And remember anew I didn’t really want it anymore, because it hurt.

“I guess I just need to consciously spend more quality time with you, even when it creeps me out, just like you told me in that dream a few months ago. Maybe it’s time to just suck it up and start doing what you say all the time.”

“Imagine that.”

We sat for a while in actual silence, I swear to God, and lived to tell about it!

“Reminds me of that old nursery school song,” I said, after a while.

He cocked his head, adjusted his glasses.

“The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah,” I sang. I could still belt out a tune, when I put my mind to it.

He was tapping his foot by the time I finished the first verse.

“It goes on,” I said. “And on. Marching ants, multiplying. Going. Down. But you get the drift.”

He nodded.

“Story of my freaking life,” I said, pouring us both heaping cups of Tension Tamer tea.

We threw back our heads, and laughed.

“I suppose a person could get used to you, after all.” I raised my cup in a little toast.

“I highly doubt that.”

Have I mentioned he really is a lot funnier than anyone gives him credit for?

“Christ is still there, although you know Him not. His Being does not depend upon your recognition. He lives with you in the quiet present, and waits for you to leave the past behind and enter into the world He holds out to you in love.” (A Course in Miracles, Chapter 13, VII. paragraph 5, lines 7-9)

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. Over time, with lots of moment-to-moment practice, we become kinder and more compassionate 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 a link to details about a new workshop and new Tuesday night class I am teaching here in Denver https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/classes-events

Now, when you buy on Amazon, you can support The Foundation for A Course in Miracles, too! Details here: http://www.facim.org/announcements.aspx

FACIM_3_14_14BThe March Academy I attended at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula, California, taught by staff members Rosemarie LoSasso, Loral Reeves, and Jeff Seibert, was an emotional, healing, ultimately transcendent experience. The staff gently and with great sensitivity encouraged everyone to feel and express their feelings about Ken’s recent death, and then move on to embrace the week’s theme. Their presentations emphasized the Course’s teachings that we are not powerless, guilty bodies, but one empowered, decision-making mind. We can choose against the lie of separation we swallowed and heal, if we are willing, from moment-to-moment, to entertain the possibility that we are wrong about the cause of all our reactions to what seems to be happening to us. And change our purpose from rooting ourselves more deeply in a dream of fragmented exile to learning from a new inner teacher to awaken to our wholeness. The question is never why (is this happening)—it’s not—but which teacher I want to look at it with. One choice will bring me fear and conflict; the other will bring me peace. 

All week long staff members seemed so filled with the graceful wisdom of Ken’s teachings, integrated through their own process of practicing forgiveness for many years in the classroom of their lives. Each beautifully articulated and demonstrated what it’s like to truly live this Course. They emphasized the need for vigilance, honesty, growing willingness to be wrong, faith, patience, and gentleness with ourselves when we feel stuck. They urged us not to judge our progress (because we will be wrong!), but to allow, without judgment, the inevitable discomfort that comes from questioning all we believe about ourselves. To be kind to “where we’re at,” to remember this shall pass, and to trust in the process that is leading us home. 

Our beloved teacher Ken constantly implored us to look to our sameness instead of our differences. His death is an opportunity to learn on a deeper level that the loving-to-all presence of our right mind we share with him still shines within us all, constantly available to light our way. I came back with a renewed commitment to admitting I’m wrong about all my reactions, stepping back, and allowing our loving inner teacher to lead the way. I also am absolutely certain I still have a lot to learn from these wonderful teachers and will return for the July academy. The staff announced that the July program would be the last week-long academy, but that regular three-day programs would continue.  I could not recommend these teachers more highly—check out the schedule http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx! And here’s a link to the foundation’s newest, online bookstore CD releases https://www.facim.org/bookstore/t-latestreleases.aspx. I’ve already started listening to “Silent Testimony”: The Power of Healing, and have never heard Ken speak more clearly on this subject, which is saying a lot! (And many thanks to Fred Estabrook for the facim staff photo!)

Here’s a link to an outpouring of moving tributes to our late, beloved teacher Ken Wapnick, who deeply touched, and taught (and continues to teach) so many of us how to heal our minds, with an absolute grace that robustly lives on: https://www.facim.org/kenneth-wapnick-memorial-tributes.aspx

My dear friend and wonderful teacher Lyn Corona continues to offer wonderful new classes at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center through her School of Reason for Course students and teachers. You can subscribe to her website http://www.schoolofreason.org/ to receive information about upcoming classes.

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.)

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. Gabrielius says:

    I need to read/hear a lesson, where Ken is talking about throwing J under the bus and then me screaming insanely “Where is J now, ah???”. Kinda reminds me when “normal” people ask “Where is your God now?”, usually after acting not kindly. Isn’t it so hard to be present to oneness with our cats, and dogs, and our “loved” ones and “strangers”? (Includes stranger-ants).

    Once again, you reminded nicely to be gentle with ourselves, with our fear:

    “Over time, with lots of moment-to-moment practice, we become kinder and more compassionate with others and ourselves until we eventually awaken to the reality of our one Source and Self we never stopped sharing with Him.”

  2. When you asked “Can I be Frank?”, I thought the reply would be “Can I be Ernest?” 🙂 … We can all masquerade as anything we want, since we’re all making up a dream world. Yesterday I hiked with some ‘new’ friends to a nearby small peak … https://maps.google.com/maps?q=7217+Kiowa+Rd+Larkspur+80118&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x876ca0cee4dd5933:0xca0f22a0a05428cd,7217+Kiowa+Rd,+Larkspur,+CO+80118&gl=us&ei=3Ok2U7M-r_zIAeCggIgJ&ved=0CCoQ8gEwAA … and saw the Denver skyline, DIA’s white peaks, cars, homes and people that all looked rather ant-sized (f-antasized) … Your ant situation reminded me of a favorite segment of Bill Moyer’s interviews of Joseph Campbell, where we realize we’ve been practicing our ‘baby business’ for lifetimes, or as Campbell put it, “former Indras, all!” 🙂

  3. Here’s the Moyers-Campbell interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRVwscrrTVU

  4. Thanks Garbielius. Ken’s throwing Jesus under the bus image always gets my attention. Fortunately, Jesus never takes it seriously! 🙂 Glad you found the ant parade helpful.

    Love the Ernest, comment, Bruce! 🙂 And getting above the battleground does make it all seem rather, well, small! Thanks for the link to the Moyers/Campbell interview. Looking forward to it.

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