The Only Real Relationship and a magic cookie recipe

I was back in that rawest of places in a special relationship; believing in the dream again, berating myself for lack of palpable improvement in form; the way my issues with this person kept boomeranging back on me despite my commitment to this path of forgiving what never was. Once more looking for evidence of my progress with this Course where it can never be found. Then, too, the Christmas season with its entourage of obligations had arrived. I could feel the encroaching panic in my solar plexus, the all too familiar rush of adrenaline fed by the prospect of fighting crowds to shop for friends and loved ones backing up in my throat as I filled out multiple To Do lists and then misplaced them, my handwriting taking on the oversized, aggressive scrawl of a serial killer.

As I began unpacking the Christmas decorations to the strains of Oh Holy Night, visions of the past year danced in my head. My days had been dominated by my daughter’s final year in high school, the gradual release of my death grip on the role of mother to my only child, and the dawning realization that love had nothing to do with the confines of the parent-child relationship or any of the roles we play with each other to limit real capital L Love. The understanding had opened me to seeing my daughter in a different light in which her true nature shone. I had not yet dropped all my expectations or—especially—worries for her. But they had largely receded in importance and in many elongated moments of blessed sanity I felt only gratitude for the awareness she had offered me in her relentless push toward greater independence.

Still, I regretted my inability to transfer this learning with my daughter to the relationship currently weighing so heavily on my mind. Consumed by a sense of failure born of the appearance of this individual’s difficult behavior, I silently and very seriously addressed our right mind, overwhelmed by a feeling of urgency that I needed answers right now to make some immediate decisions. You know; to act, to fix, to repair.

Fall on your knees, the stereo speakers entreated in grand crescendo. I might have smiled had my hearing not been impaired by the ego.

Oh hear the angel voices.

Help me, I thought. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know where I am. I know nothing.

And then, something related to a Ken Wapnick CD I’d been listening to rose to mind. If God is (and I’m beginning to know he/she/it is); guilt isn’t. And then, very clearly the following words sprung to mind seemingly in direct answer to my prayer:

No one is guilty here.

I sighed. My shoulders descended from their upright and locked position. Then I smiled, engulfed in a wave of profound solace and deep certainty that regardless of whatever (and whenever) I decided to do in form, everything would be OK because everything was OK. No one was guilty here. Not the one I loved to hate and not the one I think I am that feels like such a failure in this relationship.  As A Course in Miracles Chapter 15, VIII. The Only Real Relationship, paragraph 3 tells us:

“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 over 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.”

No sin occurred at the very beginning when the tiny mad idea arose in the one child of God’s mind that it could and would want to separate from perfect, eternal union. Without the original sin in the past there is no present guilt or future fear of punishment.  Despite the dream of separation realized that seems to plague us, no one is guilty here. There isn’t even a here, here, in which to experience guilt.

The answer is always innocence for all. Any appearance to the contrary simply reflects the split mind’s overwhelming urge to get rid of a sense of nagging guilt over the unconscious, hard-wired belief in a crime that never occurred. Your behavior only reflects my fear. All I need do to heal my mind is remember we are innocent despite appearances. To admit from moment to moment that I don’t know the answer to anything but can lean on a part of my mind that knows the answer to everything. When I do this, all is well, and any action I need to take in form will spring from gentle clarity and include everyone’s best interests.

As the week wore on, I was able to largely rest in that eternal present, open to guidance about the relationship in question unfettered by urgency or judgment, and re-direct quite quickly back to the awareness that no one is guilty here when tempted to imagine myself unfairly treated by additional dream figures. Knowing God is, knowing guilt isn’t, and leaving me only with the grace of our true nature. The obligations of the season even seemed to lighten, sparing me time to prepare my signature holiday cookies.

Although I love to cook, I am not a baker. My authority problem expresses itself in a complete inability to color within the lines of any given recipe. I read cookbooks for ideas only, find cooking highly creative and joyful, and tend to blast whatever music is calling me home at the moment (often raising my voice in solidarity) as I move about the kitchen.  I also lack the kind of persnickety patience that allows people to work with the likes of piecrusts and bread dough and in general am easily distracted by the ideas that tend to flood my consciousness while chopping, sautéing, deglazing, and braising.

Nonetheless, I have a couple of simple, go-to recipes for sweets I’ve pulled off more often than not. These “magic” cookie bars are my daughter’s favorite and an absolute holiday requirement in our house. They’re basically the Toll House recipe on the back of the chocolate chip wrapper in bar form with a couple of twists. I omit the nuts, add an overflowing tablespoon of vanilla (rather than a teaspoon) and use the Mexican variety because it’s the best. (Vanilla—like Dijon mustard and dry white wine on the savory side—is one of those ingredients that just makes everything taste better.) I add mace, a spice similar to nutmeg but with a certain je ne sais quoi for some reason reminiscent of my childhood on the Hudson River in New York State where Washington Irving once spun fantastic tales and I first learned the power of story on all levels playing in the magic woods. I stir half the chips into the dough and reserve the other half. When the pan comes out of the oven; I sprinkle the rest of the chips on top, give them a few minutes to melt, and then spread them out to create chocolate frosting. What puts the cookies over the top, though; is undercooking them ever so slightly, cooling, cutting, wrapping, and freezing them. They become firm yet chewy and toffee-like and, well; magic.

The magic in the name also refers to the miracle that I have not left out a crucial ingredient such as sugar or eggs as I often do and had to start all over again. But also to the fact that my family sneaks them out of the freezer continually and denies it, a practice that used to drive me crazy and now only fills me with gratitude at having made someone else’s day. Finally, the word evokes ACIM’s broader view of magic as anything we use to try to externally solve the imaginary, unconscious internal “problem” of believing we successfully separated from our indivisible, eternal source.

Thank you for sharing this journey home to the one Love we never truly left. Hope you enjoy the magic of the holiday however it presents itself in your classroom. Just remember no one is guilty here, have a cookie, and don’t take it too seriously!

Please note I am taking some time off over the holidays and will post again in 2012!

I am now speaking regularly at ACIM Gather radio, Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m., EST.
ACIM Gather / PalTalk Access Instructions

(Note: Safe Haven is not an A Course in Miracles work. Nonetheless these characters share a deep longing and active seeking for an elusive seeming love that will never fail them, and a sense of true meaning and purpose in an ultimately meaningless world. Their quest is our own, and what ultimately leads us to find a better way of living in this world.)


  1. Thank you for sharing today. I’ve just found your blog and am enjoying it very much. Loved your honesty (I can relate to much of what you share), and I am going to try your “magic cookie bars”. Have a Merry Christmas. 🙂

  2. Hi Suzanne:

    Thanks so much for your kind words and I hope the cookies work their “magic” for you. Merry Christmas!

    Kind regards,

  3. Webmasters note: Quite synchronistically, I was just making these cookies … … while updating this post. 🙂 … I just went back and read the wonderful post and now want to read them all – AFTER I’m done with the updates… meanwhile reminding, as your post wisely suggests, to drop my expectations about anything in form, including cookies, holidays, or anything having to do with space-time. 🙂

  4. I’m reading these posts and this one was the next in the sequence chronologically; that’s probably why it seemed so familiar! 🙂
    “The answer is always innocence for all.” What an excellent answer to any question; it takes our specialness (our ‘magic’ attempts to make the specific into a fake cause in a dream world we made up and forgot we did) and turns it into a reminder to trust in the only real relationship: our relationship to All-Inclusive Oneness as our True Identity. 🙂

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