The quiet answer

“Let me get this straight,” I said, as my inner imaginary Jesus and I rode up the chairlift at Loveland Ski Area together last weekend. “You want me to make friends with my projections? You still haven’t met them, have you?”

He just laughed, swinging his skis like he’d been doing this all his life. Minus ski boots, of course, sans helmet, same old nubby robe, those signature hot pink shades rimmed with sparkles he’d gotten so fond of last summer. He should have made quite the spectacle even among people whizzing by below in full spring skiing Colorado-style regalia: a man dressed as a banana on a ski board and another as a hot dog; women in bikini tops; Lady Gaga impersonators. But he must have borrowed Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak again because obviously no one else but yours truly could see him.

I’d summoned him moments earlier as I boarded the lift solo having spun off from my husband and a friend who prefer to ski extreme terrain. A conversation with said friend on the ride up appeared to have re-ignited my sense of victimization in a scene in my dream from the day before, a forgiveness opportunity I’d been grappling with off and on for more than 24 hours.

“Have I mentioned how much I just love forgiveness opportunities?” I muttered, as I related the story to Jesus.

Having risen that morning once more in a state of discontent about the way in which a dream figure seemed to be thwarting me, I headed for a fitness center I belong to at a nearby university–big, blue book in hand–in search of both endorphins and right-mindedness. I hit a stationary bike and opened A Course in Miracles to Chapter 27, IV. The Quiet Answer, in which we learn again that no problem is ever solved from within a thought system deliberately designed to keep the real problem (our belief in separation from our real source and Self) at the root of all problems perennially concealed and thereby unresolved.

“… In conflict there can be no answer and no resolution, for its purpose is to make no resolution possible, and to ensure no answer will be plain. A problem set in conflict has no answer, for it is seen in different ways. And what would be an answer from one point of view is not an answer in another light. You are in conflict. Thus it must be clear you cannot answer anything at all, for conflict has no limited effects. Yet if God gave an answer there must be a way in which your problems are resolved, for what He wills already has been done.”

The wise words worked their magic on me as they almost always do. The ongoing conflict I was experiencing in this relationship–the sense that no alternative seemed likely or promising, no solution forthcoming—could only be healed when I chose against the inner teacher of separate interests and for the inner teacher of all-inclusive, innocent wholeness. The solution always and only lay in the mind of the dreamer, not in the dream. By returning to the mind in the holy instant in which I admitted I did not know the real question let alone the answer and looking at the drama on the screen with Jesus–recognizing myself as merely another character in a dream created to prove I exist at God’s expense but it’s not my fault—I could experience peace instead of this.

As I continued reading the beautiful section my worries and needs and fears dissolved, the imaginary credits to the most recent installment in the story of Susan on the imaginary screen rolled, and I smiled, certain as I headed for my brand new car in the parking lot that all was well. No one was guilty here. We were all truly awake within indivisible love, merely dreamy a trippy dream of exile.

I looked over my shoulder right, and left, scanning the rear view mirror as I slowly backed out of the parking spot and had almost made it when another, larger vehicle slammed into me. A woman got out and apologized, then moved her car back into the space and returned. I stood gazing at the side of my scratched and dislodged bumper, shaken. Just then, across the lot, a woman in an SUV who happened to be a friend of the woman who hit me got out of her car, came up, and declared it was no one’s fault. We were both pulling out at the same time. The woman who hit me whose car was not damaged refused to give me her insurance information and claimed she hadn’t hit me hard enough anyway to have caused that much damage to my brand new car.

My hand shook as I wrote down her license plate number. “Why are you so angry?” she asked. What planet are you from? I thought, but thankfully did not say. Anyway, I wasn’t angry, I hadn’t berated her or raised my voice, had I? Who the hell was she to call me angry?

But of course, I was. I spent the next couple hours trying to figure out how I had shifted so abruptly from a state of seeming tranquility to this unexpected conflict in which I perceived myself once more unfairly treated and dare I say, treating? Her car hitting me had seemed so freaking random. I found it nearly impossible to see it as my own projection but begged for help to do so anyway, at least certain I wanted to feel better.

As I rode out the gap between asking for help from my right mind to see the situation differently—through the eyes of all-inclusive love instead of all-exclusive fear—and allowing/accepting the answer, I also recognized how my wrong-mindedness in this situation had broadened to include, well, everything. The “problem” upsetting me earlier seemed back in my face again, my allergy symptoms completely off the charts; the world at large on a sad, downward spiral.

And yet, as I called in Jesus this morning on a spring day under blueberry skies in the idyllic Rocky Mountains, upset anew about these and other projections, as I admitted I didn’t know how to respond to or interpret anything, I kept hearing the same phrase in my mind: “Make friends with your projections.”

“You seriously want me to make friends with my projections?” I repeated, as Jesus and I sailed off the lift at the top. “Be careful,” I warned, as he skated from ski to ski, hair flying, beside me. “It’s always icy in the morning this time of year. Ice can kill you. It will melt in a couple of hours and then turn into this slushy cement. Slush can kill you, too.”

His brows shot up and down, up and down above the shades. He’d been watching those vintage Groucho Marx reruns again, I could tell.

I nodded. “I’m not making this up. Well; never mind. Anyway, you have about a twenty minute window around twelve-thirty/one where you’re not dead meat. Of course, even then you might get taken out by a drunken banana man,” I added, as said boarder, as if on cue, crunched barely by us.

Jesus followed me down a winding catwalk leading to a fairly gentle run I’d chosen given the less than ideal conditions. We paused near a stand of evergreens. “OK; I know what you’re thinking,” I said.

“You always do.”

“Making friends with my projections is just another way of ‘making it about them’ as Ken Wapnick likes to say. Which really means seeing their fear, their neediness, instead of just seeing mine? Like with that woman who hit me yesterday. How the hell do I know what was going through her mind? She might have had no insurance, or been terrified of losing it. Worried about money, about her husband’s reaction; who knows?”

Jesus shrugged and nodded.

“But the ego always speaks first. Of course I reacted out of ego; that’s how projection works. I put it out there to prove I really do exist but it’s someone else’s fault. Until all the guilt in my mind is gone I will continue to want to see it in something external. When that happens, all I need to do is return to the holy instant and look with you. When I do that I see that no one’s guilty here. Everything seemingly “out there” reflects the same inner fear. All problems large and small–no matter the details–have the same answer because they’re all designed to preserve the only ‘problem’: the belief that the ‘tiny, mad idea’ of separation from indivisible, eternally loving wholeness had any real effects.”

Jesus smiled.

“Only, it didn’t,” I said.

I took off and he followed but quickly passed me, gracefully dodging in and out of the wacky cast of spring-fevered characters descending around us. Frankly, it always worked out better when I followed him anyway.

At the bottom of the lift—I swear to God–they were blasting the Depeche Mode tune Personal Jesus from gigantic speakers.

Jesus and I looked at each other and cracked up.

Then he lifted his thumb in the air, and was gone.

“Therefore, attempt to solve no problems in a world from which the answer has been barred. But bring the problem to the only place that holds the answer lovingly for you. Here are the answers that will solve your problems because they stand apart from them, and see what can be answered; what the question is. Within the world the answers merely raise another question, though they leave the first unanswered. In the holy instant, you can bring the question to the answer, and receive the answer that was made for you.”

I am now speaking regularly at ACIM Gather radio, Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m., EST.
Here are links to two recent talks: ACIM Gather talk 1 ACIM Gather talk 2


  1. What do banana-impersonating skiers, fender-benders, and off-the-chart allergies all have in common? They’re all examples of the unconscious programs we authored – and forgot we did – to prod us to ask unanswerable questions from the only identity in the universe that can never answer them; how (needlessly) masochistic is that! (And we all do it, every time we experience the mildest annoyance, let alone nuclear rage.) Not to worry though, since we all share a totally Inclusive Identity that answers every one of these fake questions and issues with the gentle reminder that we weren’t able to pull off the impossible dream… Pink sunglasses and nubby robe optional. 🙂

  2. Love your comments, Bruce–thank you! The forgiveness shades actually do help a lot, I’ve found. When I remember to borrow them, that is. 🙂

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