What have you saved to settle by yourself?

I sat at my computer anxiously awaiting my appearance as a guest speaker at ACIM Gather; an online radio broadcast service for A Course in Miracles students and teachers. I had assembled my magic props:  chamomile tea, an assortment of flower essences, a lump of obsidian to help ground me, and a really expensive cream I get from my Chinese Medicine doctor created to stun my over-zealous adrenal glands. I know.

I had asked my inner, imaginary Jesus for help, of course, but must have once more unconsciously reasoned that a person needed a backup plan in this dog-eat-dog world. You know; in case Jesus was otherwise occupied helping some other poor bastard. And so I proceeded in my efforts to protect my fragile nervous system from the onslaught of the certain (to the ego) judgment and humiliation likely to befall me should I be so brazen as to open my mouth in public about my puny understanding of this path that is leading us home.

All day long–as I went about my Sunday chores and drove my daughter back down to college–I found myself inwardly obsessing about this latest of few-and-far-between public speaking commitments I never should have made in the first place and entertaining possible ways to back out at the last minute. Meanwhile, my mind occasionally veered toward other seemingly threatening situations in my current dream. The neighborhood association email about a door-to-door charity soliciting scam in which the solicitors had become belligerent with neighbors, the police department announcement about multiple break-ins in the area during daylight hours. Another neighbor spotting a coyote (not unlike the one that had devoured our cat two years ago) attempting to jump our backyard fence, launching me into a tizzy of preemptive panic in behalf of our beloved, little dog who I sometimes leave in our yard for short periods of time with the side door ajar while busy cooking in the kitchen. What was I thinking?

Back at my desk, my heart accelerated as my turn came to take the mic for the next hour and I began as I sometimes do in my Thursday night classes here in Denver with one of my favorite readings, the final lesson in A Course in Miracle’s workbook:

“This holy instant would I give to You. Be You in charge. For I would follow You, Certain that Your direction gives me peace.”

The words of this prayer always remind me that we share one inner Teacher of forgiveness here. In truth there is only one split mind in need of healing, one problem: the belief we could have separated from eternally perfect, all-inclusive union with our creator into discrete, finite identities vying for survival. And one solution: choosing against the ego and instead welcoming a different interpretation about what’s really happening from Jesus/Holy (Whole) Spirit/right mind—whatever you want to call it—that memory of uninterrupted unity that followed us into our dream of exile from our true nature.

As I read the rest of the lesson my shoulders slowly descended from their upright-and-locked position near my ears, my racing heart downshifted, and I gradually began to calm down. My awareness of my body’s physical sensations of distress began to recede along with the heavy bondage of this personal self and I once more became the student instead of the teacher, the follower, instead of the leader. And I didn’t once feel that overwhelming urge to reach for any of my props.

What happened next as I discussed workbook lesson 193–“All things are lessons God would have me learn”–was simply what happens when I choose to use my voice here in the condition I still think I’m in as a vehicle for the one inner Teacher we share to further our common over separate interests: I heard the lesson I needed to hear. And that lesson, of course, is always the same in content: “forgive, and this will disappear.” Turn away from the ego’s mindless attempts to bolster its dishonest thought system by protecting a self that is blocking my awareness of my true Self’s presence, return to the decision-making mind, and side instead with our new inner Teacher, the strength within that sees all problems as one; greets all efforts to protect our feeble, personal egos with the same gentle smile. When we do this the dream and the dream figures will still do what they do on the screen, but I will remember this is my dream and no longer hold my costars or the script’s twists and turns responsible for my inner peace.

A Course in Miracles workbook lessons offer treasure maps that lead us deeper and deeper toward the Holy Grail of true mindfulness as we practice applying this unique form of forgiveness they offer in our daily lives. During this reading a couple of sentences that—heavily lubricated by my resistance to hearing them–had slid right past me in previous contemplations suddenly caught my attention:

“And as we practice, let us think about all things we saved to settle by ourselves, and kept apart from healing. Let us give them all to Him Who knows the way to look upon them so that they will disappear. Truth is His message; truth his teaching is. His are the lessons God would have us learn.”

As I sat at my desk following the talk, surveying the magic elixirs I had assembled to “get me through it,” I saw for the first time with help from the illuminating gaze of our right mind the impressive list of things I had saved to settle by myself and keep apart from healing. I recalled that morning’s lesson I had stalled on for the past week: “My heart is beating in the peace of God.”  An image of my heart surgically excised and transplanted into primordial goo resembling the slime oozing forth from the New York City subway in the old Ghostbusters movie arose in my brain. This got me to thinking about how guilty I felt in the Catholic Church I grew up in, confessing my rote list of minor transgressions without ever inching near the content of my real sinful thoughts. The way I often visualized squashing my younger brother’s head like a cantaloupe on the pavement, for example, or indulged in fantasies of the neighborhood bully stumbling off a cliff near our house as I watched from above, oblivious to his cries for help.

I had been doing this all my life. The habit of keeping my sins to myself ran deep in me. And yet, the Course was asking us to bring those “secret sins and hidden hates” we all unconsciously covet to shore up the false idea that we exist at God’s expense to the light, to resign as our own teacher, in all circumstances. To not only look at the judgments we carry of others, but also the judgments of ourselves we use as shields to keep the true Love we really want at bay.

The good news is we don’t have to dredge up our past “transgressions” or anticipate our unforgiving future thoughts. We need only focus on what’s arising in our classroom right now with a growing awareness that the things I am hoarding to solve for myself can never be healed where they don’t exist. To look with complete honesty at the belief that if I actually release them, actually allow their undoing, there will be nothing left to ground me in this world. And to admit that scares the living daylights (pun intended) out of me! Because as much as I believe what the Course is saying–and know through experience that I feel much better when I choose the right over wrong mind to inform me–I still have only glimpses of the perfect completion and certain peace that await us at the end of the dream to rely on.

And so I continue one baby step at a time, more and more patient with others, myself, and our process, more and more willing with each change of mind to make the next. Focused only on how I am feeling right here, right now, in the eternal present where salvation happens and instants of their own accord endlessly expand. Learning to choose again and again for a better way whenever I catch myself trying to solve my perceived problems with help from the part of my mind heavily invested in preventing their solution through concealment from the part of my mind that knows better.

“This is the lesson God would have you learn. There is a way to look on everything that lets it be to you another step to Him, and to salvation of the world. To all that speaks of terror, answer thus:

            I will forgive, and this will disappear.

To every apprehension, every care and every form of suffering, repeat these selfsame words. And then you hold the key that opens Heaven’s gate, and brings the Love of God the Father down to earth at last, to raise it up to Heaven. God will take this final step Himself. Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him.”

I am heading back East at the end of the week for a memorial service for my mother-in-law and will post as soon as I can when I return.

You can listen to my recent talk as a guest teacher on ACIM Gather radio here.
ACIM Gather / PalTalk Access Instructions


  1. Some great insights; thanks, Susan! I read and talked about this post this morning on ACIMGather, which seemed appropriate 🙂 Isn’t it amazing how taking the inner co-pilot seat gets our Puritan-work-ethic John-Wayne-I-can-do-it-myself (and any other metaphor/mirror/reflection for that original authority problem) attitudes (and justifiable nervousness) out in the open where they can be dismissed as silly? If we’re trusting in the nothing self we made up, why wouldn’t we be shared skitless? But trusting in the Whole, Inclusive Self we all share, what’s there to worry about? Each moment of trust in that Real Identity helps us relax a bit more and loosen our white-knuckled grip on the inner steering wheel… and enjoy the ride! 🙂

  2. Susan Barclay says:

    Thank You Susan, I Love seeing your posts.

  3. Thank you so much, Bruce and Susan! 🙂

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