When lilacs last in the dooryard did their best to bloom

LilacsIt all started with the lilacs, with leashing up my little dog and heading out into the cinematic glare of Denver’s bipolar weather on a manic, spring upswing to clear my head of a special relationship’s continuing, apparently unrelenting problems that seemed so threatening to him, and, well, me. Temperatures soaring in late April to the mid-70s, Kayleigh–having caught a whiff of something primal in the verdant, bushy grass–pulling on the leash. Sniffing and grunting into the loam as if searching for clues to her ancient, wild heritage as I stood impatiently commanding her to move on with characteristic results. Reminding me that I might add dog training to the many endeavors I’d so enthusiastically pursued with below average results.

As I stood sighing the sigh for which I am justly famous in certain circles, unwilling to yank at her leash and thereby endanger her fragile neck, I noticed the ragged hedge of lilacs that divide our front yard from our neighbor’s turf beginning to bud. A telltale sign that spring really intended to make a break for it, after all. A fragrant blooming that in recent years had barely, but feebly materialized given the severity of extremes in temperature and moisture to which our fair city had succumbed. Courtesy of either climate change or God’s will, depending on the camp in which one’s ego has chosen to reside.

Nonetheless I managed to herd my six-pound canine toward the trees, to bury my face in their foliage as I had done with grave wonder since childhood, my overly dry eyes growing moist at a bouquet of memories distant and near; transported to so many other springs. Suddenly realizing  this was the first May since my daughter went to preschool that I had not found myself swept into a whirlwind of events related to her schools, her peers, her peers’ parents, her extracurricular activities and sports teams, end-of-year commemorations, planning and preparations for summer camps and/or family vacations.

That, in fact, last May had proven a grand crescendo of activities related to her graduation from college, our long-planned celebration trip to Hawaii, and her upcoming move to Seattle, where she had taken a job with a large tech company and would soon leave to seek her fortune. I had been obsessed back then as the lilacs struggled to keep their earnest yet ultimately unreliable promises, with making the time we had left together in Colorado as pleasant and intimate as possible. All the while placing my terror of losing my daughter on the most distant back burner of the gigantic professional chef’s stove of my mind on ego with predictable emotional results.

I grappled with grief all of last summer. Before finally–through vigilant willingness to look with our inner teacher despite my disdain for the Course’s answer (in the case of my beloved daughter) that nothing outside us has the power to endow or deny our peace–shifting at last to a right-mindedness that enabled me to actually accept the reality of the true bond between us. That, unlike shifting roles and venues, has never, could never, be broken. (Just like our real bond with our one parent, actually, although I wasn’t up to accepting that reality any time soon.)

Returning from the walk I finally convinced Kayleigh was actually in our joint best interests, aching for my daughter again with renewed ego vigor, my craving for the oxytocin of contact with her at an all-time high, I checked my calendar and texted her three possible dates for a long-weekend visit I had decided to make in June, asking if any of these dates would work. (I had talked with my husband only the night before about the possibility of us both visiting soon but he had other trips to juggle, preferred not to take the time, and encouraged me to go solo.)

I sat down at my computer and began researching possible flights, lodging, and costs, finding what appeared to be the perfect airbnb rental to avoid the outrageous hotel prices in Seattle in June, a cute, clean, safe studio apartment right in my daughter’s neighborhood that was available for the times I had in mind, although solidly booked before and after. Clearly apt to vanish as an option at any moment like everything else here in psycho dreamland. Then I went back to work, to chores, to prepping dinner for my frail father-in-law’s 94th birthday that night, occasionally checking my phone for a response from my daughter that did not materialize.

By the following morning, anxious both to book the apartment as well as take advantage of an airfare sale expiring that day, I texted her again explaining the situation and asking if any of those dates worked, and an hour or so later received an affirmative on one of them, then went ahead and booked my trip, emailing her the confirmations. But as the weekend wore on and she failed to communicate—in “stealth mode,” the term my husband and I had taken to calling her fairly predictable habit of donning her invisibility cloak a la Harry Potter on weekends—my anxiety increased. After all, even when she failed to call or write, she usually at least texted a photo or two of her adorable puppy.

Aware that I had clearly partaken of the ego’s poison but apparently unwilling to mix beverages, I began to fret that my daughter did not want me to visit after all. That I had become one of those overbearing moms, the bumbling cliché I had vowed never to embody, that at this very moment she and her boyfriend were likely rolling their beautiful eyes and discussing over dinner how they might manage to get out of this mess I had thrust them into in my boundary-bashing way. Although I did at last manage to ask our inner professor of sanity’s help as these wanton imaginings continued to morph into far worse scenarios over the next few days, he appeared to have gone missing again, preoccupied perhaps with more sincere Course students than I would ever be.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, following another night of fretful, sporadic sleep, consumed with worries about the wedge I believed I’d driven between myself and my daughter interspersed with self-condemnation over how difficult I found it to listen to my husband’s continuing emotional unrest without becoming internally unhinged myself, I awoke finally from an already fading sleeping dream. Still nonetheless gripped by the image of Jesus resting a gentle hand on my forehead, smiling and mouthing the words: “separation fever.” The lingering sense that I’d been in mid-conversation with him about how guilty I felt over this bottomless neediness I felt again with my daughter, the sad lavender affair my entire life had become.

And then found myself smiling over a sweet memory of my father standing over me when I was maybe four years old, holding rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball to remove the gum that had mysteriously migrated into my hair again (a not infrequent occurrence). Pretending to read from the back of the bottle that it had been expressly formulated to remove gum from “bad little girls’ hair” in his often humorous way that assured me he did not think I was a bad little girl at all, even though I did (and my mother certainly concurred). That it was all really just silly, gum making its way into children’s hair, not at all sinful. I could relax my shoulders any time I wanted. My father’s message, much like the image of Jesus’ hand on my forehead, rapidly faded as I nonetheless lay in bed absorbing these welcome dreams.

Later that morning as I sat writing at my computer, my husband came downstairs dressed for work and sat on the chair in my office before leaving as he routinely does, proceeding to update me on the latest installment in the ongoing, seemingly impossible situation in his office. But as my anxiety once more rose to meet his, I sensed Jesus standing over me again (this time in stealth mode), hand on my forehead, calmly diagnosing my current bout of separation fever even as my husband continued to relate and animate his story. And my shoulders relaxed from their habitual upright and locked position; enabling me (in ways I couldn’t possibly understand from my office chair) to listen deeply, fully, without judgment, without once becoming that bad little girl again.

Later that afternoon, I took a break from writing and sat with Jesus in my mind’s eye, holding his hand. Gazing out the window at a last hurrah of valiant tulips, the lilacs continuing to slowly open despite the colder weather and predicted snowstorm already moving in. As the fear that my daughter (who still had not contacted me) did not want me to visit once more took root, I quietly struggled anew to resist an overwhelming urge to call her.

“Do you think she could possibly just be busy?”  Jesus asked, at last, reading my thoughts again.

And I started to laugh, I mean, really laugh. We laughed our proverbial heads off before finally, jointly, slipping back into a savory silence.

After a while the phone rang and I glanced down at the caller ID. This day really did just keep getting better and better, in a good way. (Although, really, how the hell would I know?)

“Hi sweetie,” I said. “So good to hear from you.”

To his credit, Jesus didn’t laugh, although his eyes were, well, quite merry.

I had a nice long talk with my daughter then. But I did not let go of his hand as we both continued to stare out the window. As the lilacs bravely did their best to bloom.

“Perceive in sickness but another call for love, and offer your brother what he believes he cannot offer himself. Whatever the sickness, there is but one remedy. You will be made whole as you make whole, for to perceive in sickness the appeal for health is to recognize in hatred the call for love. And to give a brother what he really wants is to offer it unto yourself, for your Father wills you to know your brother as yourself. Answer his call for love, and yours is answered. Healing is the Love of Christ for His Father and for Himself.

Remember what was said about the frightening perceptions of little children, which terrify them because they do not understand them. If they ask for enlightenment and accept it, their fears vanish. But if they hide their nightmares they will keep them. It is easy to help an uncertain child, for he recognizes that he does not understand what his perceptions mean. Yet you believe that you do understand yours. Little child, you are hiding your head under the cover of the heavy blankets you have laid upon yourself. You are hiding your nightmares in the darkness of your own false certainty, and refusing to open your eyes and look at them.

Let us not save nightmares, for they are not fitting offerings for Christ, and so they are not fit gifts for you. Take off the covers and look at what you are afraid of. Only the anticipation will frighten you, for the reality of nothingness cannot be frightening. Let us not delay this, for your dream of hatred will not leave you without help, and Help is here. Learn to be quiet in the midst of turmoil, for quietness is the end of strife and this is the journey to peace. Look straight at every image that rises to delay you, for the goal is inevitable because it is eternal. The goal of love is but your right, and it belongs to you despite your dreams.” (A Course in Miracles Text Chapter 12, II. paragraphs 3-5)

A little while and you will see me, for I am not hidden because you are hiding. I will awaken you as surely as I awakened myself, for I awoke for you. In my resurrection is your release. Our mission is to escape from crucifixion, not from redemption. Trust in my help, for I did not walk alone, and I will walk with you as our Father walked with me. Do you not know that I walked with Him in peace? And does not that mean that peace goes with us on the journey?” (Paragraph 7)


Foundation for A Course in Miracles Announcements


Latest Audio Releases

The Foundation is pleased to offer two previously unreleased audio titles by Dr. Kenneth Wapnick. The first of these is a five-CD set entitled ” ‘A Hawk from a Handsaw;: Discerning the Holy Spirit,” recorded in 2010, and the second is a three-CD set entitled ” The Godspot: Spirit or Body,” recorded in 2006. Both titles are also available as MP3 CDs and MP3 Downloads.

Super Inventory Sale

During the month of May we are continuing our “Going Digital Warehouse Sale.” We are clearing out the warehouse of all printed books as we make the transition to electronic books. After the current supply of books is sold, the books will not be reprinted, and will be available only in digital download format.

We have added an additional five English titles and five Spanish titles to the sale, which can be viewed here.There are no plans to add any further titles to this sale. Please note that some orders may take up to two weeks to ship after the order is received.

50% Off Audio Title

Duality as Metaphor in A Course in Miracles is now available at a 50% discount and is sold as a CD set, MP3 CD, and MP3 Download. This workshop is a comprehensive study of what is to be taken literally and what is to be taken metaphorically in A Course in Miracles, and the distortions that result from not recognizing this difference between symbol and fact.


Programs through July 2016

Please view our Temecula Schedule page to see the new Seminars and Academy classes, including Live Streaming of the classes, scheduled through July 2016.
You can register for upcoming live and streamed classes (AND GET THE NEW SCHEDULE) taught by the amazingly gifted Foundation for A Course in Miracles teaching staff; who continue to communicate Ken’s teachings with such clarity and grace, here: https://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx. I really can’t recommend these classes more highly! These teachers continue to gently encourage us to bring the darkness of all we’ve dreamt up to hurt us (whenever we’re choosing to feel victimized and justified in victimizing others) to the light of the part of every mind that knows only our shared innocence and need to find our way home. Their classes offer us a safe, non-judgmental “space” above the battleground in which to allow the healing of our frightened minds. (And often laugh a lot, too! :))


MY LATEST BOOK, FORGIVENESS: THE KEY TO HAPPINESS, remains DISCOUNTED on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Happiness-Susan-A-Dugan/dp/0983742022 , along with my second book in the forgiveness series, FORGIVENESS OFFERS EVERYTHING I WANThttp://www.amazon.com/Forgiveness-Offers-Everything-I-Want/dp/0983742014/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=07RKZW8SHE2RNC209A2D

In this NEW VIDEO, Bruce Rawles and I discuss A Course in Miracles lesson 190: “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPqUpNmAmG0

Here’s a NEW AUDIO I did with CA Brooks, 12Radio, on ACIM workbook lesson 101: “God’s will for me is perfect happiness” and 102: “I share God’s will for happiness for me.” http://www.12radio.com/archive.cfm?archive=16BFF184-26B9-4187-86DD07743FBB7355  You’d think we’d like to hear that God’s will for us is perfect happiness, but we can’t possibly believe that and also believe we attacked God and threw his love away.  Following our inner Teacher’s path of true forgiveness begins to dissolve the guilt in our mind, teaching us that it was just silly to believe we could oppose God’s will and create a separate one. Allowing us to gradually accept that we deserve the happiness we share within God’s presence and could never really destroy.

You can schedule individual MENTORING sessions here: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/personal-coaching  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 in the classroom of their lives 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 choose to 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 and even ourselves harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. 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. (No one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay!)

The Denver-based School for A Course in Miracles (formerly the School of Reason), an A Course-in-Miracles teaching organization, has a beautiful new website: http://www.schoolforacourseinmiracles.org/, with information on great new and ongoing classes based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Center for A Course in Miracles http://www.centerforacourseinmiracles.org/index.html, is an educational Center whose focus is to teach what A Course in Miracles says, address common misunderstandings, and help students develop a relationship with their internal Teacher, inspired and guided by the teachings of the late Dr. Kenneth Wapnick.

The Interviews page on my forays website been revised to make it easier to find and access interviews with Ken Wapnick and others including Gloria Wapnick, and FACIM staff teachers.

In this video Bruce Rawles and I discuss themes from my most recent book, Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vEbI3jH8Sk 

My good friend and fellow Course student, teacher, and author Bruce Rawles frequently invites me to chat with him on YouTube about the Course and Ken Wapnick’s teachings. He continues to compile lots of great ACIM information well worth checking out at ACIMblog.com.

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 ACIMvillage.com. Bernard lives and teaches in France with his dear wife Patricia. You’ll find a wealth of information in French on his website including recorded talks available for purchase or free download.






  1. Brilliant; all we need do is (as you say) “listen deeply, fully, without judgment” to realize that the single, all-inclusive family we all share resides eternally undisturbed by our slumbering minds. Thanks, Susan!

  2. Yup. That’s ALL! 🙂

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