Wilted lilies, growing up too soon, and a recipe for forgiveness

It all started benignly enough the Thursday night before Easter with a lovely discussion and meditation in my weekly A Course in Miracles class. We considered The Gift of Lilies in Chapter 20, wherein we learn that the true meaning of this most sacred of Christian holidays turns out to be not unlike the true meaning of Christmas, Groundhog Day, April Fools’ Day, Halloween, or any other day of the year–learning to take back responsibility for our own peace of mind. You know; rather than attributing it to everyone and thing seemingly “out there” on which we project our guilt over secretly believing we succeeded in separating from the forever-loving fold of our one eternal wholeness. Yes, I’m talking once more about forgiveness A Course in Miracles style. Learning to identify our choice for the ego’s bizarre story of original separation realized in the form of our condemning judgments and needy expectations of others and choose again for a different inner teacher capable of seeing beyond our dualistic projections to the uninterrupted unity we continue to share.

“Would you not have your holy brother lead you there? His innocence will light your way, offering you its guiding light and sure protection, and shining from the holy altar within him where you laid the lilies of forgiveness. Let him be to you the savior from illusions, and look on him with the new vision that looks upon the lilies and brings you joy…”

Nonetheless, although I thought I had been laying lilies of forgiveness on the holy altar of the mind all week they appeared to have succumbed on the vine to unknown blight.  My dream of exile from perfect wholeness once more seemed all too convincing, my co-stars throwing hissy fits and curve balls until I once more completely forgot I was not the forsaken heroine of the dream, but its dreamer. Then, too, the body I think I inhabit appeared to be turning once again on the self I still think I am. Creating four suspicious looking moles my dermatologist was all too happy to scrape off and biopsy a couple of days earlier. I had committed to help prepare the pre-dinner for my daughter’s senior prom—another culminating event in Part I of our journey together–scheduled to take place the night  before we hosted 18 friends for Easter at home, a meal I couldn’t seem to help from seeing as a kind of last supper for our live-in family unit.

Seemingly driven to distraction fielding the requests of imaginary dream figures and situations, I again reached for my newly sculpted muscle of forgiveness only to find it oddly disabled even as the muscle of condemnation and neediness pulsed with new-found vigor. And so, I decided to take a time out from forgiveness and turn my attention instead to finally succeeding at another elusive task: making the perfect potato gratin, my daughter’s favorite holiday food.  One I have never quite mastered to my satisfaction but was determined to do so once and for all this final Easter before she headed off to college in the fall.

I had called Jesus (that symbol of the awakened mind) in for a consult earlier that day before withdrawing my request to look at the ego’s dream figures with him in favor of looking with you know who, but he was still hanging around, dangling his legs from the counter where he sat hunched over the mandolin package in his hands studying those confounding directions as if trying to decipher a foreign language. I had ordered it on Amazon hoping it might help me create the completely uniform, sheer slices I had partaken of years ago at a little restaurant in the Saint Germain des Prés where my husband and I celebrated the specialness of our engagement, or the “finalizing of negotiations” as we still tend to refer to it. Unable to figure out how to run the big fat potato in my hand through the blade without slicing off a finger in the process I had already abandoned the perilous device.

One damn thing after another, I thought, banging around the kitchen reviewing the ghosts of potato gratins past and realizing that my relationship with everyone and thing in this world was not unlike those potatoes–always something not quite right. Too mushy one year, not tender enough the next. Too runny, or too dry. I flipped through the recipes I had downloaded from the internet in a futile effort to find some common theme I might adopt to insure success to no avail. Some called for half and half, some for milk, and some for cream. Some instructed you to par-boil the potatoes in the cream mixture; others did not. Some insisted on slicing potatoes extremely thin, others had no opinion on heft. Recommended oven temperatures and cooking times varied wildly as did the addition or omission of ingredients such as cayenne, nutmeg, rosemary, and cheese. My anxiety levels rose with every piece of advice touted. In mounting distress, I pressed my ring fingers into the dike of my tear ducts.

Jesus cleared his throat in case I had forgotten he was still there as I am apt to do.

“I know what you’re thinking,” I told him.

“You always do.”

“This is not about perfect potatoes.”

“You think?”

“This is about those dream figures isn’t it? The ones I can’t stop hating, and the ones I can’t stop loving. The ones I think will give me what I want and need if only I deliver the goods.”

Jesus picked up the timer and set it at just under an hour. “Go on,” he said.


“Thank you.”

This was about magically thinking I could hold on to the form of child’s love by mastering her favorite dish, for God’s sake. That if I just got that perfect ratio of creamy goodness to crunchy topping, maybe she wouldn’t leave me behind.

I shut my eyes and continued to press at those tear ducts with my fingers. Jesus patted my arm.

“There’s just no way out, is there? In the dream I mean. There is no perfect recipe. Loving is not something we do, it’s something we are.” I opened my eyes. “What are you still doing here?”

Jesus smiled. He was humming a song—Ob-la-di, ob-la-da by the Beatles.

I had to smile, too. We sang together for a while. He has a very good voice, actually.

I tossed the recipes in the trash, picked up my chef’s knife, and started slicing potatoes.

Potato gratin

Do it any way you want or peel a bunch of russet potatoes and layer in a lasagna-type pan sprayed with cooking spray and rubbed with smashed garlic. Evenly layer potatoes along the bottom of the pan. Generously pour half-and-half over the layer, sprinkle with coarsely ground black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne, if desired. Repeat until you’ve used up all the potatoes. Top with grated gruyere cheese and bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes. Allow to rest covered with foil for 15-20 minutes and prepare to forgive.:)

I have made a few additions to this site. You’ll find several reviews of my new book on the Book Reviews page. I have just posted some new Q & A’s on my Questions & Answers page; please feel free to submit ACIM-related questions. I have also added a Media page where you can now find a couple of recent radio interviews. (I will soon be adding audio and video recordings about ACIM’s forgiveness here.) I have started offering individual ACIM Mentoring sessions by phone. Mentoring can be very helpful in working through our resistance to allowing the ego’s undoing and accepting the unwavering loving presence of our one inner Teacher.


  1. A great recipe; paritcularly if you don’t skip the last 3 words. 🙂 It is so important to bring the minutiae of our lives and issues to the altar (or kitchen counters or the 3rd kind?) of our mind for undoing by the Teacher of Kindness… and gently forgive ourselves when we get caught up in the dream hero action figure roles instead of remembering – as pointed out eloquently here – that we are the dreamer. 🙂

  2. Thank you, for your thoughtful comments, Bruce! Yes, bring it all to the kitchen counter and forgive! 🙂

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