You Gotta Wear Shades

“I would just–for once in my life–like to have a little direct experience of God, is that too much to ask? A little preview of our Father’s Love, my real, capital S Self, eternal wholeness, boundless, all-inclusive creativity and all that …” I hesitated, considering my present company. “Jazz,” I said.

My imaginary Jesus continued walking beside me in Washington Park, taking long, swift strides and swinging his arms to keep up with me. Kayleigh, the microscopic wonder dog, enthusiastically trotted between us; occasionally executing an exuberant twirl among a crowd thankfully thinned by the long holiday weekend that had enticed much of Denver’s population to the mountains. After two months of dizzying heat, a welcome whiff of fall rode the breeze. The sky shone the vivid blue of medieval Italian paintings and an embarrassment of green—the dubious up side of climate change—engulfed us.

“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.

“You usually do.”

“What about all those holy instants of release I’ve had as the results of forgiving, right? But just for once a direct experience of our true grandeur would be nice, you know? An uninvited recognition that, ‘Not one note in Heaven’s song was missed.’ I mean, Jesus, how does that song go? Could you hum a few bars?’”

He adjusted his wacky, pink shades, and smiled.

“OK, listen. You and I have gotten pretty close, right? How about you put in a good word for me?”

He threw back his head and laughed.

I sighed. Time to get down to what was really bugging me. “See those fields right there?” I said, pointing. “That’s where she learned to play soccer. Before the drought came and they closed the fields for good.”

Last weekend my husband and I had driven our daughter to college for the first time following a week in which the little scenario I had crafted involving how we would spend our “final days” together had pretty much—like most of my doomed, meteoric fantasies over the many decades I have inhabited this planet—crashed and burned. I had planned to spend quality time together, to do some of those mother-daughter things in the coupon book I had made her a couple years ago for Christmas the extreme busyness of her final two years of high school had prevented her from cashing in. Vouchers for activities such as seeing movies, shopping, getting our nails done, taking day hikes and yes, even baking my famous chocolate chip cookie bars together. I know. I had even booked us for an overnight trip to the yoga sanctuary I occasionally flee to in the mountains hoping to commune together in the idyllic setting, and indulge in the fabulous classes, hiking trails, and inexplicably delicious, vegetarian cuisine. But a horrible cold prevented her from taking full advantage of most of the ashram’s offerings. Undeterred, I vowed to at least make the whole moving-her-to-college weekend memorable.

We had planned to go down Friday night before the dorms opened for a celebratory dinner at a restaurant I had heard good things about over which I would deliver some stellar, parting, pearls of wisdom, but a variety of daunting issues prevented it. Instead we rose at dawn and arrived in time to move her into the dorms that opened at 8 a.m.

In case you haven’t done this before, let me just say that there is nothing quite like moving your child into college to help you get in touch with your much denied albeit glaring, middle-aged, geekdom. As the temperature skyrocketed toward its record-breaking 98-degree apex, we attempted to stuff far too many irrelevant belongings into a double room converted by necessity to a triple, ran additional errands to pick up the many items not on our list that now seemed essential, and make nice with other sets of equally uneasy, emotionally challenged parents and students.

Late that afternoon, the heat at its most life-threatening, we entered the historic college chapel for the president’s opening remarks, and returned a couple hours later for an evening program in which a faculty panel downloaded the fear of God into gathered parents and spawn. Explaining the rigors of the special program, the minimum six hours of daily homework required, and the extreme competition that would likely cause our children’s grades to plummet in the next few weeks to heretofore unknown depths.

After leaving our daughter to fend for herself in the dorms that night for the first time, my husband and I headed to the nearest liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine to bring back to our hotel and wash down the unwelcome news that we had made a terrible mistake. A stampede of like-minded parents–nametags still swinging like ours from their lanyards—had also stormed the premises; providing a welcome moment of comic relief in a long, hot, emotionally charged blur of a weekend.

As for the week that followed? Suffice it to say I had never been more aware of the elusive, ephemeral nature of the dream we call life as I moved about the house and city we’d shared all these years. Unsuccessfully striving to wrap my head around the reality that this long, vivid, engrossing journey of up-close-and-personal parenting had come to such a pedestrian end.

I let out a ragged breath.

Beside me, Jesus still smiled. Below me, Kayleigh forged on.

“Oh, look, there’s the boathouse,” I said. “It’s under construction right now but we used to stand right there and watch the geese and ducks. They didn’t have paddleboats back then; they added those a few years ago. We always talked about renting one, but now …”

Jesus tilted his head, as if to take it all in. A pelican from mysterious, far-off shores spiraled downward, puncturing the white-capped water.

“And right across the lake there’s this Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod statue. Every time we passed it I would help her climb up and recite the poem. She would finish each sentence.” I swallowed hard.

“It’s just that it’s been really hard to process, you know? Maybe I’ve just been too busy dealing with everybody else’s emotions. Trying to steel myself against them or comfort them to the point that I have no idea anymore how I’m really feeling. But I know what you’re thinking. If there is only one self and I am responsible for what I see then these are my emotions merely disguised as coming from another dream figure. Designed to reinforce my belief in other dream figures preventing me from knowing what Susan is feeling, as if Susan is any different from any other dream figure; you know what I’m saying?”

Jesus’ brows shot up and down like the late John Belushi’s behind the rims of his glasses.

“As a baby she had colic; did I ever tell you about that? I thought it was probably from all the spicy food I ate while I was pregnant, who knows. But she would cry every day from three in the afternoon until ten at night like clockwork. I would strap her in her snuggly and button her into my jacket and walk around and around this park in the freezing cold singing to her and telling her stories. People would give us a wide berth and avert their eyes from the fat, crazy lady crying and singing and talking to herself.”


“I know. We’re always talking to ourselves really—who else is there?–but still.”

He gave a little shake of his head to realign his sunglasses on the bridge of his nose without missing a stride.

And then it suddenly came to me; the whole seeing differently thing, I mean. “Hey; could I borrow those glasses?”

To my astonishment Jesus pulled another pair exactly sized for my face out of his pocket and handed them to me. That’s just the kind of imaginary action savior he is.

I put them on. “Ah,” I said, and couldn’t help but smile.

At my feet the dog still twirled. Above my head, the pelicans still banked. Inside my head, my daughter had still gone off to college. Nonetheless, my breaking heart returned to its default position: eternally open and intact.

“I see,” I said. “Maybe I should try these more often.”

Jesus just continued to smile. You know how he is.

NOTE: A Course in Miracles uses the character of Jesus (and Holy Spirit/right mind) as a symbol of the awakened mind we can relate to and call on in the condition we think we’re in here in the dream. Although he doesn’t join with us in making our dream of exile from all-inclusive, eternal Love real, he does ask us to look with him at all we believe is happening to us in the dream. To bring to the part of our mind that remembers our wholeness beyond the dream all the conflicted illusions that appear to arise in the classroom of our lives for review and re-interpretation from evidence of separate interests to proof positive that we never severed our connection with our true, non-dualistic nature. In truth, we remain awake in God, merely dreaming our trippy dreams of banishment.

By choosing from moment to moment to look with the one inner Teacher of truth at all we made up to defend an impossible experiment in individuality, we grow into the realization that we are not separate from Jesus/Holy Spirit/right mind. We continue to share the memory of perfect wholeness we have in truth never left and will fully embrace when all our dreams of specialness return to the singular nothingness from which they came.

Gary Renard will be offering a workshop in Colorado Springs September 24, 2011. For information and reservations, go to: Miracle Promotions Contact: Kathy Scott Perry


  1. I hope she held onto that coupon book. She will use it one day, and be relieved and delighted to have those times with you.

    For some reason, last night dreamed that I was living in a college dorm. I won’t tell you how, um, serene it was. 😉

    Love your story-telling!

  2. We’re all trying to “defend an impossible experiment in individuality” … Well put! … and since the experiment was only a surreal mental excursion, we all need shades for our ‘bright future’ … I suppose that’s what forgiveness does, easing us back into the light… until we’re ready to take off our rose-colored glasses and see the devastation of specialness, beyond which the beauty of our eternal Self awaits patiently. 🙂

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