The Comforter Speaks to Us

“I highly recommend that you establish a relationship with the Comforter as though it were a relationship with a good friend—indeed, the best of friends—until you reach a point in which virtually every decision is given to that Mind:  Well, old buddy, should I turn left or right?”  (“The Way of Transformation,” The Way of Mastery, Chapter 21, Page 256.)

Jesus here refers to the Holy Spirit in quite familiar terms–as a “buddy.” This colloquial expression lightens our experience of the sacred, making us unafraid of a “Voice” that might speak to us.

It is unlikely that the Voice will be audible, unlikely because we might become afraid. When we look deep within, we know that we have found the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. And His words to us come back to us as our own mind speaking.

The Holy Spirit does not frighten us. If we turn aside from the good advice we “hear,” the Voice will lessen. And if we “hear” anything that would harm another, we need to turn aside, lest our own fears make for a situation that is not good.

It is our voice that speaks to us, but if we are staying close to God, we are partaking of His Spirit, and our way will smooth out, assuring us that His offer of help is a free offer. He wants us to know that He loves us, and one of the ways that He shows that is to offer guidance.

We can and will “hear” the Holy Spirit speaking when we open up our hearts to God’s Love. We are here experiencing the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (from A Course in Miracles).

Baptism

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Baptized once with water

ceremonially

or bathed in childhood

or perhaps alone with tears

or saved from certain drowning

or drenched with raging rain

some experience of water

has impressioned us

with grave importance

of the power it has

and when we hear the story

of those on whom the splashing

was accompanied by words

of cleansing to embrace new life

we wonder as we later ponder

other needed rituals of water     

and a wrestling then with life

to find a newness never found

not knowing where or even if

a new one could be had without

a certain rite in which

a cleric spoke convincingly

of purity and sanctity

that made us

not only know in mind

but feel in heart

a sense that some rare grace

indeed had come to take us

not so much from something old

as into something new

and being clothed

in fresh washed white

drink water as if holy wine.

The Holy Spirit Guides

“Truth has rushed to meet you since you called upon it.  If you knew Who walks beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.  You do not know because the journey into darkness has been long and cruel, and you have gone deep into it.  A little flicker of your eyelids, closed so long, has not yet been sufficient to give you confidence in yourself, so long despised.”  (A Course in Miracles, FIP ed., T-18.III.3)

The “Who” is the Holy Spirit; if it had been meant to be Jesus, then in A Course in Miracles the pronoun would not have been capitalized.  And God Himself is not called upon very much at all as long as we are lost in illusion.  God is said to have turned to the Holy Spirit, God’s Voice and the Universal Inspiration, to teach us how to find our way out of darkness.

We don’t understand the Holy Spirit, but we can come to experience Him, and in the experiencing we will find all the Love that we want.  He is our Guide, our way home to God, and He gently leads us by the hand and tells us what to do to make the journey, the “journey without distance,” (said elsewhere) that we need to take.

The last sentence, with a “little flicker of. . .eyelids,” is particularly poignant.  Jesus understands that we have walked deep into insanity, and finding our way back is going to be a problem to be overcome.  He is writing A Course in Miracles to give us the means to Awaken, and the more that we study it, the more simple the whole course becomes.  (Prior to intense study, ACIM seems complicated indeed.)

We have despised ourselves.  Our primary thought has been that we are not enough—not “good” enough, not strong enough, not pure enough.  We berate ourselves that we have disappointed God.  But God sees us as His children, and He does not berate us for mistakes made in innocence.  We are innocent of anything bad; mistakes made in illusion seem to have real effects, in our all-too-tangible world, but what is done in illusion is not really done at all.  So we can rest easy.  We forgive, but forgiveness is an illusion as well, but one that does not breed other illusions.  Thus it becomes our way home.  We forgive what has never happened in reality!  How easy is that?

Not As the World Gives

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

‘Not as the world gives’

is your peace you said

yet we would be

content just now with

what the world defines

since such unpeacefulness abounds

we cannot entertain the notion

of a state within

when all about us

life’s demise looms large.   

Power plays take center stage

and those rehearsing roles

soon star in great performances

surprising e’en themselves

with prowess and precision patterning.

Oh greed where is thy pain

which piercing self to inner well

of generosity so makes our

substance sharing

more to be desired

than much fine gold?

Where is the understanding

of that peace not understood

by mortal minds but mandates

light’s deep penetration of the

soul’s storehouse of truth?  

Is there a spirit energy

encased within your peace

propelling us to

show the world the way?

Purpose

“I and my Father are one.  Only Love is real, and Love, alone, heals.  My commitment is to the reality of Love.  Therefore, Father, bring each moment to me that I might learn anew to love, and allow that Love to transform a temporary illusion into that which extends the good, the holy, and the beautiful.

“Herein lies your purpose.  Herein lies your function, and herein—and only here—is Life.”  (“The Way of Transformation,” The Way of Mastery, Chapter 18, Page 217)

What is our purpose in life?  I think it is to discover how to live, and when we get really close to God, we discover that living Love is the only way to proceed.  Everything else makes no sense at all.

God’s universes could not survive if such was not built on Love.  And if it weren’t for our sometimes dim awareness that Love is the Answer, we would long ago have destroyed ourselves. 

Sure, we make mistakes—many mistakes.  But there is a resolution when we seek forgiveness of ourselves and move forward undeterred.  God, according to A Course in Miracles, does not need to forgive us because He has never condemned.  He condemns no one.  He simply spreads Love, always and forever.

God does give us free will, and so He lets us do as we will for a long time.  He knows with foresight that eventually we will tire of our games and turn to Him.  He knows that Love will draw us to His side—eventually.  It is the one Force in this world that ultimately will not be resisted.

It is this turning to Him that saves us from agony.  And when we love, in this world, however imperfectly, we are on the right track.

Pouring Nard

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Our alabaster jars emit

some essence purely ours

unnamed but permeating

deep within our secret place

saved up long years ‘til space brim-full

to be poured out unconsciously

on that most precious personhood

soul-born within the womb of God

anointing as one would a king

except this spills down past the head,

the seat of power, of will, of aim,

and covers all the flesh

and all interior dwelling

and all ethereal parts unknown

but to Begetter in beginning

that all may know the kingdom

and royal robes forever wear

and offer oblations as the high priest

and spread divinity throughout the realm.

Gates of Heaven

“Beloved pure soul!  You who live for God!  Whoever joins this work becomes one with us, and because of that union miracles and spiritual events of incalculable greatness and bliss will occur.  Gates of Heaven not yet opened will do so.”  Choose Only Love bk. 6, 1:II

A wonderful promise from Choose Only Love, received by Sebastian Blaksley from the celestial.  We are often given encouragement in these seven books in the series, published by Take Heart Publications and available on Amazon.

If we choose to take to heart these promises, our lives will smooth out and we will enjoy greater happiness.

Sometimes we think wanting to be happy is a selfish thing.  But no!  Actually it is the gift of God to us.  We just have to follow His message of Love.

Communal

Note: If you want to comment on Ann’s poetry, I will copy and paste, just as you have written, into an email to her. Thank you. – Celia

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Rustle of anticipation

decorum-tamed in sacred space

could not contain

eager excitement as

children-like they waited watching

crowding in habitual place

sharing seats with former strangers

expectation now uniting.

The moment came and on the face

of each one present glowed a radiance

felt within and seen without

igniting new communal flame

non-consuming yet hope-glowing

in the destined still-to-be.

Unseen aureoles now formed

around the crowd as well as him who spoke

in new yet old familiar tongue

each falling rapt upon the ear

of all who in the hearing heard

the rush of holy breath and knew that

they were born again commensally.

Born of and with and then into

the Spirit of the One whose

once-begotten Spirit we all are.

A Course of Love: An Overview

Note: A Course of Love: An Overview is available from Amazon for $3.95 (print; ebook). It is often helpful as an introduction to A Course of Love. The following excerpt is the preface to the booklet:

PREFACE

            The year was 2004, three years after Mari Perron had published the first part of f A Course of Love (also known by its acronym, ACOL) with New World Library.  Like Mari, I was living in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.  And, like Mari, I was a seeker.

            Some time had gone by since I had purchased and read the New World edition.  But I found myself  interested in having a conversation with Mari about A Course of Love, in part about the assertion I had read that Jesus had channeled this new work.   We met over coffee.  She was charming and articulate, but unassuming, just a “regular” person.  We were deep in conversation for over an hour.

            Mari’s daughter Mia came over to greet us.  Mari lamented that A Course of Love had not “taken off” the way that she would have liked.  Mia said something prophetic:  She said that it took a while for A Course in Miracles to take off, and that it would just take some time for A Course of Love to become known as well. 

As our conversation continued, Mari said, “I have been praying that someone would come to me to help me get the word out about A Course of Love.” 

I was stunned.  Mari thought that I was an answer to her prayer.

I thought she had the wrong person.  I was A Course in Miracles enthusiast, and I thought that she needed a younger generation to come along and help her. 

Now, twelve years later and seven years into writing a blog on both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love, I think Mari might have been right all along.  Right about a mission for me, right about Jesus as the one who channeled to her.    

Now many others are drawn to ACOL, due largely to Glenn Hovemann’s Take Heart Publications and the new combined volume.  Yes, Jesus’s professed “continuation” of A Course in Miracles has an ever-widening and increasingly enthusiastic audience.

To my mind Jesus had “unfinished business” with us after A Course in MiraclesA Course of Love answers many of the questions that we have had after reading A Course in Miracles.  Now Jesus not only takes us by the hand and leads us beyond the ego, but he tells us how to establish a new identity—in this body but beyond this body, the “elevated Self of form.”

We are on the threshold of a newly created world.  The Voice that Mari heard as “thoughts she did not ‘think,” (D:12.11)  now made available to us in A Course of Love, counsels us to transform ourselves and our world.

                                                            —

             This journey for me of writing this small book about A Course of Love would not have been possible without the assistance of Mari Perron, ACOL scribe, and Glenn Hovemann, ACOL publisher.  I thank Mari for her prayers and insight, and Glenn was his ever-supportive demeanor and editorial direction, as well as substantial contributions to the chapter, “Frequently Asked Questions / FAQ.”  And, finally, my heartfelt thanks to my husband Paul for everything.  He expressed his interest early in this project by telling me that he wanted to read what I was writing.  And he has.

–Celia Hales

How Can We Be at Peace?

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

How can we be at peace when

spirits’ doors are locked against it?

locked and bolted ‘gainst

we know not what but the

unknowing makes us fearful still.

Fearful of whatever lies beyond

paltry presumption of control 

beyond concentrated consciousness

that knows so little

understanding even less.

Fearfulness that lies in wait

albeit quite against its will 

for frequent fear is nonetheless

predictable and anxious huddling

in its shadow is more

to be desired than any sort

of openness to expectation’s

swaddling cloths of vulnerability.

How senseful that our fear 

that chronic lodger

continues welcome with its stale                         

foul breath and stained attire

when we the landlords

with our legalese

could if we dared

advertise our “rooms to let”

and interview new prospects

always with the veto power

tightly clutched within our ring of keys.  

Union

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Water into wine

into sacramental pure libation

shared by all attending

festive culmination of betrothal

of the bridegroom and the bride.

Preparations planned to posture

in appointed places

all the actors

of the passion play

the passage rite

the mystery of miracle

leaving home and kindred folk

to enter tiny canopy and there

repeat the ancient vows

and pledge to honor

new relationship of head and heart.

Would that all so young

might don the wedding white

baptismal robes and leave

the washing waters of remorse

and feel such cleansing

as pre-nuptials require

to fully celebrate the union

of my mind and soul.

Heart

Note: Today’s posting is an excerpt, with prompting quotation added, to my book, Being Who You Are: Pondering A Course of Love, 265 pages. The book is available on Amazon for $7.95 (print) and $5.99 (ebook). Five out of five stars for all reviews.

“While your mind did not accept the truth of your identity or the reality of love without fear, it existed in a reality of fear and judgment, and bound heart and body to this reality.  Your heart has now heard the appeal of this Course and worked with your mind to bring about this acceptance of the truth, a truth your heart has always known but has been unable to free you to accept without the mind’s cooperation.”  (A Course of Love, T4:7.5)

This quotation explains the concept of wholeheartedness, that we need to join mind to heart, not letting either take the ascendancy alone.  In wholeheartedness, we give up fear, not with a whimper, but with a joyful shout.  We are free at last!  Fear and judgment go together, and both are anathema to reaching Christ-consciousness.  Our heart has always known truths that our mind rejected because of our intellectualism.  Basically, we didn’t want to be superstitious.  We feared that believing in God was intellectually suspect.

Our heart doesn’t have such misgivings.  Our heart knows that there is a Something—or Someone—More.  And when we listen to our hearts, we are happier.  Would you not take happiness, any day, over intellectual skepticism that locks us in despair?

Name

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The name’s the thing–                                                                                                                                   

the precious thing that’s mine alone.

Some stories tell of Adam

naming animals with such humor

and caprice that we are made to laugh

and as young children we named toys,

then pets, and some of us kept genealogy

of all the living creatures that came

to love us in our youth.

We named our playmates, imaginary though they were,

and those of us with great imaginations

even gave ourselves new names and then designed the tales

to prove that those names were most real.

But Kunta Kinte brought to us a new reality

in the giving of our names.  Was he named

by splendid universe or great ruler thereof

or was he named in presence of and introduced

at once to all the galaxies beyond?

No matter.  Perhaps both.  Whatever happened

as we read or witnessed it on film,

and witnessed, too, the naming of the

families of slaves descended from this one,

we learned to longer look at naming

and the phenomenon

it truly is.

How many names do we possess?

And have we named ourselves as we

were wont to do?

And have we understood the family

of names passed down to us from all

ancestors who lived before and wove their

lives into peculiar branches that are ours?

And naming of ourselves–how often and deliberately

have we bestowed upon ourselves

appropriate appellations reckoned

 by a quickened self-disclosure?

How often have we let the voice

of God break through the towers of babbling names

in order to proclaim again–or for the first time

to our sometimes deafened ear

our holy name of well belov-ed only child?

New Path

“After having blessed everything lived, known, taught, and experienced, we let it go forever and begin a new path, a path without past, without plans, without pre-conceived ideas.  We are carried by the Grace of God.”  Choose Only Love bk. 6, 1:I

Choose Only Love is taking us in new directions.  We bless our past, but we don’t cling to it.  God blesses our past, but He too does not hold us to it.

We are walking a new way now, a way in which we are “carried by the Grace of God.”  This new beginning has assurances that were not ours previously.  Our knowledge—not our perceptions—will carry us forth from now on.

We don’t know how this new path will unfold—and wonder of wonders, we don’t have to know.  God’s Grace is always sufficient.  If we think we need to know specifics, we need only ask, and we will be told, but specifics unfolding in their own time and place.

Take heart, be reassured that God and angels walk with us.  We cannot lose our way unless we want to do so.  And who would want, once again, to lose our way?  We found that our way would not work.  Now, as bidden by all revealed writings, we choose God’s way.

If we stand firm in this determination, there is nothing that we wish to do that we cannot do—if the wish is certain and clear in our innermost being, for we are listening to the Guide Whom God is, our sure way.

Love / Safety / Trust

“Where you learned to hate, you will learn to love.  Where you learned to fear, you will learn safety.  Where you learned to distrust, you will learn trust.  And each learning experience will be a learning experience because it will touch your heart.”  (A Course of Love, C:24.1)

We are thinking about the heart in A Course of Love.  Of course, technically we are thinking about “wholeheartedness,” which is the union of mind and heart.  But we focus on the heart because we have so long neglected that vital center of our Self.  When we were caught by the ego, we listened to what our deluded and insane mind said.  And when we sought to relinquish the ego, we were changing our minds.  But there is a step beyond that A Course of Love seeks to have us reach.  And this step is reached without words that the mind could understand, or rational understanding that is totally beyond the ego.  This is the realm of the heart, where words fail us and we are at home in God.  We “know” things without having to be told.  We “understand” things without a rational explanation.  Life just “is,” and we are finally and ultimately happy in the “isness” that will lead us to Christ-consciousness.  We don’t ask anymore because we have no need.  We know.  And this knowledge saves us.

Exile

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:                        

Sent into exile, called out of exile

Who sends?

Who calls?

Once upon a pilgrim journey

seeking what had been abandoned

but what memory labeled lost

and held remorse at having let it loose

and turned that sorrow into stern resentment

at victim-state inexorable

and pondered who the persecutor be

and weighed the balance of another’s misery

with hope to win the crown of thorns for prize.

Through exile comes the Kingdom

in golden robes of seamlessness

once blame is cast aside

and hope can see the beauty of the wayside

and yearn for life

as those beneath the water yearn for air.

Hands

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Casting out demons

offering cold water

embracing into life

 Let hands be used.

Hands are used

almost reflexively

as if they

led by force unknown to human brain

guided by some unseen master Hand

whose plan surprises

as we see ourselves

gently stroke a poor child’s head

rise to voice a cause conflicted

write a letter to support or warn

fashion baby quilts and garden plots

touch the dying in their final hour.

Perhaps our greatest strength reveals itself

in hands’ activity

behooving us

to study ours

to see what power

we have and use.        

Considering the Godhead in Masculine/Feminine Terms

“A Special Note about Gender:  God has no gender.  The masculine/feminine duality of personality is a human attribute.  And yet, God is both masculine and feminine, for God is All.  As All, God is both as personal as you and as impersonal as ‘It’ or ‘Principle.’  Human beings can relate more intimately to a personal God than an impersonal one, and so ion his lifetime Jesus created the idea of ‘God the Father,’ which casts God as a loving presence, and humans as part of a Divine Family.  During Jesus’ time, the culture could only accept a masculine figure; and ever since much of the world has related to God as masculine in both imagery and in language.  I grew up in a Catholic society in which God was universally referred to as ‘He.’  That tradition is reflected in the first three books of Choose Only Love.

“In Book IV, however, God more fully revealed Herself:  ‘Until now, God Himself, in His infinite knowledge, wanted to show Himself in the world as Father, as well as the love that He is.  But from now on She wants to show Herself as Mother, not only as wisdom.  The ‘feminine’ of God will come to light more and more every day.’  Thus the reader will notice that the language of the final four books in this series reflects both the masculine and feminine natures of God.”  – from Sebastian Blaksley, receiver of Choose Only Love.  Passage is from Choose Only Love, Bk. 7, introductory material.

The explanation about gender, you will note, quoted above, comes from Sebastian and is here quoted from Book 7.

Traditionally, Christianity has used the masculine gender, as did Jesus 2,000 years ago.  Now we are encouraged to think of God in broader terms, knowing (as I think Jesus knew, too) that God is bigger than one gender.  In the more inclusive way that God is dealing with us now, we are encouraged to try to see His/Her grandeur, that the God we worship is not to be seen in anthropomorphic terms.

We tend to see God in our own image, but that somewhat misstates the case.  We are told in the Genuis that God created us in His image—not the reverse.  So we are encouraged to try to think in “God terms,” and of course this attempt asks a lot of us.

The Mother God will be seen by us as a gentler version, for most of us carry warm feelings toward the one who birthed us and cuddled us in her arms.  The mother/child bond has been seen as the most significant of all our relationships.  And Book 7 of Choose Only Love recognizes this significance.

Ask God to show us how to think of the Godhead.  See if what Sebastian says here in his reception of Choose Only Love finds a place in our hearts. 

STRENGTH

Note: Published in Miracles magazine (Jon Mundy, publisher)

I can give you my strength until yours is as certain as mine. . . . (WOM, Part 1, Lesson 7)

You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you.  (ACIM, COA ed., T-31. IX.2:3)

I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.  (Phil. 4:13, KJV)\

            Jesus knew stress in himself while on Earth.  The evidence is in the New Testament: indignantly overturning the moneychangers’ tables in the temple; agonizing in Gethsemane (though no one knew this because his disciples slept; perhaps Jesus told this in his appearances later on); asking God from the cross why he had been forsaken. Yes, this man was fully human—whatever else he also was.

            But he overcame, as he bids us to do.  Again, the New Testament tells us how.  From the cross, rather than thinking of himself, he thought of his mother, standing nearby.  He put her in the care of his beloved disciple, John.  He welcomed a man being crucified beside him into Paradise that very day; he knew that was where he himself was heading. 

Yes, he overcame with strength, and we are bidden to overcome also.  But we have his help.  He shares his divinity with us; he shares his Christhood.  And we are made strong thereby.

We certainly all know stress, but now we discover that we can also know strength.  In both stress and strength, we emulate Jesus.  And he is always here for us.  He promises to come upon a “single unequivocal call.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.V.14:10)  

            We need the strength of Christ, by which we mean not just Jesus, but us as well—all the Sons and Daughters of God.  This explanation is a mystical statement of what the term Christ really means.  Let’s put our minds and hearts to the test, to really see how we might emulate Jesus in his strength, knowing that stress can always be set aside.

We will find that our humanity can be championed—not by stress—but by the divinity—the strength—that we all share, with Jesus himself, with Christ.

Welcome the Child

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Welcome the Child

the child in me who longs to be

            unhampered by high expectations

            placed upon her by comparative critique

            so constant that the life blood joy

            begins to pale and then succumbs

            to lethargy within the deepening dark

the child in me who wants to be

            active in one world

            and nurturing attachment

            to another

            with eucharistic daily bread

the child in me who needs to be

            rebirthed into a balanced one

            who free of censorship of self

            and habits binding  

            from a paralyzing past

            can welcome other children

            from confining prison cells.

Welcome my child

            the little me so bonded with

            the Old Embracing One

            who never for an instant

            e’en considered

            abandoning or bruising

            my small soul.

Happy Dreams

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

New Truth

New truth comes to me

and I

eager to demonstrate

this sudden energy

look for someone

who might listen

but all are busy

looking for their own

interior informings

or if they hear me

give back blank looks

and realizing I have failed

to share some substance

of my newfound joy

I wince and wonder

if I’m meant to speak at all

or rather keep inside me

all that cries out to be told.

From time again of reaching out

with words

in vain attempts

conveying little

of this deepest gift

I come at last to know

the patience of the ancients

who learned what I must learn:

the simple waiting

until time and place

and question from another

might reveal

communal readiness

to share.


Meditation from Celia:

“I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams.  That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship.  He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you.  (A Course in Miracles, FIP ed., T-18.II.6)

The two parts of this quotations are linked together by the fact of a happy dream.  The Holy Spirit acts in us to change our dreams of hostility and anger and pain to happy dreams, even though we are still asleep and don’t entirely know how this change is happening.  What is going on is that our projection from within, where the Holy Spirit resides, is changing.  We are projecting more loving thoughts, and thus the perception that we have of the outer world is that it is changing, independent of us.  This change is not independently wrought.  And as we become happier, seeing in a more loving and kind way, the dream we experience becomes even better!

At this point our special relationships will begin to look better and better, not filled as much with pain or the vicissitudes of mood.  The special relationships, at this precise point, have not yet transformed into holy, but the potential is there.  We will want them to be holy as we proceed in our study of A Course in Miracles.

The Holy Spirit does not snatch away our special relationships, though we are fearful that, being inferior, He will decide that this form has to go.  The person most likely doesn’t have to go—if the transformation into a holy relationship can be made. 

We are learning in the context of ACIM.  We are projecting more positive aspects to our outer world, and everything changes at this point.  We are drawn by the joy that we experience as these changes come about.  This joy leads us to forget the ego, and just run to the joy.

And in that running will we take the next step, the sometimes disjointed next step, of transforming our special relationships (which have always been problematic) into something better—something holy.

Draw Nigh to the Comforter

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Seeking Wholeness    

Hungry

I find myself

for comforting

eternal words

sustaining this frail being

torn between two spheres

eager immortality

producing living words

to last beyond the grave

and worldliness accommodated

by constant cache of fiction facts

Thirsty

I am

for what would quench

and bring together both in

steady stream through daily pulsing life

Desperate

I stretch

 this empty frame

pleading for the great “I Am”

to root so resolute

transforming my attachments

and divinizing me.


Meditation from Celia:

Draw Nigh to the Comforter

“You will no longer resist the process of purification, by whatever means the Comforter uses for you.  It simply does not matter anymore:

“Why resist it?  All I want is God!

“If it is dissolved in the mind in a split second, and you do not even notice it—fine.  If it requires great tears and great experiences in the world—fine.  What is the difference?  They are really the same.  It is because you have relinquished—through allowing—ownership of your pathway home.  You have decided to let the Comforter take you home.” (“The Way of Transformation,” The Way of Mastery, Chapter 21, Page 255)

The Comforter, as we know, is the Holy Spirit.  He is always present, always giving us solace in a sometimes difficult world.  His emotional support will allow us to live through difficulties unscathed, even difficulties that are suffering and pain.

We have traveled far from our Maker.  We have made drastic mistakes that have colored our minds and perhaps even our hearts.  Drastic measures are sometimes taken by our souls to turn us back toward God and our home in heaven.  Only when we recognize, however dimly, that these drastic measures, chosen by our own souls, are sometimes necessary to bring a light into our deluded minds, only then will we know that all the suffering and pain were worth it.

God only loves.  Our souls make far more of the choices for us than we can know on this earth, in this world.  And at heart we are all One. 

Thank God that He did not abandon us in misery.  The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, will always lend a listening ear and a surcease to that which troubles us, whether immediate or down the road.  God does not abandon us.

Peace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

God Fruit

I am

you are

he is

            all God-fruit

            from germinated holy seed

            and ripening unevenly           

            appear misshapen and discolored

            as if from bruising

            or poor pollination.

I am

you are

he is

            judged by size and shapeliness

            and sometimes even fragrance

            as would-be orchard laborers

            determine if we’re worth

            the time and trouble

            to sift and sort for sale.

Even I

and you

and he

            forget we are not

            quality controllers

            in the large warehouses of humanity

            where clock time works against us.

The message is the thing

            that seeks to penetrate the rind

            for transformation of the seed capsules

            to let burst forth the flavor of the core.


From Celia’s Images from a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

On what “works” in work for me:  “This morning I was very sleepy and relaxed–a little numb.  As a result I slowed down at work to great benefit.  I need to stop falling all over myself to get my work done.” Yet, the very next day, I wrote, “I seem to anticipate work and have a hard time doing that.  I don’t handle a million things to do very well.” Yet, though I clearly recognized this in 1992, I still haven’t truly accepted it and planned my work accordingly. 

I have a pattern of taking on more and more, getting “swamped,” and pulling back—only to repeat the same dynamic.  I may be addicted to an adrenaline rush which my body can’t sustain over the long haul.  So I end up anxious, and my husband does therapy for me over breakfast. Not fair to him or my real Self. 

A Course in Miracles says that the first obstacle that peace must flow across is the desire to get rid of it. (T-19.IV.A.1:1) 

How true!

God’s Listening Ear

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Breaking Bread

Am I engaged in eating

when another I might feed?

Must both the giver

and receiver dine together?

And if I

not hungry

simply want to share

is table fellowship required?

But if no food have I

not even for myself

might my meal partner

have some to share with me?

Or if we two

have no fresh bread

to break and eat together

might there be

a different kind of meal?

A breaking open of ourselves

revealing sustenance?

A spirit sharing one with one?

And wafting through the meal

aroma of the Father’s favorite food?


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

“Lead, kindly Light . . .

Keep thou my feet: I do not ask to see

The distant scene; one step enough for me.”

–Arthur Hays Sulzberger

Simply put one foot in front of the other and walk.  This is the secret of getting over an enervating malaise, if it is only mildly debilitating.  Truly pathological depression is going to require something more: usually biochemicals as well as a good listening ear.  (And God has the best Listening Ear of all.)

Keeping Pace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Martyr

Don’t call me martyr!

I abhor the name!

Daring

to dissect what motivates

to label action

to pass judgment on behavior

pieced in hearsay quilts!

Don’t tell me who I am

for you don’t know!

You cannot read my heart

and if you could

would miss the wisdom

from the depths of pondering

and placing

self-absorbed requitement for existence first.

Don’t nominative my life with fickle flattery

that cheapens everything I hold most dear

and spreads a sense of soiledness throughout my soul.

Don’t speak to me of

what you might call sacrifice!

I shun the word as prostitution

of my own free will

and sure damnation

of God’s wealth of joy.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

Norman Vincent Peale counseled pacing in daily life (though he did not call it that).  If in God’s own time, it is not there, it was not meant to be there.  This also works to mediate against precipitous action.  I don’t know that it would work in a life-threatening situation, but in my own life and work, I know that considered action and going with the flow (not bucking the tide) is what gets the job done.

On what really counts in life:  “I’ve wondered if putting A Course in Miracles into practice in a fast-paced and demanding life is the best thing that I could do.  But I don’t think life is meant to be as fast-paced as we live it.” 

Work

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Buried Treasure

The God of terror and of joy

   has buried deep within

     the unimaginable

         to frighten and release

            in its own time.

Perhaps we once knew what it was–

  knew and were not strong enough

    to deal with that reality

      so like the single talent one

          entombed it well.

And through the years

   we grew and changed

     and as time passed

       forgot the nature

         of our buried prize.

We came to distrust

   hidden substances

     in their un-knowing

       and then to fear

         and then to hate.

We bought large locks

    for dungeon doors

      determined now

        to keep enchained

          the secret there.

But it too grew

   and finally outgrew

    the closet chamber deeps.

The concentration pressed against 

   the world of consciousness

     and would not be contained.

 I press with all my might

   but cannot keep

      the stone from bursting forth

          revealing the white raiment

            of my twice-born soul.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

I remember in college hearing a professor mention that some character in literature “derived his meaning in life from work.” 

I immediately saw myself in those words.  But in recent years my journal has been filled with variations on the theme, “I have to get over feeling that I want to push-push-push at work.”  The problem is that I become obsessive about work when I am truly “into” it, but my emotional make-up screams at me that I need to lighten up. 

So I do—and the oscillations of greater and lesser work play themselves out over and over.  I would be better to seek a steady pace, not making the same mistake of work overload on a recurring basis.

It is hard for me to go easy when I see deadlines staring me in the face.  Yet this is just what I must learn to do.  The fact that the problem recurs proves that there is a better way for me to freely choose—and choose it I must.

Looking to the Future

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Washing                                 

Hardly recognizing I’ve been washed

   I catch the scent of sun-sweet cleanliness

     and wondering about the source

       don’t stop to ponder greater need.

Seeing that the new spring rain

   has made all Nature fresh again

      I leave to her the task of self-renewal

        and disregard my likeness to her own.

But restlessness o’ertakes me

  and I no pleasure gain from her fair form

    as I encounter winter in my spirit

      where new April life should be.

I cannot rise in rapture

  to match the show of beauty splashed about

    but witnessing new wonder

      feel myself begin to plummet to despair.

I question her concerning this

  and hear her say

    my clothes are soiled beyond restoring

      and I must discard all

        before I can be washed full clean.

I cannot readily agree to give up favored garments

  and cast aside what have become

    the ordered habits of my days.

Then I an inventory take

  of all these purchased,

    hand-me-downs,

      and old ones altered to conform

        to the image I’ve desired for all to see.

And realizing all are worn and dingy

  and no longer hold the shape and newness

    they once had

      still wonder what replacements

        I can find more worthy than these wraps

          I’ve clung to for so long.

While pondering this question

  I become so conscious of anxiety

    at present state I cannot find a

      single satisfying garment wrap around.

I think of all my dreams

  where I run free

    completely nude

      while all the others

        fully dressed

          stand by and stare.

And realize the message of the dream

  directs me to an inner casting off

    where I unhesitatingly

      walk about with barefoot spirit

        happy to be free

          of all encumbrances.

And thinking of the ancient rite

  of river cleansing

    seal of sacrament

      concluded with new convert

        wrapped in clean white robe.

I remember Nature’s words

  and tell her in hushed voice

    that I agree my washing need is great

and looking to her purgatorial source

  to take away my soul soil utterly

    I cease debating how or when or where

      some earthly pure white robing might occur.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

Is suffering a choice?  Leigh says “yes”; Betsy disagrees.  And neither has had a particularly happy life.  But the fact that suffering might be chosen should give us the impetus to walk lightly along our paths.  As the sympathetic executioner is reported to have said to Socrates on handing him the hemlock: “And so fare you well, and try to bear lightly what must needs be . . .”

Sometimes the best therapy is going to work each day.  An easy attitude toward one’s duties is a remarkable coping mechanism. Should one resist, the force field may become stronger, and the flow all but gone.

David said that he thought I would be very good at library administration, but that I would be perfectly miserable in my work.  Yes, I too fear I would be in a place where no birds sing.

So I risk making a mistake by avoiding this challenge in order to travel peacefully along more pleasant pathways. 

After all, the A Course in Miracles says, “Heaven asks nothing.  It is hell that makes extravagant demands for sacrifice.” (W-pI.135.24:3-4) In the cool of fading evening, I think I will be glad I listened to the songs of birds.

Peace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Deliver Me!

Deliver me

            from indignation’s wrath that

              saps my creativity

                and true compassion

                   and poises on the brink

                      of righteousness so false that

                         I can see no way around my

                            puffed-up sense of rectitude

                               and blinded arrogance.

Deliver me

            from anger so projected on

              pale circumstance or conversation

                 so lightly entered into by another

                    as to be overwhelmed at my

                        unleashing fire and thunderbolt

                           from sources never intimated

                              by what would seem

                                 a casual exchange.

Deliver me

            from cheap facade–

              the painted harlequin of face

                that covers rage so deep as to

                  explode in unforeseen expression

                     inexplicable by me

                        or anyone who listens or observes

                          or hears a later telling of

                             the strange and puzzling tale.

Deliver me

            from table overturning in a

               self-appointed moment of smug

                 superiority of justice meted out

                   or conspicuous display of brute force

                        from dark imprisonment

                           in invulnerability’s easy guise                    

                             that camouflages craftily

                                the well-thought-out charade.    

Deliver me!


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

For me, too much stress brings on anger (and, all too often, resulting attack), whereas overwork linked with perfectionism brings on a critical attitude.  Knowing this suggests that I should consciously avoid filling my life with patterns that bring out the worst in me.  Knowing this, does it not follow that I should cultivate Peace at whatever cost to ambition?  It is best to observe what triggers one’s negative behavior, and then turn in the opposite direction.

“Stop and smell the roses.”  This everyday admonition invites speculation: If we don’t, what is the worst that will happen to us?  An unexamined life may mean less real living (as opposed to existing), especially if what happens always seem to happen to us, rather than being selected by us.

I Can Escape from the World I See by Giving Up Attack Thoughts

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Sacred Font

Forgetting that we come from holy water,

            that we once were the river,

                        we soon are frightened of its power, its depth

                                    and what might lie within.

Mammals we think ourselves to be

            and use the river to our own chief ends

                        unmindful of our once connectedness.

Rites of cleansing followed still religiously

            in ways prescribed by ancients who

                        perhaps knew something of the mystery

                                    but knew not how to give the secrets hidden there.

Dare we risk ourselves to plumb our

            inner ocean?  to let the whale devour

                        without assurance we’ll survive?

                                    to dream there might be life too deep to fathom

                                                and being tossed on shore we’d breathe again?

Perhaps the frequent washing of our souls

            that tears provide

                        might also give a glimpse

                                    of living water yet reserved

                                                for us alone within the sacred font.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

Why do I seem to need to have permission to be happy—never to spoil it by worry?

A Course in Miracles says, “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.” (W-pI.23) Jesus means that the “real world,” a dream granted by the Holy Spirit, is without the conflicts that most of us experience in the modern, work-a-day, world.  The miracle comes about because of inner changes in a person. 

Even the most conflicted day loses its punching power when one looks out on the chaos from a soft and warm heart.

Peace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The Holy Promise

The holy promise

   planted in the soul of each newborn

     reverberating through the lineage

       to those who hear the words aloud

            repeated by their elders as they learn

              the answers to the “who made you?”

                 and struggle with their own

                   repeated “why?” and “what now?”

                     and the tension of the sometimes

                        too taut tether cord

and planted, too, this covenant

   within the deeps of those

     who never hear the sacred sentence

       Scripture speaks to those

           within the confines

             of an orderly progression

                of confessional conscientiousness

                   where stories of the patriarchs

                      weave threads of continuity

                        irrefutable by time

this covenant

 announces from on high

   the ‘I will be’ and ‘you will be’

       resounding through all heartbeats

           transcending sacred writ

              telling all attentive

                 and declaring loud to deafened ears

                     and sending solace to the spirits

                          of those who never harken

                              to the inner urgings of their soul.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

The re-entry problems at work on Monday are not physiological or even psychological for the frequently cited reasons.  After “flight” on the preceding two days, the body gets up once again to “fight.”  And the more relaxing the flight has been, the more likely the fight will bring fears. 

One has let down one’s guard, and the ego doesn’t take kindly to peace.  It knows its days are numbered if its owner should ever learn to choose Peace consistently.

Why is it that so many of us are cowards in the middle of the night? 

If we could all learn how to separate “big deals” from trifles, we would certainly be well along the way toward living satisfactorily and peacefully.

Work Pressures

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Listening

I sought to listen to my Lord.

By various means I tried to hear Him speak–

            a brightening breeze through leafed-out trees

            a bird outside my window pane

            a tiny stream o’er river rocks

            a sung word touching deep within

            a Scripture phrase speaking anew

            and my own pen bringing forth more

In these and more I thought I heard my Lord.

But then my heart, still restless, searched again

            for music far beyond the lovely singing

            for just one sacred word for mantra’s sake

            for inspiration wordless as a feeling.

And then my heart declared to me “search on!”

            to reach beyond the music to the silence

            to find the space beyond all sacred speech

            to journey safe beyond diverse distractions.

 I found the place at last

            filled with wonder dark and fathomless

            a stillness indescribable

            a place beyond all time and memory

            a depth beyond my wide imagining

            the center of my very self it is

where even consciousness appears suspended

there is where my Lord comes now to me.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

There is a point at which too much work to do becomes clearly counterproductive, because one’s stress level impedes actually turning out the work at a reasonable pace. 

In the midst of 800 junior high students clamoring for attention in their school library, I once said to myself (over and over, in a kind of refrain), “If I do nothing else, I will remain calm.” 

Of course, that affirmation actually put me in a frame of mind in which I could do something else.  Reverse psychology is a powerful protective device.

On the strength in remaining calm:  “When I’m not stressed, I think I can handle virtually anything.”

On solving problems:  “No decision can be really difficult unless we complicate the issue by worry.”

Truly to Live

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

My Soul

My soul

            called forth

                         from me

                                     by that within

                                                and yet beyond

            called out

                         to be

                                    to fly

            called back

                         to follow

                                    the limitations

                                                of its transient home

            called up

                        to glimpse

                                     the more of yearning

            called on

                         to strive

                                    to pierce the breaking point

            called down

                        to dream again

                                    and there

                                                 within the dream

            called in

                         to break

                                    and from the broken pieces

called out again


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

One should make one’s living in a manner that allows true “living,” on the job as well as off. Serving as a reference librarian and book/periodical selector is the pleasant way that I spend my day, the way that I earn a living that doesn’t consume all of me but allows me to think and dream about other things. 

When I am stressed, I don’t make much progress in my spiritual life because I am too distracted. Maybe I should take the route that allows me to live comfortably (emotionally) because big bucks in some other job might make me financially secure but very tense, anxious, and maybe even unhappy in the daily work.

Choice to Write

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Beatitude

Blessed are the dead

    whose death comes peaceful as a slumber

        from a day of toil and song

Blessed are the living

    whose walks are filled with knowledge

        that each day might be their last

Blessed are those whose memories

    comfort with the absence

        of those gone before

Blessed are those whose heart strings

     play the melodies

        of unsung songs and voices

Blessed are the celebrants 

    whose lives memorialize

         the spirit of the absent ones

Blessed are the glimpses

    that quicken possibilities

        of joy that lie ahead

Blessed are the passionate

    who follow spirits leading them

        into the heart of God

Blessed are you

    whose open souls receive

        the gracious gifts so freely given


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

An experience in scholarly writing:  “I worked very hard last Monday, reading all day for my book.  I really didn’t enjoy it.”

Later on . . . ”Most of that work was fruitless.  I didn’t put it in my book after all.  When work becomes a dull ache, it is usually wrong.”

On second-guessing my life’s work:  “What do I really want to do with the rest of my life?  Is it enough just to follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting on a daily basis?  Is long-range planning really a defense?  (The Course suggests that it is.)  (W- pI.135.14:1) Could I do my writing as well as have a more successful library career? 

The key to the latter would be ever-better interactions with the people I encounter everyday.  Sometimes I think the job of librarian really doesn’t accomplish much.  All of us work so hard on meaningless things; I see it all the time on the reference desk among the patrons, and I try to be tolerant. 

Healing minds in the sense meant by the Course has really become my preoccupation.  Knowing that, is it any wonder that I’m still tied to my very social occupation even though I’d rather write?

Creation Story

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Habitat           

Standing there afar

my habitat held in your hand

my heart’s pure ache so palpable

the world must sense my longing

but turn from me as

from some clanging bell.

How many labyrinthine turns must I traverse?

How many sandals must I wear sole thin?

How many times pray “show the way”?

What game of hide-and-seek has been ordained

among the tall trees of my weary mind?

How many clues must I search out

to later disregard?

Am I to be not privileged to sleep

before the hearth before I die?

or sup at table?

or rock contented all way round

and there attend the fire?

to sing and laugh

and let my homing spirit feel the joy?


From Celia:

Creation Story

There is a myth about the creation of souls that helps me to understand why we falter and fall away from God.  This myth, first expounded by Ruth Montgomery’s Guides in the 1960s, says that in the beginning God sent out from Himself sparks of light, souls in embryo, to experience life.  Some wandered farther, away from God, and got into trouble.  Others stayed close to Him and were guided by His greater Light.

We sometimes need to learn from both good and evil, and choose the good from a sense of knowing, and in that John Milton’s great treatise Areopagetica is right.  When we choose good from experience, we truly know.  It would be wrong, though, to deliberately set out to experience evil in order to learn from it.  It is enough that we learn to avoid the choices that take us away from God. In the myth, the fear to wander from God, felt by those souls in embryo who stayed close to Him, seems to be the flip side of Love.    

There is a long tradition in Christianity that says Christ needs our hands and feet to carry out his mission in this world.  We might be lost indeed if it weren’t for the souls who cling to God and learn of Love. We do know that sometimes we learn best from others like ourselves, people with two hands and two feet, homo sapiens.

God’s Light grows dim in us when we turn a deaf ear to His pleading.  But He stands ever ready to rescue us by whatever means it takes.

Every religious tradition, in every age, says that only Love matters.  In the end, this truth is the only truth yet to discover. And it will be no secret we are healed.

Work Pressures

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Floodgates

Waters parting

     floodgates making way

        I sensed prepared for me.

           I heard them coming

              deafened by the roar

                  of mighty waters rolling

                     down upon me.

I said a prayer

   prepared to die

      so sure my next few breaths

         would be my last.

I know not if I knelt

   or sat

      or stretched myself out prone

          ready to receive the hand of death.

 Louder came the roar

      A sound so full of fear

          I wished for deafness before death

              anything but being made

                   to hear that awful sound.

The roar grew louder

     louder still

         and I

              so sure my drums would burst

                  fixed all my thought on broken ears 

                       as cause of death

                           and in an instant heard played again

                               the thousand tapes of noisy voices

                                  of my wasted life of listening.

And still the roar increased

     till I heard screams

        my own thin voice

             inside my head

                 with shouts of

                     ‘Kill me, then!’

                          ‘Yes, do it now!’

                                ‘Anything but this!’

But ‘this’ was not yet finished

     my pleading was in vain

            as if demonic spirits

                took delight in my despair.

And then

     as quickly as begun

         the roar subsided

            to the pleasant sound

               of water

                   over smooth worn stones

                       reminding me

                         of where in childhood

                               played for hours

                                   and sheltered

                                     from the loss of innocence

                                        was I.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool:

There is always time for what is needful.  This learned after long experimentation.  So why do I still fight fire when I have a desk filled with work, or a house that hasn’t been cleaned in a week? 

What “bad thing” will happen to me if it isn’t all accomplished in the too-short time I have allotted?

Colds or “bugs” are a form of seeking outside ourselves, convenient crutches we use when we are very weary from walking in the world. 

One then has an excuse to sit down.  Written a couple of days before I succumbed to a succession of mild but debilitating viruses:  “What do I really want to experience in my world? 

I don’t want to be hassled constantly to do more-more- more. 

I need to say ‘no’ to things for a month and then some.”

On the work complexities of modern life:  “I desperately need to learn how to pace myself.  If ever I get ahead at work, I immediately ‘fill my plate’ with a dozen things that are sure to swamp me eventually.” Four days later, the dawn of a solution: 

“I sensed today that I make things too hard.  I have too much a sense of responsibility.  I should let go and let God.  Life lived from moment to moment ‘listening’ (to the Holy Spirit) is much more interesting.  I can be much too work-oriented, so much that I become a drudge.” 

Now I would add that much of my work is self-generated, but influenced by my colleagues, who are working at least as hard. 

It is as though we were a group of children, backstage before a piano recital.  One’s nervousness and hyperactivity influences another, and then another, and yet another.  And to what end? 

The dubious “achievement” of performing before an audience. 

Now, proving our “worth” this way by more and more elevates work to a personal god whose demands are insatiable.  And isn’t that the clue that the dynamic is ego-based?

Is It Necessary to Know Good by Evil?

Note: Celia’s post follows poem.

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Restless

Winding through the branches of my spirit

   whispering glimpses of mortality

      wandering among the conscious complex

         winnowing former dogma like frail facts

down into recesses of my essence

  drifting through unbridled memory

    dauntingly presumptuous in its power

      dares this new disturbing premonition

halting nowhere near the seat of power

  having so destroyed that weaker vessel

     hurrying to reach its destination

       hovering within the fecund chamber

coming round the shaping walls of truth

  curving in and out of questions forming

    casting out decisions long since crumbled

      climbing vine-like through the hallowed halls

tethering to no anointed altar

  targeting no restrictive domicile

    templing within no single sacred cloister

      the hot bright breath of God appears.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool:

I think we plan our lives before we are born.  If so, given that I have always spent much time in thinking about what I should do next, I’m sure I planned carefully on the other side. 

I once had an intuition that my growing-up years went just as intended.  I wanted to emphasize working hard on academic pursuits and developing the impetus to achieve.  Now when I question the advisability of all that, surely some balancing act is taking place.

We are our own worst enemy.  We do not have to do all things, even if all of these things are good.  Sometimes I entrap myself over a perceived “good goal” by taking steps to move toward it—knowing all the while that living out the goal will be painful.

Achieving at my maximal level has long been a goal.  I don’t like to be defeated by anything, to drop out of the race without trying sufficiently.  An old “Father Knows Best” television program drove the point home to me while still very young (and aren’t we quite impressionable when young?). 

I sense I could do library administration, albeit not without struggle.  Do I want to be one who, as Milton says, “slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat”?  Yet Milton’s famous passage also suggests that one would know good “by” evil, by the contrast. 

This I don’t believe is necessary.  Maybe now is one time that my doubts should be respected, because the ultimate goal, being ego-related, is questionable (as well as tangential to what I really want to do).  It’s a replay of a “have it all” 1980s motif—surely a way of life most of us are coming to repudiate.

Love

Note: Ann’s poem is first; Celia’s post follows.

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The Word

The Word became flesh

            once upon a time       once before time        once in time

                                  each time        a child is born        a gift is given.

                                        And upon their shoulders rests the imprint of the One

                                                whose Word makes all flesh to become.

Flesh becomes Word       becomes Verb Word

            saying ‘Let there be’

                        and there is

                                    as night follows day and dawn follows darkness,

                                                dappling creation with new language.

Be becomes all Words–

            creating nouns and expletives,

                        pronouns and correlatives,

                                    assumes the burden of unanswered questions

                                                and declaratives yet undeclared.

Flesh becomes Active Verb–

            transforming the great I AM into nominative–

                        posturing as transitive

                                    whose unknown object

                                           completes the diagram

                                                forming a sphere.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool

Many years ago I was in a frame of mind in which unlimited possibilities seemed open to me.  The salient aspect of this period of time was that I was living with an attitude filled with love.  In making decisions, invariably I would come to a fork in the road.  It seemed that I could choose either way ahead and—this the questionable part—that either would be equally “OK”—just different ways to work out my destiny. 

Maybe we really do live in a safe universe when we are at home in Love.

Reality offers what I really want–the prayer of the heart. (A Course in Miracles, M-21.1:3-4)

Sometimes the unconscious guides us to a certain familiar pathway as a warning.  If I find myself gazing vacantly out a window and fantasizing about the future, the future that I see may eventually lead to difficulty, but it will always hold much joy. 

Intuition

A new feature of poetry; my post follows. – Love, Celia

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Doxology

Praise to Thee, O Lord, Creator of the Universe,

Who brings forth from your earth womb all life.

Praise to Thee, O God, Sustainer of the Universe,

who gives life the abundance Thou designed for it.

Praise to Thee who places godhood

in the center of our being.

Blow Holy Spirit, Wayward Wind,

with all thy special power

come stir again the old desire

in us who yearn to flower.

Rain into us the fullness

of the morning dew

made into streams

that penetrate our roots.

Make green the carpet of our days

that we, lured into verdancy,

might sprout new buds

and bloom as never even

once upon a time we dreamed.

Press down upon us sunshine

of the vision in your mind

of who we were and are and yet to be,

always within the firm embrace

of thy mysterious trinity.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool:

There is a way of living by intuition and a way of living by rational choice (the latter usually called just “reason”).  The two are not mutually exclusive, of course.  But I have found that life is freer, more natural, happier, when I am brave enough to let intuition rule.  And it does take some bravery.

It takes a certain willingness to follow intuition.  Maybe there will always be a question in my mind about whether I am being rational.  But time and again events prove the correctness of following yet another hunch.

Do we have “free will”?  I once read someone’s remark to the effect that we act as if we do when we cross the street, so why not assume that we do? 

Deadlines

Note:  Today I am happy to tell you of a new feature on my blog:  poems on spirituality by a good friend, Ann Glover O’Dell.  Her poems speak to me as I hope they will to you.

My post for today follows after the poem.  – Love, Celia

From Ann’s Midwifing the Soul:

Request

What I expected was a memory

      deep imprimatur of miracle

          inspiring sustenance

             serving as benchmark

                 of all grateful glimpses

                    through the prism of experience.

A lesser geyser I requested

      having pooled within the marrow

           of my mind as journey food

             and solace after sorrow

               original sacred spray

                  hoping for its offspring

          never more distant

                        than corner round and waiting.

But just today that fountain flow returned

     reminding now

          its honoring of my desire

              so I breathe deep

                 and welcome gratefully

                    the fresh baptism

                        from my sacred source.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool:

Just “being” in life is affirming and good.  I don’t have to “do” all the time.  I have to realize that doing “more, more, more” to justify my existence is not necessary.

Is taking the easier pathway always suspect?  Must we always struggle to be a “success”? 

I invariably overestimate the time that it will take to complete a task that I have been putting off.

Learning how to work properly has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.  Faced with much work, I’m apt to feel great anxiety and be paralyzed by it.  Even a modest sense of “too much to do” will keep me working at a pace that is too fast, one I can’t sustain. 

I do best when I consciously realize that there is more than enough time to do everything.  Then I work at a steady (but not slow) pace, and, most importantly, I enjoy the work.  My journal is filled with reminders to “pace” though the day.  Doesn’t this say to me that I ought to keep my duties always at a manageable level? 

As much as I would like to turn out prodigious amounts of work, that is an instance of falling in love with the ordering process, a phenomenon I once heard in a warning dream. 

I should know my own psychology counsels against this way of living unless the work is imposed from within (never from without), and there is little or no deadline pressure.

Work Ethic

It is not good for me to get too close to my work, lest I become obsessive about it.  I was virtually a workaholic in college, but without the “high” which true workaholics find.  In my case, I worked hard to make the grades for graduate school, and I worked with blinders on.  My mind was numbed by the hard work, my personality warped. 

Now I listen to my nocturnal dreams.  A couple of nights of bad dreams, and I know it is time to “let up.”  God doesn’t need drudges.  He can’t get through to them and therefore to what purpose does all the hard work serve?

A personal assessment made on the anniversary of my first year as a reference librarian:  “I jumped on a horse and tried to gallop off in all directions at once.” 

Certainly I took on too many varied responsibilities that year, but beginner’s enthusiasm is a great propellant.  It was a hard year.  Now, 11 years later, I find in the experience compelling reason to ride out the storm.  The first hard step is not a good indicator of all the joy that may follow.  When you step into a pool, the water is always at first quite cold.

Peter Principle

A town government official with many responsibilities discharged with praise once turned down a “better” job offer in a larger community by saying that one can “climb too high.”  One man’s version of the Peter Principle. 

But how much better would we all be if overarching ambition never took us beyond our scope? We would know mastery in a given sphere. 

Our nerves would be calmer.  And wouldn’t the world be a saner place as well? 

In high school, I found myself with a very critical mind whenever I had far too much to do.  This suggests that for me an overly busy life is not conducive to my better spirit. 

I used to be a real worrier.  When yet another good thing had happened, seeming to make the anxiety needless, my father simply remarked, “Most things do turn out well.” 

Why all the anxious moments?  I have come to believe that it was a psychological ploy.  I didn’t think I deserved good things unless I had given my “pound of flesh,” as Shakespeare described. 

And if things did turn out badly, I had done all I could: I had really cared enough to make myself miserable.

The base of it was that anxiety proved to be a goad to make me work harder—and thereby increase the likelihood that most things would “turn out well.” 

A trap of perfectionism carried to extremes.

“More”

On excessive ambition:  “I think my questioning of whether I am successful or not is neurotic.  Wanting to be ever and ever more successful is neurotic also.  It is the rat race personified.

“And when would I ever be ‘satisfied’ with what I had achieved?”

My journal in early 1992 is filled with evidence that striving for more, more, more doesn’t work for me.  Two examples:  “I realize I’m not as happy as I once was because I’m not as grateful for all the blessings that I have.  I’ve taken some of it for granted, and it becomes tedious routine, but also I feel stressed from the ‘busyness’ of it all.”   “Part of me feels that an active and busy life is evidence of a wise use of time.  But the truth is that I tend to lose my perspective.”  These attitudes seem frankly to be ego at work.

A Course in Miracles says, “. . .nothing you do or think or wish or make is necessary to establish your worth. . . .Your ego is never at stake because God did not create it.  Your spirit is never at stake because He did.” (T-4.I.7:4,8-9)  I’m dangerously close to being “unhealed” (T-9.V) as I try to heal others through my writing. 

As I’ve sought to withdraw support from the ego, it has sought to win back strength by guile. (M-25.5:3)  I’ve been making an image of myself as a fulfilled individual, but it is just that—a hollow image made without love as I pushed for “more.” 

Karma Yoga

The karma of being what is really “myself” seems very important.

It’s “karma yoga”: Don’t try to be the best somebody else, but find “your” truth.  As I think over my career options, the little excitement that I feel over some of them appears to be something best not reinforced.  My thinking that I should head for library administration as a way of succeeding was to make the obvious “jump” to greater success in the eyes of the world. 

Maybe a risk finally that is truly worth taking is not to make this jump.  I fall back on the obvious truth that strong doubts about a given pathway, over a long period of time, mean that that route is best passed by.  All in all, I’ve decided that I want a “pathway with a heart” much more than a pathway of dubious “success.”

Career success pursued for its own end has no end.

Soul-Searching

I learned after long soul-searching that my interest in the status of a job (and all that goes with that false value), and my dedication to having an academic career mean that I am trying to prove something to somebody that doesn’t need proving. 

“Going into work matters too much to you” was the message of a particularly symbolic and insightful dream.

For some reason I knew I needed to write a book.  And I did—one for my field of library science.  Did I need the discipline or did I need the credential?  Or did I need both? 

My motive is hard to fathom.

Pathways

There is an old expression, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But I am always trying to make “it” better.  Isn’t this being too much of a perfectionist?

Achieving at my maximal level has long been a goal.  I don’t like to be defeated by anything, to drop out of the race without trying sufficiently.  An old “Father Knows Best” television program drove the point home to me while still very young (and aren’t we quite impressionable when young?). 

I sense I could take a new pathway in my career, albeit not without struggle.  Do I want to be one who, as Milton says, “slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat”?  Yet Milton’s famous passage also suggests that one would know good “by” evil, by the contrast. 

This I don’t believe is necessary.  Maybe now is one time that my doubts should be respected, because the ultimate goal, being ego-related, is questionable (as well as tangential to what I really want to do).  It’s a replay of a “have it all” 1980s motif—surely a way of life most of us are coming to repudiate.

Well – Considered Choices

On the instinct for acquisition:  “Recently I had the intuition that if money is viewed as security, one can never have enough. 

It has taken me 45+ years to understand that.  The intuition came in the day or so after I had felt the internal question:  “Do you want a lot of money?”  That excited me, and I said a tentative “Yes—if it doesn’t hurt anybody.” 

But later I began to think that this was a “devil’s” bargain: 

“Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24 – KJV)

Now I think my great-grandmother’s quiet answer about money is best: “The Lord has blessed me.”  She had no money worries, but her financial security was certainly not a preoccupation for her.”

The instinct for acquisition makes it hard to go God’s way.

We are our own worst enemy.  We do not have to do all things, even if all of these things are good.  Sometimes I entrap myself over a perceived “good goal” by taking steps to move toward it—knowing all the while that living out the goal will be painful.

Solace

If we focus on the good with a certain amount of reverence, then that good is very likely to show up in our lives. We can be reassured of it.

Comfort in times of difficulty is very real when we turn to God in prayer, especially if we have first calmed down by meditation.

If the world seems to be too much with us, then find a quiet corner and settle down with our Creator on our minds and hearts.

He will always find us when we turn in His direction.

Destiny

I think we plan our lives before we are born.  If so, given that I have always spent much time in thinking about what I should do next, I’m sure I planned carefully on the other side. 

I once had an intuition that my growing-up years went just as intended.  I wanted to emphasize working hard on academic pursuits and developing the impetus to achieve.  Now when I question the advisability of all that, surely some balancing act is taking place.

All of us enter life with a script that is filled with challenges and hurdles meant to build Character in the highest sense possible.  But, as Wordsworth says, we forget about this intention (“. . .Shades of the prison-house begin to close/ Upon the growing Boy, . . . .” 

Consequently, we attend alumni reunions with a bright smile, making conversation that lies about a successful life with rarely a cloud in the sky.  Instead, we should drop our masks and admit that life has been tough.  After all, we planned it that way—each and every one of us.

Prayer of the Heart

Sometimes the unconscious guides us to a certain familiar pathway as a warning.  If I find myself gazing vacantly out a window and fantasizing about the future, the future that I see is best avoided.  But remember not to try too hard to predict the future; probabilities change.

                                –

Reality offers what I really want–the prayer of the heart. (A Course in Miracles, M-21.1:3-4)

At Home in Love

Do we have “free will”?  I once read someone’s remark to the effect that we act as if we do when we cross the street, so why not assume that we do? 

Many years ago I was in a frame of mind in which unlimited possibilities seemed open to me.  The salient aspect of this period of time was that I was living with an attitude filled with love.  In making decisions, invariably I would come to a fork in the road.  It seemed that I could choose either way ahead and—this the questionable part—that either would be equally “OK”—just different ways to work out my destiny. 

Maybe we really do live in a safe universe when we are at home in Love.