by Celia Hales
We of the Course community owe a lot to Hugh and his wife Gayle. He died on November 15, 2010, from a presumed heart attack, but he had not been ill, and now he is not really gone. Already he is making his presence known from the Other Side, as reported in The Holy Encounter, a publication of the Miracle Distribution Center (publisher Beverly Hutchinson MeNeff) in the January/February 2011 issue.
Gayle reports: Hugh “made me pet Binkley [their cat] much longer than I wanted to. Saturday he informed me that he was glad he didn’t have to clean the house.” These are the lighthearted moments, which we so need right now, those of us still in this world. But Gayle also recounts several other anecdotes designed to describe Hugh’s influence from the Other Side toward a gentle and communing spirit in daily life with his immediate family.
Jerry Jampolsky, in the same newsletter, reports hearing Hugh’s voice when Jerry awoke in the middle of the night, saying, “Jerry, Jerry, A Course in Miracles is absolutely correct. It is all a dream world you are in. It is all illusions. It is time for you to not stop laughing at all the stuff we took so seriously.”
This second report underscores a passage from one of Hugh’s (and Gayle’s) early books, There Is a Place Where You Are Not Alone (Doubleday, 1980). This is the first of the Prathers’ books that was directly inspired by ACIM, their very first attempt to put into words all that ACIM was coming to mean in their lives:
“Today, as every day, you have agreed to sit in a special movie theater and play a game. The theater is very comfortable and is equipped with the ultimate in ‘sensurround’: it simulates every sensory experience appropriate to the script. On the screen is playing a story of your life which you never remember seeing. Everything has been made so real that you could easily forget that it is just a movie, but the point of the game is to not forget Anytime you start to decide what you, the main character, should do next, special equipment will detect this, and a pleasant voice will say, ‘It is only a movie, and you cannot decide what the main character will do next because the script is already written. So please sit back and enjoy it.’ If you add one more fact to this exercise, it will be true to life: You wrote the script. (p. 196)”
Hugh wrote his last column for The Holy Encounter a couple of weeks before his death. In it, he has these intimate revelations:
“There is indeed ‘a still small voice,’ but I need to have more faith in it, because it speaks as clearly to life decisions as to seemingly innocent conversational comments. The voice is every present, but my faith in it is sporadic, and I am determined to change that. (p. 13)”
The same early book, There is a Place Where You Are Not Alone, has this telling assertion:
“What I now see, and what anyone can discover for himself, is that this intuition, this quiet sense of direction, is always present and can be consulted directly. (p. 29)”
If Hugh, gentle and advanced teacher of A Course in Miracles that he is, still had trouble at the end in following guidance consistently, how much more can we forgive ourselves when we, too, don’t follow guidance?
On a personal note, I recall an encounter with the kind spirit of the Prathers, in this case, Gayle.
I wrote to the two of them some years back, asking the name of their editor. I had written a book inspired by A Course in Miracles, and, as I told Hugh and Gayle, I thought that their editor might listen to what I had written with a “friendly ear.” After a very long time, I arrived at work one morning to hear Gayle’s sparkling voice on my voice mail. She apologized for the delay, which had happened because my letter had to be forwarded to a new publisher. And she gave me the name of their editor. Her voice sounded just like I would imagine an advanced teacher of God would sound–friendly, sweet, and, above all, willing to be helpful.
And her editor responded to my manuscript. She gave me several lengthy paragraphs of critique, much appreciated by me.
It is clear that Hugh has not really left us. He is very much still interested in this world, though we don’t know everything about the Other Side, and he may go on to other interests. I can imagine him talking to Bill and Helen (co-scribes of ACIM) right now.
May all of us ultimately leave this world the better place that Hugh made it by his presence and his love.
Note: Information about The Holy Encounter can be found at <www.miraclecenter.org>.
The manuscript about which I consulted with the Prathers’ editor is available on the web at <http://elainehill.wordpress.com>. Its title is Images in a Reflecting Pool.