The Prodigal’s Return, by Ivor Sowton

I wanted to let you know of the A Course of Love USA Facebook group if you haven’t already heard of it. The group is centered on the audio recordings of the “first receiver” or channel of A Course of Love, Mari Perron, reading the chapters of ACOL. Currently the group is discussing via Facebook posts their own response to hearing Chapter 9. The group is open to any sincere student of this Course, so look it up and join in for some wonderful support, encouragement, and co-creation in Unity and relationship.

Chapter 9 is The Prodigal’s Return. It is one of the longest chapters in the whole work, probably because of its centrality to the entire thrust of Jesus’ essential message in A Course of Love. “You are the prodigal sons and daughters welcomed constantly to return home to your Father’s safe embrace.” (9.29)

The chapter begins with Jesus helping us differentiate between true feelings of the Heart and our emotions. Our true feelings are like a beacon Home, for they already know of giving and receiving pure love. But our emotions are twisted distortions of these true feelings, because our body-identified egos “speak the language of the separated self rather than the language of your heart.”(9.2)

I can feel what He is talking about here more deeply now. I can see myself constantly trying to grasp or cling to the things I think I’m lacking in my life, trying to use them to fill that gaping Void inside.

There is a deep discussion of use and abuse in this chapter. Abuse is seen as simply a more extreme case of the mercenary use we have all tried to impose on our world. The first thing we try to use is our own bodies, which Jesus clearly states that we made up in order to stay separate from each other! And we follow up on this miscreation by then setting up the body as our master rather than our servant, so we can say “my body made me do it!” I can really feel this in myself now. Better late than never!

In keeping with the title of Jesus’ new dispensation to us in A Course of Love, it is the Heart in us that can see through the separation ruse and start to draw us back Home. We have an internal guidance system in our own hearts—our very center. So in spite of the ego’s attempt to hijack these feelings into fear, trying to get us to “control or protect” the very little we think we deserve, we have a chance now to see this fear for the illusion it always was.

This requires great self-honesty. I actually love the strong language Jesus employs here in calling our separated state a nightmare world, because it does not allow me to use denial or deception as I did before. As a prodigal son I have no joyful present or future if I’m still trying to beat out the competition in that grim scenario of the survival of only the fittest. We’ve settled for that nonsense so very long, and we have to get good and tired of it before we look any deeper, it seems!

It’s like I’m finally willing to stop running and trying to hide from God. And Jesus gives me a very big Shoulder to lean on as I do the inquiry He asks of me in this chapter. He gives so much encouragement! Here’s one example: “Child of God, you need no imaginary (ego) friend when you have beside you he who is your friend always and he who would show you that you have no needs at all.” (9.31)

It seems so important now to stop and honestly appraise my life with the help of that Mighty Friend. Like the image in A Pilgrim’s Progress , all I really have to do is drop my burden of all that ego baggage at the Lord’s feet. I had thought I needed all that stuff—achievements, status, security—but I finally saw that with the ego in charge none of this was fulfilling at all!

The chapter goes on to circumvent some common reactions to our dawning realization of prodigality, like suddenly feeling huge guilt or shame, or by seeking to bargain with God as if He is our banker: “You would prove to God that you can “make a go of it” before you would ask Him for His help.”(9.34) These common reactions prevent us from forgiving ourselves, which is just another ego ploy.

Gradually we realize that we’re all in the same boat here! “All your vast wanderings will be seen for what they are. All that you desired will be revealed as only two desires, the desire to love and the desire to be loved. Why wait to see that these desires are all that call you to the strange behavior that you display?”(9.48)

Indeed, why wait!?
-from Ivor Sowton


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