Most of us are familiar with that toe-curling, tummy-twisting feeling of shame over something that we did or said and which we feel is irreparable. Whether it was 5 minutes ago or 50 years ago the memory produces a similar contraction and this can occur whether our error (as we perceive it) was minor or a ‘biggie’.
Recently I found myself talking with a friend about something she felt deep remorse over and which has weighed heavily on her heart for years. Self-forgiveness appeared out of reach and the ‘soul-eating’ emotion of shame (as described by Jung) was impacting on her life, behaviourally and physically. Of myself I found it difficult to find the right words, yet in turning to A Course in Miracles the help simply flowed. Sharing ‘what came’ allowed greater awareness and the warmth of healing light into my friend’s heart, and my hope is that what is written here may be helpful to anyone who may also be carrying a similar burden.
In navigating life’s inevitable and at times startling changeability and flux, over time my go-to mantra has become simply ‘I could see PEACE instead of this’ – from A Course in Miracles Workbook Lesson 34. ‘I could see peace instead of this’ settles me right back into that place of calm and surety, right back into remembering my path and my goal, and that I do not walk it alone. It assists me in getting back to my centre, from where I am best able to handle things.
It’s called A Course in Miracles, so what exactly is a miracle?
A miracle is a shift in perception
A miracle is a shift in perception, from fear to LOVE, from what is ‘false’ to what is True, from illusion to Reality. It’s a shift in perception over to the thinking of the ‘right-mind’, and is not a modification or a change of your thoughts. You literally move from one way of thinking which is the ego’s way of thinking to the thought system of the Holy Spirit, which is also within your mind. The big thing is that we have the CHOICE between the two – that’s our greatest power.
My reflections on walking the Camino de Santiago Compostela, Spain
In June 2012 my dear friend Sue invited me to join her on the Camino, the ancient pilgrimage that traverses northern Spain from St Jean in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in western Spain. After much deliberation, a few weeks prior to Sue’s planned departure I said ‘yes please, I would love to join you!’ The back-pack was purchased, as well as comfy walking shoes. After packing far too much and with great excitement, Sue and I set off on the 27th June. After a journey via Istanbul and Madrid, we joined the Camino in a small town called Sarria, and in total we walked approximately 110km to Santiago, which qualifies us as ‘pilgrims’. The full distance for the Camino is 780km and takes 6 to 8 weeks to walk. We covered the distance much faster than we expected so we carried on a further 50km to the coast, to the very ‘end of the world’ at Finisterre, the official end of the Camino.
‘Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes.’ W.188
If you’re despairing of humanity, thinking there are too many of us and the world (or our country) is going to pot, and all of that exhausting stuff that is the content of so much conversation at present, then I would urge you to head into your local Pick n Pay or other supermarket (preferably in a smallish country town) – and definitely make sure you do so on pay day!
One day at ‘month-end’ I had the experience of being hugga-mugga amidst my fellow White Riverines, all busy doing their month end shop. Initially as I bravely forged my way into the fresh veg section my internal ‘preciousness’ told me this was going to be a nightmare. But I kicked that thought into touch and decided no, this was going to be awesome. And it was!
I recently overheard an earnest mother describe that she has the ‘perfect family’ – the perfect husband, perfect children, a perfect life. I was impressed and thought my goodness, that sounds unusual and it had me thinking about what that could possibly mean. Did it mean that everyone in this woman’s family was well-behaved, beautiful, healthy, kind and loving with no problems, doing good in all their endeavours, and certainly no dysfunction, and therefore ‘perfect’? It sounded way too good to be true. I confess a little cynicism crept in, as how could anyone have the perfect family?
From my own experience and from general observation it’s clear to me that a ‘perfect’ family in which everyone is perfect simply does not exist. Looking around I muse to myself that if perfect people and perfect families do exist then what are they doing on this planet?! However, in a contemplative moment a thought occurred to me that this proud mother was actually not far off the mark. Every family IS perfect, but perhaps not in the way she was meaning.
With many justifications as to how others are not like us the ego uses the vast array of people and characters in our lives (and the world at large) as proof that we are different which keeps the belief in separation alive. In particular those who behave in ways we find unacceptable are so different to us because ‘evidence’ proves it! On the other side of the ego’s coin of judgment, those who we revere or place on a pedestal are just as separate from us, as we perceive them as not ‘ like us’ either.
However, if we are willing (and this requires some humility) to accept that we are all inherently the same, with similar needs, desires and human foibles, it becomes easier to bridge the gap and to go beyond those differences that seem so real.
This means that
You cannot be hurt, persecuted, offended, insulted.
Only the ego feels and identifies with these things;
You are not the ego; you are not the body; you are not the personal self.
You are Spirit, you are Pure Love, you are Innocence.
You are whole, healed, unassailable, eternal and changeless
‘Spirit is in a state of Grace forever’
This Easter I have been reflecting on when I first read ‘The Message of the Crucifixion’ (which is part of ‘The Lessons of Love’) and how extraordinary I found it. I could not believe this! Here was a message so very different from anything I had ever been taught. It was literally mind-blowing as it blew apart everything I had learnt in my exposure to the Christian message, and it blew apart my own attachment to and beliefs in suffering, guilt and victim-hood. I will explain why.. and I do hope that what I share will be helpful to you, dear reader, and perhaps interesting too.
Firstly, I had always found the Christian message troubling as I understood it and interpreted it; it simply didn’t resonate with me, particularly as a child and I mean no disrespect to others who have found solace and great enrichment in the acceptance of the traditional Easter message in their own lives.
The world is fraught with much discussion, analysis and media activity regarding illness – focus and trends vary, and in particular cancer appears to dominate. The entire subject is fraught with complexity; with unanswered and seemingly unanswerable questions and the topic absolutely vibrates with fear. The ‘prevention of cancer’ joins the ranks of an infinite arena of pursuits designed to takes us down the labyrinthine rabbit’s hole of ‘health’. Complexity is the ego’s game. ‘Seek but do not find..’ and as long as we’re seeking ‘out there’ for the answers, for the golden key, the magical preventative, we will not look deeply within our own heart-mind, into our conciousness – wherein lies the cause.
When tempted to judge myself or a brother or sister, reading John Kehoe’s words (from his book A Vision of Power and Glory) has at times been such a help to me in providing the spaciousness I need to allow in compassion and forgiveness.
John’s piece below reminds me that we all struggle and we are all humanly fallible. A Course in Miracles teaches us that we are not ‘human’ – we are eternal, invulnerable Spirit. However it is through our human-ness, aka our illusory body, that we experience healing, and it is through our human-ness/body that we extend love and forgiveness – this being the true use of the body.
The journey of remembrance – and of life itself – is an ‘epic odyssey’ as John Kehoe describes so well. I have always loved this piece and my hope is that his words are helpful to you too.