“Weekends are the worst,” I repeated, on yet another late Friday afternoon. In case he hadn’t heard me the first dozen or so times.
My imaginary inner professor sat playing with my puppy Morgan on the grass of the nearby park to which I had fled all summer when the going got rough as it inevitably did. Ignoring me, actually, like everyone else on this planet motoring through indifferent space. Dodging God knows what new celestial torpedoes aimed from lightyears away in its general direction.
“Have I mentioned I barely made it through last weekend?” I asked.
Above his mask, his brows shot up the way they do.
“You know, that long weekend? You would think that would simply increase the misery by a third but as we well know it actually has an exponential effect.”
Morgan continued to bat around the tiny red Kong I’d stuffed with food as instructed by the trainer, who led our puppy head-start class, as a magic panacea for dog behavior problems large and small. All of which Morgan seemed to be cycling through once again with a few new ones–including snapping at me when I tried to pick him up while he was playing or waking up–added in. All of which the magic Kong and other treat-based incentives had no effect on.
“Hey, Mister,” I said, standing above them, clapping my hands. “Watch me!”
I pointed to my eyes, as instructed by the trainer, directing the canine command to pay attention at the robed wonder, who was currently moving his jaw and clicking his teeth together, apparently to demonstrate to Morgan how to squeeze food out of the rubber toy.
Puppy and professor locked eyes with me.
“Good boys,” I said, and continued to pace around them.
“Have I mentioned it’s the weekend after Labor Day? I mean, Labor Day?”
Yup. The pandemic had chewed off and swallowed another season, had anyone even noticed? Much like the disaster film of Fourth of July 2020, the record-breaking heat had continued, this time with smoke from fires that had raged throughout Colorado and the West most of the summer raining ash on our heads in Denver, a perpetual twilight haze obscuring the mountains in the distance.
As with the last three-day weekend, people had seized the extra day off to congregate outdoors in large numbers, more often than not mask-free and too close for safety from COVID-19. Even though celebrating a day honoring the labor movement and the workers who built the infrastructure of our country and continue to maintain it seemed poignant at best given the number of people still unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
The Reality TV versions of the Democratic and Republican conventions had come and gone, both sides of the American electoral psyche on ever more polarized display, fanning the flames of righteous defensiveness and scorching the tattered fabric of our threadbare sense of union.
To make dream matters worse, on the personal arena, true to his nature, my husband had been spending most of his time in our small, fenceless front yard right outside my office window, working on outdoor projects involving noisy machinery while frolicking with our little puppy largely off leash. Causing my already hyper vigilant fight-or-flight neurons to fire on all cylinders on Morgan’s behalf. Unleashing constant conflict as our dog inevitably took off to chase (largely unmasked) passersby or the occasional rogue rabbit or squirrel.
“I heard the pandemic has forced us to rely on the lizard part of our brain at the expense of higher functioning gray matter charged with reasoning, cooperating and empathizing,” I said. “Seriously, I’m not making this up! I heard it on the radio. It explains a lot, right?”
His eyes widened. Morgan crawled into his lap, collapsed and yawned.
The morning after Labor Day, temperatures had plummeted from the upper 90s to the 20s as record-breaking snow cleared the Colorado air and calmed the fires even as the flames of hell tore up the West Coast from California to Washington State, devouring homes and too often their inhabitants. Leaving air in cities like San Francisco, Portland and Seattle where my daughter lived essentially unbreathable, while certain politicians and media outlets continued to deny climate change.
An ever more fraught presidential campaign had heated up, too, as predictions of a contentious, combustible election day and beyond, along with the risk of a fall and winter surge in coronavirus cases, soured the early tint of autumn leaves and taste of pumpkin lattes.
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said. “You’re asking me to remember that all of these things that seem to be robbing me of peace, happiness and safety are really just “outside pictures of the inner condition” of my unconscious choice to align with the inner teacher of guilt. Arising from the hidden belief that I separated from God. But I still feel so unfairly treated and am just so, well—mad! I mean, I still identify as a body and I’m here to tell you my body is screaming ‘danger!’ these days all the time. Danger I can’t control. Danger those who maybe could won’t.”
I had been reading and teaching from A Course in Miracles MANUAL FOR TEACHERS that emphasizes the need to remember our shared interests in the one split mind outside the dream of bodies competing for survival in a threatening world. Ever unconsciously striving to position themselves as the relatively less guilty ones to assuage the fear of punishment for the secret belief that we pushed God’s Love away forever. Ever auditioning for the role of “most unfairly treated” before God who, in truth, knows nothing about foolish fantasies.
By intentionally changing the purpose of our lives and relationships from a prison of guilty separation to a classroom of true forgiveness we begin to recognize the same need of every heart/mind to heal and find our way home. Along the way learning that nothing in the dream has the power to threaten our peace of mind or disrupt our eternal connection with unconditional love. Learning to withdraw our faith in the ego’s defensive thought system while developing a trusting relationship with Jesus/Holy Spirit, the part of our mind that holds the memory of our uninterrupted union with our Creator. Currently sitting beside me and playing tug of war with Morgan and his rope toy. Completely unconcerned with countering my arguments.
But how to find shared interests with those who seem to revel in defying my wishes and ignoring my requests? Shared interests with another side of the American electorate that seems intent on plundering the values I longed to believe the country of my seeming birth held dear against all evidence to the contrary I’d accumulated over so many years?
I sat down beside them.
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said, staring out at that “purple mountain majesty” I hadn’t even been able to see through the smoke last week. A poetic phrase from a patriotic song (America the Beautiful) penned right here in Colorado.
He patted my back. “You usually do,” he said. “Eventually.”
“It’s like you say in Chapter 27, ‘The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. For you could not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.’
The Course does not force us to defend an irrational positivity about a world dreamed up to deliver the punishment the one Child of God believes he has coming for the “crime” of separation that never really happened. Instead it provides a real, sane alternative, the only real alternative for healing that false belief at the root of all suffering. Leading us to the awareness that everyone is fighting the same hard battle of striving to prove they really exist at God’s expense but it’s not their fault. Blindly dreaming their own version of our imaginary experiment in individuality in which they are the beleaguered ‘hero.’
When we choose to take the ‘tiny, mad idea’ of separation seriously, we’re all guilty, self-absorbed fugitives mindlessly searching for someone guiltier to blame for a mistaken choice we’ve deliberately forgotten. Seemingly at the mercy of a world filled with constant threats, struggling to get our endless needs met from unreliable others perceived outside ourselves, seeking for love and whatever we think will keep us safe where it can never be found.
We’re all suffering from the same, sick delusion. Husbands, politicians, voters, puppies. All secretly yearning to discover we’re wrong about ourselves. To remember a strength, peace, innocence and all-inclusive love not of this world.
We sat in silence a while. Except for Morgan, who continued to growl as Jesus tugged the rope he so loved to tug back.
“Did I mention my houseplants have also been exhibiting all six signs of trouble according to Living Simple magazine?” I asked, after a while.
He threw back his head and laughed.
Morgan leapt off his lap and into my arms with a delighted bark.
I had to laugh, too.
(NOTE: For those of you concerned about little Morgan, I found a suitable lawn stake and tether to help keep him safe in our front yard! :))
“The world but demonstrates an ancient truth; you will believe that others do to you exactly what you think you did to them. But once deluded into blaming them you will not see the cause of what they do, because you want the guilt to rest on them. How childish is the petulant device to keep your innocence by pushing guilt outside yourself, but never letting go! It is not easy to perceive the jest when all around you do your eyes behold its heavy consequences, but without their trifling cause. Without the cause do its effects seem serious and sad indeed. Yet they but follow. And it is their cause that follows nothing and is but a jest.
In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause, and looks not to effects. How else could He correct your error, who have overlooked the cause entirely? He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed. Perhaps you come in tears. But hear Him say, ‘My brother, holy Son of God, behold your idle dream, in which this could occur.’ And you will leave the holy instant with your laughter and your brother’s joined with His.
The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. For you could not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.
This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes. The Holy Spirit will repeat this one inclusive lesson of deliverance until it has been learned, regardless of the form of suffering that brings you pain. Whatever hurt you bring to Him He will make answer with this very simple truth. For this one answer takes away the cause of every form of sorrow and of pain. The form affects His answer not at all, for He would teach you but the single cause of all of them, no matter what their form. And you will understand that miracles reflect the simple statement, “I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo.”
Bring, then, all forms of suffering to Him Who knows that every one is like the rest. He sees no differences where none exists, and He will teach you how each one is caused. None has a different cause from all the rest, and all of them are easily undone by but a single lesson truly learned. Salvation is a secret you have kept but from yourself. The universe proclaims it so. Yet to its witnesses you pay no heed at all. For they attest the thing you do not want to know. They seem to keep it secret from you. Yet you need but learn you chose but not to listen, not to see.
How differently will you perceive the world when this is recognized! When you forgive the world your guilt, you will be free of it. Its innocence does not demand your guilt, nor does your guiltlessness rest on its sins. This is the obvious; a secret kept from no one but yourself. And it is this that has maintained you separate from the world, and kept your brother separate from you. Now need you but to learn that both of you are innocent or guilty. The one thing that is impossible is that you be unlike each other; that they both be true. This is the only secret yet to learn. And it will be no secret you are healed.” (A Course in Miracles Text 27, VIII., paragraphs 8-13)
from Forays In Forgiveness https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/salvations-secret/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=salvations-secret