Barbara Hoff Varley
(Reproduced by permission of Robert Varley from the Fourth Edition, January 1999. Copyright 1989 by Sharing Miracles, Houston, Texas. Cover design by Suzn Hilvers. ISBN: 0-87418-334-0
Thank You Holy Spirit! Thank You Jesus! Thank You God! Amen.
I first "met" Barbara Varley through the mail in 1977. She went by the name of Barbara Hoff at that time, and she began ordering sets of A Course In Miracles from our Foundation, which was the publisher of the Course. We wondered what someone was doing ordering several sets every month or so, since this was the early days of the Course, and we knew nothing about Course "groups".
Barbara's letters to us, when she sent in her orders, were filled with love and peace, and when I finally met her and Robert the two of them proved to be living examples of the kind of feelings her letters had expressed.
Over the years, Barbara and Robert Varley's "Dovemobile" was guided to visit me in California at irregular intervals. Yet every visit with these two people who devoted their lives to teaching the Course was an experience of unconditional love. Many people today study the Course. Barbara and Robert lived it!
Their recollections of how the Course helped them live a life based on Trust is an inspiring account. Their life together reminds me of one of my favorite quotations from the Course; the one that begins:
I am here only to be truly helpful.
Robert Skutch, Tiburon, CA January 30, 1989
In September of 1981, I was sitting in the swing in Donna and Stan Tyler's back yard in Houston, Texas, talking with Jesus. He asked me to do three seemingly simple things for him. . ."Love our brothers, share My music, write the story of your lives since you began A Course In Miracles." (ACIM) The last one seemed the most difficult for me.
Oh, how I have resisted the writing. Today is May 30, 1982, and so far only four of the stories have been written down. I've had so many considerations about writing: "It's too much work. It takes too much time. I don't do it well. It takes too much concentration.
My resistance finally became intolerable last week and I asked Holy Spirit if I really should write. I wanted to be highly motivated to do it, or let it go! The answer I received was, "You are not in a position to receive the next 'gift' until you complete the telling of these experiences. Reading these stories may help make the path of ACIM easier for others. Is that not reason enough to do this book?"
When Barbara told me she had been guided to write the tales of our adventures living the teachings of ACIM, I was very supportive. We are having many powerful and enlightening experiences as we practice living these truths. And I've always considered Barbara to be effective in communicating a story.
I really didn't think I would be participating in the writing, until it became apparent there were places that called for my point of view. After all, there were two of us experiencing these things. Even with that logic, I felt resistance. Writing this book is yet one more undoing of this limited idea I have been holding of who Robert is.
The summer of 1982, Robert and I were speaking for the Sunday services at the Fort Collins, Colorado, Unity church. We had been giving seminars almost daily for the previous three weeks and we were eager to have the next several days alone, driving to southern California. We agreed that, God Willing, we would leave immediately following the second church service, to have lunch alone in the van, later. Please notice, we add 'God Willing' to all agreements, so that Holy Spirit finds us open to any other plans He may have for us.
During the second service, I kept noticing a couple sitting in the congregation. After the service, I felt moved to go speak to them. Almost immediately, I found myself asking if they would like to have lunch with us. Soon as I realized what I had said, I thought, "Oh, no!" Excusing myself, I went to tell Robert what had happened. He gracefully surrendered to this new plan from Holy Spirit. The couple gave us directions to their house, and left.
When we arrived. we met several more friends joining us for lunch. Everyone had so many questions to ask us. . .how did we get into ACIM, how long had we been studying ACIM, how do you get in touch with guidance, etc., etc. I laughed and said, "This makes it obvious why Holy Spirit is having us write a book about our experiences studying/living ACIM. People seem to want to know these same things."
Meg Waters, one of the guests for lunch, became very interested. "Who's doing the typing for your book? I love to type. Can I type it for you?" I again burst into laughter. I had recently told Holy Spirit that I hoped someone would type up all these stories I had written.
I questioned Meg for a bit, making certain she was sincerely wanting to do this enormous task. She again said she loved to type and really wanted to serve in this way.
Later that afternoon, leaving Fort Collins, and driving on towards southern California, we were joyfully thanking Holy Spirit and Jesus and ACIM for teaching us to listen for and to follow guidance, no matter how 'disruptive' it seems to our personal desires. Holy Spirit knows what we really want and need!
Not only has Meg typed the manuscript three times, after each round of editing and additions, she has made suggestions as well. One valuable idea was her request to have Robert's perceptions included. Robert had steadfastly clung to his idea that he hated to write, didn't write well, and that this book was my Holy Spirit job. Meg's request for his stories changed his mind. Slowly but surely he began to make time to sit and write. Hallelujah! Not only did his writing enrich this book, Robert became a wonderful partner in editing, rewriting and organizing. His powerful and creative influence permeates throughout.
THANK YOU, MEG. May everyone who reads this book send you blessings and appreciation. WE LOVE YOU!
After four months of studying A Course in Miracles I came to the part in the Manual for Teachers entitled "Jesus Christ". I was hesitant to begin reading it. Up to that point in my ACIM study, I was stimulated and inspired by the logic and simplicity of the teachings. Now, what would I read about Jesus? If it was the same old stuff I had rejected long ago, then the whole ACIM could be ruined for me.
As I read, I realized that here, finally, was Truth about Jesus. I shed tears of relief and gratitude. He was my Savior. He, by His life and teachings could and would save me from years and lifetimes of struggle, anguish and pain. By His life He showed us in those final days before and during the crucifixion, that nothing on Earth was worth our losing peace. Jesus was seemingly betrayed by one of his best friends, publicly humiliated, beaten, spit upon and finally crucified and apparently killed, and through it all He held His peace. Not only did He hold His peace, He forgave them all . . .not for what they did, but "they know not what they do."
Anyone giving us an example which has the potential to save us from our fearful, hurtful, angry ways is certainly our Savior. I very definitely consider myself saved through Jesus Christ, and one of His disciples and teachers. I am living His teachings as best I can, as instructed in ACIM. As the Bible quotes Jesus' commandments as love God and each other and self, Jesus' teachings in the Bible and ACIM are the same in content.
The last section in the Manual for Teachers on Jesus says that if we will invite Him into our lives, He can help us even more and make following His teachings easier. It seemed to me that I would be a stubborn fool to resist help which is obviously needed on this journey. I closed my eyes and said something like, "OK, Jesus, You finally got me. Please come into my life and be with me through this transformation; and please save me from every bit of suffering and pain You possibly can. Thank You for never giving up on us." As I sat there, I felt peaceful and calm and certain that I had just done a wise, and powerful thing.
I treat Jesus as one treats any dear friend. . .I talk to Him often; I share my pains and joys with Him; and the more I do, the closer and more real our relationship seems. His presence in my life is joyous and wonderful. I glow thinking about His love in me.
As we began telling people about Jesus in our lives, I noticed people were uncomfortable hearing the name Jesus. There is so much fear, anger and guilt associated with Him. Robert recognized embarrassment concerning Jesus. He meditated about this and remembered something he had heard years ago. . .a song that went, "I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I got my plastic Jesus sitting on the dashboard of my car. . ." Robert had the idea that his 'cure' for his Jesus embarrassment was to put a plastic statue of Jesus on the dashboard of our car for all to see. When he told this to me, my mouth fell open. Everyone I knew had made fun of that 'plastic Jesus' song when it came out! What would people think of us, seeing one on our dashboard? I said as little about the idea as possible, on the premise that maybe if I ignored it, it would go away! He didn't mention it again either, to my relief, and after a few days I forgot it and figured Robert had too.
Weeks later while driving through Louisiana, we exited Interstate Highway 10 into the town of Sulfur to buy some groceries. Next to the grocery store was Bible book store and we went in to look around. I heard Robert chortle with glee and turned to see what he was up to. Oh, no - there it was in his hand. . .a 42 cent plastic statue of Jesus! He told me he had looked in a number of Bible bookstores and had almost given up. I couldn't believe this was really happening.
As we left the store we were laughing about a finding a Jesus statue and actually putting one on our dashboard. Robert got some tape while I wiped off dust. We were still giggling as Robert stuck the double-backed tape on the bottom of the statue and pressed it to the dashboard. As we sat back to look at the Jesus statue we were suddenly overcome with tears and a deep feeling of love and peace. We sat quietly for a while, inwardly thanking Jesus for His Eternal Love, basking in the glow.
That Jesus statue was wonderful reminder of Truth to me the years it was on our dashboard. It was also quite a conversation piece. I loved having it. After buying the van, it became obvious that the statue was to stay with the Plymouth. We gave the Plymouth to Bec Oswald, who did the beautiful artwork on our first music tape "Holy Spirit Sings" and "Holy Spirit Sings Songbook." She was delighted to have the car with the 'famous' Jesus statue.
We had been given a lovely small picture of Jesus which Robert framed and hug right above the van windshield. It is a constant reminder of His Teaching: "Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love."
In late summer of 1976, Robert and I had been teaching a technique combining the power of breathing, relaxation and thought. We were directing a training center at Campbell Hot Springs, in the foothills of the High Sierra in northern California. We were pleased with our lives, our relationship, our work. They were all about as good as most anyone could expect. We both felt pretty lucky and smug.
The set of ACIM Jose gave us was from the first printing in 1975, and had no information at all included about what these books were. When we glanced at the introduction to the first volume, the Text, and read, "This is a course in miracles. It is a required course," we thought, "What nerve! Imagine someone saying this is a required course!" So, we looked everywhere we could think of for the author's name. . .and even more nervy. . .there was no author listed!
Neither Robert nor I had been able to find practical value in Christianity or any 'regular' religion, and we were teaching the 'Universal Laws of Truth' using terms like 'cosmic mind' and 'Infinite Being' and 'Infinite Intelligence'. The use of Christian terminology in ACIM was not appealing to us. We had already read so much and had great resistance to reading more 'Truth' books. We rejected all three books and put them away.
For six months, we gave no further thought to the three blue books collecting dust in the main lodge. Then we noticed some dramatic changes during a visit with two friends whom we hadn't seen for quite awhile. They seemed so radiant, calm, joyous. We enjoyed being around them even while cynically watching to see how long they could keep it up! To our surprise, not only did they 'keep it up", we felt more radiant, calm and joyous when we were around them. We finally asked them what they had been doing. They said they had been working with ACIM. Our response was, "Oh, no! Not those books again!"
We also began receiving a few letters from friends who had done trainings with us at Campbell Hot Springs, saying they had ACIM and thought we should really look into it. Some of these letters had questions asking us our opinion of ACIM. Our universe seemed to be pointing us to ACIM!
One afternoon we reluctantly gathered up the three books from the lodge and went up to our cabin to take another look at them As we thumbed through, Robert and I looked at each other in wonderment, asking, "Do you really think we're supposed to do this stuff?" Then, one of us found the last two paragraphs in the Introduction to the Workbook. In essence, what we read said, "You don't have to like this material, you don't have to understand it, you don't have to believe it, you can even actively resist it, none of this will matter. If you will just do this material, as directed, the results in your own life will show you that it is true."
That did it! Still knowing nothing about the source (Source!) of ACIM, we scientifically, coldly, set out to work with it, as instructed. . .a daily lesson for 365 days. We did a lesson each day. . .as the instructions said. . .whether we liked it, understood it, believed it or felt resistance or whatever. We also read small bits in sequence from each of the other two books. Within two weeks it was virtually all we wanted to talk about. We could see that we were in the presence of Truth. Best of all, it was practical. Our morning ACIM study became so valuable to us that, when necessary, we got up at 4:00 a.m. to have time to do the next lesson, meditate, read a section in the Manual for Teachers, and read the next few pages in the Text. Robert and I are not 'dabblers'.
Soon after we had begun working with ACIM, we noticed others becoming inspired to begin their own study of these books. I wrote the Foundation for Inner Peace a letter in which I said something like this: "Dear Ones, You don't know who I am, but I have been working with ACIM for several months. As Training Director at Campbell Hot Springs I can share ACIM with many people. I would like to have sets of ACIM here so people can immediately begin their work in it while they are with us. I haven't the money to purchase sets and then sell them, but if you all will send me some sets, I will mail the money to you as they are sold."
Over a month went by with no reply to my letter. Then one day, a UPS truck drove up and left 24 sets of ACIM for me! Within days I had sold several sets and mailed the money to the Foundation for Inner Peace. Soon I received a letter from Judith Skutch, president of the Foundation for Inner Peace, in which she said they had received guidance that I was to be given the resale bookstore discount!
"Nothing you do can change Eternal Love." ACIM: C-5.6
One afternoon, after four months of our ACIM group, a group of us had meditated together and were beginning to stretch, breathe deeply and resume 'regular' consciousness. Suddenly, I had an inner vision, seeing the words "You stay here, Robert goes to India." These words were in three dimensional block letters with the edges in flame. I also 'heard' a deep voice repeat the words!
Before I could speak, a deep wrenching sadness welled up in me and I burst into sobbing. The sound of my sobs was the first indication to anyone in the room that anything unusual was happening. As I took deep breaths and observed these feelings, everyone else sat around quietly. All during this experience of outer sadness, I felt a deep inner peace, a calmness, a trust that all was well. In a while I was able to share with Robert and the others what had happened.
Friends had recently traveled in India and were urging us to go. Robert and I had been asking for guidance about this. That only one of us would go had not occurred to us. However, in a deep inner place, we both felt the correctness of this guidance, even though our emotions were fluctuating from peace to fear of loss, and back to peace again.
As instructed in the Text of ACIM, we had asked the Holy Spirit to enter into our relationship and transform it from a 'special relationship' to a Holy one; from a relationship based on 'what can I get from you' to 'how can we in this relationship be used to serve'. Our experience with the Spirit of Love - 'God' to us now - in our lives was so strong that we were willing to trust that anything Holy Spirit guided us to do would be more wonderful than we could ever imagine. So we understood that if our being together, Robert and I, was good, then whatever situation Holy Spirit was leading each of us to would surely be as good or better. And of course, the only way to keep revealing the truth of what we were learning was to follow the guidance.
Later that day, at a staff meeting, I found myself feeling agitated and distant. All I could seem to do was stay as calm as possible, breathe, and slowly walk back and forth in the room, repeating to myself our ACIM lesson for the day. I watched myself suddenly turn to the group and say, "I'm not here; I'm going to go find out where I am." With that, I walked out of the lodge and up to our cabin, feeling very strange. As soon as I put my hand on the doorknob, I again heard an inner voice, "Return to Houston, you have much teaching and learning to do there."
I went into the cabin and lay down on the bed. Holy Spirit was sending Robert to India and me to Houston. A complete, radical change for us both. We were to be on opposite sides of the world!
In an hour or so, Robert came up to the cabin and I told him I had received further guidance and that I was to go to Houston. We both sat silently looking out over the beautiful Sierra Valley. We wouldn't be seeing it or each other for much longer . . . maybe never again . . .
I went through my things and the following day invited the Campbell Hot Springs community and some friends in the Sierra Valley to come to our cabin. I watched all my furniture, stereo set, lots of clothes, jewelry, dishes, pots and pans disappear in the hands of friends, many of whom left generous donations.
I was soon free to quickly and easily move wherever Holy Spirit wanted me. I felt both elated and sad, and fluctuated between those two emotions. We continued out daily ACIM work. It was a lifesaver!
Robert was wonderfully supportive, and was mentally packing the Plymouth, wanting to help me use all available space. The first things to be packed were 20 ACIM sets left from the shipment received only the week before. Whatever room was left, I would fill with personal belongings.
Four days after receiving the guidance to return to Houston, I was packed and ready to leave. Although Robert was not scheduled to leave for India for almost a month, and I could have waited to leave for Houston until then, my urging to go was so strong that neither of us could withstand it. We had some thoughts of clinging together until the last possible moment, but our separate journeys had seemingly already begun. Both of us felt the tremendous energy that I was to go now.
Unknown to Robert, I had secretly hidden away one of the newly delivered sets of A Course in Miracles. We had been using just the one set of books that Jose had given us. Now that we would be studying separately, we would each need a set. On the inside front cover of the Text, I wrote "To Robert - You were the first miracle in my life . . . my soul mate. I love you, always. Thank you, I'm grateful to you. I fully appreciate you . . . Barbara."
The night before I left, I gave Robert the new set of books. It was an especially tender moment for us both. We were feeling amazingly courageous . . . allowing Holy Spirit to send us to the opposite sides of the earth (look on a globe) and trusting that this apparent separation was for the very best for each of us individually, for our Holy Relationship, and for the Sonship.
The morning I was to leave, we did our usual routine. We read our lesson for the day, meditated, read from the Manual for Teachers and then the Text, and then walked to the hot springs . . . timeless moments. I drove off later that morning in a light April snow. Corny as it seems, we yelled "I love you" back and forth until we were much too far apart to hear.
As I drove I had the distinct experience that I was living a dream that the "I" who I had thought I was would never really have control again. It was as if I was irrevocably in a boat on a river and since I couldn't tell the river where to go or have any real say about where the boat went, my only function was to choose to have a good experience with whatever happened from then on. "The Peace of God is my one goal." I was surprised to feel gloriously light and joyful. I had thought that the actual leaving was going to be extremely sad. Then I remembered the part in the Manual for Teachers where Jesus talks about "where he anticipated grief, he finds a happy light heartedness instead." Then I felt even lighter! A Course In Miracles had come true in my own personal life. I truly could trust that Robert and I were being guided towards the experience of Perfect Love, Perfect Peace.
A few hours after Barbara drove away we received a post card in the mail addressed to me and the staff. Barbara had stopped in Loyalton (15 miles away) and written us a love note. She had mailed it in time to go out in the morning delivery. What a thrill that was. Over the next few days we received 4 more notes, telling us of her joy and adventure in traveling toward Houston, and of her love for us all.
I stopped every three or four hours at roadside rest stops to nap and get refreshed. Experiencing an ever increasing sense of peace and well being, it seemed as if all I had to do was say, "Holy Spirit, I'm ready for another rest stop to appear," and there it would be around the next bend. Or "Holy Spirit, give me strength to drive another hour before I have to stop," and the hour would pass easily.
After several days of continual driving with periodic naps at rest stops, I told Jesus that I would love to stop at a motel for a hot shower and some 'real' sleep, and I added sort of as a test to see how far I could go in asking, "If it's Your Will, I don't want to have to pay for it!" After having made this request, I was very interested to see what would happen. I wasn't sure if that had been very 'Holy' or not - testing in this way - but I reasoned Jesus knew I was a 'beginner' at this and would understand.
Later, driving into Kingman, Arizona, I somehow 'lost' the highway and found myself in an old neighborhood with no idea of how to get back. This was untypical of me as I read maps and signs quite well and have a good sense of direction. I pulled over to the curb and said to Jesus, "What do you want me to do?" As I looked around, I saw a service station and felt an urging to turn in there, which I did, repeating the prayer from the ACIM Text:
A very overweight, unhappy looking man slowly came out to my car. I told him I was on my way to Houston and asked him for directions to get back on the highway. He looked my car over and said, "You'll never get there on those tires, lady!" I took a look and sure enough I had been driving on two very bad front tires. As much as I didn't want to buy two new tires plus wait for them to be put on, I could plainly see that I wasn't going to get much further on the ones I had. And I certainly wasn't eager to have a flat tire out on the highway. "Thank you, Jesus, for taking such good care of me," I whispered as I followed the man into the office.
As his men were putting the tires on the car, we sat in the air-conditioned office chatting. He began telling me that he had had several heart attacks that year and that he was not expecting to live much longer and really couldn't see why he should try to anyway . . . life was really very interesting. When he shared that, I knew Jesus hadn't led me there only to keep me safe by getting me new tires, but also be with this man. As I told him of my new life and the reason I had left California and was driving to Houston, he looked around in embarrassment and said he was afraid for his men to hear us talking about 'religious stuff". We sat in uncomfortable silence for awhile and then he blurted out, "I know you will probably think I have some ulterior motive in what I'm about to propose, but I don't . . . please believe me. There is nowhere in town we can go to talk privately because everyone here knows me, and I would love to hear more. What I want to suggest is that you follow me a ways out of town for several miles to a Holiday Inn, and I'll pay to rent a room where we can go and talk and I won't have to be worrying about who sees us. My family would be upset if they knew I was talking 'religion' to someone. I promise you you'll be safe and after I leave you can use the room to shower and sleep if you like."
At that point, I felt like running out of the office, but I took a deep breath instead and said, "Let me get quiet and see if this is what Holy Spirit wants us to do." Only as I closed my eyes and tried to calm my fears enough to listen to His guidance, did I remember asking for a free motel room! I practically laughed out loud. I was safe no matter how unorthodox this seemed. Jesus had everything under control. I told the man, "Jesus knows you are trustworthy, and I know I am safe." As soon as my car was ready, he drove off, with me following at a distance.
There is really nothing surprising about the rest of the story. Things went just as Jesus knew they would. The man and I talked and prayed for several hours. I got my free motel room, my shower and my sleep. Best of all, I learned how willing Jesus is to fulfill our requests when we are willing to do His Work.
I realized that by going to Houston I was being given the opportunity to enter a new situation and choose to be however I wanted. No one 'knew' me already. I asked Holy Spirit to show me how He would use me in Houston . . . how would He have me be? I was 'given' the idea to choose celibacy as a voluntary way of life. I would go to Houston as a spiritually focused celibate person, there to serve Holy Spirit. How peaceful and correct that felt.
The night of the fourth day of driving, I arrived at my mother's home in Houston, where I would stay until further guidance. She and I both found it hard to believe that not only was I not tired from the trip, I was actually elated.
I have been blessed with wonderful parents. My father passed on in 1964, and my mother and I have stayed very close. When I called from Campbell Hot Springs and told her Holy Spirit had guided Robert to go to India and me to come to Houston, she found the entire thing very hard to understand. She questioned, "If you love each other, how can you separate," and, "I thought you loved living in California," and "What will you do here?" and "How do you know it's guidance from Holy Spirit?", and, "How will you earn a living" and, "What is this Course in Miracles thing doing to you? Is it a cult?"
I found all of those questions virtually unanswerable except for the comment, "I just have to trust that what I'm learning is true. I have to live it, to really find out. If it is true, it will be obvious to anyone who is around me. If it's not, I want to find out, too."
After I had been living in Houston a year and was in my second year of studying/living ACIM, Mom asked for a set of ACIM so she could read it herself!
Almost immediately upon arriving in Houston, I received the thought, "Go to the Church." My previous experience with Unity had been when Robert and I visited the Reno, Nevada, Unity Church, an hour's drive from Campbell Hot Springs.
Being in Houston again (I grew up there) was just like being in a new city since I hadn't lived there for 17 years. I was amazed to drive up to a huge gold pyramid... Houston's Unity Church of Christianity. It was their Wednesday evening service, and I went inside asking Holy Spirit to guide my seating and use me however He wished.
I introduced myself to the perky lady sitting next to me who said her name was Jeannette Klemola. As we talked I learned she lived alone and was interested in having seminars in her home. The ease and effortlessness with which all this was accomplished was further evidence that I was, in fact, being guided.
The first month or so in Houston, I was awakening in the morning with a cold fist of fear knotting my stomach muscles. I had no job, and only $100 or so, plus my Plymouth. I kept asking Holy Spirit, "Am I to get a job?" I heard no answer and felt no guidance to look for a job. What I did 'hear' was, "Serve however and wherever you can. I will take care of you." Although I intellectually thought that was the truth, I still felt FEAR.
For months, now, I had been following my daily ACIM study routine: Each morning after doing some deep breathing and stretching and drinking a big glass of water, I read my day's lesson from the Workbook and meditated. Then I read the next section in the Manual for Teachers and finally, the next small section in the Text. (See the "Suggestion Sheet for Daily Work with ACIM" in the appendices of this book.)
When I came again to the section on Trust in the Manual for Teachers, I read and reread the part that says that trust is the foundation on which everything else rests. I knew that my cold knot of fear was the symptom of my lack of trust, so I committed to reading the section on Trust every day until I no longer experienced fear. I read the Trust section daily for five months and the results have been worth every minute.
"Serve," Holy Spirit kept 'saying' as answer to my fears. So, serve I did. I spent lots of time at the Unity Church during the day, talking with and counseling people who dropped by, addressing and stuffing envelopes, answering phones, hostessing the noon meditation hour and doing whatever I could do. I was meeting lots of people and often we would end up discussing ACIM. I also attended both Sunday services and each Wednesday night service. I was constantly repeating mentally, "I am here only to be truly helpful..."
Many times, Holy Spirit guided me to introduce myself to someone, and when I did, our resulting sharing was always deeply valuable to us both. I also began selling the ACIM sets I had brought with me.
Another way of serving which 'came' to me was making hospital visits. These visits took courage. I would go to whichever hospital I felt guided, ask Holy Spirit to continue directing me, and ask at the nurse's station, "Who needs a visitor?" I often was very critically looked over at this point. The nurses were, naturally, being protective of their patients' rights and didn't want to send some "kook" to disturb them.
I usually just stood there. At some point, the energy between us would 'connect,' they would sense my sincerity and would then send me to a room saying something like, "Room 202, Mrs. Moss ... real depressed." I would then thank them for their trust, thank them for the work they were doing and go gently knock on the door of the patient they had mentioned.
You can be sure that as I walked into the room I was mentally repeating, "I am here only to be truly helpful..." Each visit was unique. Sometimes we held hands, sometimes I gave a foot rub, a backrub, sometimes I listened, sometimes we talked metaphysics, a few times we talked about ACIM, but mostly it was the experience of "we are all loved and we can relax and enjoy this time together." On leaving, I was consistently joy filled. In fact, on the days when I was being stupid and listening to ego and feeling badly, I knew that if I would drag myself out to go make a hospital visit, I would be healed . . . and I always was!
"All that I give is given to myself." ACIM: W-126
I made over 30 hospital visits during those first months in Houston, and, amazingly, each person I visited always mentioned that they had in some way, "prayed for a visitor!"
"When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter" ACIM: T-8.III.4
Some of this early time in Houston, I spent attending various meetings. One Sunday evening, I was with a group in an apartment building. The energy was very loving and warm and we started singing. The apartment door was open and I suppose our laughter and singing could be easily heard.
I noticed a very large man standing in the open doorway, staring in at the group. By now it was nearly the end of the meeting and as we prepared to leave, some of us were hugging and telling each other how much we loved one another. The stranger continued to stand there watching, but presently he wandered in and began making flippant remarks, such as, "Hey, man, this looks like the right place to be with all these free hugs and everything." It was obvious he had been drinking.
My lesson from ACIM for the day was, "All that I give is given to myself. So I was sending blessings and love and acceptance to this man and when he came over to me I accepted his hug. As I left the apartment, I noticed he was following me.
Silently, I began talking to Holy Spirit, "What am I to do? Am I safe?" And I heard, "Yes, you're safe. I'm with you." So I continued walking.
the man stopped and called in a pleading voice, "Please wait." Suddenly he sounded completely different. Now I heard a special quality in his voice; I heard a call for help. I was immediately attuned to that very definite plea and as I turned to respond he started crying, "I'm so lonely," he said. "Watching all of you in there with your friends hugging and enjoying each other's company, made e realize how lonely I am."
I stopped, took some deep breaths, and waited for Holy Spirit to tell me what to do. Then the man said, "Would you come spend some time with me?" My immediate reaction, which I didn't express, was "No!" It was late and I wanted to go home. Furthermore, I was afraid. But after those initial thoughts, I spoke to Holy Spirit and said, "You know I don't want to do this, but You know that more than anything, I want to love what I'm learning in ACIM. Guide me." Immediately I received, "Go with him." So I did.
The man told me, "My apartment is right beneath the one you were in. That's how I heard everything that was going on and came up to look. Would you come down and be with me for awhile?" Again, something inside me went "Noooo-", but all of my spirit said, "Yes." Outwardly, I answered "Yes, and please understand that I want to be friends with you but that's all." that seemed all right with him. He didn't act surprised or resistant to that condition. I felt a little better.
In fact, I kept hearing, "Go on. You're safe. I'm with you." Taking many deep breaths and calling on Holy Spirit to give me strength to with this person, we walked down the stairs and into his apartment.
The moment he closed the apartment door, he started taking off his clothes! My immediate inclination was to scream or run out if I could, although he was blocking the door. But I kept hearing my lesson in my head, "All that I give is given to myself." I thought, "If I give rejection I will feel rejection and I know how terrible that is. If I act like he's horrible, then he will treat me as a horrible person would, and I don't want that either." Clearly he was either drunk or on drugs. And there he stood: a huge man matter of factly taking off his clothes and reaching for me.
I began telling him that I understood that he was lonely and that I would like to help ease his loneliness by being with him. I offered him a back rub. All the time I was talking, he was taking off my clothes. Again, the 'ego' me recoiled and wanted to scream or do anything but treat him with respect and appreciation and love, because it really looked like I was going to be raped. Spirit in me continued talking to him as if I experienced him as a kind, loving, wonderful Brother; which in fact I knew he really was.
I said to Jesus, "I know you're here with me. I know you'll give me what I need. I know I'm here only to be truly helpful . . . "
It was a peculiar experience, observing my reactions. One part of me felt apprehensive and anything but content, trusting and safe, and was simply viewing this bizarre scenario.
By now I was naked. He was naked. And I was being carried into the bedroom. Throughout this I maintained conversation, relating how I had also been sad and lonely at times. All the time I treated him as kindly and as patiently as I could. I was trusting, even though to the physical eyes it looked like I was in big trouble.
I asked him if he would experiment and let me give him a massage, let me rub his shoulders and be with him in that way. I explained, "You have nothing to lose. I'm not fighting or resisting you, I'm just suggesting that there may be something I can give you that may be satisfying." He was reluctant but he released me for a bit and I started stroking his head and massaging his back, talking to him and mentally sending him love. Then I began to relax a little and came to the realization that it was all right to be naked on this person's bed. This was Holy Spirit's healing work. When I understood that, I felt tremendously grateful and literally began vibrating with energy and power that I was experiencing. The realization that I was actually able to be in that kind of situation and yet feel loving and relatively peace was reassuring.
My peaceful state wavered when he rolled over and began kissing and touching me. I don't recall most of what I said. I was simply trusting that I would be given the right words. And somehow he relaxed again as I continued to massage him and talk to him. For a while, he even did some deep breathing with me. This cycle went on for several hours. First it would appear that he was relaxing and perhaps even falling asleep, then suddenly he would become aggressive again. My ACIM lesson kept helping me to remain as loving and as peaceful as I possibly could. I knew all I wanted back from him was love. I didn't want any violence or bad feelings. I didn't want him to do something he would feel guilty about.
At about two in the morning, I told him I had to use the bathroom. Much to my surprise, he released me. While I was in the bathroom, I prayed, "Please, I want to go home. I think I've done well tonight and I would really like to go home."
When I came out, I felt moved to say just that: "I'm ready to go home now." To my amazement, I asked him if he would walk me to my car. I was astonished to hear myself say that, because my desire was to get out of the apartment alone . . . fast.
I added, "It's time to go. I feel that we've both given a lot to each other and I would appreciate it if you would take the trouble to put your clothes on and walk me to my car."
He did! He put his clothes on. I was praising God and thanking Jesus, while telling this man how much I appreciated our time together, how much I had learned and how kindly he had treated me. I was amazed to discover that I was sincere. I really felt those things.
We walked out into the night. I felt enormous relief and gratitude. As I started to get into the car, he said, "Can I have your phone number?" Everything inside me reacted with horror. I wanted to say "No." I even thought of giving him a fictitious name and number, but again the lesson for the day came to mind, "All that I give is given to myself." Treat him with love and respect. I said, "Of course. I'll write it out for you." And I wrote out my correct name and phone number. I told him I was giving seminars on healing, relationships, and about how our thoughts affect our lives. I explained a tiny bit about ACIM and invited him to attend. He thanked me and helped me shut the car door. I started the engine and said goodbye, again, telling him how much I appreciated the time we spent together, and how much I'd learned by being with him. Finally, I drove away.
It was about a 30 minute drive to where I was living at the time and during that drive I was overjoyed. I had been blessed with the opportunity to live the truth; perfectly guided, perfectly safe and totally loved.
I hope that I have been of healing value to this brother in need and I think of him with thankfulness. He called a couple of times, always sounding drunk or drugged. Again, I would invite him to attend the seminars, but he never came.
Clearly Holy Spirit sent him to teach me that "nothing real can be threatened." The miracle of that night provided the opportunity for me to know with absolute clarity, that what I give, I receive. With faith and trust, Holy Spirit's guidance will overcome old reactive patterns and illusions. Truth applies to every situation without exception. It always works.
P.S. Who knows how the seeds of love which Holy Spirit planted that night are growing now. We can only be happy to give and not be concerned about the results of giving. I know my friend is healing, too. Why else would we have been together?
Holy Spirit began sending people to me for counseling.
Whenever anyone asked how much I charged, I always replied something like, "If you feel moved to make a donation I will receive it with gratitude." Sometimes Holy Spirit guided me to give them a donation!
At the beginning of a counseling time, I would repeat the "I am here only to be truly helpful. . ." prayer. The other person and I would usually hold hands, close our eyes, pray for guidance and then sit quietly listening. How much we learned in those sessions with Holy Spirit in charge. Truly, no worldly training could have prepared me for all the varied experiences Holy Spirit sent. My intention was to not judge the ideas that were given me, and to trust that Holy Spirit would always tell me the perfect thing to do or say.
I remember one time in particular. It happened the first few months I was in Houston and I was just beginning to feel confident that Holy Spirit would guide me perfectly. A lady I'll call Sue came to be with me and as were sitting quietly listening for guidance, what I 'heard' was "Teach her to do a yoga headstand." I had no idea if Sue even knew shat yoga was and the suggestion to teach her to do a yoga headstand seemed especially bizarre, since when she called to make the appointment, she said she wanted to talk about her computer programming job.
I mentally said to Holy Spirit, "What I seem to hear is to teach Sue to do a yoga headstand, but I'm not feeling full confidence to suggest that to her. I'm going to release that idea and if it's really from You, bring it back - if it's not, please take it from my mind."
The idea returned. Feeling foolish, I told Sue what I had 'heard'. To my amazement, she clenched her jaw, got very red and angry and said loudly, "No, not that again, not that again!" I could hardly believe her reaction.
She went on to tell me she had quit her yoga class because she was one of the last ones still not able to do the headstand and she couldn't bear how hopeless she felt about her seeming stupidity and awkwardness. She further shared that she often felt that same sense of hopelessness and failure, and that she could at least avoid it in one aspect by quitting yoga class. I asked her if she'd be willing to go ahead anyway, follow Holy Spirit's guidance, and practice a yoga headstand with me. She reluctantly agreed.
For the next hour or so, Sue and I attempted yoga headstands. Clearly she was defeating herself before each try, making negative statements to herself. I felt moved to gently correct only her headstand and not to comment on anything else. Holy Spirit told me to leave that up to Him.
After awhile, Sue sat up from yet another fall and said, "I just realized that I've been criticizing myself. I never give myself a chance. Learning that is even better than being able to do a yoga headstand. No wonder I'm so miserable at every job I've had. I criticize myself all the time. Well as of right now, instead of quitting jobs I'm going to quit the habit of criticizing myself. I'm going to quit what I really need to quit and, Holy Spirit, help me to do it."
Since then, I just go ahead and offer whatever I hear, no matter how strange it may seem. He's always right on target.
There are several places in A Course in Miracles where Jesus discusses the ego's use of the body as "bait to catch a fish," and as a thing "to hang trinkets on," etc.
I identified immediately with what He was saying . . . I was using my body to attract attention and admiration. Jesus makes it very clear that not only is that source of guilt and suffering for ourselves, but that we are treating our brothers in an unloving way.
"Well," I wondered, "how am I supposed to dress?" I got out all my clothes and asked for guidance about each item; "Is this what You would have me wear?" On many things, I hardly needed to ask. I had bought or made them with the specific purpose of attracting another body's eyes to my body, with either envy or desire or appreciation. I gave well over half my clothes away. As I did so, I felt such a sense of relief, of peace. "Now," I asked, "what do You want me to wear?" The answer I 'heard' (I'll talk about guidance next) was, "Wear gentle, soft, comfortable, simple clothes in colors that nourish The Light shining from within you. And always ask, 'Does this express the Christ in me?'"
Over the years of my ACIM study, I have gradually lost interest in wishing I had a 'perfect figure', shaving my legs and underarms (even though I'm hairy by American standards), having my hair 'styled', keeping up with fashion, wearing jewelry (I wear a wedding ring), wearing makeup or perfumes. I sometimes still wear a natural deodorant from a health food store (I'll talk about food later, too), and I'm thrilled to notice that the less I experience fear and upset in my life, the less offensive odor I have.
I feel moved to say very clearly that this is how I feel guided to dress. You, however, may be used in an entirely different way by Holy Spirit. The only rule about anything is to ask Holy Spirit to guide you in what's right for you in the way that he will use you to help heal the Sonship. It's all between you and Holy Spirit . . . and no one else. I sincerely desire to be an inspiration to you to follow your own guidance. Don't do what I do as a form, necessarily (eating, dressing, etc.), do what is the essence of my living - following Holy Spirit's guidance.
(I love you. I'm loving sharing all this with you! Close your eyes, take five long deep breaths right now and feel my love.)
This may be the ego's most fertile area for fostering doubt and confusion, guilt and fear. First of all, I am certain that if you simply (simply?) work daily with the sequential lessons from the Workbook of ACIM, whatever blocks you have to experiencing Holy Spirit's guidance will disappear. Just the fact that you are working with this material is proof that like it or not - Robert always says, "like it or like it" - you are being Guided whether you are aware of it or not.
Questions and concerns about guidance:
"How did I know I'm guided?"
"What if I follow the 'wrong' guidance?"
"Am I guided only if I hear a voice?"
"What if I and my partner (mate, roommate, business, etc.) receive 'opposing' guidance?"
"Will Holy Spirit's guidance have me do something like leave my spouse and children, break my agreements, get fat, give away all my money, quit school, etc.?"
"Will Holy Spirit's guidance make me look foolish?"
"Will I have to sacrifice/suffer if I follow Holy Spirit's guidance?"
Rather than discussing questions specifically, I feel moved to share my personal process in gaining trust in Holy Spirit's guidance.
As I began working with ACIM, which includes doing a lesson a day from the Workbook, my life seemed to get 'crisper' and less unconscious, less vague. I would notice a fresh thought waiting to be noticed, waiting for me to listen. It was obviously not an old rehashed thought, but something said in a new way, perhaps a new perspective. With a sense of excitement, I began acting on those thoughts to discover their validity. How else can you ever know for sure?
Trying to 'figure out' what to do always seems to muddy everything up. Noticing my thoughts about what to do in a situation, I try not to fight them. Instead I encourage them to come to my awareness. Sometimes I even list all of the ideas I have about something. When I'm empty, I say, "OK, Holy Spirit, I'm finished. I now ask You to guide me. Thank you." And then I just relax, trusting I will be guided.
Everyone has had the experience of asking and not seeming to receive. Yet, in the Bible, Jesus is quoted as saying, "Ask and you shall receive." In a meditation, I realized Jesus certainly was talking about guidance. Ask for guidance and you will receive it.
I decided to experiment with "ask and you will receive" as pertaining to guidance. As often as I could possibly think to ask for guidance during the day, I did. Whenever I would think of Holy Spirit, I would thank Him for guiding my life and ask Him to please continue. Then I would simply assume that I was guided, whether I heard a voice specifically or not. The results in my life proved to me that all I had to do was ask for guidance to receive it. I allowed myself to pause and be still often and would then notice what I felt moved to do.
The first part of the lessons in the Workbook is concerned with undoing the way we see now, so that we become willing to allow our lives to be guided by a loving, all-knowing source. I want to emphasize that doing the lessons in the Workbook clears your mind to receive guidance more easily.
I began to notice that although my ego wanted dramatic displays of guidance - loud inner voice, 'signs and wonders' - what I perceive most often are gentle urges, quiet thoughts, a suggestion from another person which resonates within me, etc. I experience guidance as a natural, undramatic fact of life.
No one gets excited when the lights come on after turning on the light switch. We don't expect the darkness to battle the light to see who wins. Once the light switch is turned on, darkness is simply gone. That's my experience with guidance. Once I've asked for guidance from Holy Spirit, ego has no power . . . when Light is called upon, darkness is powerless.
"But what if I somehow do follow ego guidance?" I am certain of the Holy Spirit as a Master Teacher and Helper, and I know that if we have somehow followed ego and yet continue to ask for Holy Spirit's guidance (whether we know 'we're 'off ' or not) Holy Spirit will simply take us wherever we are and make it good, not only for us, but for all concerned. I rather often say something like, "Here I am now, Holy Spirit. If I need correction in any aspect of my life, I am open and willing. Please continue to guide me. Thank you."
I notice that one of my barriers to my willingness to follow guidance is the desire for approval from others. Whenever I have gone ahead and followed Holy Spirit's guidance, even though I felt embarrassed at what I was guided to do or say, or when I knew that people would think I was crazy or even think I was unkind, it has always proven, sooner or later, that I was perfectly guided for the ultimate best for all concerned. For awhile, it takes a lot of courage to follow your guidance. It is a wonderful adventure in trust.
Following Holy Spirit's guidance is for me the most exciting experience this planet offers. It combines all the elements of mountain climbing, hang gliding, skiing, spelunking, car racing, surfing; dealing with constantly changing conditions, moving quickly into the unknown, feelings of leaping off into an abyss, struggle to overcome resistance, intense thrill and joy in process and results. It's a 24-hour-a-day adventure.
Again I emphasize that doing the lessons in the Workbook will open you to Holy Spirit's guidance. Until then, Holy Spirit does a lot of 'clean up' work. That is why we so emphasize do the lessons.
By the way, whenever I and another, or others, ask to be guided in some joint venture and we seem to receive 'different' answers, we are both obviously not truly open yet. It helps to acknowledge that. We can then release on what we thought we received, ask to be cleared and ask for an answer again. Sometimes we do this whole process a number of times. Lots of laughter, seeing we are hoping for a particular answer that we want. Lots of letting go that "my guidance is right," remembering that as ACIM says, "When any situation has been dedicated wholly to Truth, peace is inevitable."
It's quite an exciting experience when suddenly Truth comes through and harmony of purpose is felt. We can always sense when we've let go completely to Holy Spirit's guidance . . . such relief and love flow between us. Then it truly doesn't matter what the guidance is. We just want to 'hear' so we can follow.
I've noticed that Holy Spirit's guidance never has me neglect my job, my family, my ethicalness in the world. On the contrary, I seem to do a better job, and am more ethical, as a result of whatever Holy Spirit may be guiding me to do. Everyone benefits from willingness to follow Holy Spirit's guidance. Be not afraid.
"There is not a moment in which His Voice fails to direct my thoughts, guide my actions and lead my feet. I am walking steadily on toward truth." ACIM: W-60.4.2-3
After Barbara left for Houston, I began planning my visit to India. Although I did not have money to finance this adventure, I set the departure date, began making travel arrangements, and started letting people know I was going. Soon, my friends were organizing a 'going away' party!
I really didn't know where or how the money would materialize, so I started trying to figure that out. I thought of trying to work for it, though the amount I needed seemed a lot more than I would be able to make in such a short period of time. I thought of borrowing it, though I knew not where. Soon I found that the most I was doing was worrying about it.
When the departure date was one week away, and I was still without the needed funding, I finally chose to stop worrying. I found a thought that released all my concern: "If I am supposed to go to India, the means to do so will come. If I am not to go, all the struggling I could do wouldn't work." With this idea, came a certainty - not that I knew I was going to India, but that what was right for me would happen.
I continued with all the travel arrangements, except actually paying for the plane ticket, and I started looking forward to my going away party. If I ended up not going to India, we would have a good party anyway.
The money started coming - mostly as gifts. One friend gave me $100 and asked that I think of him while in India and send a postcard. Another friend gave me a check saying, "Use this for food on your travels." I received many gifts as expressions of joyously wanting to be a part of my trip. All of these gifts were spontaneous. I learned much about willingness to receive!
The night of the party arrived and my money supply had increased considerably. As friends gathered, I was asked if I was complete with my finances for the journey. When I said I was not, the one who asked pulled out some bills to add. So did a few others who had been listening.
My willingness to receive was again expanded as the party became a game in funding my trip. At one point, a friend said, "When you get to the last $5.00 you need, let me know." The person next to him said, "Let me know when you are down to the last $100, and I'll complete it for you." That got the game going in earnest, and five minutes later, I had reached my projected travel expenses of $1,500 - ready to go to India!
Two days later, I was on the plane. Two expected companions were delayed, so I traveled alone. I arrived in New Delhi at 4:00 a.m., about 30 hours after leaving the San Francisco airport. After retrieving my backpack from cargo, I set out to find a hotel room.
To get an idea how to go about doing that, I asked a fellow traveler, a westerner who seemed to know what he was doing, where to find an inexpensive room. He gave me the name of a hotel and directed me to a bus that would take me there. I was feeling rather confident as I watched how apparently simple this was all going to be.
The bus delivered me to a very large and modern building, which looked much more luxurious than I had expected to find in India. Knowing the economy of the country, I was expecting the rent for a single room to be quite low. The clerk responded to my request for a room by quoting a price of $30.00 per night. Maybe you can imagine my shock. I was expecting to pay no more than $5 or $6 per room. I went out the door to get back on the bus, but it was gone.
There was, however, a taxi. Finding the driver, I asked him to take me to a "cheap" hotel. He pretended to understand English, and off we went.
Now, I want to stress to you, as I did to him , I asked him that I didn't want to make the same mistake. This time I used and emphasized the word "cheap."
Apparently my driver did understand the word "cheap." As I sat back to enjoy the ride and some of my first views of India, I soon was seeing very deep poverty. The taxi pulled to the curb and my driver pointed to a drooping shack, just past the sleeping bodies strewn about the road and sidewalks. It was becoming light and some of the people were arising, rolling their mats and rags into bundles. I was more unnerved viewing this scene. As I found out later, my driver had brought me to the middle of one of the poorest sections of old Delhi. All of the stories of India's poverty, all of the pictures from National Geographic, were here before me in vivid life. I was hardly prepared for the experience of being in the midst of this. I did not get out of the taxi.
I told the driver to find another place more "expensive." He pretended to understand English, and off we went.
I was happy sitting in the taxi, calming my thoughts, while me driver periodically pointed and said, "Here"" I rejected each hotel, content to just travel about for a while. Gazing through the taxi window, I noticed the advertising sign for a particular hotel. I asked the driver about it, but he shrugged his shoulders, mumbled something, and kept on driving. Even though he pointed several more possibilities, was still thinking about the one hotel I had noticed. I didn't know why; it wasn't particularly different from the others; but here it was, still strong in my mind. So I told my driver to take me back to the hotel that I had asked him about. He acted like he understood me, and off we went, with him continuing to point out possible places for me to stay. I then realized that he didn't really understand my request, so I started giving him turning directions. I was looking for anything familiar, or that I thought might be going in the right direction to re-locate that hotel. I was amazed to find it again and eagerly went to the lobby desk. By then my money considerations were pretty insignificant. A room was available for $8.00 a night, which was more than I had wanted to spend, but that didn't stop me now.
In a few minutes I was securely settled into my room. I stayed there for a long while, breathing, relaxing, and focusing on my ACIM lesson for the day. I could hardly believe all that I had experienced in less than two hours in India. After a surprisingly short period of time I was feeling ready and able to be among people again. Walking two blocks to the edge of the city park at the center of New Delhi, I sat on the grass and watched . . . more cars each minute, more people out in the early morning sun, more joy and lightness in my heart.
After several enjoyable hours absorbing the sights and sounds of New Delhi and interacting with many interesting and intriguing people, the ever increasing heat drive me back to the relative 'coolness' of my hotel room. I lay down on the bed, reflecting on my first morning in India.
In a short while, a phone next to my bed started ringing. I was sure someone had connected with the wrong room since no one on earth knew where I was. I picked up the phone, and a voice said, "Robert?" I paused and finally said, "Yes?"
"Hi, this Geoffrey, from New York. Remember me? I met you last year."
I exclaimed, "How did you ever find me here?!" He replied, "I heard you were coming to New Delhi a couple days after me, so I reserved you a room here. I'm just down the hall from you."
"If you know Who walks beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible." ACIM: T-18.III.3.2
I felt complete - I needed nothing more. I was ready to return home. I may even have seriously considered returning, but for the condition attached to my economy plane flight which stipulated that I must stay in India for no less than one week. With this fact in mind, I aligned my thoughts to heading north toward the Himalayas as previously planned.
I carried my belongings in a back pack. I loaded the pack with the essentials, which, for me, included my set of ACIM. Those three books made a large percentage of the weight I carried, and I kept them with me the entire time. My work with them was a part of each day as I continued the lessons. In the two months of my travels, with many radical changes of location and living styles, I always found it quite possible to incorporate my ACIM study. More than once as I was reading, someone would express amazement that I would backpack with such a large book. When I would show them the other two books, their amazement would increase.
India was very much an internal trip, regardless of the exterior circumstances. The people I connected with, time and again, were deeply introspective. The insights and points of view I was receiving from my ACIM study, proved to be a timely gift of thoughts to share with fellow travelers, which of course continually helped clarify ideas for me. This is an aspect of my work with ACIM that continues still.
Possibly my greatest learning during my travels and adventures in India was to be flexible. Surprises and unexpected circumstances became the norm. The physical environment, relationships, transportation, food, religion and customs; each aspect of Indian perceptions, my judgments, fear and beliefs.
Each day brought a new ACIM Workbook lesson, and as I have heard so many ACIM students say, each day's happenings provided just the right opportunities to practice the lesson for that day.
Some of my lessons during the days surrounding my arrival in New Delhi:
"The world I see holds nothing I want."
"Beyond this world there is a world I want."
"No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth."
"I loose the world from all I thought it was."
Some of my lessons during two separate visits to an ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas:
"Heaven is the decision I must make."
"I will accept Atonement for myself."
"All things are echoes of the Voice for God."
"I am among the ministers of God."
A lesson during a train trip (very crowded and boisterous):
"I am at home here. Fear is the stranger here."
During this train trip, an Indian, covered with a skin rash and blisters sat next to me. I 'accidentally' brushed my arm against his and fearful thoughts of catching his skin disease flashed in my mind. You can probably imagine how I felt when, in a few days, my arm had a rash of bumps, just like his.
My lesson: "There is no death. The Son of God is free."
Two days later, with the rash on my arm focus of my attention, my lesson was, "Let not my mind deny the Thought of God." While contemplating this thought I had a sudden release from fear and a great sense of trust. In minutes, the rash had disappeared!
My lessons on the days before my flight back, when I was most confused about what I was to do upon returning to America:
"The Name of God is my inheritance."
"I want the peace of God."
I returned from India virtually broke. I had no idea what I was to be doing except to make my way to Houston and connect with Barbara. Simply knowing the next step is all I ever need know. When I arrived in Houston, Barbara and I talked for hours and hours. One of our topics was Trust. The willingness to live without trying to know the future takes courage. ACIM tells us, "Trust would settle every problem now." Barbara had been reading the section on 'Trust' in the Manual for Teachers every morning. That certainly interested me. I didn't particularly feel trusting, but I did keep taking that "next step" and that's exactly what I am continuing to do. I need know nothing else but where to put my foot down right now - and I notice I keep finding that step when the time comes to take it.
My mind has continued to try to project a future and from that projection, figure our what I'm supposed to do. I notice that I keep trying to figure it out until Holy Spirit tells me what to do, and then I do that.
I mentioned earlier that on the drive to Houston, I was given the idea to experience celibacy . . . no sexual expression at all. I had wondered what that would be like and now I was going to live it.
I loved it. I noticed an immediate sense of peace and calm. The way I walked changed. The way I used my eyes changed. I discovered that my old way of being was geared to attract admiration, desire and approval. I was amazed. What relief to begin letting all that go and relax. I now was wherever I was "only to be truly helpful . . . to represent Him Who sent me." I learned that sexual feelings could be simply experienced as love.
After three months of joyful celibacy I received a long distance call from Robert in San Francisco. He wanted to come see me. Now what was I going to do? I had been thoroughly enjoying my 'single holy lady' status in Houston and had no intention o f dropping celibacy. What would I do with Robert?
I assumed we would spend some time together and share all that had happened to each of us in the four months since we'd seen each other. Since I had not mentioned Robert to anyone in Houston, (I hadn't known if I would ever see him again) I told only a few friends that he was coming to see me.
When I picked him up at the bus station, I felt such deep, pure, holy joy at seeing him. We were delighted to be with each other. I was grateful for how easy it was to be together. I did notice that I felt uneasy at the thought of telling him about my celibacy.
We talked until 5:00 the next morning and suddenly, to the obvious surprise of both of us, Robert said, "We're to get married."
There was a long shocked silence as we realized what Robert had said. Both of us had been married twice and neither of us had any intention of marrying a third time. We each had felt complete and whole while apart. Neither of us had ever been in a relationship in which we didn't feel need. What would a marriage be like, that we didn't 'need?'
It was time to tell Robert about my celibacy and of my desire to continue being celibate. to my amazement, Robert shared he had also been celibate for months and was discovering much in the process. We both wanted to continue our relationship in a non-sexual way . . . why did Holy Spirit want us to marry?
We prayed together saying, "Holy Spirit, it seems as if you're guiding us to marry. We don't understand and we will follow You. If, however, we have somehow misunderstood and it's not correct that we marry, please put some little barrier in the way and we'll know not to go through with it."
Only four days later, with a dozen friends/family gathered, on July 20, 1977 at 6:00 p.m., in the pink-blossomed prayer garden of the Houston Unity Church of Christianity, Jane and Sig Paulson assisted by Barry Knowles officially married us. Our vows were: 1) to have this Holy Relationship be used by Holy Spirit however He Wills, 2: to use our Holy Relationship as a channel to expand and extend the experience of love in the Sonship, 3) to trust that we are both asking Holy Spirit to guide us in all we do, and 4) to nourish and support each other in realizing our Oneness with God.
So we were married. Our daily discipline became to awake at 6:00 a.m., do some breathing and stretching, read our ACIM lesson for the day, meditate, read from the Manual for Teachers and the Text. By then, it was somewhere around 8:00 a.m. and the phone would begin to ring. We were giving seminars and doing personal counseling in our home with many counselings by phone as well.
After we had been married a few months, a terrible thing happened.
I heard Robert turn on the T.V. in the living room. That in itself was unusual enough, but he turned it to a football game and not only that, watched the whole game.
The Robert I had known for several years now, never watched T.V., and wasn't interested in football. Who was this person?
He soon was watching T.V. sports often, reading two newspapers a day, ignoring most anyone who came over to see us, and eating huge amounts of popcorn and getting fat. Who was this person?
Whoever this person was I wanted to kill him. I felt betrayed! I was doing most of the counseling, phone calls, letter answering and seminars, and from the donations I received, supporting us both! If we hadn't been doing ACIM lesson each day, I don't know what would have happened.
Robert was continuing to do our two hour morning time together; although every morning I would really urge him to wake up. Sometimes he nodded off during meditation or the readings. Who was this person?
I knew, however - knew - that I was being given an opportunity to live - truly live - all the concepts I was learning from ACIM. Changing was not the answer. Only a personal inner change in me would bring me peace . . . nothing outside me would do it. I could see that each lesson every day truly lived would give me peace, but I felt murderous. What I couldn't see was how I would ever live that level of forgiveness and love. I wanted Robert to change.
I knew that was not only crazy, it was simply not Truth. Either Robert was as God said he was . . . sinless and perfect and holy . . . or Robert was like I thought he was. I knew God was right, but oh how my perception 'told' me differently.
Every time I would try to manipulate him through fear or guilt, I couldn't not see how I wasn't living my ACIM lesson for the day. I was the betrayer then! What I 'saw' in us both made me sick. I pounded my fists on the bedroom floor begging Jesus/Holy Spirit to give me the strength to live Truth. I knew that unless I lived it I'd never really know if it would do what Jesus promised. I couldn't give up. What if A Course in Miracles was really true?
Month after miserable month went by. There were times of peace and a lifting of grief for me, but they were few and short-lived. I mostly struggled with how I would ever overcome my anger. Each day's lesson seemed to show me my resistance in a new light.
I, of course was also going through quite a learning experience. The fear of a relationship commitment was familiar. Suddenly, once again, something was expected of me; I was indeed part of a team.
I considered leaving, only to remember that changing partners would merely delay my learning. True change comes only from within.
My study of ACIM was exposing the falsity in my perceptions. What it was teaching made sense to me. If only I could live it! My desire was strong. I could see that changing perceptions necessitated consistent practice. So, as much as I wished to get away from my discomfort, I stayed - continuing work with ACIM, in the midst of resistance, and thoughts of quitting.
And resist I did! I ate a lot, watched every T.V. football game I possibly could; read newspapers daily; kept my mind occupied with outer happenings. I didn't socialize much. I've been known to get pretty non-communicative.
I wasn't running away, but then I wasn't acting much like a committed team member either. Barbara and I have dedicated our relationship to being used by God in this world. This is the purpose in our being together. A statement made in one of the Workbook lessons is planted in my mind:
"The full acceptance of salvation as your only function necessarily entails two phases; the recognition of salvation as your function, and the relinquishment of all the other goals you have invented for yourself." ACIM: W-65.1
This point in time was a crossroads; to continue towards spirit would require all of me.
I don't recall any sudden enlightenment that quickly 'cured' my discontent. It was more of a gradual increase in activity, with projects and ideas to follow up. There were things to do. The world wasn't stopped by my momentary indecision!
As I look back now, I sense the power of love and trust that was in each of us and between us. We each knew (and knew the other knew) that everything that was happening was a lesson in loving; actually clearing up all the errors each of us had ever made in relationships. We were committed to transforming everything in us which was unloving. Neither of us had any idea it would take so long before we began to recognize that we were overlooking things with which we had previously found fault. We were enjoying each other's company more; we were working more as a team.
We are, of course, still correcting our errors in perceiving each other.
"Do I really wish to see him sinless?" ACIM: T-20.VII.9.2
After about eight months of married celibacy, eleven months of celibacy in all, I was 'told' in meditation that I still had rules about my life and that the only rule I was to have was to ask for Holy Spirit's guidance, and to be open to His guidance every moment. I asked to be shown the rules I was to release and one was definitely celibacy. wondering what would happen, I gave my 'sex life' over to Holy Spirit. Later that day I told Robert what I had heard and what I had done, and he said he felt guided to do the same.
Both of us had learned much from celibacy. We found ourselves able to express our love freely to others without concern about 'where it would lead.' We prayed together about giving our sexuality to Holy Spirit to be used as He would have it used, and then relaxed trusting all was well. Probably a week or so went by before we noticed feelings that could be channeled into sexual expression (that urge can be used in infinite ways) and when we asked Holy Spirit what He would have us do with this energy, we received, "Be together."
We felt like tow children, in innocence about what was happening and with no preconceptions. Each moment was new and complete and satisfying, and naturally flowed into whatever was next. Orgasm was not sought after nor refused. It was a very different sexual experience for us.
We have become comfortable asking Jesus to lead us, to be with us, to live in and through us. Sex is one aspect of our lives and we want Christ to guided us in sexual expression, and to be with us during lovemaking. We practice opening to whatever evolves under His guidance.
An interesting observation about sexual urges: If one engages in sex, the urge goes away . . . if one does not have sex, the urge goes away!
We have not felt guided to have children. However we did tell Holy Spirit that if He wanted us to, we of course would. We know that birthday and family life can all be transformed when put under Holy Spirit's guidance. Until further 'notice,' I use a diaphragm as birth control.
The idea came to us to have something like a business card to give to people we met. We wanted to have some kind of symbol, as well as our names and phone number and address, plus some brief words describing ways Holy spirit was using us. We also wanted to let people know we were available to serve in whatever ways we could, and the card would make it easy and simple for people to reach us. Aside from that purpose, we had no ideas about design, layout, symbol, colors or size or anything.
We asked out wonderful friend, calligraphist and graphic artist, Jeannette Klemola, if she would help us. (Jeannette designed the winged pyramid Unity logo for the Houston Unity Church.) She agree.
Early the following afternoon, the three of us sat in a circle, holding hands and telling Holy Spirit that we were willing and open for ideas to be given us concerning this card. After a time of quietness, I received the word 'dove'. How corny, I thought. I asked Holy Spirit to help me clear my mind. (I wanted something unique and unusual, of course . . . special.) The idea 'dove' stayed, to my dismay.
In a few more minutes, we squeezed hands, ending the 'official' quiet time and looked expectantly at each other. I told them that I didn't really think I had gotten anything - all I had heard was 'dove' and that was so overused and trite I couldn't imagine that was the symbol we were supposed to use.
After more silence, I remembered Charles Fillmore's books, "The Revealing Word" and "Metaphysical Bible Dictionary" and looked in them both for the word 'dove'. We were amazed by what the word/symbol 'dove' represents spiritually: peace of mind, trust in Divine Law, Holy Spirit . . . exactly what we were teaching/learning through ACIM! We added the word 'joy', and, in honor of the root meaning of 'Holy Spirit' which is 'whole breath', we added 'breath of God'. We now had the word 'dove' plus:
Jeannette picked up the paper with these words, told us not to disturb her for any reason and went to her studio. Robert and I looked at each other in excitement. What was going to happen?
Hours later, a smiling Jeannette emerged with the logo design. It was perfect. The more we looked at it, the more perfect it seemed. After quite awhile of being with this new 'entity', I realized that the logo explained entirely all the ways Holy Spirit was using us and, therefore, all that needed to be added was our names.
We have the logo on our stationery, it's been used on T-shirts, it's on the card box "Sayings from A Course in Miracles", and on many other things we share. It continues to speak for us. We received a letter from a couple who said they had used the logo on their wedding invitations!
Thank you, God. Thank you, Jeannette!
"No one is where he is by accident and chance plays no part in God's plan." ACIM M-9.1
Sunday morning in the late summer of 1978, Robert and I were at the Unity Church in Houston. We planned on attending both morning services, and were strolling around the various church buildings and offices during the half hour between. We wandered into Sunday school rooms and then turned into a large room containing chairs and teenagers. When we asked them what the room was used for, they told us it was a Y.O.U. room . . . Youth of Unity - a group of teenagers who meet to study Unity Truth Principles, and to learn how to live practical Christianity as a teenager.
As we were talking, I perceived a lack of organization and asked them what they were going to study that day. They responded by telling us the adult sponsor of their group had a family crisis and had called to say he couldn't come share with them. I blurted out, "Youall want us to share some Truth stuff?" There was an enthusiastic "Yes." So we did.
They invited us back next Sunday and gave us the name of the Y.O.U. sponsor to call. We looked at each other in amazed delight as we left the church. God had once again led our feet directly and effortlessly where H wanted to use us.
Upon talking with the couple who were the Y.O.U. sponsors we discovered that they were wanting to be relieved as sponsors and had been praying for the perfect replacements! They talk to the Y.O.U. officers and after our sharing as interim sponsors for several weeks, we were honored with an invitation to be the Y.O.U. sponsors.
Each Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, we met with the Y.O.U. We learned so much from each other. We participated in talent shows, spaghetti dinners, dances, rallies (regional Y.O.U. gatherings), car washes, bake sales, taking visiting Y.O.U.'ers roller skating, sunrise Easter services, Y.O.U. choir presentations, ushering in church, church wide garage sale, sharing mistletoe bouquets at Christmas, organizing and hosting a regional rally, and, then, oh joy, a week at Unity Village in Kansas City, Missouri, for the annual Y.O.U. International Conference . . . over 400 teenage Truth-lovers and their sponsors from all over the world.
There had been weekly fundraisers for month and months to raise money to send three of the most deserving Y.O.U.'ers from the Houston Unity Church as voting delegates to the International Y.O.U. Conference. Imagine how we felt when we learned that the wonderful appreciative Unity Church paid the way - air fare and all - for the Y.O.U. sponsors to attend and chaperone. We were all going to spend a week at Unity village as guests!
Some part of each day, all the sponsors met to share ideas. Robert and I were asked to give an hours' introduction to ACIM during one of the afternoon free periods. We agreed, the word quickly spread, and some of the Y.O.U.'ers, some of the ministerial students, and visiting ministers, as well as many of the sponsors, came to that afternoon ACIM Introduction. Afterwards, we were introduced to even more ministers and ministerial students and received many invitations to share ACIM seminars.
In the following months we began traveling so much, sharing ACIM, it became obvious that we were to pass on our role as Y.O.U. sponsors. Thank you, thank you, again and again, wonderful Y.O.U.'ers and sponsors everywhere. We are eternally grateful for all you taught is about living unconditional love.
YEA, GOD! (Y.O.U. yell)
During the same period of time that we were Y.O.U. sponsors, another situation involving teenagers occurred.
Robert and I usually read through the notices included in the Sunday program at the Houston Unity Church. One Sunday, to my surprise, I found myself re-reading a particular notice several times. It said something like, "County juvenile probation department will meet, Tuesday evening, with interested persons to show film and discuss experience of being foster parents running a group home for homeless delinquents. These youngsters would otherwise have to go to reform school just to have a place to live."
I remember thinking, "Oh, no, Holy Spirit! I don't eat hamburgers (we were vegetarians at the time), I like peace and quiet, I'm not interested in T.V., rock music, cars, motorcycles, smoking, movies, fads . . . those kids would be bored with us and we'd go crazy." Even after all those thoughts, I found myself reading the notice again. I was horrified.
I looked over at Robert, wondering what he was going to say when I told him what I was thinking. He looked up from reading the same notice and gave me a sort of helpless, questioning look. I remember thinking, "Oh no! What in the world is going on, Holy Spirit?" We prayed for willingness to be used however Holy Spirit wished and then relaxed.
When Tuesday came around, we still felt moved to go to the presentation. During the film and talk, we were undeniably attracted to the idea of running a foster home for teenage boys. We couldn't believe it. After the meeting we made an appointment with the director of the program. Something in me felt very out of control. Was this leading us to Holy Spirit's ultimate lesson in peace? Was this leading us to Holy Spirit's ultimate lesson in peace? This certainly looked like an ultimate lesson to us!
For several months we simply kept taking the next step. Our first appointment with the department head was filled with laughter. We shared our thoughts and described our way of living. She even became interested in what we were doing with these books called A Course in Miracles.
We met with many people, visiting existing foster homes and being with the house parents and talking to the kids, health departments, fire departments, real estate agents, writing up long, involved proposals. Before each meeting, we prayed the "I am here . . ." and acknowledged that we were willing to be used in whatever ways were appropriate.
One of the fun times for us was looking at huge houses for sale. There had to be lots of SPACE inside and out, bathrooms, and large kitchens and closets for all those boys.
Eventually, the next step was funding this project. Although we did all that we knew to do to get the money necessary to back this program, we didn't receive even one real offer of financial help. We prayed a lot at this point to be corrected if we had somehow done something wrong. The Y.O.U. even prayed with us. Nothing.
About this time requests to travel and share ACIM began coming to us. In looking over the previous months, we realized how many people we had met and with whom we had shared love. Many of them had begun working with ACIM. How much we had taught and how much we had learned! We knew that we had all been valuably used each other and had all been blessed. Who knows how many have been touched by these wonderful, loving, healing interactions.
"A miracle is never lost. It may touch many people you have not even met, and produce undreamed of changes in situations of which you are not even aware." ACIM T-1-I.45
Robert and I have experimented with a number of food disciplines. As of this writing we are attempting to follow the most difficult one we have found: we asking Holy Spirit to guide our eating. That includes food purchasing, cooking, eating - how often to eat, when to eat, what it eat, how much to eat. We are practicing giving over to Holy Spirit all our desires, all our preferences, all our ideas about what we 'should' and 'shouldn't' eat.
Previous to practicing the concepts of ACIM, I had spent several years taking megavitamin doses; next I ate a low-carbohydrate and high protein meal six times a day as a diagnosed hypoglycemic; then I discovered that breathing deeply and drinking a big glass of water eliminated my weaknesses called 'low blood sugar.' I also stopped using my mind to tell myself I was hypoglycemic.
About the same time we received our ACIM set, we learned of a ten day cleansing fast called The Master Cleanser. It sounded interesting enough for us two 'experimenters' to try. We loved it and chose to be vegetarians when we came off the fast.
To enhance our enjoyment of the change to vegetarianism, we began using wooden bowls and chopsticks, making a fun new game out of eating. After eating as vegetarians for two years, we discovered the concept of eating only uncooked foods - raw vegetables, soaked grains and seeds, nuts, fruits, sprouts. For the next eight months we ate only raw foods.
The results we noticed? We felt wonderful when we were in peace, and we felt varying degrees of 'not so wonderful' when we were out of peace! It seemed clear that the power was in our peace mind and not in the food we ate. At this point we were completing our first time through the Workbook lessons.
The books we read concerning a raw foods diet said it was probable that acute discomfort would follow if we abruptly switched switched to eating cooked foods. Many people invited us to dinner as a way of spending time together and we always had to go through the explanation of our diet or simply say "no." I also began to feel snobbish that we were eating a truly 'spiritual' diet and hardly anyone else was. Ego had obviously sneaked in once again.
I talked to Holy Spirit about this situation and what I 'received' was, "Now that you know you can follow such a strict discipline and stick to it, I want you to begin following an even stricter one . . . ask Me to constantly guide your eating process. Know also, that whatever your brothers serve you has been blessed by Me."
In the mail the very next day, we received an invitation to a Texas style barbeque! After a good laugh, we asked Holy Spirit if we were to go, and received, "Of course." That weekend we ate potato chips, coca cola, baked beans, spare ribs and chicken. Even after three years as strict vegetarians, with the last eight months consisting of raw foods only, neither of us so much as hiccupped from the effects of that meal! We now eat mostly vegetarian foods including lots of alfalfa sprout salads. The area of food has been difficult for both of us to really, clearly give to Holy Spirit.
One summer morning while it was still dark, Joan (not her real name), who was living in the house where we were staying, came into our room and said, "I feel awkward waking you, but I need you. My daughter Mary (not her real name) just called me and she's hysterical. She's just been raped. Would you go with me to her apartment? She's there now."
I knew immediately I was to go, and as I quickly dressed, I began a continuous conversation with Holy Spirit, "I am here only to be truly helpful . . . " Before Joan and I drove to Mary's, we held hands and prayed to be used however Holy Spirit wished.
When we arrived, Mary opened her door, looking confused and tearful. We three held hands and asked Holy Spirit to be with us and to teach us whatever lessons in love we each were to learn. We then sat quietly for a few minutes.
Mary began telling us what happened. She had worked very late and as she stopped her car on the street outside her apartment, a man came over and motioned that he needed directions to a particular street. When she rolled down the window, he immediately unlocked the door, opened it, pushed her across the seat and shoved himself into the car.
Mary was a student of ACIM, who was familiar with the concept that good can be perceived by every situation. She had felt guided to be minimally defensive, and to do her best to realize that this was indeed an opportunity to transform what was happening; to see through the eyes of Christ.
She said only only thing to him . . . "God loves you," and kept silent and non-resistant thereafter. Afterwards, to her surprise, he quietly thanked her and walked away. She went immediately into her apartment and called her mother.
Mary wasn't really hurt in any way, and as we talked, we surmised that this man had actually used Mary's body less than a total of five minutes.
I asked Mary what her ACIM Workbook was. She replied, "There is another way of looking at this." Amazing how the lessons fit.
It 'came' to me that we could all send him a blessing, and she agreed.
"Just think," I was moved to say, "if Jesus had come directly to you and said, 'Mary, there is a brother who desperately needs an experience of unconditional love. Could I use you to give him this experience? What would you have answered? It's obvious you did answer yes. You also reminded the man verbally that God loves him. Who knows what far reaching healing will take place because of your loving response. The healing can happen not only in this man, but in everyone around him."
Joan and I sat quietly while Mary showered and put on a robe. We felt no guidance to phone the police. In fact, we all felt joyful and loving, at the Holy Spirit's ability to transform what the world would call a heinous crime into a lesson in love for everyone concerned.
Mary then said she'd like to go to sleep. As we left, we hugged her and thanked her for being a powerful teacher.
Joan and I were very quiet as we drove home. We both felt such joyous release and gratitude to Jesus for all we were learning about the practical truth of love.
As we got out of the car to back into the house, Joan said, "I'm amazed at all that happened. Driving over to Mary's , I felt myself to be the horrified 'mother of the victim,' and now that feeling is transformed into joy and peace. I never could imagine, before, actually living the truth that 'Love is The Way' no matter what happened. Obviously, it either works all the time in every situation, or it isn't The Truth."
I guess I supposed that that was the end of the incident, but I was to learn more. Robert and I had been participating in a Friday night ACIM group for over a year. It was common for those who came, to share miracle stories from their previous week of practicing living ACIM. Although Mary's incident was indeed a powerful story, I had decided not to share it. I had the idea that it might be fearful to the inevitable newcomers who always came just to see what one ACIM group was like.
That Friday night, Joan turned to me and said, "Barbara, tell them about Mary's rape." Sure enough, there were six or seven newcomers in the gathering of about 25. Even so, I felt moved to tell the story. Obviously, it was supposed to be shared. As I told the story, I saw that 'rape' is a judgment. The world believes that there are victims and victimizers; that people are where they are by accident; that there is no higher purpose in life's circumstances; that there are statements we make other than "I love you" or "help me."
I pointed out that Joan, Mary and I had together asked to be guided by Holy Spirit and were all willing to do whatever He said . . . call the police, go to a hospital or anything else.
I remember how quiet the room was as I shared what Holy Spirit was saying through me and was silently praying that everyone would 'hear.' In several days, I received a call from a rather embarrassed minister. He told me about receiving a phone call from a lady who said I was condoning rape, and, since he know that couldn't be true, he was calling to get clear about the facts. Obviously, not everyone at the Friday gathering had 'heard.'
Mary later called and said she had more to share with me. It seemed that she had been raped twice before in the past few years, and for months following each incident, had been the center of attention of her friends, getting to be enraged and depressed and hysterical and having lots of people feel sorry for her. "This time," she said, "was completely different." She noticed wanting to tell her friends about this new "horrible" experience so she could get attention again, but had been willing to be released from that temptation. She was sure that now she had learned her rape lesson and truly felt grateful for the part everyone had played. Mary was through playing victim to get love.
"Under his teaching, every relationship becomes a lesson in love." ACIM T-15.V.4.6
Thank you, Jesus.
Neither Robert nor I had any interest in studying the Bible.
The week before Christmas of 1978, we were invited to three open house gatherings. Inevitably, one or more conversations became religious discussions. We discovered we could perfectly and lovingly communicate with people whose reference was the Bible. We were delighted, for we knew Truth communicates across religious doctrines.
An identical occurrence happened in these conversations; each one ended with our being told, "You should read the Bible." The first time, we smiled indulgently. The second time, we thought, "Oh, no. Is this Holy Spirit speaking to us?" The third time we said, "All right, Holy Spirit, we hear Your guidance. We can't imagine why You want us to read the Bible, but we will.
I bought a King James version, and Robert chose a Lamsa Bible. We also used several other editions of the Bible, plus Charles Fillmore's "Revealing Word", "Metaphysical Bible Dictionary", "Mysteries of Genesis", and Lamsa's Bible commentaries on the Old and New Testaments.
Each day following our ACIM study, we completed at least three chapters in the Bible. We finished our first time through in about eleven months. Thank you, again, Holy Spirit. We loved it! We continued reading from the New Testament every day for a year or so and now read from the Bible whenever we feel so moved.
We were invited to speak to a Presbyterian singles' group for a Sunday morning class and afternoon seminar. The day before we were to speak, the minister called and said he had been urged by a member of this congregation not to allow A Course in Miracles in the church. I told him that if he felt reluctant in any way to have us come, we would cancel the sharing; we were only interested in teaching peace, harmony and oneness. He asked us if we could do the class and seminar without mentioning ACIM and I said, "Let me ask Holy Spirit if that's what He would have us do."
When I asked Holy Spirit I received a definite "Yes"; so I told the minister we could and would. We knew the truth in ACIM is taught in the Bible and that we could teach whatever Holy Spirit sent through us solely through our knowledge of the Bible.
Driving to the church that morning we were eager to experience the day. Before we left we had prayed the "I am here only to be truly helpful" prayer, and reminded Holy Spirit that we were not to mention ACIM and that we trusted He would keep us to our agreement. We spoke for five hours that day and never once mentioned ACIM. We did refer to the Bible frequently and happily.
Afterwards in our van preparing to drive home, Robert and I looked at each other and exclaimed, "He did it through us and it was so easy!" We also remarked to each other how much our appreciation for ACIM had grown and expanded. Without a 'course' for a daily, systematic practice, they would probably have a more confusing and difficult time implementing these ideas into their own lives. We truly realized how valuable a tool ACIM is. Of course, the fuller appreciation of ACIM that we gained that day, could never have happened had we not followed Holy Spirit's guidance to study the Bible!
A Wonderful Real Estate Agent
Until very recently we have lived with others from the time we met . . . a room for ourselves in a house where at least one other person lived. Each time when it became apparent that we were to move on, Holy spirit had the next place already lined up.
After about a year and a half living in Houston, we were quite involved in a full schedule of counseling, seminars, correspondence, speaking engagements and, once again, felt that things were really working well. Following a seminar we did on ACIM at the Houston Unity Church, a couple approached us and said they wanted to spend time with is. We met again the following day and to our surprise they asked us to come live with them on their farm halfway between Houston and Austin.
I remember feeling quite resistant. I loved our life in Houston and couldn't imagine that Holy Spirit intended us to move to be with only two people out in the 'boonies', instead of serving hundreds of people in Houston.
These new friends said they felt strongly that we were to do this move with them, gave us a map and encouraged us to go visit the farm and ask for guidance while we were there. On the drive out to the farm, we did lots of talking to Holy Spirit. After several hours walking around, neither of us felt an urge to live there, and we left.
Back in Houston, we told them we appreciated their offer but were not feeling guided to accept it. Howdver, as Robert and I shared with each other several days later, we both noticed our minds deciding what we would take with is on the move to the farm! EEK! What was happening?
We drove to the farm once more. On the drive we told Holy Spirit, "We don't want to move. We can't imagine leaving the work in Houston, but You know that if You want us on this farm we will go joyfully."
This time, as we drove onto the property, a feeling of peace and love filled us both, and in joy and amazement we turned to each other and said, "Welcome to our new home!"
The six months on the farm was such a gift to us. We spent several hours in spiritual devotion every morning, meditating on our Workbook lesson for the day, reading from the Text and Manual for Teachers, and reading through the Bible. In the afternoon we meditated with music. Early evenings, we often read again from ACIM. In between times, we read everything we could find about Jesus; from the Rosicrucian point of view, Urantia, Essenes and others. It was a glorious time of deep quiet study. We continued doing counseling by mail and phone.
We would like to acknowledge the wonderful, generous ones who have so lovingly invited us to live with them in their homes. You have blessed our lives indeed.
Jeannette Klemola - six months
Jim Brown - 1 1/2 years
Darlene and Phil Cutler - six months
Dick and Ellen McDaniel - four months
Stan and Donna Fisher Tyler - 1 1/2 years; and when we started traveling constantly in November of 1981 they became our "Houston Angels" who forwarded all our mail, etc.
THANK YOU ALL!
In the fall of 1979, a friend gave us a little box of cards printed with Bible verses. He knew we had been studying the Bible and thought we would enjoy them . . . which we did - very much. We used them like Chinese fortune cookies. After a meal, we would pass the box of Bible verse cards and often have long wonderful discussions about the verses we each drew and what they meant to us.
We found ourselves wanting a set of cards with thoughts from ACIM; ones that would be either soothing and calming, or inspiring and uplifting, or perhaps a spiritual kick in the pants! Robert and I began reading an hour daily through all three books of ACIM, looking for appropriate 'sayings.'
As we began selecting various sentences as possibilities to be included, we clarified a further criterion: we wanted the 'sayings' we chose to be fairly easy to understand. We felt it was important that the cards could be enjoyed by our families and friends even if they weren't consciously studying 'Truth.'
Within a year, we had marked over 300 places in our books. Before we read them over, we prayed for guidance in our selections. As we read, we were moved by the power and simplicity of these thoughts. We agreed that both of us had veto power and it was OK to lobby for a particular selection; however, we both had to agree for a 'saying' to be included.
I retyped the selected 'sayings,' cut them into strips of paper with a 'saying' on each strip, and placed them in an envelope so we could carry them around with us.
For months, wherever we were, we would pull out the 'sayings' envelope and pass it around to whomever wanted to choose one of the 'sayings.' It was success in every way. We adored having it to share and unquestionably so did everyone else.
People began wanting sets of 'sayings' for themselves. Months passed as our traveling and sharing ACIM increased dramatically. We just didn't seem to find the time to design the cards themselves - what size would they be, how thick, what kind of type, what color stock, what color ink, what should the box be like, where does on get boxes made, and on and on.
Finally our wonderful friends Donna and Stan Tyler began pressing us to get the 'sayings' cards finished. One night the four of us went through all of the 'sayings' in the final selection choosing only the ones all four of us okayed. One veto and the selection was eliminated . . . except if someone else wanted it set aside for one more consideration. There were about 10 set aside that were reviewed again. We had a laughter filled 4 or 5 hours doing this process; lots of teasing and lobbying and insights.
When we were complete, we counted them and discovered that there were to be 218 "Sayings from A Course in Miracles." Now we had some numbers to deal with when considering all those other questions. Donna and Stan were wonderful, as usual, finding box-making companies, printers, filling in the missing parts between 218 typewritten strips of paper and a box of 'sayings' cards ready to be shared.
By now, it was January 1981. Donna had received a beginning calligraphy set from Stan as a Christmas present and had done a little practicing. Around the middle of January, she told us she had the thrilling idea to write each 'saying' in calligraphy rather than have them typeset. We were all in support of this wonderful idea. Donna assured us that we would write each saying until it looked perfect to her; she knew there could be thousands of duplications made of each one. Imagine learning calligraphy as Donna did . . . practicing on each powerful thought!
In November, 1981, we took the first 1000 boxes with us to share during our travels. Our first stop was Denver, Colorado Unity, where we felt moved to put out 40 boxes. After the evening sharing, those 40 boxes were immediately gone. Robert went out to the van and brought in cases of unassembled card sets and boxes. People were soon sitting all over the platform, putting sets together. We shared over 80 boxes that first night!
As of the summer of 1983, over 8,000 boxes of "Sayings from A Course in Miracles" have been shared, and still the orders come from all over the world. Haven't heard from China, yet! I just reached over to the 'sayings' box where I am sitting and writing, and pulled a card to use to close this story:
"I am alone in nothing. Everything I think or say or
do teaches all the universe." ACIM: W-54.4
A Course in Miracles is a self teaching tool. Our purpose is not to try to teach ACIM, but to be teachers of God. We want to let people know about ACIM, but to be teachers of God. We want to let people know about ACIM, to share our experiences of working with it, and to inspire others to work with it. 'Seminar' perfectly describes our intention, for the root meaning of the word seminar is 'seed plot.' In June of 1979, we did our first 'official' ACIM seminar at the Houston Unity Church of Christianity. Since ACIM was still quite unknown, we were surprised when well over 100 people joined us for the seminar.
The two day experience was a joyous time. We all felt that the end of the second day came too soon. As we completed our closing prayer and thanksgiving, a woman said aloud, "I don't want this to be over!" Indeed, it was almost an hour before the room finally emptied. In the next couple of days, many people communicated to us that the seminar was a main topic of discussion.
We received a phone call the following week from a secretary at the church. She had been telling some visitors from Unity of Nashville, Tennessee, about our ACIM seminar, and they really wanted to meet us. Could they come over to see us?
We invited them to lunch and had a wonderful time together. They asked us to come to Nashville and introduce ACIM at their church. We gave them dates when we could travel, and suggested their minister write us if he would like us to come. We all prayed together to do God's Will in this. After they left we wondered if it would really happen.
A few days later some new friends, Oman and Shanti, who had shared music at our recent seminar, joined us for lunch. Oman and Shanti were both holding full time jobs in addition to sharing their music. During lunch I heard myself blurt out the notion that they were to quit their jobs and devote their lives to serving God and the Sonship through their music; I was certain that they would be provided for! Inwardly I felt surprised when these came forcefully out of my mouth. What was I doing? What if they were broke? Still, I felt moved to continue to encourage them to trust this was right for them. They called up later in the week to say they had quit their jobs and were devoting full time to their music.
Within a few days, the letter came inviting Robert and me to the Nashville Unity Church! It was really going to happen! While talking to Oman and Shanti about this wonderful development, I was suddenly moved to invite them to join us. They blinked a few times, looked at each other, took several deep breaths and agreed to come. I don't think any of us had a sense of reality about what was happening and how very fast things were moving.
Since we were driving to Nashville, we wrote to a few other Unity Churches letting them know of our seminar in Nashville, and asking if they would like us to join them also. Arlington, Texas, and Little Rock, Arkansas, responded with invitations.
Concerning finances, our guidance was to do everything by donation without a set price. The four of us agreed to share equally whatever we received. The ten day trip was an experience of joy for all of us and people were very generous in the love offerings.
Robert and I have been traveling almost constantly since then. People began hearing about our ACIM sharing and inviting us to come be with them. We continue to be blessed in joining with Oman and Shanti periodically.
We have been immeasurably enriched on all levels by the thousands of You we have met. Your love and support have enabled us to learn so much so fast. As said in ACIM, "When he (the student) is ready to learn, the opportunities to teach will be provided."
During my first year of studying ACIM, and after I had been 'sent' to Houston, I began sharing four different seminars, 'Abundance is My Natural State," "Being in Love is My Natural State," "Eternal Youth is My Natural State," and "Forgiveness . . . the Key to What You Really Want." As we began traveling and sharing ACIM more and more, we stopped scheduling these four seminars. People requested that I put the seminars on cassette tapes, so that they could be shared with others, which I did.
We duplicated the tapes by 'patching' together two tape recorders and slowly recording each side . . . an hour's worth of time with the result of one tape. Because of the constant requests, either Robert or I were continually making tapes. Soon as we arose in the early morning, we would begin making a tape copy. Every 30 minutes, the recorders would click and we would turn the tapes over to record the other side.
Of course, no regular tape recorder is built to be used 16 hours a day, after day, and in a year or so, we had repaired or replaced tape recorders about six times. When the sixth tape recorder broke, I began wondering if we were to continue making the tapes available. I talked to Holy Spirit, "If it's in The Plan for us to keep sharing these tapes, we'll continue. Let us know, please." I remember I added, "And make it obvious!"
The next day, we received a long distance phone call from a woman in Corpus Christi, Texas. She told us she had been to the beach that morning and, while sunbathing, she overheard parts of a tape being played by someone several yards away. She became so interested she asked to move closer to her better. She had gotten our phone number from the tape label and was calling to ask us to send her the four tapes!
Well, we figured that was a good sign that the tapes were still of value, so Robert and I discussed purchasing another tape recorder that that afternoon.
However, before we could leave for the store to buy another recorder, the doorbell rang. When we answered it, there stood Phil Cutler holding a rather large machine case. Coming into the living room, he got right to the point, "This is a rapid tape duplicator which Darlene and I bought and have rarely used. This morning in morning in meditation, we were told to let you all use it"
I did ask Holy Spirit to "make it obvious!"
It was the month of August, 1980, and Robert and I had been traveling for several weeks with our dear friends, Oman and Shanti. At each gathering Robert and I would do the talking/sharing about what ACIM is and our experiences in living the teachings, and Oman and Shanti would sing and share music that nourished and supported these teachings. We did the talking . . . they did the singing. "How perfect," I thought, "this is the way it will surely continue - the four of us traveling together."
At the time of that thought, the four of us were relaxing on a night 'off ' at a campground right outside Birmingham, Alabama, where were to share the following evening. In my euphoria as we sat around a campfire enjoying each other's company, I voiced aloud my delight and gratitude to God for how beautifully it all fit . . . the four of us traveling and sharing together. We had seen how very important music was to the whole experience we wanted to share.
After a short silence, Oman literally shocked me when he said, "We're not feeling moved to travel nearly so much as you are. We're wanting to present celebrations four times a year which take six weeks or longer for rehearsals and such. So we won't be traveling together like we have been."
My immediate reaction (ego, of course) was betrayal. "How could music be kept from the people who came to ACIM sharings?" There was an awkward silence as we all did what we had learned to do whenever upset began . . . we became silent and I suppose each of us inwardly repeated our ACIM lesson for that day.
After sitting together quietly for a while, looking into the fire, Oman and Shanti said they thought they'd go on to sleep and said 'good night.' Robert and I continued to sit quietly. I remember saying "I'm having a hard time with the idea that people who come to our sharings will be less nourished because they will hear no music." We sat together in silence a while longer and then we both received a new thought, "No they won't . . . you will do music." One of us (I don't remember who spoke) said something like, "Holy Spirit thinks he can use us to do music? Amazing!"
We were silent again. My inner conversation went like this, "Well, I'm just stubborn enough and curious enough, as you know Holy Spirit, to do whatever I hear you tell me to do, just to see what in Heaven's name you have in mind. At least I can carry a tune. Robert can't. Oh, I get it . . . You think I'll go out of peace singing in public with someone who can't even carry a tune. I'll sing and I'll be in peace doing it. All this music stuff is Your idea not mine."
Robert later told me his inner conversation with Holy Spirit was going like this, "Well, Holy Spirit, I can't imagine what You can possibly have in mind with this guidance. I have never been able to carry a tune and and lots of people agree with me on that. So I give my voice to You to use. It's Your Voice from now on to do wit as You wish. I've never been able to do anything with it."
In a while, Robert and I shared with each other our conversation with Holy Spirit. We were both wide-eyed in astonishment over the whole development. More silence, looking into the fire.
I broke the quiet by saying, "We'll each have to play an instrument. It's much easier to sing with some kind of accompaniment." More silence.
Playing an instrument was another barrier to be removed. Robert had played the trumpet in his junior high and high school band and had related to me that those around him had to tell him if he was on pitch or not.
I had a year or so of piano lessons in my early teens and enjoyed singing in choruses in high school. In my senior year of high school, I had the role of Laurie in the musical "Oklahoma," and suffered severe stage fright for days before the opening. I somehow made it through the two night run, but vowed that never again would I put myself through such fear. Singing in public again was a terrifying thought to me. Holy Spirit would really have to work some amazing miracles to use us to share His music!
I had always been fascinated by Shanti's autoharp and knew immediately that the autoharp would be 'my' instrument. Robert didn't feel drawn to anything. The next morning as we told a surprised Oman and Shanti all that had occurred, Shanti said I could practice using her old autoharp. I didn't know what music I would practice, but I figured Holy Sprit would let us know. This was surely all His idea and we certainly intended to let Him lead all the way!
That evening while sharing at the Birmingham Unity Church, I felt moved to tell the whole experience of the previous evening. Talking about it helped to make it seem more real and also put us on the 'spot' not to chicken out. I think I concluded with the statement, "Next time we're here, Robert and I will be sharing music, and we appreciated your support in knowing we'll have the strength to follow His guidance. Now that we've told you and made the guidance we received public knowledge - we can't back out!" Robert and I were fluctuating between wonderment and fear.
Our next tour was just the two of us driving from Houston to Missouri. I was in the back seat of our Plymouth Valiant, where there was room to stretch out. Our lesson for the day was, "Love is the way I walk in gratitude." While meditating on that lesson and its application in my life, I started hearing it set to music. I picked up the autoharp and said, "Holy Spirit, I don't know which chords fit the tune. Put my fingers on the right buttons." And He did!
Robert turned around, realized what was happening and started singing along . . . on key! He's been singing on key ever since! In joy and gladness we sang that little chant for miles. What fun this having music was going to be!
That night we were sharing at the Unity Church of Independence, and during the evening, to the surprise of us both, Robert said, "Now we are going to play our one song for you." My mouth dropped open; Robert looked too shocked to speak further. I brought out the autoharp and encouraged everyone to support us by singing along. It was fun . . . even though my shaking fingers could hardly play.
Later that evening getting ready for bed, Robert and I shared that we both had had similar expectations about needing years of practice and learning before we would play music in public. We said, "Holy Spirit, how come You had us share music so soon? It seems premature to put us right out there doing music knowing so little."
The answer we received was, "I'm only having you share with family . . . and aren't you learning that everyone is family?
We then realized that the gentlest way to move us into including music was to have us begin sharing the music as we received it. We had no time to worry or fret about when we were ready to 'go public.' It was all over and done with in as easy a way as possible . . . no miserable hours (days) of before-music jitters.
Thank you, Holy Spirit!
"I will step back and let Him lead the way." ACIM: W-173.1
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a friend recommended browsing through a music store he was familiar with, which carried a large variety of instruments. Before we entered the store, we reminded ourselves of our true purpose by repeating our favorite prayer, " I am here only to be truly helpful..."
Inside, we were greeted by a friendly salesman who asked if he could help us. We told him we didn't know what we wanted, but we knew that God knew. We were just going to walk around and see if anything 'called' to us. He looked surprised and then asked if we'd mind if he tagged along. This I gotta see," he murmured. We laughed and began strolling around looking at guitars, drums, flutes, everything. Then my eye noticed a jumbled up mess on the lower shelf of a glass display case. I stopped, pointed to the pile of metal bars and said, "What is that?"
Our new friend said he knew we wouldn't be interested in that and started walking on, but I was very interested. Since the display case was locked, I called him back and asked him to unlock it so we could have a look. He tried to assure us that we certainly wouldn't be interested in anything in that display case. Even though we were laughing, he soon realized I was serious. I told him he was probably going to be right about our not wanting whatever was in the case, and I wanted to look at it anyway, please.
What I had seen turned out to be a cardboard box filled with individual metal box notes covering a scale of two octaves, graduated in size. We took them out and put them in order, picked up a mallet from the box and struck one of the metal bars. Gorgeous! Clear as a bell; very resonant. Robert and I soon Had a mallet each and were bonging away, making clear melodious sounds.
Soon our salesman friend said, "Let's go on. I don't think this is mature enough for what you want." At that we giggled and kept playing. Several other sales people in the store came over to observe.
Since Robert and I weren't positive that this was the instrument we were to have, we decided to go eat lunch and see if Holy Spirit would sustain our urge for this xylophone. As we left, we noticed the gathered salespeople had each packed up a mallet and were happily bonging away. They loved it too . . . 'mature' or not!
Although it surely did seem like it was to be ours, we knew that if it was, it would 'keep,' and off we went to lunch. We again asked Holy Spirit to either increase our urge to get the xylophone or take it from our minds. We relaxed and enjoyed lunch, not even mentioning the xylophone pieces.
Without discussing it further, we left the diner and both turned back in the direction of the music store. We laughed and said, "OK, Holy Spirit, this looks like it's it. Better stop us now, if we're wrong!"
We did buy the xylophone. It has been a perfect accompaniment to the autoharp. Robert and his dad built a beautiful wooden case for permanent mounting of the pieces. Thank you again, Holy Spirit. We love our xylophone.
(By the way, the salespeople were still playing with the xylophone when we came back from lunch!)
We had both assumed than an autoharp and a xylophone were our musical instruments. One for each of us seemed not only plenty, but miraculous! In November of 1980, while giving a seminar in Tallahassee, Florida, we met a wonderful couple, Ross and Deborah Barrable. Ross makes folk harps and both he and Deborah play them beautifully. We had a very moving experience listening to Deborah play and sing, and being with the two of them.
Neither Robert nor I were aware of any intention of learning to play another instrument. However, Robert was very attracted to the harps; especially the larger of the two sizes Ross was making. The price of the big harp seemed beyond our means, so we said to Holy Spirit, "Please let us know if we are to get a small harp."
We were in Tallahassee several days and really wanted to support Deborah and Ross in a substantial way. When we left Tallahassee we were surprised that neither of us had felt guided to purchase a small harp. Several hours into the drive, our minds were quiet; in that meditative state that long drives encourage. I was at the wheel, when suddenly I 'heard', "Get the big harp . . . and it's Robert's."
"The big harp? And it's Robert's?" I thought. No wonder we hadn't received guidance until now. We had a limit on our 'hearing'. (Remember, we had asked Holy Spirit to guide us about a small harp.) Feeling both scared and excited (it seemed like a lot of money) I told Robert what I had heard.
Robert supported our following this guidance and we both giggled at the thought that the harp was his. In my mind, either we were being guided to get the harp to support Deborah and Ross and to pass it on to someone who would play it, or I would play it, not Robert.
Soon as we got to Houston, we called up the Barrables and told them the good news. They were not surprised at all and said they had been waiting for us to call. They also knew we were to have the big harp!
I had some fear about sending almost all the money we had, but Robert joyfully wrote the check, happy to support Deborah and Ross in a big way. Robert is always a wonderful teacher for me. (Harp story continued later.)
Receiving guidance to get the harp seemed to be confirmation of our thoughts that we were to have a van for our travels. Although Robert is a brilliant packer, we knew there would be absolutely no way to transport a large harp in our Plymouth, and by now it appeared certain that we were to continue traveling.
We prayed about this, asking Holy Spirit's guidance in finding a good, used van. (Notice the small limitation on that prayer: "used van.") At the time, we had no idea that we could afford to purchase a new van. Accordingly, we looked in the classified ads and found some leads to investigate.
As we went to look at each van, we would repeat the prayer, "I am here only to be truly helpful..." It was absolutely amazing to experience the many ways Holy Spirit used us in these situations. Every exploration resulted in our spending about half of the time looking at the van and the other half being used to serve the people who were selling their van.
One such incident involved a man who had a van of interest to us. We all went together to consult a mechanic for an assessment of the van. We became involved in a conversation about what we did and how we lived. He was pretty amazed and responded by talking about his father who died some months ago, expressing his concerns about his inability to stop grieving. We had a marvelous, enlightening hour together in which he was able to release much of his grief and to begin to view his father's death in a new light.
Another time, a friend heard of our van search and told us of someone who needed money and was selling his van. We called him and went over to look at it. We met him and his wife, a beautiful young couple, the wife pregnant and imminently ready to deliver.
I knew immediately why were were there, in addition to whatever was going to happen with the van, because they were planning on having the baby at home. It seemed they couldn't afford a hospital, and there was little sense of preparedness for the birth.
After sharing with them information we had about childbirth, relaxation techniques and proper use of breathing and energy, we left them A Course in Miracles set and seminar tapes. This had been a wonderful time of sharing and opportunity to serve. We did like their van, but had some immediate traveling to do.
When we returned, however, we discovered complications both with the van and their life with a new baby. Conflict had arisen concerning how to relate to their tiny son. The father was afraid that too much attention was going to make his son a sissy. The mother's instincts told her to fondle and cuddle her baby often; she also had a deep respect for her husband and wanted to consider his wishes.
In a very lovely way, Holy Spirit opened up the opportunity for us to share. A very nice balance was reached where the father began to feel secure that holding the baby and showing affection wouldn't make his son a sissy.
In the meantime, the van title transfer was taking much longer than expected, and it became apparent that this wasn't to be our van. However, we had yet another powerful experience showing that if we are willing, we will be used to bless and serve regardless of what we're doing.
As we looked at more vans, we continued asking for guidance, "If this isn't our van, please see that something happens to stop the transaction." Sure enough, each time something stopped us from making a purchase. Eventually we said, "Holy Spirit, this isn't working. Maybe we're not supposed to have a van. Maybe we're to do something different. Whatever it is , we release it to You."
We stopped looking in the paper. We stopped asking around. The harp hadn't arrived yet so it really wasn't imperative to have a larger vehicle. We even began to think that maybe there was going to be a change; maybe we wouldn't be traveling or even need a van at all.
A few days later, I received guidance during our morning meditation that we were to "get a new Chevy van." It felt totally right and totally scary. Despite the fact that I knew it was right, I went into an immediate, "How will we ever afford a new van?" But I'm very stubborn about following Holy Spirit's guidance and I thought, "Well, if we fall flat on our face, we fall flat on our face. Holy Spirit, where do we go? Where do we find this new Chevy van?"
Suddenly, I remembered having heard that a less expensive way to buy a new vehicle was through an auto broker. We looked in the yellow pages and asked for guidance in choosing the correct broker. We made our selection and talked to the gentleman over the telephone, who said, "I've got exactly what you want."
We felt impelled to go see him that very day. There was not only one van, but two identical cream-colored 3/4 ton vans, with our exact specifications. Since we didn't know how the financing could be arranged and because we had an immediate five day trip planned, we had to postpone taking further steps toward making a purchase. This would also be a good opportunity to find out if this was really the van God intended for us.
Nick, the salesman, suggested, "Why don't you put down $50 on one of the vans to hold it until you come back. I promise that if you change your mind and decide that you don't want the van, I'll give you your $50 back."
We asked Holy Spirit about this and what we realized was that if this was our van, it couldn't be sold to anyone else. When we told Nick that if God wanted us to have this van he wouldn't be able to sell it to anyone else, he looked at us like we were really strange.
During our trip, we prayed again as usual, "Please, Holy Spirit, if this isn't right for us, don't let it work." By the time we returned to Houston, we both felt that this was indeed the van. We eagerly called Nick. He sounded pretty amazed as he responded, "I still have both of the vans." We said, "Great. We think on e of them is ours."
We applied for a loan at our Houston bank. The loan officer started asking the usual questions: "What's your job? Teacher of God," we answered. He wrote, "Teacher." Then, "What's your monthly income?" And we said, "Whatever donations and tithes come to us each month." He asked us what we owned and we told him the only thing we own was our '68 Plymouth Valiant.
When he finished filling in what he could complete on the loan application, he pushed his chair back, looked at us and said, "Listen, I'll be frank with you. There's no way I can grant you a loan. You have no visible means of support." (Later Robert and I shared with each other, "Yes, but the invisible means of support is magnificent!")
Miraculously, in a matter of days, we had three different people offer to cosign for our loan. Instead of searching for money, we had to ask Holy Spirit for guidance about whom to choose! We had every intention of paying back the $10,000 loan ($10,000!) but we had no idea how soon. We made it very clear that there was a possibility that the Holy Spirit would choose to teach a lesson in forgiveness and trust, by having us not be able to pay off the van loan. We couldn't say for sure how Holy Spirit was going to use the van, our cosigner's money and our relationship in all this. Holy Spirit was in charge.
The three of us went to the bank to sign the papers. Neither Robert nor I consider ourselves knowledgeable in worldly money matters. We noticed that our cosigner and the bank officer, who was his friend, looked quite worried. It seemed that the time wasn't right to make this kind of loan. The interest rate was 20%, and they were concerned that we were going to have to pay much interest. We told them all we knew was that it was the Holy Spirit's money and the Holy Spirit's deal, and however He wanted to use His money was all right with us.
We sat in our chairs and observed the situation, while the bank officer scratched his chin and looked at the ceiling. All of a sudden he said, "Wait here," and rushed away. When he returned he was practically chortling, saying "I have found a way to make this loan and then another loan on that; then we'll redo it all after the first of the year. What it all amounts to is that the loan will be at 11% interest." We beamed and thanked Holy Spirit for taking such good care of us.
We were eager to get the money and go buy the van, but before we could leave, our cosigner said, "I have some papers to deliver to another office in this building. Why don't you come along and then we'll have lunch together?" We agreed, he completed his errand, and we were leaving the elevator when the bank officer who had negotiated our loan ran up to our cosigner and said, "You know that business loan that we discussed last week? I just realized I can do the same thing for loan as I did for Barbara and Robert, and save you a great deal of money." Our cosigner's willingness to serve us was already paying him back!
After lunch, we went to purchase the van. As we were driving there, we continued talking to Holy Spirit, "We still haven't completed the purchase, so if this isn't right, just let us know."
Suddenly I 'heard,' "Pay him what he asks." I was stunned. I've always enjoyed wheeling and dealing, and I couldn't imagine paying a new car dealer everything that he initially asked. I responded, "Not even one haggle?" "Whose money is it?" I heard. "It's yours," I answered. The reply came, "So what do you care?"
We arrived at Nick's office and told him we were ready to purchase the van. When he repeated the asking price, we agreed and he began filling out the necessary papers.
When they had been signed and the money exchanged, Nick sat back and I noticed that his eyes were moist. He said, "You know, I want to thank you for the way you have treated me. It's been a long time since I sold anything and I've been getting really frightened, particularly as it is Christmastime. You were willing to trust that I was giving you a fair price, fair to me and fair to you. I'm really touched and I want to thank you." We all looked at each other awhile. I felt our hearts open and connect with a wondrous surge of love.
We left in total joy. Not the kind of joy that was, "Oh, lookie, we got a van," but "Look what the Holy Spirit can do with any relationship." The couple of hundred dollars that we could have saved by haggling with Nick wouldn't have been nearly as valuable to us as the experience of the connection of love.
Later we showed the van to Oman and Shanti, and told them the whole story about how we'd gotten the money and how fascinating it was going to be to see how Holy Spirit would pay for His van. We called it Holy Spirit's van because we didn't want to forget Who was the real Owner and Who was really paying for the van.
It was important to me not to start feeling worried and restricted about money. I didn't want to feel stingy because of the van obligation. We were very clearly calling it the Holy Spirit's van. Oman said, "Well, then it's the Dovemobile" using the symbol of the dove as representing Holy Spirit. "Dovemobile" really clicked, and that's what the van is called; affectionately known as "Dovie."
Robert had a magnificent time finishing the interior of the Dovemobile, which we purchased as a simple metal shell. He had never done any carpeting, electrical wiring, paneling or anything similar, and very little carpentry. It was an exciting project for him. Often he came running into the house telling us what Holy Spirit had shown him how to do. It was wonderful. He prayed the whole time he was working.
About six weeks later we left for a three month tour in the Great Northwest. Early in that tour we were guided to put all the money that we were receiving toward paying off the van loan. To our delight, money poured in. Not only from our sharings but also in letters from people who said things like, "Someone in my family left me an inheritance and I'm sending you $500," or "I just sold some stock, here's $200." Others said, "In meditation this morning I was guided to send you $50." And money kept coming in. In a mere five months, the loan was totally paid off. $10,000 completely paid back!
Immediately after that, our income decreased to meet our normal needs. That's the way our money supply has continued to be: whenever there is a need that the Holy Spirit is supporting, our income expands to meet the obligation. When that need has been met, our income seems to simply provide for our regular necessities. Thank you, Holy Spirit. Thank you, wonderful friends.
I have been a wheeler-dealer, a great bargain hunter. Something new is happening and it's far more fun than bargaining. It began, it seems, when we got the Dovemobile with Holy Spirit telling me we were to pay the salesman whatever he asked. After seeing the blessings that came to each person involved, I could no longer hold to the worldly value of getting the most for the least amount I could give. I feel much more open to Holy Spirit's guidance as to how and where He would have us share the money He flows through us. Money - its inflow and outflow - is His department.
No more spending time searching for cheap gasoline for the Dovemobile, for instance. If everyone - everyone - is my brother, then I begrudge no one money I give them. I wouldn't be sharing Holy Spirit's abundance with them if it weren't His Will.
I am delighted to let you know that our money supply has in no way been depleted by this emergence of sharing as Holy Spirit guides. Also, I have dropped the idea that it's 'holy' to 'get a deal,' and not a miracle to pay full price. We notice that sometimes Holy Spirit guides us to great 'deals,' and sometimes we pay top dollar. Wherever Holy Spirit's money goes is where it is to go.
"Never forget you give but to yourself. Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice." ACIM: W-187.6.1
Robert and I expected to finish the harp in time for us to have it with us on the Northwest sharings. However, in December, Ross called us from Tallahassee to tell us it wasn't going to be possible for him to get our harp to us before we left. He had talked to Holy Spirit in meditation that morning and was told that we were not to go anywhere, anymore, without a harp. He was calling to let us know he was sending, as his gift, one of the smaller harps!
Two days before we left, the beautiful little harp, Surrender, arrived. We shared her during our opening meditations everywhere we went. To our delight, the combination of Robert playing the xylophone and me playing the little harp was beautiful. We didn't actually have the big harps until June, when were sharing again in Tallahassee.
'Soulcri' was beautiful. We walked around and around her, oohing and aahing, plucking a few strings. Deborah played her a little so we could hear how lovely she sounded. As the day progressed, neither of us felt the slightest desire to play her!
Three days passed and we had done no more than walk around her, admire her, reach out and pluck a few strings and walk on. On the fourth day, I had another talk with Holy Spirit about the new harp. I confessed my lack of motivation, and wondered why we had the harp since neither of us seemed moved to learn to play her. Perhaps we were to display it as we traveled and let people know where they could get one and so support Ross and Deborah in that way. Only then did I recall the second part of the original guidance I had received . . . that the harp was Robert's!
That bum! He was the 'bad guy.' He was the one supposed to be playing. I considered nagging him, heard Holy Spirit laugh and tell me to be quiet. I said, "OK, if You want him to play it, You give him the desire." With that, I relaxed. Within minutes, I heard Robert pick up Soulcri, carry her to Deborah, and say, "Would you show me how to play?"
Robert became divinely obsessed with playing. He played until his finger tips were tender and sore, and then stopped for only an hour or so. He knew if he played until his fingers were blistering, he'd have to stop playing completely until they healed.
It was obvious to us both that Holy Spirit was making this easy for Robert by giving him a great desire to play. ACIM says, "Nothing is difficult that is wholly desired."
With only four lessons, we left Tallahassee and immediately Robert would say he wanted to show the lovely new gift from Holy Spirit and what he had learned so far. (I felt pleased he wasn't learning the tuba!)
Soon we discovered the joy of playing our harps together. Thank you again and again, Holy Spirit. We are eternally grateful, Ross and Deborah. By the way, the first year we had the harps, Ross received ten orders from people who had seen ours.
Within months of our adding music to our sharings, many kind people were insisting that we record our music. We often seem to be doing things beyond our personal ideas of what we think we are able to do. A short year after beginning sharing music, our first cassette, "Holy Spirit Sings" was recorded. As one of the songs He gave us says, " I am willing for my life to be a picture painted by Holy Spirit." Amen! What an adventure.
Our ACIM family of love has been generous to us in so many ways. We have been given two dulcimers, a set of bamboo flutes and Tibetan temple bells. Our other musical instruments, bowed psaltry, recorders, shakers, have all come to us through the love and interest of our wonderful brothers.
"Nothing is difficult that is wholly desired." ACIM: T-6.V.B.8.7
In June of 1981, I was asleep in the bedroom of our wonderful harpmakers' Ross and Barrable, when I realized that I was hearing the most gorgeous harp I had ever heard. Not only was it beautiful beyond description, but it vibrated every cell in my body as well as everything in the room. I lay there awake in the dark, for what seemed a long time, completely enraptured and filled with gratitude and joy for this incredible gift which could only be from God. I didn't even think or care to imagine how this could be happening.
Eventually, slowly, something began happening to my hearing and gradually the harp music from Heaven became the sound coming from a huge truck going by on the long highway near the house! A common earthly sound had been transformed into something indescribably beautiful and other-worldly. I know that eventually this will be 'normal' to us all. I welcome that time. ACIM promises that our perceptions - all of them - will be transformed. How glorious! I am willing.
As I walked to the van, I noticed unusual sparkling lights shining from the interior. "How odd," I remember thinking. It was January of 1981, and we had just finished an evening ACIM sharing in southern California. We were carrying all the instruments and supplies back to the van, and Robert had gone around to the driver's side to unlock the door. I heard him say, "What is this?" Suddenly, we both saw only an empty shelf where the stereo should have been. As we peered into the van, we saw that the 'sparkling lights' were coming from pieces of broken safety glass. Further investigation showed a ruined door lock, bent chrome and frame trying to force the side window open, and all the broken glass. "We've been given a gift," were the words that came to my mind. "Looks like a holy brother (or brothers) are giving us a love lesson. This can only be a call for love." (I often call these Holy Spirit 'pop quizzes.') We held hands and sent love and innocence to everyone involved, told them not to feel guilty, that we knew who they really were - our Holy Brothers in an unusual Holy encounter. We told Holy Spirit we were willing for much good for everyone concerned to come of this.
We never felt guided to go to the police. We both sensed that something much more 'corrective' than jail was to happen . . . maybe even a real turning point in their lives.
One of the results to us was an expanded appreciation of the practicality of ACIM. What a joy to notice that I was easily and naturally choosing a lesson in love as my point of view rather than some of the other options such as thief, robbery, bad, etc. ACIM had really taught me to keep looking for love, for ways to be truly helpful.
After all, the prayer is, "I am here only to be truly helpful," not "I am here to have a stereo." As an added 'Holy Spirit bonus,' our love offerings the following week were generous enough to enable us to replace the stereo with, of course, even better equipment and to have the van door lock and window repaired.
I delight in thinking of everyone hearing of, or reading this story sending some love to the one (s) who called for love through taking the stereo. Perhaps they need a love-boost right now to help them in their change of mind. Whoever you are - WE LOVE YOU.
"All things are lessons God would have me learn." ACIM: W-L-193
"The Holy Spirit's Voice is as loud as your willingness to listen." ACIM: T-8.VIII.8.7
In the fall of 1981, I had an excruciating toothache, and I cried out for help . . . "Holy Spirit, what am I to do?" Came a clear and certain thought, "Go to Oregon and be with your parents." This unexpected thought in my mind was so calming that it was a while before I realized the pain in my tooth had virtually disappeared. The change was dramatic. When I related this to Barbara, she was as eager as I was to follow this guidance. Minutes later the ache returned with renewed force. I made a dental appointment for that afternoon and had the tooth fixed.
As directed, we set our movement toward Oregon. Our seminar commitments led us on a two month roundabout route and we arrived in Oregon the day before Christmas. My family of aunts and uncles and cousins were gathered for the festivities. Amidst all the merriment, my father was somewhat subdued with growing physical pain. The next day he was in the hospital, scheduled for surgery. He had the operation and was soon home recuperating. I was very grateful for the guidance to go to Oregon to be with my parents.
Over the next six months, Barbara and I traveled sharing ACIM in the northwestern states, coming and going from my parent's home on the Oregon coast. During this time my father had more physical complications, hospital stays, surgery scheduled and unscheduled. Each time of need found us near and available to comfort and support. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for making good use of my toothache.