The Real Journey
This is my life so real. I've had the name for this blog for years. Maybe a decade now. I've always known it would somehow be related to my journey with A Course In Miracles. I just wasn't quite sure how it fit. I know this physical world is an illusion, a testament to a belief in separation. So how could it be my life so real when it's not real?
It was something that came up in the Circle of Atonement's recent workshop on prayer that brought things into focus for me. A graphic of a timeline was shared. On top of the timeline were images that depict our physical journey in the world. Events like our birth, growing up, graduation, career, marriage, family, etc...all the way to death.
Below the timeline, were images depicting our spiritual journey - our "real journey" - the journey to God that is taking place as our life, or our physical journey, in the world is playing out. Love expressed, miracles offered, healing shared, joining with others, forgiveness, prayer. Essentially, the journey that plays out underneath all the doings of my life in the world.
This is how I connect with a life so real. Amidst all the minutiae, all the mundane responsibilities, all the tasks on the to-do list, all the things that need to get done for work, and yes, even my struggles with anxiety...all of those things carry the potential to be infused with God's love. It is my choice to make if I want this journey to lead me towards God or away.
Spoiler alert: I'm choosing towards. And it's a choice I have to intentionally make quite often!
Sometimes I make this choice looking back on a situation or event or encounter. Sometimes I make it in the moment. Sometimes I even make it in advance, going into an encounter with the thought already in my mind of making it a holy one, of expressing kindness and love. My anxiety brain really likes to get in the way of that.
So does my task driven brain. A few months ago, I was serving as one of the Deacons on duty (DOD) for Sunday church service. There are a number of things the DOD is responsible for before, during, and after service. One of those tasks is taking count of the number of attendees that morning.
On this Sunday, we were nearing the end of the service when I realized I hadn't done the count yet. As everyone stood for one of the songs, I briskly made my way to the back of the sanctuary with the intention of going up to the balcony in order to get that head count. There was a gentleman sitting back there in a wheelchair, alongside his caregiver. I had never seen him in church before (and I have not seen him since.) As I walked by him, he reached out his hand to me.
As I took his hand in mine, these thoughts started running through my head. I don't have time for this. I need to take a head count. How long do I need to hold his hand before I can get back to what I was doing?!
I was confronted with the choice to hold his hand for a brief moment and get back to my task. Or to hold his hand in true joining. Honestly, it wasn't even a choice. My brother had literally reached out his hand to save me. I stood there and held his hand through the rest of the service. I knew without a doubt that was what I needed to do. Not necessarily for him, but for me. It wasn't an "oh, I'll just be nice and hold his hand." It was an actually feeling that in that moment he was saving me from myself.
I held his hand with presence. With the full understanding that this was a sacred moment of joining. That holding his hand was the most important thing I could be doing. That moment changed me. He offered me a miracle and I made the choice to receive it.
That encounter still sits so powerfully in my memory and in my heart. Nothing else about that service does. Nothing else about the doings of that day does.
As life was playing out, as I was going about the busy doings of my church responsibilities, a brother reached out his hand and returned me to the real journey. He brought me closer to God.
As I type this, I'm sitting here wondering...how many opportunities like this have I missed? How many times have I allowed the minutiae to get in the way of the real journey? How often have I allowed my focus on the world to block my ability to see with Christ's vision? How often do I allow my fears to create a divide between me and my brother?
Too often, I'd say. But I am willing to make a different choice.
"Whenever you are tempted to undertake a foolish journey that would lead away from light, remember what you really want, and say: The Holy Spirit leads me unto Christ, and where else would I go? What need have I but to awake in Him?" (T-13.VIII.5:1-3)
As I see my brother, will I see myself.
The study group I lead is coming to the end of our study of the Text. This morning, our reading was Cameo 30 "As You See Him You Will See Yourself". This poses the question - how do we navigate the things of the world when we know they are only illusions...and yet "this unfortunate necessity for interpreting illusions remains" while we still believe we are in the world?
For me, this brings up my work as a bodywork therapist. The work I do as a craniosacral therapy practitioner, massage therapist, and even a reiki practitioner in most cases is focused on treating the bodies of my clients. And yet, as a student of A Course In Miracles, I know the body is not the truth of who we are.
I love the guidance we receive from Jesus in reading this Cameo. The answer is not to stop doing this work with people who are coming to see me in support of their physical well-being. And it's certainly not to tell them it's all an illusion! Thank God, because I really care about my clients and I see the benefit they receive from the work we do together! This work feels like my way of joining with another, my way of expressing love and care.
The answer is for me to recognize I am working with an illusion. For me to remember the truth of who this person is - a perfect Son of God. And Jesus says "Try to say a prayer for your brother while doing this and you will call forth and experience a miracle instead."
"As you see him you will see yourself."
This is where it got interesting for me today. I'm called to the work I do because of my own lifelong struggles with anxiety. Most of my clientele are drawn to me because this is my focus in my practice. In a way, my personal experience with anxiety strengthens my ability to offer a safe and compassionate healing space and presence for others.
Over the past two years of intentionally studying and practicing ACIM, I have experienced healing in deeply profound ways. Recently, however, my anxiety has been heightened and difficult to navigate. I've been frustrated and tired of feeling like I get completely derailed by these fearful thoughts and stories. Gah!
Today I had a phone conversation with someone looking to schedule their first visit. They shared how their anxiety has worsened over this past year. The physical effect their fearful thoughts are having on their body. How it's affecting their life. I could see myself in almost everything they said!
As I see my brother, I will see myself.
As I spoke with this person, I held this practice in my mind. In writing Cameo 30, Robert Perry speaks of holding an "overriding consciousness" during moments like this. As I meet this person exactly where they are at and support them in a way they can accept, I also hold a "highly intentional thought foremost in mind" that we're "discussing only illusions".
When I got off the phone, I took a moment to be in silent prayer for this person. To remember that in truth this person is a perfect Son of God. Already safe and healed and whole in the Mind of God. And as I remembered this for them, I also realized I was remembering it for myself. And suddenly the anxiety I had been experiencing all day settled. My chest relaxed. My stomach calmed. And my spirit felt lighter.
I pray for you, and thus call forth a miracle for you and for myself.
Resources: Cameo 30 (ACIM CE p1862), related commentary from Course Companions, COA Study Group Leader discussion guide