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What Does Not Pass But Stays

We are made whole in our desire to make whole (T-18.III.7:4)


a lifetime on my knees
studying broken glass,
piecing together
a reflection
that was neither you nor me
but something lovelier
and whole

At some point during my 4 a.m. walks I began to see the way in which Life was simply happening and that my contribution was minimal to the point of nonexistent. It really didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do. Starlight, rainfall, maple trees blooming, coyotes howling on the hill . . . Life expresses itself continually – and has and will – and this little body and narrative self, its cities and cultures, its satellites and solar systems – are just blades of grass, swaying pines, specks of dust in pillared sunlight, fading notes in the chickadee’s Spring song offered in the forest at dawn.

There is nothing denigrating about this. It is not a personal insult. It is simply a fact of bodies and the stories attached to them. They come and go. Society comes and goes. The suggestion inherent in A Course in Miracles, and other nondual paths, is that we are not these bodies. Life is not our cities and buildings and social institutions.

Rather, we are what does not come and go. We are what does not pass.

Let truth be what it is.
Do not intrude upon it,
do not attack it,
and do not interrupt its coming.
Not even faith is asked of you,
for truth asks nothing

Trying to talk about this stuff can be maddening, especially when we begin to perceive the degree to which talking about it really doesn’t matter very much. The words pass, too! Often they are gone before we are finished uttering them. Meaning has about as much permanence as the reflection of clouds in a rain puddle. Blink and you miss it.

But if we can see this, and not resist it but just try to keep looking at it, then we can start to make contact with what does not pass. We can do this because what does not pass is always here. It doesn’t really matter what we call it – God, Life, Being, Consciousness. The simple truth is that as we give attention to what we signify with the word “God” or “Life,” it gives attention to us as well. In fact, the whole movement of attention is not really from subject to object. It feels this way at first – and from time to time thereafter –  but in fact attention includes subject and object, joining them as one, in the same way that moonlight is not separate from the moon but is its extension, even unto what it illuminates.

That is what we eventually learn while giving attention: there is nothing but attention, nothing but awareness. Attention is the condition of wholeness itself.

A Course in Miracles teaches that “Heaven is joined with you in your advance to Heaven” (T-18.III.8:3), and that “[t]hose who would see will see” (T-18.III.6:3). What can these words possibly mean except that we are already that which we seek? Have already been given that which we think is absent?

. . . you sought a blackness so complete that you could hide from truth forever, in complete insanity. What you forgot was simply that God cannot destroy Himself. The light is in you. Darkness can cover it, but cannot put it out (T-18.III.1:5-7).

Thus, we can trust our desire to be whole because it is itself wholeness. The word “desire” comes from the old Romance languages and means – roughly literally – “down from the stars.” In other words, desire is not a reflection of unrequited appetites – one body lusting after another, say – but is rather the very essence of accepting our unconditional oneness with the universe, with life itself. We are life expressing itself. God longs to express us as we long to express God; and the heart that longs for wholeness is itself already whole.


the mallards visit
as always in Spring
reminding me
how impossible this radiance
I had no hand in making

This can feel counter-intuitive but it is worth considering. If we were not already whole, then how could we possibly miss wholeness? The only way to know that something is missing or separated or broken off is to know first the whole itself. Thus, our desire for wholeness is a witness to the wholeness that waits patiently in our mind to be remembered. It is perfectly untouched by all the drama and horror and anguish we have tried to visit on it.

So there is nothing to do but give attention: to let Life happen: and see in it our desire to be whole: to seek that interior space in which we long for the wholeness of God because we already know God: and are ready at last to rest there.


Glades I Will Never Enter

One day the dog and I won’t walk and then what? Then someone else will love the world this way of course. The man without shoes with a dog is nothing new! Thus a last star, a lavender sky, and thus leafless lilac. But not only that. Unkempt lawns, crumbling trails in the forest, and the yet-damp bank of the fire pond. When you open for me, I see the tracks of deer bearing witness to glades I will never enter. Nor seek to enter, not anymore. Rusted sap buckets, maple shadows scaling walls in need of paint. We dream we live by images until at last we consent to see otherwise. In my hands, wintered-over amethyst accepts both dust and sunlight. Garter snakes coil where the daffodils are late to bloom. Gifts? Not really. More like Giving, always, “in perpetuity” as the priests say, but also the willingness to say yes to it, as the earth says yes to what passes, without really worrying over why or what to call it.



reached the summit
only to find a letter
I wrote myself lifetimes ago –
“you idiot –
there is no mountain”


She Thought I Wrote the Poems

she thought I wrote the poems – and because I wanted to see her naked I didn’t tell her the truth – we are meeting later at a corner reserved for the fakes like me – the fakes, and the beautiful ones who listen to them so that redemption won’t disappear forever from the earth


Questions, Answers

What am I thinking about at 4 a.m.
stumbling so lonely
through the cold and dark?

Holding out for the slim chance
I might yet be one of the pretenders
who is unexpectedly gifted

with something real to say.


Giving is What Matters

It is helpful to remember that as we become more aware of what A Course in Miracles calls the ego, we may feel the effects of egoic thinking quite intensely. Patterns of thought and behavior and feeling that went unnoticed before suddenly call attention to themselves. It is not always comfortable when this happens! It can feel like failure, like falling back down a hill we’ve spent a long time climbing.


we pass through landscapes
passing through us

But really, it’s okay. Crazed machinations of egoic thought are not new and, as distressing as they may seem, are no more or less important than anything else going on, inside or out. They are just another facet of the various landscapes to which we are giving attention. And it is the giving of attention that matters in the end; not the images to which attention is given.

The forgiveness process of A Course in Miracles is about looking clearly and – as much as possible – without judgment at what is going on. If we are sad, then we look at our sadness. If we are listening to birds at dawn, then we look at listening to birds at dawn. Nothing is excluded, and nothing is better than anything else. It’s all equal. It might not seem so initially, but sooner or later this equality reveals itself.

People ask me sometimes: what is the point? So I am looking at looking at a banana split – so what? That’s not spiritual. That’s not healing. Or they say that it hurts to look at so-called negative aspects of character – lust, greed, anger, dishonesty. We’re supposed to change that stuff – not just stare at it.


birch trees -
as if all along
we were being held
by what loves
and brings us

Well, yes. I appreciate that. I feel that way myself quite often. But the suggestion I am making is that giving attention – which is to say, looking with the Holy Spirit – is itself curative. There’s really nothing else to do. We don’t understand that, at least not initially. It’s too simple. We prefer drama – big insights, big shifts, and all of that. We want results. We want outcomes that make us happy.

But really, healing simply happens because we are being attentive, and what we are attentive to is not very important at all. There really is nothing more to do! And it’s impossible to do it wrong, because attention isn’t our creation. It’s just there, a kind of responsiveness forever present. So the pressure comes off a little. Life isn’t our personal responsibility. How hard is it to do nothing?

When giving attention becomes difficult – because we see how selfish we are, how impatient, how naive, or whatever – it is important to remember that this is a form of clarity! And clear seeing is quite literally the Holy Spirit in action. Our impatience or selfishness is no more or less valuable in this regard than a sunset or a grilled steak. Attention is not contingent on that to which it is given. Give the Holy Spirit an inch and then sit back and watch it take the miles.


hay wagon
at dusk -

So we give attention. We don’t worry so much how it feels or whether it’s working or what results we’re getting. We don’t really know anyway. It is the gift of attention that matters. No more than that, and no less. We rest in giving: we become giving. And it’s enough; it’s more than enough.


A Requisite Forgetting

Can I say I don’t know? The pine trees are just there in the darkness. And reflected light makes me happy and always has. Maple buds blush across the landscape, red whether the sun is up or not. Nobody has to see anything in order to see everything. I walk slowly, giving the killdeer time to think, and grateful for the spaciousness that holds me, never rushing me into surrender or insight. Way out on old logging trails on the ridge above the river, I rest on a log and study stars. There is the inclination to name what we perceive, there is the process of naming, and then there is a requisite forgetting. Letting go? Oh, I don’t know and more and more I can’t be bothered to say. A sliver of moon breaks the horizon and I hear the wind flowing roughly north and west. “What a beautiful song,” I think, and for a moment am emptied and go nowhere eternally.