A Course in Miracles: Big Shifts in Thinking

I perceive the rhythm and movement of A Course in Miracles as a subtle presence in my life – powerful but not overwhelming. It is reminiscent of a brook slowly carving away at the landscape, quiet and beautiful, and one only notices its transformational effects after months or even years .

In a sense, this is simply how I want to learn – and how I learn best. The course meets us where we are, but we also take it in the form and manner that works best for us. There is no use fighting this, no use resisting it. Part of accepting the Holy Spirit as a Teacher, and Jesus as a guide, means relinquishing our inclination to control outcomes and dictate means.

That said, there are certainly times in my life the course precipitates fairly significant – even dramatic – shifts in thinking. These moments are somewhat rare, but I am grateful for them indeed. They are in the nature of lightening flashes, quick and powerful, in the wake of which nothing is the same.

For me, one of those moments occurred early in my practice. One morning, while walking the dogs, I realized that the God to whom I prayed – and with whom I had been in relationship for well over three decades – had more in common with Jonathan Edwards (he of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God fame) than with the God inherent in A Course in Miracles.

This insight literally rocked me. Every time I turned toward familiar modes of prayer, there was nothing there. I felt weak and fluttery. I was embarrassed and chagrined. I was scared to move forward but even more scared to fall back to the familiar.

Driving home the other day past fields bright with dandelions it occurred to me that in many ways, I had finally integrated the course’s view of God: present, loving, trustworthy, kind and with whom I shared a powerfully creative Will. I don’t mean to suggest I’ve got it down perfect; only that I am not so torn between competing visions of God. I have settled on a belief system that empowers me to look closely and without fear and what still seems to obscure the divine.

So most of the time my practice is like a brook – steady, pulsing, strong, reliable – but then other times yes, it floods the banks, it pushes me hard where I need to go. I am grateful for that! As I am grateful for the quieter moments as well, all of them reminding me my Teacher knows the way.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Cheryl May 21, 2014, 8:27 am

    Good Morning Sean,

    I remember quite clearly when my shift in the idea of what God is occurred. It was more subtle than yours but still quite startling. Looking closely at the truth of “If God is Love then…,” I suddenly saw with astonishing clarity how contradictory the religious teachings of my youth had been and how confused and tied in knots they had rendered me. And how in making God in “my” image instead of the other way around, I had been stuck for so long.

    I imagine this is, in a very real sense, the undoing on which the Course workbook spends so much time. In its aftermath, prayer for me has become a continuous undercurrent that flows through my life, sometimes beneath the surface, other times, very much front and center. God is always showing up … and prayer is recognition of that ongoing presence.

    I had a moment in Pennsylvania this visit where I was looking out across a creek and a Baltimore oriole, scarlet tanager, indigo bunting and cedar waxwing all showed up — at the same time. Now, I had never seen a cedar waxwing (except in photos) before and it came very close and sat atop the tangled branches of a tree, perfectly still for several minutes. And something about how all of it unfolded literally brought me to tears….All I could think was thank you….

    And thank you for “We are always where we need to be” and especially “I don’t have to fix it for anyone else.” Both are very, very helpful today.

    My visits to Pennsylvania

    • Sean Reagan May 21, 2014, 9:34 am

      Hey there, Cheryl.

      Yeah, you put that all very eloquently. It is a huge shift in thinking, to get past that God so prevalent in Christian thinking, and then I think like you say a lot of space opens up and richer currents are perceived.

      I think it was dramatic for me because I’m not sure I could have learned the lesson any other way. If I could have clung to the old way of thinking, I would have – I do that quite well! So you know, we get what we need, the way we need it . . . .

      Cedwar Waxwings! One of my favorite – and relatively elusive – birds. I have shared this poem with you, yes? I always think of it when I see the waxwings or talk about them.

      This is a cool bird poem by Robert Francis, too.

      I have only seen one indigo bunting – in Vermont about thirteen years ago – and it took my breath away. I can still see it so clearly in the lilac bush outside our window!

      We need to start an ACIM/Bird Watching club.

      Sean

      • Cheryl May 21, 2014, 5:44 pm

        I remember the cedar waxwing poem, of course, Sean, but the eagle one is new to me and is so spot on … I really like that one. What if we saw ourselves as eagles but not as we see eagles. How cool would that be?

        We had binoculars when the birds appeared this weekend, so I not only got a glimpse of my first cedar waxwing, I got an up close and personal stare — the red slash on the wings, the yellow-tipped tail, the black mask — what a gift.

        Didn’t pick any bluebells for my mom, but snagged a few sprigs of lilac when no one was looking. Otherwise, I just wandered her neighborhood, inhaling blossoms opportunistically. Lilacs have a very difficult time growing in this Tidewater climate, the winters aren’t cold enough. So to be in PA during prime lilac season is lovely.

        You — and your writing — seem to be very inspired these days. Thanks for being here and sharing so much. It is appreciated!

        Cheryl

        • Sean Reagan May 22, 2014, 12:03 pm

          Robert Francis was a smart & funny poet, alert to the bird-shaped hole in his heart. I didn’t know what to do with him for a long time but kept coming back. His wisdom is very subtle. There’s very little ego in the traditional sense in his poems. He was from my neck of the New England woods, so of course I give him special attention, call him brother, etc. I wonder sometimes what would happen if I spent a week in Hawaii . . . or ventured outside the 25 mile circumference I call home.

          The sky would fall, right?

          🙂

          Thanks for the kind words re: the writing. I feel increasingly clarity around just writing and sharing, mostly because I learn better that way. It’s the itch I never want to scratch but I am getting better at just accepting wordiness and letting the spiritual chips fall where they may. Not easy but what can you do? I’m glad they’re helpful, in their way.

          Love, Sean

          P.S. You’re kind of rocking it yourself with the words lately, no?

          • Cheryl May 22, 2014, 1:08 pm

            I imagine if we continue to pay attention and stay open, we will find ourselves in the place where we are most needed and can experience the greatest growth. Today New England, tomorrow…well, that will take care of itself, right? As someone very wise said very recently (and with a smile, no less) “we are always where we need to be.” 🙂

            Thanks for the kind words about my words …. and the comment on today’s poem. The first several lines wrote themselves, an infrequent phenomenon for which I am always grateful.

            And one last thought on the subject of birds — that was my first sighting of an indigo bunting, just as it was of a cedar waxwing. And in the last week, I have seen three scarlet tanagers, a bird I had never seen before until this May…. birds, bluets and this morning’s honeysuckle-scented air while I ran.

            So many, many gifts so freely given … of course we must share. What else is there to do?

            Sending love and light northward…..Cheryl

          • Sean Reagan May 22, 2014, 8:12 pm

            Thank you Cheryl . . .

  • Cheryl May 21, 2014, 8:28 am

    oops….sorry about that last sentence fragment….

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