I woke from terrifying dreams a little before 5 a.m. and stumbled outside with the dog. Stars were shooting across the sky. I know better than to translate them into signs of God’s favor. We headed east toward black hills, past fields still clumped with snow, into the forest.
I prayed as we walked, which is to say that I paid attention as we walked, ever longing for the peace that flowers when I can allow Jesus to be present to me. It’s not easy. People were dying in my dream and I watched them suffer. It was not clear that my fate was not going to be the same. You know how it is, when the bad dreams are so real you wake up sweating, trembling. And when you realize it was just a dream, you think, “where the hell did that come from?”
How I hate having a mind that can create such anguish and hurt! And yet . . .
A Course in Miracles challenges me to release the world. The story of this life – its bad dreams, its fleeting pleasures, its apparent struggles for money, for grace, for love, for justice – was written long ago. The question is not whether I can do anything about it now, but rather with whom I watch it unfold.
The ego – whose life is this painful illusion – fosters only the doomed sense that one cannot -ever – escape. The Holy Spirit gently shines the illusion away, at whatever pace and to whatever degree you can handle a loving yes.
The only question we need to answer is: whose Kingdom is the world for you today? Does it belong to the ego? Or to Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
A few weeks ago I surfed a particularly difficult and painful time. It passed. This happens. The closer we come to Christ, the more frantic and even violent the ego’s defense becomes. Yet it will relent, too, lest you give up on it entirely. A little peace comes and we think, “I did it. I got it. I beat the ego by embracing Jesus.”
Maybe. But maybe not, too.
It is a dangerous game of balance the ego plays, especially once we’ve had a taste of the peace that Jesus offers. The ego wants us miserable then dead but it has to be careful. If the misery and fear become too much we might turn altogether to Jesus and learn that the ego is simply an idea we can release the way late summer milkweed release their tendril seeds . . .
I have learned in recent months that the necessary undoing – the revelation of Truth – is vast. My penchant for conflict – for indulging the ego – is deep-rooted and ugly in the extreme. And it’s wily like a genius fox. Nightmares abound lately, even as my day-to-day waking life subsides into manageability. How do we get off the roller-coaster?
“There is no roller coaster,” Jesus says patiently, for the ten thousandth time since we believe we got on board. “It ends when you say it ends.”
“Don’t be a fool,” whispers the ego. “This ride is all there is and you know it.”
So it goes. What is there to do but keep on keeping on, as Bob Dylan once said? The dog and I headed back just as the sky was beginning to soften and the stars slowly dim. I made tea, sat by the window, then knelt suddenly to pray. “Help me,” I said. “Just help me. Please.” The dream images that woke me in fear remain, but are curiously one-dimensional. I can write. I can make breakfast for the kids.
I have come so far through the darkness alone that I cannot turn back. I won’t lie to you, if I can help it. There is no light yet for some reason with each step my feet land on solid ground. One senses they are being held, or guided, or perhaps even lifted. I used to think this writing was about me but maybe it’s not. Maybe you, reading this right now, are blessing me. Maybe you are doing the lifting.
Maybe all I need to say is thank you, thank you, thank you.