As 2011 rolls to a close, I find myself juggling all the stuff that one juggles in December. I am grading papers (lots and lots of papers), shopping and decorating and baking, and turning my thoughts to where I’ll be directing my writing energy in the next year.
One year or so ago – asking the same question – I decided that I would try and write more in a public way. I am always writing, but I realized that I wanted to explore my relationship to A Course in Miracles and Jesus – and, more broadly, to spirituality – in a way that “risked readers” and also risked earning money.
Both of those are big challenges for me – I tend to be fairly private and to appreciate (and cultivate) real solitude. I also dislike making money and have always struggled with converting the writing process (which I love and understand) to writing as a saleable product (which I accept as necessary and am often quite successful with but which I don’t like and am always finding ways to evade).
I did earn money off this blog – enough certainly to pay its expenses, buy the occasional cup of coffee, keep myself in piles of good used books and wonder from time to time what would happen if I really tried to earn some money here.
I also got those readers – right now I have on average about 600 visitors a week. That’s pretty small by internet standards, but given that most of them stick around and read a few posts it feels significant to me. I’m used to poetry readings with ten or fifteen readers, more than half of whom are related to you and don’t know how to tell you they’re busy when you invite them.
Yet as I look at the past year, I realize that having met those two goals is ancillary to the real and unexpected joy – meeting like-minded people, building epistolary friendships, and knowing that I am actually helping some people as they, like me, follow this path laid out in A Course in Miracles.
As a general rule, the more I write, the more people show up. And the more people show up, the more money I make. That’s fine as far as it goes. But what I am realizing is that what I really value is the human contact. It might sound strange, but I am profoundly grateful to many of you for engaging me on a regular basis – about God, about the Course, about parenting, about baking. You taught me a great deal about myself and about ACIM.
So that is what I want more of in the coming year. I am not going to focus on traffic and I am not going to focus on earnings. I am leaving those statistics to Jesus. Instead, I am going to focus on being honest and transparent. I’m going to be what I am – a diligent Course student struggling each day to bring its lessons into application.
We talk about how hard the Course is to understand, but that’s not actually the problem. In truth, it is a remarkably simple text. What’s hard is living it. What’s hard is giving up the dream – I mean really giving it up, not just pretending that we’ve given it up while indulging the Happy Dream. It’s hard work. That’s why most of us give up on it – or put the books aside – or follow external Course teachers instead of our internal teacher. It’s not the text that’s difficult – it’s what the text asks us to do. Forgiveness is hard.
In an imperfect and wordy way, I have chosen to wake up. I have asked Jesus and the Holy Spirit to change my mind about my mind and to show me the way out of the world. And each time they show me the next step, I cringe and whine and secretly wish there was another way.
But for me, there isn’t. This is it. And this site is where I am working it out, one awkward step at a time. This year I’m going to attempt three things:
First, I am going to go back and do the lessons again. I have been through the workbook once and feel called to do it again. I’m going to write about it each day – the lesson I’m on, what’s hard about it, what’s rewarding.
Similarly, I’m going to reread the text slowly and comment on it. Each day I’ll read a section and write in response to it. Again, I’ve been through the text many times, but I want something that’s a bit more targeted, a bit more focused on expanding my knowledge.
Related to this, I am going to cut down on the external – or secondary – reading that I do. I have read the external teachers extensively this year – Ken Wapnick, David Hoffmeister, Gary Renard, Liz Cronkhite, Tara Singh, Marianne Williamson, Jon Mundy. And that leaves aside non-Course teachers – Joel Goldsmith, Thomas Merton, Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, etc.
All of those writers have been helpful to me in one way or another. But balance is important. When external teachers crowd the voice of our internal teacher, then it’s time to stand back. I would like to get closer to the text of the Course itself, and deepen my relationship with it.
If you are interested in reading – and practicing the lessons – along with me, that’d be great.
Finally, I am also committing to doing some more off-site writing about the Course. Specifically, I want to try and gather some of my thoughts into a book and make it available through the site.
I promise to write regularly and attentively. I’ll try to tell the truth and if I can’t, I’ll try to at least be honest about the struggle to tell it. I want to earn the love that you have extended to me – and I want to give it back.
In the end, that’s all that we really have to do.