Reading Marianne Williamson

One of the first “miracle” writers I ever read was Marianne Williamson. I found A Return to Love in the local library, and because it was the only book about A Course in Miracles  they had, I took it out. It’s Williamson’s flagship book – contains the famous quote (our deepest fear . . . ) that is so often attributed to Nelson Mandela.

And it’s a good book. I’m glad that I read it when and where I did. I don’t think of Williamson as being a particularly challenging writer. She’s a good writer, but the ideas that she puts forth aren’t especially hard to grasp. She’s got that New Age therapeutic thing down pat – Oprah’s the master, but Williamson knows the drill. It’s a nice blend of affirmation and challenge, always skirting the implication that you can’t do it or that you’re going to have to change too much.

I think that Williamson would disagree with that last line, actually – that ACIM doesn’t push us to change too much. And, in fairness, lots of people I know find Williamson to be exactly the kick in the pants they need to really ramp up their spiritual practice.

At the beginning of my practice with A Course in Miracles, I needed some encouragement. It felt abstract to me and it was, in subtle ways, kind of undermining my long held beliefs in traditional Christianity. Reading Williamson made me feel like I had a friend on my side. It was like a coach saying, You can do this. You can do this.

And, really, that’s nothing to sneeze at. That kind of support is critical. And I still remember a particular line – here paraphrased – about people who want to star on the world stage but still don’t know how to star in their own life. I’m not sure that’s a “real” ACIM approach to life, but it certainly resonated with me. It still helps me narrow my focus, trying to bring into application the principles of A Course in Miracles.

I’ve tried picking up other books by Marianne Williamson – Illuminata, Everyday Grace, and so forth. I can’t get into them. They just don’t resonate. Even Return to Love doesn’t nurture me the way it once did. Glancing at these days is more nostalgic than anything else.

Do I recommend Williamson? I do. I think she’s a good read, especially for people who are new to the course or are really questioning their worth in relation to the course. She is a good writer in the sense that you aren’t lost in abstraction. And she cares about people and she cares about ACIM. That is not an insignificant thing.

These days I find my reading moving in the direction of Tara Singh and others. I can’t read a page of Singh without feeling a sort of shock in my system. It’s like diving into a frigid river, that sense of waking up or coming to suddenly. Important stuff.

But our paths in A Course in Miracles are different. People come to it in their own way. As the text says, our role in the atonement is very personal and very specific. So are the spiritual or miracle coaches who guide us towards and into that role. I’m grateful to Marianne Williamson for her lucidity and her willingness to share her path with her brothers and sisters. I admire her energy and her politics. And if I’ve “moved on” it’s only because she helped make the next step possible.

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