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It’s been quite a while since I wrote this blog. A lot has happened in that time! My heart has been touched in profound ways by meeting with Mooji, (see section on my website).   I’m in a committed relationship and am part of a new initiative called INTERFAITH VISION. We are holding our third retreat this autumn in Glastonbury, and my blog is about the theme of this retreat~ MAKING PEACE WITH CHRIST.

 

When I told a friend about our retreat coming up in October, Making Peace with Christ, she said, thank you, but she was quite at peace with Christ already. I would like to offer the assurance that our retreat will also serve anyone who wants to deepen what they already feel is a loving and peaceful relationship with Christ. Some years ago, I also assumed I was ok with Jesus Christ, although perhaps not ok with my experience of going to Church, or human behavior I had witnessed “in the name of Christ”.

 

In 2002, I discovered a book called A Course in Miracles. It was required reading at the time I was training to become an Interfaith Minister. I realized the teaching in this book had some gifts for me, so I decided to continue working with it long after the Interfaith Seminary training was over.

 

In order to understand the teaching more deeply, I ran a study group on A Course in Miracles. This is a book, (mentioned in older blogs) divided into three parts dedicated to awakening to Truth, is summarized in the following way:~

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

 

There was an enthusiastic attendance in the two years I ran this group. One of the early meetings became an open space where the opportunity arose for people to voice their ambivalence, resistance, and difficulties with A Course in Miracles.

 

One issue was gender, the use of the words Father, Son, Brother, without including Mother, Daughter, Sister. (We will address that question another time.)

 

Another issue was the resistance and plain dislike of the idea that Jesus could be the source of the wisdom of this book.   This was connected to all kinds of issues that people had with Jesus/Christ, nothing really to do with the book, but more to do with their own stories and shaping life experience.

 

As people talked and freely aired their opinions and feelings, I started thumbing through the book. Surely there would be some helpful response hidden there! I found it in the Clarification of Terms, in the back of the book. Here was a page about Jesus-Christ.

 

“The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers, and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God…….

Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed is he. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you……”

 

Above the doors of Florence Cathedral

Above the doors of Florence Cathedral

What arrested my attention in the words I have quoted above was the idea of forgiving Jesus-Christ. It reminds me of the friend who told me she was quite at peace with Christ. Why would I need to forgive Christ?

 

Anyway, deciding to have an open mind, inwardly, I asked to be shown how to forgive Him my illusions…. And thus, realized how I had masked the real experience of Christ’s Presence and Love, through all the hundreds of years of images and ideas and stories, that I had unconsciously absorbed about Christ and that had gotten laid on top of what He Is, and what We Are! When all that fell away, as it did, when I forgave him my illusions…..all that remained was a powerful experience of Love’s Presence, and a dissolving into Love.

 

In the Clarification of Terms the passage goes on to ask:-

 

“Is he God’s only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognized”

 

In our work with Interfaith Vision, we strive to realize this ~ the Oneness behind all appearances, and all approaches to Truth.   There is nothing we can do to change eternal Love, but we can decide to drop our defences and thus make peace within ourselves, and find that love waiting for us all along.


 

As I said in my last blog, I have been deeply touched by A New Year’s Guidance offered to us by Jesus, through Tom Carpenter. I also felt challenged by these words in it, (see last blog):-

“let no one escape the joy of your forgiveness”.

Have you noticed how forgiveness is such a great idea until you have someone in your life who actually seems to have hurt you?

 

This happened for me recently. Last autumn I was seeing a man increasingly frequently. I believed we were building the foundations to a solid, long lasting loving relationship. I was proud of myself that we had not jumped into bed, and yet were sharing what felt to me like an ever deepening intimacy and authentic love.

Please imagine my shock, when in December, seemingly out of the blue, he told me he had met someone on his travels with whom he wanted to explore a relationship.  And, by the way, I found out she was 21 years younger than me, and him. All those thoughts of betrayal, hurt, rejection, disillusionment, humiliation slammed into me. I felt very angry, with myself, as much as with him. How could I have been so stupid?

I did not feel like speaking to him, but when he returned, he persisted in finding a way forward with me, since we live in the same, small village.

By this time, the message had arrived. “Let no one escape the joy of your forgiveness”. I was sceptical. Everyone but him, I thought in that moment.  And yet, I knew that it is in the very places in our lives that feel repeatedly wounded, and with the very people it feels impossible to forgive, that the work needs to be done.

So before we met, I did the work.  My goal was maintaining the feeling of the peace and love of God, and joining in the Oneness with this man I imagined, at that time, I “hated”.   I gave all my horrible thoughts to the Holy Spirit, and asked with all my heart, for Truth to prevail in our meeting.

I felt nervous and awkward when he arrived. We met in the kitchen, in the morning, drinking coffee, instead of the sitting room, where we had shared so many evenings, curled up on the sofa together, by the fire, whisky in hand.

I told him I didn’t know how to proceed, on what level to speak. What I wanted was to be in the Truth of our Oneness, resting in the feeling that “nothing happened”, but that actually I wasn’t there.

Tentatively a conversation unfolded between us, and I tried to stay true to where I was, without blaming or judging him. I was determined not to join the ranks of his friends angry with him, reflecting his own self attack, although I could feel the pull to go there.  I was able to express my hurt and bewilderment, which he received without defence or attack.

I cried. He cried.  He said he still wanted to be friends with me. At that moment, for me, it felt impossible, but we both persisted in staying present, and inside I kept asking the Holy Spirit to help me.

He shared with me his world, his confusion about his life and his relationships. I was about to point out to him his shortcomings in that way we do that is meant to be helpful. But I remembered something Tom wrote in his book, The Miracle of Real Forgiveness, and so I stopped myself.

“no” I said, thinking aloud, “it’s not loving to point out somebody’s faults”.

At this he cried a lot more. It was like the all pain and the all the mistakes got washed away in that moment.

A new kind of peace arrived, and new ground opened up, upon which we could stand, fresh and new.

I cannot describe to you the happiness I felt after he left (and the relief that we were not together as boyfriend and girlfriend). Such a burden had fallen off me, and suddenly here I was with a new friend, with whom I felt more at ease than ever before.

We had a brief text conversation after our meeting:-

“I’m glad you came round today. In peace, and lovingly, Annie” I wrote.

“I’m speechless with thanks in how you spoke to me today” he replied later.

Forgiveness really works!

“Let no one escape the healing joy of your forgiveness”.

 

Post Script….. A couple of weeks passed, and this friend, dear to me in a way I had not imagined possible before, and I met for a walk and afternoon tea. We spoke about what we had each experienced in our meeting, and I told him I had written about it.  I invited him to write about it from his perspective, and here it is, in his words, below.

 

It was not easy going to see Annie after what had happened because, as she rightly says, there was a strong connection between us, which had always been there and which we were both approaching differently this time, slowly, tentatively and in a very open way. We had not made any commitment as such but there was a growing intimacy and love that was hovering on that threshold and was of another kind than before.

Into this came unexpectedly another relationship of mine which hurt Annie as she has described but I was determined to go to her and front up to whatever she had to say to me. I went, as I often do to difficult meetings, sending ahead of me a night prayer, the evening before, asking for truthful speaking, understanding and a way forward. I still struggle to open my heart in such a way as to feel into the lives of others especially when I have caused them pain (and this has happened frequently).So I knocked at Annie’s door with a mixture of  fear, guilt and torturous thoughts, hoping for the best, expecting the worst.

It was hard to hear again themes which have occurred in other relationships; betrayal, rejection, manipulation, my inability to know my feelings, how Annie felt used and the loving trust that was now shaken to its core. It was searing and I was spiralling down into a place of despair and self-flagellation and witnessing Annie’s pain was very difficult to face.

But in the midst of our tears and my self-made hell, Annie said two things that changed everything: the first was, “It is not loving to point out your faults, so I’m not going to go there”

I could see at this point that Annie was struggling and I knew, passionate and articulate as she is, that she would have no shortage of things she could hurl at me and I was still braced for the full venting of her pain. But, unexpectedly, on hearing those words I found I could breathe again and equally unexpectedly love was back in the room and love was breaking me down.

And there was more to come for she added “ What’s more, I’m not going to let you leave here feeling guilty”

I couldn’t quite believe what I’d heard but she kept repeating it and even added “and I’m going to check up with you from time to time that you are still not feeling guilty.”

It’s hard to express how this felt. The nearest image that comes to mind is one of having a huge stone lifted from my back and that feeling has not left me. I can still feel it and it still brings tears to my eyes when I revisit that moment. Suddenly, I was standing in a new life. It was as if a space had been created that I could not imagine, a space full of grace, which welcomed me unconditionally and left me free.

I feel immensely grateful to Annie for having the strength and love to reach the place she found in herself to speak those words and to stand in them. I still have a long way to go and other injured partners to make peace with and to feel no self-harming guilt in speaking with them but this experience has given me hope and a living experience of the unconditional joy of forgiveness.

This experience has set a seal on our friendship which has lifted it to quite another level and that in my life is most rare. It has created a new standard in my soul and I hope that if I am tested in a similar way I can also find this generosity.

 

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year to you all! I am inspired to share with you guidance from Jesus, known as Brother, offered by Tom Carpenter.

I have been reading and re reading this guidance every day…” resolve to be the Voice for God,”

Annie and Tom

and join you there, love, Annie

 

I have asked our Brother to give us a message to begin the year.  This is what he has said, and I want to share it with you.        Love and blessings,  Tom Carpenter

 

 

 

“This is the time when you review your life and decide if you will make different choices for your future.  Pause for a moment and reflect on whether this process has ever fulfilled the expectations you have had for it.  I ask you to consider there is but a single choice you must make if you would bring happiness and peace to your life experience.  Indeed, just this one choice can you make if peace and happiness is what you truly want.

 

Resolve to be the Voice for God.  All other choices expect too little and so must leave you unfulfilled.  Resolve that it will be His Eyes you use to see, His Heart to decide the worth of everything.  His Ears will determine what you hear; His Voice will speak the words that all will know to be the truth.

 

Resolve that by your presence everyone will know that they are loved.  Let no one escape the healing joy of your forgiveness!  Let nothing of his story distract you from your goal.  It is time now for sin and guilt, lack and suffering and every other denial of your wholeness to be put aside.  There is no reason for you not to love!  I ask this of you because to ask less would be meaningless to the Holy Child of God.

 

Resolve that your strength of trust will be the bridge across which all may walk to find a loving world.  As you accept your role and allow God’s Plan to effortlessly unfold through you, you have become the world’s witness that love, through forgiveness, answers every need.

 

If, as you consider these things that I suggest you are tempted to doubt your resolve, then in that moment use my strength of trust in you.  Let me be the bridge to your place of trust, as I ask you to do for others.  Accept my assurance as though it were your own, for such is the bond we share.  There is no point where I begin and where you end.  Only in the ego’s world can distinction be made between us.

 

Do not dwell on how difficult this may seem or how long you can hold to your resolve.  Join me but for a moment and let that be enough.  Then join me for another moment when you can, and another after that.  See each one complete unto itself and you will have no fear of loss.

 

Resolve to be the Voice for God for that is what you are.  Decide that you can give the world all that this implies for only in the giving of it will you recognize that it is yours.   Only as you are witness that everyone is loved can you accept God’s promise of what you are.

 

Join with me now that together we are the vision that answers and heals the world’s need for separateness.  Join with me that together all consciousness may now find and share the peace and strength that is in our Oneness and remember at last what it means to Love.”

 

 

 

 

In lesson 156 we are encouraged to ask this question “who walks with me?” at least a thousand times a day!

exploring Assisi with friends

I recommend you try this as a conscious practice and open to the reassurance the answer gives. Indeed we walk together towards the Truth, rather than in a line, with some ahead, and some behind. It may be tempting to use comparisons, seeing ourselves as more or less advanced or capable than others. However, the truth is that through every single one of you, God walks with me.

The idea of walking implies a journey, that we are going somewhere. But ACIM describes it thus, “we walk together on a journey that has no distance”. The reason is that we are dreaming we are on a journey, that we fell out of paradise, and are returning, and that our goal is to merge with the Love that we left. The picture of dreaming is helpful, because inherent in dreaming is the idea of awakening from the dream. In truth we never left Paradise, and there we reside, already fully awake, and when we realize we are in a dream, we can also realize we are already awake!

We cannot awaken alone.

Another very helpful spiritual practice is therefore to choose to see everyone as fully awake, rather than judge them for their behaviour or beliefs. This calls upon the Christ vision inside you, because with those eyes it is possible to see through the veils of our appearance to the radiant shining self within that is indeed fully awake already.

The beauty is that, because we are all One, we cannot awaken alone. Our commitment to realize we are fully awake, already, is something we do for the entire consciousness.

Here’s wishing you a beautiful day, with your radiant awakened Self guiding all you do.

 


 

One of the things I love about Tom Carpenter’s new book about REAL FORGIVENESS is the idea of never making anyone wrong.  Even pointing out someone’s faults to them, is an attack.

 

I felt challenged by that this week when I had some painting work done on the French windows of my house. I was not happy about the result. The woodwork remained rough, and I felt the inside needed a second coat of gloss, as well as the outside. I had tried to remark in a helpful way when I first felt concerns, but experienced the man as very passive aggressive. It made me feel intimated to approach him. In the end I realized I was afraid to tell him that I was disappointed.

 

Remembering Tom’s advice, about not making someone wrong, I felt stuck. When I closed my eyes and thought about it, I actually felt extremely angry and ripped off. However, Tom had also reminded me that if I needed to make him “wrong” it was because I was still judging myself in some way.

 

I then remembered last weekend. I went with some friends to what I thought was going to be a story telling performance by an Israeli and an Arab, on the theme of peace making. It turned out to be something very different. With the Israeli’s woman’s presentation, again I felt very intense anger. I was irritated and frustrated with her style and content about the Sabbath.

 

What’s common here is my anger. In both cases, I was judging these people and their actions as not being good enough. And the reason is of course, because I still imagine there is something wrong with me.  I am still the one not good enough. When I can truly ACCEPT my wholeness and reality as the Light of the world, I am not going to see anything wrong with anyone else. My wholeness will see them whole and joined with me.

 

When I examined the woodwork some more, I realized, also that I had neglected the woodwork. It had not been painted for seven years! I was also projecting my guilt and irritation with myself, for letting it go, on to the painter.

 

He came just now to be paid.  Here’s the rub…I had spent most of the day preparing myself for this moment.  We did have a peaceful exchange. I did point out some problems, like the wet rot he had just painted over, and the roughness of the wood, and he gave his point of view. In the end, he asked, are you going to pay me? And I did.

 

But I feel kind of dissatisfied with the outcome, which is that I would never employ him again, and I am still not happy with the result.  I have got a quotation from another painter to make good his work, and I am feeling bad that I did not take care of my wooden window frames all these years.

 

So, this moment, I realize, is an opportunity to forgive myself again! To choose to reside in the place in me that IS whole, cannot rot or weather or disintegrate however much it gets neglected and ignored. And as I write those words, I know it’s true, because suddenly I can feel it ~ a wonderful radiant energy pouring forth from my heart, and filling me.  And it’s always been there, and always IS, finally accepted by me, ignored no more.  And the final step is gratitude to the painter and the Israeli lady, and who ever else shows up in my life, however many times, to show me myself and what still wants to be healed.

 

As I made my early morning cup of tea, I listened to the news and heard about the latest drama of hate in Bangkok.

Back in bed, with the birds singing, and the sun streaming in, all seemed calm and peaceful as I read today’s lesson, 137:- “when I am healed I am not healed alone”.

“Invite your Self to be at home.” What could be a more encouraging invitation than to give welcome to the truth in our mind and trust that the Truth will heal our mind and set us free from all the thoughts of anguish, revenge, hatred, and separation? As I contemplated the quieting of my mind so that I could open to my real Self, I thought of all those people in Thailand, afraid and determined to be right in upholding their beliefs, and knew that they were showing me the part of my own awareness that could still be afraid, and thus want to defend myself, or attack my self or another, in thought, yes, but sometimes also, if I am honest, in word and deed.

In the teachings of ACIM, forgiveness and healing work together, and could be said to be the same thing.  When I ask that only truth will occupy my mind today, I am asking for forgiveness. I am seeing through, and letting go of all my thoughts of attack.  And so today, I joined with all the people in Thailand, whatever side they were on.  As I allowed the veils to fall in my mind, and the awareness of a radiant light to shine

through, together with a very peaceful and loving feeling, I allowed that feeling to extend to the maelstrom in Bangkok.  It was like I was seeing the fighting on the streets, the pain and anguish and hate made visible, gradually fading, and tearing open, like tattered cloth, to reveal a peaceful and powerful presence pervading everything.  The light in me is that Light. We share it. All of consciousness shares it.  Let us extend this awareness to parts of the world that are showing us the ego’s endless tale of suffering today… “when I am healed I am not healed alone”.

Jesus invites us all in today’s lesson:- “we will remember, as the hour strikes, our function is to let our minds be healed, that we may carry healing to the world, exchanging curse for blessing, pain fo

r joy, and separation for peace of God. Is not a minute of the hour worth the giving to receive a gift like this? Is not a little time a small expense to offer for the gift of everything?”

The intention to share forgiveness with the world, in practical terms by extending and sharing the awareness of God’s Peace, when a place gets fired up with war, or any other kind of crisis, is part of the purpose of the Forgiveness Network founded by Tom Carpenter. www.theforgivenessmovement.org I invite you to join this movement today.

With love and blessings, and in peace, Annie

The review section of the workbook, lessons 51 to 59, is one of my favourite parts!

The last two lessons, 58 and 59, are a poetic crescendo to that acceptance of ourselves as the Son of God…..

However, in my work as a spiritual counsellor, and in my personal journey, I have discovered that we all have misperceptions of what we think God is. And so it occurs to me that these lessons might not go down so well if we have not examined how we really feel about God.

The stories about God, as created by the religions of the world, often pictures aspects of God as jealous, vengeful, angry, judging….. but these are but giant shadow puppets of the ego, writ large across the sky of our mind.  These images go so deep, that we don’t realise we have them. We may have ideas that we are being tested in some way; that life is a series of trials, that if we don’t pass, we’ll end up with some kind of punishment. For example, the loss of a loved one, disease, imprisonment on some level, death. Lurking inside us, we might discover the uneasy feeling, “if you really knew me, then you would find I’m flawed, you wouldn’t really like me”.

Even the word, God, is often unacceptable to many modern spiritual people, because of the undigested connotations of what we think God is.

I am reminded of the moment that Helen Schucman, (author of A Course in Miracles) was offered a choice in a dream, where she found herself in a cave, looking at a scroll. A voice told her that everything she wanted to know about the past was rolled up on one side, and on the other, everything she wanted to  know about the future. But in the middle, the scroll was open, just with the words “God Is”. Helen thought for a moment, and said, “I just want what God Is”. From that moment on, her life changed.

We can read the beginning of each of the thoughts in lessons 58 and 59, like a lovely mantra:-

God goes with me,

God is my strength,

God is my source,

God is the light,

God is the mind,

God is the love,

God is the strength…

say these words to yourself, and feel yourself cloaked in strength, certainty, and blessing.

There is nothing to fear.

God’s Voice speaks to me.

I am sustained by the Love of God.

With gratitude and love to you all who are joining with me by reading my blog, and apologies for the gap in writing! The photo above is a Ganesha statue, in an alcove of an outside wall of someone’s house in Tiruvannamalai, Southern India.


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