Let Love teach you what You are.
Wow, Eric! I was tired and was about to head off to bed early. Then I read your post and had to say thank you. I can relate to your gratitude for A Course in Miracles.
Ruby, thank you for sharing your story and opening this conversation. When I discovered the Course it was so new that few people had ever heard of it. When I would find someone else who had read it we invariably asked the burning question, "How did you find this book?"
I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school for my first three years of school and catechism after that. I remember religion and God being very important to me as a child, and I also remember God becoming more and more of a fearful icon to me as I grew up. Talk about your basic conflicted relationship! God was Who I turned to when I wanted anything, but God was pretty undependable. He sometimes granted wishes and sometimes not He set impossibly high standards that I could not possibly reach and punishment was everlasting hell. I was supposed to love this, but fear was as close as I could come.
When I divorced my first husband and the priest told me that I could not recieve communion or teach catechism anymore I was devastated. He told me that I was ok as long as I didn't remarry. I guess he meant I wouldn't go to hell if I didn't get married again. I told him that I was very young and knew I would marry again and he assured me that it might not happen. I could get killed before then, run over by a car or some other helpful event, and then I would be saved. Even a true Catholic believer like me could see the flaw in that argument. It didn't seem to matter to the priest what my intention was, only what I got around to actually doing.
I was so confused. I didn't feel like an evil person and couldn't understand why God would think I was. I was so angry with the Catholic church and since I believed that God was Catholic I was angry with Him. I spent the next year or so ranting at God. Looking back on it I don't think I spoke to God this much in my entire life, all the time telling Him I didn't believe in Him and by turns telling Him I hated Him. Which He seemed to take as an invitation to heal me. That God! :)
My mom had gotten involved with the Unity church but they didn't have one where she lived, so when she came to visit me in Houston I took her to the Golden Pyramid. I didn't want to go to any church but it seemed like a nice thing to do for her. The first thing I heard was the preacher talking metaphysics (which I had never heard of) and then he said something that changed my mind about things. He said that if anyone had a problem with what he was saying to just put it on a mental shelf. What?! Was he saying I had enough sense to make religious decisions on my own?! I was intrigued and started attending the Unity church. That began my spiritual journey.
When I moved back to Lake Charles mom and some other folks had started a Unity study group and one day they talked about joining someone in a neighboring town as they conducted a gathering to introduce A Course in Miracles. This was in 1981 I think, because my daughter was around 3 or 4. My mom had already delved into it, but mom was always into one weird thing or another and I had no interest. But I like the Unity minister who was doing the talk and thought it would be nice to support her so I went. (I'm starting to detect a pattern here. Maybe acting selflessly is a good thing.)
I don't remember Marge saying anything special that night by I came away knowing I had to have that book. I had just lost my job and the $20.00 cost was way more than I could afford, but somehow I bought it anyway. I think it may have been her talking about the Holy Spirit that intrigued me so. I had been thinking about the Holy Spirit and couldn't figure out why. As a Catholic there wasn't a lot of mention of the Holy Spirit. I had been dragging my daughter around from church to church trying to find the source of this need to pursue the Holy Spirit. But nothing seemed to do it for me. Then that night when I heard Marge talk about the Holy Spirit I thought this must be what was calling to me. I have been studying it ever since.
I read the text like it was a good novel. I couldn't put it down. I would think how increditble it was then I would wonder why I believed it. But on a deep level I knew it was the most important thing I had done so far in my life. I had a lot more trouble with the lessons and was very resistant. Most of the years I studied it I was on my own. That is a hard way to do it, I think.
The Course was always a part of my life after I found it, but sometimes I would not read it or study it for awhile as I jumped headlong into ego storms that would last for long periods of time. But it was always there and I always went back to it when I couldn't stand the pain of living without it. All the time the Holy Spirit kept led me gently to the next step; a book, a person, a group, whatever I needed to keep me going.
I got really serious about my study when I turned 50 and decided that I wanted to do something useful with my life and ACIM was the only avenue that seemed meaningful to me. I discovered Pathways of Light at the same time I discovered computers and began studying for the ministry. I could hardly believe I was doing this. Once again I was being led because I could never have set up events to lead to this place in my life. It was the Holy Spirit again gently leading me to the next step in my Awakening. Now, in retrospect, it has been a beautiful dance with Him leading the whole time. Often I contemplate the perfection and beauty of my life, though at the time it often looked very ugly, and I am in awe. Those things that seemed to be failures and horrible events were just the next step, the way home. I am so grateful for A Course in Miracles, and now for NTI and The Way of Mastery as well. The dance continues and He still leads.
My introduction to A Course in Miracles began in 2004 in the midst of deep depression/anxiety after my dad passed away—I felt it was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and did not even want to continue to live. I was a high school teacher at the time, just putting one foot in front of the other and doing my job, feeling deeply sad and trying not to show it. It was noticed, however, by kind students and fellow teachers, etc., who reached out to me.
One of these was Lois, a guidance counselor/friend who each day would invite me into her office to eat lunch together and let me talk. Lois also gave me a book called “The Power of Now.” She had not read it herself, but had heard of it. This book mentioned the bible and many other religious texts, but it kept referring to A Course in Miracles, which made me curious. Just as Eric G. said, the book was shrink wrapped so I could not preview it, and it was $30. I bought it anyway and began reading it, finding it very difficult to understand, but also being unable to put it down.
A few days later in Lois’ office I was telling her of my experience with this book and her phone rang. She answered it and then handed me the phone saying “this person wants to speak to you, Joan.” I took the phone and spoke to Debi, another teacher that Lois had heard was reading the course and participating in a group. They met on Wednesday evening (my only free night because of teaching at night also)—the rest is history. I am so grateful to be on this path to God and thankful for the support of my dear friends!
Pauline, I love your energy. Deep... sweet... and funny... all rolled into one ball of Love. Five kids...wow. Well, your page looks great. LOL ... your son did a great job and so did you. Thanks for your presence and support. Love you, Ruby