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“Don’t make me go back out there again,” I said, resurrecting my “tiny voice.” The one I used to use as a kid in the confessional, reciting a rote list of venial sins, the tip of an iceberg I’d kept in the freezer for, well; ever. I couldn’t tell how long I’d been sitting outside my imaginary Jesus’ imaginary office, unable to rise to my feet and enter that ever-open door. I’d been emailing him all week and getting an out-of-office reply but obviously he was in there, grading papers maybe or playing with those finger puppets I gave him a while back. (He has a bit of a thing for puppets. :)) I’d been hoping to talk with him—to spill my guts, really—and yet. Some kind of force field kept me glued to the chair, unable to approach the light spilling out from that threshold.
After a while he came out and sat down beside me, laced his fingers backwards and inverted them, unfurled the pointers and thumbs and pressed them together. “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple,” he said, just like my grandfather used to all those years ago. “Open the doors and see all the people.” His thumbs swung open. He wiggled his fingers inside-out at me, threw back his head and laughed; just like my grandfather. But I refused to crack a smile. After all, I was here on serious business, and we were burning daylight.
“Don’t make me go back out there again,” I repeated, as emphatically as my tiny voice would allow.
He leaned toward me. “Why are we whispering?”
I managed a ragged sigh, looked over my shoulder. I really couldn’t say.
“Out there?” he said. He had lowered his voice, too, no doubt to meet me in the condition I think I’m in. That’s just the kind of guy he is.
“You know,” I said. “That ‘dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die.’ ”
He smiled. “We’ve talked about this.”
“It’s just that I really am way over my head this semester. I mean, Jesus, the forgiveness pop quizzes are coming at warp speed and I can’t possibly keep up with all the lab work. You can’t blame me for falling behind. I am so not ready for this.”
“I thought you got an A plus on your last special relationships test.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m ready to make it all the same, mister; to look at everything with you, to come to every situation, every encounter with sentient and insentient beings without need. I mean, true I can see that body I held responsible for the drama and conflict playing out in my puny little head for such a long time was never the cause. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up the cause. I mean, seeing isn’t always believing, you know what I’m saying?”
“I believe I do.”
“I don’t go down easily, as you may have noticed. And I don’t know which scares me more right now. Going out there.” I pointed to the door down the hall, portal to the great illusion of my so-called life. “Or going in there.” I pointed to his office door.
“I see,” he said.
“I know you do. I’m just saying I’d like to slow this whole thing down, is that too much to ask?”
“You think I’m in charge of the speed?”
“I am so not ready to wake up, anyone can see that. I think I must have missed some prerequisites. Just like that recurring dream I used to have where I couldn’t graduate from college because I forgot to fill that math requirement I kept postponing. Whoa, that was a scary dream. Remember that one?”
“We’ve talked about this.”
“Well, obviously not enough.”
Anyway, speaking of dreams, I’d awakened that morning in the throes of a terrifying nightmare in which I found myself adrift in a strange, vast land, unable to speak the language. Bands of armed men who hadn’t bathed recently terrorized the countryside, randomly attacking civilians trying to eke out a living from the parched, rocky soil along bald hillsides. I was traveling with my little dog Kayleigh and a group of strangers equally lost, also trying to find a way out while staying under the radar.
In a cloud of dust a bus approached on the steep, dirt road and Kayleigh darted across the road ahead of it without me. Men waved automatic weapons out the windows and we dropped to our knees and covered our heads the way they used to make us in kindergarten during air raid drills. They passed us by without incident, but Kayleigh was nowhere to be found. I spent the rest of the dream dashing up and down the ravines frantically calling her name, abandoned by the rest of the group and overwhelmed by the possibility that I had lost her for good.
Jesus reached into his pocket and handed me a tissue from his seemingly endless invisible supply.
I dabbed at my eyes. “It’s just that she’s so small,” I said. “So sweet and helpless, and loyal, too, you know? You don’t run into that very often out there.”
Jesus patted my arm.
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.
“You always do.”
“Have a little faith in me is what you’re really saying. I don’t have to give up the things I love. I don’t have to go around doing everything that scares me just to prove I’m not a body. I just have to go back in there with you. To see things from your perspective, recognize how afraid of love I am; admit I’m not ready to wake up without trying to justify it by defending the reality of my dreams of loss and persecution. That’s how they get undone. That’s how eyes that cannot see begin to open. It’s like it says in the second half of the workbook, number 13. What Is a Miracle?
“The eyes of Christ deliver them to all they look upon in mercy and in love. Perception stands corrected in His sight, and what was meant to curse has come to bless. … The miracle is taken first on faith, because to ask for it implies the mind has been made ready to conceive of what it cannot see and does not understand. Yet faith will bring its witnesses to show that what it rested on is really there. And thus the miracle will justify your faith in it, and show it rested on a world more real than what you saw before; a world redeemed from what you thought was there.”
Jesus nodded. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”
“Ha!” I felt better, sort of. I would just have to keep plugging along. Quit worrying about flunking the Course. Trust that “no one can fail who seeks to reach the truth,” even when I didn’t believe it, even when the thought of losing my dog brought me to my knees, even when I wanted to throttle someone “out there” just for the hell of it. It was all just part of the curriculum.
“What were my choices again?” I asked.
“We’ve talked about this.”
“Just that one choice, you’re saying?”
“Oh man, there has to be another way.”
Jesus laughed. I took his hand, rose, and followed him into his office.
“Seek for that door and find it. But before you try to open it, remind yourself no one can fail who seeks to reach the truth. And it is this request you make today. Nothing but this has any meaning now; no other goal is valued now nor sought, nothing before this door you really want, and only what lies past it do you seek.” (Workbook lesson 131, paragraph 12)
NOTE: A Course in Miracles uses the figure of Jesus as a symbol of the awakened mind, the memory of our one, eternal wholeness that lingers in the one mind of the one child of God merely dreaming an impossible dream of separation from all-inclusive, boundless, formless Love. By choosing this part of our mind as our teacher instead of the ego, we remember we are dreamers of the dream, rather than dream figures. Our guilt over the mistaken belief we have defected from real Love, can never return, and must continually exonerate ourselves by projecting our guilt on others to prove our greater innocence is undone as we look through the lens of kindness on what never was. Our split mind begins to heal as we learn to smile at our misperceptions and gently awaken to our one, true nature.