Sunday, December 21, 2008

'Tis the Season to Remember that You Never Walk Alone

For a good part of my life, I felt completely alone. I mean I had family and friends and acquaintances and coaches and teammates and students, but I felt alone in that if I couldn’t get it done, it wouldn’t get done. If I were not up to the task, I had no sense that I had anything else in myself to rely upon. It was always a case of my personal toughness, and I suppose, I took a certain amount of pride in being able to get it done, although I did become very weary.

This misplaced pride in standing alone is expressed in this poem that has, unfortunately, served as a rallying cry for getting it done, personally, individually.


OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow'd.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

. . .master of my fate. Sure. Finally, when I was about fifty-six years old, I experienced for the first time that I am not alone. A few years earlie, I had come across A Course in Miracles, but it did not really penetrate until one day I was in devastation, and I went to my room, and just stood there in the middle of the room, refusing to do anything to sedate, to relieve me from the pain. After a while, a thought came into my mind, “Pick up the Course and open it at random.”

I stepped across to my desk, picked up the Course, and “happened” to open it to Chapter 18, Section VII, I need do nothing. I sat down and read it, sobbing. These passages, in particular, showed me that I was not alone.

To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides. He will remain when you forget, and the body's activities return to occupy your conscious mind.

Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it.
T-18.VII.7:7-9, 8

Those were tears of recognition and of gratitude. I felt the Presence within that always has been and always will be there.

And now, at Christmas time, I simply want to look again at inspiring passages that I have recently, miraculously, come across, expressing this Presence that is in all of us, uniting us all in Oneness.

From the Course.

The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come. He comes demanding nothing. No sacrifice of any kind, of anyone, is asked by Him. In His Presence the whole idea of sacrifice loses all meaning. For He is Host to God. And you need but invite Him in Who is there already, by recognizing that His Host is One, and no thought alien to His Oneness can abide with Him there. Love must be total to give Him welcome, for the Presence of Holiness creates the holiness that surrounds it. No fear can touch the Host Who cradles God in the time of Christ, for the Host is as holy as the perfect Innocence which He protects, and Whose power protects Him.T-15.XI.2

And here is Jesus speaking in John.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
John 14:18-20

Jesus reassures us in Lesson 70.

Try to pass the clouds by whatever means appeals to you. If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy. W-p1.70.9:2-4

Awareness of His Presence enables us to be in the world, but not of the world. This is how Michael Brown expresses it in The Presence Process.

Awareness of the Presence is a state of Being in which we effortlessly integrate the authentic and Divine Presence that we are with each God-given moment that we are in so that we are able to respond consciously to every experience we are having. By accomplishing this, our response is always the same: gratitude—a flow of gratitude that washes us of all our illusions. Entering such a state may sound hard and complicated when we are living in time. It is, however, effortless and completely natural because this awareness is our birthright. It is the kingdom of awareness through whose gates the prodigal children return. The hard part has been attempting to find what we did not know we had lost. The best part is realizing that we have been looking for something that has already found us. (Michael Brown, The Presence Process (Namaste Publishing, Vancouver, Canada, 2005), p. 13.

In His Urtext, Jesus demonstrates to Helen how He activates those around her to communicate to her what she needs to learn for herself. In the following example, she would have been late to work because of her focus on Jesus’s dictation of the Course.

The reason you have been late recently for work is because you were taking dictation merely because you didn't remember to ask me when to stop. I prompted that call from Jack (the taxi man who couldn’t pick Helen up) to show you that this is not necessary. Also, the other man needed the money more today. Scribes must learn Christ-control to replace their former habits, which did produce scarcity rather than abundance. Urtext, The Original Unexpurgated Manuscript as it Emanated from the Mind and Heart of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, p. 14

In another situation, Jesus says to Helen:

I inspired Bob, the elevator man, to make that remark to you. Urtext, p. 35.

When I first read, I inspired Bob, the elevator man, it exploded off the page and stayed with me for a long time. It is so clear how Jesus activates those around us to assist in our awakening to the recognition that we are truly One.

And from the Epilogue.

You do not walk alone.
God’s angels hover near and all about.

His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure;

that I will never leave you comfortless.


When I look back at this essay, I can see how Jesus inspired me. While I was sitting on the couch, next to the wood-burning stove, looking out the window on a cold, snowy day, with my notebook in hand, thinking about the ideas that had been running through my mind for the past couple of days, into my mind came most of the passages that I quoted, above. In particular, my chest warmed with gratitude when it came into my mind to look at the Epilogue. You do not walk alone is the theme of this essay, and the last line echoes comfortless in John.

Finally, this song comes to me from over the years, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

When you walk through the storm

Hold your head up high

And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark.

Walk on, through the wind

Walk on, through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone.

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone

You'll never walk alone.

And now, Dear Reader, here is the last line of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One.

And God Bless you, Master Teacher.

To listen to a recording of You'll Never Walk alone, click here.