Thursday, October 12, 2017

Receptivity is the Key

After all this time, it has come down to one thing for me:  receptivity.  

How often during the day, can I step back, be present, and listen for the Voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to me all through the day?

These passages are excellent reminders for me.

from A Course in Miracles,

Lesson 49, God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day.

It is quite possible to listen to God's Voice all through the day without interrupting your regular activities in any way.  The part of your mind in which truth abides is in constant communication with God, whether you are aware of it or not.  It is the other part of your mind that functions in the world and obeys the world's laws.  It is this part that is constantly distracted, disorganized and highly uncertain.

The part that is listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain.  It is really the only part there is.  The other part is a wild illusion, frantic and distraught, but without reality of any kind.  Try today not to listen to it.  Try to identify with the part of your mind where stillness and peace reign forever.  Try to hear God's Voice call to you lovingly, reminding you that your Creator has not forgotten His Son.

from the Bible, Luke 6:11

Give us today our daily bread.

from A Course of Love, The Addendum,

A.11  What you are finding is receptivity.  You are coming home to the way of the heart.  What you gain by sharing with others is a situation in which you “learn” in unity through the receptivity of the heart.

A.12 Am I telling you not to question?  Not to enter discussion?  I am only telling you to receive before you seek to perceive.  I ask you not to receive as one who does not have what another has, as this is not a passing on of information that you do not possess.  I ask you merely to receive in order to learn receptivity, the way of the heart.  I ask you only to pause, to give the mind a rest, to enter a realm foreign to the mind and yet beloved to the heart.  I ask you but to give yourself a chance to let the relief of not having another task to apply your effort to fill you.  I ask you but to give yourself a chance to forget about approaching this as one more self-improvement exercise, or one more objective to accomplish.  Only in this way do you come to realize you are already accomplished.

A.13 Through receptivity, what your mind finds difficult to accept, your heart accepts with ease.  Now you are ready to question what you must.  Now you are ready to hear the answer that arises in your own heart or from the voice of the man or woman sitting next to you.  Now you are ready to hear all the voices around you without judgment, to enter discussion without an agenda to attend to, to not be so anxious to say what you are thinking that you forget to listen.  Now you are ready to let understanding come without the aggressiveness of going out to get it.

A.14 You are patient, loving, and kind.  You have entered the time of tenderness.  You begin to hear what your feelings are saying to you without the interferences and cautions of your thinking mind.  You begin to trust and as you begin to trust you begin to extend who you are.  True giving and receiving as one begins to take place.  You have entered Holy relationship.

A.48 Go forth not as complete works of art but as permeable energy, ever changing, ever creating, ever new.  Go forth with openness for revelation to happen through you and through all you encounter.  Go forth joyously on this adventure of discovery.  Be ever new, ever one, ever the beloved.

A.49 Bring your voice to this continuing dialogue.  This is all that is asked of you.  This is the gift you have been given and the gift you bring the world; your own voice, the voice of Who You Are.  This is not a voice of separation or of the separated self but a voice of union and of the One Self.  It is how union is expressed and made recognizable in form.  It is what will usher in the new and change the world.  It cannot be accomplished without you—without your ability to stand in unity and relationship as The Accomplished.
A.50 Behold brothers and sisters, You are The Accomplished.

This is my daily affirmation:

I am in the world, and not of the world.
I am a body, and I AM Spirit.
I am human, and I AM Divine.
I am form, and I AM formless.
I am a person, and I AM Isness.

I AM God's Son, complete and healed and whole,
shining in the reflection of His Love. (Who am I?)

I will be still an instant and go home. (Lesson 182)

And in that instant I will experience Isness.
And in that experience, I will be receptive, receptive to the still, small Voice for God speaking to me all through the day, telling me where to go, what to do, and what to say, to whom.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Running the Chicago Marathon, October, 1978

After reading an article by Jane Bernstein entitled, “Still Running” in The Sun, February, 2017, I was inspired to write for our Writing Class about training for the Chicago Marathon in 1978.

Still Walking

I started to run for the first time as an adult in 1977, when I was thirty-six years old.

In 1963, I graduated from Kalamazoo College with a BA in English.  It was also the end of a rather successful high school and college career as a football player and a track runner, running the high and low hurdles, and the s440 yard dash.

In the intervening fourteen years, I did not run a step.

Then, in the fall of 1976, I became an Assistant Professor of Education at Kalamazoo College, returning to my beloved alma mater.

My former football coach, Rolla Anderson, was Athletic Director, and he asked me if I would coach the Men and women’s Cross Country teams.  I said “No,” for one thing, because I had never even seen a Cross Country Meet.  And Rolla kept after me.  Finally, he said, “Ray, why don’t you be Ed Baker’s Assistant in coaching t rack next spring.  I said, “Yes,” and that did it.  

When I started coaching, I had forgotten how much I knew about the fundamentals of track, and I loved working with the guys, and I went to Rolla and said, “Yes.”

Furthermore, when I started coaching  track, I was 30 pounds overweight, and so I was determined to start running again.  I went to the t rack, determined to run a mile, and I was totally winded after a quarter.  But I kept at it.

Then, In January of 1978, I was reading a “Runner’s World” magazine and came across an article saying, select a marathon 6 months away, and begin training for it in this manner.
Now, I was getting serious.  I selected the Chicago Marathon in October.
I hit the streets, running 5 miles a week, then later on, 10, and months later 15 miles per week.  

In late summer, I was running s40 miles a week.

In August of 1978, my Cross Country guys were beginning training for the season, and sometimes when they hit the streets for a six-mile run, they would ask me to go along, kindly running the first two miles at eight-minute pace with me, then they would take off at their six-minute pace.
My goal for Chicago was to run 8-minute pace, so that I would run the 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 30 minutes, and qualify for Boston.

On the day of the Marathon, it was 89 degrees F, and very humid.  Along the way times were given at 5, 10, 15 miles, and so forth.  Water was available every 2 ½ miles.

This was 39 years ago, and drinking water was not emphasized as it is now, and I made a very poor decision:  I won’t stop to grab water because it will slow me down.  Duh. 

At 5 miles, I was right on the mark:  40 minutes; at 10, 1 hour, 20 minutes; at 15, 2 hours; at 20, I will never forget it, 2:41.19, only 79 seconds off pace at 20 miles!!!

Then, at 25 miles, I hit the wall.  Suddenly, I had difficulty taking the next step, I had absolutely no strength, and I had 1.2 miles to go.  I said to myself, “Look, you fucker, you are going to finish if you have to crawl.”
I did finish at 3:36, 6 minutes off pace.

I never ran another marathon, and I jogged on and off for the next several years.

And, now, I am happy to walk 30 or 40 minutes a day with Christine.

Friday, January 13, 2017

How Sarah Young was “Graciously Guided” to write, “Jesus Calling.”

Soon after posting a Blog entitled, “We Are  Now, and We  Always Have Been,  Graciously Guided,” (1/7/2017)I was guided to read Sarah Young’s Introduction to her book, “Jesus Calling.”  I was fascinated by how she was “graciously guided” all along the way to writing her book.

These are the “signposts” that led her along the way, step by step.  I have simply excerpted these passages that pointed the way for her.

I firsts experienced the peace of God in a setting of exquisite beauty.  I was living and studying at a Christian community in a tiny Alpine village in France.

A few months earlier my brother had asked me to read Francis Schaeffer’s, “Escape from Reason.”  Schaeffer’s teaching drew me to this pristine place.

One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains.  Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me.  I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, “Sweet Jesus.”

The following year, back in the United States, I had another encounter with the Presence of Jesus.  Alone in my room, I felt waves of desolation wash over me.  So I began walking the streets of Atlanta aimlessly.  I glanced at some books in an outdoor stall and was drawn to “Beyond Ourselves” by Catherine Marshall.  That night as I read the book, I no longer felt alone.  That night as I read the book, I felt an overwhelming Presence of peace and love come over me.  I knew that Jesus was with me.

During the next sixteen years I lived what many people might consider an exemplary Christian life. 
I was ready to begin a new spiritual quest.  It started with delving into a devotional book, “The Secret of the Abiding Presence” by Andrew Murray.

My days started alone with God, equipped with Bible, devotional book, prayer journal, pen, and coffee.  As I waited in His Presence, God began to reveal Himself to me. 
During that same year, I began reading “God Calling,” a devotional book written by two anonymous “listeners.”  These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him.

The following year I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God.  I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.  Soon, messages began to flow more freely, and I bought a special notebook to record these words. 

I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on Him.  The more difficult my life circumstances, the more I need these encouraging directives from my Creator.  During the years that I have been listening to God with pen in hand, I have found themes of His Peace becoming more prominent in my writing.  

I have included Scripture references after each daily reading.  As I listened to God, Bible verses or fragments of verses often come to mind. I have interwoven these into my messages.  

These messages are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place.  Remember that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.  May He bless you with His Presence and Peace in ever-increasing measure.

Friday, January 06, 2017

We Are Now, and We Always Have Been, Graciously Guided.

When I look back at my life, I realize that I have been guided all along; I did not see the guidance along the way, I saw it only in retrospect.
from A Course in Miracles:
What could you not accept, if you but knew
that everything that happens, all events,
past, present and to come, are gently planned
by One Whose only purpose is your good?
(Lesson 135.18)

Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast
illusion in which figures come and go
as if by magic. Yet there is a plan
behind appearances that does not change.
The script is written. When experience
will come to end your doubting has been set.
For we but see the journey from the point
at which it ended, looking back on it.
(Lesson 158.4)
And here is a passage from Jane Gage Govoni’s, “Faith, Love, and Hypnosis: An Inspirational Memoir of the Dance Between Stroke and Healing.
It is very amazing when we look back at the long road of our life and see all the signposts that we have been given but didn’t understand at the time.  I received a signpost when I was 12.  Each of us had a Bible verse chosen for us, and mine was Isaiah 40:29-31:
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

You can imagine my surprise when the same verse was chosen for me at my high school graduation four years later.  Maybe  Soren Kierkegaard  said it best when he wrote, “We understand our lives backwards but we must live them forwards.”  

I was going to need the comfort of the words I was forced to learn 30 years before the stroke. (pp. 73,74)
And now, I am going to look back on my life to demonstrate how I was graciously guided.  I am going to focus in on only four incidents,  “signposts,” in respect to my education and my profession.
When I was a senior in high school in Three Rivers, MI, I began receiving recruiting letters from colleges and universities, inviting me to visit their campuses and talk with coaches about playing football and running track.
No one in my family had ever gone to college, and I was not receiving any guidance.  One day in the middle of the summer, an Admissions Counselor from Kalamazoo College, appeared at my door and said, “Look, we have offered you a most significant scholarship; so significant that we offer only two of them each year.  Now, are you going to take it, or not?”
I said, “OK, and what do I have to do next?”
He said, “I need a $50.00 deposit.”
I said, “Let’s walk to where my Dad is working at Reen’s Super Market.”
When we arrived, I asked my Dad for the money, and he said, “I don’t have it; I’ll borrow it from Reen.”
And, then, it was a done deal.
(Incidentally, tuition and room and board in those days at K was $1500.00, yearly, and the Chet Barnard Scholarship was for $1000.00.  Somehow my parents managed to come up with the rest for four years; my father was a butcher, and my mother worked as a secretary at the Continental Can Company in Three Rivers.)
After a wonderful four years at K, playing football, running track, becoming an English Major, and winning a Light Scholarship to go on foreign study to France for a summer, at the University of Caan in Normandy, I found myself in the spring, again, wondering what I was going to do next.
(Also, I was being directed early on towards the light because the Kalamazoo College motto is, “LuxEsto,” meaning, “Let there be light.”)

One day, while walking across the Quad, an English Professor, Larry Barrett, walked by me and said, “Oh, I just received a brochure from The University of Chicago; the University is offering a Master of Arts in Teaching Program (MAT) you might be interested in.  Go grab the brochure.”
Well, l applied, received a generous scholarship, and began the two-year program in the fall of 1963.
I had never thought much about teaching, and after practice teaching in the University Lab School, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.
I also practice taught for a semester in a Chicago public school, and I wrote a Master’s Thesis, a critical essay on “The Great Gatsby,” and a three-week lesson plan.
Once again, in the spring of my final year, I found myself wondering what to do next.  I filled out forms at the University’s Career Center, and one day, I had an appointment set for a meeting with a high school Principal from San Francisco.  I was simply looking for a job, not thinking about any particular location. 
I received a call that he canceled, and a Principal could interview me from Westport, Ct.  I met with Ken Brummel, and we had a very exciting, inspiring interview.  At the end, he said, “Look, I will fly you out to Westport, and you can stay with me and my family, and tour the Bedford Junior High School.”  Well, I flew there, was blown away by the strength of the school system, the teachers and students, and returned to Chicago with a contract that simply needed to be signed and returned; and I promptly sent it  to Ken.

That turned out to be a very exciting four years; my two wonderful roommates, also first-year English Teachers, were Don Schuman from   Princeton, and Ed Elenausky from Johns Hopkins.
My English Department Chairperson, Annette Silverstone, was very encouraging.  One time, during my first fall teaching, I told her of some cool idea I had about making a connection between Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” and Homer’s “Odyssey,” and she said, “Try anything once.”
During the spring of my fourth year, I received a call from Janet Emig, my Supervisor during my MAT Program at the University of Chicago, who said, “Listen, Ray, we are beginning a Doctoral Program in training teachers how to teach, and I thought of you.”  She went on to say that she often used my Master’s Thesis as an example to show other students of how it could be done.

In the fall of 1969, I entered the doctoral program, receiving my doctorate four years later, yes, in the spring.
from A Course in Miracles:
Whatever your appointed way may be,
it was selected by the Voice for God.
His is the only way to find the peace
that God has given us. It is His way
that everyone must travel in the end,
because it is this ending God Himself
appointed. In the dream of time it seems
 to be far off. And yet, in truth, it is
already here; already serving us
as gracious guidance in the way to go.
(Final Lessons)

And, here is a Haiku:

Graciously guided
we see it looking backwards
Now, trusting next step