Questions & Answers
[as it appeared in the November 2010 Newsletter]
There is nothing I like more than a good question about the Course. And by “good question”, I mean a thought provoking one – a question that makes me reassess what I currently believe and perhaps come to see it in a new light.
As a result, we have a very interactive study group of Course students here in Louisville where everyone is encouraged to share their insights and questions. It is also a very diverse group with people from widely varying religious backgrounds so we get a lot of very insightful questions and I’ve been making a note of them for the last 15 years.
Answer: I don’t think that is a silly question at all. It’s a very human one (and the Course was written for human beings).
In answer, I’ll let the Course, itself, speak to your question:
“Neither time nor season means anything in eternity.
But here, it is the Holy Spirit’s function to use them both,
NOT as the ego uses them.” T-15.X.1.3-4
This quote is speaking specifically about Christmas, but I don’t think Jesus meant to limit its meaning only to that one season. So – for myself – I have personally emphasized the need to go to the Holy Spirit with each season (and individual holiday/holy day) to ask HIM how to see it in alignment with his purpose of helping me to awaken. And that simple practice has changed EVERYTHING about how I perceive – and act upon – the seasons! Therefore my feelings have changed, too.
For instance, we have just passed Halloween and its companion holiday, All Saints Day. The Holy Spirit has given me new interpretations of both which have completely redirected how I relate to each of them.
All Saints (November 1st) is intended to honor the “blessed dead” – those who have passed here before us that have(at least, in the eyes of some) mastered the process of becoming loving expressions of our Father here on earth. The Holy Spirit showed me that instead of dogmas or rituals (or singling out certain people as “special” or “better than” me), to use that day to recommit to reconnecting with souls that are more highly purified than I am yet, people the Course describes as “ascended masters”, people who are still available to help me (I don’t have to “reinvent that wheel” as others have already done so and, therefore, can genuinely help me with it, too). In point of fact, they WANT to help me; I just have to LET them. All Saints Day is now – for me – a welcome reminder of that fact. Plus it’s a day marked on my calendar as a handy reminder that help is available whenever I ask.
Halloween literally is All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints, and it exists because people thought that on the day before the “blessed dead” were to be honored, the souls that had passed in a state of anger would attack the living, wreaking evil retribution and trying to stop their holy celebrations. And so people would leave out tasty foods to bribe the evil spirit off or post scary masks and images in order to drive them off. (Hence, “Trick or Treat”.) But the modern way of celebrating Halloween has totally lost sight of its intent. Even so, the Holy Spirit has turned the new, more fanciful method of its celebration into a very helpful practice for me. I now use it as an opportunity to do my own INTERNAL “trick or treats” by looking WITH the Holy Spirit at all the “ghosts” – the parts of my long dead past for which I fear retribution – still genuinely haunt me; at the “monsters” that seem so powerful to me that they still seem to make me feel so small that they can block my path; at the lurid mists of illnesses that some part of me still cherishes.
The point is that every single holiday and season has an inner, hidden meaning that, once understood and utilized, has incredible spiritual meaning – a meaning that has the power to feed us once we’re willing. And constant spiritual nourishment leaves no room for any depression.
And so Thanksgiving becomes just that: an opportunity to express my gratitude. Not just to God but to every person that I know and love. (My practice this year according to my instruction in meditation is to express that gratitude in writing to at least one beloved person each day from now through the holiday.) How could I possibly feel depressed when contemplating dozens of incredible lists of just how much I am blessed?
Christmas is no longer about celebrating what happened 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. It’s about birthing the Christ Mind in me by seeing it first in OTHERS. And calling It forth through that recognition! And it’s about giving now, not receiving (even though I still love getting presents, now they’re the icing, not the cake). So every gift I give – whatever the form – is really about the content: an expression of the love of God for another that just appears to be coming through me. And in affirming my ability to give the love of God to others, I am also expanding my capacity to receive it as my own. That simple shift in intention around the Christmas tradition has changed EVERYTHING in my experience of it!
And I, too, have given up on making my New Year’s resolution. On my own. As the end of each year approaches now, I sit down with the Holy Spirit and ask HIM what my goal for the coming year should be. Then each time that I’m tempted to break it, I remember that it was His gift (and the Holy Spirit always maintains the gifts He gives, so it isn’t my “job” to enforce it, just allow it). And He makes smooth my path, leaving no stone for me to trip on.
As for the long dreary winter, I no longer perceive it that way. Now it is a very special and hopeful time. I see it as a season with abundant opportunities to get as quiet within myself as Mother Nature is without. (The perfect motivation for doing the Workbook one more time.) Just as it is for all living things, it is a time for purification and regeneration in preparation and strengthening for the blooming of my internal spirit that I will EXPECT to accomplish in the spring when I, too, am resurrected – or, at least, a few tiny steps closer to it – at Eastertide.
May this holiday season – and the time to follow – be your BEST time EVER!
* Carmen Cameron, who is a founding member of Course in Miracles Society, has been teaching classes in A Course in Miracles since 1994. She was a presenter at the 2009 Miracles Conference in San Francisco and presented again at the 2011 Conference. Carmen’s website is: http://peaceful-path.blogspot.com/