GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman, Battle of the Books

GAFF: And The Battle of the Books
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the April 2012 Newsletter]


Priscilla was reading from the Course. “’The continuing will to remain separated is the only possible reason for continuing guilt feelings.’ And later it says, ‘Any decision of the mind will effect both behavior and experience.’”

The three friends were sitting on Gaff’s spot, watching the clouds float across the sky and the pelicans dive for food. In the silence, each contemplated the meaning of the passage. Gaff silently asked the birds to leave him at least one fish for the cooler. He hadn’t caught many that day and he had promised his family a dinner of fresh grilled fish.

Bobby smiled, “Well, if you always come out of love, you won’t do anything to feel guilty about.”

Priscilla tapped his knee and smiled her agreement. She looked as though she were about to speak.

Just then Wally’s voice reached them from the land side of the beach. “Just the people I wanted to see.” Gaff turned around to see Wally bearing down on them, a big grin on his face. When he saw Gaff turn toward him, he waved a book. “It’s all in here. You’re always bashing me for my sermons about the Apocalypse that’s going to destroy the earth. Well, here’s another book describing the very thing you say won’t happen.”

Gaff grinned, “And what book might that be?”

Wally slammed the book on the palm of his other hand. “It’s not even a man of the cloth. And he prophesies the end of the world—and soon, too.”

Priscilla glanced at the book, one about Paul Solomon and the messages he got while in trance. She smiled. “Bet you haven’t gotten to the end of it.”

Wally frowned. “How do you know that?” He looked at the page with a corner turned down. “Page 195.” He closed the book and looked at the other three. “That’s enough to see where he’s going with it. End of the world. And not a pretty one. The collapse of the Soviet Union was the start of all hell breaking loose. And those guys in the Middle East are going to bring it down on all of us. Bombs. Nuclear. A third of the people on the planet will bite the dust.”  His expression was smug and not just a little proud that his point of view was supported by the descriptions of death and destruction he was reading.

Priscilla’s grin got bigger, but she didn’t say anything.

Wally looked from one to the other of his friends, finally burst out, “What? What are you smiling about? This proves my point. Gonna tell the story from the pulpit this very weekend. “ He nodded, pleased with himself.

Gaff looked at Priscilla. “I’m guessing you’ve read that book.”

She nodded.

Gaff turned back to Wally. “I have, too.”

Wally looked at Bobby. “You, too?”


Wally plopped down on the sand. “I was beginning to think I was the only one coming late to this read. It was published in the ‘90’s. Found it on the shelf at the Rectory.” His smug expression gone, he looked at Gaff and Priscilla. “I’m guessing from the looks on your faces that he talks about something good happening after the earth is destroyed. A field of daisies or something like that.”

Priscilla chuckled. “You remember in the beginning of the book he says that a prophecy that comes true is one that has failed?”

Wally frowned. “Ye-e-es?”

She continued, “Right where you’re reading now, he’s talking about a lot of people through the ages who predicted a horrible final act.”

Wally opened the book to the marked place and glanced through several pages. “Yep. That’s what he did. Some really important, credible people mentioned in this chapter.”

Gaff was enjoying this. “You haven’t gotten to the place where he talks about how to avoid it?”

Wally closed the book. “He does?”

“He does.”

Now Wally looked suspicious. “And how would this be done?”

Priscilla was really grinning now. “By feeling only love. By getting rid of any other feeling and only acting out of love.”

Gaff glanced at the tip of his rod to find it wiggling: something big was on the line. “Yep, the way that guy describes the remedy– it is to get rid of duality.”

Priscilla cut in, “You know, like love/ hate. You get rid of the hate part and keep the love part. That’s the same thing this book says.” She tapped the book resting on her knees.

Wally glanced at the black book under Priscilla’s hand. “A Course in Miracles. You’ve mentioned it before. I’ve read that it is absolute blasphemy.”

She nodded. “You have, have you? In fact, the part I was reading just now says that no one needs to feel guilty.”

Wally hurrumphed. “You see. Blasphemy! What about feeling guilty when you do evil?”

Priscilla went on, “The only reason we continue to feel guilty is so that we can feel separate from God.”

Bobby added, “I think the most important thing is what it says about believing stuff like the end of the world coming.”

Wally sniped. “And what would that be?”

“What you believe influences your feelings about situations. Because if you expect to see something bad, you’re leaning in that direction anyway and you’ll interpret things as leading to the end you envision. Your feelings influence the way you act, too. So if you decide that the end of the world is coming, you’ll be fearful and every time a comet is spotted nearby, you’ll think it’s going to crash into the planet and kill us all. Then you’ll act afraid, maybe hide… or lash out at others.”

Gaff added, “Worse yet, you might wage war against the people you think are going to cause the end of the world… and that would only add to the problem. Fighting begets fighting.”

Wally was nodding, thoughtful. But his face said he was looking for the flaw in their logic.

Priscilla said, “This whole book is about learning to think loving thoughts in all situations. ”

Wally spoke slowly, “So I’m supposed to stand there and let people attack me and knock me around?”

“Are they attacking you… really?”

Wally was trying on this idea. “So if I think the world will end in flames, I may also do things to bring that end on? The reverse of what you’ve told me in the past– to be more accepting and loving so that others can love me.”

“Here’s a thought. If you fear that the world is going to burst into flames, that’s thinking that there’s something out there ready to DO it to you. If you feel only love for the whole and you feel that you are a part of that whole, you are creating the future for yourself. You are the created AND the creator. If you act out of love, why would you create anything that was not loving?”

Wally nodded slowly, deep in thought. “Let me see if I’ve got this. Feel that I am a part of the whole universe. And so I can create what I want for the universe. If I act out of love all the time, then whatever I do create will be loving… always!”

“If you feel guilty or afraid, you are feeling separate from God.”

Wally pounded his fist on the book.”What about all those people out there who are waging a war of terrorism in order to kill me and my family? Am I supposed to love them?”

Gaff nodded. “Isn’t that what Jesus taught?”

Another hurrumph.

Bobby laughed. “I think it works in both directions. You feel a part of God, the ultimate source of love, and you’re so full of love that there’s no room for fear or guilt. Or, if you feel only love, you know that love is all around you, and that enables you to feel that you are part of God!”

Wally looked at Priscilla’s book. “Hmm, that’s in your book there?” He held up his own book. “And this one, too? Maybe I need to finish reading this book before I start quoting it.”

The three friends laughed. Gaff said, “I think you’ll like the end.” Then he stood to move toward his rod. He motioned toward it. “And I’m going to like what’s on the end of my line! Those birds may just have left some fish to jump on my hook after all. Julia and my kids are going to love pulling this one off the grill.”

Priscilla stood next to him as his rod bent from the weight of the catch. “It’s a big one! You are always taken care of by the Source of all Love and by your friends out there. WE are part of the whole.”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman, Ocean of Plenty

GAFF: And The Ocean of Plenty
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the March 2012 Newsletter]

Priscilla and Bobby remained with Gaff even as the rest of the crowd drifted away down the beach to whatever they were doing before Bobby hooked THE BIG ONE. They were watching the spectacle of life in the ocean before them. Appreciating the nuances and the synergy. Listening to the crashing waves and the calling birds. Smelling the salt in the damp air brushing against their skin. Feeling the prickles of the sand carried by the wind against their legs.

Suddenly, Priscilla turned to Gaff. “I’ve been wondering what you do with all the fish you catch, Gaff. You’re out here on the beach so much you must have tons of fish stored at home by now.”

Bobby laughed. “She’s got a good question there, you know. Been wondering that myself. Either your freezer is the size of Iowa or your family have all grown scales and fins by now!”

Gaff laughed with a genuine twinkle in his eyes. “Good question. Especially after all my talk about being a steward of the planet.”

Bobby laughed. “That’s right.”

Gaff got more serious. “You know that fish fry the Reverend Wally’s church had last week? The money was for their scholarship fund to help some of the local children get an education.”

Bobby turned to him, grinning now. “Your fish?”

Gaff smiled toward Mother Water. “Our fish. Mother Water provided those fish and a bunch of us along the beach donated them to the cause. We do that from time to time.”

Priscilla screwed her face into a frown. “Wasn’t that the first fish fry Wally had?”

Gaff nodded, “The Methodists have an outreach to help families in need. A lot of groups do. There’s more need now, what with the economy so bad and jobs going overseas.”

Bobby kicked the sand. “I guess you either buy American stuff or you pay to support the people put out of work.”

The silence that followed was filled with thinking, serenaded by sounds of the waves and calling of the gulls.

Priscilla’s voice was small. “Bobby, would it be all right to give Harold some of the fish in our freezer? I know he hasn’t been on the beach this winter because of his arthritis. And we’ll never eat all we have. He’s always so friendly when I walk past his house. Waves—offers me tea and cookies. Probably lonely since his wife died.”

Gaff went to tend his fishing gear and they followed him. “Be nice to visit him, but I don’t think Harold needs any fish just now.”

Priscilla nodded with understanding. “Oh.”

“You might offer some to Ivy for her family, though.”

Priscilla frowned again. “What? That horrible woman who can’t talk below a roar? Why would I give her anything but a cold shoulder?”

Bobby grinned. “You could offer her a visit to a counselor. Or a gaff on her noggin to knock some sense into her.”

Gaff baited his hook and then turned to look at Priscilla. “Remember that you are the one interpreting her behavior… and you really don’t KNOW what it means. You also told me that you often don’t know what is in your own best interests.”

Bobby poked a finger into her ribs, “Ya hungry? I think you’re gonna eat your words here.”

Priscilla put hands on hips and watched Gaff with interest. “OK?”

Gaff cast his hook into the channel in front of the sandbar. “ Don’t I remember your saying that one of the lessons is that you don’t know what anything is for?”

She repeated, “OK?”

He continued, “That can apply to Ivy’s yelling. You don’t know why she is that way. You also don’t know how you might change the situation by just being nice to her.”

Priscilla grinned. “Oh, ho ho. I’d be the only one on the beach.” She hesitated a beat. “Except maybe for you. You’re nice to everyone.”

Gaff set the reel and placed the second rod into its holder. Bobby was finished tending his gear, too, and the three friends made their way back to their seats. Plop, plop, plop into the chairs.

Gaff continued as if there had been no gap in the conversation. “Maybe she needs a gal friend who is studying The Course?”

Priscilla responded slow and low. “May…be?”

Gaff laughed. “Didn’t you tell me that my attack thoughts were what attacked my own invulnerability? And that ‘Above all else, I want to see things differently’? Well this your chance to act on those words.”

Bobby chuckled. “Bet you’re not hungry now—those words tasty?”

Priscilla’s frown returned. “What you’re saying is that I have no idea what’s going on in her life to cause her obnoxious behavior and that I should assume that there is some good in her. Maybe if I make some friendly gestures toward her…”

Bobby interrupted, “You can add some sunshine to her life… the same as you add that sunshine to mine.” He was still smiling, but this smile radiated love for Priscilla.

Gaff patted her on the back. “This will give you a chance to practice turning the other cheek and being a model of performing random acts of loving kindness.”

Bobby pulled his bait knife out of his cooler and a sharpening stone out of his sack. “Just remembered to do this little task. Just to cut my bait. Not to use on Ivy.” All three laughed.

Gaff laughed the loudest. “Glad to hear it.”

Three sets of eyes took in the swells out in the distance and the clouds rolling in from the southwest. Gaff was hoping that Priscilla could make inroads where he had not. He was wondering how he could help her reach Ivy.

Bobby ran the blade along the stone, first one way and then the other. Slow, purposeful, the scraping sound a regular rhythm. Finally, he voiced his thoughts. “And what is Priscilla to do if Ivy starts yelling at her?”

Gaff shook his head, a line etched between his eyes. “You’re not being asked to sacrifice yourself, but only to offer a blessing. She may or may not accept it. We can only hope. You’re choosing differently and at the same time you’ll offer her a chance to choose differently. Remember what the Course tells you about being invulnerable. You’re invulnerable because you have the best backup. What I do in times of doubt is to open myself to guidance from the Holy Spirit through Mother Water. She really pulls through when I need her. I have only to ask… and then to listen.”

Priscilla said slowly, “So I go over to visit Ivy with a bunch of fish from our freezer.”

Bobby interrupted, grinning. “And you could take some of those great cookies you bake.”

“OK, cookies and fish. Then I see what happens… and it would be good to expect a miracle while I’m at it.”

Gaff smiled. “Might help to ask for divine assistance before you knock on her door. Then if things don’t go well, you walk away. If they do, you stay and make a new friend.”

Priscilla smiled. “Can’t have too many friends.”

Gaff continued, “Whatever happens, it is divine order. It isn’t your responsibility to change another person. You are there to act differently yourself, to put into action the words you’ve been reading. Sometimes by seeing things differently and by acting from that new understanding, the whole situation changes.”

Bobby smiled a sly one. “Might ask for protection before you knock.”

Priscilla was quiet for a spell and then her face suddenly brightened. She straightened her back and looked full of energy and determination. “I’ll do it. She’s about due for another stay. Spring break’s this week and they always come for spring break.” She hopped out of her chair and called over her shoulder on her way toward the boardwalk. “Think I’ll go bake some cookies… just in case.”

Bobby laughed. “It worked. She bakes so many of those cookies that I’ll get some, too!” He cut his eyes toward Gaff and added, “I can bring some to the beach, too.”

Gaff patted his stomach. “What were we saying about not consuming more than we need?”

Bobby laughed, “I’ll only bring you two then.”

The tip of Gaff’s rod was wiggling to beat the band: a fish on his hook. He pushed himself out of his chair to tend to the new gift from Mother Water. As he moved, he answered, “Take more than two!”

Bobby stroked his knife back and forth across the stone. “And now we fish to help others! You are full of wisdom, Gaff. You always help me see things differently.”

“Mother Water helps us by giving us fish and we pay it forward by helping people not yet ready to fish for themselves.”

Bobby’s hand stopped mid-stroke. “Do they ever learn to fish for themselves?”

Gaff stood with rod in hand and looked first at Mother Water. Then he turned toward Bobby. “Most times they do, but not everyone becomes a prize-winning fisherman who hooks the BIG ONE! We just need to have faith in them. They are where they are meant to be and they’re doing their best.” He turned back to tend his gear, all the while thanking Mother Water for her help and sending healing energy to her.

Bobby dragged the knife against the stone. In low tones he said, “Faith… and patience… takes a bunch of patience.”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman, Land of Plenty

GAFF: And The Land of Plenty
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the February 2012 Newsletter]

Bobby laughed as he reeled in his second fish of the morning. This one wasn’t giving up without a fight. He was lost in the thrill of it all, yelling to his prey that he would not be bested by scale-covered muscles. The fish on his hook was so strong, the rod bent almost double as he worked it. All the muscles in his arms tensed as he pulled. Then he reeled in the slack in his line ending with a step toward the water. Straining to pull his catch closer and then reel in as much as he could before his opponent could swim back out over the sandbar. Muscles pitted against muscles. Arms against fins. A battle to the finish, if Bobby had anything to do with it.  A battle to get his aquatic opponent onto the beach and then into his cooler and eventually home to his freezer. Priscilla would just love this one: easy to fillet. Big and juicy on the table. Tasty.

Gaff laughed, too, enjoying his friend’s excitement. A number of people from up and down the beach were gathering for the spectacle of landing the BIG ONE. This one might even be prize-winning: a great way to start the fishing season. And everyone was cheering for him to finish it off, to best the monster fish!

The splash of fins on the sandbar brought cheers from the crowd. Gaff and a number of the other fishermen ran into the water to see what Bobby had on his hook. Suddenly, several of them turned toward the shore, waving their arms and shouting. Bobby             couldn’t make out the words from that distance. He only heard men’s voices mingled with the crashing waves.

Gaff was faster getting in than the rest, “We have to cut the line. Cut the line to let her go!”

The crowd moaned in unison. Chaos erupted as everyone spoke at once, wondering what was happening.

Bobby was stunned motionless. “What?”

Gaff ran to his cooler and grabbed a knife. As he passed, he shouted, “She’s loaded with eggs. Hasn’t spawned yet. Hold the line steady so I can cut it.”

Bobby answered with his own shout, “Cut the line? Are you crazy, old man? This is the biggest I’ve ever hooked. I want to bring her in, finish it. Man over beast.”

Several of the other fishermen were yelling, “Cut the line. Cut the line.”

Others answered, “No, let him bring her in. There’s others. There’s plenty. Let him bring her in.”

Gaff was out on the sandbar now and with a sure swipe of the knife, cut the line. The line went suddenly slack and Bobby had to do some sand dancing to keep from falling. A flash on the sandbar, movement of fins and the fish was out to deeper water.

Bobby yelled at the men on the sandbar, “What right have you to cut my line? That was my fish and I wanted to bring it in.”

Gaff led the other men onto the beach, “She was big and filled with eggs. Fish that big wouldn’t have been this close to shore if she wasn’t on her way to or from the estuary. Only way we have any fish at all is if we let the females spawn.” There were sounds of agreement from the experienced fishermen.

Gaff waved toward Mother Water. “She isn’t just there to serve us. It’s a partnership. We have responsibilities, too.”

Bobby spit out his words, still angry, “Yeah, I know. You harp on keeping the beach clean.”

Gaff interrupted, “We also follow the rules set out by the smart guys who tell us how big our catch has to be and how many we can keep. We do that because we want to leave enough little ones in there to grow into something worth eating. We are stewards of this planet, not just another group of predators.”

There were nods and sounds of agreement from onlookers. Some were grumbling and groups were breaking off to return to their own spots. Some heated versions of this discussion moved away with them.

Bobby was boiling mad. “The birds take more fish out than we do. What about the commercial fishermen? They pull in tons of fish with those nets of theirs. Bet they don’t let the females go.”

Some of the crowd agreed with Bobby. Gaff knew that any response would fall on deaf ears, ears not yet ready to hear, and so he hesitated. In that moment of quiet, Priscilla’s voice preceded her out of the crowd….

……… “I do not perceive my own best interests.”

She made her way to stand next to the two arguing men. “Bobby, don’t you remember the lesson for today? ‘I do not perceive my own best interest’.”

Bobby wasn’t ready to concede defeat yet. “What does that have to do with the price of eggs?”

Priscilla laughed. “The higher view, from what is important for the planet, says it has a lot to do with the price of eggs. If we eat all the chickens, there won’t be any eggs. Even if you were starving, it’s better to leave some of those old biddies scratching around the coop so you can eat their eggs… for years to come. Not just today.”

Bobby started to repeat himself, “But the commercial fishermen”

She interrupted, “Just because someone shoots another person out of anger, does that mean you should shoot me when we argue? You’re pretty mad at Gaff. Should you shoot him?”

Bobby looked at the sand, abashed.

She continued, “I agree with Gaff, that each of us has a responsibility to care for this planet.”

His voice was small, “So we are kind to the planet so that the guys out in the boats can fill their nets.” It wasn’t so much a question as a statement. “We’re only individuals, single fishermen that dot the beaches along the coast. What can we do in that grand scheme of things you talk about?” His words were punctuated by the calls of the gulls and the crash of waves on sand.

Gaff smiled, “We are a nation of individuals, a world of individuals, and each of us has a responsibility to all the rest. I can only decide for me. You have to decide for you. And the more of us doing what we can to protect the planet, the more powerful we become. Individuals become a group become a crowd become a mob. Eventually those guys in the boats out there will get the idea and be more careful, too.”

A voice from behind them added, “I heard the government is thinking about shutting down the shrimping lane to let the population recover a bit.”

Another voice added, “About time, I’d say.”

Then another, colored with bravado, “You know, we can shrimp in the mouth of the Cape Fear River. But just individuals in their own boats. Near the estuary.”

Priscilla laughed, “Why would you do that? So you can deplete the supply faster? Net younger and younger shrimp so that they don’t have time to grow to a decent size and repopulate the lanes?”

She was answered by a soft voice, “Hadn’t thought of that. I was just thinking about how tasty they’d be.”

Priscilla’s voice softened. “Is it wise to eat the chickens or can you wait to eat their eggs for years to come?”

Gaff smiled at this exchange. “So that book of yours agrees with the idea of thinking beyond what you would like to see happen in this moment to what this moment might mean in the grand plan.”

Priscilla grinned. “We’re going through the lessons again this year, one by one. It’s like I’ve never seen some of them. So far, we’ve just been talking about the idea that our interpretation of a situation isn’t always accurate. It’s often based on fears or a belief in scarcity.” She waved in the direction of the ocean. “The book would say that our interpretation of that water over there may not be right. It might be something we’ve come up with to suit our own needs, our own view of the world.”

Bobby laughed, “Maybe Gaff’s way of looking at that water is the best: Mother Water, an expression of the Source. A connection with God.”

Priscilla looked toward the blue-green water. Her voice was soft. “Not just a source of food for the body, but a source of food for the soul, for the spirit.”

Gaff grinned, but his voice was almost reverent. “She’s there to help and guide us by example. Her creatures teach us so many lessons. She is a constant source of nurturing. The sea of unlimited potential.” His words drifted as he watched the swells far out on the ocean.

Bobby chuckled without humor. “OK, OK…the problems start when we humans decide that we know better and act stupid and selfish. But she really knows how to slap us in the face… hurricanes and all.” He, too, sought a connection with the water, the great source of life. Fluffy clouds skittered across the blue sky making a background for the birds diving for their dinner. Waves crashed on the sand, mixing with the calls of the hungry birds. A beautiful tableau to entertain and instruct.

Had Bobby gotten a glimpse of the whole rather than being so distracted by his little slice of that whole? Some old fishermen stayed behind after the others drifted on down the beach. They shook Bobby’s hand and congratulated him, both on the BIG ONE he almost caught and his wisdom for letting her go so she could do her part in adding to the minnow population. More for the hook next year.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman Gift of Ivy

GAFF: And The Gift of Ivy

Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the December 2011 Newsletter]

A woman’s voice came across the sand from the walkway. “I’m going to scream! That woman is driving me to distraction.”

Gaff watched gulls diving into the waves until Priscilla plopped down on the cooler next to him. Emotional energy overflowed her every cell and her every movement and radiated across the beach. He smiled. “And what woman would that be?”

“That woman from Georgia, Ivy. Isn’t there some beach closer to her home that she could visit? Why does she have to pollute ours with all her yelling? The tone of her voice could singe the feathers off those gulls.”

Gaff looked from his visitor to the gulls. The very thought of Ivy setting their feathers aflame made him chuckle. “I have to admit she has a mouth on her. How’d she get you going this morning?”

“I was walking on my way here when I passed her rental. She and her neighbor are in the yard fighting about the fact that his drying laundry is blocking her view. You can hear them for miles.”

Gaff checked the tips of his rods to see that he was getting a nibble. “Again.” Not a question, but a statement. “They’re not likely to ever come to an understanding. Probably for the best.”

Priscilla’s head jerked toward her friend. “What? You think it’s good that they fight all the time. Noise pollution, I’d call it.”

Gaff nodded at the gulls calling all around them. “Are the gulls creating noise pollution?”

Priscilla face dropped, but she blurted out, “Of course not. That’s part of nature. They’re supposed to be here.”

Gaff nodded thoughtfully. “Since you mention the Course, what would it say about all this?”

Her laugh broke the tension. “And now you’re going to make me see a lesson from the Course in this?”

Gaff patted her arm. “I was just wondering how all that fits together.”

“OK, what I see has only the meaning that I give it. So if I see it as bad, it is only  because I define it as bad.”

He nodded. “OK?”

Her eyes became unfocused as she considered. “I react to things out there that remind me of things in me that I need to heal.”

“Didn’t you tell me it was the emotion about the situation that was the real key?”

Priscilla nodded. “Discernment and not judgement.”

“And you’re really angry about the way this woman expresses her anger.”

Another nod. “She’s constantly yelling. Ruins the peace.”

“And you feel a sense of righteous indignation, too.”

Another nod.

“So one thing that may be going on is that she reminds you of your own anger and maybe the way you used to express it or something about it that you don’t like in your self. Another is that she’s not behaving the way you think she should according to the path you have chosen… according to the Way of Love.”


Priscilla threw a handful of sand, a physical expression of her anger. “She isn’t.” Then she shielded her face from sand blown back at her by a sudden gust of wind.Gaff looked to the tips of his rods and thought he saw a hint that a fish had taken his bait. “That sand just came back on you and so will your anger. Are you acting in accordance with the Way of Love?”The corners of her mouth drooped in recognition of his truth. Her voice was low and slow. “I should look for the blessing in this, the lesson. Everything is as it is meant to be and to change it would be to interfere with the perfect way things have been arranged.”It was Gaff’s turn to nod. The wiggling of his rod motivated him to push out of his chair to tend to his fishing, to pull in the fellow on his hook. “Are those just words you memorized or are they a guiding light in your own life, for your own behavior? To use the Course as a reason to attack another person—is that what was intended by those teachings?”

She followed Gaff to the rods, a morose expression on her face. “So Ivy is here doing just what she is meant to do to remind me to accept that each person has his own path and they don’t all look like mine.”

Gaff reeled in the first hook to find a large whiting on it. He smiled his appreciation. “That’s one thing. Another is that when Ivy is fighting with her neighbor, she’s not yelling at her family. Gives them a vacation, wouldn’t you say?”

Priscilla smiled. “I can see that. That would be a blessing for her family.”

The sound of the second hook being reeled in provided the background music. “What about all she does for her neighbor?”

Priscilla’s face was colored by exaggerated confusion. “What would that be?”

“His wife’s sick and he’s sick at heart about it. Maybe he uses that laundry to give Ivy an opening to start the yelling match so that he can get some of his anger out in a safe way.” Gaff put the fish into the cooler and pulled out enough bait for the two hooks. “He can’t very well scream at his wife for being sick or rail at God for taking her away. After all, he’s a devout church-goer.”

Priscilla nodded and smiled her recognition of a truth. “So Ivy gives him a way to vent all that pain? It only sounds like anger.”

The reel sang as baited hook sailed out into the water. “And the father who isn’t involved with his children teaches his children to spend more time with their own.”

“And the Ugly American tourist allows the residents of that country to value by contrast the reasoned traveler. One trying to force the culture into what he is used to and the other understanding the value of fitting into their culture.”

Another nod. “Like you trying to force Ivy to conform to your shoulds? The demanding tourist may also provide others with examples of what not to do.”

“The lesson can come in the form of what to do or what not to do.”

Gaff grinned. “We could go on and on, couldn’t we? Once you understand that every situation is as it is meant to be, you’re free to see the blessing in it. You’re free to break the hold of ‘shoulds’ that constrict your ability to appreciate the way things are.”

They returned to their seats, each thinking. Priscilla’s voice was filled with awe. “What a gift! Once you live this way, you can find happiness in any situation.”

“And in any person. Maybe that was the gift the Christ came to give us.”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF: Let All Things Be

Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the November 2011 Newsletter]

Priscilla’s voice came to Gaff from the land side of the beach. “Hallo! Another fabulous day in paradise!”

Gaff grinned, but he waited for Priscilla to reach him before responding, “That it is. That it is.” His eyes searched the water and the sky.

Priscilla’s eyes followed his gaze to the fluffy clouds scudding across the blue field of the sky. Background music was provided by crashing waves and gulls calling. Her voice was colored with awe, “I love this place.”

Gaff only nodded his agreement. He turned to see the black book in Priscilla’s hands. “Doing more of those lessons?”

It was her turn to nod. “I got a bit behind, but this one seems to summarize it all for me right now. ‘Let all things be exactly as they are.’”

Again he nodded and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving to Mother Water.

Priscilla sat on his cooler, resting the book in her lap. “I was heading to Sally’s when I got the urge to come visit you… You’ve heard me complain about all the things in my life that haven’t gone the way I hoped. Difficulty getting published. The loves that ended before I was ready for them to. Bobby said that you two talked about how we were turned away from visiting the Indian sacred grounds when we went to the reservation.”

Gaff nodded, remembering.

She laughed. “I’ve been reading that we learn from the problems as much or more than from the successes, from the relationships that cause us pain as much as from the happy ones. And then this lesson tells me that everything is exactly as it was planned… and that I shouldn’t try to change them. I get from it that the lessons are there just where they need to be and just the way they need to be.”

Again a nod. Then Gaff spied the tip of his rod jiggling up a storm—a fish on the hook. He pushed himself out of his chair to tend his rods. Priscilla followed.


“If I’d married Evan, I wouldn’t have come here alone and I wouldn’t have met you… or Bobby. At the time, I didn’t think that anyone could be better than Evan, but I know that Bobby is perfect for me.”            “We get plenty of proof that the Source knows more than we do.” He fought the fish to reel in his hook. It was a big one throwing itself all over the sand trying to beat its way back to the water. That’s the way it happens most times: fighting the deviation from our plans.

Priscilla gave a thumbs up to show her appreciation of the fish. “I’ve been saying that things are in divine order and hear you say it, but only when I read this lesson did it really hit me. I mean, I suddenly saw the whole picture for the first time. By seeing that everything is perfect just as it is, I realize that I waste time and energy trying to force things to change.”

Gaff put the fish in his cooler and took out more bait. “If you do manage to change the way things are going, you might even muck it up.”

Priscilla grinned. “The friends who have come and gone in my life. The romances…”

Even that annoying woman whose hobby is yelling at her family and anyone else close enough to hear. And the Ugly American tourist who disrupts the peace in order to get his own way.”

Priscilla suddenly turned to walk toward Sally’s house and called over her shoulder, “Every one of these things serves to make us better if we allow ourselves to benefit from the lesson in them.”

“It’s all in the way you see them, isn’t it?”

Priscilla’s “Oh, yes!” drifted to Gaff on the wind.

Oh, yes.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

GAFF ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF: God is But Love
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*

[as it appeared in the October 2011 Newsletter]

Gaff laughed, entertained by antics of swooping and diving seagulls. He nodded toward them. “They might all be a part of the same system, but they each fight to get the biggest piece. Don’t think it’s nature’s way for one bird to give the larger portion of food to the bird diving next to him.”

Priscilla giggled at the thought. “You take it… No, you take it… No, I insist. You take it. It’s much bigger than the fish you caught.”

Gaff reacted to her with a belly laugh. “Pelican would probably take both fish.”

Priscilla was sitting in Bobby’s chair on the other side of the cooler. Her eyes followed those of her friend and she laughed. “Yeah, we humans have some strange ideas. Leaving some food on your plate so that the hostess won’t think you didn’t have enough to eat! Silly, really.”

Gaff turned to her, more serious now. “It is silly, but a lot of those customs are a shorthand way of communicating with people around you. Ways of showing respect, too, some of them.”

She nodded, in silent thought.

He yawned and turned toward the sun. “You haven’t been around much lately.”

A shake of her head. She reached into her bag and pulled out a book. Waved it in his direction. “I’ve been taking some classes about making films at the local college. You know there’s a big film community in this area.”

It was his turn to nod. “Taking a break from studying those other books of yours? And doing the lessons in that workbook?” He looked at the tip of his rods to see if a fish was on the hook. No wiggle there. No jumping around.

Priscilla riffled through the pages of her book and then returned it to the bag. “Do that at night. And in the morning. Starts the day out right. Besides, I’ve had a few opportunities to apply the lessons from that book.”

Gaff chuckled as he pushed out of his chair to head toward his fishing rods. “Sounds like there’s a story in this…..


I need to check my lines before we get too deep into it.” He flipped a bail and reeled in first one hook and then the other to find his bait in tatters. “Looks like someone was eating around the bone here.”

Priscilla moved to join him on the sand. She laughed. Then she closed her eyes and turned her face toward the sun. “Never get tired of this.” She sighed her words into the wind.

Gaff paused, hands dropped to his side as he, too, turned a smiling face to the warmth of the sun. After a moment, he returned to his job. He cast both hooks, filled with bait, into the deep on the other side of the sandbar and put his hands in the water to rinse the fish juice from them. The friends went back to their chairs.

Priscilla closed her eyes to the sun and murmured, “Thank you, Mother Water, for all this glory.”

Gaff dried his hand on the towel as he asked, “And just how did you apply those lessons?”

Her head jerked upright. “Looking for a location to shoot the film I’m making for class. Has to be a beautiful old home with a window on a courtyard or some interesting walkway. So I looked at this historical home in Wilmington. You know, on that street of quaint old homes a block from the river.”

He nodded and the corners of his eyes crinkled in amusement. “Uh-hunh.”

She waved strands of hair out of the way and reached for a shell in the sand beside her. “Wasn’t right for the film, but the curator gave me a number for a neighbor down the way. Someone with a better view.”

“And you called.”

“When I did, a woman answered. I started into the explanation when she cut me off. Wouldn’t let me finish.”

“Yell at you?”

Priscilla threw the shell toward the water. “Not exactly, but her voice was hard and angry and her words…”

“Not helpful? Helpful like southern people are reputed to be?” He smiled at this last.

Priscilla turned toward him. “You know her? Sounds like you’ve got her number.”

“Na. But we’ve got a lot of people move down from the north. Takes ‘em a while to figure it out… that they don’t need to be afraid of everyone.”

Distracted momentarily by the loud squawking of the birds, she just shook her head for a bit. “She didn’t sound afraid. More like she was terribly hurt and wanted to hurt everyone she could to spread that pain around.”

“Don’t let it bother you. Maybe I can help you find another place.”

She turned a brilliant smile toward Gaff. “That’s just it. When she took a breath, I said in a soft voice that I really appreciated her kind help and hung up.”

Gaff grinned. “Good that you didn’t yell or pout about it.”

The smile brightened. “No, I did feel upset about the way she treated me and that she wasn’t at all helpful, but I didn’t feel angry. I just felt sad.”

Gaff nodded and looked toward the tip of his rod to see if there was a fish on the line. Maybe.

“When I got up this morning, I let the book fall open and read from that page. There were six lessons and they all said the same thing repeated again and again: ‘God is but Love, and therefore so am I.’”

Gaff’s brow squinched together indicating his confusion.

Priscilla threw her hands into the air. “Don’t you see? I was love.”

He shrugged, but still didn’t understand. “You were nice.”

“Yes, I was nice to her even as she was not nice to me. I thanked her for helping me even before I realized how much she had helped.”

“How’s that? How’d you think she helped you?”

“She was a test to see if I really learned those lessons.”

“And you passed.”

Priscilla’s grin was at its broadest. “I did pass. I wasn’t angry and I didn’t attack. I said, ‘Blessings to you,’ and I really meant it!”

“No hint of anger?”

The grin dimmed a bit. “I did feel hurt that she would attack me, a stranger.”

“And a nice person.”

“But when I thought about it, I realized that she might have been afraid. A total stranger called her home… and knew where she lived.”

“That would explain the fear, but the attack…”

Priscilla shrugged and ran hands through the sand. “As we said before, she was in pain and was dumping some of that on me. Maybe something happened to her at work… or she had a fight with her husband.”

Gaff laughed. “You sure are good at coming up with maybes.”

She looked intently at Gaff. “You always say that we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors… and it’s really none of our business. Whether it was something that happened that day or from a childhood filled with abuse, her pain was so great that it splatted out all over me.”

He tilted his head. “And you gave back Love instead of fear.”

“I did. I did. And the quotation this morning was perfect. I am Love.”

He laughed now. “I can hear Professor Doolittle saying, ‘She’s got it. I think she’s got it.’”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman


GAFF and the Panacea
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*

[as it appeared in the  August 2011 Newsletter]

Gaff could hear Wally as he stepped from the walkway onto the beach. “Those damned Jehovah’s Witnesses are at it again. Stopped me while I was jogging this morning. Giving me their pitch. Maybe I should wear some kind of symbol to let them know I’m a minister with a congregation. Don’t need them to tell me what to believe.”

“You could wear a collar on your tee shirt.” Gaff was laughing.

He could tell that Wally wasn’t amused as he plopped onto the cooler. “Then they’d think I was one of those Roman Catholic mackerel-snappers.”

Gaff checked the tip of his rod to see if he’d a fish on the line yet… nope. “You’re mighty ‘het’ up this afternoon, Wally. Maybe you’d better cool down … give your blood pressure a rest.”

Wally wiped sweat off his face. “Where do they get off saying that only 144,000 will be saved?”

“I think I read that somewhere in the Bible, maybe Revelations. But I don’t believe they’re the only ones saved. You know the translators didn’t understand all the symbolism in the numbers… that phrase may have a different meaning altogether.” The old fisherman ended his sentence by pushing himself out of the chair. He walked to check his rods.

“In the Bible, you say?” Then Wally mumbled, “Have to look that up when I get back home.” He got up to follow his friend to stand at the rod holders pushed into the sand.

Gaff took the first from its holder. “Even if it is there, is that the important thing? I mean, after all these centuries, is that the only thing that people think was important in Yeshua’s life?”

Wally spit out his answer, on the attack. “Jesus died to save our souls from sin.”

Gaff reeled in the first hook to find it empty. “Can’t catch fish without bait to get them to bite the hook.” The second hook had a small bit of fish on it that he removed to throw into the waves. “For you, Wally, the bait is the possibility to save your soul by accepting Jesus as your Savior. But other people see his passion and pain as modeling the way they should live this life… to pay their way into heaven with the suffering.”

Wally sputtered, “But, but…”

“Wally, we’re all different. I read about the good things that man did for others and the way he treated everybody the same and that’s what’s important to me. He showed me how important every single person is… every one of us.” Gaff pulled a fish from the cooler and cut pieces from it to use as bait.

Wally jammed his fists into his waist. “Of course he did good works to show that he was the Son of God. Proof of pedigree, you might say.”

Gaff cast the first hook into the deep water beyond the sandbar, set the hook, and returned the rod to its holder. “So you fight the Catholics and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and lots of others to see who’s right. You fight to see how many people you can get to come to your side in the argument.”

Wally stomped around in the sand, hands on hips, blood coloring his neck red on its way to his face. “I want to help people understand…”

Gaff cast the second hook into the water and set the rod into the holder. Then he turned to look his friend in the eye, “To understand your interpretation? Or to understand the Way of Love… His commandments to love everybody? I’ll bet you sometimes bash other religions from the pulpit, too. Not just here on the beach with me.”

Wally stopped moving to glare at Gaff, anger-meter nearing a dangerous level. “I talk about their shortcomings sometimes… And at Easter, it’s easy to see that the Jews killed Our Savior.” He jerked his chin to one side to underscore his point.

Gaff glanced at the tip of his rod once more before heading back to his chair. “Seems to me that Jesus’ ministry was all about how to create a heaven on earth by living in love all the time. Said it again and again.”

Wally lowered himself to sit on the cooler. “Unh, huh. I see that. I’ve studied the Bible.”

Gaff sat in his chair and dug his feet into the sand. “What would you say, Wally, if a man got cancer and went to the doctor. The doctor told him there was a cure and  then explained in detail how to do it. What if he told his patient how to change his diet and get more exercise and get rid of the stress in his life. Told the man to calm down and be more loving to his wife and children … to everybody he met. Told him these changes in his life would keep him healthy.”

Wally dug his hands in the sand, waiting. “They’d cure him? I’d say the man was lucky there was a cure. I think he should go right out and do some of these things.”

“What’d you say if the doctor gave the man written instructions about how to do this, how to live his life to cure his cancer? Instructions on how to be happy and healthy.”

Wally looked at the fisherman, confusion lining his brow. “That’d be great, I’d say. Filled with hope, I’d say.” He let sand trickle from one hand to the other.

Gaff smiled and looked to the ocean. “Days passed and the man didn’t make any changes in his life and he got sicker and sicker. But everyday he would take out that paper and read how there was a cure for his disease. And when he read it he would be happy just knowing about the cure. Hopeful, as you said.”

Wally dumped the sand back on the beach and wiped his hands on his shorts. “Man’s stupid. Has the cure right there, but doesn’t do anything about it. Just let’s himself get worse? Stupid.” He shook his head in disgust.

Gaff looked at the sky and then toward Mother Water. “You just said that Jesus told us how to create heaven on earth all those many years ago and yet you condemn other religions because they differ from yours. Is that curing the hate that’s fueled persecution and wars for centuries? He gave you example after example of how to include and love your fellow humans and yet you point to his story in the Bible while you encourage separation… exclusion. You tell everyone that your way is the right way, the only way.”

Wally shot to his feet. “Are you blaming me for all the hate in the world?”

Gaff shook his head slowly, “No, but the change has to start somewhere. Might as well be with us. ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Doesn’t say you have to agree with everything he says… only respect his right to an opinion.”

Wally sputtered, “Well… well.”

Gaff smiled at his friend. “It’s not good enough to read about the cure, we have to live it… to kill the cancer before it kills us… before it kills our planet. You’re wasting time fighting over the meaning of specific phrases when you can see the important part of the message. Why not live that?”

Wally jumped off the cooler and stormed down to the waves’ edge. He stomped his feet, splashing as he went. He kicked the waves and stooped down to pick something up… a shell maybe. He threw that something far out into the water. Gaff could see red in Wally’s face that wasn’t the gift of the sun. He shook his head in dismay.

Gaff watched and whispered, “Have I gone too far, Mother Water? I just wanted for him to finally see … and maybe even to make some changes in his life. He has a big congregation. Be good to get them on the boat, wouldn’t it?”

Suddenly, Wally marched up to Gaff, standing over him, angry. “I’m going to look up that reference to 144,000. Then I might write a sermon about ‘love thy neighbor.’ Might be good to remind my congregation about that part of the message.” He abruptly walked toward the walkway, determination pushing him along.

Gaff yelled after him, “You might give Father Reilly a hug the next time you see him, too. Call him ‘brother’ maybe.”

(The simile used in this article is from W. Alexander Wheeler © 1994.)


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books.
All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends aGaff By the Sea medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF and the Clamorous Clan
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*

[As it appears in the May 2011 Newsletter] 

            Chill was just drifting out to sea when Gaff arrived at the beach. May. School was still in session and the sun wasn’t quite hot enough to draw the hordes that crowded the sand during the summer. This was the weekend and there would be those visitors who wanted to get a jump on the fun, usually pushed by the kids. A smile. He missed those days with his children.

He unloaded chair, cooler, fishing rods. He pounded the flag into the sand beside his chair, awaking the thwap, thwap rhythm of its flapping. Sounds of people drifted his way. Up and down the beach he saw groups coming over walkways.

Cut bait. Family from the blue house was erecting a shade tent, laughing as they worked. Bait hooks. Little girl to his left squealed at the cold water and then splashed in giggling. Cast lines. Harsh yelling from somewhere behind. Greet Mother Water. Disturbance got closer. He sighed. Gaff shook his head because the harsh commands and screamed threats sounded familiar. What about his peace? The old fisherman turned to see the Clamorous Clan. He shrugged, watching.

Same ritual. Thrust and parry. Mother controlled; sons manipulated. Too bad. He hadn’t seen them in months, but they were still stuck, stuck in the unhealthy patterns. He turned to tend his lines, hoping for the big one. Maybe this time.

Her voice arrived before she did. “Hello, fisherman. You still here?”

He turned to see the mother of the Clamorous Clan marching down the beach in his direction. Gaff watched her as he waited, hands on hips. He shook his head at the frown dimming her light.

She shouted. “What are you so angry about? How could you be so pissed off this early in the morning?” She looked around his spot. “Looks like you just got here. Somebody made you mad already?”

He could see her misinterpretations, quick to anger. “Just got here.”

She looked at the giggling children in the surf just past him. “Those kids bothering you? You get so angry about kids playing in the waves, you ought to m
ove down the beach.”

He watched, more misinterpretations. There was movement behind her.

George Cauley was coming their way along the water line. He was limping pretty bad this morning and the scowl on his face told Gaff how much he hurt.

The CC mother was fussing about people in the house next door to their rental. Clothes always on the line and that blocked her view. On and on about how much laundry the woman did and it was always in the yard between her and the water. No consideration for other people. Why didn’t she use the dryer instead of line-drying clothes? They came for the water and that included the view from the house.

Gaff stuck his hand out toward her. “Name’s Gaff. I like to know people’s names.”

She stopped mid-sentence. “Oh, I’m Ivy.”  Her hand was limp. The touch was quick. He wondered what she was afraid of catching from the sign of friendship.

Just about then George got up next to them. “Mornin.’ Catch much?” His voice was gruff, gruffer than usual.

Gaff shook his head. “Nope. Early yet.”

George looked at Ivy and nodded a greeting. “I’ve seen you round.”

She glared at him. “We’re renting the Bell place. Got here yesterday.”

George frowned. “You’re the ones yelling all the time. I live next door and since you moved in there’s been no peace.”

Ivy’s feathers were so ruffled that she puffed up twice her normal size.

Gaff introduced them, hoping for a distraction. “Ivy this is George. George, Ivy.”

George was looking a little like a pufferfish himself. The color creeping into his face would make any beet proud. Gaff wondered if he would blow a gasket right here on the beach. Maybe a waterspout!!

Ivy went on with her previous thoughts. “You should keep your damned laundry in your house.”

This was overlaid by George’s shot. “Stay home to fight. People come here to rest and have a good time. Can’t even take a nap with you there. Go back home to yell and scream. Bet you can’t keep neighbors by tying them to the post.”

Gaff looked from one to the other and didn’t see any end of it without inserting himself into the fray. Hmmm. Behind George, Ivy’s husband buried his nose further in a book. The family behind him was watching, even the children stopped splashing to gawk. All up and down the beach, people were alarmed by the building fury. Ivy and George were oblivious to their audience.

Suddenly, a shrill female voice cut the antagonists apart. “George, you didn’t take your pain medicine. How come you left the house without it? I brought the car to take you back.”

George looked from Gaff to Ivy and pivoted suddenly to lumber off. His coloring didn’t much change, but the cause did. He was embarrassed by the abrupt interruption of hostilities, especially by something that implied weakness on his part.

Ivy’s feathers were smoothing slowly. “Bastard. What the hell…”

Gaff said quickly, “George’s got cancer. Treatment’s expensive so they couldn’t afford to replace their dryer when it broke.”

Ivy still blasted toxic fumes from her nostrils, like a dragon. “He’s a pushy bastard, if you ask me. Attacking me and me a renter, bringing money into this community.”

Gaff shook his head as he watched his friend stomp toward the walkway. “Wasn’t like that before he got sick, lashes out more. Gotta be tough to know you’re dying. Both physical pain and emotional.”

Ivy snorted, very unladylike. “He’s a damned bully if you ask me.”

Gaff turned to look her in the face, his own anger causing the blood to thump in his ears. “What pain causes you to lash out?” Oops, where is that censor?

Ivy froze, stopped breathing, too. “Me? I didn’t lash out. He started it. I was defending myself.”

Gaff looked up at the tip of his rod, settling his feelings. “And him? Does he have a right to peace?”

Harpoons were set to fly from Ivy’s eyes. Stay out of the way, Gaff, old boy. She was ready to go full out on him.

Another deep breath to calm. “How’d you feel when he told you to stop yelling?”

The question didn’t diffuse her emotion. “When he told me… Why I got mad. What right does he have to order me around?”

“You ever hear what they say in that house next door?”

Her eyes squinched together, thinking. Shook her head. “No, can’t say I have.”

He cocked his head as he looked at her. “And yet George said he hears you…” He watched her shrug and could see that she didn’t care. He looked to Mother Water for help and his eyes settled on footprints on the sand. He pointed to them. “What if I told you to walk down the beach following those footprints?”

Ivy barked, “Go to hell. I can walk where I want. This beach doesn’t belong to you.”

Gaff nodded and looked to the water for more words. “You want to follow your own path. What if I told you to walk that way to avoid being stung by jellyfish left by the waves?”

She nodded. The expression on her face spoke of confusion. “I’d go around.”

He checked the tip of his rod to see if he had a fish and saw it jiggle tentatively… maybe. “What if I asked you to walk around a sand castle my children were building?”

She kicked at the gull that got too close. A nod of agreement. A shrug.

Quickly, he asked, “What if I told you to keep the clothes off the line in your yard?”

She answered so quickly that she couldn’t possibly have thought about it. “You’re a damned selfish bully and I’d tell you to go to hell.”

Gaff nodded. “And yet that’s what you said to him.”

To her credit she did pause a beat. “But the clothes block my view from the kitchen.”

Gaff leaned down to pick up a shell. He shook his head, sad. “You got what you wanted… a fight.” His voice was low. “I don’t think you wanted to solve the problem. You just love to fight.” He moved onto the wet sand and threw the shell out into the waves.

She followed him into the wet. “I want him to take the clothes down.”

He turned to look her in the eyes. “Looks like you just want to order him to take the clothes down. You feel righteous because he fought back. If you really wanted the clothes down, you’d have negotiated, compromised. No, I’ll bet winning is what makes you feel good inside. That requires ordering people around. You bully people to feel strong, but you end up being more afraid.”

She turned on her heel and stormed down the beach. Would she think about it?

Gaff watched her storm cloud move away… talked to himself now. “George lashed out because he’s in physical pain and he’s afraid he’s going to die. What kind of pain, fear, makes you lash out? I just wonder? There is only love or fear.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

                                                Gaff By the Sea

Gaff ~ Thoughts of A Fisherman

GAFF Helps with Priscilla’s ACIM Lessons

“Wally Takes on Mother Water”

Thoughts of a Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*


[as it appeared in the March 2011 Newsletter]


            Wally was in running shorts. Goose flesh raised the hair on his legs into a close resemblance to a scouring pad.

            Gaff smiled at the thought, but only said, “Didn’t expect it to be so cold today, did you?”

            The other man didn’t look up. He was preoccupied with wiping away a sheen of sweat from his arms with Gaff’s towel. A nod and a grim expression were his only answer. Then he mumbled, “Was thinking about my sermon for Sunday when I saw you down here.”

            Gaff chuckled, “Jogging for Jesus, were you?”

            The right reverend Wally jerked his head toward Gaff and spat out an indictment, “That is blasphemy!”

            Gaff shrugged. Wally was in no trifling mood today. “Didn’t mean to offend.” He checked the tip of his rod for a sign and then nodded to Mother Water. He added quietly, “Are you saying Jesus didn’t have a sense of humor?”

            This last did not escape the attention of his visitor. “Jesus was a holy man, deserving of great respect. And you and that Mother Water crap… My sermon this Sunday is about pantheism…you are one of the worst.” At this, he wound the towel around his body and plopped down on the cooler beside Gaff.

            Gaff tried vainly to hide his grin. “Pantheism, hunh?”

            “All this New Age garbage about the planet being alive and us being a part of it… and all a part of God. Hogwash!”

            Gaff’s eyebrows shot up. “New age, hunh? You saying the indigenous peoples were born yesterday?” He shut his eyes, ready for the explosion. No disappointment there. A chuckle… so predictable.

            Wally sputtered, “You talking about the Mayans? That’s all over the media. That and 2012 and the end of the world. Well, you know…”

            Gaff’s laugh stopped Wally mid-sentence and that was hard to do. “Do I ever mention the end of the world or that it’s scheduled for any particular date?”

            Wally shook his head in the negative. Gaff saw him about to take off in full rant and cut him off.

            “Does it really matter whether we call the Supreme Being Mother Water or YHWH or George? As long as we teach people to live according to the Way of Love, I don’t see that the name really matters.”

            The sputtering started.

            Gaff chuckled. “In fact, atheism is all right by me as long as the person treats others with respect and love. Call yourself whatever you want as long you respond with love in every situation.”

            “What are you talking about, you crazy old man? You can only be saved in Jesus’ name!”

            Gaff slipped the next in as Wally took a breath. “Don’t see how you could not believe in a Supreme Being when you look at this paradise.” He gestured to the beach and the ocean in front of them. “It’s easiest to love people when you see the good in them and you’ll remember there’s only one letter difference between good and God. So if you can see the good in everyone on the planet, then you must see the God in them.” He glanced at the tip of his rod to see it sway gently with the movement of the waves. Then he cut his eyes to see that Wally was somewhat mollified by his last words. Still, Wally was looking for something to fight.

            Gaff returned his eyes to Mother Water with a silent prayer of gratitude. “We’ve had this talk before. If we teach people to come out of love and to be happy in their lives, it doesn’t matter where we do it. You stay in your pulpit and I’ll catch the ones you miss… or who miss you.”

            Wally pulled the towel tighter. “You mean the ones that go to the beach instead of to church on Sunday?”

            Gaff nodded while he searched the water for jumping fish. He jerked his chin in that direction. “A lot of folks find great solace in that ocean. They don’t think that it’s God, only that being near is curative.”

            Wally was still frowning, but his expression was softening.

            Gaff nodded at something in his head. “So what if I give it a name or look at it while I talk to the Divine? As long as love travels both ways along that connection, isn’t that enough? Or do you feel that God will only listen if He’s addressed by His formal name? And only if He’s giving you a formal reception in a house built to glorify Him?”

            “Well, well… There is only one God.”

            “We agree on that. Only our definition differs. I’d say that the one God is everywhere and that we can chat with Him anywhere.”

            Wally’s face was rouging.

            Gaff wanted to press his advantage.  “Tibetans string prayer flags up in high mountain passes so those prayers can be taken around the world by the wind. Is that bad? Should they keep their flags in some temple?”

            Just then, he heard Priscilla’s voice coming from the walkway over the dunes. “Hallo!” she sang out.

            Wally turned toward the walkway. “Priscilla.” It was a statement.

            Gaff nodded.

            She plopped on the sand when she reached Gaff’s spot. She waved some index cards, smiling. “They’re getting easier now even though I have to practice all the time.”

            Wally reached for the cards. “What are these?”

            Priscilla cut her eyes toward Gaff before answering. “I’m doing the lessons in a workbook to change the way I think.”

            Wally read from the the top card. “Love holds no grievances.” He looked at Priscilla with an unspoken question.

            She took the cards from him and shuffled through them. “That’s number 68, but number 46 is ‘God is the Love in which I forgive.’ And 47 is ‘God is the strength in which I trust.’ There’s one for every day so that I eventually will feel only love. I’m learning to see the blessings and the lessons that people bring me rather than thinking they want to hurt me.”

            Wally looked suspicious. “What is this book you’re talking about?”

            She glanced at Gaff, for support maybe? “A Course in Miracles.”

            Wally sputtered a bit, but Priscilla continued. “I’ve learned how to change my fears into understanding. When someone wants me to feel fear, I understand that he wants love only he doesn’t know how to ask. When I feel that fear it’s because I don’t feel loved.”

            Gaff grinned. “Or because you feel alone. When you remember that God is with you, you have no fear… you know you’ve got the best team.”

            Priscilla read from another card. “I am sustained by the Love of God.” She looked from Gaff to Wally. “Lesson 50.”

            The three sat silent in the breeze off the ocean, feeling the Love of God in that stirring.

            Under his breath, Gaff thanked Mother Water for all her wisdom. “Before you got here, Wally and I were talking about the different ways of learning that God exists in every part of the Universe. In this minute I can feel that God is right here on the beach with us.”

            Wally nodded, but a deep furrow in his brow indicated that he was still looking for something to fuss about in what Gaff said. Finding none, he smiled. “Is it George… or Mother Water today?”

            Gaff laughed from the core of his being and Priscilla looked in confusion from one man to another.



*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman


GAFF Helps with Priscilla’s Lesson

Gaff and the Question of Fear
(Lessons 32, 33, 34)

Thoughts of a Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the February 2011 Newsletter]

           Priscilla stood by as Gaff tended his rods. Today was a heat wave for February, but she stamped her feet for warmth. He could see her impatience in the movement: waiting for his complete attention. Gaff threaded bait on the hook and cast the line into swells beyond the waves: he’d seen some big ones jumping this morning. They looked hungry.

            As soon as they settled into their places, Gaff in his chair and Priscilla on the cooler, Priscilla launched into a tirade. “I’m having to deal with my father again because of mother. Ehhh. My sister is taking his side now, too.”

            “I thought you weren’t talking to your sister these days.”

            Priscilla’s mouth was an angry slash. “I wouldn’t, but she’s inserted herself into this thing so I can’t avoid it.”

            “Hmmm.” Gaff looked up and down the beach and then at the tip of his rod. It was too still, not even moving with the waves. He pushed himself out of his chair and moved to the rod. He tugged it from the holder and pulled on it several times before he reeled in the line.

            Priscilla reached him just in time to hear him curse under his breath. She smiled. “Fish took your bait already?”

            Just then the end of the line was pulled onto the sand. He shook his head. “Not just the bait, but the whole rig—hook, weight, everything.” He walked to the wagon to dig in his tackle box for a replacement.

            Priscilla laughed. “I’m still doing the lessons in that workbook and the one for today is all about seeing peace. Seems like a good one for you right now.” She fished in her jacket pocket for some index cards. She waved these around and laughed again. “I write the lessons on these cards so I can remember them during the day.” She read from the top card, “ ‘I could see peace instead of this.’ That’s the one for today.”

            Gaff groused as he attached the new hook to his line. “Damned fish would have to start the day by taking my hook. More work…” His voice trailed off.

            Priscilla shuffled through the cards and read from another. “The lesson for yesterday is ’There is another way of looking at the world.’ For the day before, ‘I have invented the world I see.’” She looked at her friend with a smile, eyebrows raised. She cocked her head, waiting.

            Gaff baited the new hook and cast his line into the water. Just as the hook hit the water, the sun broke through an oddly shaped hole in the clouds and cast the shape of a heart on distant swells. He pointed and they stood admiring the sun’s tribute to the special day of this month: Valentine’s Day. Gaff laughed from deep inside. “Looks like the sun’s celebrating the love in this world!”

            Then he turned to look at Priscilla, hands on hips. “So to feel more love, I could change the way I see this situation… If I focus on the blessings, I would feel more peaceful about losing my hook?”

            She nodded, still smiling.

            “OK, I will see this as an indication that the old fellow out there is so hungry that he’s ready to jump on my hook the minute I can get it out there. By eating the first bait I threw him, he’s going to calm down and not snap my line again.”

            Priscilla laughed. “And you could see his strength as adding to the sport of pulling him in… when you do.”

            Gaff turned to look toward the place where his line entered the water. “I do like a challenge.” They were quiet for a moment before Gaff turned to Priscilla. Now he was smiling. “All kinds of fish are in that ocean.  Diversity is part of what makes the fishing fun. Some of them seem to jump on my hook and others play this game with me. Be boring if every one were the same.” He nodded and then added, “I guess people are like that, too.”

            His companion cut her eyes from water to Gaff. Suspicion colored her voice. “You’re not going to say that my sister and Dad are a blessing to me?”

            Gaff chuckled. “Just might be that they volunteered to help you learn some lesson. Hard one to avoid because they’re family members. You just told me that you can change the way you see that situation so you find peace in it. What’s stopping you?”

            Priscilla drew her mouth into a frown and squinted in the direction of the ocean.

            Gaff shook his head. “Didn’t you just say that I invent the world I see and that I can see it differently—invent a new one? Well, if I can, why can’t you?”

            Priscilla hurrumphed, but said nothing.

            Gaff turned toward Mother Water. “For someone on a spiritual journey, you seem to want to sidestep the tough lessons that you’re being offered by your dad and your sister. You told me that if it isn’t love, it’s fear. What are you afraid of?” A quick glance at his friend.

            Another hurrumph. She squinted at the horizon.

            Gaff mumbled under his breath, “Seems to me that we’re awfully good at manifesting, but we manifest first what we fear most. Might be that we react to things as though the worst has happened already and that encourages people to do what we fear. Could be that we attract into our lives those bad things.” He shrugged. “Maybe we should work more on learning to handle fears… We’ve talked so long about feeling your connection with the Source that we’ve forgotten to talk about dealing with the shadows in your self. That’s a reason for connecting to Source… to get help with the tough situations.” He smiled at Mother Water and then looked to the tip of his rod.

            Priscilla played the statue. Her voice came out of the quiet. “I have faith that everything is in divine order and that good will come of it even if it doesn’t look the way I thought it would.” She shook the index cards in her hand. “I know these lessons are telling me to focus on the objective facts and to deal with just those without making wild predictions about the future or a meaning based on past experiences.”

            Gaff added quietly, “What happened in the past is gone except when you bring it into the present.” Then he nodded at some thought in his head. “Maybe the hardest relationships to deal with are the ones with the most to teach us. This calls for another talk with the spirit of my dad… we didn’t see eye-to-eye about a lot of stuff.” He turned to the woman next to him. “You’re lucky you still have your dad and sister here to talk things out with.”

            Her words spat out into the sand. “As if…” Then she stopped before slowly adding, “I guess I should.”

            The old fisherman turned toward Mother Water. “For someone on a spiritual journey—like you—these situations are just exercises in the classroom of life, not things to avoid.”

            The tip of Gaff’s rod jumped: big fish there, hooked. Gaff grinned.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF Helps with Priscilla’s Lesson

Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the January 2011 Newsletter]


 Priscilla was sitting in Gaff’s spot reading a book when he got there.

Gaff arrived at the beach in the afternoon because he spent the morning doing errands with Julia. He shook his head. Julia and her bridge group! He looked around the beach: this was his bridge group, he thought. As he put out the chair and the flag and the fishing rods, Gaff stole looks at Priscilla, waiting for her to start talking. She was troubled by something and he didn’t want to intrude without being asked. He could wait.

Priscilla slid next to him as he greeted Mother Water, dipping his hands into a wave to make the connection with the energy of the planet. He mumbled a prayer of thanksgiving— for his family and friends and for his own health and happiness. He couldn’t imagine being happier. They stood side by side looking out to the horizon, at life sustained by the water of the planet. He glanced at his companion to see her hands empty: no book. The frown was still there, though.

Gaff chuckled as he looked at the tip of his fishing rod to see if he had a nibble. “I was just thinking that I couldn’t be happier and you’ve got that frown.”

Another shake of her head. “I just don’t get it. I’m doing the lessons in this workbook. There’s one for each day—365– and I’ve gotten stuck on the very first one.” Something in the sand caught her eye and she picked up a shark’s tooth. A nod of satisfaction at her good luck. She brushed sand from it.

Gaff grinned. He was used to his friend’s hyperbole. The drama made her more interesting, he thought. “What is it that you don’t get?”

Priscilla jammed the tooth into her pocket as she stooped to pick up something else. “The book says to keep looking around the room telling ourselves that whatever we see doesn’t have meaning.”

Gaff wiped hands on pants before fishing mints out of his pocket. He offered one to Priscilla. “Seems pretty straight forward. What don’t you get?”

Priscilla held the shell for him to see. “This is a shell and it does have meaning.  We couldn’t talk about it if it didn’t.”

Gaff poked with a finger and then returned his eyes to the water. “Is this the book that teaches how to see things differently?”

A nod, still inspecting the bit of calcium in her hand.

Gaff looked at Mother Water for insight. “Are you asking for help in seeing things differently and refusing to take the first step?”

She grimaced. “The book does say that we don’t have to believe for it to work… but I guess I’m resistant.”


Gaff nodded. “You keep complaining about the problems getting your manuscript accepted by a publishing house.”

She shrugged.

He continued, “My hunch is that talking about a shell is a heck of a lot easier than talking about the editors in New York.”

Priscilla’s head jerked in his direction. “I can talk about them just fine.” Her voice was harsh, strident with anger.

“But it would be hard for you to say that what they tell you doesn’t have any meaning.”

She turned to face him squarely. “Uh hunh. They do have meaning. They determine what I do with my life… and to some extent whether I eat.”

“Is that so? And what about your father?”

The red heat of anger was rising in her face. “Oh, yes, he has meaning all right.”

Gaff patted her arm and then took the shell out of her hand. “This shell… the only meaning it has is that it is called by the word ‘shell.’ Other than that, it has no meaning, no associations for you.”

Priscilla nodded… and then quickly added. “There’s the memory that I found it on the beach here.” She took in their surroundings with a wave of her hand.

He held the shell at shoulder level. “I’m going to give it another meaning, then.” He thought for a bit.

She watched intently, curiosity etched in two lines between her brows.

Gaff’s voice became melodic. He waved his hand over and around the shell several times. “I have given this shell the power to attract love into the life of the person who possesses it.” A few more patterns waved over the shell and Gaff handed it with great ceremony to Priscilla.

She looked at the little shell resting in the middle of her palm and started to smile. “Did you do something to this thing? It feels warm in my hand and tingles.” Then she closed her fist around it and brought it to rest against her heart, with the other hand on top. Her laugh sounded like tinkling bells. “It feels warm like love itself. Are you a magician?”

Gaff shook his head. “I only gave you the idea that it was magic and you gave it that meaning. I could as easily have said it would bring money or misfortune. And then what would you have felt?”

The corners of her mouth turned down slightly. “So really, the shell only has the meaning that someone gives it. Like you told me it brought love, but I could tell someone that this very same shell brings pain. I feel the love and the person I give it to would feel danger.”

Gaff removed his hat to run fingers through his hair as he nodded. Some hair stood on end as he replaced the hat.

She held her hand out flat, with the shell on its palm. “The shell really has no meaning… only the meaning that a person gives it. That I give it… or that you give it.”

Another nod… and a smile. Gaff glanced at the tip of his rod. It was jerking and wiggling: sign of a fish on the hook… first of the day.

She moved with him as he tended the lines. “The shell has no meaning… that is, no emotion is attached to it, but what a person gives it.”

Gaff grinned as he reeled in a big whiting. He smiled. Whiting is good eating. “This fish is just a fish unless you know how good it tastes coming out of Julia’s fry pan.”

Priscilla laughed. “Or how much fun it is to reel in.”

He took the fish off the hook and held it out for her to admire. “I guess that workbook starts with the shell because it’s a lot easier to think that a shell has no meaning than it is that your father has no meaning.”

“Or a rejection letter from an editor…”

Gaff laughed. “That workbook must start small to place the hook. Then it reels you in.”

Priscilla put the shell into her pocket. “I’m going to keep that shell because you put magic into it. What magic can you put into a rejection letter?”

Gaff opened the cooler and worked the whiting into a place under the ice. “It has no meaning apart from the words on the paper: that he won’t publish your book.” He dug around for bait in a plastic bag.

His friend’s head tilted, listening.

Gaff baited the hook and then cast the line into the surf. “Easier to say what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever get published. It doesn’t mean that you are a horrible failure as a writer. It doesn’t mean that the manuscript is bad. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be on the list of bestselling authors one day. It doesn’t mean that you are stupid… It only means that that one editor doesn’t want to publish your novel.”

Priscilla took her place on the cooler as Gaff plopped into his chair. She stared out to Mother Water to see where Gaff got all this wisdom. “All those other meanings are the ones I gave the letter.” She took her book from the sand and brushed it off. “The shell has no meaning for me in and of itself. The ocean has no meaning. The flag has no meaning.”

“You got it!”

She turned to look into her friend’s eyes. “And yet anyone who knows you, knows those things have great meaning… a meaning that boils down to love.”

Gaff smiled out at Mother Water and nodded. “The Way of Love: the source of miracles.”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.



Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF ~ The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea
Thoughts of an old Fisherman

Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the December 2010 Newsletter]


            The voice came from behind him, from the walkway joining land to sand. “Where’s your girlfriend? Not here today? Was kind of looking forward to another chat with her.”

            Gaff turned to see Wally trudging through the sand toward him. He shook his head. “You mean Priscilla?”

            “Yep.” Wally plopped down on the cooler and almost slid off. He wiggled it to dig it further in, level it. “Hmmm, not bad. Pretty comfortable, in fact.”

            Gaff looked at the tip of his rod to see the rhythmic back and forth movement of the tide… no fish. Not yet. “No complaints so far. What brings you to the beach?”

            Wally looked to the ocean. “Attended my uncle’s funeral in Wilmington yesterday.” He shook his head. “Terribly emotional. I couldn’t tell whether people were sad or joyful that he wasn’t around any more.”

            Gaff turned to look at his visitor. “Not well liked?”

            He shook his head violently. “Wasn’t nice to people from what I know about him. I said some things as part of the service. Took a lot of control to keep from preaching fire and brimstone and the wrath of God at the time of judgment.”

            Gaff smiled slightly and concentrated on holding his own tongue. “You don’t say.”

Wally looked like he intended to say everything he hadn’t at the funeral. He nodded. “When my uncle hits the Pearly Gates, he’s going to meet an angry God who’ll reject him from the place of the good. There’ll be hell to pay, if you catch my drift.” He chuckled without humor. “Man hurt a lot of people. Have to give ‘em credit for keeping quiet yesterday, but I could see it in their eyes.”

Gaff grinned, couldn’t help it. “You think your uncle’ll end up in hell, do you?”

Wally pushed the hair out of his eyes. “Without a doubt. Figure that’s why he held onto life for so long… knew what he was in for.”

Gaff dug into the sand and let it run through his fingers. “Sick a long time?”

Wally nodded. “Stuck around for meanness.”

“Bet he was surprised when he finally got there.”

Wally’s head jerked around toward Gaff. “What do you mean, surprised?”

Gaff grabbed an empty coffee cup from the sand and stood. Wally followed him to the surf. When the next wave rolled onto the sand at their feet, the old fisherman reached down to fill the cup with water. He looked into the cup with such rapt attention that Wally moved closer to see, too.

Finally overcome with curiosity, Wally broke into the sound of the waves. “What are you looking at?”

Gaff smiled into the cup. “The ocean.”

Wally’s face scrunched into a tight frown. “You are some crazy old man. That’s just a cup of water, not the ocean.”

Gaff looked at his new friend. “Is it? You just saw me take it from the ocean and it contains all the minerals that the ocean does. It’s just like the ocean from which it came.” He waited for that to sink in.

Wally looked from the cup of water to Gaff’s face. Did he feel Gaff pulling his leg? Then he stared into the cup for a long moment. “It is the same in that way.”

Gaff smiled. “You might say the ocean is the mother and this cup of water is a miniature version of the mother… a child.”

Wally jerked to negate the statement, but paused. “OK, I’ll go along with you.”

Gaff crossed the fingers of his other hand behind his back. “You could think of God like the ocean, large and encompassing everything, a sea of endless potential. You could see each of us as a part of that everything, only separated in our physical bodies.” He tapped on the cup to make his point. “We all hold endless potential within us.”

The minister took time to try on this idea. He jiggled his head to indicate the possibility and looked at Gaff to see where this was going.

Gaff jabbed a finger at the cup. “What you do with that potential is up to you.” He shook his head. “I believe I do a better job with my life with Christ guidance, but each person has free will.”

“Following the commandments is good.” Wally nodded as he looked from cup to ocean and then to Gaff.

The corners of Gaff’s mouth twitched upward. “Are you talking about Jesus’ two commandments?”

Wally stood taller and looked at Gaff. “There’re ten of them.”

Gaff shook his head. “But in the New Testament, Jesus boiled them down to two.”

Wally shrugged his resignation. “You’ve mentioned His Way of Love.”

Water sloshed in the cup to draw their attention. “To me, believing in separation from God is the true hell.”

“Then all of life is hell.”

Gaff smiled. “Not if you follow His guidance. It’s only hell if you think you know better and fight to get your way. Then you’re in a hell of your own creation.” He waved to encompass the world around them. “We’re in a physical paradise with the ability to create an emotional paradise.”

Wally cocked his head, confused.

Gaff grinned as he looked around. “If we send out love and work the miracles we’re guided to by the Christ, we create heaven right here on earth.”

Wally looked into the cup again. “And then what happens when we die?”

Gaff threw the water into the wave at their feet. “We rejoin the rest.”

Wally frowned. “You’re saying there’s no judgment, no fire and brimstone, no devil?”

Gaff walked toward his chair. “Oh there’s judgment, but we judge ourselves and probably more harshly than a thousand gods would. From our place in the ocean we can see the whole and that includes the pain we caused. Because we’re part of the whole, we FEEL that pain—and the joy. Feeling that pain is the worst punishment possible.”

Wally did some of his sputtering act, but to his credit, he seemed to be thinking about this new way of looking at life and death.

“And why do you fish, old man?”

Gaff pointed to the ocean. “I find peace in being close to Mother Water. I bless her and she blesses me. I find joy in giving to her and to all her creations, for all creatures came from her. We are filled with the water that is life. Here I can pay tribute to that life and pass on the blessings that I’ve been given. I create miracles when He brings people to ask about the flag. Maybe it’s easier for some to ask an old fisherman about the skull and crossed leg bones than to ask a minister about a man on a cross.”

Wally sputtered.

 “I see things very simply and use simple words and examples to get to the point. Maybe they even see how much I love them and that’s important to people who are floundering.” Gaff looked at the tip of his rod and it was almost jumping. A fish on the line?


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF ~ Mary Magdalene versus Determinism
Thoughts of an old Fisherman

Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the  November 2010 Newsletter]

 ‘Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb’

artist Unknown

Priscilla was bundled up in sweaters covered by a windbreaker. She wiggled on the cooler to settle it in the sand while she watched Gaff cast his lines into the surf. She was taking a break from writing, but wondered at her decision to visit her friend on the blustery beach. How could Gaff fish all through the winter? Or did he?

Rods in their holders, Gaff stood at water’s edge looking out at Mother Water for a good moment and then he came to take his place in the ratty old beach chair beside the cooler. The flag serenaded them with its a-rhythmic thwapping in the breeze.

He smiled. “Taking a break?”

A nod. She looked out at the horizon wondering how much warmer it would get today. Actually, she was hoping for more warmth.

He would honor her silence as long as she needed it. A decision, a nod. “I’m reading about Mary Magdalene and the original church.”

He nodded, waiting for more. A glance at the rod showed the pull of the tides, no fish yet.

Priscilla hugged herself for warmth. It was November: a great time for walking on the beach, but cold to sit. She opened her mouth to speak, but was distracted by a male voice calling a greeting. They turned to see a figure coming across the walkway from the parking lot. Bundled against the wind, he waved and grinned big enough to be seen from where they sat.

Gaff pulled a towel from his wagon and spread it on the sand, ready for company.

“Saw your flag and figured I’d make a social call since I’m walking in this direction today.” He reached them and looked around. “A bit cold today, isn’t it?”

Gaff muttered, “Comes and goes these days.” He looked from person to person. “Priscilla, meet the right reverend Wally. Wally, this is Priscilla, a writer with a diverse reading list.”

Wally plopped down on the proffered towel and looked her over with an expression that unsettled Priscilla. “And what would you be reading now?”

Priscilla glanced at Gaff and then looked at Wally, Defiance was written all over her face. “I’m reading about Mary Magdalene, the wife of Jesus.” Then she looked out to the sea. A smile teased the corners of her mouth.

Wally practiced sputtering. He was getting good at it.  Now Priscilla did smile.

Gaff was smiling, too. “Told you.”

Wally straightened with dignity. “Jesus wouldn’t marry a whore.” Then he turned to look at the water. Period.

Priscilla’s voice was low, but with an edge fit to cut bait. “Pope rescinded that in 1969. You must have missed the small print.”

Wally turned toward her. “Did he say she was Jesus’ wife?”

Priscilla shook her head. “Didn’t go that far, but evidence in the Bible points to that conclusion.” Gaff had told her about meeting Wally.

Gaff chuckled. “Forgot to warn you that she talks about the Bible… without the letters behind her name. It’s an epidemic.” He coughed to hide his laugh.

Wally’s face threatened a storm, but he breathed deeply and attempted impassivity. “Must be her destiny to get caught up in the debate about Mary’s role. My sermon this week is about determinism, God’s plan, and I’ve been looking into it.”

Priscilla’s eyes popped open wide. “Determinism. I’ve read about that, too. Why is it that I’m destined to believe that the Magdalene is the tower and not the whore?” She cut her eyes toward Wally, then turned her attention to a shell in the sand beside her.

He shrugged. “Pretty obvious, isn’t it? You’re a woman fighting for a place in the spotlight. You wouldn’t want to think that Mary got her glory from being one of a crowd of women around Jesus. Giving her a more esteemed position has more appeal. The Virgin Mary was content to stake her reputation on her famous son.”

Priscilla took the bait. “It’s not about me at all. What I’ve read resonates with me– the second coming is when Mary returns and she will only show up when we exalt her as an equal to the male anointed one, the male Christ. She is the female Christ according to the MALE scholars I’m reading.” She could feel the heat of anger rising in her face.

Gaff groaned, rolling his eyes, which he turned to see Wally’s reaction.

Wally shook his head slowly, a smug smile decorating it. “The Second Coming, a woman? I don’t think so. No, your destiny is to follow this blind alley until you come to the end and have to retrace your steps. Then you will come to the teaching of the church for the truth. Goes back to Eve leading Adam astray. God has it all planned for you… your whole journey. You’ll try to lead us astray, but…” He ignored sparks coming from her eyes.

Gaff chuckled. “I’m surprised you didn’t blame some teacher that predicted she couldn’t be as successful as a man.”

Wally definitely underestimated Priscilla’s strength of conviction.

Priscilla grabbed the shell at her feet and threw it at the waves. “This is the very thinking that keeps us in a hole so deep we can’t see out. Goddess Energy is the loving energy that’s flooding the planet so we can see the good in others. The future of the human race depends on acceptance of women as equal… Besides the Great Mary was an important priestess in her own right.”

Wally’s sputtering was preliminary to a tirade and Gaff didn’t want that to pollute his beach. He cleared his throat and put a hand on the person to each side. His voice was strong, but gentle. “What does it matter if everything is set in stone because of what a woman did ages ago? What does it matter if the Mary was a Christ?”

Priscilla and Wally both had mouths open, ready to answer.

Gaff dropped his hands onto the arms of his chair, leaned back, and looked to Mother Water. “These intellectual discussions can be interesting, but are you so distracted by them that you miss the important point? The important point for me is to learn a new way of loving every day. The important point is to follow the guidance of a loving god to find new ways of benefiting the people around me.”

He turned to Priscilla. “Is your discussion of Mary’s role an attempt to show people new ways of valuing men and women to an equal amount?”

She wanted to answer, but stopped to think. A small nod. She saw how she could do that. It only took a slight change in direction.

He turned to Wally. “How is your discussion of determinism going to convince your congregation to leave behind old programming to follow the two commandments Jesus gave? Isn’t part of that old programming the belief that we have to follow what’s written in a book rather than develop a personal relationship with the divine?”

Wally’s eyes were boring through Gaff, but he was listening.

Gaff smiled. “Call it Goddess Energy if you want, but we’re becoming more aware of our capacity to love every person on the planet. Love forms and reforms the water of the world, in the seas and in the people. Love makes life, and the water of life, into a thing of beauty.” He stopped suddenly to look at Mother Water.

Priscilla was speechless. She had never seen Gaff say so much and so strongly. She glanced at Wally and then looked into her own hands. Tears filled her eyes and painted tracks on her cheeks. If writing is her life purpose, then didn’t she want to create things of beauty? She glanced at Wally, lost in his own thoughts. It didn’t matter what this man thought. She had her own path. She looked at Mother Water and said a prayer asking for guidance and thanking her for the friendship with Gaff. High up on her list for this Thanksgiving season was this man who knew.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF meets Wally
Thoughts of a Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the October 2010 Newsletter]


                      He walked up and started right in. “I’m minister at the church just down the road and some of my congregation tell me you’ve been preaching on this beach.”

            Gaff’s eyes flew wide and his mouth dropped open. He stuck his hand out, offering to shake. “Name’s Gaff.” He looked at the fishing gear all around him and didn’t think he needed to explain why he was here.

            The man looked at Gaff’s hand as though it were a snake coiled to attack. “I’m Wally Redmon, Reverend Walter Redmon. My church is two blocks down.” His chin jerked in that direction. He stood there looking as though expecting Gaff to engage in fisticuffs.

            Gaff watched his visitor wondering where he’d go from here, and why.

            Hands on hips, anger shooting out all around him. Wally rocked on his feet, uncomfortable in the silence. “I’m here to tell you to cease and desist. You are not a trained minister, so stop preaching to my people.”

            Gaff looked all around to see if Wally might be addressing these comments to someone else. No one there. “Me?” Feeling at a disadvantage sitting, Gaff stood. Then an idea. “What exactly am I doing that offends you?”

            Feet in a strong stance, planted wide and ready for a fight. “You’re preaching the Word and telling people how to live their lives without the proper training.” Once started the waves kept right on breaking around him. “Have you read the Bible? Have you gone to Seminary to learn about the Bible? I’ve had good teachers train me in what the Good Book means, especially the Gospels. How much have you studied the history of the church or how to tell people how to save their souls? I’m trained to teach people about Jesus’s teachings.”

            Gaff watched as Wally finished his rant and the energy drained out of him like water leaving a tidepool. He shook his head. “Help me understand your concerns.”

            Wally started to say something, but Gaff held his hand up, palm out. “My turn.” He looked to Mother Water for help with this. His voice was calm and low. “I am a fisherman, sitting on the beach casting lines out into the ocean. People come to visit me. “ He glanced at the flag flapping in the wind. “Many come because of the flag… the skull and crossed leg bones. Some leave a part of their burden with me by talking about the troubles in their lives.”

            He looked at Wally through squinted eyes. “Am I right so far?”

            Wally nodded, but was stopped from talking by Gaff’s outstretched hand.

            Gaff closed his eyes to see. “I talk about the birds and fish and clouds, things of nature, to give people an idea of how things fit together. Sometimes when they hear my stories, they see how all the creatures on the planet are part of the same whole. Sometimes they see their own lives differently and figure out how to be happier… Is this what you understand?” Gaff looked at his visitor.

            Wally nodded. His nod was answered by Gaff’s.

            The old fisherman looked at the sand as he dug a toe into it. “A lot of times that means to understand and love people who used to make them mad. What I don’t see is what’s wrong with that.”

            Wally hesitated a tick before he realized he could answer. “You quote the Bible, a book you haven’t studied.”

            Gaff nodded, patient. “You are right, I haven’t read the Bible all the way through. I guess it isn’t enough that I’ve gone to church all these many years listening to the readings and the sermons explaining them. I guess it isn’t enough that I’ve practiced living the two Commandments that Jesus gave us in the New Testament.” He squinted at the tip of his rod, no sign of a catch.

            The old fisherman sighed a sad one. “I don’t much quote the Bible or any other book for that matter even though I’ve read plenty. What I tell people comes from the love in my heart, not from some words I’ve memorized… and no piece of paper can certify that love.”

            Wally sputtered, but didn’t say a word.

            Again, Gaff looked into his visitor’s eyes. “I didn’t need a piece of paper to teach my wonderful children nor to love my Julia. So I don’t understand why I need some piece of paper to show people how to allow more happiness into their lives. I love the people who sit on my cooler… Well, most of them… I’m filled with incredible joy when I see them walk back down the beach with a hitch in their step. I don’t tell them what to do or how to live their lives. They might see themselves in my stories and learn more about life. Do I need a paper for that?”

            Wally blurted out his words. “Only a pagan talks about Mother Water like it was a human… corrupting my people. You’re barbarian.” His hands jammed into his hips again, full of fury, hard enough to make a bruise.

            Gaff shook his head. “No, Mother Water isn’t a person, but God can speak to us through anything. This is His world and He uses all of it to teach us. A big part of what’s troubling our planet is that we don’t love her enough. So does it offend you if I love the planet and take care of her? Is that why I need a paper and some letters behind my name? Those letters’ll give me the right to encourage others to take care of the planet so we still have a home?” He looked at Mother Water and the creatures around her.

            Wally sputtered. No words came from him.

            Gaff grinned and looked into the minister’s face, challenging. “Let’s have a contest, you and me. Let’s see who can love our people the best and can help them to grow strongest. Let’s see who can have the happiest lives, filled with joy. Let’s see who can allow our wives and children to be the healthiest and happiest, not spoiled, but knowing they’re really loved. Let’s see who can live a life most like the one that Jesus modeled for us.”

            Wally looked puzzled for a moment, but seeing no negative, nodded his agreement. The corners of his mouth threatened to turn up in a smile.

            Gaff checked the tip of his rod. Did he have one on the line? It was wiggling. He turned eyes back to the minister. “You know, the only two emotions are love and fear. Fear can be called by so many other names, so many… Love can, too, I guess. No matter what nametag it’s wearing, though, you can still recognize it.” He shook his head. “If what you’re seeing or feeling isn’t love, it must be fear. Whenever you feel fear, it’s time to find out what caused it and boot it out of your life. A life filled with love is a magnificent thing—everyone should have one! You, too.”


* Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to There you will see photographs of locations discussed in Gaff as well as a chapter for your perusal. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF and The Storm
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the September 2010 Newsletter]


                     Gaff stood under the shelter at the seaward end of the fishing pier in Kure Beach. The pier was so long that standing at the end was like being in a boat out on the water, minus the pitch and yawl. Black clouds roiled in the sky above. Lightening arced from cloud to cloud, adding to the drama of the scene. Suddenly, lightning struck water not far from them.

“Them” consisted of several fishermen reluctant to leave their spots on the pier, fascinated by the show put on by nature. “Them” was Gaff, Shirley, and Charlie.

            Gaff continued to watch the light show as he spoke to those with ears to hear. “You think this was the way life first came to this planet? Lightning hit the sea of potential?”

            Shirley was standing next to him. “Hunh? What do you mean ‘sea of potential’? That’s just the ocean out there got struck by lightning.”

            On the other side of Shirley, Charlie laughed. “My hunch is that something in that ocean got fried by the charge.”

            Gaff laughed too. “You mean we can set our hooks for fried fish this morning?”

            Charlie guffawed.

            Shirley pulled her slicker close and snapped it shut against the rain that was beginning to pelt the boards above them. The wind drove heavy drops at an angle acute enough to reach most of the way to the bench at the back of the lean-to. “We’ll get stuck out here if we stay much longer. Rain’s starting for real now.”

            Charlie leaned around her to get a better view of Gaff. “You are an odd bird, Gaff. What do you mean “sea of potential’? That caught my attention. I know you well enough to know there’s something deep behind that question. You’re always passing along new ideas with your odd-ball comments.”

            Gaff leaned out from under the shelter to look at the sky above them and then moved back into the shelter at the next strike of lightning. He wiped the rain from his face. “I was just wondering if the first thing on the planet was the water filled with all kinds of molecules and atoms that had the potential of becoming living, breathing creatures. Then the lightning came along and zapped them together to form some kind of life.”

            “Kind of like Frankenstein?”

            Charlie laughed. “Or like the paddles that EMS used to restart my heart last year when it didn’t want to work.”

            Gaff nodded. “Like Frankenstein. Like the paddles. That’s a good simile, Charlie. Mind if I use it sometime?”

            Charlie grinned. “Nope. Be my guest.”

            Gaff looked far out to the horizon where the real light show was going on. “If you think about the earth as your mother.”

            “Like you always talk about Mother Water?”

            “Like that. If you think about the sky as your father.”

            Charlie’s head jerked up to look at the clouds and lightning and nodded. “Father Sky.”

            Shirley sat down on the bench against the back wall of the shelter, prepared to wait the storm out. “My preacher’s always talking like God’s a real person taking up residence in the sky. We pray with our hands held out, palms up, to accept His bounty.”

            Gaff glanced back at her. “To accept His bounty and maybe to offer Him your self?”

            She thought a moment. “I reckon you’re right. That does make sense, to offer your soul up for Him to heal.”

            “Not only to be healed, but to be used in His service, I think.”

            She frowned. “I’ll have to think about that. Hmmm, maybe that’s the part of his sermon that I didn’t understand.”

            The lightning crashed into the water again with a thunderous crack. Gaff turned in time to see another bolt going from cloud to cloud. “I love the excitement of the storm. The beauty and the drama. This’s been going on since the beginning of this planet; a love affair between the earth and the sky expressed in electricity.”

            Charlie grinned. “Resulting in fried fish.”

            “And Frankenstein’s creature?”

            Gaff looked back to see Shirley laughing. “If that’s what you want to call us humans.”

            “That explains my mother-in-law.” Charlie grinned.

            “You wait till I see her! You know she lives next door to me.”

            “Is that a threat, Shirley?”

            They laughed.

            Gaff watched the storm in silence for a while, awed by the power of the Universe. He thought about how each life is a sea of endless potential that can be jolted into something wonderful. Lightning crashed into the water again. “That process of creation required trauma to the water, the violent joining of two elements: lightning and water. The energy running through the water could join together some of the separate atoms and molecules floating in it to form a different organism. Is it always like that, I wonder.”

            Charlie cocked his head. “What are you going on about now?”

            “What I was thinking is how the EMS used trauma to restart your heart. Here, lightning passes through the water with a crash that could combine some of the molecules into new life forms. If you see each human life as a sea of endless potential, does it require trauma for the person to realize his potential? That’s the question.”

            Charlie looked out to the clouds over the horizon and finally nodded. When he spoke, his voice was serious. “It took that heart attack for me to see what’s important in life… in my life. I used to think that a new car was important. Or adding that room to my house so it was bigger than my brother George’s. I used to regret that I couldn’t give my wife the kinds of things that George gave his wife.” He stood in silence for some time.

            Gaff waited for more.

            Charlie nodded as he watched the storm. Was he agreeing with some voice in his head? “George got divorced this year. Surprised me because I thought they were doing so well. Turns out they were not happy behind the closed doors of that big house of theirs.

“But that heart attack and the possibility that I might die made me realize that I hadn’t seen enough sunrises and sunsets. I hadn’t caught enough fish. I hadn’t played enough hide-and-seek with my grandchildren. I hadn’t told my wife how much I love her– not enough.”

            “Is that when you retired?”

            “Yep. Retired to spend more time with my family. If I only have a little time left on this planet, I don’t want to waste it working to buy stuff that I’ll leave behind. I’d rather grow the relationships and the love that make me feel good.”

            Gaff smiled. “That’s a fine legacy to leave, better than a pile of stuff.” He was interrupted by the crash of thunder. “Don’t forget the fish. You retired so you could catch more fish, too.”

            “Not really. I retired so I could spend more time with my crazy friend who talks about how every life is a vast sea of endless potential. The trauma of that heart attack and the realization that I could die any minute was what it took for me to make something better out of the life I had. That trauma made me see the potential in my sea and to see that it isn’t endless.”

            “Seems like you gained an appreciation for the gifts you’d been given. And realized that it’s a waste of time to compare yourself with other people.”

            Charlie nodded solemnly.

            Shirley’s voice came from the seat behind them. “You guys are too damned serious for the pier. Want to get serious, go back to the beach.”


* Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to There you will see photographs of locations discussed in Gaff as well as a chapter for your perusal. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

It is My Devotion that Entitles Me to Yours
Thoughts of an Old Fisherman
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the August 2010 Newsletter]


            Sam Teabar walked over the dunes from the blue house to sit on Gaff’s cooler. Gaff felt Sam’s unutterable sadness.
            They sat. Sam put his head in his hands and said in a small voice. “You couldn’t help her, you know. I know you tried, but you were just too late.” He shook his head and raised his head to wipe the tears.

            Gaff put a hand on his visitor’s shoulder, but said nothing. Both men looked out at the ocean and watched the gulls and the pelicans diving for food. They listened to the waves crashing on the sand, pushing the sand into the shore and then pulling it out again. This was the way of things, the natural pulse of the planet.

            Gaff nodded in understanding. “Julia said about as much. I guess Harriet didn’t come with you this year.”
            Sam shook his head in response. “She’s in a residential clinic for a couple of months. If she doesn’t stay on the wagon when she gets out, I’m filing for divorce. I love her too much to watch her kill herself this way.”
            All Gaff could think to say, “I’m so sorry.”
            Sam picked up a shell and threw it toward the water. The birds dove for it, thinking it might be food. They soon returned to their fishing. “I do love her, you know.”
            “I can see that.”
            “She thinks I want her to quit drinking because I want to hurt her. But I love her too much to watch this form of slow suicide. I stuck around while my first wife died of cancer, but she didn’t do that on purpose. I can’t take more pain like that.”
            “The birds just now… they got confused about what you were throwing. Thought it was food. If you told them it was just a shell, they wouldn’t understand. They had to find out for themselves. Life’s like that sometimes.”
            “I guess you’re right.”
            “Works both ways. You can try to do something nice for someone– something helpful– and they will see it in the light of their own way of seeing the world. That might not be the same as your way, your intention.”
            “That’s why Harriet thinks I’m being mean to her when I tell her to quit drinking?”
            “For some people, everything boils down to a competition for the good things of life. One of those good things is love and its other form-respect.”
            “And good times. You forgot good times. Harriet thinks I’m trying to limit her good times.”
            “She has her own way of seeing things and her definition of ‘good times’ is pretty narrow. For me, good times are the hours I spend with Julia and the grands.”
            Sam nodded, quiet in his sadness.
            “If Harriet could only see how much you love her, she would see the source of good feelings you’re offering.”
            “She thinks I want to control her, to make her do what I want.”

            “I read in a book just recently that devotion to a person is best when it’s in response to the devotion they have for you.”

            The tip of the rod began to wiggle its signal-a fish on the hook. Both men moved so Gaff could tend his lines.

            “That does make sense… Is it payment for that devotion?”

            “Not payment, but you love the person who loves you. Harriet just doesn’t see how devoted you’ve been to her all these years.”

            Sam shook his head. “What is this book you’re talking about?”

            “In A Course in Miracles that passage is about the way we honor Jesus, but it also works when you consider relationships with people in our lives.”

            “I’m not following.”

            “The book says that we should honor Jesus and be devoted to Him not because He’s special, but because He is devoted to us.”

            “Still don’t get it. He’s the son of God so He is special. The discussion is moot.”

            Gaff smiled. “We were all created by God, weren’t we?”

            Sam nodded.

            “Then, we’re all sons of God.”
            Sam frowned, “OK? I guess that’s one way of seeing it.”
            “That makes us all brothers of Jesus… and special. The book says that Jesus wasn’t here to teach us how to suffer and die. That wasn’t His purpose. He was here to teach how to love-to love unconditionally. To love in all situations.”
            “That I can follow. It’s not exactly what my minister says, but it does make sense.”
            “He tells us that our devotion to Him isn’t to be based on His specialness, but on the love He has for us and constantly demonstrates to us.”
            “I don’t see how that relates to Harriet’s drinking problem.”
            “She sees your insistence on keeping her from drinking as based on your being her husband. From her point of view, in that special role, you try to control her because you are her husband.”
            “I only want the best for her because I love her.”
            “She has to love herself enough to believe that you can love her that much.” Gaff could see Sam’s sadness.
            “I do love her.”
            “I know you do, but she may not be able to see it. Let’s talk about the early church. People met in homes to discuss what they heard about Jesus. Others joined them because they saw how loving members of the group were. Saw the happiness and decided they wanted some of that.”
            “Not because He was the King of the Jews?”
            “Nope. Because He taught people to be loving and that results in feeling peaceful. And a lot of other people wanted to feel that peace. Those early followers didn’t go out to pull people in through force. The minnows were attracted by the promise of a better life.”
            “Those people had to believe they deserved the love rather than punishment by an angry God. Only then could they truly join in the meetings to learn the Way of Love.”
            “So Harriet doesn’t believe that I could truly love her enough to want the best for her?”
            “That’s about the way I see it… one part of the picture.”
            “The other part is that she doesn’t love herself enough to believe she deserves good things? Like my love?” He shook his head in confusion.
            Gaff nodded. “Harriet doesn’t understand that she could enjoy more of this world if she was sober or she would stay sober. Sometimes getting drunk is a way of covering over pain and sometimes that pain results from feeling inadequate.”
            “Inadequate and not lovable?”
            Gaff nodded. “After you drink so much, your body chemistry changes so you don’t feel right without the booze.”
            “What you said before sticks in my mind. She needs to love herself enough to be able to accept love from me.”
            “Yep. If she doesn’t love herself and trust that others will love her, then she will grab all the good feelings she can in other ways. She’s falling back into the habits she formed as a young woman, the way she got what she thought was love.”
            “I need to see what kind of counseling they do in that clinic. Maybe I could go for sessions with her.”
            Gaff nodded his appreciation. “I once told a young man that he needed to be the kind of person that’s attractive to the woman of his dreams. He needs to be her Dream. It can’t be a façade or a game. It has to be real because the other person will figure it out, sooner or later. Maybe a lot of divorces result from that kind of play-acting.”
             “Interesting idea.”
             “We’re more successful in getting love if we are loving. The way it was put in that book is ‘It is my devotion that entitles me to yours.'”
            “It’s silly to equate myself with Jesus.”
            “Wasn’t He providing a model for us?”
            Sam stared out toward the horizon, nothing more to say. He was nodding, though.


* Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to There you will see photographs of locations discussed in Gaff as well as a chapter for your perusal. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

Gaff ~ Thoughts of an Old Fisherman


GAFF and Mother Water 
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*

[as it appeared in the July 2010 Newsletter]


[Previous Article]

            It was still dark when Gaff got to his spot on the beach. He pulled his wagon down on the sand and put out his chair in time to see the spectacle that marked the boundary between night and day: the sunrise. First, there was a finger of gold making its way onto the horizon from somewhere on the other side of the planet. More fingers joined the first, encroaching farther along the horizon and up. It was as if the sun were pulling herself into the morning sky with those fiery fingers. Then there was the sun itself. As the brilliant golden orb rose up over the clouds on the horizon, he talked to Mother Water.

            “Mother, I can see that more and more people are beginning to understand their connection with the planet and the need to heal it, to give back to you. I only wonder if we’re not too late. I worry when I hear about oil gushing into our source of food and toxic fumes billowing into the air that sustains us. I worry when I read about the pollution of our water supplies and chemical pollution of our bodies. I worry. But then, I also have faith that you will show us how to heal you and through you, to heal ourselves.”

He pulled the pirate flag from the wagon and unfurled it. It started a gentle flapping in the light breeze even as he planted it in the sand near his chair. He turned back to the sunrise. “Like the gargoyles, this skull and crossed leg bones is a symbol of protection. Protection from what, Mother Water? I’m beginning to think we need protection from ourselves more than from any other threat on the planet in the Universe. WE are the threat.

“While people argue about what is real or unreal, they miss the point of all of this, don’t they? I awoke this morning feeling that I was a part of something huge, something more than my body or my life or even this planet. What is real is the loving energy of this Universe that supports us all. At least, that’s what feels real to me.

“I used to see the importance of every human being on this beach and his relationship to my path, but now I see something more. I see the gift of the sunrise as an expression of your love for us. The clouds, the waves, the sand, the shells… all gifts and a part of you that we can love. And yet, they are also a part of us. I only hope to do my part in encouraging people to come out of their small neighborhoods into the love of the greater metropolitan cosmos. It is there for all of us-pulling us to it, to you.”

The old fisherman of Kure Beach sat for a time, absorbed in the beauty of the moment. Still watching, he stood to walk to the waves lapping gently on the sand. He put his bare feet into the water with the same reverence due a baptismal font.

“I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” These words from his days in the church skipped through his mind like the refrain to a familiar song as he bathed in the water of Mother Earth. The refrain continued as he bathed in the beauty of the sun rising over the clouds on the horizon. The clouds looked like trees on a piece of land somewhere far out in the ocean. Is that what all this is? An illusion of reality that allows us to demonstrate the love that heals? An illusion like those clouds that look like land? The healing of love like the golden rays of the sun that covers those clouds, eventually creating enough heat to make them disappear?

“There is substance to this life and the people in it. It is important because it enables us to practice healing the mind, the body, and the spirit as we know the author of A Course in Miracles has done. This life and the people in it are serious and they are real because they are love. Yet they are not eternal. The trick is to believe in the truth of the eternality of Universal Love and of our spirits and to treat everyone you meet with the respect due your long-time friend. At the same time, to realize that these bodies may be temporary, but they are important as the physical vehicles that allow us to learn about the power of love. Learn by doing.”

He shook his head. “Such heavy thoughts this morning, Gaff! This beach… this is more inspiring than any church I’ve attended. Mother Water, you have provided me with more answers than any book I’ve read. And you’ve washed away more of my ills than any holy water in the church ever did. And yet the church is where I started and so I love it for what it offers.”

Then he looked quickly up to the still-dark sky behind him. “I’m not discouraging anyone from attending church, You understand. Not if that’s what You want for them. I’m just saying that this beach is my church and I spend my days communicating with You, God. I thank you for all the blessings you have brought to me on this beach and everywhere in my life. I accept your guidance in all things. ‘Thy will be done’ and I know that thy will is for me to be filled with joy.”

Then he returned his gaze to the streaks of gold coloring the sky over the ocean. He shook his head in the awe of it all. He felt the love that surrounded him, that healed him, that gave him the strength to meet the challenges of each day. This is real: this is LOVE.


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. There you will see photographs of locations discussed in Gaff as well as a chapter for your perusal. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.


Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

GAFF on Hurricanes 
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the June 2010 Newsletter]

[Previous Article]

Gaff got to the beach early. Early enough to watch the sun coming up over the ocean. Early enough to enjoy the sparkling light effects of golden sun on water. He didn’t set up his stuff until the show was over. Once his baited hooks were out there ready to bring in the big one, he settled into his chair to wait.

Bobby arrived later. The job as security guard in a local factory was cutting into his time on the beach. He repeated to Gaff-and to himself-the sacrifice would be worth it once he got up and running with his security consulting business. He was learning a lot that answered questions he had as a cop. It was all good, he kept saying. It’s all good.

The two men looked to the pelicans for signs of fish. They sat in silent wonder at the dark clouds rolling in from the southeast, clouds that spoke of violent storms.

Bobby asked, “You don’t think we’ll have to run out of here fast, do you? That looks like a pretty big front.”

Gaff nodded toward the clouds. “Might be that tropical storm they keep threatening us with. Missed Florida this time.”

 “Hope it misses us.”

Gaff squinted toward the water. “I think I see the predators working the schools of fish. Hate to think we might miss the big one because of a little wind.”

 Bobby laughed. “You and the big one. Have you ever caught it?”

 “Yep, I get ’em from time to time. Got you, didn’t I?”

 “Ha, ha.”

Beyond Bobby, Gaff could see Sally stomping up the beach. “Uh oh. Did you make Sally mad again?”

Bobby turned to look along Gaff’s sightline. “Nope. Haven’t seen her today.”

“She looks like a squall storming toward us. More threatening then those clouds.”

They watched as Bobby’s cousin moved toward them, fast enough to kick up quantities of sand. Her face was red and drawn into a sour grimace. Her hands clinched into fists that beat the air as she moved.

Bobby groaned. “Now what?”

They didn’t have long to wait for the answer. Sally started before she got to them. “You tell that she-devil to move out of my house. I won’t have a pagan or a devil worshiper living with me. I am a good Christian woman and I won’t have it, you hear? I won’t have it.”

Gaff answered even though Bobby was the object of the tirade. “Who’re you talking about? What she-devil?”

“That Priscilla. That’s who.”

“Is she a pagan because she’s a writer or because she’s dating Bobby?”

“She’s got a lot of strange reading material that’s anti-Christian. She’s got the Gospel of Mary and A Course in Miracles. And she’s reading it right there in my living room. The nerve of her. She knows I’m a Christian.” Sally jammed her fists on her hips.

Gaff laughed. “Will you have to get your preacher to come over to bless your house to get all the devil germs out?”

Bobby looked at him reproachfully.

Sally hurrumped loudly. “Has she turned you, too?”

Gaff motioned for Sally to sit on his cooler, but she refused. Couldn’t fold that anger into a sitting position.

She turned on Bobby. “I want you to go get her out of my house this minute. This minute, ya hear.”

“Why do you say those books are of the devil?” Gaff checked the tip of his rod for signs that he had one on the hook. Maybe.

“They’re against the Bible, that’s why.” She kicked the sand to punctuate her statement.

“Have you read them? What in them offended you?”

“I wouldn’t read that tripe. My preacher said it was of the devil.”

“So you accepted what he said without checking it out for yourself.”

“He’s a very smart man and trained at seminary.”

“Does that mean he’s infallible?”

“You mean, like the Pope?” Her brow furrowed in thought. Gaff had heard her rail against those Catholics.

“Did you ask him what parts of A Course in Miracles he didn’t like?”

“No, I didn’t. He says that the people who wrote it say it came from Jesus. That just can’t be. Blasphemy.”

Gaff decided to take a different course through these shoals. He looked at the clouds coming from the southeast. “We might soon get a storm.”

Sally looked uncertain, but soon turned to look toward the southeast. “Could be.”

“Those clouds are moving pretty fast, piling up on top of each other.”

She nodded. “It does look ominous. You think it’ll get to us this time?”

Gaff ignored her question. “I’ve heard that a butterfly in Africa can stir up so much wind with its wings that it can result in a hurricane on this side of the planet.”

Bobby laughed. “Do you believe that?”

Sally laughed, too. “That’s silly.” She relaxed enough to sit on the cooler.

Gaff shrugged. “Does it matter? Butterfly’s wings or change in pressure up there. End result is a storm. If it comes our way we need to get ready for it.”

Bobby looked at his friend and smiled.

Sally looked confused. “Board up the windows and evacuate… It doesn’t matter whether a butterfly started it.”

“Hurricane can change your life forever. Sometimes, it’s important to look at the result instead of the cause. If it was started by a butterfly would you take the hurricane any less seriously?”

Sally shook her head in response. “A hurricane’s a hurricane. That’s serious.”

“Isn’t that book supposed to teach people the Way of Love?”

The sudden change of direction confused her. “What?”

“I know a little bit about that book. It shows people how to come out of love in every situation. Is that bad?”

“Well-l-l, no. I don’t think that is. Is that what it’s about?”

“I’ve looked at it and that’s pretty much what it says.”

“It says everybody can work miracles, doesn’t it? That’s blasphemy.”

“What makes it blasphemy?”

“Only Jesus could work miracles. That’s why.”

“Are the Pope and the higher ups of the Catholic Church blasphemous when they canonize someone to give them the status of Sainthood? A lot of times Sainthood is justified by reported miracles.”

“Well-l-l, no. But those are special people.”

“What makes the Saints so special? They were people living lives just like you and me.”

She took some time to mull this over. “Didn’t they spend their lives doing good works? Like priests and nuns.”

“Not all of them and not all priests and nuns are canonized. No, what makes them different is they were expressions of the kind of love that Jesus preached… and lived.”

She nodded enthusiastically. “That’s what I meant.”

“So if you learn to be an expression of unconditional love, why can’t you work miracles?”

Her answer came quickly. “Because I’m not a Saint.”

“They weren’t either when they were alive. They made mistakes and had serious doubts. Sr. Mary Elizabeth Seaton had a husband and twelve children before she became a nun. Then she founded an order and did good works. She’s a good example of how we can grow from life experiences.”

Sally leaned over to pick up a shell. “I didn’t know that.”

“What set them apart from others is a personal relationship with God.”

“A personal relationship?”

“A relationship that doesn’t depend on someone else as a go-between. A relationship that’s based on understanding the power of faith.”

“I understand the power of faith.”

Gaff noticed the tip of his rod wiggle. “Once you have that relationship, you can call on it to work miracles in your own life.”

“That’s the power of prayer. How can I do this?”

“That’s what the Course is about. How to develop that personal relationship with Jesus and then how to express that love in miracles to help people around you.”

“Do you think my preacher is against that book because he’s afraid it’ll put him out of work? After all, if people have a personal relationship with God then they won’t need him.”

“People won’t need him, but what about the good feelings you get from being in a group expressing love? That’ll draw us to church. The singing is full of love, too. It isn’t a competition. Church leaders should encourage people to study inspired writings so they get more out of the services.”

“But, first, he would have to read A Course in Miracles to find out what’s in it.”

 “And that might force him outside his comfort zone. People fear change more than anything and he might be afraid that reading this little book might require him to change.”

“I’m going to get a copy of it. If I know more about it, I’ll be more convincing when I talk to him.” With this, she stood to retrace her footsteps back up the beach. Sally had only walked a couple of yards when she turned to them. “Bobby, Priscilla can stay… You think she’ll let me read her copy of that book? Until I get my own, of course.”

Bobby grinned. “Of Course! I’m sure she would.”

Once Sally was on her way again, Bobby turned laughing to Gaff. “You are a wonder, you know?”

“According to the Course, there is no difference in the magnitude of miracles.”

“And you work miracles all the time!”

“Not me alone. I’m guided by Mother Water. She’s the physical expression of the Christ Energy and the spirit of the planet. For me, she’s the ultimate expression of unconditional love. She brings the people to me and tells me how to help them.”

“Like that movie, hunh? Where the inhabitants of Pandora knew they were a part of the whole, including the planet and everything on it.”

“Like A Course in Miracles. We are one, a part of the whole. Hell is the belief that we’re alone.”

“Of Course!”


*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. There you will see photographs of locations discussed in Gaff as well as a chapter for your perusal. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.

Gaff ~ Thoughts of a Fisherman

A Fisherman Comments on A Course in Miracles 
Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the May 2010 Newsletter]


My name is Gaff. I spend days and many nights fishing on the beach in Kure Beach, North Carolina. It’s funny– odd funny– that no matter what time of day I get to the beach my spot is empty and ready for me to set up my stuff. It’s as though it was surrounded by a fence with a “Reserved” sign. Besides the rods and chair and cooler, I have a huge pirate flag to put beside my spot.

All up and down the beaches of Pleasure Island I’m known by that flag. It’s my symbol and attracts a lot of people to ask about it. Some I tell about the pirates that roamed this area way back when. With some, I discuss the Knights Templar, the militant monks pledged to “protect” pilgrims to the Holy Land during the time of the Crusades. What I say depends upon what the person can hear and to some extent determines what we talk about next.

The talking is the important thing. Without leaving this small piece of real estate near Mother Water, I have talked to people from all over this country and from other countries, too. We have good conversations, and interesting.

One of the most interesting I had was with a writer who spent a bit of time at the beach to finish a project. She walked a couple of times a day and sometimes stopped to visit with me. She was interesting, well-read and a thinker, and that makes for great discussions. Yep, that was Priscilla. She was articulate and had some strong beliefs about the way life should be lived. Still, she was open to other viewpoints and experiences that would enable her to grow. In fact, she was what I would call a Seeker of Truth.

She would sit on my cooler to rest after her walk. One day, without mentioning its title, she started talking about a book written by some psychologists in New York City. I guess she didn’t think I’d listen if she told me the name of the book. She underestimated me on that, but so be it. I know some people condemn books and practices without even taking the time and effort to find out what they’re all about. That’s not me. I may just be a fisherman on the beach, but I have and do read a lot. In fact, I had a different sort of life before I got to the beach, but you’ll find out about that in the book about me! Gaff—Wisdom from the Sea.

Here, I want to set Priscilla and everyone else straight about what I think about this book she was reading. Everything I do is based on the Way of Love. That’s what I’ve heard Jesus’ teaching called. What I take from this is that we are to come out of love in all situations. He says to love God first of all, but then He talks about how we should love ourselves and everyone around us. Only when we master the act of truly loving unconditionally can we help to heal the planet and the planet really needs healing right now. That’s what A Course in Miracles is all about.

I looked it up after Priscilla brought it into that conversation on the beach. It’s a powerful expression of the Way of Love. I wish she hadn’t made me work so hard to find it, but I guess she was afraid I’d attack it—and her. But then maybe that’s the way it has to be with some folks. They have to work hard to find what is there for them right out in the open: hidden in plain sight.

Since I started studying the Course, I’ve also read some attacks on the book. I could tell immediately that the writer had not read the first word of it—didn’t understand it at all. Like Priscilla, when I talk with people on the beach, I don’t feel called to mention the name. It’s enough that everything I do is based on what’s in that book. I don’t think Jesus or those psychologists would be angry that I don’t call it by title or give them a verbal footnote.

The important thing is to get more people onto the path of the Way of Love. Now, I do tell some people about it and suggest they read it, but a lot of times I just use what I know from my study. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Come visit me on the beach for a chat— and to live the Course.

*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. There you will see photographs of locations discussed in Gaff as well as a chapter for your perusal. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.