A Course in Miracles

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A couple of months ago I joined an online study group that meets weekly to read and discuss the Course in Miracles.  First published in 1976, the book’s content originated with two professors of medical psychology, Helen Schucman and William Thetford, at Columbia University.  I have the third edition which includes the preface, text, workbook for students, manual for teachers, clarification of terms, and supplements.

To explain how the book came to be, it’s best to cite Schucman’s own words from the preface:

Three startling months preceded the actual writing, during which time Bill (Thetford) suggested that I write down the highly symbolic dreams and descriptions of the strange images that were coming to me.  Although I had grown more accustomed to the unexpected by that time, I was still very surprised when I wrote, “This is a course in miracles.”  That was my introduction to the Voice.  It made no sound, but seemed to be giving me a kind of rapid, inner dictation which I took down in a shorthand notebook.  The writing was never automatic.  It could be interrupted at any time and later picked up again.  It made me very uncomfortable, but it never seriously occurred to me to stop.  It seemed to be a special assignment I had somehow, somewhere agreed to complete.…The whole process took about seven years. (p. vii-viii)

The material in the Course in Miracles is dense and profound.  I must reread sentences multiple times, and even then, the connections and meanings may elude me.  It has felt like a return to my college philosophy class, but much more demanding of focus. 

That we are spiritual beings having a physical experience in a world that is only an illusion is a premise hard for me to maintain in daily life.  Most of the other members of the study group are more experienced students of the Course. 

Some passages are so glorious that I return to them again and again:

Lesson 278

2. Father, I ask for nothing but the truth.  I have had many foolish thoughts about myself and my creation, and have brought a dream of fear into my mind.  Today, I would not dream.  I choose the way to You instead of madness and instead of fear.  For truth is safe, and only love is sure.

Lesson 291

2. This day my mind is quiet, to receive the Thoughts You offer me.  And I accept what comes from You, instead of from myself.  I do not know the way to You.  But You are wholly certain.  Father, guide Your Son along the quiet path that leads to You.  Let my forgiveness be complete, and let the memory of You return to me.

To hear Marianne Williamson explaining aspects of the Course in Miracles, go to this link:

Greeting Card

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These are the days of inner light

to contemplate what is given,

what is right:

the lungs that breathe,

the hearts that beat,

loving eyes,

dancing feet,

the trees that glow

the frost that glistens

the sacred Spirit that always listens.

Oh, holy days of dark December

Let us give thanks,

and remember.

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Welcome, new followers, and thanks to all who read this blog.

Dangerous

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I want to be a dangerous old woman,

the kind that makes people cringe

when she walks into Shop Rite.

The kind who is a fourth-degree black belt grandma

and takes down a mugger.

I want to speak truth no matter what.

I want to be the dangerous customer in Lowes

who knows more about sheetrock

than the manager.

I want to step into the town meeting and hear,

“Uh, oh.  Here she comes.”

I want to clear the floor doing the West Coast swing

with my thirty-year-old partner.

I want to be the dangerous old woman,

poking an accusing finger

at Kyrsten Sinema’s nose,

and give her a piece of my mind.

I’ll wear a lion mask

and catch arrows with my teeth.

Sing dangerous old woman songs

about dangerous old women.

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The Things Kids Say

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Here is an article I wrote when I was teaching English as a New Language back in the 2000s. It speaks to children’s perceptions and the importance of listening. (published in Crossroads, a teachersnewsletter)

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When I was young, a man named Art Linkletter hosted a TV show called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  My father, a child psychologist, panned the show, saying it was condescending, and, worse, humiliating to the children, whose sincere answers to Linkletter’s loaded questions provided the humor of the program. When Linkletter received a particularly juicy and revealing reply he would mug into the camera while the live audience roared.

         As an English teacher of kindergarten and first grade students, I spend most of my waking hours conversing with very young people.  I hear stories that are amazing, delightful, and unfortunately, sometimes frightening or sad. 

         Years ago, during a morning meeting, a boy announced, “My dad punched a hole in the wall last night.  My little sister was crying and we went to bed at eleven o’clock.  That’s why my dad couldn’t help me with my homework.” 

         More recently, a Pakistani student told me that over the weekend his mother was chased into the jungle by a dinosaur.  “Me and my brother we going find her.  She climbing a tree way way up.  She jump down and we catched her.  “That’s quite a story,” I say. 

         In these days of computer graphics, children have an even harder time distinguishing between fantasy and reality.  One bright little boy from Mexico is working hard at sorting the input he gets in his world.  “Elephants are real, right?”  he asks.  “Vampires are real; they suck your blood.”  There follows an animated discussion about vampire bats who only live in Central America as opposed to the people with the big teeth who turn into bats.  For kids growing up today, the line between what is real and what is not must be blurry indeed.

         When I was little, about five years old, my favorite toys were my plastic horses.  Each one had a name and gender: there was Flicka and Blaze and Snowflake.  I remember one evening when my aunt and uncle from New York came for dinner.  I showed my uncle that Skyrocket, the piebald stallion, could jump from one end of the living room to the other.  My uncle Bob laughed in that indulgent, condescending and infuriating way of adults who consider children an interruption.  I was angry and hurt.  It didn’t bother me that he didn’t believe me, for I knew it was a fantasy, but I hated being laughed at.  I never trusted him again.  From that day on, Uncle Bob was relegated to the category of Adults Who Don’t Understand.

Five-year-old children lack a sense of elapsed time.  When a beginning English speaker tells me about an event, the chronology can get really confusing.  It’s a challenge to decipher some of the stories.

“Miss Alice!” (My name is Ms. Ellis, but I answer to many versions.) “Tomorrow I watch movie Chicken Little.”

“You’re going to see the movie tomorrow?”  That’s me rephrasing and checking for comprehension.

“NO!”  The child is annoyed.  Miss Alice is being obtuse. 

“Yesterday you saw Chicken Little?”

“Yes, I see it.”  I make a mental note to work on the vocabulary of “yesterday, today, tomorrow.”

One morning Lucia tells me, “Miss Alice, my mom had a fire in her stove.  The truck came.  The wall was black.  We got a new stove.”

I am alarmed, so that evening I call Lucia’s house to see if all is well.  Her older sister laughs.  “That happened five months ago,” she says.

The Hamsa Hand: Symbol of Protection

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Origin of the Hamsa Hand

Although the hamsa hand has been symbolic in Islam and Judaism for centuries, archeological digs in the Middle East provide evidence that the hamsa pre-dates these religions and originated with the Phoenicians and was used as a protective symbol for an ancient Middle Eastern goddess. The hamsa hand has always been associated with a female entity offering protection from evil and misfortune.

The word “hamsa” or “hamesh” means five. There are five digits on the hamsa hand, but the number five has additional symbolic meaning in the Jewish and Islamic traditions. Five (hamesh in Hebrew) represents the five books of the Torah for Jews. It also symbolizes the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “Heh”, which represents one of God’s holy names. It symbolizes the Five Pillars of Islam for Sunnis, and the Five People of the Cloak for Shi’ites.

In the Jewish religion, the Jewish hamsa hand also symbolizes the Hand of God. Many Jews believe the hamsa pendant symbolizes the Hand of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. In the Islamic faith, the hamsa hand symbolizes The Hand of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.

Many Jews believe that the five fingers of the hamsa hand remind its wearer to use their five senses to praise God. Hamsa hands often contain an eye symbol, which is a powerful talisman against the evil eye. It is most often worn as a hamsa necklace, but can be found as a decorative element in houses, on key chains, on other jewelry items, and is quickly gaining popularity as an amulet in baby carriages. In addition to averting the gaze of the evil eye, it brings its wearer or owner happiness, luck, health, and good fortune.

Source:

https://jewishgiftplace.com/pages/the-hamsa-hand-meaning-the-hand-of-god-hand-of-fatima

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Making the hamsas:

While visiting my sister in California last September, I copied her design for making hamsas. I made three while we sat around at her table and talked. Back in New York, I still had more hamsas tickling my fingers, wanting to be made. I searched through my fabric scraps, bought an Indian bedspread, and lots more beads.

My daughter suggested including a prayer of protection, so I put one inside the layers of fabric of each hamsa:

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Let no sadness come to this heart

Let no trouble come to these arms

Let no conflict come to these eyes

Let my soul be filled with the

Blessing of joy and peace.

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Each hamsa is different. That’s why I’ve enjoyed making them. They will be for sale at the POP-UP CRAFT FAIR. It was supposed to be this Saturday, November 13, 10:00-5:00, at 52 Dusinberre Rd., Gardiner, NY., but the weather looks too rainy, so we’ll likely be moving the FAIR to SUNDAY, same time and place.

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Legend

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Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

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If I could ride the night wind

I’d iron the wrinkles out of my wings

Stand on the balcony beneath smiling leaves

Point two fingers at the scimitar moon

Lift onto my eager toes

Leap

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Onto the back of wind’s gusting, muttering breath

Moonlight caresses bare skin

Take the updraft higher

Soar over the furry, blurred pines

Silent as an owl,

Unfeathered

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Up there, the stars sing deep harmonies

Clouds dampen and cleanse earth’s dust

Joy swoops, inscribes indigo loops

in runic verse

Calligraphy across the twilit dome

Untethered

New this year

POP-UP CRAFTS FAIR

Saturday, November 13

10:00 to 5:00

52 Dusinberre Rd., Gardiner, NY

(rain date: Sunday, November 14)

Crocheted hand sanitizer baggies

Baskets

Baby hats
Beaded hamsas (These hamsas are my current crafting obsession. Each one is unique and contains the hamsa prayer of protection.)
All my books will be available. I’ll be happy to sign one (or two, or more).

POP-UP CRAFTS FAIR

Saturday, November 13

10:00 to 5:00

52 Dusinberre Rd., Gardiner, NY

(rain date: Sunday, November 14)

Crocheted hand sanitizer baggies

Baskets

Baby hats
Beaded hamsas (These hamsas are my current crafting obsession. Each one is unique and contains the hamsa prayer of protection.)
All my books will be available. I’ll be happy to sign one (or two, or more).

Respite

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Photo by Jean van der Meulen on Pexels.com

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My birth certificate says:

She wished to be born a horse.

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My mother was afraid to let me ride.

My father told me horses were stupid animals.

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Outside Pickwick Stables where I wandered

the world thrilled to color TV

Rock and roll shook our hips

Elizabeth was crowned queen.

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What do you want for Christmas?

A horse.

I never got one.

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But today, while McConnell obstructs

While California smolders

While Haiti starves

I steal a quarter hour to wander Blue Chip Farm

where chestnut and chocolate standard-breds graze.

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The yearlings feel frisky

They play chase across pastures green as Ireland

Tail flags flying

Running for the fun of it

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They catch my breath

as does the jumper

whose muscled flanks propel him over the gate

“Put him to it again,” the trainer calls.

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Before I return to vengeful Republicans

Anti-vaxers

Pregnant woman in Texas planning desperation

I will take this jewel of horse time

and thread it on my necklace

of precious days.

POP-UP CRAFTS FAIR

Saturday, November 13

10:00 to 5:00

52 Dusinberre Rd., Gardiner, NY

(rain date: Sunday, November 14)

Crocheted hand sanitizer baggies

Baskets

Baby hats
Beaded hamsas (These hamsas are my current crafting obsession. Each one is unique and contains the hamsa prayer of protection.)
All my books will be available. I’ll be happy to sign one (or two, or more).