I’m grateful that the wisdom of the past can resonate and reach us where we stand.
It’s June 1965. There is a lot going on in our culture. In New York, at the Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University – a strong-willed 56 year-old woman named Helen Schucman works as a research psychologist. She finds herself at odds with her colleague Bill Thetford. They have been working together since 1958 trying to strengthen the Center’s Psychology Department but she’s tough, critical, judgmental. He’s quieter and passive-aggressive, so it’s been stressful between them for years. Oh… and Helen considered herself an atheist.
Helen’s co-worker Bill is completely fed up and goes off on this long impassioned speech about how sick and tired he is of the competition and the arguing and the anger and he concludes by saying “there must be another way of living” and he is determined to find it. Helen looks at him and, much to his surprise, she agrees and tells him she will help him find this “other way”.
Well that was it. Could it be that the universe was waiting for that little whisper of willingness?
Helen starts to have a series of experiences that changes the course of her life. She begins to have vivid dreams, visions and hallucinations. She becomes aware of an inner voice.
Finally all of this culminates on the evening of October 21, 1965 when a voice says to Helen;
“This is a Course in Miracles, please take notes.”
Thinking she is going crazy, Helen calls Bill who calmly says… take notes! So she starts to write down what she hears the voice say. She surrenders. She takes dictation from the voice she calls Jesus. It begins…
“This is a course in miracles. It is a required subject. Only the time you take it is voluntary… The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance…”
For the next seven years, she listens. Every morning she brings the shorthand notes to Bill who would then transcribe them. And with the help of Ken Wapnick they write “A Course in Miracles”.
Helen was the scribe. As Ken Wapnick says, “She had to throw off her former self to regain her true self.”
It’s 2007. Los Angeles. A lot is going on in our culture. My 6th grader is suffering from bullying.
She is crying almost every night. I am desperate to help. The school principal and counselor are called in but nothing changes. I was given A Course in Miracles in 1988 but never read it. I just moved it around in U-Haul boxes for decades. Then in in early 2007 I started to read the Course’s text and finally one night I blurt out to my daughter. “I’m reading this book. And it says there is only love and fear.”
My daughter stops crying and looks up at me, sort of confused.
I continue, “That’s it. Love and Fear. This book says all feelings and emotions can be boiled down to those two things. So no matter how mean or tough the bully appears, what side do you think she’s coming from?” My daughter takes this in and thinks.
Then she finally says “Fear?”
I nod, “That would be my guess… and that leaves you with a choice, how you want respond to her?”
My daughter thinks for a moment and asks, “And I can only choose Love or Fear?”
“I think so… Yes.”
We look at each other.
“Okay,” my daughter says, “I get it”.
“You do?”, I ask. I’m surprised… I’m not sure I actually get it.
Then we sit for a while in the dark holding hands.
After that, things turn around for my girl. She handles herself well. The bullying stops. I think the idea has touched her heart and she gets it.
Love reaches across the years, to help, to heal and I am grateful.
Alison Martin -- wife, mom, Emmy-award winning actress, writer, chocoholic. Bronx Italian, daughter of Pultizer Prize winning reporters, who also identifies as L.A. Irish. Shout outs: Dan, Emilia, Brady, pooches - LuLu & Ted, friends, Mother Earth, serendipity, peace, VIPHS, Boldfaced Secret, living life like your socks feel real good.
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Your story touches me deeply.
I’ll be honest. I started reading about the “vivid dreams, hallucinations…” and then the voice speaking to Helen and I think to myself, lady, your loony beans. The only people who hear voices when nobody is there are people who listen to podcasts and people who are crazy. I was going to stop reading but I’m honestly glad that I didn’t. I kept going.
Then I stared reading about your daughter being bullied and I began to feel upset for her. No child should be in 6th grade and crying every night. As a parent I begin to feel upset at the principal and the counselor. Come ON! It’s your job! Help this kid!
What you wrote about blurting out to your daughter made me stop and think. “What does that mean?” How can life be so complicated but so simple. Why do I do what i do. If I’m not afraid then what’s holding me back, what are the things that I love and am I doing enough of those things…” All that and more in a nano second.
I’m glad that things got better for your daughter. You changed my life in a nano second. I’m still not sure about the other stuff… the stuff about visions, voices etc but I really don’t need to be. I just need to think about what I love and pursue those things.
Thanks for the deep thought.
I love A Course In Miracles! And I love that your daughter got it so easily!
All of it.
Love that your daughter got it in one phrase!
I’d need a couple years to grasp!
A Course in Miracles is a Course in Living for me. It has opened my eyes to all the miracles that surround us every day; and it has shown me that Love is the answer regardless of the question and the road to Love begins on the path called forgiveness.