comments 10
Christ / Creative

It’s easy to think I have made a breakthrough, put the pieces together just right, as if I were a scientist grappling with and making plain the mysteries of salvation.  It wouldn’t be all that difficult to conjure an image of myself twirling a dry erase marker in one hand and sloshing a cup of coffee absentmindedly in the other while pacing back and forth in front of wall-to-wall white boards.  On them are scribbled the equations of forgiveness and a few inequalities describing the asymptotic approach to Love a self-concept can make, without ever really getting there.  In addition there are the experiments, the managed encounters of my life, efforts to prove or disprove the theories, but these are almost always indeterminate.  I can always second guess myself– admit that I had unrealistic expectations, expectations period, was in my head, or didn’t pull off the loving clarity of purpose and Self-expression I intended.

The situation is a little bit like the one a geologist faces: one planetary body of evidence, a subject not of the human scale, and no way to control the independent variables, really.  Maybe it was a comet or an asteroid.  Maybe the caldera beneath the area we call Yellowstone National Park blew up.  Maybe it was aliens.  Maybe all three.  What we can say with certainty is that the dinosaurs no longer roam the Earth.  The rest of it we can keep pushing around on the plate until we’re excused from the table.

And then the real breakthrough comes, shatters a mindset that has become engorged with contraposed thoughts like a fjord packed with ramshackle chunks of shattered glaciers that is struck by a comet.  Hafiz enters the building, puts his finger to his lips, pulls the fire alarm, and we sprint like hell across the parking lot to hide in the trees and see what comes next.

What are we doing? I ask, breathless.

An experiment, he replies.  Keep up.

Then he sprints off into the forest with me stumbling along behind, exuberant as a puppy.  I know I could get fired for this– abandoning my post, the equations only half writ, the on-line students rebooting their routers or smacking their monitors back home, the front door open, the fire alarm pouring out through every opening in the building like a defective dog whistle, but… what the hell.  My thoughts were tripping over themselves anyway.

* * * * *

Words.  Those little buggers can be our defeat.  And formed of words, logic.  What does it really mean that we’re experiencing an illusion?  What does it mean that the world could be transformed by our acceptance and expression of unity?  Are we trying to forgive everything and find peace so we don’t have to come back to this type of world?  So this type of world becomes more bearable?  So we can escape our pain?  If we were really awake, would we be different?  What?

Hafiz wants to trade experiences, not speak in code– not communicate through any medium that relies upon rules in order to contain a meaning.  He wants to put a sunrise into your chest, to have you step into the auditorium of his heart and play the concerto of who you are.

* * * * *

The questions inside us are notorious for demanding a written answer.  That is their tactic.  How can we proceed, they tell us, if we don’t know what’s happening? …if we don’t know what this is, or how to fix it?  Explain that.  Whoa! they shout.  Time out!  Everyone just settle down until we get this figured out here.

When that question comes slinking around, it’s head bobbing along the outside of your house, passing in view from one window to the next, insanely circling, take a moment to realize you’re as big as the whole sky.  You don’t have to peer out at the blue beyond through streaky windows.  Take a deep breath and recline for a moment at the center of the sun.  Try to imagine what Jesus felt like just before he rolled up into a seated position, hopped down off the stone, and walked out of the tomb.  Then ask your questions if they think they’re ready for the big time.  Snap off a few jabs in their general direction.  Stay on the balls of your feet.  Thwop!  Thwop!

Here’s something else you could always try if this is all seeming a tad unreasonable: call up Jesus and tell him you want a refund.  Just tell him whatever it was he did, it didn’t work.  Explain to him your situation.  I did it once and eventually I realized… I don’t know where he ends and I begin.  Then I realized… I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about.

That’ll at least turn your prose into poetry.

And then you’ll go around town for days at a time whispering in the ear of everyone you meet… you don’t need to see any identification… these aren’t the words you’re looking for.


  1. This brought me to tears, reminded me that I already am it, that there’s nothing to be done, nothing to fix. This is it. Sometimes I laugh out loud when this realization strikes. Not this time. This time it’s just the tears of relief, and of crumbling away . . . . . . .
    Thank you once again for your gorgeous expression of the truth.


    • Alison, I can sense your relief, the way something we didn’t even realize we were holding is released. The expansiveness that comes. The relinquishing. I had a pretty challenging day yesterday in ways that it probably didn’t need to be challenging at all, such was my investment in one thing or another, and writing helped me get back to nowhere. Where we all belong and meet! I’m so glad it helped you, too! I am humbled by your words and grateful you have shared your presence here.



  2. Thank you Michael, wonderful, really! My favourite is Hafiz who would ‘have you step into the auditorium of his heart and play the concerto of who you are.’ Then I thought there’s something kinda high-altitude about other parts of it, like a dangerous tightrope-walking event over the great depths of irrationality – exactly what kind of breakthrough are we talking about here… and I become aware that I’m holding on, even though I have confidence in your skill and ability, also, to deal with questions demanding a written answer, Thwop! Thwop! Tell me a bit more about the ‘forgiveness’ thing, how does that fit?


    • Thank you for such an engaging reply. Yes, it has that element of “tightrope-walking”. I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering Rumi and Hafiz through the English translation-renditions of Barks and Ladinsky respectively, and many passages I love have that twitch of audacity to them. I may be missing the mark, but it is fun trying!

      Forgiveness relates to my own journey through A Course in Miracles, where Jesus’ suggests that forgiveness is a key to happiness. And there is a book and video by Tom Carpenter elaborating on these concepts I have thoroughly enjoyed as well. Forgiveness is kind of like what I imagine are the moments you savor and write about, where a perception, a notion of a finite self, a fixed vantage point, dissolves and a peace and an emptiness and an expansiveness take their place. This is what ACIM would call a “holy instant”, in my opinion, and forgiveness is releasing one’s judgment or opinion of what anything that “happens” really “means”. Forgiveness in ACIM lingo is not about first choosing to believe that something “wrong” has occurred or been foisted upon oneself or anyone, and then looking past it, but realizing that it is a misperception to see that it is possible for anything “wrong” to occur in the first place. It is kind of radical in that sense. Forgiveness is the willingness to look past all encumbrances, into the face of Being, the face of Love, the face of Christ- (take your pick of the words you like!). And as such, forgiveness is a key to what the Course would call salvation, which is the relinquishment of the false self that is separate from others and from Reality itself…

      Very Buddhist I think, in a lot of ways, based on my limited knowledge of Buddhism. Regardless, thanks for asking! I was trying to say in this post that what we share is truly beyond words… We needn’t focus on the differences our favorite words often imply, but on the experience we all share that lies at the core of our being.



      • About the forgiveness aspect of this, when I first started to read it, there was a huge resistance, suddenly a powerful sense of having done something “wrong” and denial and that whole nightmare scenario. Wow! pretty scary, so it took a little while to get back to it. Now I understand the bit about it’s a ‘misperception to see that it is possible for anything “wrong” to occur in the first place’. Amazing how there could be that a kind of automatic obstruction the first time. I’m staggered, thanks for the insight, epiphany, and some understanding of the “holy instant”. I see what you mean about it being ‘very Buddhist’, it allows an investigative approach. Interesting…


        • I was touched your response, by your willingness to allow the resistance and eventually discover a new experience or perception. This is kind of what this post was about- the way words that trigger an epiphany for me may be different than the words that trigger an epiphany for you, but ultimately… when the lights go on we are standing in the same endless field…

          I also thought it was Buddhist in the sense that we might think initially forgiveness is about accepting something that was done, when really it is about realizing what we thought happened wasn’t at all what really happened. In my limited understanding of Buddhism, I think there is a thread of looking into and perhaps “through” what we think we see, to realize our immediate reactions and impressions were not at all what really occurred. Our minds smooth over the prickly parts…

          The thing about forgiveness is that it seems to involve the discovery of an awareness that cannot be threatened. This is not the awareness of an isolated self, for we kind of know these independent selves are always under siege of one sort or another, but a presence that cannot sullied by daily life. We have a tendency to want to call this a “self” also, but that gets back to that confusing part to the mind…

          The key is that forgiveness, as described in ACIM, is like a doorway into this experience we can have, without necessarily having the words to describe it. And that, I am sure, is an experience we all ultimately share.



  3. “call up Jesus and tell him you want a refund”

    Upon reading this sentence I laughed harder than I have in weeks!

    Dial 1-800-HOLYROLLER, and say, um, excuse me Sir, but I think the life you sent me is defective…

    Gawfaa faw gaw hee te hee hee. If I can’t find something to laugh about at all times, this is when I know I am lost and in a bit of trouble.



    • Jesus just emailed me a scanned copy of the waiver I signed – drat. Didn’t remember the liability clause: “I HEREBY ASSUME ALL OF THE RISKS OF PARTICIPATING AND/OR VOLUNTEERING IN THIS ACTIVITY OF MY SO CALLED LIFE YADA YADA YADA”


      • Yes… there is that… 🙂 …but did you read the YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE clause on the back side of the page? That’s the one where he noted there wasn’t a world or an experience we could invent into which he wouldn’t travel with us, and from which he (or one of his close friends) couldn’t bring us back…



    • Yes, indeedy, Ms. Maren. I wrote this partly out of the need to keep it light. Laughter and joy and plain old-fashioned fun are so vital to the act of being alive… Like you, if I go to long in a thick silence, I take the chance and make some noise, start banging garbag can lids together, or taking wooden spoons to rinsed out mayonnaise jars. As kids, I imagine many of us had the experience of “rearranging” the pots and pans into a kitchen orchestra. Here’s to never losing touch with THAT music.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.