I was having a conversation with a longtime friend who has been a student of A Course in Miracles likely since its inception. It is a three book series of material channeled through Helen Schucman and her co-scribe, Dr. William Thetford and was initially published in 1975. The focus is on seeing the world through the eyes of love and establishes the idea that miracles are natural, that love and fear are mutually exclusive and that a miracle is a shift in perception. Helen spoke in the ‘voice’ of Jesus. I discovered the teachings in 1979 via a spiritual teacher named Alan Cohen who this friend knew as well. He led a one-year intentional community that lived the principles while in residence.

Since I was raised Jewish, it was a bit of a stretch for me to embrace it fully and in the early years of studying it, I would experience headaches since I thought if my parents knew, they would disapprove. I had a conversation with Alan who himself grew up in the same faith and he said something that I recall to this day, “A mystic meets on the point of agreement,” and added that as an adult, I had the freedom to choose my own spiritual path. Once those words landed in my ears and my heart, the pain left my head. Amazing how that works!

I have attended ACIM study groups, have done the lessons, and do my best to live the concepts. One of the biggest challenges for me is refraining from judgment. As I am getting older, I notice that I am feeling more critical of the behavior of others that seem to be harmful.

Smoking (especially around children and animals)

People who litter and that includes cigarette butts

People who intentionally harm others

Those who expect others to clean up after them

Those who emotionally or physically assault others

People who justify hatred and promulgate it

The current administration and those who support it

Those who let anger run the show in their lives

That last one was the catalyst for the chat with my friend. She was telling me a story about an angry interaction she had that got out of control. My response was, “It’s not okay with me,” that it played out as it had. She volleyed back this line from ACIM:

“All your past except its beauty is gone and nothing is left but a blessing.” It was what she and the other person held as their truth when they processed what had occurred between them. I countered that nothing excuses or justifies aggression. She replied that by thinking that, I was heaping judgment and somehow burdening myself and any situation I might find myself in.  I pondered how to keep it from happening in my life or those of people I know who had born the brunt of someone else’s angry outbursts. Her input was that I could create positive change without judging or condemning what I have done or others have done. I think about the Serenity Prayer which states: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I don’t always know the difference and have come to see that it is possible and sometimes even necessary to change the things I can not accept. That takes courage.

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