I'm always Choosing what to see FIRST. Then I look with my eyes, but I see nothing unless I chose Truth/Love. Assuming I've Chosen the Right Teacher, then no matter where I am and what I'm looking at, all I see are Purple Unicorns and Rainbows and Utter Silliness that often results in fits of those unstoppable Truth Giggles.
So, yes, I got that one good this time. And the kitties and I are on friendly petting terms again, Ray isn't hiding from me (at the moment), and I'm back to my normal self.
Wait, no, I'm better than normal. Let me explain, but I have to go back a few weeks.
I've said it before that sometimes Jesus uses the strangest ways to talk to me -- I've seen his work in billboards along the freeway, movies, passages in books, tea leaves. He often uses my kids to speak to me -- they are veritable "burning bushes" at times.
Which is why I should have known a big SHIFT was on its way when my just-turned-13 year old made this statement: "Mom, I'm Happy all the time now. I just decided to be -- and now I am. And nothing bothers me at all...ever."
The darnedest thing about this is that I've SEEN the change in him with my own acute mother-eyes. This kid's nickname since he was old enough to cast us his first and peerless "world class scowl" as his Grandpa named it (which I think was when he was 2) has been "Contrary Larry." He's bright (always) and sweet (at times) and adorable (often), and yes, I have always felt very close to him and love him dearly. But for 11 years since he figured out how to show displeasure, he's also had "a dark side."
It's hereditary. Like his mother, he wears his heart on his sleeve. Unlike his mother, he's had no need for masks to cover up his moodiness and has instead announced every variation in his mood to the world, as in --
"WORLD, I'm feeling very ANGRY right now, and it's YOUR fault and I'm NEVER talking to you again! We're Finished!!"
But a few weeks ago, something clicked.
Since the night of The Grand Declaration I see him NOT be bothered by his older brother (miracle!), or by Ray (when his inner 12 comes out) or by me. I see him writing things down in a notebook he keeps with him always that he wants to remember. Little things he wants to share with me, big things he needs to remember for school. He even wrote it down when I asked him to remind me to take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw...and then remembered, but just quietly, without mentioning it, did it himself.
Oh. My. God. Anyone with a pre-teen/teenage boy will know this is a freakin' MIRACLE!
And I see him not taking things people say as hurtful criticism. Get a load of this: I got an automatic alert email from the school system that one of his science projects had a sub par score, so I turned to him and gently said (before I braced for the reaction of an overachiever-wannabee-butnotquiteis-abee), "Hey Paul, I see you got a 20% of your [whatever it was] assignment." He paused for a brief second and then threw up his hands victoriously, and said, "YESSSSSSSSSSSSS! Twenty Percent! WooHOO!"
And even as we both acknowledged it was humorous, the Joy did not seem faked. The Joy was real.
It's like he's in on the Big Joke -- "the tiny mad idea at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh" -- at a deep level, even though he doesn't consciously know it. And I doubt seriously (ok, doubt? red flag for myself to look at later, but I'll continue) he'll live his life from here without a bad day or a problem or a fear. But something has changed.
It's like Jesus is shining through that face I thought was my son's all these years. Oh my goodness...Jesus, is that you?
Yes, in fact, It is. Jesus is in every One of us....we ARE Jesus.
Whoa...this is getting heavy...or Light....or MIRACULOUS!
So anyhooo...back to me.
One of my big pleasures and life-long hobbies is playing guitar and doing a bit of singing/songwriting. For decades I have put on great concerts for my cats and house plants. Recently, however, it has been signaled to me through various "burning bush" stand-ins that my classroom needs to change. In other words, there is a great hunk of Guilt lurking in the fear that I experience around performing, and Jesus has been saying in so many words -- "Hey Doll...how about dealing with this particular form of your silly fear/guilt thing with me at last? I promise it will be worth the effort. No? Okay, how about now? No still? Okay, I'll wait...Okay, how about NOW?"
Of all people, I've been invited to perform at a music festival in the summer. It's for A Course In Miracles types, so I know they'll all be "forgiving" and everything, but still. I have been absolutely paralyzed at different points as I have contemplated a crowd listening to/looking at me. I feel the fear as though it were happening right now -- my throat closes, my larynx fills with phlegm from nowhere, my hands shake so I can't hold the guitar, and my mind immediately blanks on the words, chords, or even what the hell I'm supposed to do next. And this is all when I'm just thinking about the future as I try to go to sleep for the night.
But over the weeks and months since the invitation, things have started to shift a bit. I've seen the ego behind the curtain of fear: The "look at me!" demand at God (who looks right through us and never sees the individual "self" we want to be) at war with the "I am sinful!" belief. Back and forth, the ego tugs the rope, so we'll stay off balanced and never notice The Truth of how there's no one here but Ourselves. There's no one to fail or to impress. Only One Self to Love.
Along with these deeper insights of old intellectual ideas, since the shift started, connections with beautifully supportive and talented people have been made, opportunities have occurred to play for 1 person at a time (and not die), etc. I have felt each little "miracle" and "holy encounter" chip away at the seeming bedrock of fear.
Most recently, through a great Facebook connection with an old music friend/teacher/amazing performer, I found out about a regular "open mic" for a wine bar where he manages the music. I tried to go there a few weeks ago. The few days leading up to The Night I was fine, but the night before I didn't sleep at all, and the day of I was sick -- I even manifested a sore throat and mild temperature. Then the skies opened up and absolutely poured rain like they were never going to stop. I still contemplated making the 2 hour trek over there, but in the end, I bailed.
Score -- Ego: 1 Me: 0
But this week was another chance. It was after my "stuck kitties" lesson, and I was feeling the Love. I'm still feeling great. Not because anything great is happening, but because I can feel so clearly that there's nothing between me and Joy except what I put there....it's all MY dream. This whole thing is a big, silly dream, and if we Choose Love, we just row our boats merrily, merrily, merrily along.
So I get in the car to go row my boat merrily merrily merrily down the freeway. I'm singing all the way to warm up, the sky is clear as a bell, and the ambient air temperature is a comfortable 70. Everything is perfect! I get a little confused driving but I'm told "keep going" and after 9 miles or so of hoping I took the right turn, I see a sign that confirms that I had -- "YES!!!" I yell aloud to no one and everyone. "Thank you Jesus for yet another Beautiful Reflection of Your Support!"
The words have hardly left my lips when I start to hear a funny sound. And then it's a funny LOUD sound. And I notice a strange vibration -- ooh, and that funny dash light that looks like an exclamation point inside two parentheses turns on...the one that means I have a flat tire.
Oh wow! I have a flat tire on the freeway!
I knew it was the old ego rearing its head again, trying to get a good battle going, trying to get a chance to sink its ugly teeth into my weak spots. But I was not fooled. I saw it, smiled at it, and continued feeling the Love. The ego had no chance at winning this time. I did a mental inventory of my thoughts -- I found "disappointment" "fear" "doubt" "I told you so" and the sneakiest one -- "Thank You, God, for saving me from embarrassing myself by 'giving' me a flat tire to prevent me from making it to the open mic" -- trying to skulk away and hide as I shone my Light in my mind. I quickly gave them the boot, at which point the space they left was quickly filled by a new mantra that floated in from Some Inspired Source:
I was in Peace again! I rolled off the exit, turned on my emergency flashers, and floated into a driveway where I found a nice wide-open "no parking...for emergencies only" space where I could stop. I had only a sketchy idea where I was, but in another turn of great "luck" I was directly in front of a restaurant. That and my hunch that I was in Puyalllup were enough for the AAA dispatcher and tow truck driver to find me.
There were so many holy encounters -- people going in to eat, the dispatcher at AAA who lived right where I was stuck and knew exactly how to get where I was, my musician friend who encouraged me to come whenever I could because I was so close and we could still have a lot of fun.
I waited in the glorious sunshine after I'd made all the phone calls that needed to happen and basked in the Peace. I had let go of the outcome, but still had this feeling of certainty that I would make it to the open mic.
The tow truck driver arrived, and he and I didn't stop sharing and laughing the whole time he fixed my tire. It seemed to take only a moment, I was having such fun. He had the little "premie" tire on the car lickety-split and I was ready to hit the road. From the first hint of a funny noise to getting back on the boat to row merrily some more, it had been only 45 minutes.
The rest of the evening went pretty much like you'd expect. I had some nerves, but, man, I'd had so many Miracles and Gifts of Insight by now that I just mostly ignored them. I let'r rip. I had the chance to play a whole set with my favorite dear teacher, who is also an amazing professional performer. I made new friends. I had so much fun it's hard to describe.
And I kept something in my mind the whole time I was on stage that made the difference -- it had come to me a few days earlier while I was having an excruciating experience practicing alone with my new amp and mic: