INDEX OF STORIES
Autobiog in 5 Short Chapters 1
Krissy’s Forgiveness Story 3
Sister Annette 4
The Burglar 6
The Angry Drunk 7
The Rabbi’s Gift 10
Vernon Turner 16
The Voice Of Jesus 18
Illusions Movie - Time 21
Placebo Effect 26
I saw that he was like me 28
Wild Bill Cody 31
And there was light - JL 33
Letter to my Father 37
Ordinary Men 39
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost,
I am helpless,
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in;
It's a habit.
But my eyes are open,
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
by Portia Nelson
KRISSY’S FORGIVENESS STORY
I built up a strong hate relationship with the man who owns the towns hardware store. I often had to go in there and found him the rudest, most overbearing rip-off merchant I’d ever met. After 8 months or so, I vowed never to go in there again, though it mean’t a lot of trouble for me. I also decided to put anyone else off going there.
One day, I urgently needed photocopying done of some childrens sanctuary songs for a group the next day.
Songs like “The more we are together”, “You are beautiful , etc.
Of course he has the only photocopier in town.
I went in hoping to slip down to his photocopy room and do it myself but instead, he came with me and proceeded to do the photocopying.
As he did it, he got interested in the songs and
asked me how they went.
I began to sing very very reluctantly these very spiritual songs.
He joined in in a gorgeous baritone, rich and full.
I think we sang our way through every song!!!
This transformed everything.
I didn’t intend to ‘forgive’, we just joined and it happened.
His voice was so beautiful that I was transfixed and the ridiculousness of the situation appealed to my nature.
I adore the man now and see so many sides of
him that were invisible before.
Although I still end up buying three things I don’t need when I go into his shop, I can admire the fact that he is the only
thriving business in the village!
I feel so much joy when I remember this incident.
I think it should be on a film.
Importantly to me, he didn’t change at all, he didn’t have to.
I wish I could do this as easily with all the other people who annoy me!
Story from: Forgiveness and Jesus by K.Wapnick p.92
One of my first therapy experiences after I began working with the Course afforded me with a powerful example of the relationship between healing and forgiveness. I had seen Sister Annette for about two months. She was fifty years old and had been in religious life almost thirty years. She was also one of the angriest people 1 had ever worked with, filled with a silent hatred toward those in authority that would have destroyed mountains. Over the first few sessions, Sister Annette was able to begin questioning some of her attitudes toward her Order and her desire for revenge. She no longer seemed quite as committed to the retaliative steps she had contemplated. Or so I thought. Then one day Annette walked into the office with her face coldly exhibiting the “wrath of God!’ Her convent coordinator had done something she judged as being beyond forgiveness, and Sister Annette was hell bent on war, absolutely closed to any suggestions she do otherwise.
That same morning I had come down with a very bad cold and felt miserable. Not all my prayers and meditation were able to shift this, and I sat before Annette feeling utterly helpless and dlscouraged. I knew that if she left me as she had come in, she would be making an irrevocable mistake she would regret the rest of her life. Yet nothing I said could budge her, and my growing frustration only made my cold worse. The more frustrated I became, the more real I made Annette’s angry symptoms and, correspondingly, my own as well. Obviously, I was projecting my unforgiveness of myself onto Annette, seeing in her
stubborn clinging to her anger the mirror of my stubborn clinging to my cold, not to mention my own failure as a therapist. Separation through our symptoms became reinforced, and healing through joining retreated still further behind clouds of guilt and anger.
What added to my difficulty was the belief that Annette had been sent to me from God, and as she was in serious trouble it was my responsibility to help her. And I was obviously failing. About midway through the session, my desperation led me finally to remember that I was not the Therapist, and that I certainly could not be more concerned for Annette than Jesus was. Even as I was talking and listening to her, in another part of my mind I began to pray for help, asking Jesus to provide the words that would heal her anger and fear, and restore to her awareness the love that was her true identity.
The response was immediate, and I suddenly became available to the help that was there — for me. A warm surge of energy rose up from my chest, through my lungs, nose and throat, and I could feel my cold being healed and my head clearing up. At the same time I began to speak. 1 don’t recall what I said, and doubt if it were anything too different from what I had said previously. Only now I was different. I no longer saw Annette as separate from me, a patient in trouble whom I, as therapist, had to help. She now was my sister, and by joining with her I was joining with Jesus. I had become the patient as well, and together we received healing from the forgiving love of God. By the end of the session, her softened face reflected the shift from anger and fear to forgiveness and love, as my well-being reflected the same shift in myself. I had learned my lesson that day, to be relearned many times thereafter.
In summary, then, just as forgiveness undoes the ego’s plan for justifying anger, so too does healing reverse the ego’s plan to make sickness real. As sickness is only in the mind and not the body, it cannot be the body that needs healing. Healing must occur in the place where it is needed, in the mind that conceived of the insane idea of separation.
from “The Meaning of Forgiveness” by Kenneth Wapnick. p.101
Several years ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sudden realization there was someone standing in my room. After the momentary shock, I remembered “there is nothing to fear” (workbook, p. 77), and calmly asked my uninvited guest: “What can I do for you?” The situation was not obscure, however. It was clear that the man was on drugs and desperately needed money for his next fix; burglars rarely enter occupied apartments. He threateningly held his hand in his jacket as if he had a gun, to punctuate his demand. My defenselessness seemed to change the atmosphere in the room, however, and the man soon began apologizing for having broken in and disturbing my sleep. I gave him whatever money I had in my wallet, and the man paused as he took it and then returned a couple of dollars, saying: “This is all your money, I can’t leave you with nothing.” And he went on apologizing. I assured him it was all right, and urged him to do what he had to do. As I ushered the man to the hall, waiting with him for the elevator, I said: “God bless you.” HIs final words as he disappeared into the elevator were: “Please pray for me.” I assured him I would, although I knew that this holy encounter had been the prayer. No injustice had been done, for there had been no real loss. The amount of money was small “price” indeed for the blessing of forgiveness that had been given and received as one.
The Angry Drunk
Have you ever suddenly found yourself somewhere you would normally never have been? One exceptionally cold night, I left work late and, since I was already late for my third-Thursday-of -the-month meeting, I decided to take the tube instead of my usual stroll. Waiting for the train, I realised that Camden Town Station, on the Northern Line, was the last place I wanted to be.
A train rolled into the station, the doors opened and clumsily I climbed aboard. The doors closed, the train pulled forward and I struggled to balance myself, my briefcase and my shopping bag. At this point, the crowded train ride was the only normal thing about the evening. The Northern Line is always crowded, noisy and rocky. I secured myself and my bundles. After years of travelling on the Underground, I learned to avoid any eye contact with other passengers. Past experience has taught me that most of the people who want to talk to you are either crazy and/or they want something from you. Standing there, minding my own business, I noticed that the guy in front was staring at me.
At first I did what I normally do: I ignored him. I casually looked to my right and to my left, but as my glance passed his stare, our eyes locked. His eyes were watery. I suspected that he had been drinking. Wondering if I had mistaken a blank look for a deliberate stare, I decided to have another casual look around. But, sure enough, our eyes met again. He asked me if this was the way to Green Park. My suspicion was confirmed. He was definitely drunk. His speech was slurred and his eyes were hazy. He was having difficulty keeping his balance, as the motion of the train rocked us back and forth.
I instructed him to change trains at Leicester Square. While I was directing him, I noticed a change was coming over his face. In an angry voice he told me how he was “stinking drunk.” My nervousness turned to anxiety. My blood pressure will usually rise whenever anyone speaks to me, but especially when ‘trapped’ in an underground carriage with anyone who has been drinking. I immediately invited the Holy Spirit to guide me and to comfort me. I slowly inhaled and exhaled deeply to help my body relax. Surprisingly, I felt peaceful.
He proceeded to tell me how much he wanted to punch someone’s face in. I silently called out, “Oh God, what now?” I remained calm and quiet. All this time, I maintained eye contact. Not once did I look away. However, his anger increased. He became enraged. He held his hand up to my face and repeated how he wanted to hurt someone.
Was I going to be the one?
The train stopped, the doors opened, and I stepped off. The ‘old’ me would have pretended this was my stop or at least walked to a different carriage or waited for the next train, but none of these choices crossed my mind. I stepped back up onto the train, back in front of the angry drunk.
Again, he held his hand up to my face. This time his angry voice declared how he wanted to see blood. With his hand still in my face, he asked me if I understood his need for blood. I was still not afraid. Normally, I would have been a nervous wreck. I spoke, but my voice had an unfamiliar tone. Without sounding condescending or patronising this new voice asked: “Why are you angry?” He immediately lowered his hand. His angry face became sad. In the voice of a child in pain, he said: “My mother died today.” A powerful sensation swept through my body.
The memory. of how I felt when my cousin Paul died flooded my mind. Putting my fist through a door was the way my anger, which I had initially felt, expressed itself. I shared this memory with him. His anger was overcome by grief.
The train stopped at Leicester Square. Together we walked to
the escalator leading to where he could catch the train to
Green Park. As we walked, I said: “You are experiencing
something I have not and I am not looking forward to.” I
empathised with how painful it must have been for him to lose his mother. He looked at me with sorrowful, empty eyes. He held up his hand for me to hold. Earlier, this same hand wanted to strike someone; to hurt someone as much as he was hurting. Instead, his pain was shared. As I was unfamiliar with this form of handshake, our hands clasped awkwardly; confirming that this ‘holy encounter’ was real.
As he turned to walk to his train, I touched his shoulder and said: “Take care of yourself.” I do not know how else to express what happened next, but I felt my love for him pass through my hand. He turned back to me, as if he felt it too. With a look in his eyes that I will always remember, he lifted his hand and said: “God bless you.” A feeling came over me which I usually only experience with close friends and family. Rarely have I felt God’s blessing this strongly. I felt truly blessed and filled with joy.
Today I know the difference between joy and happiness. You can experience joy even when you are filled with sorrow.
The Rabbi's Gift
The story concerns a monastery that had fallen upon hard times. Once a great order, as a result of waves of antimonastic persecution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the rise of secularism in the nineteenth, all its branch houses were lost and it had become decimated to the extent that there were only five monks left in the decaying mother house: the abbot and four others, all over seventy in age. Clearly it was a dying order.
In the deep woods surrounding the monastery there was a little hut that a rabbi from a nearby town occasionally used for a hermitage. Through their many years of prayer and contemplation the old monks had become a bit psychic, so they could always sense when the rabbi was in his hermitage. "The rabbi is in the woods, the rabbi is in the woods again," they would whisper to each other. As he agonized over the imminent death of his order, it occurred to the abbot at one such time to visit the hermitage and ask the rabbi if by some possible chance he could offer any advice that might save the monastery.
The rabbi welcomed the abbot at his hut. But when the abbot explained the purpose of his visit, the rabbi could only commiserate with him. "I know how it is," he exclaimed. "The spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one comes to the synagogue anymore." So the old abbot and the old rabbi wept together. Then they read parts of the Torah and quietly spoke of deep things. The time came when the abbot had to leave. They embraced each other. "It has been a wonderful thing that we should meet after all these years," the abbot said, "but I have still failed in my purpose for coming here. Is there nothing you can tell me, no piece of advice you can give me that would help me save my dying order?"
"No, I am sorry," the rabbi responded. "I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you."
When the abbot returned to the monastery his fellow monks gathered around him to ask, "Well, what did the rabbi say?" "He couldn't help," the abbot answered. "We just wept and read the Torah together. The only thing he did say, just as I was leaving --- it was something cryptic --- was that the Messiah is one of us. I don't know what he meant."
In the days and weeks and months that followed, the old monks pondered this and wondered whether there was any possible significance to the rabbi's words. The Messiah is one of us? Could he possibly have meant one of us monks here at the monastery? If that's the case, which one? Do you suppose he meant the abbot? Yes, if he meant anyone, he probably meant Father Abbot. He has been our leader for more than a generation. On the other hand, he might have meant Brother Thomas. Certainly Brother Thomas is a holy man. Everyone knows that Thomas is a man of light. Certainly he could not have meant Brother Elred! Elred gets crotchety at times. But come to think of it, even though he is a thorn in people's sides, when you look back on it, Elred is virtually always right. Often very right. Maybe the rabbi did mean Brother Elred. But surely not Brother Phillip. Phillip is so passive, a real nobody. But then, almost mysteriously, he has a gift for somehow always being there when you need him. He just magically appears by your side. Maybe Phillip is the Messiah. Of course the rabbi didn't mean me. He couldn't possibly have meant me. I'm just an ordinary person. Yet supposing he did? Suppose I am the Messiah? O God, not me. I couldn't be that much for You, could I?
As they contemplated in this manner, the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off, off chance that each monk himself might be the Messiah, they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect.
Because the forest in which it was situated was beautiful, it so happened that people still occasionally came to visit the monastery to picnic on its tiny lawn, to wander along some of its paths, even now and then to go into the dilapidated chapel to meditate. As they did so, without even being conscious of it, they sensed this aura of extraordinary respect that now began to surround the five old monks and seemed to radiate out from them and permeate the atmosphere of the place. There was something strangely attractive, even compelling, about it. Hardly knowing why, they began to come back to the monastery more frequently to picnic, to play, to pray. They began to bring their friends to show them this special place. And their friends brought their friends.
Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk more and more with the old monks. After a while one asked if he could join them. Then another. And another. So within a few years the monastery had once again become a thriving order and, thanks to the rabbi's gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm.
'The Different Drum'
by M. Scott Peck
AIKIDO and Conflict Resolution
The wain clanked and rattled through the suburbs of Tokyo on a drowsy spring afternoon. Our car was comparatively empty—a few housewives with their kids in tow some old folks going shopping. I gazed absently at the drab houses and dusty hedgerows.
At one station Ihe doors opened, and suddenly the afternoon quiet was shattered by a man bellowing violent, incomprehensible curses. The man staggered into our car. He wore laborer’s clothing, and he was big, drunk, and dirty. Screaming, he swung at a woman holding a baby. The blow sent her spinning into the laps of an elderly couple. It was a miracle that the baby was unharmed.
Terrified, the couple jumped up and scrambled toward the other end of the car. The laborer aimed a kick at the retreating back of the old woman but missed as she scuttledto safety. This so enraged the drunk that he grabbed the metal pole in the center of the car and tried to wrench it out or its stanchion. I could see that one of his hands was cut and bleeding. The train lurched ahead, the passengers frozen with fear. I stood up.
I was young then, some twenty years ago, and in pretty good shape. I’d been putting in a solid eight hours of Aikido training nearly every day for the past three years. I liked to throw and grapple. I thought I was tough. The trouble was, my martial skill was untested in actual combat. As students of Aikido, we were not allowed to fight.
“Aikido,” my teacher had said again and again, ‘is the art of reconciliation. Whoever has the mind to fight has broken his connection with the universe. If you try to dominate people, you are already defeated. We study how to resolve conflict, not how to start it.”
I listened to his words. I tried hard. I even went so far as to cross the street to avoid the pinball punks who lounged around the train stations. My forbearance exalted me. I felt both tough and holy. In my heart, however, I wanted an absolutely legitimate opportunity whereby I might save the innocent by destroying the guilty.
“This is it I said to myself as I got to my feet. “People are in danger. If I don’t do something fast, somebody will probably get hurt.”
Seeing me stand up, the drunk recognized a chance to focus his rage. “Aha!” he roared. “A foreigner! You need a lesson in Japanese manners!”
I held on lightly to the commuter strap overhead and gave him a slow look of disgust and dismissal. I planned to take this turkey apart, but he had to make the first move. I wanted him mad, so I pursed my lips and blew him an insolent kiss.
“All right!” he hollered. “You’re gonna get a lesson.” He gathered himself for a rush at me.
A fraction of a second before he could move, someone shouted “Hey!” It was earsplitting. I remember the strangely joyous, lilting quality of it—as though you and a friend had been searching diligently for something, and he had suddenly stumbled upon it. “Hey!”
I wheeled to my left; the drunk spun to his right. We both stared down at a little, old Japanese man. He must have been well into his seventies, this tiny gentleman, sitting there immaculate in his kimono. He took no notice of me, but beamed delightedly at the laborer, as though he had a most important, most welcome secret to share.
“C’mere,” the old man said in an easy vernacular, beckoning to the drunk. “C’mere and talk with me.” He waved his hand lightly.
‘‘the big man followed, as if on a string. He planted his feet belligerently in front of the old gentleman, and roared above the clacking wheels, “Why the hell should I talk to you?” The drunk now had his back to me. If his elbow moved so much as a millimeter, I’d drop him in his socks.
The old man continued to beam at the laborer. “What’cha been drinkin’?” he asked, his eyes sparkling with interest. “I been drinkin’ sake,” the laborer bellowed back, “and it’s none of your business!” Flecks of spittle spattered the old man.
“Oh, that’s wonderful,” the old man said, “absolutely wonderful! You see, I love sake too. Every night, me and my wife (she’s seventy-six, you know), we warm up a little bottle of sake and take it out into the garden, and we sit on an old wooden bench. We watch the sun go down, and we look to see how our persimmon tree is doing. My greatgrandfather planted that tree, and we worry about whether it will recover from those ice storms we had last winter. Our tree has done better than I expected, though, especially when you consider the poor quality of the soil. It is gratifying to watch when we take our sake and go out to enjoy the evening—even when it rains!” He looked up at the laborer, eyes twinkling.
As he struggled to follow the old man’s conversation, the drunk’s face began to soften. His fists slowly unclenched. “Yeah,” he said. “I love persimmon, too“ His voice trailed off.
“Yes,”said the old man, smiling, “and I’m sure you have a wonderful wife.”
“No,” replied the laborer. “My wife died.” Very gently, swaying with the motion of the train, the big man began to sob. “I don’t got no wife, I don’t got no home, I don’t got no job. I’m so ashamed of myself.” Tears rolled down his cheeks; a spasm of despair rippled through his body.
Now it was my turn. Standing there in my well-scrubbed youthful innocence, my make-this-world-safe-for-democracy righteousness, I suddenly felt dirtier than he was.
Then the train arrived at my stop. As the doors opened, I heard the old man cluck sympathetically. “My, my,” he said, “that is a difficult predicament, indeed. Sit down here and tell me about it.”
I turned my head for one last look. The laborer was sprawled on the seat, his head in the old man’s lap. The old man was softly stroking the filthy, matted hair.
As the train pulled away, I sat down on a bench. What I had wanted to do with muscle had been accomplished with kind words. I had just seen Aikido tried in combat, and the essence of it was love. I would have to practice the art with an entirely different spirit. It would be a long time before I could speak about the resolution of conflict.
from Issue 15. “What is Enlightenment” www.wie.org
"When I see my opponents fly through the air and fall at my
feet without conscious effort on my part, I realize that I am a
partaker of something greater than I can comprehend."
Vernon K Turner
WIE: What, in your view, is the relationship between enlightenment and self-mastery?
Vernon Turner: Well, enlightenment is first of all coming to understand that there is no self in the conventional sense. People tend to think of the self as, "Well, I’m the guy who went to this high school and had these parents, and I’m the guy who’s got an accounting degree, and I worked my way through it all and achieved these things." Now that’s purely an illusory self that we’re talking about. Enlightenment is coming to understand or experience that there is no objective self—there is a being, but there’s no objective self—and it’s in the process of letting go of that notion that one experiences what one truly is in the universal sense. That’s when enlightenment comes—when you realize that you are not in control. And because of that, you are very much in control.
WIE: How exactly is it, though, that this spiritual approach to the martial arts becomes a path to transcendence or enlightenment?
VT: Well, when you find out that you are faced with danger—when you’re thinking, "What am I gonna do?"—see what happens if you say, "I’m not worried about it. I don’t have to do anything. It’ll be done." See what happens if you clear your mind and allow yourself to do exactly what is necessary, exactly what is correct. If you can do that, then when it’s all over with, you’ll discover that you’re just there; you’re an observer. And you’ll discover that you’ve observed more than you’ve actually participated—that you have learned to still your mind so that the spirit can act. The spirit does not deliberate, only the mind does, and this is what you’ll discover.
............ A lot of people say, "I want to learn your technique; it’s a wonderful technique." But I say, "I don’t have any techniques. Yes, you saw what appeared to be a technique. But it’s not a technique because I did not apply it. What you need to learn is how to come from that place where all the techniques already exist, and where the proper one will be there when you need it."
.... if you get even a hint of what enlightenment is, you’ll give up everything for it. Because everything that isn’t enlightenment is vanishing all the time. At this very moment there’s hardly ground beneath our feet, and what ground there is, is vanishing as we speak. People think they’re awake when they’re walking around in the street, but actually they’re asleep then, too. Awakening is when you see through it all—the dream when you’re asleep and the one when you’re "awake." Then you understand that the viewpoint we have of ourselves is based on a misconception—that because we perceive our personal experience as the ultimate reality when in fact it’s not, we don’t approach life as we should. That's why we need enlightenment to straighten us out.
Now of course I’m not saying that you and I don’t exist, or that your experience has no reality. It’s not the molecules and the atoms that are going to go away, but the delusion in your mind. The molecules and the atoms will remain as hard or as soft, as light or as dark as they always were. But how you see them will be different.
WIE: Is that what is known as the "warrior ethic"?
VT: Yes. In Bushido, the word "bu" means to cease struggling—it means that there is no one to struggle against. Now, not all warriors embrace this ideal at the highest level, but at the highest level it’s said that the true master of the sword carries no sword. It isn’t needed, because he’s the weapon. His weapon is his continence, his stillness. His enlightenment is really something that is not of this plane at all, and for that reason it’s not something that people can easily recognize. People can recognize mastery, because mastery manifests on the physical plane, but people generally don’t beat a path to an enlightened person’s doorstep unless they are spiritually seeking. There are enlightened people in the world today, but most of them don’t have a highway coming to their house because most people are looking for things in this world, and when they see somebody who seems to know how to get these things, they’re very interested. But an enlightened person is really not that interested in this world, and in a sense the enlightened person draws people away from the world, not into it. You see, as long as you want to be in the world, and of the world, you can’t really be enlightened because the demands are different. In mastery, you have to focus body and mind, and in enlightenment, you’ve got to let go of them.
The Voice of Jesus
by Linda Chubbuck Johnson. Concordia, Kansas
A few weeks ago, my 10-year old son and I were chatting about A Course in Miracles. I told him how it came (without mentioning a source) and read him the introduction. Hewas enchanted.
The next day, he asked another question about it. I answered.
The following day, I noticed him flipping through the Course himself. Strange, I thought. “August, what is it about the Course that
especially interests you?” I asked.
He replied, with a sense of wonder, “It’s the Voice! It’s gentle, but commmanding....like Asian!”
I felt a shiver of awe pass through me. He is currently devouring
each of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, by CS. Lewis.
And Asian, the Lion, is known to be Lewis’s metaphor for Christ.
August had recognized the Voice of Jesus in the Course as familiar
to him, and as loving and powerful.
My childhood experience of Jesus was the opposite. By the time I was a young woman, I wanted no part of Jesus. His very name made me feel nauseated and repelled. It conjured up images from
childhood sermons of suffering, bloody thorns on his head, and my own guilty part in the crucifixion.
Too willful to come to Jesus out of obedience and fear, I instead
I rejected, by my early 2O’s, the whole business - God, along with his scolding, judgmental Son, and all the rules which would almost certainly condemn me to hell. If I didn’t believe in them, they couldn’t hurt me, could they?
By my mid-30’s, my defiance caught up with me. Though living an apparently successful life, I was coming apart at the seams inside. In great humility, I came to know God through the simple medium of prayer. My journey had begun.
My resentment of Jesus, however, continued. Eventually, I
found myself offering Jesus himself a simple prayer - “Sorry, Jesus,
that I can’t stand you. I know it’s not your fault, all the things people have done in your name. But I just get along better without you.
Thanks for understanding.” I continued on my way.
Living in the Bible Belt, I was reminded regularly of His presence. “Jesus” bumper stickers.... “How crude! Just the sort of people to try and cram Him down your throat, no doubt!” “Jesus Died for Your Sins” road signs I could hardly bear to look at them, they irritated me so.
A few years after my re-connection to God, I was given a gift of A Course in Miracles. Intrigued, I opened it, and tried. But as soon as I understood that Jesus was a part of it, I closed it again. No way. Sorry, but my stomach turned again. The book sat on my shelf.
I began, however, to read authors who wrote of the Course Jerry Jampolsky, and later, Marianne Williamson. They wisely, I thought, omitted any annoying mention of Jesus. So I could take it. I savoured their books.
Then in November of 1993, in an emotional crisis, I was led to a staunch and very compassionate Baptist woman, to whom I poured Out my fears of the church, Jesus, and hell. She listened lovingly, and offered to pray with me. She asked if I wanted to invite Jesus into my life. Terrified and in tears, I agreed. We prayed together, and Idid so.
I drove home in a panic. What had I done? This Man, this symbol of fear and judgment and hell and suffering - I had invited Him into my life? Did I have to stop all sin instantly? Would I go to hell? What did I have to believe now? I was sobbing.
I came to my computer, weeping, and wrote out all the quesions... poured them out. As the questions ended, a Voice at my left shoulder, with the power to be heard over all my fears, spoke:
“There are answers.”
1t was so loving, so powerful. I knew it was Jesus speaking, and I understood that He meant the answers would unfold ahead of me, and that I need not be afraid. I was comforted.
An hour later, I picked up the Course, and this time, did not set it down. I devoured the Text, then began the lessons over the next few weeks. I hungered for it, and cried and wept as I took in His words, His love. Here were the answers I had asked for.
Looking back, I know that I was pulled by His power, over the wall of my distrust, into His arms. For quite some time, I preferred to pray to the Holy Spirit, while acknowledging Jesus’ place in the whole system. The more abstract form of God seemed “safer” somehow. But recently, I have realized that true intimacy is linked to forgiveness - and forgiveness is Jesus’ realm.
The Voice that I heard at times, but preferred to call the Holy Spirit, or my angels, I now address as “Jesus.” That Voice is, as my son put it, always “gentle, but commanding.” Never scolding, shaming, or condemning - but always very, very intimate and tender and personal.
Last week, I told my son a bit about my former repulsion for Jesus, and asked how he (raised outside the church) thought of Jesus, when he thought of Him.
He replied, not surprisingly I guess, “Like Aslan.”
I still find myself carrying shame and embarrassment as I use the name of Jesus. Or my cynical ego voice will berate me that I am losing my sanity, listening to “voices!” But the consistency, and the compelling quality of His Voice reassure me.
If Jesus can speak through different humans, and still be lovingly recogized by a child... that is the Voice I want to hear forever. I -
ILLUSIONS Richard Bach
We finished the day in Hammond, Wisconsin, flying a few Monday passengers, then we walkedto town for dinner, and started back.
“Don, I will grant you that this life can be interesting or dull or
whatever we choose to make it. But even in my brilliant times I have never been able to figure ou~ why we’re here in the first place.
Tell me something about that.”
We passed the han:Iware store (closed) and the movie theater -(open Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), and instead of answering he stopped, turned back on the sidewalk.
“You have money, don’t you”
“Lots. What’s the matter?”
“Let’s see the show,” he said. “You buy?”
“I don’t know, Don. You go ahead. I’ll get back to the airplanes. I don’t like to leave ‘em alone too long.” What was suddenly so important about a motion picture?
”The planes are OK. Let’s go to the show”
“It’s already started.”
“So we come in late.”
He was already buying his ticket. I followed him into the dark and we sat down near the back of the theater. There might have
been fifty people around us in the gloom.
I forgot about why we came, after a while, and got caught up
in the story, which I’ve always thought is a classic movie, anyway;
this would be my third time seeing Sundance. The time in the theater spiraled and stretched the way it does in a good film, and I watched awhile for technical reasons ....... how each scene was designed and fit to the next, why this scene now and not later on. I
tried to look at it that way, but got spun up in the story and forgot.
About the part where Butch and Sundance are surrounded by the entire Bolivian army, almost at the end, Shimoda touched my
shoulder. I leaned toward him, watching the movie, wishing he could have kept whatever he was going to say till after it was over.
“Why are you here?”
‘It’s a good movie~ Don. Sh.” Butch and Sundance, blood all over them, were talking about why they ought to go to Australia.
“Why is it good?” he said.
“Its fun. Sh. I’ll tell you later.”
“Snap out of it. Wake up. It’s all illusions.”
I was irked. “Donald, there’s just a few minutes more and then we can talk all you want. But let me watch the movie, OK?”
He whispered intensely, dramatically. “Richard, why are you
“Look, I’m here because you asked me to come in here!” I turned back and tried to watch the end.
“You didn’t have to come, you could have said no thank you.”
”l LIKE THE MOVIE...” A man in front turned to look at me for a second. “I like the movie, Don; is there anything wrong with that?”
“Nothing at all,” he said, and he didn’t say another word till it was over and we were walking again past the used-tractor lot and
out into the dark toward the field and the airplanes. I would be dark before long. I thought about his odd behavior in the theater. “You do everything for a reason, Don?”
“You asked a question.”
“Yes. Do you have an answer?”
‘That is my answer. We went to the movie because you asked a question. The movie was the answer to your question.”
He was laughing at me, I knew it.
“What was my question?”
There was a long pained silence. “Your question. Richard. was
that even in your brilliant times you have never been able to figure
out why we are here.”
I remembered. “And the movie was my answer.
“You don’t understand,” he said.
‘That was a good movie,” he said, “but the world’s best movie
is still an illusion, is it not? The pictures aren’t even moving; they only appear to move. Changing light that seems to move across a flat screen set up in the dark?”
“Well, yes.” I was beginning to understand.
‘The other people, any people anywhere who go to any movie show, why are they there, when it is only illusions?”
“Well, it’s entertainment,” I said.
“Fun. That’s right. One.”
“Could be educational!’
“Good. It is always that. Learning. Two.”
“That’s fun, too. One.”
“Technical reasons. To see how a film is made.”
“Escape from boredom...”
“Escape. You said that.”
“Social. To be with friends,” I said.
“Reason for going, but not for seeing the film. That’s fun, anyway One.”
Whatever I came up with fit his two fingers; people see films for fun or for learning or for both together~
“And a movie is like a lifetime, Don, is that right?”
‘Then why would anybody choose a bad lifetime, a horror movie?”
‘They not only come to the horror movie for fun, they know it is going to be a horror movie when they walk in,” he said.
“Do you like horror films?”
“Do you ever see them?”
“But some people spend a lot of money and time to see horror or soap-opera problems that to other people are dull and boring’ He left the question for me to answer.
“You don’t have to see their films and they don’t have to see yours. That is called ‘freedom.”'
“But why would anybody want to be horrifled? Or bored?”
“Because they think they deserve it for horrifying somebody else, or they like the excitement of horroification, or that boring is the way they think films have to be. Can you believe that lots of people for reasons that are very sound to them enjoy believing that they are helpless in their own films? No, you can’t.”.
“No, I can’t,” I said. -
“Until you understand that, you will wonder why some
people are unhappy. They are unhappy because they have chosen to be unhappy, and, Richard. that is all right!”
“We are game-playing, fun-having creatures, we are the otters the universe. We cannot die, we cannot hurt ourselves any more than hurt illusions on the screen can be hurt. But we can believe we’re hurt, in whatever agonizing detail we want. We can believe we’re victims, killed and killing, shuddered around by good luck and bad luck”
“Many lifetimes?” I asked.
“How many movies have you seen?”
“Films about living on this planet, about living on other planets; anything that’s got space and time is all movie and all illusion!’ he said. “But for a while we an learn a huge amount and have a lot of fun with our illusions, can we not?” .
“How far do you take this movie thing. Don?”
“How far do you want? You saw the film tonight partly because I wanted to see it. Lots of people choose lifetimes because they enjoy doing things together. The actors in the film tonight have played together in other films — before or after depends on which film you’ve seen first, or you can see them at the same time on different sceens. We buy tickets to these films, paying admission by agreeing to believe in the reality of space and the reality of time. Neither one is true, but anyone who doesn’t want to pay the price cannot appear on this planet, or in any space-time system at all.”
“Are there some people who don’t have any lifetimes at all in space-time?”
“Are there some people who never go to movies?”
“I see. They get their learning in different ways?”
“Right you are,” he said, pleased with me. “Space-time is a fairly primitive school. But a lot of people stay with the illusion even if it is boring, and they don’t want the lights tumed on early”
“Who writes these movies, Don?”
“Isn’t it strange how much we know if only we ask ourselves instead of somebody else? Who writes these movies, Richard?”
“We do,” I said.
“Who’s the cameraman, the projectionist, the theater manager, the ticket-taker, the distributor, and who watches them all happen? Who is free to walk out in the middle, any time, change the plot whenever, who is free to see the same film over and over
“Let me guess,” I said. “Anybody who wants to?”
“Is that enough freedom for you?” he said.
“And is that why movies are so popular? That we instinctively know they are a parallel of our own lifetimes?”
“Maybe so.. .maybe not. Doesn’t matter much, does it? What’s the projector?”
“Mind,” I said. “No. Imagination. It’s our imagination, no matter what you say.”
“What’s the film?” he asked.
“Whatever we give our consent to put into our imagination?”
“Maybe so, Don.”
“You can hold a reel of film in your hands,” he said, “and it’s all finished and complete — beginning, middle, end are all there that same second, the same millionths of a second. The film exists beyand the time that it records, and if you know what the movie is, you know generally what’s going to happen before you walk into the theater: there’s going to be battles and excitement, winners and losers, romance, disaster; you know that’s all going to be there. But in order to get caught up and swept away in it, in order to enjoy it to its most, you have to put it in a projector and let it go through the lens minute by minute.... any illusion require space and time to be experienced. So you pay your nickel and you get your ticket and
you settle down and forget what’s going on outside the theater and the movie begins for you.”
“And nobody’s really hurt? That’s just tomato-sauce blood?”
“No, it’s blood all right,” he said. “But it might as well be tomato sauce for the effect it has on our real life...
“Reality is divinely indifferent, Richard. A mother doesn’t care what part her child plays in his games; one day bad-guy, next day good-guy. The Is doesn’t even know about our illusions and games. It only knows itself, and us in its likeness, perfect and finished.”
from “Love, Medicine and Miracles” by Bernie S Siegul MD.
Mr. Wright, a client of psychologist Bruno Klopfer in 1957, had far-advanced lymphosarcoma (cancer). All known treatments had become ineffective. Tumors the size of oranges littered his neck, armpits, groin, chest, and abdomen. His spleen and liver were enormously enlarged. The thoracic lymph duct was swollen closed, and one to two quarts of milky liquid had to be drained from his chest each day. He had to have oxygen to breathe, and his only medicine now was a sedative to help him on his way.
Despite his state, Mr. Wright still had hope. He’d heard of a new drug called Krebiozen, which was to be evaluated at the clinic where he lay. He didn’t qualify for the program, because the experimenters wanted subjects with a life expectancy of at least three and preferably six months. Wright begged so hard, however, that Klopfer decided to give him one injection on Friday, thinking he would be dead by Monday and the Krebiozen could be given to someone else. Klopfer was in for a surprise:
“I had left him febrile, gasping for air, completely bedridden. Now, here he was, walking around the ward, chatting happily with the nurses, and spreading his message of good cheer to any who would listen. Immediately I hastened to see the others. No change, or change for the worse was noted. Only in Mr.Wright was there brilliant improvement. The tumor masses had melted like snowballs on a hot stove, and in only these few days, they were half their original size! This is, of course, far more rapid regression than most radio-sensitive tumors could display under heavy X-ray given every day. And we already knew his tumors were no longer sensitive to irradiation. Also, he had had no other treatment outside of the single useless “shot.”
This phenomenon demanded an explanation, but not only that, it almost insisted that we open our minds to learn, rather than try to explain. So, the injections were given three times
weekly as planned, much to the joy of the patient. . . . Within 10 days he was able to be discharged from his “deathbed,”
practically all signs of his disease having vanished in this short
time. Incredible as it sounds, this “terminal” patient gasping his last breath through an oxygen mask was now not only breathing normally, and fully active, he took off in his own plane and flew at 12.000 feet with no discomfort.”
Within months, conflicting reports began to appear in the news, all of the testing clinics reporting no results. . . This disturbed Mr. Wright considerably... . (He] was.. . logical and scientific in his thinking, and he began to lose faith in his last hope.... (A]fter two months of practically perfect health, he relapsed to his original state and became very gloomy and miserable.
But Klopfer saw an opportunity to explore what was really going on—to find out, as he put it, how quacks achieve some of their well-documented cures. (Remember all healing is scientific.) He told Wright that Krebiozen really was as promising as it had seemed, but that the early shipments had deteriorated rapidly in the bottles. He told of a new superrefined, double-strength product due to arrive tomorrow.
“The news came as a great revelation to him, and Mr. Wright, ill as he was, became his optimistic self again, eager to start over. By delaying a couple of days before the “shipment” arrived, his anticipation of salvation had reached a tremendous pitch. When I announced that the new series of injections were about to begin, he was almost ecstatic and his faith was very strong.
With much fanfare, and putting on quite an act . . . I administered the first injection of the doubly potent, fresh preparation—consisting of fresh water and nothing more. The results of this experiment were quite unbelievable to us at the time, although we must have had some suspicion of the remotely possible outcome to have even attempted it at all.
Recovery from the second near-terminal state was even more
dramatic than the first. Tumor masses melted, chest fluid vanished, he became ambulatory, and even went back to flying again. At this time he was certainly the picture of health. The water injections were continued, since they worked such wonders. He then remained symptom-free for over two months. At this time the final AMA announcement appeared in the press
—“Nationwide tests show Krebiozen to be a worthless drug in treatment of cancer.”
Within a few days of this report Mr. Wright was readmitted to the hospital in extremis; his faith was now gone, his last hope vanished, and he succumbed in less than two days.
I saw that he was like me
I saw that he was like me -
Passionate, sexy, creative,
Gifted, intuitive, warm,
Loving, tender, powerful....
And I loved him.
We shared passion, sex, creativity....
Our gifts, intuition, and warmth.
We loved tenderly, powerfully -
Male and Female
I saw that he was like me
And we loved.
But a shadow appeared....
Secretive, irritable, power-hungry -
Vain, egotistical, cold...
Possessive, controlling -
Using God as a cover....
Attached to things other than me....
This wasn’t like me!
I began to fear him, despise him,
Long to change him.
But the quiet Voice of God
“He is like you.
You are to love him....
Whole, as he is
As you are....”
I refused to listen
And I watched the
Destroying what we called love.
Self-righteous, I named
his faults -
The causes of my loss.
But the persistent Voice of God
spoke again -
“He is like you....
You are to love him
As he is,
As you are....
As I love you
And suddenly my own voice echoed me -
as I kept a truth from view
as I ordered my child to chores
Qheck the mirror for reassurance....
Cold, possessive, controlling
as I chose someone that I could rescue,
Using God as a cover....
Am I, God? Have I?
And God’s quiet Voice came again
“He is like you...
You are to love him
As he is,
As you are,
As I love you.”
And so I bring the shadow -
and fearful -
To the Light
And I cry.
“Here it is, God! It has been
so terrifying to look upon...
And I have hated it so long
and I weep
And God says
“He is like you
You are to love him
As he is,
As you are,
As I love you
For you are One.’
And I heard Him.
I saw that he was like me
And the shadow faded
in the Light.
Wild Bill Cody
from “Return from Tomorrow” by George G Ritchie
When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, the 123rd Evac unit entered Germany with the occupying troops. I was part of a group assigned to a concentration camp near Wuppertal, charged with getting medical help to the newly liberated prisoners, many of them Jews from Holland, France, and eastern Europe. This was the most shattering experience I had yet had; I had been exposed many times by then to sudden death and injury, but to see the effects of slow starvation, to walk through those barracks where thousands of men had died a little bit at a time over a period of years, was a new kind of horror. For many it was an irreversible process: we lost scores each day in spite of all the medicine and food we could rush to them.
Now I needed my new insight indeed. When the ugliness became too great to handle I did what I had learned to do. I went from one end to the other of that barbed wire enclosure looking into men’s faces until I saw looking back at me the face of Christ.
And that’s how I came to know Wild Bill Cody. That wasn’t his real name. His real name was seven unpronounceable syllables in Polish, but he had long drooping handlebar mustaches like pictures of the old western hero, so the American soldiers called him Wild Bill. He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he hadn’t been there long: his posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable. Since he was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unoficial camp translator.
We came to him with all sorts of problems; the paper work alone was staggering in attempting to relocate people whose families, even whole hometowns, might have dissapeared. But though Wild Bill worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness. While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strengh. “We have time for this old fellow,” he’d say. “He’s been waiting to see us all day.” His compassion for his fellow prisoners glowed on his face, and it was to this glow that I came when my own spirits were low,
So I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939! For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.
Perhaps even more amazing, every group in the camp looked on him as a friend. He was the one to whom quarrels between inmates were brought for arbitration. Only after I’d been at Wuppertal a number of weeks did I realize what a rarity this was in a compound where, the different nationalities of prisoners hated each other almost as much as they did the Germans.
As for Germans, feeling against them ran so high that in some of the camps liberated earlier, former prisoners had seized guns, run into the nearest village and simply shot the first Germans they saw. Part of our instructions were to prevent this kind of thing and again Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counseling for “It’s not easy for some of them to forgive,” I commented to him one day as we sat over mugs of tea in the processing center. So many of them have lost members of their families”
Wild Bill leaned back m the upright chair and sipped at his drink ‘“We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,” he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself, “my wife, our two daughters, and our three litle boys. When the Germans reached our street they lined everyone against a wall and opened up with machine guns. I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German they put me in a work group.”
He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and five children. “I had to decide right then,” he continued, “whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this. It was an easy decision, really. I was a lawyer. In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world. I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life—whether it was a few days or many years—loving every person I came in contact with.”
And there was light
The autobiography of a blind hero in the French resistance
by Jacques Lusseyran
(had an inner light, including colours [red trail of girl friend], that allowed him to be aware of objects e.g. tree positions and where the branches begun)
Still, there were times when the light faded, almost to the point of disappearing. It happened every time I was afraid.
If, instead of letting myself be carried along by confidence and throwing myself into things,
I hesitated, calculated, thought about the wall, the half-open door, the key in the lock; if I said to myself that all these things were hostile and about to strike or scratch, then without exception I hit or wounded myself. The only easy way to move around the house, the garden or the beach was by not thinking about it at all, or thinking as little as possible. Then I moved between obstacles the way they say bats do. What the loss of my eyes had not accomplished was brought about by fear. It made me blind.
Anger and impatience had the same effect, throwing everything into confusion. The minute before I knew just where everything in the room was, but if I got angry, things got angrier than I. They went and hid in the most unlikely corners, mixed themselves up, turned turtle, muttered like crazy men and looked wild. As for me, I no longer knew where to put hand or foot. Everything hurt me. This mechanism worked so well that I became cautious.
When I was playing with my small companions, if I suddenly grew anxious to win, to be first at all costs, then all at once I could see nothing. Literally, I went into fog or smoke.
I could no longer afford to be jealous or unfriendly, because, as soon as I was, a bandage came down over my eyes, and I was bound hand and foot and cast aside. All at Once a black hole opened, and I was helpless inside it. But when I was happy and serene, approached people with confidence and thought well of them, I was rewarded with light. So is it surprising that I loved friendship and harmony when I was very young?
Armed with such a tool, why should I need a moral code? For me this tool took the place of red and green lights. I always knew where the road was open and where it was closed. I had only to look at the bright signal which taught me how to live.
•Without the Holy Spirit as a guide we are spiritually blind.
•Need to learn to relax and trust the guidance will be there.
•The presence of the ego blinds us to the Holy Spirit.
I have not been accepting myself today.
I have dug in my heels and refused today.
I have said I wont trade, I wont budge today,
And I’m guilty as hell all the way today.
What brought all this on it’s hard to say,
A feeling of turning my mind away,
Of finding some prejudice rearing its head.
When it came to the crunch, it was “No” that I said.
Saying “No” feels quite bad, I’m defending again,
Feeling the doors being shut again.
But somehow attraction is strong to be sad
To jerk about crossly and interact.
It’s hard not to judge when you feel this way.
Hard to accept that you want it this way,
For you must, or you wouldn!’t be feeling this way
All this pain is a choice, strange to say.
Its removal is something I can’t do alone.
I can honestly say that I’d rather go Home
Than gnaw like a dog at a meatless bone
And growl at all comers to “LEAVE ME ALONE”
On quiet reflection I’m tired of the pain,
It isn’t such hot stuff apportioning blame...
To myself or to others — it’s really the same.
Then the help that I asked for JUST CAME!
Letter to my Father
I’ve been away so long, I thought I should write to fill you in in what I’ve been up to. You didn’t try to stop me when I first became bored and thought I wanted to leave our perfect home. In Your wisdom, You knew that couldn’t really happen and you let me fall asleep and dream that it was so.
Such adventures I have had, You wouldn’t Believe. I have to say that maybe I didn’t use the unlimited creative powers you gave me wisely and ran a little wild. I was in a rebellious state and to be honest, I didn’t want my world to be the least like Yours, so I made everything exactly the opposite, just for the hell of it. First I decided Oneness would have to go. That didn’t serve my needs at all so I dreamed up duality as the basis of a thought system that would ensure the continuance of my kingdom.
In place of your ever expanding universe of love,
I made up ‘life’ like a carousel, seeming to advance but never really getting anywhere and always reinforcing duality. Now, away from Our Home, I had unlimited scope for my inventive mind and each new idea built on the one before ending up with such a complicated thought system, no one could ever fathom out what was going on.
I wanted my world to be different, so I dreamed up form with a multitude of individual bodies with different sexes, colours and shapes and provided built in obsolescence to everything here. It was one of my best ideas, as nothing here lasts forever, I could deny your existence as a loving God. Constant change was the order of the day: I set it up so that the only way anyone could exist was to kill in some form or other living off someone else or being killed themselves. As a result it meant everyone has to live here in a state of fear knowing that something or someone will get you eventually. No matter how hard you try to avoid it ageing and death is inevitable. It doesn’t make as much sense now as it used to, as I’m not quite as insane any more, but it sure seemed like a good idea at the time.
I know You wouldn’t have any idea what I mean, but I thought up my own ‘trinity’ of sin guilt and fear giving me the opportunity of categorising people to suit my needs. The end result was always pain. ‘Pain’, Did I tell you about that one. I found when I experienced pain I could not experience You, which suited my delinquent mind perfectly. Sex was another ‘good’ idea, because with it I could seem to join and yet remain separate . I could even imitate your creative power by creating other separate bodies. It kept my mind occupied for quite a while, let me tell you. I thought pleasure and pain were
different never realising they were opposite sides of the same coin. ‘
Sickness’ was also a ‘brilliant’ idea as it gave me a feeling of isolation and separation from my brothers and of course, You. The powerful mind you gave me enabled me to deny it was all my own idea and in this amnesic state I could blame someone else for my lack of peace and condemn You for setting up this horrible world in the first place.
Throughout the dream I’ve been searching for some new experience never realising all I ever wanted was to return Home again. I’ve done everything and been everywhere, many times over. In my mind I’ve experienced every possible alternative. I’ve been a murderer and a saint, a king and a pauper. I’ve been male and female I’ve lived in every kind of body all over the world and in every universe. I played the role of victimiser and victim and switched from one to the other frequently. I’ve been beautiful and healthy, crippled and diseased, . I have died as an infant and lived to be very, very old. I have been generous and kind. I’ve been hungry and I’ve been greedy and uncaring. Not that I didn’t have fun playing all these dramatic roles, rebelling against you in every possible way. If they ever hand out academy awards for our performances here, I will at least will be nominated in all the categories.
I managed to forget most of the time Your Love for me was changeless but there were periods when my guilt of leaving you made me feel very unworthy and I had this crazy fear, it would only be a matter of time before you would catch up with me. I tried to totally fill my mind up with unlimited distractions to avoid thinking about You and Your Love.
You remember how I wanted to be special. Well let me tell you in my dream, I achieved just that. I knew somehow you would never treat me as special as you can only love every one of your Sons equally, so an idea came to me I could find someone else who would. I thought this would solve all my problems and I would never need to think about my guilt again. How wrong I was. I soon found out special love is constantly changing and isn’t love at all. After a while the shine goes off everything. I realise now my attachment to those special people and things represented my guilt as the purpose of the relationship was to cover it up. By listening to your voice in my mind, I am slowly learning how to change my special relationships to holy ones. I know that I must love my brothers as you love me or I have no chance of ever knowing you,
I thought I made a real mess of things and You would never forgive me, but deep down I think I always knew that regardless of what state my mind is in, or whatever I think I have ever done, and no matter how wretched I thought I was or am now, You remain oblivious to all these experiences I am talking about. You know nothing at all of this nonsense and have never changed your mind about me, nor would you ever do so.
All through my insanity I have had Your gift of the Holy Spirit in my mind, constantly and gently leading me back to my real Home with You. I’m beginning to tire of the dream in which all the miriad of alternatives always end up looking the same. I am waking up gradually and looking forward to coming home to You, this time for good.
Thank you Dad for your patience.
Your prodigal Son
Reproduced from “Miracle Link” newsletter by kind permission of
Bill McDonald, PO Box 516, Newport Beach, NSW 2106, Australia
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution In Poland. Christopher R. Browning
In an era of horrors, Jozefow is all too easy to overlook, On July 13, 1942, German reserve police arrived in this village in eastern Poland and methodically rounded up 1,500 Jewish residents, marched them into the woods, ordered them to lie face down and shot them in the back of their heads. But, as American historian Christopher R. Browning points out, the Jozefow massacre was much more than the usual, numbingly familiar tale of mass murder. It was an extraordinary episode of ordinary men facing a clear-cut moral choice. It offers a remarkable — and singularly chilling — glimpse of human behavior.
The first unusual element of the Jozefow story was the background of the German executioners. These were not young recruits raised on Nazi propaganda but middle-aged family men from Hamburg of working-class and lower-middle-class backgrounds, who had spent their formative years in the pre-Nazi era. Drafted into Reserve Police Battalion 101, they were considered unfit for regular army duty; few of the 500 men had seen any military action prior to their arrival in Poland in June 1942. They were pressed into service by the German high command as it carried out its massive offensive against a large Jewish population long ensconced in cities and villages across Poland.
What was even more unusual was that the reservists were offered an opportunity to avoid participation in the massacre. Distressed by his orders, Maj. Wilhelm Trapp, the battalion commander, told his men that morning in Jozefow that anyone who did not feel up to the task could exempt himself by stepping forward. About a dozen men did so. Once the executions began, a few others balked at shooting women and children or simply became sickened by the gore; they, too, were allowed to desist without any penalties. As one policeman asserted in the postwar testimony that Browning drew upon for his account: “It was in no way the case that those who did not want to or could not carry out the shooting of human beings with their own hands could not keep themselves out of this task.”
If anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the men backed out at some point, at least 80 percent of the battalion voluntarily took part in the Jozefow killings. While some of them had nightmares later, they soon grew more calloused as the unit was given new assignments in the campaign against Jews. Some exhibited delight at the terror they could inspire; one officer proudly brought his new bride along to witness ghetto-clearing operations. When the major massacres and deportations had been completed, the campaign entered a new phase—the “Jew Hunt.” Small squads began searching for those Jews who had escaped. When found, they were executed on the spot. One policeman recalled that “often there were so many volunteers that some of them had to be turned away.” From the summer of 1942 to the fall of 1943, the police reservists participated in the shooting of at least 38,000 Jews and the deportation of an additional 45,000 to Treblinka.
What accounted for such behavior? When the Hamburg state prosecutor conducted an investigation of the unit back in the 1960s, many of the participants explained that they were motivated by their fear of looking “cowardly” before their comrades. They did not want to “lose face” or to admit they were “too weak.”Conformism, not coercion, was crucial. Others took refuge in the argument that even if they had refused to participate, this would not have saved the Jews. No rationalization was considered too grotesque or self-incriminating. A 35-year-old metalworker declared:
“I made the effort, and it was possible for me, to shoot only children.
because I reasoned with myself that after all without its mother the child could not live any longer. It was supposed to be, so to speak, soothing to my conscience to release children unable to live without their mothers.”
In 1948, a Polish court sentenced Trapp, who had wept about his orders and then methodically carried them out, to death, along with one of his men; two others, who were also extradited from Germany, received prison terms. But in keeping with the general line of the new Communist authorities in Poland, the crimes for which they were convicted were reprisal killings of 78 Poles, not any of their actions against the Jews. In 1967, the German authorities indicted 14 men, but only two light sentences were upheld after appeals. The most startling aspect of this affair is not that most of these ordinary men went free but that they could be led so easily to perform such ghastly deeds. “Truthfully I must say at the time that we didn’t reflect about it all,” one of them testified. That is all the more reason for somber reflection now. As Browning asks in this meticulously researched book, which represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust: “If the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 could become killers under such circumstances, what group of men cannot?”