Back in late 1984 I was feeling generally content with the way my life was unfolding, thinking that I was where I should be, especially spiritually. Almost 5 years earlier my sister Gabrielle had introduced me to the Hilarion series of books, channelled material that at the time had turned my life around 180 degrees for the better. "What could be more true than this?" could have generally characterized my overall sentiment during these years. So when Gabrielle shared with me (around Christmas, and also about a month later) another spiritual teaching, this "Course in Miracles" she was taking, I was inclined to listen. For nearly twenty years now, she and I have shared so much of our respective paths that I can safely say that, other than my wife, she has been the most influential female in my life, even though we have rarely lived in the same city.
At first I thought it preposterous that someone would claim to be able to teach another how to perform miracles. For the image I had was that she was taking evening classes somewhere. During our second conversation she clarified for me that it was really just a set of three books designed for self-study. We were talking on the phone and I vividly recall now that her sense of amazement at doing this course was so great that I could feel her "floating" from my end of the line.
So a few days later I found myself at Sunnyside (Ottawa's major esoteric bookstore), asking the lady at the desk: "Do you have A Course in Miracles?"
"No, we do not carry it," she replied. But even as she was saying these words, I spotted a set of the Course behind her on the shelf!
"Oh, that's a set that someone ordered but has not picked up yet," she answered.
"May I see them?" I asked, with a view to perhaps ordering my own set if I liked what I saw.
She handed them to me. I opened the largest one and noticed there was a card in it. I looked at the card to see who had ordered it and gasped in disbelief at my name staring at me, point blank!! I must have had a weird look on my face as my eyes went from the card to the lady, and back to the card and back to the lady again.
"I did not order these books," I muttered to her, still shaky.
She looked at the card and replied, "Oh, this was ordered by Dr. Bernard Lacroix; do you know him?"
"That's my name!" I exclaimed, moving away to ponder on this amazing turn of events.
It did not take me long to realize that this stuff was for me! And after regaining my sense of balance, I promptly ordered the books. I also took note of Dr. Lacroix's phone number and communicated with him after my books arrived. We had a good laugh over this story and it was the beginning of a new friendship that still endures to this day, even if we seldom see each other. In retrospect, some time later I recalled having previously asked for guidance on personal issues and concluding with my brand of humor: "And please make the answer so clear that even I can't miss it." It seems someone out there (or in here) also has a sense of humor, and I could visualize my guides rolling over, unable to contain themselves, as they observed my reaction to this event.
Once in my hands, however, the Course turned out to be no laughing matter. I tackled the Manual first, on the dubious theory that smaller meant easier to read. Reading wasn't hard but understanding was something else. Next came the Text and that proved even more difficult. Then one morning it happened, I recall opening the book with chapter 10 staring me in the face and a disturbing thought that hit my mind like a sledgehammer: "I have not understood one word in the first nine chapters." It became imperatively clear that I could not continue reading this way, so back on the phone I went with a call for help to Gabrielle. She gently suggested that I restart the Text and begin the lessons simultaneously. She also invited me over to her house in Peterborough (about three hours from Ottawa) so we could talk some more. I took her up on both counts.
In Peterborough I got to listen to a set of three 90-minute tapes from a seminar that Kenneth Wapnick had conducted a short time earlier. Ken's clarity marked a turning point in my relationship with the Course, and my love and gratitude for him were born that day. But it was the addition of the lessons that sealed the course as my clear and definite path home. Very quickly they captivated my mind and so mesmerized it that I abandoned the more abstract Text in favor of this novel experience of Truth. They seemed to be written especially for me, so much so that I could almost see my name in them. It was like being stripped more naked than naked and at the same time being loved at a level hitherto unknown to me.
As I progressed through the Workbook I began to find it more challenging, experiencing occasional doubt, not at their effectiveness, but rather at my willingness to "follow their direction" properly. Sometimes I would set it aside for periods ranging from a day or two to a week or two. These lapses were usually accompanied by guilt, which struck me as quite ludicrous since it was guilt the lessons were meant to help overcome. At those times Jesus' gentle and loving guidance became my salvation. I learned to express and confess to him my perceived woes and our relationship blossomed at an intimate soul level. Many years later it matured even further upon reading The Elder Brother.
It was only after three years in the Course that I completed the Text for the first time and also re-read the Manual. Those two readings deepened even more both my understanding of the Course and my commitment to live by its teachings. I have found that, in my case at least, acceptance of its message must pass through an intellectual comprehension of what it says. My heart is engaged inasmuch as my mind sees purpose for engagement. One without the other leaves me empty. It has also been my good fortune through the years to have "friends in high places," not the least of whom is Robert. As usual, it's a toss-up between love and gratitude as to which will carry the day. When I look back on my life, and especially the last dozen years or so, I notice that the guidance has been as frequent and compelling as it has been gentle and loving. I'm glad there is room in Holy Spirit's curriculum for slow-learners like me and in turn I feel more inclined to be patient with those of my brothers who are also slow-learners.