Everyone is entitled to miracles!
On moving to Florida many years ago, I bought my house specifically because of the large, mature trees in the area. Last week the trees in two neighboring yards were all cut down, for no reason that I could possibly fathom. They were not dead, diseased, or posing any apparent danger. And all the missing canopy compromises my view (notice the “my”), making it less attractive. Being a great tree enthusiast, my initial response was some distress and wishing this were not happening - to say the least!
And thus it presented the perfect opportunity to ask for that miracle to which we’re guaranteed entitlement. In an unpublished transcript of a conversation between Bill Thetford and several others, Bill notes that not once in the Course is a miracle specifically and completely defined. In his own words:
There is no one definition of a miracle in the Course. I always thought that was rather startling. I define a miracle as a shift in perception which removes the blocks to our awareness of love's presence. That is the message of the Course and that is what it is saying, but it doesn't quite combine it in that one sentence. A miracle is a shift in our perception. The fundamental concept is that there is no order of difficulty in miracles. We are simply looking at forms and forms can change. . . .
So how does this miracle-inducing perceptual shift occur? By preferring, looking for and valuing love and wholeness rather than the ego’s separated state featuring fear and “it’s all about me.” Certainly not a mere intellectual process, it is simply a sincere desire to be willing that a miracle occur, wanting to see the entire situation differently - with greater love, kindness, and inherent wholeness - rather than wanting to be right. And given the vastness of the creativity and power inherent in our very being, if that’s what we want, that’s without a doubt what we will receive. The universe always says “yes" to our heart’s desire, be it war or peace.
So back to the trees. The chain saws buzzed and the chipper/shredder screeched as large branches were fed into it, and I kept remembering that I was not required to relinquish my peace just because my ego’s notion of “how things are supposed to be” was being violated. I was not being violated, the fact of wholeness was not being violated, and this could be an occasion of healing, of changed perception, of miracles. I could literally hear and see differently thanks to the way our brains work.
The brain is a pattern-seeking organ and always tries to fit each new experience into some category it recognizes. And the categories we have are the ones we want. If an experience, sensory or internal, doesn’t match a pattern, it falls through the perceptual cracks and simply doesn’t register with us consciously; we literally do not see or hear. For instance, one early spring when the azaleas were all in glorious bloom on our street, I commented to my partner about those beautiful flowers and my hope that he had enjoyed them. His surprised response was that he hadn’t seen any flowers. Conversely, he asked me not long after if I had ever noticed the interesting little out-buildings (he was, among other things, a general contractor) behind all the fast food eateries. I said I had never seen such a thing. In both cases, what we were not interested in, what didn’t match a preference, was literally invisible. It did not register because it was not a priority. Endlessly we presume others see what we see, hear what we hear, value what we value and they don’t. They are responding to their own matrix of brain patterns, priorities and conditioning, and much of the programming we lug along with us includes a substantial quotient of fear and guilt. And therein lies the problem. Primarily, we have sought and found proof of fear-inducing separation rather than stillness and peace of mind. Hardly a prescription for happiness.
Now the good news is that we get to change our preferences, our filters for perceiving, and the Course lessons are designed exactly for that purpose. We can learn to prefer and value the commonality of all things and their inherent loving nature and refuse the ego a vote. And since miracles are expressions of love, we simply need to make giving and receiving love the essential priority in our lives.
Our world of form is a mirror and no one can negotiate with that fact. It will always reveal what we really prefer, not that to which we give lip service. Thus, through practicing forgiveness, seeing that everything is actually harmless and remains part of the greater whole, we gradually shift our notions of ourselves. And if we are doing no harm, we might be lovable after all. We steadily transform the way we regard ourselves and others - from being lowly, unimportant creatures to being magnificent, deserving and lovable. We are literally cooperating in a reprogramming process and the conditions of our world keep steady pace.
Inevitably, the forms change as Bill notes above. And sometimes the new, improved forms - the people that show up, the opportunities suddenly before us - seem to appear out of the blue. Not at all! They are simply the upgraded forms - situations or people, subjective experiences - that correspond to our increased capacity to love ourselves and others. They do not appear because we are clever, work hard, know the right people, or have mastered the art of negotiation, but because the forms are exact mirrors of our increasingly truthful ideas about ourselves and that desire to see all things as part of an infinite whole.
So, what stupendous news! I can choose to regard the neighbors as doing what they thought best, what they believed kept them safe, and honor that. For my part, I now hardly notice and my peace is not disturbed. Instead of labeling the new view as barren or ugly, I regard it simply as different and all is well, if I even notice it at all. The Course reminds us that all encounters are potentially helpful, especially when they “encourage” a more charitable outlook. The main thing to keep foremost in mind is that we are all equally entitled to miracles, tree lovers or not, because we are all equally lovable in truth and our grand mission is to find that out!
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