The Cabin and A Course of Love: Freedom
It was in the summer of 2005 that my beloved cabin’s construction was complete. In this month, I am spending my first time there, alternating between the interior work of painting and staining, and the equally interior work of contemplation and writing. With my first opportunity of sustained time for being with Jesus again, he began to guide me to understand my experience of the Course and how to live it going forward.
We are particularly focused on the Forty Days of The Dialogues. I find this period and these writings to be so full of heart and wisdom, that when I get a chance to put it together, I’m going to publish it as “A Cabin and A Course of Love.” (I’ll let you know when that happens.)
The conversation began in this way:
August 22, 2005
I’ve had a new thought this morning. It came about because of thinking of Ian (my son) coming home from Virginia. I suppose because Angie (my daughter) brought up going to a scrapbooking class on August 31 and I said that it wouldn’t be a good time because of Ian just getting home then. Later I thought of the First Friday Group and that I might want to go just to have something to do to get away…to say “I have a life too.” To say, “I’m not just ‘available’ all the time. I have a life, things I do.”
That was when I realized: I have a life. Not a life of doing things. Not a life I have to defend. Not a life I have to fill up as a defense. Not a life that only makes sense and feels complete when I’ve got things to do. Not a life built around saying no…or yes for that matter.
I have a life. I’m in possession of my life. Is that freedom?
Oh, Jesus. How can it be so simple?
I began to “feel bad” last night after our talk about freedom because I didn’t “do anything” to try to experience freedom. I began to tell myself what a slacker I am. That you give me these things to do and I don’t do them. I don’t sit with them. I just carry on. But I cut my recriminations a little short. I was too tired for them. Yesterday was my first twelve-hour cabin day: two coats of primer on both walls, sanding, two coats of the yellow. Now today, two coats of the blue and the painting will be done.
As I finished up after our talk yesterday, freedom was on my mind. What is it? I’m wondering. What does it feel like? As I kept working, I did know that it isn’t freedom from work. I kind of had that sense that it didn’t have to do with what I did or didn’t do. . . .
How like to receiving the Course our conversations feel in certain ways. The main way is the lack of desire to “go back.” I printed out a few of our conversations and read them, but for the main, I haven’t. I almost feel like I can’t. There’s forward movement going on. That’s the way I always felt with the Course. How could I “go back” when what I had received had already taken me somewhere else and I was different?
And yet how odd that now, when I return to the 40 Days, you talk of power and right on the first page you say, “I am giving you cause for movement.”
When I gave my Beatitudes presentation at Centering Prayer, Dave talked about how in the first four Beatitudes there was no movement, and how there was movement in the last four. The first four are about, more or less, the growth of the human into maturity. I believe it is the fifth at which Fr. Keating says most humans get halted and never move further. They never move from “reason” to “intuitive consciousness or unity consciousness.”
So, I’m glad for this feeling of forward movement although my forgetfulness, which remains as strong as it was during the time of the Course, sometimes makes me wonder. How odd that this might be “part of it,” part of the forward movement, not getting stuck in the last lesson, but moving on to the next.
Let’s start with having your own life. This feeling of freedom that doesn’t feel like a feeling, doesn’t feel like anything you do, doesn’t feel like anything you’ve grasped or gotten an awareness of. You just became aware this morning that you “have a life.” It’s not what you expected at all. Not the “presence” that you expected freedom to feel like.
When I speak of presence and aspects of presence, you still think of them as something “other than you,” as if presence exists “out there,” like the wind, and if you sit still or put yourself in the right spot, it will sweep over you and you will know it is there.
In the stillness, at times, you have indeed felt presence sweep over you and known it to be God. At such times you don’t even associate this presence with me. You feel touched by the hand of God, the breath of God. The strongest of these feelings, when you felt inside of the knowing of God, you have never doubted. At other times, the feeling of connection that brings tears to your eyes, that you have described as feeling plugged in, these you don’t make as much of. “YOU” are aware of connection, aware of God’s presence, and it feels sweet and sad and touching, and you are glad for it, and sometimes this makes you think of me, but this is not quite what it was to feel inside God’s knowing.
Now you have felt what I am calling an aspect of both humanity and divinity—freedom—as yourself, as having a life. You have felt this in a way that is not “other than you” at all. In this sense, it is like being inside the knowing of God, only you are inside of the knowing of yourself. It is a different feeling but a very important one. It is very much what is meant by “being it.”
“Being it” is almost impossible to describe, and this is why, it is so very important, that you have experienced freedom as having a life. You have interiorized an aspect of yourself—your humanity and your divinity. It didn’t feel like a “big deal.” It came in the most ordinary of ways. But it came. We spoke of freedom and you did not “try” to know freedom. You carried on. In the morning you “got it” that freedom is, as you put it, having a life.
My words are not important for you to remember. But this is. You have remembered who you are. Now your “real life” begins.