The holidays are nearly over — New Year's Eve is yet to be celebrated. Did all the planning and preparation turn out as you liked? All those important details that took over our lives with untold distractions can now be filed away neatly like the Christmas cards.
The greatest gift I ever received happened during a busy Christmas in 1986. We never know when an experience will come that erases all doubt about whom we are — why are we here and who cares anyway. A revelation is not by its nature permanent, but it can be reflected upon and remembered when we are challenged or overcome by fear or even death. I have had several "mystical" experiences over the years but the one that changed my mind about the nature of reality happened on a cold, gray misty afternoon in San Francisco in 1986.
In April of that year I began to study the workbook lessons of the spiritual book, "A Course In Miracles." The Course contains a text and also a workbook that offers 365 lessons, one for each day of the year. Students are encouraged to read a lesson every day and practice it with the purpose of seeing through the ego and false perceptions, with the promise of attaining inner peace. Inner peace had been elusive for me as I searched in vain, consuming various books and spiritual practices. None had worked. Now, I promised myself I would read one lesson each day even if I did not fully understand it and that was one promise I kept.
In mid-December I was running office errands, and repeating the day's lesson. I have reflected on it over the years but it was probably Lesson 245. Your peace is with me, Father. I am safe.
"Your peace surrounds me Father. Where I go, Your peace goes there with me. It sheds its light on everyone I meet. I bring it to the desolate and lonely and afraid. I give Your peace to those who suffer pain, or grieve for loss, or think they are bereft of hope and happiness. Send them to me, my Father. Let me bring your peace with me. For I would love Your Son, as is Your Will, that I may come to recognize my Self."
The holiday decorations and bustling shoppers helped warm the afternoon fog. At O'Farrell Street, I noticed a group of homeless people gathering in front of Macy's and in particular a young woman with a baby. I thought, "That could be Mary and Jesus, needing a place to stay, cold and hungry with no manger available." She was writing a sign while holding the baby with in one arm. I put a dollar in my pocket. Getting nearer, I noticed her long, red, curly hair and fair skin. Placing the dollar by her hand I said "God Bless." She looked up saying "Thank you" in the warmest voice I have ever heard. Our eyes locked. My gift was puny in comparison to what she gave. While looking down into her eyes, I saw brilliant great rays of light streaming heavenward. It was if I did not have a head because looking down at her I could see into heaven. I was stunned and stepped back shocked. Tearfully stumbling up the street I wondered, "What was that?" Back at the office I tried to talk but couldn't find the words. Much later I learned the course speaks of the "Great Rays" — "As the ego would limit your perception of your brothers to the body, so would the Holy Spirit release your vision and let you see the Great Rays shining from them, so unlimited that they reach to God."
I have received many lovely gifts and words cannot really do justice to any mystical experience. It may even be scoffed at, but it left me knowing what is real: God Is; heaven Is. This world and its distractions are the illusion, the fantasy. At the time, I wrote a poem now posted at www.innerpeaceforyou.me.
Sally McKirgan facilitates one of the five Course In Miracles study groups in the Rogue Valley. Send 600 to 700 word inner peace articles to: firstname.lastname@example.org.