Monday, June 29, 2009

Ultra-retreat - day 15

I just found out I won $300 at Maryville Marathon!

Every year, I notice that there are too many of some type of animal. Last year it was frogs. This year, I think there are way more bunny rabbits than usual. I cringe at how I will see them smashed on the road.

Lesson: "Peace to my mind. Let all my thoughts be still."

Yesterday I mentioned letting go of control. That implied I was turning control over to God. Is it any wonder that I love A Course in Miracles for almost daily reminding me of God’s presence; and that all I need do is be quiet and listen to His Voice (instead of my ego voice). I would otherwise be panicked, as many are when they have no work.

Text 7.III:

- To be in the Kingdom is merely to focus your full attention on it.
- God has lit your mind Himself, and keeps your mind lit by His light because His light is what your mind is.
- Inspiration is of the Holy Spirit…He is in you…

What beautiful teachings Jesus had for me today. I really need to let God in, believe He is in my mind and my mind is in His.

During the run today, I thought a lot about the plumbing, the upcoming Psycho Psummer 50k and “is it ok for me to keep running like this?” I may shift my retreat more towards contemplation and taper for the Psycho. It is a grueling hot muddy race that will take me more than 8 hours to finish. I also need to plan a day for the plumbing (in case it takes me that long). I am able to fix the problem, but I usually have to make a trip to the hardware store right in the middle of everything.

Is it ok for me to keep running like this? Shoot! I can’t run like this to begin with. How it is that I am is beyond me. "Should I keep going?" may be a metaphysical question. Many laid off people are spending the summer carrying out their dreams. Running a self transcendence race is my dream. People do odd things over long periods of time to achieve a different reality than the everyday. I am changing my reality by running, silence and contemplation. I want to go down a layer of reality; to live outside the everyday illusion.

It is weird to finish off a 5 hour run in the hot sun, wishing you could keep going. My self transcendence is long and slow: not one humongous jolt, but daily mileage increases, drinks of water, electrolytes and peanut butter/honey sandwiches. Running down a long straight flat dirt road with corn fields on each side, deer flies attacking my legs, and sweat dripping down my face, IS the epitome of being as far as I’m concerned. This runner will win freedom from the ego norms and perceptions. This runner is my essence, pristine human elegance; the heart of my soul.

I spent a couple of hours a day directly on God when I was working. Now, I spend hours directly on God, but also spend the running time concentrating on the lesson. What a gob of time I don't spend on the ego world; but delving deeper into God. This is my addiction.

Now, I need to go think...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ultra-retreat - Day 14

Today, I jog/walked 17 miles in the morning and walked 4 miles in the afternoon.

For the week, I jog/walked 112 miles and walked 19

For the ultra-retreat so far, 14 days: 243 miles

It is for self transcendence. I realize it is nonsense to spend time doing miles for no apparent reason; but that is part of the reason (allowing nonsense to rule my life). I am letting go of my mind's limits while I do miles. I don’t need to be socially acceptable right now, so I let the insanity surface and then let it go. When I was in college, my nick name was Spock. Now, I am letting the wild side out. Being free is the one thing I can afford right now. I think about my life. I think about society. I think about spirituality. All this thinking is a process of integration. As I walk along, some part of my brain sorts the pieces, leaves some in the dust, puts some together. I think about why I eagerly run some races and scoff at others. That is a microcosm of my life. To do these miles in solitude helps me hear the quieter voices.

All of my life, I have been in control. Now, I am looking for a job, but that is the only practical thing I am doing. Otherwise, it is sheer contemplation.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 13 - Something

I really really really want Something. I experienced that deep desire today and cried over it. I'm sure it is God (that sounds so hokey); but the desire is more easily understood if I call it Home. Home = God. I am running Home. Self transcendence leads to Home; or why bother?

And then I sit aghast and in silence; surrounded by that loving Presence which I call Jesus or Christ or Holy Spirit or Self. And I do not think but allow myself to be drowned or dissolved or permeated such that just the One remains as pure existence, being without measure, incomparable light.

I choke at the Call. I sob at the Gift. Gratitude doesn't come within a quantum of expressing Our Union. Is the Union a thing I feel? No. It is a thing I know. Do not mistake it for bliss or ecstasy. It is the result of sweat, horseflies, endless miles of hills in a sunny swelter (Mark Z., this is why you love the heat). It is the result of silence and one pointed thinking of the one Fact: I am God's Child. I am God's Creation. God is my Authority and the Author of my life.

I know in silent contemplation. I know in the footfalls on a cinder path. I know in the meager bowl of lentils and rice which is my reward.

Tomorrow I will run again!


Day 13 of Ultra-retreat – Outrageous

Spirit Flower, get out of here! Another 20 miles? Shish!

I got up at 3 and did my spiritual work. You would think an unemployed person would sleep in a lot more than I do; but so far at least half the time I'm up at 3, and up at 4 for the other half. Runners will do anything to get their run in. At 4:30, I went and ran 10 miles, all running, no walk/jog, 80F and humid. I was in a hurry because I needed to get to Kansas City by 8 am for a fellowship meeting. But, this run felt really good. I was surprised. I’m wondering why things weren’t hurting or stiff or something. The only excitement, sort of, was that on one little loop, there was a big dog laying by the side of the road, panting and gasping as if it was about to die. I decided to turn around and not mess with that dog. You never know what a gasping panting dog is really up to. The next lap, it wasn’t there.

I had some fresh juice for the car trip to KC. I got there in time to go to the coffee shop, buy some produce and get to the meeting on time. Besides the juice and coffee, I also had three pieces of bread and some spirulina/chlorella. That is all I ate until now, after my second run.

I made it back home at 11. Now it was 92F with a breeze, still humid. I decided to go ahead and tackle at least 2 hours of walk/jog, just to get my mind around the idea of running in the heat. I just took water, 2 S-caps and the emergency Gu. I really did well. I thought I should be much more tired or sore or something. I think Mark Z., Battlefield Running Blog, has infected me with his love for heat. The heat really wasn’t bad.

Total for the day: 20 miles
Total for the Ultra-retreat: 222 miles

The past few days I have been running around and around a hilly park. Some ask if that is boring. Routes don’t really matter to me because running is the activity, not site seeing. But running laps is like being in a monastic cell; and I lived in one for 4 years. By restricting the outer distractions, you are better able to go inside the mind. Thus, contemplation expands inward not outwards. The monk learns to go on journeys through the infinite inner but never leave his cell. When I have nothing going on to look at, I am very well focused on my spiritual/ metaphysical work. And you should know that this means I am not using my ego to think about anything. The inner landscape is silent. It is also pure joy, but not in a noisy sort of way.

From the Little Rule of St Romuald:

“Sit in your cell as in paradise;
put the whole world behind you and forget it…
…realize you are in God’s presence;
hold your heart there in wonder…
Empty yourself completely;
Sit waiting, content with God’s gift…

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spirit Flower’s Personal Self Transcendence Race, day 12

Day 12 walk/jog: 13.5 miles

Race mileage total (walk/jog and walking): 198 miles

Today I did it again. I thought that because yesterday was 20 miles in one jog/walk then I should ease up today. So I went to the park thinking I’d only stay about 2 to 2 ½ hours. I took only water, 1 S-cap and the 1 emergency Gu. After a brisk 30 minutes walking warm up, I felt ok. It was warm and probably 100% humidity because there was this fog everywhere. As it lightened up, the fog added a mystery to my run; the mystery of why and the mystery of ability.

Today’s lesson: Only my condemnation injures me. My early morning meditation had been about fear. I saw clearly how at least 90% of my thoughts are fear related, even down to fear of running injuries. I thought about how I myself had told someone that joy was the best injury prevention. I surely believe that thinking proceeds occurrence and my fear thoughts could be holding a running injury or running out of money due to unemployment. I realized that I wasn’t completely trusting the Holy Spirit; yet there I was completing another long run for the 12th day in a row when I previously had not had the capability. “Something” is showing me.

Then, the lesson kicked in. Is it not a wonderfully joyful thought: just stop condemning and I will stop injuring myself? It crossed my mind that I was out there on water alone, pretty much, so my source could only be Source. This is true: Source is source and nothing else. I thought about how the calorie count has gone down the past few days and wonder if I’m not switching more and more to Source as my source.

I am in a Personal Self Transcendence Race. I am not training for some future event. My race is going on right now. Transcendence is really a mental thing. That is, thinking some other way, with some non-ego part of the mind, under the Guidance of the Holy Spirit. If I change my thinking, I’ll see different things in my ego illusion I think is a real world. I really think that most human thought is not productive but especially harmful when it comes to each other. I personally am changing the way I think because I’m really sick of thinking attack thoughts and fear thoughts. Given the proper teaching and guidance and discipline and desire, thinking can be changed. The ultra-retreat is a race to change my thinking. Since I am not at work, I have time to work almost exclusively on this. The race takes place in the park with incredible daily mileage and on the internet with every search and submittal. It takes place when I listen to the news and when I sit on my cushion in silent meditation. I’ve been given a gift of time to do this race.

Most people think they are out of work due to the economic downturn. On the ego surface of my life, that is the excuse I use too. But inside my heart, I am sure I was given a gift, picked as it were, to spend time in intensive mental change. Source must be my source. The Holy Spirit must be my guide and friend in whom I trust. I am switching from an ego based thought system to the Holy Spirit’s thought system. In the spiritual thought system, God is only Love; every one is a creation of Love and nothing else (no matter what my worldly eyes see). I am free to behold the glory of Christ present everywhere.

After 2:10 hours, I still felt really good. I re-filled the Nathan with park water and took the emergency Gu and went for another 45 minute lap. If I had brought one more S-cap, I might have dared another lap.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ultra retreat - Day 11, Awakening

Today’s lesson: It can be but my gratitude I earn.

I started off not knowing what this meant saying to Jesus, “gratitude confuses me.” Then I thought, “I blame ACIM for my unemployment.” That is, ACIM (A Course in Miracles) breaks the ego world’s rules, so the world punished me by having me laid off. I fear being in the world but outside it’s rules.

But Jesus says the world is grateful to me for the salvation work I’m doing. Here begins awakening: What if I changed my mind and decided the world was grateful to me for learning ACIM?

I became belligerent against my ego. Job or no job, the world is an illusion. Just dismiss the ego. Stop listening. Stop believing in it. Decide I don’t know what this situation is for. Here occurred an actual fluttering of eyelids to the light of the real world (not the ego world): What if I didn’t do anything wrong? What if nobody did anything wrong? This is self (ego) transcendence at its finest. It is the reason I came to my personal self transcendence race.

What if Self/Christ really is grateful for my attempts to awaken? Why was this an awakening? Because my thought about not doing anything wrong came spontaneously from inside a part of my mind which is not the ego part of my mind. I believe it to be a real thought, not an ego thought. It is the sort of thought that questions the ego propaganda about my body and this world being real and God hating me. Questioning the ego, with heartfelt authenticity, is the beginning of the end for the ego. It doesn’t have unquestioned power over my thinking and the Holy Spirit now does have influence.

Its like this: I think I am a piece of crap. Now, most people tell me that is silly. I’m nice and fun and smart and spiritual; and I shouldn’t think that. Last November when I was depressed, I can’t tell you how many fellowship members told me not to kill myself because they come early on Saturday mornings just to hear me! But I do think I am a piece of crap, and no matter what people say, I still think I’m a piece of crap. Thinking I am a piece of crap is insane thinking; and it is clearly ego thinking. The ego clearly wants me to think that. But…suddenly one day…what if I honestly asked the question: what if I’m not a piece of crap? Wouldn’t that change things? Well, yes it would. It has dawned on me that I might not be a piece of crap. In the same way, Jesus' teaching from ACIM dawns on me: what if I'm not really a separate being?

Jesus in ACIM tells us over and over: the separation never happened, you are only love, God is only love, this world is an illusion made by the ego that thinks it is separate from God. But until you are able to ask the question from deep in your heart instead of at a superficial, what Jesus says will more or less bounce off. Until I’m ready to honestly consider the possibility that I haven’t done anything wrong; hence there is no separation and I’ve accepted Atonement for myself, I can listen to Jesus but won't really believe him. I come to a place of joy: maybe I’m accepting Atonement for myself. Jesus says that the one responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept Atonement for themselves. What if I really can? I have evidence: I honestly questioned my ego.

What if my experience of world really is a bad dream and the truth about me is that I exist as pure love in the Heart of God who is also only pure love, pure existence? Seriously, what if that is true?

All is quiet. All is love. Peace be with you.

Off topic thought: I may actually be able to have a reality with no visible means of support and live as a full time hermit and metaphysicist. Talk about being outside the ego world's rules, this is way outside.

New topic: Personal Self Transcendence Race - Day 11 (wow!)

Today was a breakthru.

First, yesterday was not a breakthru. I was tired and wondering if my ultra retreat was not silly and I should do something else. I had a sore ankle (of all things) and decided to slack off. That meant, I walked the first two hours of my 14 mile jog/walk. I took it back to the hilly course because it was mostly dirt. Then in the afternoon, we had a torrential storm when I wanted to go for my walk so I walked on the tm for an hour.

Today, I woke up feeling great. I went back to the hilly course and jogged much more than yesterday. I thought I was feeling good enough to maybe go for five hours tomorrow, but after 3:40 hours today (already longer than I've been doing) I still felt good. I had a bottle of water to refill my nathan and one Gu (my emergency Gu) to "pay" for another 50 minutes. So...lets do it. I ended up with 20 miles (6 miles more than I have been doing).

This week, I decided to stop using Gu and Sports drink because it was too expensive and too wasteful. So I went to water, pb and honey sandwiches and 1 S-cap electrolyte. This has been working well. I use up about 2 liters of water for 3 1/2 hours.

I am doing this crazy multi-day run for self transcendence. I've had many interesting mental breakthrus. That I went farther today means that maybe my fitness is building and my project is headed in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ultra-retreat Day 8

I got up at 3 am to do my morning meditation and then do the running starting at 5:30.

Thoughts from morning meditation:
- I can believe I am cared for, or be bitter.
- I can walk in love and gratitude, or fear. I can believe the Holy Spirit is my guide, or not. If I chose to follow the Holy Spirit, I can walk in love and gratitude. Otherwise, I’ve chosen to follow the ego and live in fear and hatred and anger.
- Dear Jesus, please purify my thinking.
- God placed “something” in my mind.
- I’ve decided to hear only one Voice, the Voice for God.
- I have to believe I hear the Voice and am guided by it, or else I am dead meat for the ego. If I believe I hear the Voice and am guided by It, wouldn’t I be grateful, happy and in love?
- My ego thinks these ideas about the Voice are stupid, Pollyann-ish, and naive. It is hard to choose the Voice because the world says it can’t be, you are wrong.

However, while I was out running, I was remarkably able to distinguish between the Voice and the ego’s attack thoughts. I was remarkably able to realize that God would not think like that and the change the thinking to the day’s lesson, or ask the Voice what it would be saying. I was remarkably capable of staying awake and keeping my thoughts from going unconscious and dwelling in hatred, fear or resentment.

While running, I wondered about my “crazy” plan to do a private self transcendence race. I realized I need to be patient. The running is changing me, but I don’t know how yet. I realized I fear it is sinful or somehow defying God to run like this everyday. Like, who do I think I am running with impunity. But, these fears eased as I chose to listen to the Voice and to walk in love.

I came home and right away mowed the lawn. Then, yipee, I got a shower. Yesterday, I had patched the tub and had to let it dry 24 hours; so my body was a little yucky.

After the shower, I was somewhat procrastinating getting busy with my job search. Then I thought, “Be excited about your own future and the good God has for you.” If I believed that wonderful things were sitting and waiting for me to do my part, wouldn’t I rush to do my part? Yes, so the problem is ambivalence: do I really believe I will be guided and helped? Then, I got busy and ended up spending nearly three hours working on one application without even realizing how long it took.

During my hour of silent meditation I thought: During meditation, if you listen only to the Voice, but you seemingly hear nothing, that is authentic. The Voice for God speaks quietly in my heart.

I have been eating a lot today. I may in a few moments go out on the back porch and walk on the treadmill. It is hot out there, but cooler than outside and I have a fan.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ultra Retreat day 7

Today’s lesson 214: I place the future in the hands of God.

SF reflection: I just love being able to do this. I love how ACIM continually reminds me of God and to turn my life over. I am so happy when I do this. As a person in transition, I love working with God instead of listening to the news and being dejected.

The past is gone; the future is not yet. Now am I freed from both. For what God gives can only be for good. And I accept but what He gives as what belongs to me.”

From Text 5.V:

V.7 Irrational thought is disordered thought. God Himself orders your thought because your thought was created by Him. Guilt feelings are always a sign that you do not know this. They also show that you believe you can think apart from God, and want to. … The purpose of the Atonement is to save the past in purified form only. If you accept the remedy for disordered thought, a remedy whose efficacy is beyond doubt, how can its symptoms remain?

V.8.4 What you want you expect.

VI.2.8 My (Jesus’) role is to unchain your will and set it free.

VII. 1.4 …you need merely cast your cares upon Him (God) because He careth for you.

VII. 5 Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God’s creations…6. …you must have already decided not to be wholly joyous if that is how you feel…you actively decided wrongly…Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace.

SF reflection: I spent my run working on the lesson and then deciding to be wholly joyous instead of worried about the future. In some ways, I don't know what joy is. But if I shut my mind up, I could sense a universal hymn of joy silently present everywhere. I could tap into that joy. I could ask Jesus what joy is or for help feeling it. Then I would feel a calm inside wherein rested an assurance of God's love and protection. Feeling safe, I felt joy. Knowing I'm protected doesn't mean I am special to God because God protects everyone. It is a matter of learning God's lessons and believing they are all good.

Also while running, I decided that I am a practicing spiritualist, metaphysicist, supported by God's Hands. I just am. I think I am so I am. A practicing spiritualist is what I've always wanted to be. This time of transition is provided for me to be intensive in my training and my practice. So there!

I am having a tiny bug invasion at my house: millions of little bugs. They don’t bite me but they are everywhere. So, I kill them. Clean them up. Bomb the house. Clean it up. And do it again if necessary. I asked God, “What am I learning from this?” Each of these bugs is a symbol of my negative ego doom and gloom thoughts. My killing and cleaning is the practice of turning these over to Jesus and then thinking with God, practicing forgiveness (seeing holiness, Christ presence and joy no matter what). I have millions of these thoughts and I’ll have to go through this procedure many times. But eventually, it won’t be a problem.

Hah! It is hot here. I continued my ultra-retreat today with 14 miles jog/walk in an 85 degF humid soup. One young doe observed very close to me. I applied for jobs online. Now, I need a nap. The high today is supposed to be 96 (ouch).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ultra retreat day 7, am

Lesson 213: All things are lessons God would have me learn.

A lesson is a miracle which God offers to me, in place of thoughts I made that hurt me…”

Text 5.IV and V:

- …hold nothing against him (your brother), or you hold it against yourself…

SF's reflection: This is very valuable to remember when I want to resent my former boss or anyone that has a job.

- I (Jesus) place the peace of God in your heart and in your hands, to hold and share. The heart is pure to hold it…My (Jesus’) judgment is as strong as the wisdom of God, in Whose Heart and Hands we have our being…The Thoughts of God are with you.

SF’s reflection: This is very valuable because I need to remember my holiness and the presence of God. I am not alone or uncared for or unloved.

- The ego’s purpose is fear…

SF’s reflection: I need this information when I am afraid. Feeling fear means I have forgotten God and am listening to my ego berate me and hurt me. I don’t need to be beaten down.

- The ego is the symbol of the separation…the symbol of guilt…a fearful thought…

SF’s reflection: Feeling the ego’s fear and accusations of what a bad person I am, I remember that none of it is true. There can be no separation from God; that is insane. I need Jesus’ help to return to my right mind, but the opportunity is there.

- Whatever you accept into your mind has reality for you…you must learn to think with God.

SF’s reflection: When I think there are no jobs and that nothing good will ever happen to me, it is because I chose to believe the yammering of the ego world. I am not thinking with God and it is time to choose again.

- The ego believes that by punishing itself it will mitigate the punishment of God.

SF’s reflection: The ego came into being as a thought that wanted to be separate from God and therefore individual. The ego also feels guilty for fabricating this dream of individual existence apart from God. The ego part of me believes that losing my job is a punishment I’ve accepted in order to avoid God’s punishment. I’ll never see the free gifts of enlightenment and well being offered during this time as long as I believe the ego.

SF’s reflection: We are not separate from God, but are dreaming that we are. The ego makes the dream in order for it to have existence separate from God. The ego feels guilty for stealing its existence from God and its thought system proceeds from this guilt. The world is my projection of the guilt I feel. Oh man, it is so easy for me to think my job loss and the economic downturn are self punishment for guilt. But really, they are for learning that God loves me and “Something” cares for me. I am always safe in IT’s hands. It is easy to say, “Jesus loves me;” but to mean it, to really know it, that is different. It is easy to talk about how meaningless money and material stuff is as long as you can pay for yours; but to live the journey of letting go and finding the Higher Thing, that is something different. I am given the gift of finding the Higher Thing. I bow before it. It is actually the holiness of everyone in the world, the Sonship. We were all created by God, though not physically, but God is present in each and it is this I bow before.

If I am learning anything from being unemployed, it is: God loves me and will help me. I cannot lose hope in God. There is a storefront for me. I am not limited. I cannot keep assuming that only bad things are going to happen. I have to remember I’ve always been cared for in the past.

110 days to Heartland Prairie

Results for first week of ultra-retreat:
- Miles at jog/walk speed in the morning = 88
- Miles walking in the afternoon = 25

Today, I did exactly the same route as Friday, only 15 minutes faster; without pushing anything.

Daily schedule for week two (hot weather):
4 to 6 Study ACIM, make juice
6 to 9:30 Weights and jog/walk
9:30 to 10 Shower
10 to 1 eat, take care of business, write
1 to 2 Silent meditation
2 to 3 Chores
3 to 5 Walk
5 to 8 eat, write, study

No, I don't know where I am going or what good this exactly is. But I have concluded that I will have help from a bigger mind than mine. I am always cared for and I am right now. I have no limits on what it is I'll be doing in the future. But, I need to give that bigger mind a chance to correct a few flaws in my thinking before I move on.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ultra-retreat Day 6

I was up at 3 this morning. During my spiritual study, I said to Jesus, “I believe I am an idiot.” That is, I am unemployed and spending my time running 4 hours a day. That is idiotic. The gift however, is the processing I do in this spare time. Part of the beauty of an “ultra-retreat” is to listen to all the junk in my head so I can get it out; stop giving it power over me. The retreat is a picture frame of what we all think, but don't have time to do anything about, so we push it down to the unconscious.

At 4:10, I left for Parkville and ran 10 miles once I got there. Then, I zipped to the grocery store and made it to the fellowship meeting by 8 am.

The fellowship meeting was on fear. So many there discussed financial insecurity and how we deal with our thoughts and trust God; and let go of the material things. God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Coming home, eating, I had this to say, “Dear Jesus, I am in your hands. I have fear of the unknown. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know which doors are open. I feel like a failure.”

Then I went to the door and put on my shoes. I thought, “God hates me.” This thought was an honest deep down disclosure, honestly said to Jesus. I think everyone thinks this, but few are able to consciously experience it.

Then I went for a 7 mile walk/jog. I was thinking about the high price of going to the Boston Marathon. I was thinking about the security guard job I could get at a children’s hospital. I am wondering what is really important to me. Why would I go to Boston, other than I can, or to have a souvenir which I could show to everyone. I need to go deeper into who I am. This brought up the other part of today’s lesson, “I am not a body. I am free. I am still as God created me.”

I was thinking about the meeting on fear. I realized the fear didn’t start at the material level. It starts at some other level. I thought about my thought, “God hates me.” I realized I am very close to where Jesus wants me to get when I am a serious Course student. The only real fear is fear of God. I think God hates me, and I made the gut level admission. From there, its not too hard to admit I am afraid of Him. This is the root of the fear. But I went toe to toe with Jesus, looked him in the eye and told him I think God hates me. Jesus can shine his light on this and heal it.

I assume I am afraid of God. It makes logical sense. But I haven’t felt it. It is still disassociated. Studying the Course, I know that Jesus will take me by the hand and gently lead me through the fear. The main thing is that I be willing to go with him. God doesn’t hate me and there is nothing to be afraid of; the fear of God is my insanity.

If I was not experiencing the “economic downturn” as one of the unemployed, I wouldn’t be doing the work to dig out my fear. What I see in the world is the projection of my fear. I am on the way to having it healed. This is a good thing. Because of this possibility, I think I chose, at the spiritual level, to be laid off. I am willing to go through the fear so others don’t have to.

This is the Course: look at the world and realize it is a projection/illusion of your own thoughts. Take responsibility and give it to Jesus. He will help you have different dreams. Spending all this time looking at my thoughts and giving them to Jesus is the truth of how I am spending my time while I am unemployed. This unraveling of ego thoughts is necessary in order for me to live at the level of spirit instead of ego. I want to listen to the Voice for God instead of the ego. All this thinking is a practice in discernment.

“Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.” (ACIM Text 1.I.7)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ultra-retreat - 5, pm

I went for a 50 minute walk this afternoon. I noticed as I hiked down the hill to the park that my quads are still unhappy. Unhappy quads do not do a very good job of keeping knees properly aligned. So I will stay on flat roads for my morning jogs. I really really enjoyed what I did this morning.

On to the metaphysics:

I am a Course student (A Course in Miracles). This means that I am serious about learning the Course material. The Course's premier practice is “forgiveness.” Course students do not forgive sins; but they practice seeing only holiness and innocence, using Christ vision, because no sin ever happened. God only created the holy. Nothing else exists. What we humanly think of as sins are really mental errors which need correction by Jesus. Hence the second Course practice is for me to bring all my mental errors (grievances and fears) to Jesus for correction.

If Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself;” then anyone should understand perfectly why I am a Course student. The Course offers the most clear cut directions I’ve ever studied about how to get the junk about myself out of my mind, and how to get the junk I think about others out of my mind.

So, I come to the great gift I’ve received in being temporarily unemployed. The opportunities for resentment abound; but I am a serious Course student, hence I recognize that the opportunities for practicing authentic, genuine, heart true forgiveness abound also. It is more important to me to learn forgiveness than to have financial security; because the world is an illusion anyway.

Step 1: In looking at myself, I see that my ego whispers to me, “You must have done something wrong or you would not have been laid off. There is some flaw in you.” This is not true even on the material world level. According to the Course, I did nothing wrong and have never done anything wrong: because the world is an illusion. So, see only holiness and innocence in myself. Deny the ego its power by not believing it, but believing Jesus instead.

Step 2: “They” didn’t do anything wrong either. They are the Holy Son of God who can bless me endlessly if I give them their holiness and innocence back by seeing only that in them. I am not a sacrifice or a victim. They are not unfair cheaters or somehow luckier than me. The only truth is the silent presence of God everywhere and in everyone, seen in holiness and innocence.

Step 3: Keep using Christ vision no matter what. In the mean time, follow Jesus guidance both on the mental plane and the physical plane. Wherever it is that I accept employment, it will be where I can be of maximum service to Jesus. That is all that matters.

Thank you Son of God. Thank you Jesus.

Ultra-retreat - 5

I am adrift outside the boundaries of my former life, society, social acceptability, the limits of “training.”

From the ACIM Test (Ch 5, I and II):

- The Holy Spirit is the Christ Mind which is aware of the knowledge that lies beyond perception.
- The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement, or the restoration of the integrity of the mind (from the idea of separation from God).
- The Holy Spirit is the Mind of the Atonement (Jesus is in charge of the Atonement). He (Holy Spirit) represents a state of mind close enough to One-mindedness that transfer to it is at last possible.
- The Holy Spirit is the spirit of joy.
- The Holy Spirit is God’s Answer to the (idea of) separation.
- This Call is so strong that the ego always dissolves at Its sound.
- The Holy Spirit is in you in a very literal sense.
- The Holy Spirit is the radiance that you must let banish the idea of darkness (this world).
- The choice for the Holy Spirit is the choice for God.
- The Voice for God is always quiet because It speaks for peace.
- He is your remaining communication with God…
- I (Jesus) have enjoined you to behave as I behaved, but we must respond to the same Mind to do this. This Mind is the Holy Spirit, Whose Will is for God always. He teaches you how to keep me as the model for your thought, and to behave like me as a result.

The Text for A Course in Miracles is 669 pages; yet here in a couple of chapters, I find almost everything I need for release from the darkness in my mind. Almost all I need do is turn my self, my thinking, over to Jesus and listen exclusively to the Voice of the Holy Spirit within. When I say ACIM is saving my bacon during my period of employment transition, I mean that I am learning to listen to the quiet Voice. Listening to the Voice, I change my thinking and I change the dark world, my ego projection of hate and fear. It becomes possible for me to have a happy dream of Christ Self instead of the ego terror. But, I must stop and learn these new ideas; to put on the Mind of Christ as it were. I must let my mind be taught and put the effort into new lessons. To me, this is salvation: salvation from doom and gloom, and entry into a world of light and peace and joy.

Starting at 6:45 this morning, I went for a 14 mile jog/walk. It was like walking in warm water, humid and 80+ degF. I picked a trekish sort of route, 14 miles in one loop. It was mostly flat and I was jogging very slow. My body was happy with me. My quads had been shot from the hills the previous 4 days, but today they were not stressed.

My mind was on the lesson the whole time: “I am not a body. I am free. I am still as God created me. I am the Holy Son of God Himself.” I thought of myself as a miracle worker: seeing Christ, the Son of God, in everyone. I keep turning my life over to Jesus’ guidance. There is no other positive thing to do: keep the lesson in your mind and listen for Jesus’ guidance. The world is a scary place and I feel powerless over it; unless I am trusting in a Higher Power. It is not that I personally am the Son of God; but all of us are the Son of God. As I say the words to myself, my mind reaches out and connects to the Mind of Christ. This is a comfortable mental condition. This condition keeps me mentally safe and trusting Jesus to guide me.

I found my stride and entered the sea of mental mantra. I allowed my mind to be as on an ocean, adrift with nothing in sight. I stared at the infinite horizon and extended my consciousness into the Mind of the Son of God. To do this is not a solution to worldly problems. It is an impractical place of contemplation, of pure existence. Nothing more. The last 3 miles of my run were on a flat dirt road bordered by foot tall corn. There was not a tree for miles; just me and the sun. It was perfect.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ultra-retreat - 4, evening

It is a question on my mind: Why am I doing this? Who do I think I am? Am I not just ruining myself?

Well, yes: First, I am unemployed and happily collecting a government handout, so for the first time I have time! Second, I have been intrigued for several years by the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race. Those runners develop endurance during the first several days, that sustains them to go 50 to 70 miles a day until they finish the distance.

I want to see what I can do! I want to see what will happen to me. I want to know what I think about. I want to get to the root and ground of my being. I hope to build up to 20 miles a day (5 hours of jog or walk). Then, how long? I don't know yet.

Besides the running, I am spending time in spiritual study and meditation; and mostly alone. I run the ragged edge of complete stupidity and glorious transcendental experience. Who knows where I will fall off.

I went for a 40 minute walk this evening. After about 20 minutes, the brilliance of wordless communication illuminated my consciousness.

My ultra-retreat: I intend to destroy, to de-construct my self. That is, return to and become that primitive psyche which ought not be disclosed publicly by the responsible manager of a corporation. The so-called primitive is what I yearn for: cleansed, purely good, pristinely elegant, de-conditioned, peaceful and free.

If I look now, having spent the day on my lesson (I choose the joy of God instead of pain), the most painful thing I can imagine is the educated, obedient, properly religious mind which has been so sought after. This zombie like citizen was the only offer made. It is not me. It is worthless.

To be a full time ultra-runner is to be contemplative. To face the silence of contemplation is to let go of all limits, everything but IT, Life, Self. And then take one more small step further, across the gap…disappearing into...

Ultra Retreat - 4

From ACIM Text Ch 4.VII

- The ego is the part of the mind that believes your existence is defined by separation (from God).

- The part of the mind that is spirit: is in complete and direct communication with its Creator; the mind cannot totally lose the ability to communicate (with God), even though it may refuse to utilize it on behalf of being.

- You are asked to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego.

- I (Jesus) will direct you to wherever you can be truly helpful, and to whoever can follow my guidance through you.

- The Holy Spirit is in your right mind…I (Jesus) can bring Him to you only at your invitation. The higher mind thinks according to the laws spirit obeys, and therefore honors only the laws of God.

- If you can accept the concept that the world is one of ideas, the whole belief in the false association(s) the ego makes (illusions)…is gone.

Monday, I jog/walked 14 miles and walked 4 in the afternoon. On Tuesday, I jog/walked 10 miles and walked 4 in the afternoon. On Wednesday, I jog/walked 14 miles and bagged the afternoon walk due to an electrical storm. Today, Thursday, I jog/walked 14 miles and I don’t know what the afternoon holds.

I am having a private self transcendence race. Transcendence is the point of all this exercise. My mind, my desire, for a couple of days has been on some key points:
a) I want to connect with the part of the mind that is spirit, instead of ego.
b) I want to shift the ideas and thoughts I am using to make the world (including my body).
c) I want to totally rely on Jesus’ guidance and care. In fact, it is a huge relief to me that I can let Jesus handle everything.

When I am out running, I am practicing my ACIM thoughts and lessons. Yesterday’s lesson was a tough one for me: “I feel the love of God within me now.” It was tough because I was in my ego mind and my ego mind can’t connect with God. I felt no love as far as I could tell physically. My ego mind was really hammering me about the job situation. I could repeat the lesson to keep my mind at least off fear; but I kept wondering about the blank wall I seemed to have between me and God. Later in the day, I got an unexpected call from out of the blue, which could lead to a new job. I considered how I felt to have someone care for me like that. I had to say, “Wow! I need do nothing. Love cares for me.” During the phone call, I felt the Love of God.

My job is to direct my thoughts towards spirit and not ego. Other than that, Jesus will guide me to a future employment which is his choice, not mine.

Today’s lesson is “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.” The prayer that goes with it is, “Pain is my own idea. It is not a Thought of God, but one I thought apart from Him and from His Will. His Will is joy, and only joy for His beloved Son. And that I choose, instead of what I made.

My mind has been at peace today. I am not worried. I want to continue my self transcendence race. I want to continue building my fitness, mentally and spiritually. I want to reformulate the ideas I am using to make the world and my body. I can do this with Jesus’ guidance. And, spending the time on this, investing in myself, is quite possibly the reason I was laid off.

It seems quite easy today to look at what I am thinking and decide if it is pain. If it is pain, then I give it to Jesus and instead think about the lesson: choose joy. The Universe, Jesus, Self, Whatever Name, seems to care for me. All through my life, I’ve had experiences which were out of my logical planning and which helped me. Today is no different.

My job is to be in the self transcendence race. I want to live in a world which makes no logical sense; because it is purely love and created by spirit, not my ego.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ultra-retreat – 2

I got up late (5:30) because it was another ferocious thunderstorm outside, and I felt like a shorter run this morning was necessary for healing of fatigue. After studying ACIM, I’m not so sure I need to believe these physical limits. “I am not a body. I am free. I am still as God created me.” I have a plan to get back on schedule.

Lesson 208: The peace of God is shining in me now.

I will be still, and let the earth be still along with me. And in that stillness we will find the peace of God. It is within my heart, which witnesses to God Himself.”

I was looking at the fear my ego offers and the peace Jesus offers. My ego thinks I am in a predicament: no job. What if I question the ego’s opinion? You see, my true position in life right now is safe and neutral. Any fear I feel is an ego projection. My ego continuously tells me to be afraid of the future. I’m coming to see however that the ego’s main fear is that I will realize its fears are false and turn exclusively to the peace Jesus offers.

I read in the Text (Ch 4): God is will merely know God...the Unalterable...

The name of God, the Unalterable, can evoke an image of a wall, rigid judgment, a feeling of fear that God will keep you away because you are bad. This is the image the ego throws up. More quiet and arriving second is the Holy Spirit and Jesus' image: total Love. Love asks you to come without any ego specialness but as the innocent and pure idea of love which you truly are. Of course the ego fears God, because you cannot return to God with the ego.

Instead of dwelling in fear and listening to the ego repeatedly shriek, “What will happen to me?” I admit that my thoughts are literally killing me. When my ego cries out in fear, it is not fear of physical insecurity, but really a fear that I might start to disregard the ego entirely because it lies to me. The ego is terrified I might throw my entire trust and mental investment to the Holy Spirit and Jesus. “Jesus, I need to live in the sunlight of the spirit.” To heal, I turn to the lesson. I feel the peace. The thought of peace keeps me safe. It gives me a place to go in my mind that is not destructive. A place which returns me to God. I don’t need to fix the fearful predicament at the illusion level, that is this world. I can just disregard it and return to God. The ego offers me a list of people to hate in conjunction with its predicament. I can choose to forgive, that is, see everyone only in the sunlight of the spirit and not at the level of illusion. I choose to see everyone as the innocent and pure idea of love which they truly are. This job of forgiveness is my real profession anyway.

I choose not to dwell mentally in fear, but dwell mentally in Jesus’ lesson and its light. I read the prayer and feel its light. I rise up to it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What is Contemplation?

Before I get too serious, above is a shot of me at the finish of the Maryville Marathon.

Now to the topic: Contemplation

What does it mean to be contemplative? There is plenty of stuff you can read in books; official definitions and opinions of authorities. What I say is what it means to me. To me, it means to observe the illusion and then think beyond, or listen beyond, to the abstract existentiality of God, which exists everywhere. This activity is actually what I want to do with my life. While running I watch the runner and look beyond to the runner’s abstract notion; seeking to see the true divine notion living in that illusion.

My summer of ultra-training is a summer of contemplation. It includes not only running, but also the activity of sitting; silent contemplation as it were. I, the contemplative, practice the sitting and look beyond to the essence of myself, pure divine love, spirit alone.

Contemplation is an attractive vocation. Touching, seeing and communicating with that which is beyond is attractive. Like a bee to honey, I sense or know the presence and stop to experience it. No, this is not elation, ecstasy or rapture. I just know the communication happens and I want to do it again.

Ultra-retreat - 1

I got up with the alarm at 4. It is rainy today so I don’t know how the workouts will go.

Prayer for lesson 207: “God’s blessing shines upon me from within my heart, where He abides. I need but turn to Him, and every sorrow melts away, as I accept His boundless Love for me.”

From the Text (3.VII.5.5): “Your creation by God is the only Foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth and you must return to your Beginning.”

From the Text (4.I.4.6): If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me (Jesus), I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.”

I realize that in undertaking an ultra-retreat, I am going against my ego. My ego is terrified of this and is fearfully shrieking about money. Jesus offers to teach me about Love, about my Beginning; if I am willing to let him. Money is my ball and chain. It is my anchor to thinking the world is real. I live in an ego fabrication where most people work because they think they need money and health insurance. Jesus offers a different world, the world of the spirit where these things are meaningless. Obviously, I don’t know how to live like that, but Jesus offers me a path.

In my ultra-retreat, I am at least giving Jesus a chance. My plan is to essentially un-make my prison and learn a better way. My ego offers terror. Jesus offers Love and escape from terror. The problem is that to follow Jesus, I have to give up my ego thought system. I am willing but I haven’t the ability without Jesus.

It is a self transcendence race.

Return to the Beginning: where I remembered God and lived only in His Love. Surrender to Jesus as my Teacher. Realize that God abides in my heart and spend the time in contemplation necessary to grasp the Great Reality which exists within.

There is a line of thunderstorm approaching my location. It will pass and so will my fear. God Love is the only true reality. It and He is the Beginning which I seek.

Probably more later.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A New Chapter

A laid off person has to face their ego. The ego and the Holy Spirit say different things about what seems to be going on in the illusion of the world. The ego informs you that you are worth less than the other people because you go laid off and they didn’t. The Holy Spirit informs you that God would like to start a new chapter in your life. Everything God writes is about remembering Him and entering Heaven. The ego twists everything God writes into fear, hatred, anger and denigration. But we get to choose who we want to follow: ego or Spirit. I choose Spirit.

I realized that God is the Author of my life. What is happening now is a new chapter. I almost believe I am being given yet one more chance to live as God wants me to, outside the box of society. When I got laid off at GM (22 or so years ago) and was involved with Henry Wolfe, I made a try at “you create your own reality.” I gave up and went back to work because I didn’t know how to “sell” myself.

When I quit working for Steve (11 years ago) and had 4 months off, I didn’t really consider “you create your own reality,” but it was an intense spiritual time. It lead to the monastery as I wanted to be a full time contemplative.

Then I got kicked out of the monastery (6 years ago) and was again faced with being a “monk in the world,” I tried writing and gave it effort; but when offered a full time job in my field, I took it for the security.

Now, here I am again. Two people have told me to write. I have the resources to work at it. Through ACIM, I believe I am a practicing metaphysicist even if no one else at the world level knows it. Today I thought, “I can’t write a book, but God could.” That is the bottom line: God is the Author. Here and now I declare: God, I’m open to you. Lets do it. So I’ll do the contemplative work, the metaphysicist work and the literary work. Some day, I will have a new store front. In the meantime, its necessary to discuss my worldly fear with God, but otherwise follow the Guidance. Fear means I don’t trust God. I face this fear and go deeper into it. This fear is an ego manifestation. The Holy Spirit will help me and heal me and I will find light. I will find more than I ever dreamed of.

I am ready for a new chapter and I am much better able to let God write it this time.

I have had a thought in my mind for nearly a year: the day you find out you are laid off, remember to take the icon of Abraham’s Guests home. Last Tuesday, as soon as my boss and the HR lady left my office, I gathered the icon. It is now hanging where I can see it when I lay on my bed. It has been speaking to me. I see the deep contemplation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit throughout eternity. Considering that we are the Son, I participate in the contemplation. It is a picture of true peace.

My marathon yesterday left me tight and a little sore, but no injuries. I walked an hour this morning and will walk again this afternoon. Heartland Prairie 50 miler is 117 days away. The thirteenth annual 3100 mile self transcendence race began today. Tomorrow begins a 30 day ultra-retreat: silent contemplation, jogging, spiritual study. I come to the ultra-retreat as a blank book: no expectations, no desires, merely there and available. I want God to write what He wants.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Outrageous Race

Ran the Maryville Marathon today: 3:57:53. This is a personal best, a Boston Qualifying time, second place women overall, and first place Master’s Women.

It was a foggy day, 60F with a north wind. The race starts at 6:30. It is a small race, maybe 100 counting those doing the half. I wear a sweatshirt up until the start; then lay it to the side but I keep my gloves on. The gloves go into the fanny pack after about 20 minutes.

The Maryville Marathon is a two lapper. During the first lap, I kept my mind on the day’s lesson: I want the peace of God. I just ran this thought over and over through my mind. I kept looking at my watch every mile. The first 3 miles has 3 hills, but the rest of the course has mild, long grades. At three miles, I was at 28 minutes, but at 4 miles I was dead on 36 minutes (9 minutes per mile). Wow, that is fast! I decided to pee after 42 minutes. I was the first one in that box, so it was totally clean. I lost a minute there but I think ultimately it was a good decision. I took Gu every 30 minutes and 3 S-caps (electrolytes).

I kept looking at my watch and marveling at how I was keeping pace. I knew I could run 16 miles that way, but 26? When would I crash? I returned to my lesson and kept it in my mind.

I had 8 oz of Succeed stashed at the starting line for use at the halfway. I got to mile 15 at 2:15. I got to mile 16 at 2:24 and change. That left me 110 minutes to finish 10.2 miles and qualify for Boston. I had cruised the down hills at the first part of the second lap. I began to wonder if the mile markers were not off or something: how could I be going that fast? At mile 17, I decided I was having the race of my life. I needed to throw my heart over the bar. I committed to keeping the pace no matter what, even though I knew I must be trashing my legs.

During the second lap, my mind was filled with another couple of thoughts from the day’s lesson (meaningless to non-ACIM students): “I am not a body. I am free. I am still as God created me.” I kept my mind going over and over these thoughts. It occurred to me that if I kept my thinking from sabotaging the race, my body would do the running of its own accord. So I kept my mind on the thoughts and otherwise concentrated on pumping my arms forward, not side to side. I kept looking at my watch. Despite a long uphill grade for miles 21 and 22, I was not losing time, but keeping the pace.

At mile 23, I had left myself 38 minutes to BQ or 33 minutes to get under 4 hours. Wow, I could go under four hours. I kept my thinking on the straight and narrow. I kept my arms pumping. I was hot and my legs were tired, but somehow the whole thing was still hanging together. I chased another woman those last 3 miles and got to her shoulder at mile 26. She noticed me and put on a sprint but I had nothing to match her. She got first place (but she was a 40 year old baby and I am a 50 year old Master).

How did this happen? The thinking of course; but also, the high 5 from the two year old. Maybe the S-caps. Maybe the Succeed Amino. Maybe it was the orange vibes from Running Maniacs; or else c-moss was really pissy today but that worked to my advantage. Maybe the old hat. I had put 3 hats in my bag, but as I walked out the door, I grabbed my oldest shabbiest hat; and that is the one I wore.

Anyway: I can’t believe it. I qualified for BOSTON!

I might actually try to go. I might be one of those once-in-a-lifetime hassle filled trips which you must not miss.

Friday, June 12, 2009

God is My Employer

Today at 11:10, I got done educating my boss about environmental activities, at least in some superficial manner. He thanked me for helping him. I said, “I am not the sort of person to wave my finger at you and walk out the door.” How incredibly mature I seem to be.

But really, it is because of reliance on God. I am not upset that I am laid off because I believe totally that it is because the Holy Spirit has a new assignment for me. I also believe that work has nothing to do with money. Money and bills are part of the ego world. I am in the service of The Spirit. God is my employer. Now is the time to practice ACIM (A Course in Miracles): forgiveness, miracles and Christ vision. That is my job.

I got in my car and decided to head to Kansas City for a fellowship meeting. As I drove, I felt so pleased: I am totally in the hands of the Universe, of Love. I don’t know where I am going or what I will be doing. I am happy. My little ship is flying free! Yes, my ego will try to get me to obey its thought system and to attack others with resentful thoughts. I have an answer. It comes from Jesus: “The Name of God is my inheritance.”

Really, have you given deep thought to the reality and Fact of God lately? God is saving my bacon. Through learning ACIM, to be a miracle worker, I’m not sitting here all hateful because the world is so unfair and I am such a victim. I take seriously the Fact that God’s inheritance is so incredibly more valuable than money that they are incomparable, not even the same dimension. But, through study, I step into that other dimension, the realm of the Spirit, where money is meaningless and God is all there is; and we know it.

This is not the first time that my life has been completely out of control by me and totally in the hands of the universe. I remember the early morning of the day I got kicked out of the monastery. I sat in my monastic cell with Spirit. I said that I had made these vows to God and I was willing to carry them out whether in the convent or out. It turns out: OUT. I was in such a special zone of God’s care. Later that day when they told me I was leaving, I entered a spiritual reality unlike anything I had been conscious of before. But, looking back and looking at things that have happened since, I believe and agree that I am not in charge. My job is to learn the Holy Spirit’s thought system, to learn to experience the content of Love, no matter what the material world looks like. I am still carrying out my monastic vows as a solitary monk in the world.

My marathon tomorrow is turned over to Spirit. I don’t know if I will run really fast or just comfortably. My 30 day ultra retreat starts Monday.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Planning - Eager Anticipation

“The Camera’s eye does not lie. But it cannot show the life within the life of a runner.” W.H. Auden
Here is a short u tube clip showing Suprabha Beckjord, my ultra-idol:

The 3100 mile race begins this weekend. A fascinating coincidence for me: This summer, I'll be running my own personal self transcendence race. Well, everyday and every minute is a self transcendence race. In my life, I've been much farther than 3100 miles!
Planned Schedule for self transcendence:
4 to 5:30 Study ACIM and pray
5:30 to 7 or so Write
7 to 11 Exercise
11 to 1 Shower, eat, study
1 to 2 Silent prayer, the hour of power
2 to 3 Write
3 to 4 Chores
4 to 6 Exercise
6 to 9 Eat, write, pray

If you have looked at my planned schedule, you might note tremendous quantities of time devoted either to running or praying (silent contemplation). This morning the question sprung into my mind: What will happen to me mentally and spiritually if I actually carry out this plan? I want to do 30 days, but I might try for more, especially if I remain unemployed.

I am sure I will experience the depths of my being in a new way. The time spent running is also time spent training my mind and disallowing its wandering. Hence, this is time spent directly with the Holy Spirit, listening to non-word teachings.

To do nothing and be nothing other than a runner, silence in motion. The metaphysical possibilities are endless. The only limit is injury management. Injuries are every runner’s limit. My plan is to realize injuries start in the mind and correct them there. In fact, the fear itself is the best place to start. This work delivers a difficult ACIM teaching: I am not a body. I am free. I am still as God created me. I am a thought of love in the Mind of Love; nothing more, and most importantly, nothing less.

Learning to live ACIM is the deepest imaginable devotion to Them (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). To be in intense conscious contact with Jesus day in and day out is a gift and dream like no other.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The New Paradigm Team

The first 30 days of my lay off belong to the Holy Spirit exclusively. We, He and I, need to focus on the level of thoughts and content, not form. I need to learn to decide what to think (ego thoughts or Spirit thoughts) and then guard my thinking. Ultimately, whatever job I take is a mere storefront for my real work as a metaphysicist, a miracle worker. What exactly that is, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. Content matters. The level of thought matters.

So I will intensely focus on listening to The Teacher and learning quickly. In losing one job, I’ve already been promoted to another. The new one requires a month of intense training.

In deciding to be one of the laid off ones, I’ve joined the team of miracle workers who are shifting the ego world paradigm. We are not going to be doing the same old things and getting the same old results (insanity). The old paradigm team are sitting smug in their good paying jobs and hoping nothing ever changes. I am with the group working on change. We are doing new things in new ways and advancing The Holy Spirit’s agenda in ways previously undreamed of. We are making a new dream. How proud I am to be one of the ones consciously carrying out this work.

I have had to redesign my life before. It helps alot to get up and "do it." Here is my preliminary schedule:

4 to 5:30 Study ACIM and pray
5:30 to 7 or so Write
7 to 11 Exercise
11 to 1 Shower, eat, study
1 to 2 Silent prayer
2 to 3 Chores
3 to 6 Exercise
6 to 9 Eat, write, pray

Monday is my first official day of training. I am working this weekend. The Maryville Marathon is Saturday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pause and Redirection

I just got laid off.

My initial reaction is:

Thank God for spirituality because I am comfortable with being outside the world. I am outside the system, maybe I can stay here.

Maybe I will get a 30 day retreat!

Stop and talk to Jesus.

Actually, it is more like: I got picked.

The universe is wide open. Don’t project. Don’t limit. Let Jesus handle everything.

The only thing I seem to need to know about the future is that there is one. I do know I have plans. I just don’t happen to know what the plans are. I do know that making time into spirituality is something I have a talent for and I plan to focus intensely on that: silence and listening.

Tomorrow’s lesson is so perfect: “I will be still an instant and go home.”

I am utterly grateful I have ACIM, or more rightly, trust in Jesus. I am completely in my Teacher's hands and I love it there. Everything is being handled. My job is to keep my hands off; surrendering my mind to the Holy Spirit's service. I am so blessed, I can't express the magnitude of blessing: infinite.


4 Days to Maryville - Running and Love

This morning, I was studying fear in A Course in Miracles (ACIM). Here are a few ideas that struck me:

- My (Jesus’) control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose.

- Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate and have not allowed me (Jesus) to guide it.

- When you are fearful, you have chosen wrongly…You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of willingness.

- Before you choose to do anything, ask me (Jesus) if your choice is in accord with mine. If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear.

- Fear is always a sign of strain, arising whenever what you want conflicts with what you do.

- Say to yourself that you must somehow have chosen not to love, or the fear could not have arisen.

-…when you are afraid, you have placed yourself in a position where you need Atonement.

- Perfect love is the Atonement.

[Atonement is not what you read in the bible. Stick with this one definition: perfect love.]

I was thinking about how fear clutters my mind. It is so pervasive. Think of a cluttered house and then think of your mind filled with millions of not only useless but frightening thoughts. I focused on running and in particular my marathon race this weekend. I realized that I am afraid. So I said, “Jesus, my thoughts must not be under your control. My body’s pains are miscreations due to fear.” I realized that I am afraid of all the races I’ve signed up for this year. Why? The fear comes from ego motives: maybe I signed up to achieve ego glory. I chose them for ego reasons, so I am afraid and in pain. I feel pressure because my ego wants to win and boast of its triumph. In my heart, I know all my ego triumph is really my ego thinking it has defeated God and is flipping its tiny finger at The All Loving; actually hating Love Itself.

So I talk further to Jesus. “Jesus, I want to run a great race but I also want to serve you. But really, I want to run fast more than I want to serve you. Is there any way to have both in accordance with love?” I feel like I am asking Jesus for cake and planning also to eat it. I am being honest, but I feel like a schmuck. Then, come what I consider to be the miracle thought, “If I thought I was going for love, I wouldn’t be afraid.” Can running and racing be an expression of our (me and Jesus) love? Somehow, as I imaged myself running, I knew it could be an expression of love if that was my choice and intention and the focus of my thoughts.

So, I went out running. It was a nearly full moon, perfectly clear sky and about 56F; perfect. I thought more about love and the Maryville Marathon. Two years ago, I ran for quite awhile with a guy who had lost 200 lbs and the race was his victory celebration. How great that he got to tell me. He was an anonymous guy. No newspaper reporters were following us around. But I was being his audience and I felt honored to listen on behalf of myriads of angels. Last year, I only ran the half marathon (2:05), but it was a celebration for me because it was only a month since I had got the brace off my broken arm and started running at all. Last year, I ran for a long time with a young woman who was doing her first marathon. She didn’t really know what she was doing but she must have felt comforted running with me. She could have run faster, but she didn’t. Near the end of the half, she said she felt sick. I told her it was because she was out of fuel. I gave her my spare Gu packets and wished her well on the second lap. Thinking of it now brings tears to my eyes.

Now I am at work. Here too, living must be an expression of love. Love belongs to God and is given to me. If I accept it, I have accepted the Atonement for myself, which is the whole point of ACIM. I can’t be a miracle worker until I have received the love.

I am feeling quite weepy with gratitude that I am somehow willing to accept love.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pre-race Monday

For the Maryville Marathon (this Saturday), the prayer for the day will be (A Course in Miracles workbook 205):

I want the peace of God.
The peace of God is everything I want. The peace of God is my one goal; the aim of all my living here, the end I seek, my purpose and my function and my life, while I abide where I am not at home.
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.”

I tell you this because my running is a part of spirituality, not a separate topic. This morning I was pondering peace and pain. I take responsibility for the fact that what I see out in the world is my projection. Obviously, I see a place filled with anger, fear and pain. It is my job to realize the anger, fear and pain are in my mind, and bring it to Jesus for healing.

Then, I try to stop and remember peace. I bring my mind to peace. “…feel its soft embrace surround your heart and mind with comfort and with love.” An instruction from the Holy Spirit was necessary, “Spirit Flower, don’t just say the word peace but let it in.” I stop and sit in silence, turning off the incessant ego chatter. Here, I start my day in quiet, offering the inner mental pain to Jesus and allowing the healing peace to surround me. Any pain in my body is the same as any pain in the world, as my body is a part of the illusion. It seems easier for me to feel physical pain and seek its roots in my mind. It is wonderful that I can then give it up.

It is wonderful to just admit, “I am in mental pain.” [We are all in mental pain. I am different in that I am willing to admit it.] Once I do that, I don’t have to act it out. I can take another view of it. I don’t unconsciously go about my life, never getting better or endlessly searching the world for a remedy. My immediate relief is peace. Peace is of God. Peace is freely given, every time I open up to it.

Today, I got up late for a weekday, 3:20! Haha! I did an hour of spiritual reading and then lifted weights and did 40 minutes on the machines on the back porch. I should mention, I lift weights everyday, sometimes twice a day. But the workouts are more the toning variety, although they have produced some well cut biceps, deltoids and chest muscles. I was reading a book on ultrarunning, A Step Beyond. These books keep advising people that if you are older...diminishment, diminishment, diminishment. I am only 50, but been getting better over the past 4 or 5 years. Of course, this book, while informative in some aspects, advised two sets of 20 crunches twice or three times a week. Excuse me! For abdominals, I do 40 sit-ups, 5 planks and 50 crunches once or twice a day!

I think it is important to work out the metaphysics of your personal beliefs about aging. Don't just go along with the general consensus. You'll be better off to bring the mental pain of aging to Jesus and heal it. Heal the root cause, not the symptom; or worse, just go along with the masses. Then run your ass off, lift the flab away and transcend the ego world.

Be an athlete both spiritually and physically.

Ye Haaaa!!!!!

Ride'em cowboy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Road to Maryville - 5 days to be good!

Shoot! I hate it when this happens. Now I'm confused.

Today I ran on a measured flat dirt course (2.7 mi/lap). 98 minutes for 4 laps (10.8 miles). The lap times were 26 min, 25 min, 24:30 and 23:40 (WHAT 8:45 a mile?). NON-Gu-assisted running. My body feels great now several hours later. The cycle of the moon is in my favor given female concerns (a 50 year old still dealing with this). I just bought a new singlet.

Back to plan A? More taper for 5 days and then race the heck out of Maryville?

Could happen. We'll see.

Lift weights. Walk alot, jog a little. Stay on the diet. Mow the lawn.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Road to Maryville - 7 days to go

Today’s lesson: “Only my condemnation injures me. Only my own forgiveness sets me free.”

I got up at 5, not knowing what I will do today. I struggled with decisions: should I go to Leavenworth now and the 8 am fellowship in Kansas City? Should I go to Leavenworth at 5 pm and go to my friend’s sobriety anniversary at 8 pm in Kansas City? I don't really feel like going to Kansas City. Should I run today; if so where, how long? While all these decisions were raging in my head, I was studying ACIM. It dawned on me that I was trying to make a decision by myself instead of asking Jesus for help.

So I calmed down. Realized that my ego was yelling at me. I denied it and sunk into peace. I returned my mind to peace. I was able to realize that my ego was accusing me of being guilty no matter what I chose. If I don’t go to my friend’s anniversary, I’m guilty (my fear projection: won’t my friend be disappointed in me). If I do go, I tried to appease the ego god. If I don’t go to the 8 am fellowship, I’m guilty (my fear projection: my friends will be disappointed in me). If I do go to the meeting; I tried to please the people and appease the ego god. If I stay alone running and contemplating, I’m guilty because I “should” do something with others for my life to be valid. I was in an ego fear trap. I was trying to decide between illusions, not deciding with the Holy Spirit. Course students reading this will realize I need to bring my guilt and fear to Jesus and accept the Atonement for myself. Fear is lack of love and is not real.

I decided I wanted peace and peace is now. I returned to the peace in the now. The wide open spaces and wind in my face and sun on my back were calling me. For pure personal want, I filled the Nathan hydropak, loaded it with Gu and decided to head out for the Kansas fields. I wanted to try the 7 and 3 pattern. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. I wanted to work on my metaphysics. I didn’t want to run my life on guilt. Somewhere in all of this was the idea that the Holy Spirit speaks quieter and after the ego; and what He was saying was probably the opposite of whatever I felt guilty for. I want to be an athlete. I lifted the weights. I greased the toes. I pooped a lot. Bowels wonderfully empty of all my shit (literally and figuratively), I was free to run.

Driving down to the river (2 miles), I realized ultimate forgiveness: let Them ( Father, Son and Holy Spirit) off the hook. They didn’t make the guilt, or this world, or anything. God is love and welcomes me into His embrace anytime I choose to go there. And let my self off the hook. Somewhere, long ago, I decided I was guilty and bad; and that isn’t true. I’m somehow here in the terrifying ego dream of this world. But let myself off the hook. I’m on the path out of this dream.

I set off north using the 7 and 3 running/walking pattern. Aren’t I supposed to be tapering for next week? Yes, well, I didn’t plan on running 3 hours or jog/walking for 6, like I normally do. So that is tapering in my reality. I had an uneventful and pleasant 3 hours. I saw two deer, prairie hens, red-winged black birds, vultures and many squished frogs. At one point, a large yellow and black monarch accompanied me for a few feet. Running, I was escorted by royalty, The King Himself. I wanted to find which road cut west over to another road but I ended up on a dying road that stopped in a cow pasture. I peed, saw it had taken 90 minutes to get to this beautiful dead end, turned around and headed back.

At around this time, I finally got to the beauty of a question: what is beyond the yammering of my ego? I’ve spent a lifetime listening to my ego’s demands. I want to stop. I want to look beyond it. That is true forgiveness of my self because looking beyond the ego, I see the thought of love in the Mind of God, which is my true identity. At that moment, I realized that beyond the ego is silence. I was back to my place of peace.

Another hour went by. I found that my mind had turned itself over to the lesson for the day and I was running along with the chant: only my condemnation injures me. Last night, I had taken my inventory and made a list of the people and institutions I condemned, judged that is. I accepted responsibility for my projection of my dream. I took it back. As I ran along chanting my lesson, I was forgiving, looking beyond, all the people on my list. I gave them new life by looking beyond their body to the truth of Christ hidden within, beyond. Forgiveness is looking beyond using Christ vision. I was renouncing my guilty condemning thoughts and claiming Christ vision as my modus operandi.

I got back with my legs in really good shape. I’m still undecided about whether the Maryville marathon will be a race or a training run. Now that I am into ultrarunning and reaping the physical benefits of low impact pacing, I’m a little reluctant to go through the beating of running 26 miles.

On the way home, I went by the local cowboy hardware store, thinking they might have some bag balm. I want to start using it on my feet. They did have authentic bag balm; but I bought another udder product that had stuff in it like A, E and D, instead of the oxide chemicals in the original bag balm. But then, I blew it. Next to the bag balm was some DMSO. Suddenly my brain went ka-chunk. My mind went crazy saying, “get it, get it; its not just for horses. It will be better for your knee than NSAIDs.” A ten year supply of DMSO cost less than a bottle of ibuprophen, so what the heck, I got it. I have it on now. My knee didn’t evaporate or bubble up in chemical flames.

No big deals! 125 days to Heartland Prairie 50 mile race. I weighed 130 after my run. I’m showered and fed. Time for a nap. Jesus can handle the rest of my day. I don’t know what I will do. I may have got my wonderful time outside, but I still don’t know what to do about my friend’s anniversary or when I will go to Leavenworth for groceries.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Road to Maryville - Day 5 of Taper

Fridays are my special days. I get up about 25 minutes early in order to have a few extra minutes for spiritual reading and a few extra minutes for running.

My brain was very quiet this morning. Peace had descended. Mental peace causes you to wonder if you really want peace. It seems I usually start a project to undo peace as soon as things get to be too quiet. After the meditation, I lifted weights and jog/walked for 75 minutes. Jog/walk is my low impact alternative to be used for ultra marathons. It amazes me how you can do this for hours and not tear up your legs.

It was a very pleasant morning for a run. I pondered how I have changed since deciding to go in a 50 mile race. The woman who ran a 1:55 half mary in April and could have run a BQ for a full mary no longer exists. I am not her. I have had to learn the low impact pacing. My world has become one of time alone, not distance or competition or qualification or awards. Letting go of the speed angle fits well with inner peace.

A line from A Course in Miracles (ACIM): In your heart, the Heart of God is laid.
I got on the scales this morning and I still haven't gained weight. I have not been overeating for awhile and even peanut butter has loosened its hold on me.

I saw one big skunk. Luckily, he saw me and crawled into a drain pipe while I went past. It’s funny to think of my relationship with skunks. I frequently smell them when I'm jogging in the early morning. I have a certain affinity with them. I myself go and hide, preferring not to interact with the world. My defensive mechanisms even work the same way. While not nocturnal, I do like to wander around in the early morning.


The skunk brings us an awareness of self-respect. When we fully accept who we are and learn to express the essence of ourselves, without ego, we attract those who share our path and repel those who don't. Skunk medicine is the original "Walk your talk." It is about developing a good self-image.

We would all do well to take this animal symbolism from the skunk: Do no harm. Indeed, as a totem animal, the skunk asks us to defend ourselves effectively, without causing further conflict.
Interestingly, the skunk would prefer to be even less assertive. You see, it takes over a week to reproduce its stinky juices after using them (their glands are only good for about 4 sprays). Ergo, the skunk is 100% sure it must spray before doing so as this defense tool is a commodity in the wild - not to be wasted on false alarms.
In recognizing this, we see the skunk is the ultimate pacifist, and by adopting its peace-loving ways we may obtain the carefree lifestyle this creature enjoys.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Taper Day 4 - Self Transcendence Model

Day 4 of taper - This morning, I lifted weights and ran 55 minutes. This afternoon, I lifted weights and walked 60 minutes. Is that a taper? Well, I don't plan on running 50 to 70 miles this week per usual; so yes, I'm tapering.

I subscribe to the Suprabha Beckjord 3100 Self Transcendence model of running. The runners in the 3100 mile race go 50 to 70 miles a day for over two months.

I am analytical and I like data analysis. So I've applied my number crunching to calories versus minutes of exercise. Its not that accurate, but it gives me a picture and a way to shoot for a goal. I divide the calories I eat per day by 100 and the minutes exercised by 10. I graph those two things and the difference (sorry, the dates go smunched in this version). My desire is to average a difference of about ten; knowing that on long run days, the graph gets skewed. One minute of exercise is not always 10 calories. That is why the difference goal is 10, rather than the 14 a woman my size would need for daily maintenance.

Believe it or not, before I go get another helping of something, I enter the data into the computer and then decide. Usually, it helps me focus on my goal instead of unconsciously eating until I'm stuffed.

My ACIM metaphysics worked today. I had several worldly situations which would normally cause me to be perturbed or resentful and start a barrage of hateful thoughts towards the other people. Today, I easily remembered not to attack and instead focus on the inner radiance of God which we all share. This practice is one way to look at "forgiveness" as ACIM defines it. In any case, I was so happy to be off the ego hook and using the Holy Spirit's thought system. It was magnificent!

I did most of this forgiveness work while out running. So, while my body was self transcending in one way, my mind was self transcending in another. Cool!

Tomorrow is Friday: special day. The Maryville marathon is in 9 days. I'm not feeling any performance stress like I did before the Olathe Marathon in March. This afternoon I ran in my sahara shorts so I could see if a 7 oz fuel belt bottle would ride without flapping around; and it was very comfortable. So, for Maryville, I may just carry an empty bottle and fill it at the last aid station (because that aid station is too far from the finish line).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Road to Maryville - Taper day 3

Day 3 of my taper. On day one, in the morning I did a 40 minute normal porch workout (ex-bike and tm walk) plus weights. In the afternoon, I took apart my big desk in the living room, moved it piece by piece into the spare bedroom, and put it back together. This was so the bicycle could have a parking spot by the door. All that is currently in my living room is the bicycle, the weight bench and storage places for running shoes and clothing. On day 2 in the morning I did a 40 minute normal porch workout plus weights. In the afternoon, I started with 45 minutes of spiritual study. Then a weight workout and 20 minutes walking on the tm. At that time, it had stopped raining so I jogged 3 miles. Today, day 3, I did a 45 minute porch workout plus weights in the morning. In the afternoon, I started with 30 minutes of spiritual study, and then needed a quick nap. After 18 minutes, I leapt up and put on my hiking boots and went for a 90 minute hike.

Now, things got interesting! I was repeating to myself my lesson for today: Love is the way I walk in gratitude. I have no idea what love is or really what gratitude is. Grateful for what? That I have money and a place to live and my health while others are tortured and starving? No! If God is love, He wouldn’t give some starvation and brutality; and I won't thank Him for material comfort (since it didn't come from Him either).

As I walked however, I realized that it doesn’t matter how shallowly I understand this lesson. Since I was keeping my mind on this thought and not allowing it to roam around into resentment and fear, I was in fact defeating my ego in favor of the Holy Spirit’s thought system. And that is all A Course in Miracles is for: returning the mind to God.

As I walked more, I thought about how really good these hikes were on a physical level for training for ultramarathons. As I thought about the place of hiking in my tapering scheme, I thought how I need deep healing in preparation for my next big running event. But deep healing occurs in the mind, and the body takes care of itself. And all that is needed for deep healing of the mind is to bring all resentment and fear, no matter how small, to Jesus; and maintain mental discipline. Mental discipline is renouncing the ego’s hatred, fear and illusion for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I need to go deeper, farther in to my own being with the light of Jesus; and find there, not darkness, but LIGHT.

One way to rejuvenate physically is to habitually under eat, and consistently eat the same way every day. It’s the same with mental health: habitually limit the thoughts to the few the Holy Spirit selects as healing, and consistently think the same way every day.

In the park, I added up frog calls I hear at various times during the day. The sounds of pre-dawn, afternoon and early evening are different. Today, I saw my first butterfly, a little orange-winged job with black spots. Outside right now, I am listening to the first cricket I’ve heard this year.

I rode my bicycle to work after lunch and will probably use it all day tomorrow. I feel so much better after a brief ride than a car ride. I’m convinced that cars degrade our holiness in some insidious way.

Tomorrow morning, I hope for an early morning run.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I sit quietly in my monastery, perhaps on my knees (or maybe not), perhaps before the blessed sacrament (always). The blessed sacrament, the sign, the focal point, the oculus, the entrance to the realm of the spirit is what I sit before all day and every day. I do not have the outer form of the prayer posture, or the outer form of the monastic oratory or the physical presence of a monstrance. The oratory is my inner place where God sings. The monstrance is the place where God shows me Himself. Every person is a monstrance. Every environment is an oratory. With all monks, I share an inner content which is true reality: gratitude that love is all there is and that the mind can completely turn itself over to the service of love. The blessed sacrament is the sign not of the Son’s crucifixion, but that all is resurrected. The sacrament is an outer form that speaks of an inner reality. The inner reality is inwards from every person, every molecule and every photon.

My eyes are shut I flow as spirit into the realm of spirit. In quiet, I come to know Love, Creator, True Authority. In truth, I never left this place and I won’t leave it now. Always and forever, I am spirit in a spiritual environment.

Personal statistics: for day one of my taper, I did a 40 minute work out on the machines plus weights in the morning. In the afternoon, I took apart the heavy desk in the living room, moved everything piece by piece into the spare bed room, and put it all back together; so that the bicycle can have a parking spot by the door and eventually I can move the computer out of the kitchen and into the spare bedroom. I rode my bicycle to work yesterday and did not use my car at all. I arrived at work (rainy today) with two bottles of Master Cleanser, two bottles of fresh orange/pear/yam juice, a bottle of green tea and a bottle of water.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Ego is Shrieking

There is nothing to do, no place to go, can’t speed anything up. I am talking about running and metaphysics.

Running: I am in taper mode, getting ready for the Maryville Marathon on June 13. It entered my awareness yesterday: I am not injured from running, but I am carrying large numbers of micro-injuries at the cellular level. If I taper, these will be well gone before the race. Then, I can push myself during the race. Then I will not receive a run stopping injury post-race.

Metaphysics: The Course in Miracles workbook can only be done one day at a time. The Text can only be digested a little every day. Jesus allows me to heal as quickly as I am able, which often feels like a snail’s pace.

The trick to success however is to not start any $h!t. That is, be peaceful. Everything is fine. Stirring things up or pushing will not help, will not gain anything.

My ego’s insatiability is not lurking. It is right there on the surface making demands: run more, pray more!!! Tell God to give you enlightenment! Hey, Spirit Flower, I’m yelling at you! My ego is in panic mode because I am not obeying it and instead doing what is right for me as spirit. My ego doesn’t know that I am spirit and it kept me from wondering about my true identity for most of my life. But now that I know, I am not a dedicated follower of my ego any more. I am seeking to listen only to the Holy Spirit; and trade worldly self glory for peace.

I am aware that nothing "out there" can satisfy an ego; and only quiet listening will bring me relief.

Here I am at work. I have a day of work in front of me that must be done. Environmental deadlines need to be met, samples taken, reports completed. All of this is very unglamorous. Finding Jesus in the boring mess of a crummy ethanol plant and environmental compliance is a challenge. Finding Jesus means finding peace and gratitude. Finding Jesus means finding the quiet place of holiness inside me and then seeing it in others. Minute by minute, “seeing” is my task. Seeing only holiness is actually all I need do for every minute of every day for the rest of my life.

Today I rode my bicycle to work. I came with at least a gallon of fresh juice, master cleanser, green smoothie and purified water. My goal for the morning is to stay away from the snack machine. Please pray for me!