Friday, October 30, 2009

Insane Runner, Course Student's Musings

I know you are going to think I think too much.

I had a brief moment of clarity this morning about sin and guilt and how A Course in Miracles changes everything. I don’t think I can explain it to everyone. If you think you are really here, or that the world is real, skip reading any farther today.

I am always processing my thoughts. I want to know what thoughts are coming out of my subconscious and creating my life. If I make myself aware of what I think, it is possible to change my thinking. What follows will seem incredibly weird, but it is the way I have thought. Further, my discussion of running and my subtle feelings is a microcosm of the bigger God picture.

This was triggered by several things:

- My lesson today is “Today I let Christ’s vision look upon all things for me and judge them not, but give each one a miracle of love instead.”

- What I read in the ACIM text 21.II.10, “The goal of sin induces the perception of a fearful world…When vision is denied, confusion of cause and effect becomes inevitable. The purpose now becomes to keep obscure the cause of the effect and make effect appear to be a cause…The Son is the Effect, whose Cause he would deny.”

- I have a huge desire to go running. My plan for today is to work from home this morning (actually suggested by my boss), go to my old house 50 miles away to meet with an engineer, and then go running in the park up there.

- I have no racing plans for awhile and hence will retreat into a type of running solitude, quiet, and peace. I will return to being more of a phenomenon than an identifiable thing.

- I still struggle with whether I am good enough for my current employer. The company I work for is so incredibly outstanding.

As I began my spiritual workout this morning, I was reflecting on my lesson. My first thought out of the bag was, “It’s not that I stop having an ego, but that I let Christ’s vision go first, rule first.” Then I experienced a miracle, the second thought out of the bag. A miracle, per ACIM, is a perception shift, a correction to the ego consciousness. Here is my miracle thought (then I’ll explain the shift), “Christ’s vision would see me healthy, happy, strong, optimal weight and running. My ego wants disaster and sin and pain. Hence it is my ego that eats too much or makes me feel guilty for running or doesn’t want to lift weights. Sloth and gluttony are pain and insane. The ego is the original insane idea. Running free is the truth of my inner being.”

Now, you say, “Spirit Flower, are you crazy? What do you mean by saying you feel guilty for running?” Let’s go back in time.

During my Harley riding days, when I was a full member in a sober bike club, I hung out with fat dudes who smoked and made fun of runners. At that time, I was a runner in the closet. Then, I got rid of the motorcycle and the fat dude and became only a runner. I was proud of being a runner. I could still run a 23 minute 5k race without even doing speed work. I trained for a marathon. I won trophies in races here in the city. Then, I went to the monastery. There, I ran everyday and it was impossible to be secret about it. But I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb, being the only person trying to be physically fit. I always felt like I was guilty of wasting time when I should be helping out around the house or picking fruit or something. Instead I was using my unscheduled time to log miles on dirt farm roads; experiencing the wind in my face. I dreamt of marathons even though I was wearing a skirt was would never race again. I felt guilty for those $80 running shoes. The rest of the group was sedentary, mostly over weight, in poor health and “old.”

After the monastery, I encountered an ongoing internal thought pattern which told me running was a waste. I should be involved with charity or spending more time at work; not squandering my time on myself. Running has always prevented me from being a workaholic (for some reason, I feel guilty for not working enough). I should be trying to excel at my profession, be dedicated to the corporation or seeking higher education; not doing laps. My dieting is always directly tied to running; so any little weight gain or food binge causes me to feel guilty. Then, a couple of years later, I encountered A Course in Miracles (ACIM). In that theology, my body is an illusion, used by the ego to separate from God; and the ego is always trying to steal power from God. So running became a guilt trip because I was stealing self sufficiency from God (don’t try to understand this ACIM piece. It only means something to a Course student). The ego has a goal of sin, and must make everything into sin in order for it to have power (instead of God). Hence, all my running guilt was thoughts projected out by my ego.

So, I have been a guilty runner for a few years. This morning, however, I found my perception totally, 100% shifted. I must have allowed Christ’s vision to look upon me today. Running was suddenly part of the Holy Spirit’s happy dream for me. I no longer let my ego have the goal of sin (as in seeing it in the world, of which my body seems to be a part of) unchecked. Guilt is the realm of the ego. My ego has been throwing up a barrage of guilty running thoughts all these years because running is part of the joy the Holy Spirit wants me to have. My ego always wants to thwart joy; hence must find ways to make running guilty instead of freedom.

Running is freedom, not pain, so it is not ego. Running has become a miracle of accepting a gift of Love, not hating or fighting. Running is not insanity, sloth and gluttony are. Sloth and gluttony are the insane ego’s specialty.

And the bigger picture is that my ego continuously throws up a barrage of insane illusions, called this world, intended to keep me away from Love, or God. The ego absolutely wants me to think I am guilty instead of thinking I am innocent and loved by God. The ego is always building a wall to keep me away from God as well as thinking this world is real and I am bad.

I understood for the first time this morning how the ego denies God and Love; and how the world is really an effect of my projected thoughts. The world does not cause me, I cause it. I returned myself to God as a created idea of love. Running is an idea of love. I have kept up my relationship with God for decades despite downpours of doubt. The doubt is an ego creation and not really true. God waits silently for those who want Him more than ego illusions.

As I turned off the highway into town, I heard myself think, “You were wasting your time here.” I felt that my talents really were not that well utilized. Now I am living my life more at my potential. No, running is not my only thing. No, I no longer have as much solitude. I met with the engineer and contractor. No big deal. Then I went in running in my old park. I felt again that I was not the same person with the same goals as I had had when I lived there. I had been spinning my wheels and getting along because that was where I had been planted. Now, I have been transplanted to a different sort of garden. Coming back from my old house, I heard a interview on NPR about how wonderful running is for mental well being and intelligence. I heard about how humans were designed to run long distances. I heard about why I feel so good after even as little as ten minutes of running. Now, that is a happy dream.

"What you desire, you will see" (21.II.9.5).

My Living Room

Featured in my living room, clockwise from bottom: table for spiritual workouts, book shelf with spiritual weights, weight bench and weights, exercise ball, treadmill, ex-bike, closet full of running clothes.

This group of stuff seems reasonable to me for a "living room."

If I had couches and a TV in here, I'd have to call it a dying room.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reflection on My Thoughts

My ACIM workbook lesson today is number 348: “I have no cause for anger or for fear, for You surround me. And in every need that I perceive, Your grace suffices me.”

This echoes the song, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound..” Or St Paul, “You grace is sufficient for me…” Do I really believe God or Love surrounds me? Not unless I pause and give the idea some space in my head. If I don’t think it, it won’t be true. Then, the matter of Grace and the phrasing given above. My first thought is actually fear: if I need grace doesn’t that mean something is not going my way and I have to settle for grace instead of happiness? Really….this is how I think. Good thing I am aware of what is going on in my own head; conscious of the dirty details. I see the thought. I examine the thought and decide I don’t want it. Now, I can give it to Jesus for correction. I question myself, “Just who, miss spiritual smarty pants, do you think God is? And why do you seek Him if you think He will send problems and expect you to suffer with measly grace?”

The Holy Spirit can give me new thoughts and thus a new world if I will let Him. I have to let go of my judgment, opinion and want something better. Really, it is hard to want what God offers. That fear lurks. We truly think God will send “challenges” to the spiritual seeker. But this is my thought not God’s. I must stop and honestly consider all these worthless thoughts and get some better ones. I want a different world.

So, I mentioned that my lesson was number 348. There are 365 lessons. I have almost completed the workbook for the second time. Amazing that I am willing to commit and carry out the commitment of completing one lesson a day for a year. I never ever even thought to skip a day because I didn't feel like it. Even planning ahead to copy off lessons so I would have them out of town.

I ran 49 minutes this morning. Lightning was all around but I didn't get drenched until the last 5 minutes of the run. It is so refreshing to get out in the air. I love it.

I ate half a jar of peanut butter last night; which was reflected on the scales this morning. big vice: organic creamy no-stir peanut butter.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ACIM Reality

Personal Statistics: I ran a 31 mile race on Sunday and have no lingering effects. Too bad I have to go to Texas on Sunday or I'd sign up for another race. Yesterday I had two runs of 5 and 4 miles, morning and evening. Today, my plan is to go for a 7 mile run after work on a new trail I found near my house. I've been diligently lifting weights several times a week, including a good 20 minutes on core exercises. It is actually sunny today.

This morning, I read in A Course in Miracles (ACIM) text 21.II:

“Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

…Suffer, and you decided sin was your goal. Be happy, and you gave the power of decision to Him Who must decide for God for you.”

The implications are big: my life is my fault. My life is my entire perception. Wow! That is big!

Many of us have heard “you create your own reality.” To actually take responsibility and do something about my thought choices is what ACIM asks. It seems to be asking a lot, impossible even, to take responsibility for my feelings. More than that is to take responsibility for making the projection in the world which I blame for my feelings. Here is where I need help from Something Greater than me, the Holy Spirit. Turning my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him is AA’s Third Step. Surrendering to God is a basic tenet of most religions. It is not a new idea in ACIM. Jesus in ACIM merely enlarges the picture of what exactly I must turn over. My perception is mine and totally insane. I know this because I don’t see all things as one or love or peace; which is what God created.

The reward for the effort of changing my thinking is inner peace, remembering God, really fulfilling my role in the Son of God; best of all is the end of ego prison. Ego prison is where I want to see others guilty and sinful rather than innocent and sinless. Ego prison is where I perceive others as individual bodies and judge them. Ego prison is my place of fear and anger and failure.

I meditate. I sit and listen to the great beyond which is within. This morning, I realized how lazy I feel regarding awakening. Dragging myself out of the ego prison into the awakened Sunlight seems terribly difficult. My mind wants to go back to sleep and not be bothered.
Here is a vision from chapter 21:

“Listen—perhaps you catch a hint of an ancient state not quite forgotten; dim, perhaps, and yet not altogether unfamiliar, like a song whose name is long forgotten; and the circumstances in which you heard completely unremembered. Not the whole song has stayed with you, but just a little wisp of melody, attached not to a person or a place or anything particular. But you remember, from just this little part, how lovely was the song, how wonderful the setting where you heard it, and how you loved those who were there and listened with you.
The notes are nothing. Yet you have kept them with you, not for themselves, but as a soft reminder of what would make you weep if you remembered how dear it was to you. You could remember, yet you are afraid, believing you would lose the world you learned since then. And yet you know that nothing in the world you learned is half so dear as this. Listen, and see if you remember an ancient song you knew so long ago and held more dear than any melody you taught yourself to cherish since.

Beyond the body, beyond the sun and stars, past everything you see and yet somehow familiar, is an arc of golden light that stretches as you look into a great and shining circle. And all the circle fills with light before your eyes. The edges of the circle disappear, and what is in it is no longer contained at all. The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity forever shining and with no break or limit anywhere. Within it everything is joined in perfect continuity. Nor is it possible to imagine that anything could be outside, for there is nowhere that this light is not.

This is the vision of the Son of God, whom you know well. Here is the sight of him who knows his Father. Here is the memory of what you are; a part of this, with all of it within, and joined to all as surely as all is joined in you. Accept the vision that can show you this, and not the body. You know the ancient song, and know it well. Nothing will ever be as dear to you as is this ancient hymn the Son of God sings to his Father still.

And now the blind can see, for that same song they sing in honor of their Creator gives praise to them as well. The blindness that they made will not withstand the memory of this song. And they will look upon the vision of the Son of God, remembering who he is they sing of. What is a miracle but this remembering? And who is there in whom this memory lies not? The light in one awakens it in all. And when you see it in your brother, you are remembering for everyone.”

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ultra Spirit's Beam of Light

Ultra Spirit Gets one in the Bag!

I got up at 3:30 and made my Succeed drink. Packed up the stuff and was on the road at 4:50. I got to the trail head at 5:40. Luckily, there were some others there for the early start at 6 am. The race Director, a hilariously funny old guy, has on a reflective vest with flashing red LEDs and a glittery Uncle Sam top hat. He is a Kansas City running legend. Most of the people are somewhat serious 50 milers. I'm doing 50k, but starting early because this afternoon has rain in the forcast. After a few jokes and a backwards count down, we are off.
Within 60 seconds, everyone else is gone and I am alone with my Petzl for company. After about ten minutes, I catch a few of the sprint starters. The path is a flat pea gravel bike path billed as "nothing to trip over" and klutzes like me need these sort of races. How could you get lost on that? Well, as the first road crossing, we do lose the path for a few minutes because it does not cross the road but hangs a sharp left and goes down under the road. I didn't see the turn! Sheeesh! I'm glad it is not the middle of the night on a 100 miler.
I spend the next 3 hours playing tortise and hare with Tom. Tom is doing 50 miles and runs then walks. I go along at my steady 12 minute miles. Tom ran a trail 50k yesterday and a marathon last weekend. He is limping. He lost his wife to cancer a year ago and was devasted. She was his whole life. I finally get ahead of Tom for good after about 4 hours.
The race goes north, out and back, for 9 about miles; south, out and back, for 7 or so miles. Then north again, then a short south leg. I stop twice at the central aid station to refill the Nathan. Stop 3 times to potty. Fiddle with taking shirts off and stowing them in the nathan. 50 milers and 50k'ers who started an hour after me pass me!
But, all and all, I'm feeling good. I am not as insane as Tom, but still spending a good 6 hours running. Total time was 6:10. The finishers "medal" is a piece of wood cut in the shape of a turtle with a paper sticker stating what race I ran. I am very satisfied with the feeling of sore legs only possible if you run at least 4 hours. As I finish, an extremely ominous black sky is overhead and lightening bolts are striking out. I get some coffee and head home. Cool!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Grateful Thursday

I read this in the ACIM text this morning (20.VI):

“The meaning of the Son of God (all of us together including Jesus) lies solely in his relationship with his Creator. If it were elsewhere it would rest on contingency, but there is nothing else. And this is wholly loving and forever. Yet has the Son of God invented an unholy relationship between him and his Father. His real relationship is one of perfect union and unbroken continuity. The one he made is partial, self-centered, broken into fragments (each of us separated) and full of fear. The one created by his Father is wholly Self-encompassing and Self-extending. The one he made is wholly self-destructive and self-limiting.”

The unholy relationship is the ego consciousness which sees God not. The ego consciousness is insane with hatred of other people. Until I met the Course, I had no chance of every escaping from the consciousness of hate.

ACIM forgiveness is not to see a person’s sin and then decide not to hold it against them. ACIM forgiveness is to look beyond the physical body, because it is an illusion made by my ego, and see something else: the face of Christ.

I have a great feeling of gratitude today. I have been working very consciously on ACIM forgiveness instead of judging. Then, last night I remembered that God loves me and cares for me. I need do nothing. Then, true enough several material world things fell into place for me. The material world things are not what God gave me. God gave me peace and a function of forgiveness in the world. I received peace, accepted my function and this resulted in my projecting happier dreams for myself.

Aspects of Happy Dreams:
- I went to a company function last night with a good attitude.
- The dinner had been moved from its previous location to one very near my house.
- The restaurant had a well stocked salad and veggie bar.
- I did not judge the guys loading up on meat or desserts. I had pleasant conversations instead of being all uptight.
- The relocation company made a very decent offer for my house which is good enough to cover all the repairs.
- There is no asbestos in the house.
- Since I am going out of the country before I can get a contractor to finish all the repairs, the relocation company is willing to settle up based on the contractor’s estimate.
- My company has a new health care policy this year which will make it an extremely good deal for me, a very healthy person.

I say again, the spiritual work (forgiveness) made it possible for me to have happy dreams because I am not completely controlled by my insane ego. I gave up trying to see everyone else as guilty sinners (ie. meat eaters are sinners).

ACIM Text 20.IV:

“You may wonder how you can be at peace when, while you are in time, there is so much that must be done before the way to peace is open. Perhaps this seems impossible to you. But ask yourself if it is possible that God would have a plan for your salvation that does not work. Once you accept His plan as the one function that you would fulfill, there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not arrange for you without your effort. He will go before you making straight your path, and leaving in your way no stones to trip on, and no obstacles to bar your way. Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. You need take thought for nothing, careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfill. As that was given you, so will its fulfillment be. God's guarantee will hold against all obstacles, for it rests on certainty and not contingency. It rests on you. And what can be more certain than a Son of God?”

Yes, I like it when things “go my way;” but I have to remember why: I was trying to put God’s purpose first and not trying to get what I wanted for myself. I acknowledge that this post may sound like I’m trying to justify my luck and be smug about economics. I remind you that I didn’t have say anything or attempt to give credit where it is due; I wanted to give credit to God.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Choice for Freedom

The thing I love about A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is that it saves me from my own thinking; the root of my problem. If I look around and see a bunch of sinners, including myself, and go to a regular church with this information, I would be counseled to accept the world, confess my sins and forgive the sins of others. In this, Jesus is my Savior who hides my sins from God so I can go to heaven when I die.

In ACIM, I am taught that the sin I see is the sin I chose to see, want to see. I am given tools for looking beyond my illusion to see the Love of God, Christ, residing in everyone. As I overlook what I made for me to see, I am free and so are they, my brothers. Jesus is my friend and brother who helps me change my thinking.

This morning I read in the ACIM text, 20.IV:
- Nothing can hurt you unless you give it the power to do so.
- Power is of God, given by Him and reawakened by the Holy Spirit…
- He (Holy Spirit) gives no power to sin, and therefore it has none; nor its results as the world sees them—sickness, and death and misery and pain.
- Salvation is a lesson in giving as the Holy Spirit interprets it. It is the reawakening of the laws of God in minds that have established other laws, and given them power to enforce what God created not (this world of sin I see).
- Your savior (your brother) gives you only love, but what you would receive of him is up to you. It lies in him to overlook all your mistakes and therein lies his own salvation. And so it is with yours.
- Sin has no place in Heaven…and therein lies your need to see your brother sinless. In him is Heaven. See sin in him and Heaven is lost to you.

My ACIM workbook lesson for the day is: I will receive whatever I request.

Why is this all so important to me today? I looked out at my world and made this assessment. I have to go to a dinner on Wednesday evening for work. The way I see it is I’ll have to drive to an inconvenient part of town, park in a strange garage and then pretend to be nice for a few hours, getting home way past my bed time. Then, I have to go to Texas for work; flying down on my Sunday afternoon and coming back on Monday and having to hassle with airplanes and an unfamiliar city. Then, worst of all, I have to fly halfway around the world to attend a work seminar for 10 days; spending 12 hours a day with guys from work with whom I can only have superficial conversations, disrupt my eating routines and running routines and risk illness from being cooped in an airplane for two long long flights, trying to get home on the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year.

So, this morning as I prayed, I realized how hateful I am. As I read ACIM text, I realized that the hate was my choice. I was projecting hate and sin onto Mr. Vice President who was causing all the inconvenience in my life. I was making him, my brother, into a sinner because I wanted to. It was all my choice. Whereas, if I overlooked, looked beyond, the man and saw only the Christ residing within, I would be much happier. In fact, my hate instantly faded and was replaced with gratitude. Gratitude for the man and his situation, gratitude for Jesus and the Holy Spirit for teaching me to think differently.

Reading on in the text:
- Those who choose freedom will experience only its results. Their power is of God, and they will give it (power) only to what God has given to share with them. Nothing but this can touch them, for they see only this, sharing their power according to the Will of God. And thus their freedom is established and maintained. It is upheld through all temptation to imprison and to be imprisoned.

It is my ego who dwells in hatred and projects it on the world. This morning, in taking my own inventory and bringing it into the Holy Spirit’s thought system, I was set free. I am not in ego prison right now. I am free to see what I can do contribute to life instead of hate it.

So, I went for a run. Lightening was all around but no rain on me. I went the hilly route and enjoyed the fresh warm wet air. As I ran, I reflected: I have requested a new outlook on life and I was given it immediately. I am so grateful.

I’ve entered a very small low keyed race this weekend in Blue Springs MO. Good thing I did because my Texas trip precludes the Springfield marathon the following weekend. So this Sunday, I will be blessed with the company of maybe 50 other runners on a quiet flat bike path, with someone handling our snacks and water, as we mosey our way through 31 miles (50k). We pass one point three times, so I can leave a bag there with my own goodies, drinks and extra clothing. We’ll get t-shirts but no medals or age group awards. Afterwards, I’ll pack up my stuff and drive in silence back to my apartment; where I will eat and lay on the bed. Quiet. No big deal.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reflective run on a chilly foggy sunny morning

2009 Olathe marathon: cancelled due to snow. 2009 Frisco 50k: 5:24. 2009 Maryville marathon: 3:57. 2009 Psycho Psummer 50k: sprained ankle and DNFd. 2009 Heart of America marathon: 4:30. 2009 KC marathon: injured and DNS. My 2009 success rate for races is 50%. 50% of the time, I do the training, prepare and plan, but do not achieve a finish.

Aside from racing, I’ve logged tons of miles in 2009. Running kept me sane this summer as I logged 16 to 20 miles a day instead of obsessing about unemployment. In fact, running that much on a daily basis has been a dream of mine for a long time. Some people were unemployed and hiked the Allegheny Trail. Some people were unemployed and worked on their hot rods. Some were unemployed and took motorcycle trips. I was unemployed and ran a personal multi-day ultra marathon; a private self transcendence race.

I almost always feel tons better after a run. Airing out my mind and body brings me joy. Racing holds a self importance factor for me. I admit it. There is some ego involvement with my racing which sickens me when I stop to think about it. Running by itself brings joy. Racing brings worry and egotism. I get ideas like running two marathons in two weeks so I can join a club called “Marathon Maniacs” and have a swell t-shirt declaring my status and causing envy when I wear it to races.

The thing about racing is the fussing it adds to my life. I fuss about the weather, when to go to packet pickup, where to park on race day, how will I relieve myself before the race, what will I wear, if I win an ag award will I stick around to pick it up, how quickly can I get home after the race, etc, etc. When I think about a race, I immediately start fussing. As I ran this morning, I thought about whether to run the Springfield marathon. I immediately began a succession of fussy thoughts beginning with one that would ruin next week’s long run because it would become mandatory training instead of something I want to do for joy.

It was a blessing to run this morning, however slow. After my run, I saw a friend of mine. She too was in the doctor’s office on Friday getting her foot x-rayed. But she came out with a boot, instead of a golf ball of gauze like me. Today, my toes are wrapped in Compeed to protect their sensitive bruising, but otherwise they are not too bad.

Without any plans for a race, I still think about strapping a fuel pack on my back, stuffing my pockets with Gu and heading out for 4 or more hours. I love long runs, especially in the winter. As I think of myself jogging down a long road into a blustery north wind, all concerns of the world fade and the timelessness of the run occupies my brain. All my brain cells stop firing, the synapses become quiet and they all gaze down the long road into the wind.

For some reason, LSD holds a romantic fascination for me. I like how my legs feel after at least two hours of running. I like how my legs feel after four hours of running. Yes, they hurt, but it is a fascinating sort of hurt. One time last summer, I ran a 31 mile training run. That afternoon, I lay on the bed with ice packs on both knees and both ankles and red splotches up and down both legs from the heat. It was one of my finest and most memorable moments.

Am I whining about racing because yesterday didn’t work out? Is it a good time now that I am not officially entered in anything to take my inventory and decide what is important. What adds true value to my life?

I am convinced that I can eat below a calorie minimum 90% of the time (or more); so calorie burning isn’t mandatory to counter the excessive calorie eating. I have a great weight lifting routine which I think is important for longevity. I drive around my neighborhood and find ways to add an extra loop or mile to a run. Running is my thing. I hope to have a personal multi-day ultra sometime this winter.

Next Saturday, I will probably be doing a long run, but I hope not for any particular reason. I may even go running again today!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Silent Saturday

I am not in the KC marathon today. I kicked a chair in the middle of the night on Thursday. Now, I can hardly walk. I had a dream on Thursday night about being off course in the marathon. Now, in my worldly dream, the same thing happened. This morning as I sat in my silence, I asked the question, “What is the message?”

Immediately came the answer, “Look within.” Running marathons, getting medals and bragging about it (grandiosity), which I do, is part of my ego’s little plan. To let go of little plans and accept God’s bigger plan is the point of the spiritual life and the sober life. God is not against marathons. I myself request of God to live life at a level higher than my ego; but sometimes I need God’s hand to get me out of my own littleness and hopes for grandiosity. For me, that means looking at the two dreams and accepting the message, accepting God’s help. I abandon my ego once again. Abandoning ego in favor of the Holy Spirit is a continuous project.

The ego seeks grandiosity to satisfy itself. We know that ego satisfaction only lasts a few minutes. Looking within, what do I find that is of value? What do I find that is more desired than grandiosity? Really, that is a difficult question to answer. The inner does not present itself in the same way as the ego's grandiosity. The satisfactions are quiet and peaceful; so much so that they really are not desired by most. Appreciation of peace must be learned. Refraining from seeking worldly kudos is impossible for most of us outside of monasteries.

I cut a hole in one of my running shoes. A little later, I will do a weight workout and then give the elliptical machine a try.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thoughts on AA

First of all, should I even mention on this blog that I am a sober woman and long time member of AA? What will you think of me? I am fighting my ego on this. My ego has always been too good for sobriety and I have therefore suffered from a lack of gratitude for what AA has given me. So, to fight my ego and thus maintain sobriety, I am about discuss my AA program.

This brings me to the heart of the matter that I want to discuss: participation of long sober people in AA. Many many people with years of sobriety quit going to meetings. Of course, why not? I don’t need the meeting right? Now that I live in close proximity to meetings, where I’ve known people for 24 years, I’ve been struggling with this question. Now that I live here, what is the role of AA in my life?

With 5 years of sobriety, I stopped going to one AA club and started going to another because the first club was no longer good enough for me. Then, with 14 years of sobriety, I stopped going to meetings all together as I had joined a monastery. Secretly, my ego was pleased. My ego has always thought I was too good for AA. I would quite literally rather kneel at the feet of Jesus than go to an AA meeting. Mind you, they had an AA group that met in an outbuilding at the monastery, so I could have gone. But, I was too proud; and furthermore, I didn’t want any of my sisters to judge me as weak.

After I got out of the monastery, I had no intention of ever going to another AA meeting. I didn’t need them, hadn’t been for years and was still too good for AA. Well, I did start going after a year because when I asked God the question, “How can I be of maximum service to you?” The answer was clearly, “Go to a meeting.” So I came down off my holy mountain and groveled in the dirt with alcoholics. Secretly, I was still too good to be there.

Then, I moved to a dinky town and did not go to meetings there because of anonymity issues. I would flit down to the city on weekends, drop pearls of wisdom at the meeting and then flit back to my private life where I never thought I needed AA. I thought I could just pray and meditate and have a vibrant relationship with God without addressing any of the people around me. Well, I had a good excuse, so it was easy to lie to myself: these people are 50 miles away, so I don’t need to be responsible. I was definitely still too good for AA, but as so many people praised me for my spiritual wisdom, I was ok with showing up at their meeting and enlightening them.

Now, I live here again. I could be responsible. I strongly feel that God wants me to be responsible. I prayed and talked to Him. I realized: I don’t need meetings, but I do need to listen to newer sobriety which does need a meeting. Then last night, in a meeting, I was pondering my lack of gratitude for sobriety and AA. I should be so grateful that I was spared the life my mother had; and even escaped from the life I had 24 years ago. I had a startling revelation: I have defied my ego and pretty much continued to go to meetings for 24 years. I’ve felt too good for AA for 24 years, but I still go and do the deal. And I am sober. I realized that my relationship with God and my spiritual happiness are not separate from AA. They are inextricably one.

So, I will keep defying my ego and going to meetings and attempting to be responsible; no matter what anyone thinks. I want to stay sober, live the sober life and enjoy spirituality. My ego must be defied or I won’t make the spiritual progress I want.

I kicked a chair in my apartment in the dark last night. Now my right little toe is really painful. How will I go in a marathon tomorrow when I can hardly walk?

I dreamed about the marathon last night. I was about 20 minutes late for the start but went ahead and was running really fast. The course was complicated going into parking garages and stairwells. At one point, I got off course and couldn't figure out how to get back on; though I could see it. I yelled at a volunteer, "How in the he!! do I get over there?"

This dream is full of symbolism and indeed, the marathon is a microcosm for life. I hope I make it tomorrow!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Face of Christ Beyond the Veil


“This is the secret bargain made with the ego to keep what lies beyond the veil (the face of Christ) forever blotted out and unremembered. Here is your promise never to allow union to call you out of separation; the great amnesia in which the memory of God seems quite forgotten; the cleavage of your Self from you —the fear of God, the final step in your dissociation.

For in your secret alliance with them you have agreed never to let the fear of God be lifted, so you could look upon the face of Christ and join Him in His Father.

The desire to get rid of peace and drive the Holy Spirit from you fades in the presence of the quiet recognition that you love Him. …From beyond each of the obstacles to love, Love Itself has called. And each has been surmounted by the power of the attraction of what lies beyond. Your wanting fear seemed to be holding them in place. Yet when you heard the Voice of Love beyond them, you answered and they disappeared.

For what attracts you from beyond the veil is also deep within you, unseparated from it and completely one.”

SF’s Reflection: Since beginning the study of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) I have tried to search inside for my fear of God. I understand it intellectually, but I don’t think I have really touched the place inside where it lives and rules me. I can look at my “wanting fear.” Honestly, I can admit to myself that I have this. I accept that the face of Christ is not just beyond some veil I can’t seem to overcome, but inside me. The face of Christ is within.

The face of Christ within is my human dignity. I live a sober live in order to honor this truth. The face of Christ is beyond the veil I see when I look upon others with anger or fear. It is up to me to decide and practice the realization that the face of Christ is in everyone and everything. Everything I do in my sober life is intended to promote the face of Christ. In sobriety is my dignity, and all human dignity. In my sobriety, my honor code, I am actually worshiping my Creator. I am giving honor to all He made, including myself. I am giving up fear and anger and judgment in favor of remembering God, accepting Love. Love calls to be from beyond the veil, that is, inside you. Love calls to me from inside my own heart.

I would rather listen to this than the ego yammering about that person who just cut me off in traffic.

Yesterday at work, I had an “out of the blue idea;” a new way of doing things. Where do these come from?

I am resting from running and work outs; resting to the marathon on Saturday. Hence, I have spent more time in prayer this morning. I am about to make my green smoothie and head up to the church for meditation and Mass.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ACIM Practice

A Course In Miracles (ACIM) Text 19.IV (Ci): “It (the body) is nothing. It is the result of a tiny, mad idea of corruption that can be corrected. For God has answered this insane idea with His Own; an Answer Which left Him not, and therefore brings the Creator to the awareness of every mind which heard His Answer and accepted It…The body can but serve your purpose. As you look on it, so will it seem to be. Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego’s goal.”

SF’s reflection: My purpose, according to ACIM, is using the Christ vision to see beyond the physical illusion to the Presence of God within (ACIM forgiveness). I am willing to give up seeing conflict all about me and practice using the Christ vision. Life is much happier when I do. This world only “makes sense” if I realize it was made by a selfish insane ego and that it is a dream, an illusion. It takes some mulling over and silent meditation to realize that the concept of “reality is an illusion” could be the truth. Physicists can confirm this. Living as if it is true is another matter. When I change my perception, using Christ vision with the Holy Spirit’s help, the world does seem different. Different as in more peaceful. Different as in my responses are not anger but seeing only God within the people who trouble me. The Christ mindset is difficult to achieve and has taken me more than two years to believe I can do it and actually try frequently during the day. But why not try? Life sucks otherwise. People are nasty and frightening otherwise.

I would rather attempt to find inner peace than continue to judge and complain about the world around me. I must do it here in the middle of a normal life (not in a quiet monastery away from bills and commuting). Giving up the world and the body as real things is not the goal of ACIM; but rather to use them to practice Christ vision and communicate with the Holy Spirit and God. ACIM has worked to bring me peace and Christ vision more than anything I’ve tried.

I had a really nice 45 minute run this morning. Now, I’ll need to rest the next couple of days to be ready for the Kansas City marathon. My weight has fluctuated down to an acceptable level. All systems are go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Sober Life

By sober life, I mean living sober in all aspects of your life: spirituality, health, finances, and relationships. I recommend the sober life. It has joy potential because it offers freedom from most of what angers us. It is a life of binge abstinence, excess avoidance, consumption renunciation, and possession-less existence.

What I think of as the sober life may have been considered asceticism in former times. I stress that I do not live sober as a penance, but as a seeking for communion. I know sober living seems drab to many. I stress that its focus is on the art of spiritual living. The rewards are a fine body, awareness of God, peace, love and freedom.

The sober life includes a great awareness of God. To gain this awareness, the sober person drops from their life the distractions mentioned above (binges, excesses, consumptions, possessions) and instead puts their focus on The Presence. What is boredom to the non-sober is communion to the sober. These times of non-activity are when the sober person experiences the reward of sobriety; communion. Most people would do anything to avoid boredom; but it has not occurred to them that unoccupied time is exactly what is needed to connect with the Divine Presence. Well, connecting with the Divine Presence is not on their agenda, so I guess this doesn’t matter. Why I got so hung up on God is the most dramatic feature of my life. Not very many people become so obcessed.

I would do anything to experience communion; and I pretty much have: going to church or not going to church; joining a monastery; running ultra-long distances; fasting or over-eating; vigils; solitude; spiritual direction; reading; sex; 12 Step Fellowship meetings; etc. In some ways, all of these things are unnecessary, but I didn’t know that at the time. Now all I do is remain sober.

A sober life is trudged day after day. I know I have described the most boring and tedious life there could be. I share this as I am mulling over the temporary demise of my sobriety when I moved to the city and got a very demanding job. Now I am reformulating my sobriety to work with the people who are here and the other circumstances of my new life.

The building where I work is a three story brick structure of offices with an open courtyard in the center. It looks remarkably like the cloistered convent I used to live in. This morning, I have been writing up process hazard analysis reports for thiocarbohydrazide and tebuconazole. I'll never get Alzheimer's as long as I have to analyze these complicated processes. This afternoon I will go to a meeting on the new offices. After work, I'll go down to the basement and use the gym. The normal coffee station is out of commission during renovations. I've had to adjust my habits to find an alternative source of free coffee. I drink coffee because sitting in an office writing reports makes my eyelids heavy sometimes. They brought me a new phone today; and then said it wouldn't exactly work for another week. Today's emergency was a false alarm; a sprinkler head got bumped in a warehouse.

Saturday is the Kansas City marathon. I will be one of many runners experiencing what 26.2 miles can do to a body. But then, I'll return to sober running. Doing miles day after day is the best part of my life. I ran three miles this morning. It was wonderful.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thoughts on Thoughts

Life is thoughts. My life is my thoughts. My body is my thoughts.

I am always thinking.

My entire life (what I do and say and think and react to) is based on rules I learned from others (ie. other's thoughts). I am a product of others, not an individual. I am not a person, but thoughts. None of the thoughts are mine. They are thoughts I've collected from others and made into my life. Eating. Weight loss. Running. Work. Religion. Money. All relationships are collections of thoughts. My decisions are based on thoughts I’ve learned. None of this really matters. None of this is true or real. My life is just thoughts. I am the decision maker regarding the thoughts.

Sometimes I think thoughts which produce conflict for me. Why do I persist in having these thoughts and doing what they say? How do I make decisions? I have not admitted to myself what it is I really want.

I am sometimes sickened by others; either because I don't want their thoughts or because I know I already have their thoughts.

As a solitary and in solitude, I have a chance to filter the incoming thoughts and release un-wanted thoughts. But, I see I continue to hang on to conflicting thoughts. I hope some day I give up lying to myself.

God is a thought. I don't know if it/He is a true thought or not.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Work Work-out Room!

Look at that bicep!

Boy, am I ripped!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

From Egomaniac to Peace

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) text, 19.IV: “The peace He (Holy Spirit) lay, deep within you and your brother, will quietly extend to every aspect of your life, surrounding you and your brother with glowing happiness and the calm awareness of complete protection…The Holy Spirit asks that you offer Him a resting place where you will rest in Him…when you look with gentle graciousness on your brother, you are beholding Him (Holy Spirit)…The Holy Spirit’s purpose rests in peace within you.”

SF’s reflection: Last night, as I meditated, I realized a thing to which I cling. In my silence, I have always hoped to find a “real” thought, a thought of clarity and magnificent greatness. This desire cuts to the heart of my ego’s quest to be greater than God. I knew in that moment, I would never return to Heaven because it might mean giving up the hope of individual greatness. I also knew I had no idea of what it meant to exist in Heaven; a place of total love and peace and joy. I talked to Jesus about my shortcoming.

I also prayed for God’s perception of some things going on in my life. I wanted to see the loving hand of God rather than judge things as a pain and being angry or hateful. I realized I never want to allow another hateful thought again in my life.

I went to bed at 9 and woke up at 3 and sort of laid awake until 4; when I got up.

I sat down with the ACIM text and read the passages quoted above. I realized I was willing to give up my ego consciousness in favor of peace. I found myself quite willing, in meditation, to rest in that wordless place of peace. In that place, where I don’t think too much, I rest in peace with the Holy Spirit and I am able to extend the presence of the Spirit into every person I think of, no matter who they are.

I walked on the tm for 30 minutes and went for a quick 17 minute run. The short runs with weight lifting or machine time are going to be my taper for the next 9 days until the Kansas City marathon.

Yesterday, in a fit of egotism, I almost pushed all the internet buttons to get myself signed up for the 2010 Boston Marathon and reserve a hotel. But it didn’t happen. Now this morning, I again realize that I have a more valuable idea, where I could seek fellowship instead of braggadocio and I need to remember that idea. I’m only getting on one airplane to go to a race next year and I need to remember that fellowship will make me happier.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


From A Course in Miracles (ACIM) text 19.I:

- By faith, you offer the gift of freedom from the past…
- It (faith) is the gracious acknowledgement of everyone as a Son of your most loving Father…
- (By faith) You see the Christ in him (your brother)…
- Faith is the gift of God, through Him (the Holy Spirit) Whom God has given you…
- For faith arises from the Holy Spirit’s perception…

Yesterday, I found out that there is no early morning Mass this week. My immediate thought was, “Good. I am off the hook.” This is because I have more time for ACIM study and meditation and running if I don’t go to Mass. So now I know my truth, what it is about my relationship with God that I value the most.

So, I studied for an hour and 15 minutes, then I went for a 40 minute run. It was a very heavy sprinkle, so I wore my old orange illuminight jacket, thinking I would get a little rain protection. I ran extremely well down hills which means that I can smoke the down hills in my next race. My achilles did not bother me on the up hills and isn't talking to me now. After a most pleasant run, I came home with my jacket soaked. Well, I guess after ten years and numerous sprayings with camp dry, that jacket can’t do rain any more. So…I have already logged on to REI Inc. and ordered a new high visibility water repellent jacket. So there!

I focused on faith this morning. ACIM is not for everyone or it wouldn’t be 669 pages of fine print. The concepts are outside the box. For myself, I had to realize that what is inside the box is very narrow and mainly false before I could accept ACIM. Now, studying ACIM, the door is wide open to loving Christ in all and having a very personal relationship with God and Jesus, my brother. The door is open to changing my thoughts and perceptions so that the world is much more peaceful. The door is open to escaping the ego prison in which most of us live (and even value more that God). Love, freedom from ego and Jesus are what I really want out of life. So, I keep learning. I keep taking my inventory.

In terms of 12 Step spirituality, my life is dedicated to Steps 10, 11 and 12; which should be the ultimate goal of any program of sobriety.

God, I offer myself to you, to do with me and build with me as you will...I pray for knowledge of your will for me and the power to carry it out. Selah!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Humility and Gratitude

By humility, I mean anti-pride. By gratitude, I also mean anti-pride.

I was sitting in a 12 step meeting this morning and really feeling my pride deeply. I always think I am too advanced to go to a meeting and listen to the others, no matter what they have to say. I'm not there to lecture others about how superior I am or how spiritual I am. So many people do praise me, but I forget, it is really God who used my mouth. How arrogant to not value the others at the meeting and all they have given me. I even pretend that they never did give me anything. To be arrogant is to be drunk on self-pride. May I somehow achive sobriety of self. It means turning my will over to God and seeking only to serve; seeking only His will for me.

I also am arrogant towards the out of shape, over weight, or smoking type of people. See? I am so arrogant. Every now and then, I realize this at a deep enough level to be ashamed and then talk to God about it. Then, I mend my thinking.

That is when gratitude hits me. It is others, known and unknown, who have helped me with my life. My life is not my own beyond the sense that things happen, but that anything good comes from others acting on behalf of God. If anyone buys my former house, that is their gift to me. I remembered to be grateful for my new job and remember that it was given me. If I accomplish anything at work, it is due to someone helping me. If I don't goof off at work, that is due to a power greater than myself. If I do some work on my own time, that is not my will but my higher power. I forget to thank God.

I spend an hour a day in spiritual study and another 30 minutes in meditation. I forget that it is not my will power which accomplishes these things. It is my higher power.

I run marathons, work out and struggle to eat only as many calories as I need. It is not my will which accomplishes these things. It is my higher power.

I asked for help and He came. May I remember, it wasn't me. May I be willing to "just be sober," as the purpose and value of my life. May I thank my higher power.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Living Flame of Love

Saint John of the Cross made this phrase famous, famous among Catholic mystics that is. When I think of the phrase, I know That Flame of Love is calling me. I think of it, feel the call and am immediately drawn into contemplation. I shut my eyes and go inside to my secret place where I can sit and watch The Flame. It burns silently and eternally. There is a Presence pervading all of the space, a sense of safety and comfort, joy and peace. I feel as if I could watch the flame forever and perhaps the truth is that I have.

The Flame provokes people to write hymns of praise to the Creator, to feed the hungry, to fall on our knees in awe of the magnificence; which not only created, but lives now within.

The Living Flame of Love inspires me to transcend my ego, my fear of others, my self hate. The Flame gives me a consciousness of love beyond the body, a conscious communication with the indescribably abstract love called Ineffable. All physical and emotional experience pales in the light of the Living Flame. The realization of my littleness (puny ego posturing and griping) brings the realization of my potential magnificent holiness. Before The Flame, I drop everything and accept Its Grace.

One of "Those" Runs

Usually, I do my long runs in a flat park with a 2.7 mile loop, which goes by my car every lap, so I can have Gu and water without carrying it. Today, I did 16.2 miles at right on 10 min/mile.

Usually there are other runners and walkers in this park and at times it is pretty busy.

Today took the cake for busy. The park had sprung up a mountain bike course, or something (since there are no mountains). But, there were two strands of tape and cones marking out a loopy course, complete with obstacles simulating downed tree trunks. And then there were tons of people riding at break-neck speeds around this course. The trouble was, parts of the course crossed or went along the walking path. So many of us park regulars were confused and got yelled at when we were in the way of the bike racers.

I swear, I didn't mean to get in the way, I just couldn't figure out at times whether I was on the course or not, and which way the riders would be coming.

Luckily, this only happens once a year.

Two weeks until the Kansas City Marathon. I am in taper mode. I'll be lifting lots of weights during my taper. My goal for this race is to finish without injury so I can go in the Springfield Bass Pro marathon 2 weeks later. My real goal is to be a "Marathon Maniac."

My running is about as stupid as mountain bikers racing in Parkville, but lets not get into that!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Early Morning Love

It is 6:15 am, and I didn’t go to Mass.

I need to reflect. As I sat here, I made the connection: with that Personality Non-physical. I look at and acknowledge my self-hate and other-fear which attempts to block this Inner Love. The Inner Love seeks my attention and connection. To find It, I still need first acknowledge and shine light on the shadows of hate and fear.

“Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this oneness, and nothing else within” (A Course in Miracles Text, 18.VI.1).

If I find my Inner Love, I know it is not exclusively mine, but all of ours. The knowledge that we share love brings me close to oneness, close to Heaven.

This is a brief little blog. Yet, the knowledge on the oneness may be all I need to get through the day without being in unconscious terror of the other people. That one little scrap of knowledge may save my bacon today. All the power of the universe lies in it. All Love lies in it. Without this little knowledge, maybe I’d have to kill myself.

I guess I pursue God for this reason: without Him, I'd have to kill myself. Becoming aware of this inner connection is communion and I desperately need it.

I also had a wonderful 50 minute run under a slightly drippy sky, with lightening flashes. I was wearing my yellow "Live Strong" jacket. I felt good.