This morning, Saturday the 29th of June, my wife and I attended the A Course in Miracles meeting that I’ve been associated with off and on for more than a decade, mostly because a dear friend asked me to attend and I subsequently fell in love with the others attending the meeting.

A Course in Miracles is mostly, I think, about perception. That is, it’s about how we choose to look at and interpret this world we live in. That fact was driven home again this morning when one of our fellow travelers admitted that during the preceding week: “I have been in Hell,” but continued with, “However, next week I will be in Heaven.” This prompted another of our explorers to ask: “So you commute?”

Our friend’s question brought a rather animated round of laughter to several members of our group who recognized that we so often make that commute in the blink of an eye, sometimes willingly, sometimes not.

It is an ancient truth that, while we have little power over what transpires in our universe, we have the ability to learn how to have some influence over how we choose to react. It’s not always easy to maintain a positive, upbeat, and heavenly attitude, which is why those who do their best to practice the principles they study in A Course in Miracles recognize that it is a lifetime journey, and in the words of a professor of mine: “It’s a process.”

Way back in 1642, Richard Lovelace wrote in his poem To Althea From Prison:

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

If you haven’t already I would encourage you to read the entire poem. A few years later Satan echoed a similar sentiment (Really? Satan? You don’t say) through the pen of the penultimate John Milton in his epic Paradise Lost, first published in 1667 (and first read by me in 1965). In the opening book Milton, as the voice of the fallen Arch Angel, writes:

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

And yes, I think you ought to read the entire poem but at nearly 80,000 words it’s definitely an undertaking. I adore Milton (and Blake as well) so I’ve read the epic, along with its sisters, twice now with many excursions back for bits and pieces and will likely read it a time or two more when I’ve retired to the proverbial rocking chair on the front porch.

As you continue on your journey and find yourself in Heaven with some force that intervenes and tries to insist that you commute back into Hell, just remember that you do not have to turn the ignition key and shift into gear. It’s perfectly okay to leave it in park and stay right where you are – in Heaven.

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