The Greatest Gift – the story
The Greatest Gift
The Holidays are nearly over – New Year’s Eve is yet to be celebrated. Did all the planning and preparation turn out as you liked? All those important details that took over our lives with untold distractions can now be filed away neatly like the Christmas cards
It was just such a busy Christmas in 1986 when I received the greatest gift of all. We never know when an experience will come that erases the doubt in our mind about who we are; is there a God; or why are we here and who cares. A revelation is not by its nature permanent, but it can be reflected upon and remembered when we are challenged or overcome by fear or even death. I have had several “mystical” experiences but the one that removed all doubt about the nature of reality happened on a cold, grey misty afternoon in San Francisco in 1986.
In April of that year I began to study the Workbook Lessons of the Spiritual Book, A Course In Miracles. The workbook offers one lesson per day for a one year study program. Students are encouraged to read them and practice them with the purpose of training the minds unconscious tendencies and un-do or see through the ego with the ultimate promise of attaining inner peace. I had been searching the elusive inner peace through various books and spiritual practices and none had worked. I promised myself I would read a lesson each day even if I did not fully understand it and not miss one. And I didn’t.
Mid December I was running errands, and if I remembered it, repeating the lesson. I have reflected on it over the years but believe I was on Lesson 245.
Your peace is with me, Father. I am safe.
“Your peace surrounds me Father. Where I go, Your peace goes there with me. It sheds its light on everyone I meet. I bring it to the desolate and lonely and afraid. I give Your peace to those who suffer pain, or grieve for loss, or think they are bereft of hope and happiness. Send them to me, my Father. Let me bring your peace with me. For I would love Your Son, as is Your Will, that I may come to recognize my Self.”
The Holiday decorations and bustling shoppers helped warm the afternoon fog. At O’Farrell Street, I noticed a group of homeless people had gathered in front of Macy’s and in particular a young woman with a baby. I thought, “That could be Mary and Jesus, needing a place to stay, cold and hungry with no manger available.” She was writing a sign with one hand while holding the baby with the other. I put a dollar in my pocket. Getting closer I noticed her long red curly hair, and fair skin. Placing the dollar by her hand I said “God Bless.” She looked up saying “Thank You” in the warmest voice I have ever heard. As if I had laid a $1,000 bill in her lap. Our eyes locked! My gift was puny in comparison to what she gave. Looking down into her eyes, I saw brilliant Great Rays of light streaming heavenward!
It was if I did not have a body because while looking down at her I could see into Heaven. I was stunned and stepped back as if an electric shock had been delivered. Tearfully stumbling up the street I wondered “What in was that?” Back at the office I tried to talk but couldn’t find the words. Much later I learned the Course speaks of the “Great Rays” – “As the ego would limit your perception of your brothers to the body, so would the Holy Spirit release your vision and let you see the Great Rays shining from them, so unlimited that they reach to God.”
I have received many lovely gifts in my life and I realize that words cannot explain this mystical experience. It may even be scoffed at but it left me knowing: God Is; Heaven Is and this world and its distractions are the fantasy.
The above appeared in the Ashland Daily Tidings on December 28, 2013 – See the poem at The Greatest Gift – the poem.