Good Dreams

Good Dreams

 

“The old dreams were good dreams. They didn’t work out but I’m glad I had them.”

(Robert Kincaid – The Bridges of Madison County)

 

Riding up the snow covered mountain in North Carolina in March 1981, half-sick, I wondered how I was going to be able to get through Fidelio. A tenor friend had talked me into doing Pizarro- a part that clearly lies too low for me- at a festival in North Carolina on top of a mountain. I had to take the part since there was no other way to pay the rent. Singing sick had happened many times before but I always managed to pull it off. As soon as I got there I explained that I had taken a cold and needed two days rest before beginning rehearsals. I had a routine for beating a cold in a hurry when I was performing. It involved taking a double dose of cold medicine, and sleeping constantly. In two days I emerged for rehearsals. I am sure they would have docked my pay if they could have because the atmosphere was definitely tense until I began to sing. In the sitzprobe (rehearsal) all went very well and no one could tell my voice had gone through a cold. Then we staged the opera. The stage director gave me a ridding crop for a prop. I used it to the hilt to play the Gestapo-like character of Pizarro. The director looked a little stunned and said, “Man when you get a prop, you really use it.” My voice held throughout the performance and my one Pizarro was over. But I wasn’t pleased with it because I couldn’t project my voice well in the lower range. I learned the hard way, ‘never sing out of your fach.’ I never sang Pizarro again.

We were snowed-in on top of a mountain in North Carolina. If we wanted to get to the airport we would have to go down the side of the mountain in four wheel drives, which is what we did. I felt like kissing the ground when I arrived at La Guardia and quickly cabbed my way back to my cozy apartment and my beautiful Blue Persian cat, Jenny. On the long cab ride my mind wandered back to my beginnings in Missouri.

I was born with heart disease, specifically Coarctation Syndrome. Most people who are born with that do not live very long. When I was born the syndrome was not even well understood, and so the kindly old country doctor that served our family didn’t really know what was wrong with Joe-boy except that he could hear a heart murmur and knew that my immune system didn’t work too well. I had a lot of athletic talent but was never permitted to play organized sports because of my heart. I felt sort of like a leper as a kid. There was this mysterious thing wrong with me that kept me from doing what other kids could do.

Finally, in 1967 when I was 19 years old, our doctor advised me to go have the best cardiologists look at me. We packed up the car and drove to Houston Texas where the great Michael Debakey was practicing at Houston Methodist Hospital.

They found the coarc in the aorta (a weakened collapsed part of the aorta) and replaced it with some everlasting Dacron tubing. They left the stenotic aortic heart valve untreated for some strange reason. Perhaps it was just as well given the state of medicine then in comparison to today. Unfortunately, after 19 years, my body had grown small blood vessels in the lower half of my body and my kidneys had learned to request high blood pressure. So the treatment was far from complete. Still, it gave me something of a new lease on life and I was able to go to college and begin to dream dreams.

College was not such a tough choice for a kid who lived his whole life in Carthage, Missouri. My grandfather, Vernon Shore, had been a well-known Baptist preacher during the depression and afterwards. I felt pressured to move into his shoes, not knowing just exactly where my shoes were at the time. I graduated from high school in 1966 and headed to Southwest Baptist University the next year.

Southwest Baptist University was a beautiful place, situated in rural Missouri near rivers and lakes, in a small town. I liked it right away. I had this funny idea that I wanted to take voice lessons as well as study theology. After all, I had always sung in choirs and it had been a great joy in High School. I drew a voice teacher named Nathan McCallister who was a bear with a very little brain, a Baptist church choir leader with a voice that sounded just right for the job. He heard me sing in the first lesson and announced that I had no talent. Instead of assigning me the standard early Italian songs that all singers cut their teeth on, he let it be known that I was not even ready for them. He assigned instead, “Stand-in’ on the corner watchin all the girls go by.” After one semester I decided voice lessons were not for me.

SBU had some fine scholars on staff in the theology department but these were hard times in the Southern Baptist Convention. There was a whiff of controversy in the theological air regarding Biblical interpretation. I wasn’t sure what it was all about but I knew that I wanted to tackle theology head on. I wanted to do my best. I was always one of the top students in class but I was slowly inching towards theological positions that would be called “liberal.” I was becoming a rebel within Southern Baptists ranks.

I still had music in my life. Even though I had given up on voice lessons, I had been accepted into the choir. I was happy but a bit timid because there were a lot of music majors in it with “real” talent. To make matters more intimidating, the director, Dr. Cowan, was a star. He had sung with the famous Robert Shaw Chorale. He let us hear his rich, bass-baritone voice from time to time and we were all convinced that only Ted Harris had a better voice in all of Missouri. Ted Harris was a Professor of Voice who had sung with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Harris commanded respect and more than a little awe. The year that I arrived at SBU, Mr. Harris was preparing a role in Jerome Hines’ sacred opera on the life of Jesus called I Am The Way, which was going to be performed in Los Angeles. I sat outside Mr. Harris’ door listening to the indescribable sounds coming out of his office as he rehearsed. I had never heard anything like those sounds. I just wanted to sit there on the floor and listen, and hope he would continue to sing. Later Jerome Hines himself told me that Ted’s voice was tremendous at Los Angeles, sounding, in Hines’ words, “like a canon.” No small praise coming from Hines!

A lot of good things happened at SBU. One of them was that I was elected to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities for my work in Drama. Another good thing was that I was licensed to preach. Part of the Bachelor’s degree program in Christianity involved a field guidance program. I went a few miles over to The First Baptist Church of Buffalo, Missouri and did a pastoral internship under Brother Glen Pence, the Senior Pastor. Actually, he was the only pastor. Back in those days churches had one pastor and a minister of music. We were trained to be the pastor for the church. An internship gave me the chance to feel what it is like to have responsibility for a whole church. They were simpler times back then, especially in a small town, but a pastor’s job was still largely the same. During the week you visited the sick, planned Sunday’s sermons, did a little pastoral counseling for people in crisis, taught a little Bible at Wednesday night prayer meeting, met with a few committees, and that was about it! That could be a lot, but many times it was not as involved and as demanding as a modern-day senior pastorate. Glen Pense liked modern scholarship and I fit right in with my liberal tendencies. I also did a little supply preaching at other churches and went out on week ends with revival teams from SBU, but things were not right with me inside. I wandered why I had never experienced a “call” to the ministry. My colleagues in theology could point to a specific “call” they had to the ministry. I tried to put it out of my mind. I was a scholar and scholars had things to do in the world. I would go to seminary to the most scholarly seminary Southern Baptists had to offer, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky. There I would find happiness as a great scholar, or so I thought! I graduated from Southwest Baptist University in 1970 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and Drama.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky was the jewel in the crown of the Southern Baptist Convention. As I packed everything into my 1961 Buick LeSabre and set out on the interstate, I knew I was going to more than a seminary. I was going to the best the Southern Baptist tradition had to offer. That’s what I thought then.

The campus was Southern beauty itself, situated in rolling, Louisville green. This was the Yankee Stadium for a Baptist theology student. This was the House that A.T. Robertson built. Scholars taught here, great men like Dale Moody, Professor of Systematic Theology. He had studied with Barth, Tillich and Brunner, and actually lived with Brunner. His academic robes were from Oxford. When the faculty donned their caps and gowns, Moody looked like the Pope himself, proudly clad in his bright red Oxford finest. Of course, the Southern Baptists wanted no Pope and they certainly would not have wanted a scholar like Moody, if they had. For these were the McCarthy witch hunt days. Fundamentalists were rising in numbers like a hundred year flood that no one could stop. There were not enough theological sand bags in all the country to hold back these flood waters. The Southern Baptist Convention was teetering on the edge of Civil War, and like any Civil War, it would be very unholy.

The fundamentalists within the denomination were fearful of all that Southern Seminary stood for. They distrusted modern scholarship. They wanted the old time religion where everyone knew his place! And they wanted every modern professor and student OUT of the denomination. As much as anything, the war was about political power.

No scholar at Southern really believed that their fortified walls could be breached. Scholars like Eric Rust openly jousted with the fundamentalists in the classroom. With his English accent he would play with the word itself: “’Fun-dam-mental-ist.’ I can see the fun in it, and I can see the dam in it, but I’ll be damned if I can see anything mental in it.” And yet, this bravado struck many of us as a bit forced, with just a tinge of worry in it. The fundamentalists had made a charge, years earlier, at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City. An Old Testament Professor, Ralph Elliott, had been fired because he taught that the stories of creation in Genesis were not to be taken literally!

Ralph Elliott had gotten his Th.D. at Southern under the venerable scholar Dr. Clyde Francisco. Francisco was a wacky, wonderful professor who sounded sort of like Goofy reading Hebrew because of his deep Southern drawl. He talked about “thuh Bauble,” (‘the Bible’) and punctuated his comments with a “Hyulk, Hyulk.” He was prone to Southern pontifications, as when he would say, “Nawh (Now) I don’t denawh (deny) that a stupid man can be saved.” (Grand pause ) “But I denawh that a stupid man can understand thuh Bauble, Hyulk, Hyulk.” When he would counter the fundamentalists, he would say “Nawh, some people say that thuh Bauble says what it means and means what it says. But that’s not true! Thuh Bauble doesn’t say what it means. It means what it means.” But he was truly a fine scholar and he did not suffer fools.

“Whawh, Ralph Eliott,” He would say, “All he did wuz take mawh notes and publish um! Hyulk, hyulk!” And yet it was Francisco who, in the darkest hours, showed the most compassion for the fundamentalist brethren, refusing to condemn or judge them, standing firm in his faith. Francisco knew love, not fear. None of his jokes were intended to be cruel. They but took the edge off for the nervous young troops about to go to their first battle.

We all wanted to believe that the power of reason would dispel mob rule. But the line would not hold. The gates would be breached. A lot of lives would be lost in that Civil War. None of us came out the same person we went in as. We had such hopes, such dreams. Most of us had a long heritage of family allegiance to the Southern Baptist tradition, but we also had a little grey matter between the ears and we were searchers and shakers. The history of Southern Seminary showed us, or so we thought, that there was a place within the denomination for a deep, engaging, scholarly questioning of the nature of God, man and the universe, which did not cancel out our devotion or piety. These great scholars, Moody, Francisco, Honeycutt, Rust, Claypool, and others all showed us that there was a place for us.

Who would have believed it, that Southern would fall, the last bastion, and the hordes would pile in over the broken battlements, set fire to the books, and lay waste to a hundred years? A mind is a terrible thing to waste. How about thousands, of them?

It was not that Southern was really all that ‘liberal.’ By most denominational standards she was still a conservative ship. But in the minds of the fundamentalists you would have thought we had entered a different world. Faith had lost to fear and the hangman was doing great business. Professors mounted the gibbet one by one, refusing to confess to the fundamentalists’ fearful creed. Their necks but snapped while their hearts were full and love showed no taint. Aye,’twas a good day to die. We would all live again. That’s where we had ‘um, you see? The fundamentalists don’t really, truly, believe in the meaning of “resurrection.” We do! They but occupy a bit of ground now, a row of barracks full of fears. Love won. Love will always win in eternity.

I entered Southern as part of the last class. We were a fine bunch, all testing our limits as far as we could and searching for a place to stand.

The one student who always competed with me for top grade was an interesting fellow named Lynn Fann. Some might have called Lynn an odd duck. He played opera in the dorm, morning, noon, and night and drove everyone crazy. He had no real, serious voice but would fancy himself an operatic tenor as he sang along to the records. He essentially introduced me to Grand Opera. The only kind of opera we knew in the Ozarks was the “Grand Ole Opery.” Still, as a university student I had been introduced to some great singers and this experience whetted my appetite for more. I listened to records of most of the great singers of the second golden age of singing there in the seminary dorm, including one great bass from the Metropolitan Opera named Jerome Hines. He stood out not just because of his wonderful bass voice, but because he was also an evangelical Christian who witnessed on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. These great voices I heard spoke to me. There was something about the sound of their voices that grabbed me and I began to listen to opera in my room while I studied theology.

I grew more and more empty inside in seminary. I wanted desperately to be a minister but I felt very much out of place, like I didn’t really belong there. It was 1972 and while I was at my most desperate I cried out to God for help. I actually heard an inner Voice say to me, “Your sermons can be your characters on stage. The stage can be your pulpit. The audience can be your congregation. Now go put feet to your faith.” I had absolutely no reason to believe this Voice. Baptists do not hear voices. Maybe Pentecostals do but not Baptists! I had taken no voice lessons.

Nobody heard any special singing talent in me of this magnitude. Remember my only teacher in university, Nathan MacAllister, had even refused to teach me because I was so untalented. I had no reason to think that I could ever get on a professional stage and sing Grand Opera. It sounded like a stupid idea! But at some level deep inside of me I must have believed it. I wondered why I had never really felt a “call” to the ministry, but this experience definitely fit the description of a “call” to sing opera. Eventually, after fighting seminary another semester, I left, got an apartment across the street and a job in a pizza restaurant. When I wasn’t working I was listening to opera. One day in 1973 I opened my mouth to see if I could make a sound like one of those guys on the records and out came the essential sound that I have today. A couple of weeks later a friend heard me singing as he came for a visit and said, “Wow, you’ve got quite a voice. You ought to enter the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.” I didn’t know what they were but I said. “Ok.” I sent off and got an entrance form. The first level of the competition was in Tulsa where I was supposed to sing five operatic arias. I knew none of course but I had records. So I picked out what I thought were the five hardest bass arias on the records and learned them by listening! Four were in Italian, and one was in Russian. Both languages I learned phonetically by listening. I can admit all of this now because the whole affair was such a miracle. In 1974 I went to Tulsa without a care in the world, sang without any nervousness and was easily named one of the winners. I seemed to be stepping into something that was very comfortable to me, something like a miracle.

People from Tulsa Opera were there and offered me beginning roles with their company as well as a scholarship to Tulsa University.

One of the judges was from The Santa Fe Opera which was also hearing singers audition for Apprentice Artists. Later I discovered that ten thousand singers across America were auditioning to become one of forty apprentices chosen for that summer season. An apprenticeship with The Santa Fe Opera was one of the most highly sought plums for a young opera singer trying to turn professional. The Artistic Administrator came back stage and said to me, “You haven’t applied to us but would you like to be an apprentice?” I didn’t even know what that was but I said, “Yes,” and my career in opera had begun. “This opera business is a snap,” I thought. Before going to Santa Fe, I made my debut with The Tulsa Opera singing a small but important part in Madama Butterfly alongside stars from The Metropolitan Opera. At Tulsa University I sang scenes from The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni, then packed up my old car and drove to Santa Fe in the summer of 1974 for a high profiled new beginning. When God opens doors, they open wide and people fall all over themselves to help you. But, as I would painfully find out later, when He closes those doors, no amount of pulling will open them.

When I won the Met auditions in Tulsa in 1974, representatives from Tulsa Opera Inc. offered me not only small roles with them but a scholarship to do masters work in voice at Tulsa University. Tulsa became a new home filled with supportive people who would become almost like a family. A voice professor from TU came back stage at the auditions and recruited me right then and there for his studio. I did not know at the time that he was trying to cabbage onto me to aggrandize his flagging studio. I found that out later as representatives from Tulsa Opera said, “Oh dear. You’re going to study with HIM? You need to study with Laven Sowell!” I had one or two lessons with the first teacher but I found them odd. He didn’t seem to have anything to say. I delicately changed teachers to Laven Sowell. Laven was chorus master at Tulsa Opera as well as Professor of Voice. He had his hand in all the vocal pies of Tulsa and everyone who was anyone studied with him. He was a large man with a jolly disposition and a big belly laugh. Everywhere he went he left a little of himself behind. His beautiful home displayed a love-affair with elephants. It was a fitting love affair for a large man with a large impact on life. Elephants of jade, stone, wood, all shapes and sizes, claimed his home as theirs. Students would bring him new elephants from all over the world when they sang in some far off place. Laven’s share of their spoils was a new elephant and pride in their accomplishments. He had heard me sing at the Met auditions so he knew my voice and was only too happy to get me into his studio. Laven said things to me that every teacher thereafter would say. “I don’t want to touch your voice. I just want to help you use it.” My voice came already to go. What Laven Sowell gave me, I have tried to give to all of my students since. He gave me love! He will probably be a little embarrassed to read this, but it is true. He gave me a lot of good musical and vocal knowledge as well, much of which I use to this day. Laven had studied voice with some very interesting characters and he therefore brought a very rich experience to the studio. As a young lyric baritone with a nice sporty instrument, he had toured with the Charles Wagner Opera Company. His voice still served him well and I wished he had used it more when I studied with him. He had sung small roles with Tulsa Opera alongside great singers from the Met before becoming chorus master. His experiences gave him a lot of stories to tell. Stories are important. They humanize an otherwise clinical study of voice.  Even though I came into the profession of singing with a technique given by God, I had a lot of wonderfully influential coaches and teachers who passed on their experience of singing.

In assessing the things that Laven Sowell gave to me, I could describe many musical items and vocal tidbits. I don’t mean to say that they weren’t important. They were. But I am looking back now at the truly wonderful things given, and they are not a relaxed jaw or five and nine tone scales. Laven Sowell cared about me and he shared himself with me. I will always carry something of him within me. I have tried to be as good to my students as he was with me.

I want to clarify something at this point. At the time that all this was happening I did NOT have the same perspective that I have today. I was inside a whirlwind! I was still deeply shaken by what seemed to be my failure in theology. Actually there was no failure in anything. I had just been “called” to sing opera. It may sound like it was all easy but it wasn’t. My ability to understand the things of the Spirit had never been developed. I didn’t want to tell anybody about hearing this inner Voice. I didn’t want to think about it! It was easy to run away from the pain of what happened in seminary by just immersing myself in a new profession, and that is what I did. I did not consciously think about viewing my characters as sermons, my audience as my congregation, or my theatre as my church. I just went to work being an opera singer. I know that is hard to understand now that I could have been so stupid, but everything had happened so fast. It was going to take me time to sort things out! The young man that studied in Tulsa with Laven Sowell was confused, and therefore insecure, posturing a little with an arrogance that anyone could have understand as circumstantial if they had chosen to look closely, and he was bursting with an incredible amount of talent and promise. Some people came alongside and chose to help me. Wonderful people in the Tulsa Opera Guild arranged for my introduction to the arts in Tulsa and made sure I could eat regularly! Thank you!

Jeannette Turner, the Director of Tulsa Opera, was a wonderful woman who mothered me and introduced me to “The Maestro.” Maestro Carlo Moresco was the conductor for all Tulsa Opera productions. Along with Tony Stivanello who staged, costumed, and made-up the cast, he was the head of “Instant Opera.” “Instant Opera” made it possible to mount operatic productions in regional companies all over America in just one week! One week for everything: sets, costumes, rehearsals for orchestra and principals. In seven or eight days the curtain could go up! That kept production costs down so that regional companies could afford to have opera in their cities. The geniuses behind “Instant Opera” were old Italian maestri like Carlo Moresco and Toni Stivanello who had a huge set and costume shop on Long Island which could supply all of Instant Opera’s needs. The local company supplied a chorus master, like Laven Sowell, and a local chorus which learned the music well in advance. Jeannette Turner called the artist managements in New York and hired the lead singers who had done their parts so many times they did not need more than a week’s rehearsal. Small parts were done by local singers, like Laven Sowell, who learned their parts well ahead of rehearsal week.

Instant Opera is usually spoken of derisively these days. But I would like to speak in its defense. Instant Opera allowed opera to spread all across North America to cities which otherwise would not have had it. It gave young singers like me a chance to sing alongside great artists and learn by doing. It gave America a taste of the Italian tradition in singing and it gave the audience more than its money’s worth! Today it is in vogue to mock Instant Opera because it did not give the new stage director cult full sway over a cast for six weeks. Let me tell you. I have been a part of that scene and many times the opera we produced in Instant Opera was a better artistic product than what came out of a narcissistic stage director intent on using the stage and everyone on it to showcase his own little, and I mean little, mind! Instant Opera kept opera an essentially vocal/musical art form which it is historically. It kept the vocal/musical art of the individual singer front and center. People do not come to opera to see the beautiful sets, or to see the acting, although both are nice to see. They come for the vocal/musical art of the great performer. The sets and costumes can be beautiful. The acting can be great. The singers can be young and slender. But if there are no great voices being used artistically, opera as an art form will die! Only dilettantes do not understand this. Unfortunately, there is a whole forest of them running the opera world.

Maestro Moresco ruled by complete intimidation, the old Italian way of insuring that quality in the art-form would continue! He made his entrance from the back of the auditorium with a trench coat, the collar up around his neck, hands in his pocket, looking like something out of The Godfather. He was Don Corleone! You didn’t cross him! He had been in America many years but had learned only about ten words in English. When he needed to tell the orchestra to “mark” a particular section in the score, he lacked the words, so he would scream at them, “Sign, sign, sign.” How he screamed at the orchestra! When they dissatisfied him, he would shout, “Peegs! You play like-a peegs!” He knew every note of the orchestral score by memory and could solfegg the entire opera. He would cue the orchestra from the “si bemolle.” I was scared to death of him. I thought he might have me taken out and shot if I missed the cue. The old Italian conductors could be counted on to give you a clear beat with the baton and a clear cue. There was no prompter in Instant Opera except The Maestro, and you no-a-wanta-miss-a the cue. The Maestro could turn you to stone with one glare of his eyes from the podium! Opera was serious business to the Italians. The “new” conductors often had unclear beats–cake mixing in a circle was a favorite, or the constant up and down of a confused wrist intended to make us look elsewhere for clarity! Bruno Bartoletti was such a “new” Italian conductor. Famous as the conductor at The Lyric Opera of Chicago, he could not be bothered to conduct in a pattern. He looked sort of like a bird with a broken wing as he curved his wrist towards himself and conducted everything up and down, never making eye-contact with the singer and never demeaning his position by giving even a hint of a cue. All of that music stuff was our business as the singers! None of that pretentiousness characterized “The Maestro.” His beat was clear. He kept perfect eye contact with everyone on stage and he never missed a cue! I don’t know how he did it, but everyone felt the gaze of the Maestro’s eyes. Once in a rehearsal of Madama Butterfly, for my debut in 1974, I was singing the musically tricky part of “The Bonze” and made a mistake in my entrance. The Maestro stopped the music. There was utter silence. I have never been so terrified in all my life. Finally the silence was mercifully broken by the coach, Marienka Michna, who literally leaped between The Maestro and me, begging for another chance. I got it right the second time!

Later in New York, in the early 1980’s, after The Maestro had been ousted in Tulsa by the new director, I coached some of my Verdi roles with him. I loved him dearly! Why, you might ask? What did The Maestro give to me? Let me tell you. The Maestro generously gave himself to me. He gave me the entire history of Italian singing. No words can describe the love of opera which he passed on to me. The Maestro was a heritage and he gave it to me probably without even knowing it. In his time a conductor grew up in the theatre, learning its entire art before he went to the podium. He even learned how to play the anvil on stage in Il Trovatore! He learned the art of singing as well as the art of making an orchestra sing. Moresco was the past, in a very good sense. As I observed him, worked with him, coached with him, he gave me that past. He gave me Tosi and Mancini, Lamperti, Garcia and Marchesi. He gave me Caruso and Ruffo, Stracciari and Granforte, Toscanini and Boito, Tebaldi and Del Monaco, Corelli and Bastianini. He gave me the sun of Italy in the middle of the Midwest! And he gave it all to me in his arm! As that arm moved during my coaching’s, The Maestro spoke. The Maestro gave. Thank you Maestro!

I never turned into a great conductor, although I have taken the baton from time to time and conducted this or that piece fairly well, but I have never forgotten the Maestro’s arm! If, while I am teaching you, dear ones, I begin to move my hand like the conductor I am not, please understand. It is the Maestro I am remembering. I will try to give myself to you as thoroughly as he and others like him gave themselves to me.

The Metropolitan Opera Auditions were a national search for new operatic talent conducted in stages. The district level was for all singers in the state. Three or four winners were chosen to go to the regional level which comprised several states. One winner from each region in the US and Canada went to New York to the Metropolitan Opera for the National Semi-Finals. Ten winners were selected to appear at the Metropolitan Opera for the National Finals. In the earlier years, one person would be selected from the ten to be given a contract with the Met, but that practice had changed. The Met was no longer interested in hiring people that way. The National Finalists were usually given scholarships and sent on their way out into the operatic world where the prestige of being a National Winner or Finalist would hopefully contribute to career building.

In 1974 I had won the district level in Tulsa and I expected to win at the regionals in St. Louis. I was sure my voice was better than everybody else’s and victory had to be certain. In fact, absolute fame and fortune had to be certain! I knew nothing about taking care of my voice or preparing for a contest. I expected my voice to be there whenever I wanted it and at top form. On the very day of the regional competition, I got up early, had no breakfast, and drove my old car 350 miles to St. Louis. There I expected my miraculous voice to knock everybody down the way it did in Tulsa!  By the time I arrived in St. Louis, my body was dehydrated. My voice was dry and crackly and I felt none of the power I had felt in Tulsa. Undaunted, I went out on stage to sing, expecting to bowl people over! I thought I sang well, but nothing happened. Nobody paid me any attention. Some soprano went on to win and go to New York for the next round. I was infuriated! The judge was a soprano from the Metropolitan Opera named Lucine Amara. I was furious with her and shot her daggers with my eye contact. She returned a nice smile. (Five years later we would be friends and colleagues but not this day!) What had happened? I thought this opera business was supposed to be a snap! Licking my first real wound I drove back to Tulsa to prepare for my first season at The Santa Fe Opera.

The Santa Fe Opera was an oasis in the desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico. John Crosby’s father had made millions in the Cuban sugar trade under Battista and he bought an opera company for John.  It was a beautiful setting in that magical New Mexico desert. The theatre was open air so the magic of the New Mexico night mixed with the opera. When Madame Butterfly pointed in the distance to “Nagasaki” she pointed to the lights of a real city in the desert shining through the back of an opera stage. Santa Fe had made a name for itself in the opera world by staging unusual works in this beautiful setting, using a combination of established and young singers, and having the best apprentice program in the world. Forty apprentices were chosen from over ten thousand singers who auditioned annually. Our main function in the summer season was to provide the chorus for all the operas, but we also sang small parts, served as understudies for the principals, coached with staff, took voice lessons and learned stage movement. The theatre was situated in the middle of a large ranch which also housed rehearsal stages, halls, a swimming pool, and the Crosby ranch house itself. Apprentices were paid virtually nothing, around $400 per month, out of which one had to pay all living expenses, including housing!  I had dreams now of doing something with my voice and with this art-form called opera. But the dreams were not clear yet.

The staff voice teachers for apprentices were a husband and wife team named Andy Field and Audry Langford from The Cantica School of Voice in London. Richard Gaddes, the Artistic Administrator, had been an accompanist for them in their studio and he had brought them over. Santa Fe always kept an English connection. Audry Langford had sung as a coloratura soprano at Covent Garden in the distant past. Now she had a lady bass voice, about three octaves lower than she used to sing. Age had sadly not been kind to her. She looked sort of like one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Andy was a soft spoken man who had never had a major career, but he had sung some oratorio in England. Together they taught a type of voice production which was essentially empirical (that is, it did not employ mechanical and acoustic information) and which claimed to desire the “freedom” of the voice. “Freedom of the Voice” is the ubiquitous philosopher’s stone of voice teaching which all methods claim! I drew Andy as teacher and found him a sweet, supportive man. He liked my voice very much and compared it to the great bass- baritones he had known in his youth, Covent Garden stars like baritone Paolo Silveri and bass Boris Christoff. Like Laven Sowell, he said, “I don’t want to change your voice. I just want to help you use it better.” Also like Sowell, the main thing that Andy Field gave me was love and encouragement. Andy professed amazement that I had only just started singing. I sounded, he professed, as though I had been singing leading bass-baritone roles for years in the world’s great opera houses!

With classes in stage movement, languages, make-up, I began my new life in the theatre, thinking very little indeed about God!

In the fall of 1974, when I returned from my first season at The Santa Fe Opera, I found Tulsa changed. Jeannette Turner had retired as Director of Tulsa Opera and the winds of change were in the air. A new director was hired who wanted “ensemble opera” as opposed to Instant Opera. Most regional companies were attracted to a new American national opera-form which wanted young, attractive singers, obediently flexible in rehearsal, good diction, obedient to the stage director’s every whim. America’s “ensemble opera” was both good and bad. It was good in that it wanted bigger budgets for regional opera companies and better quality of acting on stage. But it was bad in many other ways. It began a “new” look at opera as an art-form that did not need great singers. Mediocre singers would do just fine if they were attractive, moved well and had good diction! Ensemble Opera thought it could attract the television and movie audience if it just boosted the visual quality in opera. The moguls of Ensemble Opera thought that if opera were to survive into the 21st century it had to change. The problem was that they were willing to change it away from the essential vocal/musical nature of opera. After all, they thought, most Americans are ignorant of the vocal quality standards implicit within the heritage of historic opera. Give them young, attractive, slender singers (if less talented vocally) on a well-dressed stage and drain off some of that television/movie revenue for “opera,” and if the moguls happen to get rich in the process, well this is America!

As you can imagine, one of the first things Mr. New Director did was to fire The Maestro. Mr. New Director was a soft mannered, slick talking fellow, affable, so sincere. He sold it to the Board. The Maestro was gone. Jeannette Turner telephoned Tulsa Opera from her retirement and inquired, “What’s going on there?” She was summarily informed by an underling: “Jeannette, we are going to do things differently now.” That was the last contact she had with the opera company she had nourished. She died not long later. The diagnosis may have been cancer but I know it was because of a broken heart!

Mr. New Director acted towards me very differently than Jeannette had. To her, I had been the darling young discovery with all of this talent. She and the good ladies of the Opera Guild had found me out in the cabbage patch of life and were only too happy to bring me in, dress me up and show me off as a “find” for Tulsa Opera. Mr. New Director played along with the program for a while as though he had inherited me along with the furniture but it was obvious his heart was in a very different place. Mr. New Director provided a new experience for me in opera, opposition! That should have given me pause had I maintained any spiritual discernment. God had opened doors for me and people had fallen all over themselves to help me. Now, all of a sudden, here was a powerful man who stiff armed me! What did that mean? It meant that God was trying to get my attention. I was not learning. Instead I became even more prideful and offended that ANYONE would dare oppose me. MY voice was obviously superior and that should be fully respected by all!

These were really days of learning, not chastening. My arrogance as a young singer was just a posture I took to protect myself from going insane with all this talent suddenly heaped on me. I was going to have to learn about good and bad administrators in opera, and my karma would bring them to me.

I was preparing to enter the Metropolitan Opera Auditions again in 1975 with a view towards winning the whole thing. I was commanding my voice much better than I had in the previous year and I had learned a lot of literature. When it came time for the district round again in Tulsa, I found myself with a bad cold. A “little Voice” which I had almost forgotten said “Wait until next year.” Hum…What was that voice? No matter. I wanted to do things my way. I entered anyway, singing over the cold and easily winning the district level again. This time it would be different at Regionals. I took with me to Kansas City a group of supporters from Tulsa for my very own cheering section. For my position on the program, I drew last place, number 13. Last place is a tremendously advantageous position because it gives you the last word. The worst position is first place. Nobody remembers you by the end. I sang Macbeth’s aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” with a long sustained high A flat.” I felt very good and it seemed to be my night. The judge, the Assistant to the Artistic Administrator at the Metropolitan Opera, sent word back stage that he would like for me to sing an aria which was not on the list. I politely refused and sang the aria on the program. I brought the house down in Kansas City and was named the winner. Some of my competitors were singers of some acclaim in the region, like baritone James Ditsch, a student of the noted teacher, Paul Sommers, at The Conservatory of Music in Kansas City. He was highly favored. Ditsch later told me he went over the list of singers with Sommers, asking about each one, and when he came to my name, Sommers told him, “Oh, don’t worry about him. He doesn’t have much of a voice.” I had sung for Sommers once in 1974 before entering the Met Auditions for the first time. Apparently he had not liked my voice then because it was not bright enough to suit his taste.  After the contest I saw Sommers in the hall and spoke to him. He looked sort of sheepish and said, “I have to admit it. You really brought the house down.” His star, James Ditsch did not even place. The next morning, Feb. 23, 1975, the most respected critic in the Midwest, gave me a review in the Kansas City Star comparing me to one of the greatest of past baritones, Lawrence Tibbett.

“One could close the eyes and imagine what it might have been to hear Lawrence Tibbett when he was in his early twenties. A Verdi baritone. No doubt about it.” John Haskins, The Kansas City Star

I didn’t think any more about that little voice that said I should wait until next year. The next round was the National Semi-Finals in New York at the Metropolitan Opera. I had never been to any city larger than Tulsa, but I had tunnel vision and felt ready to head on up to the Big Apple. The only problem was that when time came to fly to New York, I had a pretty bad cold again! No one had ever told me not to fly with a cold and I thought I had to go, so off I went. On the flight to New York I blew my nose many times, thinking nothing of it. When I got off the plane at La Guardia, I was as deaf as a post! Infected mucous had blown back into my ears and the compression of the cabin had sealed it in there. The Met sent me immediately to the best laryngologist in the whole world, Dr. James Wilbur Gould, who treated all the Met stars. He told me that my vocal cords were alright but my hearing would only come back gradually. He could not tell if I would be ready for the Semi-Finals in a week. He put me on Erythromycin and prednisone and wished me good luck. The Met people were very nice. “If you want, you can come back to the Semi-Finals, next year.” There were those words again! I suddenly remembered the internal Voice telling me in Tulsa to wait until next year. So what do you think I did? Did I say, “Yes, I’ll go back to Tulsa now and return next year”? I’m sorry to say I didn’t. I wanted to do things my way. I stayed and tried to coach with the Met coaches without being able to hear. The day before the Semi-Finals, my ears popped open and I could hear again. But I had lost a lot of time and confidence. Who should show up at the Gala Concert but Lynn Fann from seminary days! We had occasionally written since seminary and he had shown up to see this miracle of my voice which he still couldn’t quite accept. I sang well in the Semi- Finals, though not as well as in Kansas City, and received a grant from the Met National Council. I had also made the cut and was one of the Final Ten. Now I had a week to coach my arias with the Met’s best coach, Maestra Alberta Masiello, who would also play for me at the finals. Miss Masiello, as she was called–she hated ‘Maestra’- had been a mezzo soprano with a brief career many years ago at the New York City Opera. I don’t remember exactly what cut her career short but I seem to remember that she suffered from excessive stage fright. Since the 1950’s she had been the best coach at the Met., knowing the Italian repertoire commandingly. Every conductor at the Met respected Miss Masiello tremendously. If I thought Maestro Moresco was intimidating, Miss Masiello gave the word new meanings! She smoked those little cigars incessantly, even while coaching, regardless of the singer’s pleasure or allergies! Her mezzo soprano voice had descended to the depths of a foggy lady bass in which she intoned commands. She never smiled. She never once said anything complimentary, but she would eat you alive for any mistake. Moresco was a pussycat compared to her! I sang my best arias for her and hoped for something nice. Instead she looked down at the piano and intoned somewhere around low C, “You need Italian badly. Go see Maestra Cozzi!” I was stunned. Nobody had ever complained about my Italian before, not Moresco, not anybody at Santa Fe. I felt deflated like I was back to square one.

I went to see Maestra Cozzi who ushered me into her quaint apartment at the Ansonia Hotel. She treated me in a grandmotherly way. I expected her to bring out tea and cookies. She began her Italian lesson speaking to me as if I were about four years old. I left in an hour thinking I had been to the Twilight Zone. Miss Masiello never said anything about my Italian after that. In fact she never said anything except that she did not want me to sing Macbeth’s aria because “the high A flat is not written and otherwise it only goes to a G flat.” It was my decision to make, not hers, and something inside me told me that I had to sing Macbeth’s aria. But I let her talk me out of it. Inside, my funny little feeling was getting worse and worse about all this. Miss Masiello wanted me to sing The Prologue to I Pagliacci and Valentin’s aria from Faust. Once, while singing The Prologue, I held the high G at the end a long time, and Miss Masiello stopped. With a stern look on her face she snapped, “No, if you hold the high G that long I will come down without you! You may hold the A flat!” I let her rough manner eat away my confidence. The Prologue was jinxed!

There were singers at the Met then who saw me as a winner who could get a contract. One of them, tenor Douglas Alstedt, took me aside and said, “I think you really have a shot to get a contract. Go for it.”  The Finals were a Gala Concert to a sold-out Metropolitan Opera house. They were to be broadcast live on radio all over the US and Canada! The Gala started at 2:00PM. That means I should have gotten at least eight hours sleep and awakened by 9:00AM. Instead I got up about 11:30AM and did very little vocalizing. I arrived backstage at the Met to find my own dressing room with my name on the door! I went in and tried to warm up but a lot of the voice was not there. It was not working the way it had in Kansas City. Everything about this trip to New York had thrown me. I was not quite ready for it. That little voice made sense when it told me to wait a year. I simply had no experience of how to awaken and enliven the voice for a matinee. I walked into the wings to await my turn and there was Doug Alstedt to wish me luck. I walked out on that enormous stage and felt totally alone. This was not like Kansas City. There when I walked out, power walked out with me. At the Met, on that stage at that time, I was just Joe Shore. I tried to start The Prologue but only about one third of my voice came out. I blustered my way through it. Finally the last climactic page came where I always had excelled. The climax is on a high A flat, the ultimate note for a baritone. Most don’t even have it. But I had it, just not on that day. I went up for the A flat and tried to hit it and it cracked! I got off of it quickly and went on. The final note was a high G, almost as high, and I hit it and held it a good while. Miss Masiello did not come down without me. The audience cheered but I knew I had lost. This was not the voice that had won everything for me. In the wings Doug Alstedt tried to make me feel better. “Don’t worry about that,” he said, “MacNeil goes out there and does that all the time.”  The second aria went better but still not up to my standards. As you have guessed by now, The Met offered a contract to another singer, a young lyric soprano. I went back to Tulsa feeling utterly defeated and deflated.

Wouldn’t you think I would have gotten the message by then? Some part of me must have gotten the message because, thereafter, I began to pray before I would go out on stage. I don’t mean a nervous prayer like, “Please don’t let me crack anymore!” Rather, I would have a quiet time in my dressing room and I would pray a prayer that came out of me, like this: “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, flow through me like water through a pipe so that the people may see you through me.”

All that God had done for me had been His response to my prayer for help in seminary. Even though I was going to have to learn many things the hard way, that little prayer I prayed in my dressing room kept me going. I can truly say that after that I never let an audience down. My voice never failed me, and God was able to use my voice to affect people in a deep way.

I went back to Tulsa in May of 1975 to a hero’s welcome. But I didn’t feel like a hero. I felt like an “also sang,” and my voice was not an “also sang.” I had to prepare to go back to Santa Fe for my second and last season as an apprentice in the summer of 1975, hopefully to leapfrog into the status of artist. Being one of the ten National Finalists in the Met Auditions in 1975 definitely helped my image at Santa Fe. I was given good roles to understudy and even a small but good role in the regular season. I got to play the part of the Grandfather Clock in Ravel’s, fantasy opera, L’Enfant et les sortileges. I was inside of an enormous grandfather clock with its weight suspended on my shoulders by straps, dancing around as I sang high F sharps and G’s!

That year I decided to live alone. I found an adobe cabin next to the Pecos Wilderness area and set up housekeeping with my Blue-point Himalayan cat, Ali Baba. The cabin was thirty miles from the opera but the drive was worth it. My Buick LeSabre got rid of those miles in no time. It was hard on Ali Baba though and I thought of getting him a playmate. One of the apprentices had a Chocolate-point Himalayan that he was going to have to give away because of allergies. I got Mocha. She was the beautiful cat of my dreams, but she had not been spayed and was just coming into heat. One night I left to go to the theatre and I accidentally left a window open the tiniest crack. When I got back Mocha was nowhere to be found. I grabbed a flashlight and began a search for her that lasted a good portion of the night. When I got up in the morning I found her. The neighbor’s dog had dragged her body back to his yard. Apparently, that night she had managed to get out the window-how I will never know–and follow her instincts. A pack of dogs had chased her and killed her. When I saw her body, all torn up, I just lost it. I started screaming and crying.  I am narrating this because this experience became a “substitution” that I used for years to bring to life Rigoletto’s discovery of the body of his little girl, Gilda. What happens to us in life is what we use on stage to make the stage come to life.

At the end of the season, the apprentices performed an evening of operatic scenes. There I did my first Rigoletto, performing the most difficult scene of the opera. Act 1 scene 2 contains the duet with Rigoletto and Sparafucile, the aria, Pari Siamo, and the long duet with Gilda. It is surely the most difficult scene for Rigoletto. Eugene Kohn, who later became famous, conducted. Friends from Tulsa came to see it. James Sullivan, director of the Arizona Opera, was also there and he hired me for my first major role as an artist. I was to perform “Tonio” in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci.

As I drove back to Tulsa, I knew I was also driving back to say, Good-bye. It was time to move on up to the Big Apple, and slowly but surely there began to develop in the back of my mind, a dream of doing opera my way. I dreamed of opera where the singers acted as well as actors on stage or screen and sang with the beauty and power of the great singers of the golden ages of singing. I dreamed of making people’s lives better because they had seen opera.

In the fall of 1975 I made the big move to New York. Tulsa had cradled me and brought me along, but now was the time to head on up to the big time. As in everything else, I was helped by my unseen Friend. Things just seemed to fall into place. Lynn Fann, the same friend who introduced me to opera in seminary, had introduced me to his friends in New York who shared an apartment on the upper West side of Manhattan near Columbia University.  By the time I was ready to move to New York, one of them was ready to vacate, leaving a vacancy for me. The terrible job of searching for an apartment in New York was spared me. It was an acceptable area, on the border of safety. I loved being right next to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I spent many days meandering through the beautiful chapels much the way I had meandered through the garden during childhood. It seemed that everything was being arranged for me, including the proximity of this wonderful cathedral.

One of the first things I did in New York was to arrange for an audition with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera, that operatic basso par excellence who had provided me with the model voice during my seminary years. In theological seminary my fellow student, Lynn Fann, had introduced me to opera. I had never really heard it before. In Carthage we knew about the “Grand Ole” Opery but that was about it. I listened to all of the great singers of the second golden age of singing with Lynn. Something in their sound made me sit up and pay attention, especially the singing of the great bass, Jerome Hines, partly because he was also a Christian who would sing at the Salvation Army on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. His voice and his life became a model for me. Now in 1975 I was going to get to sing for him. My old teacher from college, Ted Harris, had been instrumental.  Ted told me that Hines’ opera company was going to be auditioning for a baritone to take the place of Met baritone, Calvin Marsh, for a production of Hines’ opera on the life of Jesus, I Am The Way, to be staged in April 1976 in Columbus Ohio. Ted arranged for me to talk to the stage director, Derek de Cambra, a spunky, enthusiastic fellow with a British accent who had a love for beautiful singing. I was to go over to New Jersey to audition directly for Hines himself. I was finally going to meet the wonderful singer whose voice excited me so much in seminary. In those days I was not really nervous. I was excited and ready to go. My voice could do anything and I could pound on it for hours, if necessary, and it would still be fine for the next outing. I prepared my benchmark arias that had won the Met auditions for me and took a train, then a bus, to the New Jersey audition site. It was a small room to sing in.  Hines was seated only a few feet from me. Still, I went eagerly to the task and sang Macbeth’s last act aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” which had won for me the Midwestern Finals of the Met Auditions, interpolating a long, sustained, high A flat at the end. Hines was visibly impressed and began talking about his recording of Macbeth with Leonard Warren. He was warm and cordial but every bit the opera star that I expected him to be.

He talked several minutes about great baritones he had known and how favorably my voice compared. I could not have asked for a more favorable review from one I idolized so. I got the part and began preparing the role. The baritone I was replacing, Calvin Marsh, was a Met baritone with a huge voice, beautiful color, commanding range, and a veteran. He was a tough act to follow. My voice was much different than his, darker, almost a bass-baritone compared to his, yet more lyrical because of youth. My old college teacher, Ted Harris, was to sing the bass part of the villain, Eliakim, one of the chief priests (a fictitious character), who conspires with Judas to capture Jesus. I was going to get to see two dreams come true, to sing with my teacher and my idol.

In the spring of 1976, after performances of “Tonio” in I Pagliacci in Tucson with the Arizona Opera, and a cross-country concert tour for Columbia Artist’s Community Concerts, I headed for Columbus Ohio, my ego beginning to inflate from the heady rushes of early successes. I still heard the inner Voice, but I did not remember “who” or “what” it was, and I certainly was not cultivating a habit of reliance on it for guidance. At times I would do what it said, and at times I wouldn’t.  Each time I obeyed, I was amazed at the eerie way in which things fell together for my benefit.

For example, In 1975 I had made the finals of the highly prestigious WGN-Illinois Opera Guild Auditions of the Air in Chicago but had not won. The Voice told me in strong “words” that if I entered again in 1976 I could win them. I entered and easily passed the first two rounds. The auditions director, Dick Jones of WGN Radio, Chicago, really liked my voice and thought my singing had improved over the previous year. Some time later I was notified that I was to sing in the finals at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. There was only a small problem. I was in the middle of a cross-country concert tour with a trio, performing from town to town. I discussed my feelings about the audition with my colleagues, Roger and Debbie Lucas, and they were supportive in anything I chose to do. The Voice was very strong that I had to find a way to go to the finals, and that I would win. The trio’s schedule just worked out that we had a day’s travel, no concert, on the day of the finals. After our performance in Pueblo Colorado I caught a flight to Chicago, got into the hotel about 4:00AM for five hours sleep and showed up at the stage door of the Chicago Lyric Opera House at 11:00AM, ready to sing. I sang my first aria, “Cortigiani vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, and was pleased with the way it went. But for the next round, the judges got to pick an aria from my prepared repertoire. I “knew” that if they picked the prologue to I Pagliacci, I should be one of the two winners chosen. The Voice told me that I would be the second winner. The judges chose the prologue. I sang it with full gusto, including a resounding high A flat, and left the stage feeling good. I could not stay for the end of the auditions. I had to run to the airport immediately to catch a plane to Traverse City Michigan to rejoin my concert trio for a performance that night. When I arrived in Traverse City, I called back to Chicago and found that I had been named the second winner.

Wouldn’t you think that experiences such as these should have been enough to teach me to listen to that inner Voice and always obey it? Apparently they weren’t, because I didn’t. I still thought my rational intellect was the most important part of me to listen to, and I liked the heady rush of the ego as I saw my name up in lights, doing things my way, with my voice.  I soon began believing all my publicity and was convinced that I belonged in the Tsar’s court in old St. Petersburg and that by divine right, of course.

By the time I arrived in Columbus Ohio in April 1976 to begin rehearsals for I Am The Way, I was full of it, and I don’t mean the way, the truth, and the life, but a substance with a lot more unpleasant odor to it!  I had just gone up to my hotel room and unpacked when the telephone rang. It was one of the other cast members who wanted to come up and say hello. I felt mildly irritated at being disturbed but magnanimously allowed him to come up to the room. He was a very down to earth fellow; full of something I had once known, not too long ago, sincerity and thanksgiving. He was singing the tiny part of “Thomas”, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. He literally had only a couple of lines to sing in the whole show! His face beamed with joy as he described his pilgrimage from the Deep South, at his own expense, just to sing his two lines. By the time he finished visiting with me I had begun to feel very ashamed of myself for the egotism I had allowed to grow inside me, replacing my gratitude to God for the voice I was given. I was making my own ego world-view of specialness, rather that viewing my voice as a gift to give to others. I prayed. I apologized and asked for renewed innocence. The Voice was right there. It had gone nowhere. Only I had changed. The Voice said, “Just keep on going the way you are going now and I will have you sing for Presidents and Kings.”  It was a startling message! By this time, I was supposed to go down to the lobby to meet the Director. I grabbed my score and headed for the elevator. No sooner had I reached the elevator than did the doors open. Inside it stood Jimmy Carter. He extended his hand saying, “I just wanted to shake hands.” We rode down to the lobby together in silence. You have to understand that in April of 1976, Jimmy Carter, running for the Democratic nomination for President, was still a long-shot. Nobody thought he would get the nomination and nobody dreamed he would be elected President of the United States. As we exited the elevator, I watched him go, and said another quiet “thank you” to God for his faithfulness, and for the internal Voice which always spoke for truth, on my behalf. I knew Jimmy Carter was going to be President of the United States. And maybe if, just if, I did what the Voice said, kept on going the way I was going, then I might even get to sing for him!

During rehearsals of I Am The Way, I met many wonderful people who were going to stay with me throughout the years as close personal friends. The rehearsal period itself was rewarding because, in addition to the good staging by Derek De Cambra, Hines himself did some of the dramatic coaching, working with the singers on subtle acting points, “camera angles”, Chris Lachonas, a veteran, called them. This stayed with me my whole career as I tried to use a style of acting that was as suitable for television as it was for the stage. The music of I Am The Way, all composed by Hines himself–an extraordinary feat for a singer, not trained in composition–shows a little of every role he ever sang.  The scene called “The Woman at the Well” shows a lot of the playfulness of the Bohemian characters in Puccini’s opera La Boheme, which Jerry sang many, many times. In fact during the bleak years at the Met when Rudolf Bing was trying to force him out, Jerry was cut down to one performance a season of “Colline” in La Boheme. Still, he stuck it out and had a renaissance long after Bing had retired. The scene called “The Last Supper” showed a lot of Wagner influence, especially Parsifal, in which Jerry sang the role of “Gurnemanz.” I did not view this negatively.  It seemed inescapable to me that if an opera singer were to compose an opera, it would inevitably show the influence of everything he had sung. The music he composed was beautifully full of sweeping melodies and well constructed scenes. The image of Jesus bothered me as a “liberal” theologian. I thought of it as a literal, Sunday school character, based on an evangelical literal reading of the Bible. What gave it an impact was Jerome Hines himself! There was that enormous, richer than rich, bass voice with incomparable grandeur, being used in the role of Jesus. What more could anyone ask for?  In 1976, Hines was 55 years old and his voice was still at the peak of his powers. He sailed through the performance with ease and assurance. I used every second as an opportunity to listen, observe, and learn, how he made an entrance, how he related to the other characters on stage, and most of all, how he sounded! In one scene called, “At Bethany,” my character, “Simon Peter”, sits right beside Jesus as he sings the Lord’s Prayer. Looking up at Jerome Hines, hearing that enormous voice so close to my ear, I gave thanks to God for His incredible ways. And then the performance was over and the company packed up to go back to New York, the singers back to their other careers. I went to the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York to sing with the Symphony and prepare for my first Rigoletto in the fall of 1976 for the Houston Grand Opera. As a young singer, I had no rational reason to believe I could sing this, the greatest of Italian baritone roles, but the Voice said that I could do it and I had agreed when I got a letter from the General Manager asking me to do the part. The letter came “out of the blue,” and I knew, even then, that this was something I was destined to do.

The Hines Company performed I Am The Way only once a year. The following year, 1977, Calvin Marsh returned to the role of Simon Peter, leaving me without a role. Not to be outdone, I suggested to Jerry that I play the role of the heavy, “Eliakim,” the chief priest who conspires with Judas. Jerry had always had difficulty casting it because of the way it was composed. As I was told the story, originally, the role had no aria. But when Jerry approached the great basso, Ezio Flagello, to sing the role, Flagello refused unless an aria were written for the character. Ever the one- upsman, Hines said, “All right. I’ll compose you an aria, but it’s going to be so hard you won’t be able to sing it.” The result was Eliakim’s long aria which is loud and very high for any bass, ending on a long, sustained high F sharp, not territory that basses like to hang around in, even a great bass like Flagello. He never sang the part again, and Jerry went through bass after bass trying to find someone who could sing it. I suggested that I could sing it. Even though I was a baritone rather than a bass, I had enough richness in the voice that I could carry its heavy insinuations. Learning my own one-upsmanship I said, “but you have to transpose the aria up one half step for me.”  Hines laughed and agreed, so off I went to Birmingham to sing Eliakim, following in other years to different cities.

In Cleveland in 1978, I was rehearsing the big aria with Hines himself at the piano, accompanying. After I finished, Hines was silent for quite a long while. Finally he said, “I wish we could have recorded that. I’ve never heard anyone sing my music the way you do.” It was the most wonderful tribute I could have been given by this man whose singing meant so much to me, and who I had come to love so dearly. Some years were difficult. Two years later, November 1980 in Edmonton, Alberta I had a dangerously close dovetail of engagements. I ended a string of performances of “Germont” in Verdi’s La Traviata with the Arizona Opera, the evening before dress rehearsal for I Am The Way.  The Director was confident of my ability to do the role without rehearsal by this point, so I flew from the desert of Phoenix right after the last performance of La Traviata to the November cold of Edmonton! I was exhausted and slept until 4:30 in the afternoon with the dress rehearsal at 8:00PM. Still, I felt ready to go, and during one scene I interpolated a high B flat! For the non-singers reading this, a high B flat is the pinnacle note for a tenor, and is virtually never attempted by a baritone. Once, the Met’s star baritone, Sherrill Milnes, had recorded a high B flat, but I don’t recall him ever singing one on stage. Why did I do it?  Because I could! It was that much ego, nothing deeper. Hines was in the audience for the rehearsal and he let me know what a good note it was. I was happy, justified in my specialness. But the next night was performance. There would be no day off for rest as was usually the case, and I desperately needed a day off for rest. Edmonton in the winter is colder than anything I had ever experienced! It is so cold that the water particles in the air freeze into ice crystals which can cut your lungs when you breathe! I had known cold in Missouri but nothing like this, and I was coming straight from balmy Phoenix. My body was in shock and tired.  That night after rehearsal I slept very poorly. I was too tired to sleep and wished that I had brought along the singer’s friend, “restoril”, to induce a good night’s sleep. But I hadn’t. I lay tossing and turning all night, finally drifting of to light sleep early towards dawn, only to be awakened early by the maid who did not want to believe the “do not disturb sign” posted on the door.  Furious at her for disturbing my specialness, I screamed at her from the bed to get out and tried to go back to sleep, all to no avail. I was up. After two pots of coffee I began to vocalize a little and did not like what I felt. That afternoon was no better. Still, the show must go on, and my voice had never really failed me before…except on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera when I had muffed a high A flat. Still, I was seasoned now, and I had not cracked on a note in public in the six years since. Staying with my typical performance schedule, I found the nearest steak and potatoes around 4:30 PM and began to tank up for the evening performance. That evening I sang the difficult aria OK but the voice still seemed off, stiff and thick.  More importantly, my tenacious clinging to ego specialness had cut off my ability to hear the internal Voice that guided me in everything. The time in the scene came where I had interpolated the high B flat the night before. Should I do it again, in performance? As soon as the question flashed through my mind, I heard the internal Voice say “No.” What the hell? I would do it anyway! I went up for the special high note, hit it…and it cracked! Not to be outdone, I tried to regain it and it cracked again!! The curtain mercifully descended and I made my way, like a scalded dog, as quickly as possible through the labyrinths of back stage corridors, eyes to the floor, to my dressing room. I was mortified, disgraced. I, Joseph Shore, one of the greatest baritones in the world, had cracked on stage! Standing in the hall, barring my refuge into my dressing room was Hines, in costume as Jesus, making his way to the stage, enormous grin on his face, laughter ready to commence at any moment. He began to chuckle, “That just makes you human,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. But remember from now on; when you crack a note, get off of it and let it go. I remember when Set Svanholm, at the Met, cracked on the high B flat at the end of ‘Celeste Aida.’ He cracked and tried to get it back and cracked again, just like you did.” Somehow it did not make me feel better. I brooded. How I brooded. I spent the night in the dressing room trying to avoid all conversation. My specialness had been wounded and I was not eager to address any  re-shaping of my image. Years later, Hines said to me, “You know, I was glad to hear you crack on that high B flat because it proved to me you were human. You always sang like someone who wasn’t human.” I took it as a compliment. But for fourteen years he never let me forget that I had cracked on a high B flat. I never let myself forget it either!

I did Eliakim again the next year in Allentown Pennsylvania, and it went extremely well, but then I stopped singing I Am the Way. I told myself that I was tired of singing the villain and performing in such an “evangelical” spectacle. But wasn’t it really because I had cracked on a high note and injured my feelings of specialness? In the intervening years, I missed my friends terribly. I missed Jerry. I missed I Am The Way. During the years of 1982-1990, a lot of water went under the bridge professionally. I performed new roles at new opera houses, but there was some lesson I was not learning. Things were not going the way they were supposed to go. The performances got better and better artistically, but the engagements were getting fewer and fewer. I thought I knew what the world was supposed to be like, but I didn’t!

Then in 1994 I found myself near death. The internal Voice returned with great strength. I had a four-month-long life review as I waited, near death, for the Canadian medical system to put my name at the top of the list for surgery. Back in my hometown of Carthage my father went into the hospital at the end of June for what was supposed to be a minor surgery repair of a hernia.  Something told me however that this was the end of the line for Dad. The doctors gave us a progressive litany of worsening prognoses. Finally, they told the family that he was not leaving the hospital.  I knew that part of him had faith in a life after death, but I also sensed that part of him was very frightened because he felt that he had failed in some important aspects of his life, one of those being in his relationship with his son. Those failures tore at him very deeply. Involved in my own near-death struggle I could not go to Missouri to be with him. We braced ourselves for the fact that he could die at any time. But I had much unfinished emotional business with Dad which I did not want to leave without closure. I also wanted to help him in his final hours.

I prepared a special time when I would be alone in the house, and began to pray for Dad. I asked God to let him know that I forgave him for all the things between us that he held against himself. I asked God to tell Dad I that it was all right for him to let go and go on if that is what he needed to do,  but if he was supposed to fight and stay with us, that was all right too. I wanted him to know that I supported him in his decision, one way or the other. For some reason it was important to me to sing my prayers for him. I do not know how long this final song lasted. It might have lasted an hour or two. I had little sense of time as I was doing it.

My son, Tom, was to have his birthday in just two days, and I really did not want Dad to die on Tom’s birthday. So he didn’t. Tom had a wonderful birthday. Dad died the following day, July 10, 1994. The night he died, I had an archetypal dream about seeing someone off on a ship. It was Dad. The next morning I thought that he had passed over. Sure enough, he had. I was somewhat disappointed that I had not had a full parting vision but I knew he understood now that everything was OK between us. I just missed the good-bye. Finally, two days later, in the early hours of the morning of his funeral in Missouri, I awoke in the spirit while my body was fast asleep. You can call it a dream if you want but it was not a dream. I was in a very special kind of railroad station looking for Dad. I was pushing through enormous crowds of people who were waiting to board this train. I was in a great hurry as I knew this train was about to leave. Then I saw him from behind. I knew it was him. I called to him, “Daddy, Daddy.”  He turned around with a big smile all over his face.  I ran to him and jumped into his arms. I remember the feeling. I looked into his eyes. I remember those eyes. He was young and looked somewhat differently than in life, but there was no mistaking him. All of the cares and worries, doubts and fears, insecurities and self judgments, were gone from his face. Instead, there was this pure love, all throughout him which gave him his new substance. I hugged him and said, “I love you Daddy.”  He squeezed me. I remember that squeeze, and he said, “I love you too.” And then he made a little joke just to make sure I knew I wasn’t just dreaming this. He knew I would remember it.  He said, “You see, I’m a little thinner now than I used to be.” He was now spirit, not flesh. Then he boarded that train. A few hours later his funeral was conducted in Carthage.  Even though I could not be there, we had our farewell.

Around this same time, I got an unexpected phone call one day from my old friend, Derek de Cambra, Jerry Hines’s stage director for I Am The Way. He said that the company was doing I Am The Way in Benton Harbor, Michigan next year, 1995, and would I do the role of Eliakim again. The Voice shouted “yes,” and I immediately agreed. I was so happy to be back in I Am The Way. Jerry had done a wonderful job in keeping his voice all these years. He would be 74 years old in 1995! What a miracle to keep his voice! Few singers had accomplished that. No basses, to my knowledge, had done so.  I was happy, truly happy, to be back in I Am The Way. The Holy Spirit was that Voice which always spoke for truth and He must have something there for me to do, something for me to learn, some service for me to render to others, I thought. I could not know more at that point. I began to restudy the role of Eliakim and sing it back into my voice. The last time I had sung it had been the fateful performance in Edmonton! That was out of my mind now like a bad joke. I saw the silliness of the ego’s distorted view of things. I just wanted to go back to old friends! This time I took with me a young voice student who had heard all of my stories of the great singers of the previous era, called the Second Golden Age of Singing. I was passing on my love of singing and my love for Jerome Hines to another generation.

When I arrived in Benton Harbor it was indeed like a reunion with long lost friends. How I loved them. How they helped me to remember the Light. Jerome looked like a sight for sore eyes. Even his slight infirmities of age could not make him look old to me. But he was not singing in rehearsals and I could tell he was worried about his voice. He and I got together for an afternoon of vocalizing the way we had done in earlier years. They were wonderful times for me, learning experiences, as I observed this supremely great singer go through the vocal calisthenics necessary to sing grand opera. But this time Hines’ voice was not working. The whole cast knew it and we were all worried.  Jerry had been in trouble before vocally and always made it through the performance. One time in Cleveland we finished a final dress rehearsal about 2:00AM. Jerry wanted to go out to an all night restaurant near the lake. It was mid winter and freezing cold in Cleveland. But what Jerry wants, Jerry gets, so off the whole crew went. I noticed that Jerry was not even wearing a coat, and I said, “Jerry, what’s the matter with you? Put a coat on!” “Ah, let your body breeeeeathe,” He vocalized in Hinse-ian tones.  “I don’t need a coat!” We went to the restaurant and had a feast. The next morning Jerry called the conductor to his hotel room in a panic that his voice didn’t feel good for the show the next night. He even looked at his own vocal cords with a homemade device and saw that they were pink and swollen.  Ever inventive, Jerry had taken two dental mirrors and welded them together with just the right curvature so that he could look at his own vocal cords! Panic ensued within the Directoral staff, but we all, Jerry included, managed to pull the show out of the fire.

This time in Benton Harbor was different. There was something seriously wrong with Jerry Hines’ voice.  We made it to the final dress rehearsal. I had already counseled myself to end the “infamous” scene on a lower pitch than the interpolated high B flat! I would sing a high F instead, which is plenty high and would give me no trouble. I would not entertain any notions of interpolating ego notes.  I had learned my lesson!  Hines watched the rehearsal from out in front. At the end of my scene He came up to me and said, “Good job, Joe, but I was really a little disappointed that you didn’t take the high B flat!” I couldn’t believe my ears. He wasn’t joking.  He was serious! I made a joke of it and said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ll have to ask HIM,” pointing upwards.  “It’s HIS voice. I’m just the caretaker of it. I’d have to get the OK from HIM.” Jerry smiled and went back to observe the coming scene.  We made it to opening night. Hines limped through the performance, sounding ill, while the rest of the cast did a fine job. I ended my scene on the high F and all went well. We had one day of rest and then a Sunday matinee at 2:00PM. Matinees are difficult for all singers. We are accustomed to preparing our voices for an 8:00PM curtain, not 2:00PM! I hated matinees. In my earlier days of incessant bravado I had plunged into them full voice, thinking nothing of it. In the fall of 1979 I had performed the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth with the Arizona Opera Company. We finished the dress rehearsal about 2:00AM, and like Hines, I wanted to go out and get something to eat. I ate a huge plate of rare prime rib. By the time I arrived back at the house where I was staying, my gluttony was telling the tale. I threw up everything and continued to throw up for an hour. I got to sleep about 5:00AM., got up at 7:30AM, went to the theatre at 8:30AM and performed a “matinee” at 9:30AM of Macbeth for school children. It was one of the best performances I ever gave! But I still hated “matinees.”

This time was different. Hines was in real trouble. On his day off he had gone to a doctor to have ultra sound therapy performed on his larynx, but it was to no avail. He seemed totally laryngitic.  There was no understudy. Jerry would have to go on or we would have to cancel the performance, which meant financial disaster. Jerry went on but he barely made it through his first big scene of “The Woman at the Well.” My scene as Eliakim was next and I sailed through the aria better than ever, holding a long sustained high G towards the end, finally ending on an optional low F sharp.  The infamous scene was next, but I was not nervous, I had already decided not to interpolate the high B flat. I had sung the high F the previous performance and it had been more than sufficient. As Mary Magdalene sang her long monologue, I sat back in my throne-chair and played with the character, Eliakim.  Finally the end of her aria arrived.  I had two beats before I was to sing the infamous words which ended the scene, “Is the whole world gone mad!” Usually those two beats fly at you like the wind and you have just enough time to take your breath and sing the notes. But this time, time itself seemed to slow down. Those two beats became an eternity.  What was I to do with all this luxury of time? The Voice said, “Take the high B flat.”  I could not believe it. There was plenty of time for an argument. “What? I’m not doing that again! No way.” The Voice was very clear, “Take the high B flat.” Something I had learned made it easy for me to agree. I went up for the high B flat. It was not only there, it was there in spades!  I held it forever. This time there would be no scalded dog, hiding his head as he crept through the halls to his dressing room.  Slowly and happily I walked off stage as my colleagues said things singers say to one another after a good job: “Wow, what a note!” “Holy cow, what did you eat? I want some of it.” On my triumphant way down the hall I passed Jerry’s dressing room. The door was open. He sat disconsolate at his make- up table. I could see that he was worried and afraid of the next scene coming up. It was the “At Bethany” scene and he had to sing the Lord’s Prayer aria which had always given him trouble, even in good voice. I walked into his room. He smiled faintly and said, “So the B flat worked tonight?” Without thinking I said, “I sang that high B flat for you so that you would know that if I can sing a high B flat, without cracking, you can make it through this next scene!” His face dropped and showed his true feelings of insecurity. “But how am I going to make it through it?” He said. “Dear God,” I thought, “what am I supposed to say to this man, my hero and mentor?” The words came tumbling out my mouth without any thought, “Just go out there, breathe deeply and don’t push!” Those words seemed to rally him. “All right,” he said, and headed for the stage. During the scene, the Voice told me to position myself in the wings, unnoticed by the audience, but in such a way that I had clear view of the stage. The Voice said that I was to pray for Jerry to be given strength. I did, and I saw that it was helping him get through the scene. Finally he made it to the big aria, Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer. Hines did what I said. He breathed deeply, taking many more breaths than he needed, and he didn’t push! He made it through. As the curtain descended, a happy Hines almost collapsed into the arms of his colleagues as they congratulated him. “I just did what Joe Shore told me,” he said, “And it got me through.”

For the rest of the opera, since my character does not appear with Jesus, I stood in the wings and prayed for Jerome.  He gained in strength. During the difficult “Last Supper” scene, the Director came into the wings with a look of worry on his face, “He’s struggling,” He said. “Don’t worry,” I said with a smile. “He’s going to make it through just fine,” And he did.

I knew why I was supposed to go to Benton Harbor. It was my love for Jerome Hines that was the lesson. That love is the love Jesus would have us learn. It is the same love I received from my grandparents and parents. It is the love that God gives us. Receive it. It is there, waiting for us to grasp it in every learning experience, and every experience is a learning experience. Had I learned my lesson earlier and not gotten off course, I am sure I would have gotten to sing for Jimmy Carter! Nevertheless, I sang for Congressmen, Senators, Governors, the Russian Diplomatic Mission to the UN, and Consuls to several countries.

Months later, the Voice told me to call Jerome and let him know that I not only wanted to perform the role of “Simon Peter” again, but that I was supposed to. I knew Jerry would understand. I made the call. It just so happened that the Hines Company was going to be doing I Am The Way in June 1996 in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, but the role of “Peter” was already taken by one of Jerry’s students from OMTI (Opera Music Theatre International). “Put me on standby,” I said, “You never know. This guy may not be able to do it.” He agreed. A short time later, the Director called me with the news that Mark Delavan could not do the part and it was mine. Twenty years had passed since I sang the role of “Peter,” but I knew it. Jerry was in fine voice. This time, my character sat at the Last Supper table with Jesus. As I looked at Jerry I knew that the love I have for him is the message of Jesus, that we should love one-another even as He loved us; and “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The circle was complete.

 

More Thoughts on Journey to the Christ

Journey to the Christ: The Road to Enlightenment

 

It would be helpful if we agreed on what the Christ is. Some think it is Jesus’ last name, “Jesus Christ,” like Joseph Shore. Some think of it in the narrow terms of literal minded Judaism, the “Moshiach,” or in Greek, “Christos,” but none of these meanings serve any real purpose. Just what is the Christ? You had better want to know. The Christ is the only real part of you. It is the Love that God created as you, and nothing you can do can change it one bit. It is real and eternal and it is the Mind God shares with you. A Course in Miracles gives us a clear picture in its section called “Clarification of Terms.”

 JESUS – CHRIST

“There is no need for help to enter Heaven for you have never left. But there is need for help beyond yourself as you are circumscribed by false beliefs of your Identity, which God alone established in reality. Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal. Their names are legion, but we will not go beyond the names the course itself employs. God does not help because He knows no need. But He creates all Helpers of His Son while he believes his fantasies are true. Thank God for them for they will lead you home.

“The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do. Yet who can save unless he sees illusions and then identifies them as what they are? Jesus remains a Saviour because he saw the false without accepting it as true. And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions.

“In his complete identification with the Christ, the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and one with Him,” Jesus became what all of you must be. He led the way for you to follow him. He leads you back to God because he saw the road before him, and he followed it. He made a clear distinction, still obscure to you, between the false and true. He offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God’s Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death.

“And therefore all your sins have been forgiven because they carried no effects at all. And so they were but dreams. Arise with him who showed you this because you owe him this who shared your dreams that they might be dispelled. And shares them still, to be at one with you.

“Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared. Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.

“Is he God’s only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognised. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ’s single message of the Love of God. You need no other. It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God. Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:

“There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love. Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God’s Son. And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you.”(ACIM, Clarification of Terms, 5.)

**********

Every time you have a loving thought it is shared with God through the Christ Mind. You DO know the Christ every time you love, but you have not identified with the Christ as your only Mind. You still think you are an individual mind (and body) with all sorts of “personal” wants and goals. Thus your self is split off from your Self. The little self is an illusion but how we cling to it. We have to learn many lessons in order to give up the little illusory self.

I know the Christ. The Christ is the love of God. If you read my messages/essays in my group The Pleroma, or on FaceBook, you will hear the Christ speaking to you. My messages are “channeled” through the Christ Mind. These messages come through me like water through a pipe. After I have written them, my little self reads them, and tears flood my eyes. I am ready to give up little “Joe Shore” but what more must I do to identify with the Christ Mind completely? I am on the trail of the Christ. I am willing to do my lessons and if they take a hundred more illusory lifetimes, I will go to class and do the work. But I have seen Heaven’s gate. I have felt the Christ in me. I have done and am doing His work to save God’s son. I see the goal post in sight. I want to be the Christ, so that Joe Shore no longer lives but Christ lives in me. I have accepted Jesus’  mission to flood this illusory world with the Love of God.

I wrote a little letter to my ego this year. Here it is:

“Letter to my ego from a Higher Me: ‘Joe….Joe, listen.’ Think of being on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Yup, that’s you. There are some things I need to say to you. You know I think you are an illusion and you think I want to get rid of you. I know that sounds pretty frightening to you. But let me tell you something, Joe. ‘I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.’ You were perfectly made for me to learn the lessons I needed in this lifetime. Yes, you could be harsh and authoritarian, but you could also be informative, inspirational, and daring. You were the image of the Aries for all his strengths and faults. I guess you probably miss all the intellectual debates you used to have, and the authority you held as a theologian and then a university professor. Those positions perfectly fit you. But they could not last because you had more lessons to learn. I forgive you your faults and I thank you for your daring, inspirational, actions. You are going away but fear not. You are going away with my love and thanks! Thank you, Joe. You were the best, brightest, most talented of your generation. Accept this truth and this love, and don’t worry about tomorrow. It will all be OK.”

Still, my willingness does not obviate all the lessons I must learn to be the Christ. I’ll bet some of you think that Jesus’ disciples went to heaven and stayed there! Well, they didn’t. They had MANY lessons to learn. They understood Jesus so poorly. They have been reincarnating and learning their own lessons. The real “Saint” Paul now lives a life today as Nick Bunick.( http://www.nickbunick.com/) Obviously, he needed more work. When he wrote, “Now no longer I live but Christ lives within me,” he was apparently quite mistaken.

I have had lengthy periods in which I identified with the Christ Mind in me. The longest was six weeks last year. I shared it with you:

“A stillness has come to me

“A stillness has come to me which is unlike anything I have experienced before. The Love of God has come into my mind to take up abode. I am not alone, nor lonely, nor do I ever feel bored. I am actively experiencing the Love of God in my mind. I need no TV. The thought of it is humorous. I need nothing. I eat my meals while looking happily out my window at the beautiful clouds and mountains. I walk to the grocery store, talk to the street beggars with a smile and love in my heart while I pull out the change in my pocket and give it to them. I come back home and look at the clouds and the mountains and am more than content. Songs play in my mind of peace and the love of God. I write on Facebook, email friends, and pet the cat. What more need there be? I am still inside and need no entertainment. I know that I am a part of God and share his holiness and glory. I am at the gates of heaven. This is a stillness which I have not had before. This is not the stillness from nature, as beautiful as that is. This is the Love of God which has taken up abode in my heart and I want for nothing more; not fame, nor riches, not wife, nor position. I have found peace and happiness within the Love of God. And I am not alone here in my mind. You are here too. We are all one Mind and we are almost home. We are the Glory of God.

“The Glory cloud of God will fall on us. Be grateful that it will fall. Nothing in all your life has prepared you for anything like being under the Glory cloud of God. You will not be able to stand. The body cannot stand in the Glory of God. In the Glory cloud there is the weight of holiness and as much as our spirits belong there, the body does not! The body will groan, shout, and travail under the Glory cloud. But your spirit will never want to be any other place than in the Glory of God. We belong in the Glory cloud of God. We are the rays of His Glory. When the Glory cloud falls the spirit remembers its true home. We know then that we are not a body, but a spirit and a part of the Great Spirit of God. The holiness we feel under the Glory cloud is our holiness as well. But the body can only groan or bark like dogs. In the Glory cloud we speak the language of the Spirit. No human language can work in the Glory cloud.
Pray for the Glory of God to fall, as we awaken to Self, One with God. In the Glory cloud will all our lessons be reviewed. In the Glory cloud will we climb up the ladder. In the Glory cloud will we see Jesus. In the Glory cloud we will know our Home. Soon we will be done with the troubles of the world. Soon we will just be what we are. We are the Glory cloud of God.

“The Glory of God is all I need.
The Glory of God is my Home.
The Glory of God is my peace.
The Glory of God removes all illusions,
None can stand in The Glory of God.
The Glory of God is all I want.
The Glory of God is all I seek.
The Glory of God is the will of my spirit.
The Glory of God is the answer to my deepest question:
“Who am I?”
I am the Glory of God,
As rays from the sun,
I am His Glory.
I am The Glory of God.

“I eat my food and pass my water. I pet the cat and watch the clouds, gather in the twilight and welcome the night.

“I teach my students and just stay in this Love which I never, ever, want to leave. It is my Home. It is my Highest Self. I am where I belong, and I am far from alone. You are here with me, and you, and you, and you, and you. “We are all here, Father. The Mind which you created as One has come Home to you. And you know we never really left. We travelled only in dreams while safely in your embrace. Our Love, Our Light will shine forever with You. And the Love you have for your Son is returned back to you as pure as it was when you created Him. Our song, in praise to You, is all that will be heard.”

“I thought that, for me, the most difficult part of staying in right-mindedness, and continuing my experience of the Love of God in my daily life would be to control reactions. Reactions can send you right back to wrong mindedness. But I have found that the Love of God actually gently protects me from reactions. I mean, there is just so much space and timelessness! I stood in a long line at the IGA today, without any temptation to lose patience. I just listened to the people’s thoughts and feelings as I waited. That’s another thing about the real Love of God…It is not evangelistic! I had no urge to try to persuade people! The Love of God honors our sleeping brothers! It is like Tara Singh said, “Some of our brothers are deeply asleep. That’s alright. Let them sleep. They will awaken.” The Love of God knows no pressure.

“Today I awakened from sleep rather early for me. I thought, ‘Jesus why am I up so early.’ I soon found out there was work he wanted me to do. This is life in the Spirit. We listen to an inner Voice that always speaks for truth, and we happily do as the Voice tells us. We have learned over the years, that those who obey the inner Voice will know the Love of God! May you know it today!! Peace.

That was my sharing with you. For six weeks the Christ Mind was almost totally me. It was the culmination of my life. Eventually, though, I faded back into Joe Shore, more loving, of course, and with higher gifting, but Joe Shore nonetheless.

The stream of ages flows and in it is all that is of love. You and I are one bubble in that stream. Could we but see the world truly, the flow is all we would see. All love is the same. In every place and in every one you have experienced it, it is part of that stream of ages. I sit here now with my companion, Blanche, and we are one love in two silly bodies. The flow comes into and through the heart. Here we live and move and have our very being. We are Love’s Presence:) We are the magnificent radiance of God!♥♥♥ Could we but know that and stay in the flow, the world we think we see would disappear and all separations removed. Love is and we are its manifestations. We are the bubbles in the stream and the rocks over which it flows. We are source and the end. We Love therefore we are, not as separate bodies, but as One. We are the breath of the wind through the trees; we are the cat’s purr; we are the happiness of two becoming one; we are the birds that fly through the air and the fish that swim through the creeks; we are the Love that holds all things together as One; and we are here NOW, not in time, but in this moment of Love realized and fear vanquished. We are the tears that stream down our faces; we are the arms that embrace us; we are Love’s Presence, and there is nothing to do. No ambitions can stand in Love’s Presence. Consciousness itself cannot stand in Love’s Presence. From deep within the unconscious flow of the stream of ages, I know that I Love you.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Let us leave the world of unforgiveness behind and live in our Love and our Song. The Song is not formal music. It is the eternal call to Home that the spirit hears in every rock and leaf, every grain of sand, every child’s face, every dog and cat’s response to our love for them. The Song is in you. I hear you singing it so sweetly. Oh precious Jesus how the world sings the song you know so well, the song of Oneness in praise of the Love that we are. The world that was created by fear and anger we can now view through the eyes of newness. No longer must we see the world as separate factions fighting one another. We have forgiven the world of strife we created. Forgiveness now rests on our brows and on the world’s. Now can we see Heaven’s reflection made so perfect in the world. Now that Love has come into aching hearts, the need for time is almost gone. The One Song sings beautifully throughout a world which knew it not and all creation gives thanks to you and to the Creator. Now do we see the steps to Heaven’s gate on which you stand. Now we have no need for the world which served us so well with lessons to be learned. The time for learning is over. The time of the great rejoining has come and every tiny part of all universes has come to join the One Song we sing. And tears of joy come in recognition of the vast ages of time we have entered bodies to remember our eternal Self, One with the Creator, AND WE ARE ALL THE BELOVED. Gently do Heaven’s doors open to receive back its One Son. Gently does the Creator’s arm reach out and gather His Son back to Himself. Less than a tiny moment was taken to heal the tiny mad idea that seemed to set the Son on His long journey. The time for time is over. Now in eternity does all-encompassing Love flow unimpeded through a universe of spirit created by the Song. Forever shall we flow. And shall our little days as individuals be lost forever in Oneness? Oh no, dear ones. Every loving thought you ever had, every loving deed, is perfectly remembered within the Christ Mind that flows through Heaven. And now we say Amen for the time of learning is over and the time of rejoining has entered eternity, with you my loved ones, with you, and you, and you, and you, with your animals and children and every thought of love that lighted your little mind as an individual. Home safe we are, and we shall never leave again. No more dreams will enchant us. We are Home. Love has found itself at last…at last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death does not give you Enlightenment

The tendencies we have NOW in thought carry with us at the death of the physical body. We don’t get advanced just by dropping our bodies. Nothing significant happens to us when we drop the body. We are still a mind believing we are separate with all of our perceptions still in tact. How we advance depends on our willingness to work with spirit in that realm of mind, and that is affected by our patterns of thought when we were alive! As you know, I am a medium and I often contact those spirits who have dropped their bodies. One of my dear friends in opera dropped his body at the age of 82. Of course, I felt loss just like everyone does. But within a week after his passing, I was awakened in the night by his spirit contacting me. I followed his voice in spirit and zipped right up into the mid-Astral and found him in a hall with other great singers. It was not a fancy hall. It could have been any meeting hall here on earth but all the great opera singers in history were there. That is what my friend wanted, apparently, and that is what he got, He was young–about 30–tall and slender, and having the time of his “life” talking with all the great singers who had passed over before him. I talked with him briefly there in that hall and inquired about a Metropolitan Opera coach who we both knew, who had passed away a few years before. My friend laughed and said, “I don’t think she came up here. I think she went down,” and he pointed down and laughed, but it wasn’t a laugh of derision or judgment. It was just a recognition that where we were was still in illusion!! For many months I could not communicate with my friend. My angels told me that he was having great fun exploring the universe. He had been a scientist in life as well as a singer. Then a couple of weeks ago I heard from him again. He and I had developed some grievances while he was alive and they began to be aired with one another. He had been a very insecure person psychologically in life, and so he was also in death. After playing around in the universe for a while he came right back to the mid-Astral, very close to earth and very much still invested in the perception of duality. The year before he died his insecurity had bubbled over. He would call me up and ask me to assure him that he was the greatest bass ever! I would say, “Well, you were one of the greatest basses in the 20th century.” That was not enough. Week after week he would call me and interrogate me in the same manner. After he died his “personality,” now disembodied, continued with that line of insecurity. The other day I was listening to one of his recordings and artistically appraising it. His spirit jumped right in, trying to defend his work from my appraisal.

What illusions we have here we need to work on here because otherwise we carry them into spirit and they are harder to work on there!!!!!!!

A Letter to the Father

Many of you know the story of how I went to seminary and intended to be a professor; how I felt deeply I was in the wrong place but didn’t know where the right place was. One of my dorm mates was an opera buff who had every opera record under the sun and listened to them morning, noon, and night. I listened with him for the year and a half I was there. Something about those great voices grabbed me down deep somewhere in my psyche and I bought some and began listening to opera while I was studying. Then one evening, a strange thing (for me then) happened. I clearly heard an inner voice say to me “your characters could be your sermons; the stage could be your pulpit; the theatre could be your church; the audience could be your congregation.” Now go put feet to your faith.” This shocked me! Baptists do not hear voices! Maybe Pentecostals do but not us Baptists. You have to understand that I had never had any serious voice lessons. I sang in choirs and sounded no better than anyone else. But just before I heard the voice, I remember praying almost through tears, “Father please tell me what to do. I don’t feel like I belong here.” Maybe that is why I believed it. I took a little step by faith. This was a new kind of ministry. I left seminary and got a job. When I wasn’t working I was listening to opera. This went on about six months until finally one day I opened my mouth to see if I could make a sound like those guys on the records, and out came the operatic voice I have had since! A friend came by and said “Hey, you’ve got quite a voice. You ought to enter the Met Auditions.” I didn’t know what they were but I said sure. I filled out the application, got some music for some hard bass arias and set to learning them by listening to records. I went down to sing the first level of the Met Auditions in Tulsa and had no expectations. I just sang and was named one of the winners. I was even given an apprenticeship with the Santa Fe Opera and the Tulsa Opera sponsored me and gave me grants. I thought to myself, “Gee, this opera business is a snap.” I had absolutely no social preparation to help me deal with this new profession. And I found out that not everybody would like me. I would have real enemies to fight. But I did my best, sang big roles in big houses. I made some mistakes and after singing in this world 11 years I made a personal mistake that took me off the stage. I kept thinking I would find a way to get back on, but I never did. I became a university teacher instead. But all through this era my heart was aching that I had failed in this new ministry that I had been divinely given. Friends were well meaning when they said, “It’s all in the past. Just move on!” But they didn’t understand the miracle I had been given and how deeply it had hurt me to feel I had not fulfilled what I had been given. I was still a minister at heart even when I was an opera singer.

Today, I wrote a letter to God and made a little boat with my recordings in it and my reviews, and I set it on the ocean when the tide was going out. I am going to share with you that letter.

Dearest Father,
I know that you know my thoughts and that you are here now as I type these words, but it is good for me to write to you this way. I love you with all my heart Father even though I scarcely know how to love, even scarcely know what it is. But you know me and knew me since before all time when I was and still am a part of you. I am a thought in your mind. It feels like I have been away from you a long time, but I know that is not true. I have just been dreaming a dream which to me seems long, but it really was over a long time ago. I am not making very much sense am I? I feel your heart in mine, dear Father. I have almost come for the time to leave this body and set sail again within the world of spirit. It is all a part of the dream which you can’t know because you know that I am safely inside your Mind. Thoughts leave not their thinker. But the Holy Spirit came with me into my dream. He witnessed my birth into this imaginary world. He saw how I so often thought of you. He saw as I viewed my part in my dream as a hero who would help people to remember you. He saw our Song awaken in my heart and formalize itself into a singer in this dream world. My career as an opera singer was the most important thing in my life because you gave me the gift to sing. Your Holy Spirit told me in Seminary that “my characters could be my sermons; the stage could be my pulpit; the theatre could be my church; the audience could be my congregation.” Then your Holy Spirit said to me, “Now go put feet to your faith.” I believed it Father. I knew it was True and that it came from you. I went into this strange, cruel, but wonderful world of opera and I sang with all my heart. I was surprised when some people didn’t like me, because my voice was from you. Along the way I sang as best as I could and I thought of you every time before I went on stage. I made some personal mistakes which I know you have forgiven me for. But I had a hard time forgiving myself for them. They took me out of the world of opera and took away my stage where I had my church. I felt like such a failure. I so wanted to use my voice to help others awaken. I thought my tears would never end for the loss of my career as a singer. You could not know my dream, of course, though you knew I was dreaming. But the Holy Spirit saw and felt everything that happened to me. He saw my tears and my broken heart. He saw the way I had to work in a cruel, cruel world of opera where the men who ran it were asleep in their own dreams of indifference, hatred and usury.
But Father, after the dream of opera changed, I learned more and remembered more. A new dream of awakening into love’s Presence came to me. On the shores of Burnaby Lake with beautiful ducks and geese, birds and fish, water and flowers, I remembered us more. That dream of awakening is still playing out in me. Father, I loved singing, but I give it back to you now as my gift to you. Here in this little boat that I have set adrift to the ocean, there is a computer stick, with all my songs, and all my reviews. They are my gift of thanks back to you for the song we share. Now I will finish the work I began at Burnaby Lake. I will fully remember you and see the face of Christ in all my brothers, even the dark ones who dream nightmares, and who will laugh at the silly old man who writes to God. But that is OK. I do not care. We can speak now all the time if you want Father. I have nothing on my mind but you…and my brothers because I keep seeing the face of Christ in them!

Your Loving Son,
Joseph

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Not Two!

Love is the Home we seek for. In everyone and everything there is this memory of Home that we seek for. We have almost forgotten it but not quite. We cannot forget it. It calls to us like a whisp of a melody almost forgotten and yet too dear and too close to us to forget it. It is the certitude that we seek. It is the perfect lover and companion that we search for. It is the almost forgotten country from which we all came. Consciousness obscures it and makes us think there is a great distance between us. If there are two–I, as a consciousness, and Home as a place, then there is distance and time. Then there is journey and the perception of need. All of this perception of two is false. There is only “Advaita,” not two. The Home that we all remember is unconscious love, perfectly unconditional because it is impersonal, and full of Truth and Knowledge, an impersonal universe of spirit which is our only True Self. Lots of people go around preaching that “consciousness is god.” Well if it is dear ones, it is a pitiful god because it would mean that forever there is duality, that nothing exists without an opposite. There is no Ground of all Being! Being would exist only to be threatened by the other! Were this the nature of Truth, this would indeed be madness. We must awaken to see that “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” That Peace is the Home we seek and the love that fills it. Consciousness is the land of dreams, the land of separation. In this dream “I” proclaim I exist as an observer and the universe is outside of me to be observed. In consciousness I am separate from God and every other sentient being. “I” as a consciousness am dreaming and in the dream I search for Home and love. How do I awaken from consciousness? You see I do not want to promote more consciousness! That just puts me into deeper dream states which are all illusions!! God is not consciousness. Consciousness is the dream that “I” can separate from God and stand apart from Him and observe Him! Consciousness is the original madness!! There is no original sin apart from this original madness In God’s world, there is only unconscious, impersonal, Love which is also Truth and Knowledge. As long as you believe your little body self is real you will not be able to find this Home that you long for. The first phase of awakening comes when the fabricated little “I” can say, “I am not a body. I am free, for I am just as God created me; spirit, not physical, a part of Him, not separate, connected to all things that think they are separate and feel themselves in need. While I seem to be in this body I will serve them by forgiveness, love and kindness. I will awaken because the great time has come!!!!!” 

(many concepts and terms I used here come from ACIM)

bench into eternity
We are on the bottom rung now on the ladder that leads back to our Home. As we came down the ladder by first becoming lost in the dream of consciousness, we go back up that ladder by rising higher in awareness. As we do we may catch glimpses or have experiences of a foretaste of our True character. Truth may break in on us, a little at a time. These little periods of enlightenment cannot yet stay but as long as they last they give us a propulsion upwards.
In the early fall of 2012, as I was preparing to go to Brazil to see John of God, I was visited by a change in consciousness which can only be described as a foretaste of enlightenment. It felt like Heaven right here.  I wrote about it this way then:

“A stillness has come to me which is unlike anything I have experienced before. The Love of God has come into my mind to take up abode. I am not alone, nor lonely, nor do I ever feel bored. I am actively experiencing the Love of God in my mind. I need no TV. The thought of it is humorous. I need nothing. I eat my meals while looking happily out my window at the beautiful clouds and mountains. I walk to the grocery store, talk to the street beggars with a smile and love in my heart while I pull out the change in my pocket and give it to them. I come back home and look at the clouds and the mountains and am more than content. Songs play in my mind of peace and the love of God. I write on Facebook, email friends, and pet the cat. What more need there be? I am still inside and need no entertainment. I know that I am a part of God and share his holiness and glory. I am at the gates of heaven. This is a stillness which I have not had before. This is not the stillness from nature, as beautiful as that is. This is the Love of God which has taken up abode in my heart and I want for nothing more; not fame, nor riches, not wife, nor position. I have found peace and happiness within the Love of God. And I am not alone here in my mind. You are here too. We are all one Mind and we are almost home. We are the Glory of God.
Pray for the Glory of God to fall, as we awaken to Self, One with God. In the Glory cloud will all our lessons be reviewed. In the Glory cloud will we climb up the ladder. In the Glory cloud will we see Jesus. In the Glory cloud we will know our Home. Soon we will be done with the troubles of the world. Soon we will just be what we are. We are the Glory cloud of God.

“The Glory of God is all I need.
The Glory of God is my Home.
The Glory of God is my peace.
The Glory of God removes all illusions,
None can stand in The Glory of God.
The Glory of God is all I want.
The Glory of God is all I seek.
The Glory of God is the will of my spirit.
The Glory of God is the answer to my deepest question:
“Who am I?”
I am the Glory of God,
As rays from the sun,
I am His Glory.
I am The Glory of God.

“I eat my food and pass my water. I pet the cat and watch the clouds, gather in the twilight and welcome the night.

“I teach my students and just stay in this Love which I never, ever, want to leave. It is my Home. It is my Highest Self. I am where I belong, and I am far from alone. You are here with me, and you, and you, and you, and you. “We are all here, Father. The Mind which you created as One has come Home to you. And you know we never really left. We travelled only in dreams while safely in your embrace. Our Love, Our Light will shine forever with You. And the Love you have for your Son is returned back to you as pure as it was when you created Him. Our song, in praise to You, is all that will be heard.”

“I thought that, for me, the most difficult part of staying in right-mindedness, and continuing my experience of the Love of God in my daily life would be to control reactions. Reactions can send you right back to wrong mindedness. But I have found that the Love of God actually gently protects me from reactions. I mean, there is just so much space and timelessness! I stood in a long line at the IGA today, without any temptation to lose patience. I just listened to the people’s thoughts and feelings as I waited. That’s another thing about the real Love of God…It is not evangelistic! I had no urge to try to persuade people! The Love of God honors our sleeping brothers! It is like Tara Singh said, “Some of our brothers are deeply asleep. That’s alright. Let them sleep. They will awaken.” The Love of God knows no pressure.

“Today I awakened from sleep rather early for me. I thought, ‘Jesus why am I up so early.’ I soon found out there was work he wanted me to do. This is life in the Spirit. We listen to an inner Voice that always speaks for truth, and we happily do as the Voice tells us. We have learned over the years, that those who obey the inner Voice will know the Love of God! May you know it today!! Peace.

That was my sharing with you. For six weeks the Christ Mind was almost totally me. It was the culmination of my life. Eventually, though, I faded back into Joe Shore, more loving, of course, and with higher gifting, but Joe Shore nonetheless.”

At first, I agonized over losing this state, but then it came to me that it had been a precious gift which I could not fully hold yet. But one day I shall be able to go into that

state and remain there…with all of you, my brothers! ❤

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Let it Shine

How to stay “Light” in a dark world—the world is very dark right now. The dream of the world has taken a turn back into fear. One can see it in the reflections of the world on TV and movies. Never has there been such fascination with darkness. It would seek to beguile you. But if you have seen your own inner Light you need but use the awareness that your Light gives. Don’t watch that dark TV show. Don’t let it fascinate you. Turn the TV off and go into your own Light again. We are the Lighthouses of the world. It is up to us to bear the Light in a world that knows neither Light nor Love unless we provide it. And provide it we can. Each of us contains the Whole of the Son of God within himSelf. We are each of us the radiance of God and we can awaken each other from the fearful dreams God’s Son has made in his mistaken belief in terror. Terror would indeed be terrible were it true. Then that which is Real could be threatened and there would be no firm Ground of all Being. Thank God that is not true!!! Only in a nightmare could it seem to be true. In Truth, where you and I and all things have our being, Nothing Real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein does indeed lie the Peace of God. That Peace I must bring with me into this terrified world. That Peace must shine in me! “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

Happiness

Happiness is a sign that Love’s Presence has been felt. Blockages have been removed and Love’s Presence has come into awareness. In this dualistic world people search for happiness in all sorts of unproductive ways: acquisition of stuff, money, fame, other people, and none of these things work to bring happiness. You would have to find something that has no opposite to become happy, wouldn’t you? Everything that has an opposite is temporary and subject to change. Now I could step forward and tell you that real Love is that which has no opposite because it is eternal and carries God’s nature, but will that help you to experience it? Probably not. But let’s say for the moment that we can agree that if you found this Love which is all encompassing and has no opposite you would also be happy. So happiness is no longer the issue. Love is the issue, but not as the world knows it. That is attachment and subject to time and change. So then you would surely ask me how you can find this Love and I would tell you that you must look inside you. That may mean nothing to you. You may think I mean for you to examine the body! I could step forward then and ask you if you have ever seen behind your eyeballs, or bitten your own teeth? You would think I am either mad or obscure and you would walk out the door. But as you leave you will see very beautiful trees with just a whisper of wind in their top branches. You would see my garden where bees frolic among the flowers and earthworms trundle through the soil. You would smell the fragrance of the flowers. The chatter of your mind would stop and you would be still. In that stillness there are no blockages to the awareness of Love’s Presence. You would feel yourself to be a part of some whole. You would soon see that you are not a body, and just as quickly you would sense yourself to be the immensity of my garden. The branches of the trees are a part of you. The flowers, the bees, the worms, are all a part of you. And just so you will really get it, a hummingbird glides in and hovers right in front of you. He hovers and waits until you finally feel this experience as Love’s Presence and your eternal Self. Now the whole experience of the whole has given you the experience of Love which has no opposite. It does not come from doing anything. It is your natural inheritance, while all along you thought you were a body full of mostly water! You will laugh now at the silly idea that you could somehow be limited! You will sense your immensity and within that is true happiness. It will follow you wherever you go. People will ask you what is different about you. They will ask you to be their guru. You just smile and bless them. They will find their own immensity in time. But now you know that happiness was never the issue of your search. You needed to know who you ARE. That’s all that matters, just to know who you ARE. Until you get it, life’s lessons will continue, as long as you need them. They were made for you.

Getting this thing called Enlightenment

“The Holy Spirit’s function is to take the broken picture of the Son of God and put the pieces into place again. 2 This holy picture, healed entirely, does He hold out to every separate piece that thinks it is a picture in itself. 3 To each He offers his Identity, which the whole picture represents, instead of just a little, broken bit that he insisted was himself. 4 And when he sees this picture he will recognize himself. 5 If you share not your brother’s evil dream, this is the picture that the miracle will place within the little gap, left clean of all the seeds of sickness and of sin. 6 And here the Father will receive His Son, because His Son was gracious to himself.
T-28.IV.9. I thank You, Father, knowing You will come to close each little gap that lies between the broken pieces of Your holy Son. 2 Your Holiness, complete and perfect, lies in every one of them. 3 And they are joined because what is in one is in them all. 4 How holy is the smallest grain of sand, when it is recognized as being part of the completed picture of God’s Son! 5 THE FORMS THE BROKEN PIECES SEEM TO TAKE MEAN NOTHING. 6. FOR THE WHOLE IS IN EACH ONE OF THEM 7. AND EVERY ASPECT OF THE SON OF GOD IS JUST THE SAME AS EVERY OTHER PART.” (ACIM T.-28.IV 8-9)

What would it mean if we really got this? How would we change our relationship to the planet and all its seemingly separate things? If we really saw that every rock and tree, every blade of grass, every animal, every person is a part of the Son of God, would we ourselves not be changed? We would also see ourselves as Holy, as part of God’s Son, and the “WHOLE IS IN EACH” of the parts. Like a hologram which contains the whole within it, every byte of sensory data we call “the world” contains the whole of God’s Son! How holy is your cat and dog? How Holy are your children? How holy is this planet? When we see that, we won’t want to abuse anything!!! And UNTIL we see that, we will go on with the abuse until the planet is destroyed!!!!

So this thing called “enlightenment” is not just some abstract concept for Eastern eggheads!!!!!! It determines whether this planet continues. Let us look at it from both sides of the mind, wrong-mindedness and rightmindedness. In wrong mindedness we began as the One dreaming Son believed the ego’s lie that he had in fact separated from Heaven and was now fearfully on the lamb from an angry God who wanted to destroy him for his “sin” of leaving Heaven. In fear the Son ran out of his Mind, “so to speak” and dreamed up a physical universe in which to hide from God. As He enters it (“Big Bang” indeed) he shatters into all the pieces of the universe, and in this dream, he seems to evolve into more and more complex creatures in which to hide from God.

Lesson 241 in A Workbook for Students tells us: “The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts. But eyes deceive, and ears hear falsely. Now mistakes become quite possible, for certainty has gone.” The senses were made to deceive! So in this kind of perception (wrong mindedness) we began in this universe, forgetting the Truth of Oneness, exchanging that Holiness for the separateness of fragmentation, out of fear!!! So when we see the world as a “thing” for us to exploit, we are acting in fear and the destruction of the planet is inevitable with fear. Fear causes us to be more and more defensive and defensiveness invites attack. “If I defend myself I am attacked.” Defenses will inevitably kill the world….and that would make no difference at all except for the fact that we can attain to “right minded perception.” The Holy Spirit came with the Son into this universe and He whispers to you and me the Truth of Oneness we are afraid to hear. Skilfully He moves us to forgive our brothers, not to hold grievances, not to have attack thoughts, and little by little we can climb back up that ladder of consciousness we came down on. This is the true ascension!! We can go back up the ladder, and then the world changes in perception to a shining reflection of Heaven, so beautiful we would love it as we love God. This is the Salvation of the world and God has given us the job of saving it, not by judgment or evangelical proselytizing but by the offering of our minds to God, ceasing our attack on him by individualization and sporting uniqueness. Who could do that when you have an experience that everything is your brother and a part of you? The animals are not less than you. I once heard a very spiritual man say a very wrong-minded thing. He said that animals lack the capacity to know beyond their senses! I was so amazed! I thought, my God this man has never had a relationship with an animal! Animals transcend the senses all the time! Create a holy space by quietness and see how quickly the cat becomes a Buddha! Take a dog to a suffering child and see how quickly the dog begins to cure the child. Do your best meditation, climb as high as you can on the ladder of consciousness and you will discover the mind of your cat has followed you there!! The idea that only man can become enlightened is a very clever trick of the ego, designed to make some broken parts of the Son of God more important than others. Then you open the door to “specialness” which the ego loves and which is based on fear, not Love.

We must get this! We must do our lessons. In eternity it does not matter. This little crazy idea was corrected in an instant in eternity, but it is playing itself out in the eons of time. In time, it makes a difference whether we extend love or fear. It makes a difference if there is a beautiful planet called earth where we can learn our lessons by taking on these dreamy bodies and living out our little dramas so we can undo fear and experience love’s presence.

 

Overcoming our illusions….and Easter

Overcoming our illusions….and Easter

As a child, as an artist, as a teacher, I have carried the same illusions around with me…those of loneliness and lack. I know they are illusions but they are mine to work with until I can undo them. When you are at the top of your profession it is easy to feel lonely. I was and I did. I was invited to join MENSA, and maybe I should have, but I thought it was just adding more to the illusion of specialness, which in itself comes from the ego illusion which fosters loneliness. As a result of these illusions I have often accepted “friendship” from people who were really NOT friends. Instead they viewed me as special and wanted to get something from me. When you have achieved some fame, people always want to “touch you,” as though it will rub off on them, and then they want you to treat THEM as though they were special! ACIM tells us that the “special relationship” is at the heart of the ego’s function which is to instill fear and lack. Ego’s cannibalize others in their quest to get something from others. Many of you FB friends are, I believe, really friends. Many of you can see my soul in my writing and postings and know me better than some people in my city who cannot see my soul and view me through only their projections. So, to you, I say: “Thank you. You have helped me in my journey.” I am working hard to forgive all of those false friends. Just so we are clear, a friend is someone who has joined with you in mind (spirit). They see you as a gift from God. They look on you from the bright side, even if you have done something they think is wrong. They have your back when you have forgotten who you are. If others say something negative about you, they will not join in. They enjoy being in your company, not because they want something from you, but just because they are your friend. They forgive on the fly. They do not hold grievances. They do not save up stamps to be used for another day! They give you that same love you remember receiving from your grandparents! 🙂 Friends help to end the illusion of separation, lack and loneliness. They would never plot against you or enter into some sort of cabal to do harm to you. They do not attack. If you have had harsh words, they forgive quickly or ask to talk to you about it. They know no conspiracies. In the end, it is Jesus’ lesson from the crucifixion that helps us forgive false friends. He advises us that when we are tempted to see ourselves as victimized that we use his model in the crucifixion. He did not see attack. Instead he associated himself with his spirit which cannot be attacked, cannot be betrayed, cannot suffer lack or deprivation. In his association with his spirit he changed crucifixion to resurrection, not by the resuscitation of a dead body, but by placing the altar to God where it belonged, not with the body but with spirit. From that place he could say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus’ body became what it always was, NOTHING, nothing at all, for it never existed in truth. In his victory over illusion, he allowed the body to simply not exist. Having fulfilled his mission he exists within the Sonship as an active symbol of the love of God. We are his students.

The Light of Heaven

I am thankful that these thoughts I share with you, were shared with me by a great Teacher, Tara Singh, and though I have added my own expression and my learning to it, I wanted to give thanks to him. Namaste!

Suffer the little children…We are coming into a season where we idolize a babe in a manger, his parents poor, his circumstances low. There was not even a room left at the Motel 6 for him, so he and his parents stayed outside in little more than a cardboard box would be today. We are asked to look at this child as the unique Son of God and we expect each year to receive from this some answer to our personal and social questions about life. But what if EVERY child were thought to be the unique Son of God. The word “unique” keeps us at arms length from that child. It separates us from him and we never get those answers we long for. Let us see that child as every child. A Course in Miracles offers us a different vision of every child. Every child comes here for one of two reasons, depending on OUR mind. If our minds are wrong, every child comes here hiding from God out of guilt, assuming a physical body to escape the pursuing God s/he fears. If our minds are right, every child comes here as a fresh Light, the Light of Heaven, and would come here to share the facts of Heaven with us. The facts of Heaven are innocence and peace, guiltlessness and love. Every child brings the Father’s touch to the fearful world that hides from Truth. The child is Holy and brings Holiness to the fearful world. The child comes first to the parents who called to him and it is to them that he would first try to communicate the facts of Heaven. He wishes to instruct his parents in the Truth of things, to teach them God’s ways, Heaven’s ways. But the question is whether the parents are prepared and willing to learn from the child; or do they think of the child as “theirs,” as something they have a right to condition with the ways of the earth? Invariably that is what happens, isn’t it? The child comes fresh with the dew of Heaven and would teach his parents the holiness they have forgotten. They were children too and their parents beat the remembrance of heaven out of them, teaching them fear and suspicion, a terrible sense of lack and separation, a loneliness that nothing can dispel. They have forgotten the facts of Heaven, which are their facts too! So will they see the holiness of the child and be still? Will they learn from the child the things they have forgotten? Or will they see the child as needing their guidance in the fearful things of the world? The child comes from Heaven and you would make a citizen out of her and have her saluting flags! Is that not the abuse of holiness. Can we learn from our past mistakes now and see the Heavenliness of things, all things, but certainly children? There is a Knowledge of who we are down deep in us that we cannot completely forget, try as we may. It comes out of us in stories and myths and makes us unwilling to call the world home. Thank God!

When my daughter was about three years old, I spoke with her calmly and frankly and asked her if she remembered Heaven before she came to be my daughter in this body. Children will happily tell you if you ask in love. She said, “Well there I was in Heaven, minding my own business, when an angel came up to me and said, ‘Look down there. Joe and his wife are going to have a baby. Would you like to be it?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ and then I jumped and the next thing I knew I was a baby and they were holding me and saying ‘Look how cute the baby is.” She told this story in a manner of fact way that was very disarming. When her brother was about the same age, I saw him approach my daughter and say, “Tell me again about Heaven. I am beginning to forget!” And forget we almost do, so indoctrinated are we in the ways of the world. The world is the place WE made. Heaven is the universe that God created. It is the Home we long to remember fully. The key to awakening into that remembrance is the awareness of the awesome holiness of all things, and yes, certainly all children. Who will cherish the child as the messenger from Heaven? Who will dare to look at the terrible ego need involved when we see the child as “mine.” “This is something I made.” The fact of it is that children do not come “from” parents but rather “through” them. They are not ours to claim, nor are they ours to indoctrinate in the strange ways of the world. They come through the parents, accepting the vibration of them, agreeing to share that vibration with their own, and then they begin their own path of remembrance. If the parents were ready they could learn from the child. If they had made space for the child and counted it as holy from the first moment of their awareness of conception, then a great event could take place. Learning the ways of Heaven from the child would be as cool water to a scorched earth, torn from God’s Oneness by the mad thought of separation. The Light of the child would dispel the darkness of the world’s illusions with its little mad ways. Then we wouldn’t need to keep looking at Jesus in the manger every year, trying to remember all that we have forgotten. Every child is Jesus and every parent potentially Mary and Joseph. If we could see the holiness of children, it would come out of the remembrance of our holiness. Then, who could fail to cherish the child? Could there ever be child abuse? Could there ever be child abandonment? Could there ever be children in poverty? Obviously not!! We would remember ourselves as Children of God, all brothers, all parts of the One Spirit that God created like unto Himself. Every child would give us the chance to remember ourselves as God created us!!! What a gift!!! But WE think WE have to bring gifts to the child! Invariably, what do we bring but the things of this world? Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, the things valued by THIS world! We begin immediately to encapsulate the child into the world! Is this not a tragedy? Is this not the ultimate abuse? In three or four years the child will have forgotten Heaven and see only fear, loneliness and lack!! But if we had made a space for the holy child that was coming to us, could we not then protect them from the madness of the world? If for, say, the first five years we could keep the child in the fullness of Love’s Presence, not exposing her to the ideas of the world, the child might grow up without learning fear and reaction. But how often does this take place? We are so worn out, we just want to get a baby sitter and have a few drinks! We were not prepared for the child because we just thought she was “OURS.” And soon, she will be three years old and a citizen saluting flags and entering child beauty contests!! Is there any wonder then that we so idolize Jesus in the manger!!! Let just that ONE child be holy. All of the other children will be OURS and we will teach them to be just like us!!! Can we not now see the tragedy of the world we have made in our mad attack on God? Thank God it is a tragedy that will end for it is only a long dream. In Truth, nothing but God and His Creation exists! We will awaken from fear eventually in time. In Truth no separation from God ever occurred or could occur. In Truth no world exists! Only in Time does it appear otherwise and time is temporary just as the school bell eventually rings and children return home. The child awakens from the bad dream and sees that it was not real.

At this Christmas time, allow yourself to awaken to the awareness of Love’s Presence. Forgive and set aside all of the little blocks you have made to keep such Truth out of your vision! Love the little children; the child of the world and the child in you. We are all just used and abused kids! We too came here as emissaries of Heaven, bringing the Light of eternal Truth to a dark place in the mind that believes itself to be separated from God and on the run from him. We too tried to teach our parents the holiness of all things, and they just claimed us as “theirs,” and made us do as they said. We have been here so many times trying to light up this dark place!! We have need of our own holiness. Let the “holy” child bring this memory back to us to stay a while, long enough to awaken the world from its long dream!

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Which Option Do You Choose?

If I were speaking to a room full of a hundred people interested in spirituality and I said this to them, how would they respond? How would you respond? So here is the speech.

Were I to tell you that you could choose one of these options which one would it be?

One option would be that you as an individual do not truly exist. Instead you are a part of the Mind of God, undifferentiated, you are a part of the Light of God. You are part of the Ocean of God’s Love. You are just as God, spirit, not physical and you are not an individual, distinct, unique, with plans and goals of your own. You are a part of God, which is all-encompassing Love and Light for all eternity.

The other option would be that you ARE an individual and you are unique with your own opportunities to prove yourself. You have a soul which will live forever as an individual, but while you are on Earth, you sing the song, “I did it MY way.” The universe is a real artifact separate from you and you as a unique individual get to go out and explore it! Go to shopping malls! Buy new jeans! Get a car. Buy a house. Marry a hot guy or girl!

These are the two options. Which one would you choose? (I have actually done this so I know what happens! smile emoticon ) Most people pick the second option and as a reason they say, “It sounds boring to just be a part of God’s Light for all eternity.” Some people say, with a defiant tone, “I AM an individual, UNIQUE, and I can be whatever I want to be. Who cares about God!!” There may be one or two people who will choose the first option!!

From the point of view of A Course in Miracles, this shows how our minds have accepted the idea of separation. The Course tells us that the Son of God made the same mistake! He fell into a little dream that somehow he could be different from His Father. This all happened in the mind. There was no world yet. But when the idea came to him, he forgot to laugh at it. He took it seriously and that is the first split of the mind from Oneness. The Son now thinks he is outside of Heaven observing God and into his mind there come two voices: the first one is loud and brash. “Look what you have done? You have left Heaven! God gave you everything and you have just spit in his face! You have stolen the crown jewels. You have SINNED against your Father and do you think he is going to let you get away with this!!! He is going to hunt you down like the dirty dog you are and he is going to annihilate you! So you better scram, get out of here as fast and as far as you can and hide!”

The second voice is calm and quiet. It says, “Nothing has in truth happened. You just fell into a little dream. You can wake up now.” The first loud voice we will call the “ego” and the second quiet voice we will call the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit counsels the sleeping Son just to wake up and find himself as he must forever be, a part of Heaven sharing the Mind of Christ with his father. For some reason we will never know, the Son chose to believe the ego and when he did he chose the emotions of the ego; fear, sin and guilt. So the Son runs out of his mind, so to speak, and dreams (though he thinks he creates it) a physical universe which he enters by the Big Bang. But after the Big Bang, the Son splits into zillions and zillions of pieces of stuff: star dust, matter, planets, star systems, and life forms, including you and me. The Son would have lost all memory of his true state were it not for the fact that the Holy Spirit came with him into this universe as a memory of truth. Now each life form thinks itself independent and separated just as the ego thought caused it. The Course tells us that the body was made as a place God could enter not! The dreaming Son, made insane by the lies of the ego, now fears himself to be an individual, separated from God, living out a life based on sin, fear and guilt. Part of the ego’s lies makes him believe he is forever separate, forever UNIQUE, forever his own person, that this physical universe is his home and that he is A BODY, not a mind or a spirit. The ego creates worlds of special people, unique people, good people, bad people and tells his “creation” that duality is just the way things ARE. “It’s a tough world out there. You gotta get yours! I got mine!” The ego’s thought system rules the world it made:

specialness, good and bad
uniqueness for the individual
the body as the altar of “truth”—shopping malls, modern life, the pop world, the good world, the bad world. Conflict, war, aggression, depression et al–these all come from the ego’s thought system of separation.

So you can see why most people take the second option!!! It is the fall-out from the Son’s original mistake (IN HIS DREAM ONLY; It could never happen in Truth). Nothing real can be threatened! The Son cannot truly be different from his father. He cannot be an individual and hide in a body! That’s just a bad dream!!!. The way to awakening from the dream is to treat each other as brothers, to look for what we have in common, without proclaiming our “uniqueness,” which is a real illusion; to forgive some individuals who you think have wronged you, because it has not really happened in God’s world. As we forgive, we cast away grievances we have held; we begin to show more Light from the inside. We begin to be the Light of the world. We see ourselves as spirit, not bodies, and we hear the call to go Home to our true reality. We get weary of being individuals. We just want peace and Love. We have been running from a god we created out of our ego minds. We begin to feel the tug of Home pulling at us, like we were little kids and had been away at camp for a month, but now we just want to hug our mom or dad and drink hot chocolate. We HAVE been in this dream a long time and we do yearn to go home. In the time it has taken you to read this, perhaps you will revise your choice of the two options. Maybe somebody will break through and say “YES, I want option number ONE. I want to go back into that ocean of Love that is my Home. I will gladly hand over this silly little idea of Joe Shore as a unique individual and rejoin Oneness!

NOW THE GREAT PART is that this has already happened in Truth. It all got resolved in an instant in eternity, but now that resolution is playing itself out through the billions of years of “Time.” So NOW, we can do what the Son forgot to do, LAUGH at the silly, mad idea, that any part of God could break off and observe the Whole, outside of which is nothing; LAUGH that any part of God could hide in a body! LAUGH at the thought that you could be an individual and find something more interesting to be than GOD!!! grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon grin emoticon

Joseph Shore's photo.

Gratefulness

Gratefulness is one of the gifts of awareness. It is given to those who know silence and encounter the Holy Instant. Gratefulness remakes our perception. Where once we saw a sinful world, gratefulness shows us the children of God, lost as in a dream, perhaps, but sons of God nonetheless. Gratefulness remakes us from the inside out. In gratefulness we would find the ability to let loose old grievances we have held. How long we have held them and clung to them as though they were precious gifts, but now the tears of awareness come and show us the hurt that confused our minds. We can let go now. Every grievance we held against others was an attack on God, as surely as though we were storming the Kingdom with the deeds of war. Thank God, none of our attacks on God, can change Him. The Love that He is cannot be threatened. It cannot be avoided either, for there is no place in Truth where this Love is not. It is all-encompassing just as His will is all-encompassing and will be done. His Will is that you be just as you were created by Him. Made of His Love, sharing Himself to make you, you are a chip off the old block. You and I are the Love of God. That is all we are! Everything else is a little dream we fell into and stayed there but an instant. And now, in this Holy Instant, we have remembered who we are and must forever be. We are the Love and Light of God. When we have all remembered, the world will vanish as the illusion we made as a place that God could enter not, and we will find ourselves, not as bodies, but as rays of Light in the corona of God’s Presence. But for this moment, languor a while in gratefulness that your fears were wrong, that the world is not a terrible place where tortured and wounded creatures come to die. Bathe a while in this gratefulness and be remade.

Father we are coming Home. So long have we been lost in this dream of separateness. So long have we clung to little dreams of sin, fear and guilt. We are as your little children Father, your little toddlers who wandered into a fearful land and grew up almost forgetting you, almost forgetting who we are. But we could not forget your Love for we are made of it, and we had to see it sometime. We are coming up your steps Father as fast as our little toddler feet can carry us, longing now only for your embrace and our eternal Home.

Joseph Shore's photo.

I Would Be Your Son Today, Father

We all start out this life full of hope and the strength of youth. We never start out intending to hurt someone. We never think of failure. We are filled with the energy of becoming and that is as it should be. But along the way, we do make mistakes, and people end up getting hurt. If we are fortunate, we will have friends to encourage us and urge us on to new sights. When the autumn season comes to your life, it seems like the whole journey has taken only about five minutes! You look back with some remorse and wonder what good have I really done? How much love did I really put into this world? And with that question, a list comes to your mind of all the people who were brought to you so that you could help them. So many names on that list….and so many you (and I) failed to help. Before winter comes we must make up for lost time and love like we have never loved before. Every soul that is sent to you that you might help them, cherish, and stay pure. Love them so…Love them with all the love you can channel. “Yes Father, I would be your Son today and carry your love to all who are lost and foundering in this world. Forgive me all my illusions today Father, for I would be your Son and extend only your Love to all my brothers.”

 

Urban Prisoners Without Hope

I was a social worker in New York City for two years and I worked in the slums. About 3 million people live under the poverty line in NYC and many of them live in slums that defy description. For one year I was a protective diagnostic caseworker for abused and neglected children. I was the one who went to the homes and investigated abuse and neglect and removed the child when necessary. This stressful job took quite a toll on people. The average caseworker lasted three months on the job! I lasted a year. The next year I was an undercare social worker and had custody of a caseload of about twenty children who had been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect and were living with foster parents. I saw masses of people trapped in New York as if it were a prison.

When the movie Escape from New York came out I went down to a movie theatre downtown Manhattan near Times Square. It was like a group interaction event. People definitely empathized with being trapped in New York. Where people view themselves as being in prison, they will view the police as prison guards, and the situation fulfills itself when police ACT like prison guards. I have seen things I hope no one has to see again. I KNOW what the Afro-American community in Baltimore is feeling. I sympathize with them. But the problem is that most Americans do not want to empathize. They just want the problem to go away. While I was a social worker we had 100,000 homeless people living on the sidewalks. People just stepped over them and went on their way. Then one day, the police came in vans and trucks and all of a sudden those 100,000 people were no longer there? Where did they take them? We have a police crisis in North America because we have a crisis of conscience! We have a crisis of care, or lack thereof. But we are just so busy, aren’t we? We go to work and keep our house in order and that just consumes our energy. Who has the energy to care? If you want to pray for something, pray for the energy to care!!!!

Love is all there is to talk about

Love is all there is to talk about. It is the only thought that we can share with God. It is the only thought that goes beyond thought and connects us to Reality, which is all-encompassing Love with no opposite. In our dualistic world of infinitely important persons (sic!) “love” is usually attachment. It means that I see something in you that I really want or need and you see something in me that you really want or need, so we attach to one another and feed off each other! Real Love is not personal just as God is not personal, the real God, that is, not the Biblical Jehovah who is a man-child of a person, choosing a few special people and cursing all the rest, throwing temper tantrums like destroying the world, then repenting of it saying, “Oops. I shouldn’t have done that. Here’s a rainbow for you to show I won’t do that again.” Even the “love” mentioned in the New Testament (as in 1 Corin. 13) is still dualistic because the Bible cannot see beyond dualism. There is always an “I–Thou” relationship, never a joining. In true love, the lovers are One. They are One Love in two illusory bodies and they light the way for the true reunion that must happen; the bringing together of each piece, each broken shard of the One Son of God who is seen splintered here in this illusory universe, having forgotten he is Spirit, believing he is a body, subject to time and feeling lack. He tries to connect to other bodies who also have forgotten they are Spirit and experience lack. This is attachment, the broken son of God’s substitution for the all encompassing Love he truly is. Attachment doesn’t satisfy and if people marry with it they get tired of marriage and divorce.

So how do we find this real “Love?” First we would need to acknowledge, as does ACIM, that this Love is our natural inheritance and our true Self, that we are a part of God’s radiant loving light, from which we can never be separated. We have erected barriers to the awareness of Love’s Presence. The biggest barrier we erected is the WORLD!! ACIM says that the dreaming Son dreamed up this world as a place God could enter not! The body is his ultimate citadel against God! But this illusory world can be de-constructed. Every time I look on another and see that what is in his best interest is also in mine, a little light has come to us. I begin to find that if I refuse to make opinions about you that more light comes. As that light comes I begin to feel Love when I am in your presence, a Love which comes to both of us. In that moment my barriers are down and Love’s Presence comes into my remembrance. It joins you and I as One Spirit in two illusory bodies. The bodies are silly things. The Love is all important. This Love we share with God and remember for all our brothers. Love is all there is to talk about!

“Knowledge” verses Belief. What is the difference?

“Knowledge” verses Belief. What is the difference?

“Knowledge” (Gnosis) is inner awareness. It contains its own validation. No external validation is needed. Once you have an inner experience of something and “Know” it, you have no need for words or beliefs. Beliefs are always in another and a lot of words are required. Knowledge is always inner experience and no words can do it justice. Are we there? Are we seeing this? If you believe in the Nicene creed, what good is it? You are just a parrot. But if someone said to me, “I have inner experience of the Nicene Creed,” I would say, “Alright, let me see by your light that this is so.” Now today, people have a lot of different beliefs than were common in 19th century society. But they are still just beliefs. They are just opinions. You may be willing to fight for them, but what does that tell you? True Gnosis always joins minds together! So if you are a Spiritist and you affirm reincarnation, it is because reincarnation is inside your experience. If you just “believe” then it becomes a point of argument and Spiritists and Spiritualists have been arguing over it for two centuries!! But it is not a worthwhile discussion! Spiritualists say that reincarnation has not been proven by science! Big deal! Whose science are we talking about? If you had asked Dr. Ian Stevenson (a psychiatrist) about reincarnation he would have said that now in the 21st century a reasonable man can accept reincarnation. But accepting it as a “belief” or a point in a creed means nothing! Unless you experience the truth of reincarnation within your own Gnosis it is meaningless! But if you get the Truth of what the Course says when it declares, “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. 2 In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, ‘My brother, choose again.’ 3 He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. 4 He would remove all misery from you whom God created altar unto joy. 5 He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you.” (ACIM T.31.VIII.3-6) If you really get that inside, then you will KNOW reincarnation as a FACT, not a belief. Most religions start out with someone who KNEW something (Gnosis) but degenerate into beliefs for others who have not had the inner experience. In that stage, religion is harmful. I write here (for the 30 or so people who respond to my posts) out of what I KNOW inside, and I don’t care if you believe me. If you can see my light, if you can see your own light, you will know. Namaste

Joe at Johns-1a

The Peace that Stays

Peace is here…within. It can be found. It has not been lost to the Mind which God created. It can be covered up and overlooked, but it cannot be lost. When the mind joins with the heart in quiet, Peace comes. It comes in every moment the mind remembers a love not of this world. It is here in Christmas because we ask the Prince of Peace to come at least this one time of year, and he is faithful. He comes into the minds of his brothers. He came very early to you. As a child when you so looked forward to Christmas, when everything sparkled with innocence and expectation, when you decorated the tree, when you made candy with your mother, when you loved your pets just a little more and gave them treats, when you opened your presents and were overcome with joy. The Prince of Peace delighted in delighting young hearts and minds at Christmas time. But this Christmas Peace is available all year long. You remember it during those times you sat on your mother’s lap and felt so comforted and loved. You remember it from the love of your pets. They looked you in the eye and made you remember a Love that is not of this world, and Peace was there. As you grew older, Peace did not age, but was there in calm reflection of the good in all things, and the blessing itself of your life. Peace has always been there. It has always been the Truth of you. It never knew any illusion about you, but always saw you as God created you. And it is waiting for you tonight both to remember and to pass it on to a brother who has forgotten it and thinks himself alone and abandoned. Love you brother and awaken the Peace within him that you may know it better yourself. The Christ child is here within. He is you as God created you and must forever be. Nothing God created tarnishes or fades. Only the world that is passing away knows such illusions. Let not this Peace pass away from your mind, but stay in it, even as illusions come and go, Peace stays.

Remembering You

Remembering You

There was a time when I was filled with wonderment and peace; a time in which all things were possible, all hopes held, all miracles accepted, and Love knew its name in every word we spoke. We glided together through a wonderland of nature filled with peace and majesty and saw our souls reflected in beauty. Each wood duck showed your glory; each Mallard but spoke of your grace. Arm in arm we shared the beauty and wonderment of Love’s Presence in a May garden, in a time that so kindly stopped for us. Have we ever left? We are still there in that quiet moment. I know we will never leave it, for those moments were real and eternal. They are ours to revisit anytime we need to know Truth and Love. A field of daffodils, on quiet waters, a still vastness, and so much more that words cannot speak, we shared in a few days in May at Burnaby Lake. And now I am still filled with wonderment and peace. It is still a time when all things are possible, all hopes held, all miracles accepted, and Love knows its name. The changes of the seasons will not affect the Lake or foul the peace that lives there. Changes come, but Peace and Love stay. The ducks and geese will still be waiting for us to feed them. The sky will still welcome the marsh wrens and swallows in their swirling flight. The beavers will still be in their den and vastness will still caress its feathered creatures and flowers, leaves and bees, its creatures of the lake who come forth from such immensity. We will always be there and Love will always be Present. I am haunted by such grandeur.

This Quietude

Looking out my window at Burnaby Mountain at dusk, with the twilight shining golden on the side of the mountain, in the crisp, honest, cool air of Fall, I think perhaps I have found another sense of things to replace this loneliness I have had most of my life. There is a calmness about things now, a quietude which feels so familiar and so satisfying. This quietude brings in the seasons. It directs the Geese in their flight to the South, and assures the Wood Ducks it is alright to winter over in the safety of Burnaby Lake. This quietude colors the leaves and brings a different shade of beauty to the forests and meadows which were touched with the gold of summer just a short while ago. At the foot of Burnaby Mountain, all is quiet and all is right. The mountain whispers the assurance, “There is only eternity and only Love is real.” This quietude grew my bones and made me. I am a part of the mountain, the shade, the cool it provides and the majesty of which it speaks…and I know that I love.

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Love is all that is real

What do we mean when we say that Love is all that is real? We mean that all of our experiences fail in comparison to it. We see it everywhere once we have discovered it in our hearts. I so love to look at the world through Love’s eyes. Sometimes this vision is blurred and I see pain and fear. Sometimes I lash out at others and so quickly regret it. But these painful visions leave, like flowing water over rocks. The rocks are there from the great ages of time. It is their wisdom they whisper to the water as it flows over them. “Only Love is real,” they whisper. In a thousand years we will see the world differently for it has no staying substance. But in a thousand years the Love that is in my heart will still be there, young and pure, without change. This changeless Love is what we call God and we are a part of this Wholey Whole, never to be moved, never to be threatened. Nothing real can be threatened.

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Jerome Hines and My Story

This is part of my story of being a young opera singer in New York.

In the fall of 1975 I made the big move to New York. Tulsa had cradled me and brought me along, but now was the time to head on up to the big time. As in everything else, I was helped by my unseen “Friend.” Things just seemed to fall into place. Lynn Fann, the same friend who introduced me to opera in seminary, had introduced me to his friends in New York who shared an apartment on the upper West side of Manhattan near Columbia University. By the time I was ready to move to New York, one of them was ready to vacate, leaving a vacancy for me. The terrible job of searching for an apartment in New York was spared me. It was an acceptable area, on the border of safety. I loved being right next to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I spent many days meandering through the beautiful chapels much the way I had meandered through the garden during childhood. It seemed that everything was being arranged for me, including the proximity of this wonderful cathedral.

One of the first things I did in New York was to arrange for an audition with Jerome Hines of the Metropolitan Opera, that operatic basso par excellence who had provided me with the model voice during my seminary years. In theological seminary, a fellow student, Lynn Fann, had introduced me to opera. I had never really heard it before. In Carthage we knew about the “Grand Ole Opery” but that was about it. I listened to all of the great singers of the second golden age of singing with Lynn. Something in their sound made me sit up and pay attention, especially the singing of the great bass, Jerome Hines, partly because he was also a Christian who would sing at the Salvation Army on skid-row in New York when he wasn’t singing at the Met. His voice and his life became a model for me. Now in 1975 I was going to get to sing for him. My old teacher from college, Ted Harris, had been instrumental. Ted told me that Hines’ opera company was going to be auditioning for a baritone to take the place of Met baritone, Calvin Marsh, for a production of Hines’ opera on the life of Jesus, I Am The Way, to be staged in April 1976 in Columbus Ohio. Ted arranged for me to talk to the stage director, Derek de Cambra, a spunky, enthusiastic fellow with a British accent who had a love for beautiful singing. I was to go over to New Jersey to audition directly for Hines himself. I was finally going to meet the wonderful singer whose voice excited me so much in seminary. In those days I was not really nervous. I was excited and ready to go. My voice could do anything and I could pound on it for hours, if necessary, and it would still be fine for the next outing. I prepared my benchmark arias that had won the Met auditions for me and took a train, then a bus, to the New Jersey audition site. It was a small room to sing in. Hines was seated only a few feet from me. Still, I went eagerly to the task and sang Macbeth’s last act aria, “Pieta, rispetto, amore,” which had won for me the Midwestern Finals of the Met Auditions, interpolating a long, sustained, high A flat at the end. Hines was visibly impressed and began talking about his recording of Macbeth with Leonard Warren. He was warm and cordial but every bit the opera star that I expected him to be. He talked several minutes about great baritones he had known and how favorably my voice compared. I could not have asked for a more favorable review from one I idolized so. I got the part and began preparing the role. The baritone I was replacing, Calvin Marsh, was a Met baritone with a huge voice, beautiful color, commanding range, and a veteran. He was a tough act to follow. My voice was much different than his, darker, almost a bass-baritone compared to his, yet more lyrical because of youth. My old college teacher, Ted Harris, was to sing the bass part of the villain, Eliakim, one of the chief priests (a fictitious character), who conspires with Judas to capture Jesus. I was going to get to see two dreams come true, to sing with my teacher and my idol. In the spring of 1976, after performances of “Tonio” in I Pagliacci in Tucson with the Arizona Opera, and a cross-country concert tour for Columbia Artist’s Community Concerts, I headed for Columbus Ohio, my ego beginning to inflate from the heady rushes of early successes. I still heard the inner Voice, but I did not remember “who” or “what” it was, and I certainly was not cultivating a habit of reliance on it for guidance. At times I would do what it said, and at times I wouldn’t. Each time I obeyed, I was amazed at the eerie way in which things fell together for my benefit.

For example, In 1975 I had made the finals of the highly prestigious WGN-Illinois Opera Guild Auditions of the Air in Chicago but had not won. The Voice told me in strong “words” that if I entered again in 1976 I could win them. I entered and easily passed the first two rounds. The auditions director, Dick Jones of WGN Radio, Chicago, really liked my voice and thought my singing had improved over the previous year. Some time later I was notified that I was to sing in the finals at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. There was only a small problem. I was in the middle of a cross-country concert tour with a trio, performing from town to town. I discussed my feelings about the audition with my colleagues, Roger and Debbie Lucas, and they were supportive in anything I chose to do. The Voice was very strong that I had to find a way to go to the finals, and that I would win. The trio’s schedule just worked out that we had a day’s travel, no concert, on the day of the finals. After our performance in Pueblo Colorado I caught a flight to Chicago, got into the hotel about 4:00AM for five hours sleep and showed up at the stage door of the Chicago Lyric Opera House at 11:00AM, ready to sing. I sang my first aria, “Cortigiani vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, and was pleased with the way it went. But for the next round, the judges got to pick an aria from my prepared repertoire. I “knew” that if they picked the prologue to I Pagliacci, I should be one of the two winners chosen. The Voice told me that I would be the second winner. The judges chose the prologue. I sang it with full gusto, including a resounding high A flat, and left the stage feeling good. I could not stay for the end of the auditions. I had to run to the airport immediately to catch a plane to Traverse City Michigan to rejoin my concert trio for a performance that night. When I arrived in Traverse City, I called back to Chicago and found that I had been named the second winner.

Wouldn’t you think that experiences such as these should have been enough to teach me to listen to that inner Voice and always obey it? Apparently they weren’t, because I didn’t. I still thought my rational intellect was the most important part of me to listen to, and I liked the heady rush of the ego as I saw my name up in lights, doing things my way, with my voice. I soon began believing all my publicity and was convinced that I belonged in the Tsar’s court in old St. Petersburg and that by divine right, of course.

By the time I arrived in Columbus Ohio in April 1976 to begin rehearsals for I Am The Way, I was full of it, and I don’t mean the way, the truth, and the life, but a substance with a lot more unpleasant odor to it! I had just gone up to my hotel room and unpacked when the telephone rang. It was one of the other cast members who wanted to come up and say hello. I felt mildly irritated at being disturbed but magnanimously allowed him to come up to the room. He was a very down to earth fellow; full of something I had once known, not too long ago, sincerity and thanksgiving. He was singing the tiny part of “Thomas”, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. He literally had only a couple of lines to sing in the whole show! His face beamed with joy as he described his pilgrimage from the Deep South, at his own expense, just to sing his two lines. By the time he finished visiting with me I had begun to feel very ashamed of myself for the egotism I had allowed to grow inside me, replacing my gratitude to God for the voice I was given. I was making my own ego world-view of specialness, rather that viewing my voice as a gift to give to others. I prayed. I apologized and asked for renewed innocence. The Voice was right there. It had gone nowhere. Only I had changed. The Voice said, “Just keep on going the way you are going now and I will have you sing for Presidents and Kings.” It was a startling message! By this time, I was supposed to go down to the lobby to meet the Director. I grabbed my score and headed for the elevator. No sooner had I reached the elevator than did the doors open. Inside it stood Jimmy Carter. He extended his hand saying, “I just wanted to shake hands.” We rode down to the lobby together in silence. You have to understand that in April of 1976, Jimmy Carter, running for the Democratic nomination for President, was still a long-shot. Nobody thought he would get the nomination and nobody dreamed he would be elected President of the United States. As we exited the elevator, I watched him go, and said another quiet “thank you” to God for his faithfulness, and for the internal Voice which always spoke for truth, on my behalf. I knew Jimmy Carter was going to be President of the United States. And maybe if, just if, I did what the Voice said, kept on going the way I was going, then I might even get to sing for him!

During rehearsals of I Am The Way, I met many wonderful people who were going to stay with me throughout the years as close personal friends. The rehearsal period itself was rewarding because, in addition to the good staging by Derek De Cambra, Hines himself did some of the dramatic coaching, working with the singers on subtle acting points, “camera angles”, Chris Lachonas, a veteran, called them. This stayed with me my whole career as I tried to use a style of acting that was as suitable for television as it was for the stage. The music of I Am The Way, all composed by Hines himself–an extraordinary feat for a singer, not trained in composition–shows a little of every role he ever sang. The scene called “The Woman at the Well” shows a lot of the playfulness of the Bohemian characters in Puccini’s opera La Boheme, which Jerry sang many, many times. In fact during the bleak years at the Met when Rudolf Bing was trying to force him out, Jerry was cut down to one performance a season of “Colline” in La Boheme. Still, he stuck it out and had a renaissance long after Bing had retired. The scene called “The Last Supper” showed a lot of Wagner influence, especially Parsifal, in which Jerry sang the role of “Gurnemanz.” I did not view this negatively. It seemed inescapable to me that if an opera singer were to compose an opera himself, it would inevitably show the influence of everything he had sung. And the music he composed was beautiful, full of sweeping melodies and beautifully constructed scenes. What gave it an impact was Jerome Hines himself! There was that enormous, richer than rich, bass voice with incomparable grandeur, being used in the role of Jesus. What more could anyone ask for? In 1976, Hines was 55 years old and his voice was still at the peak of his powers. He sailed through the performance with ease and assurance. I used every second as an opportunity to listen, observe, and learn, how he made an entrance, how he related to the other characters on stage, most of all, how he sounded! In one scene called, “At Bethany,” my character, “Simon Peter”, sits right beside Jesus as he sings the Lord’s Prayer. Looking up at Jerome Hines, hearing that enormous voice so close to my ear, I gave thanks to God for His incredible ways. And then the performance was over and the company packed up to go back to New York, the singers back to their other careers. I went to the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York to sing with the Symphony and prepare for my first Rigoletto in the fall of 1976 for the Houston Grand Opera. As a young singer, I had no rational reason to believe I could sing this, the greatest of Italian baritone roles, but the Voice said that I could do it and I had agreed when I got a letter from the General Manager asking me to do the part. The letter came “out of the blue,” and I knew, even then, that this was something I was destined to do.

The Hines Company performed I Am The Way only once a year. The following year, 1977, Calvin Marsh returned to the role of Simon Peter, leaving me without a role. Not to be outdone, I suggested to Jerry that I play the role of the heavy, “Eliakim,” the chief priest who conspires with Judas. Jerry had always had difficulty casting it because of the way it was composed. As I was told the story, originally, the role had no aria. But when Jerry approached the great basso, Ezio Flagello, to sing the role, Flagello refused unless an aria were written for the character. Ever the one-upsman, Hines said, “All right. I’ll compose you an aria, but it’s going to be so hard you won’t be able to sing it.” The result was Eliakim’s long aria which is loud and very high for any bass, ending on a long, sustained high F sharp, not territory that basses like to hang around in, even a great bass like Flagello. He never sang the part again, and Jerry went through bass after bass trying to find someone who could sing it. I suggested that I could sing it. Even though I was a baritone rather than a bass, I had enough richness in the voice that I could carry its heavy insinuations. Learning my own one-upsmanship I said, “but you have to transpose the aria up one half step for me.” Hines laughed and agreed, so off I went to Birmingham to sing Eliakim, following in other years to different cities. In Cleveland in 1978, I was rehearsing the big aria with Hines himself at the piano, accompanying. After I finished, Hines was silent for quite a long while. Finally he said, “I wish we could have recorded that. I’ve never heard anyone sing my music the way you do.” It was the most wonderful tribute I could have been given by this man whose singing meant so much to me, and whom I had come to love so dearly. Some years were difficult though. Two years later, November 1980 in Edmonton, Alberta I had a dangerously close dovetail of engagements. I ended a string of performances of “Germont” in Verdi’s La Traviata with the Arizona Opera, the evening before dress rehearsal for I Am The Way. The Director was confident of my ability to do the role without rehearsal by this point, so I flew from the desert of Phoenix right after the last performance of La Traviata to the Nov. cold of Edmonton! I was exhausted and slept until 4:30 in the afternoon with the dress rehearsal at 8:00PM. Still, I felt ready to go, and during one scene I interpolated a high B flat! For the non-singers reading this, a high B flat is the pinnacle note for a tenor, and is virtually never attempted by a baritone. Once, the Met’s star baritone, Sherrill Milnes, had recorded a high B flat, but I don’t recall him ever singing one on stage. Why did I do it? Because I could! It was that much ego, nothing deeper. Hines was in the audience for the rehearsal and he let me know what a good note it was. I was happy, justified in my specialness. But the next night was performance. There would be no day off for rest as was usually the case, and I desperately needed a day off for rest. Edmonton in the winter is colder than anything I had ever experienced! It is so cold that the water particles in the air freeze into ice crystals which can cut your lungs when you breathe! I had known cold in Missouri but nothing like this, and I was coming straight from balmy Phoenix. My body was in shock and tired. That night after rehearsal I slept very poorly. I was too tired to sleep and wished that I had brought along the singer’s friend, “restoril”, to induce a good night’s sleep. But I hadn’t. I lay tossing and turning all night, finally drifting off to light sleep early towards dawn, only to be awakened early by the maid who did not want to believe the “do not disturb sign” posted on the door. Furious at her for disturbing my specialness, I screamed at her from the bed to get out and tried to go back to sleep, all to no avail. I was up. After two pots of coffee I began to vocalize a little and did not like what I felt. That afternoon was no better. Still, the show must go on, and my voice had never really failed me before…except on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera when I had muffed a high A flat. Still, I was seasoned now, and I had not cracked on a note in public in the six years since. Staying with my typical performance schedule, I found the nearest steak and potatoes around 4:30 PM and began to tank up for the evening performance. That evening I sang the difficult aria OK but the voice still seemed off, stiff and thick. More importantly, my tenacious clinging to ego specialness had cut off my ability to hear the internal Voice that guided me in everything. The time in the scene came where I had interpolated the high B flat the night before. Should I do it again, in performance? As soon as the question flashed through my mind, I heard the internal Voice say “No.” Oh well, I would do it anyway! I went up for the special high note, hit it…and it cracked! Not to be outdone, I tried to regain it and it cracked again!! The curtain mercifully descended and I made my way, like a scalded dog, as quickly as possible through the labyrinths of back stage corridors, eyes to the floor, to my dressing room. I was mortified, disgraced. I, Joseph Shore, one of the greatest baritones in the world, had cracked on stage! Standing in the hall, barring my refuge into my dressing room was Hines, in costume as Jesus, making his way to the stage, enormous grin on his face, laughter ready to commence at any moment. He began to chuckle, “That just makes you human,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. But remember from now on, when you crack a note, get off of it and let it go. I remember when Set Svanholm, at the Met, cracked on the high B flat at the end of ‘Celeste Aida.’ He cracked and tried to get it back and cracked again, just like you did.” Somehow it did not make me feel better. I brooded. How I brooded. I spent the night in the dressing room trying to avoid all conversation. My specialness had been wounded and I was not eager to address any re-shaping of my image. Years later, Hines said to me, “You know, I was glad to hear you crack on that high B flat because it proved to me you were human. You always sang like someone who wasn’t human.” I took it as a compliment. But for fourteen years he never let me forget that I had cracked on a high B flat. I never let myself forget it either!

I did Eliakim again the next year in Allentown Pennsylvania, and it went extremely well, but then I stopped singing I Am the Way. I told myself that I was tired of singing the villain. But wasn’t it really because I had cracked on a high note and injured my feelings of specialness? In the intervening years, I missed my friends terribly. I missed Jerry. I missed I Am The Way. During the years of 1982-1990, a lot of water went under the bridge professionally, new roles at new opera houses, but there was some lesson I was not learning. Things were not going the way they were supposed to go. The performances got better and better artistically, but the engagements were getting fewer and fewer. I thought I knew what the world was supposed to be like, but I didn’t! Then in 1994 I found myself near death. The internal Voice returned with great strength. I had a four-month-long life review as I waited, near death, for the Canadian medical system to put my name at the top of the list for surgery. Back in my hometown of Carthage my father went into the hospital at the end of June for what was supposed to be a minor surgery repair of a hernia. Something told me however that this was the end of the line for Dad. The doctors gave us a progressive litany of worsening prognoses. Finally, they told the family that he was not leaving the hospital. I knew that part of him had faith in a life after death, but I also sensed that part of him was very frightened because he felt that he had failed in some important aspects of his life, one of those being in his relationship with his son. Those failures tore at him very deeply. Involved in my own near-death struggle I could not go to Missouri to be with him. We braced ourselves for the fact that he could die at any time. But I had much unfinished emotional business with Dad which I did not want to leave without closure. I also wanted to help him in his final hours.

I prepared a special time when I would be alone in the house, and began to pray for Dad. I asked God to let him know that I forgave him for all the things between us that he held against himself. I asked God to tell Dad I that it was all right for him to let go and go on if that is what he needed to do, but if he was supposed to fight and stay with us, that was all right too. I wanted him to know that I supported him in his decision, one way or the other. For some reason it was important to me to sing my prayers for him. I do not know how long this final song lasted, quite some time I think, maybe an hour or two. I had little sense of time as I was doing it.

My son, Tom, was to have his birthday in just two days, and I really did not want Dad to die on Tom’s birthday. So he didn’t. Tom had a wonderful birthday. Dad died the following day, July 10, 1994. The night he died, I had an archetypal dream about seeing someone off on a ship. It was Dad. The next morning I thought that he had passed over. Sure enough, he had. I was somewhat disappointed that I had not had a full parting vision but I knew he understood now that everything was OK between us. I just missed the good-bye. Finally, two days later, in the early hours of the morning of his funeral in Missouri, I awoke in the spirit while my body was fast asleep.
I was in a very special kind of railroad station looking for Dad. I was pushing through enormous crowds of people who were waiting to board this train. I was in a great hurry as I knew this train was about to leave. Then I saw him from behind. I knew it was him. I called to him, “Daddy, Daddy.” He turned around with a big smile all over his face. I ran to him and jumped into his arms. I remember the feeling. I looked into his eyes. I remember those eyes. He was young and looked somewhat differently than in life, but there was no mistaking him. All of the cares and worries, doubts and fears, insecurities and self judgments, were gone from his face. Instead, there was this pure love, all throughout him which gave him his new substance. I hugged him and said, “I love you Daddy.” He squeezed me. I remember that squeeze, and he said, “I love you too.” And then he made a little joke just to make sure I knew I wasn’t just dreaming this. He knew I would remember it. He said, “You see, I’m a little thinner now than I used to be.” He was now spirit, not flesh. Then he boarded that train. A few hours later his funeral was conducted in Carthage. Even though I could not be there, we had had our farewell.

Around this same time, I got an unexpected phone call one day from my old friend, Derek de Cambra, Jerry Hines’s stage director for I Am The Way. He said that the company was doing I Am The Way in Benton Harbor, Michigan next year, 1995, and would I do the role of Eliakim again. The Voice shouted “yes,” and I immediately agreed. I was so happy to be back in I Am The Way. Jerry had done a wonderful job in keeping his voice all these years. He would be 74 years old in 1995! What a miracle to keep his voice! Few singers had accomplished that. No basses, to my knowledge. I was happy, truly happy to be back in I Am The Way. The Holy Spirit was that Voice which always spoke for truth and He must have something there for me to do, something for me to learn, some service for me to render to others, I thought. I could not know more at that point. I began to restudy the role of Eliakim and sing it back into my voice. The last time I had sung it had been the fateful performance in Edmonton! That was out of my mind now like a bad joke. I saw the silliness of the ego’s distorted view of things. I just wanted to go back to old friends! This time I took with me a young voice student who had heard all of my stories of the great singers of the previous era, called the Second Golden Age of Singing. I was passing on my love of singing and my love for Jerome Hines to another generation.

When I arrived in Benton Harbor it was indeed like a reunion with long lost friends. How I loved them. How they helped me to remember the Light. Jerome looked like a sight for sore eyes. Even his slight infirmities of age could not make him look old to me. But he was not singing in rehearsals and I could tell he was worried about his voice. He and I got together for an afternoon of vocalizing the way we had done in earlier years. They were wonderful times for me, learning experiences, as I observed this supremely great singer go through the vocal calisthenics necessary to sing grand opera. But this time Hines’ voice was not working. The whole cast knew it and we were all worried. Jerry had been in trouble before vocally and always made it through the performance. One time in Cleveland we finished a final dress rehearsal about 2:00AM. Jerry wanted to go out to an all night restaurant near the lake. It was mid winter and freezing cold in Cleveland. But what Jerry wants, Jerry gets, so off the whole crew went. I noticed that Jerry was not even wearing a coat, and I said, “Jerry, what’s the matter with you? Put a coat on!” “Ah, let your body breeeeeathe,” He vocalized in Hinse-ian tones. “I don’t need a coat!” We went to the restaurant and had a feast, whooped it up in grand fashion. The next morning Jerry called the conductor to his hotel room in a panic that his voice didn’t feel good for the show the next night. He even looked at his own vocal cords with a homemade device and saw that they were pink and swollen. Ever inventive, Jerry had taken two dental mirrors and welded them together with just the right curvature so that he could look at his own vocal cords! Panic ensued within the Directoral staff, but we all, Jerry included, managed to pull the show out of the fire.

This time in Benton Harbor was different. There was something seriously wrong with Jerry Hines’ voice. We made it to the final dress rehearsal. I had already counseled myself to end the “infamous” scene on a lower pitch than the interpolated high B flat! I would sing a high F instead, which is plenty high and would give me no trouble. I would not entertain any notions of interpolating ego notes. I had learned my lesson! Hines watched the rehearsal from out in front. At the end of my scene He came up to me and said, “Good job, Joe, but I was really a little disappointed that you didn’t take the high B flat!” I couldn’t believe my ears. He wasn’t joking. He was serious! I made a joke of it and said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ll have to ask HIM,” pointing upwards. “It’s HIS voice. I’m just the caretaker of it. I’d have to get the OK from HIM.” Jerry smiled and went back to observe the coming scene. We made it to opening night. Hines limped through the performance, sounding ill. The rest of the cast did a fine job. I ended my scene on the high F. All went well. We had one day of rest and then a Sunday matinee at 2:00PM. Matinees are difficult for all singers. We are accustomed to preparing our voices for an 8:00PM curtain, not 2:00PM! I hated matinees. In my earlier days of incessant bravado I had plunged into them full voice, thinking nothing of it. In the fall of 1979 I had performed the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth with the Arizona Opera Company. We finished the dress rehearsal about 2:00AM, and like Hines, I wanted to go out and get something to eat. I ate a huge plate of rare prime rib. By the time I arrived back at the house where I was staying, my gluttony was telling the tale. I threw up everything and continued to throw up for an hour. I got to sleep about 5:00AM., got up at 7:30AM, went to the theatre at 8:30AM and performed a “matinee” at 9:30AM of Macbeth for school children. It was one of the best performances I ever gave! But I still hated “matinees.”

This time was different. Hines was in real trouble. On his day off he had gone to a doctor to have ultra sound therapy performed on his larynx, but it was to no avail. He seemed totally laryngitic. There was no understudy. Jerry would have to go on or we would have to cancel the performance, which meant financial disaster. Jerry went on. He barely made it through his first big scene of “The Woman at the Well.” My scene as Eliakim was next. I sailed through the aria better than ever, holding a long sustained high G towards the end, finally ending on an optional low F sharp. The infamous scene was next, but I was not nervous, I had already decided not to interpolate the high B flat. I had sung the high F the previous performance and it had been more than sufficient. As Mary Magdalene sang her long monologue, I sat back in my throne-chair and played with the character, Eliakim. Finally the end of her aria arrived. I had two beats before I was to sing the infamous words which ended the scene, “Is the whole world gone mad!” Usually those two beats fly at you like the wind and you have just enough time to take your breath and sing the notes. But this time, time itself seemed to slow down. Those two beats became an eternity. What was I to do with all this luxury of time? The Voice said, “Take the high B flat.” I could not believe it. There was plenty of time for an argument. “What? I’m not doing that again, no way.” The Voice was very clear, “Take the high B flat.” Something I had learned made it easy for me to agree. I went up for the high B flat. It was not only there, it was there in spades! I held it forever. This time there would be no scalded dog, hiding his head as he crept through the halls to his dressing room. Slowly and happily I walked off stage as my colleagues said things singers say to one another after a good job: “Wow, what a note!” “Holy cow, what did you eat? I want some of it.” On my triumphant way down the hall I passed Jerry’s dressing room. The door was open. He sat disconsolate at his make-up table. I could see that he was worried and afraid of the next scene coming up. It was the “At Bethany” scene and he had to sing the Lord’s Prayer which had always given him trouble, even in good voice. I walked into his room. He smiled faintly and said, “So the B flat worked tonight?” Without thinking I said, “I sang that high B flat for you so that you would know that if I can sing a high B flat, without cracking, you can make it through this next scene!” His face dropped and showed his true feelings of insecurity. “But how am I going to make it through it?” He said. “Dear God,” I thought, “what am I supposed to say to this man, my hero and mentor?” The words came tumbling out my mouth without any thought, “Just go out there, breathe deeply and don’t push!” Those words seemed to rally him. “All right,” he said, and headed for the stage. During the scene, the Voice told me to position myself in the wings, unnoticed by the audience, but in such a way that I had clear view of the stage. The Voice said that I was to pray for Jerry to be given strength. I did, and I saw that it was helping him get through the scene. Finally he made it to the big aria, Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer. Hines did what I said. He breathed deeply, taking many more breaths than he needed, and he didn’t push! He made it through. As the curtain descended, a happy Hines almost collapsed into the arms of his colleagues as they congratulated him. “I just did what Joe Shore told me,” he said, “And it got me through.”

For the rest of the opera, since my character does not appear with Jesus, I stood in the wings and prayed for Jerome. He gained in strength. During the difficult “Last Supper” scene, the Director came into the wings with a look of worry on his face, “He’s struggling,” He said. “Don’t worry,” I said with a smile. “He’s going to make it through just fine,” And he did. I knew why I was supposed to go to Benton Harbor. It was my love for Jerome Hines that was the lesson. That love is the love Jesus would have us learn. It is the same love I received from my grandparents and parents. It is the love that God gives us as His own. Receive it. It is there, waiting for us to grasp it in every learning experience, and every experience is a learning experience. Had I learned my lesson earlier, had I not gotten off course, I am sure I would have gotten to sing for Jimmy Carter! Nevertheless, I sang for Congressmen, Senators, Governors, the Russian Diplomatic Mission to the UN, and Consuls to several countries.

Months later, the Voice told me to call Jerome and let him know that I not only wanted to perform the role of “Simon Peter” again, but that I was supposed to. I knew Jerry would understand. I made the call. It just so happened that the Hines Company was going to be doing I Am The Way in June 1996 in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, but the role of “Peter” was already taken by one of Jerry’s students from OMTI (Opera Music Theatre International). “Put me on standby,” I said, “You never know. This guy may not be able to do it.” He agreed. A short time later, the Director called me with the news that Mark Delavan could not do the part and it was mine. Twenty years had passed since I sang the role of “Peter,” but I knew it. Jerry was in fine voice. This time, my character sat at the Last Supper table with Jesus. As I looked at Jerry I knew that the love I have for him is the message of Jesus, that we should love one-another even as He loved us; and “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The circle was complete.

hines and i, 1995 i am the way

The Ego and Division

It is in the nature of the ego to uphold separateness and foster division. Wherever you see schism you know the ego is winning. The ego is the god of this world. The Bible calls the ego Satan and says he is the god of this world. The problem with that is it makes the ego seem real and a dualistic force against God. That perception is the original problem. The ego is not real. It is just a mistake in thought, a crazy idea the mind has focused on. But focused on it, a whole universe of duality and conflict arises from it. I see the ego winning in politics. American politics shows the ego winning very handily. The whole country is founded, not on Christian values, but on the ego and its views of separation, of “specialness” for the individual. In truth we are all equal, not special, and the distinctions we have in personality and accomplishment are NOT important eternally, in the world of Truth. But in the world of the ego we believe that everybody’s opinion is a sacred truth!!! And everybody’s opinion separates them from everybody else!!! The U.S.A. is crumbling because of opinions, 300 million people each with their “sacred” opinions, each willing to fight for the rightness of their opinion, and all it does is foster more and more separation. The U.S.A. is no longer one country, indivisible. It is many countries now, all formed by the ego’s need for schism and separation. If it splits up formally into separate countries, it will solve nothing. The ego will continue its pattern of division within those new countries.

Spirituality would offer a better way. It would tell us to find what is common with us and treasure that above personal opinion. It would ask us to “join” with our brothers in mind by seeing our brothers and sisters as part of our Selves! To do that all we have to do is begin with a little willingness to see that what is in our brother’s interest is also in ours. Let me give you an example. I am a singing teacher by trade. People come to me with all sorts of personal opinions about everything. Instead of engaging them in arguments about their opinions, I look for something we have in common and begin a friendship based on that. The “joining” that defeats the ego is a kind of friendship. What is so great about my opinions anyway? What is so great about your opinions anyway? The ego will flare up and say, “I have a right to my opinion and I demand everyone take me seriously.” That begins the conflict again, and the ego is happy! That is why I will not engage in debates, either in FB or in life. Debates only foster division and whoever wins has won nothing but discord.
Back to the U.S.A. again, a nation of 300 million people either can see a lot in common….or nothing in common. That perception makes all the difference.

hysterical kitties

Our Lives Are Planned

Our lives here are planned to give us the lessons we need to learn. WE planned them with guidance from our Higher Self and the angels. We also planned for alternate time lines based on different decisions we could make at crucial places within the script! Some of you may think you are living on plan B or C or even Z. Well you may be. You gave yourself wiggle room in this life to make different choices. So instead of beating yourself up for that “wrong” choice you made, see it as just an alternate choice. Regardless of how attached we may be to one particular time line, the details of our lives here are not the point!!! This is a holographic training school. The details are not the point. Our choices and our intentions are the point because they show the errors in thought we came here to undo. So, whatever time line we are on in our scripts, let us learn our lessons so we can go HOME. Summer camp is just great until it begins to last forever!

Someday Joe-Boy will take us fishin’

“Someday Joe-boy will take us fishin’,” Lena Ritchie said to her husband, George. It was four o’clock in the morning and grandmother had put a nice breakfast on the table for us. We needed a good start of the day for our fishing trip. I had slept over at their house so we could get a good early start down to Oklahoma, to the Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees. I was eight years old.

When I was about seven years old, grandmother and grandpa introduced me to the wonders of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in nearby Oklahoma. For years they had been going there to the promised land of fishing, bringing back huge catches of crappie, blue-gill, catfish, and white bass, all for table fare. Having survived the great depression, they were determined never to go hungry again. A huge freezer chest of frozen fish from Grand Lake made it seem unlikely. And yet, like our river adventures, the important thing was really to go to the lake and be there.

At Grand Lake, no convenience was denied a fisherman. Large in-door, heated fishing docks, with theatre seats for comfort, were situated over key areas for crappie and other pan fish. Cedar trees were suspended from the docks to entice the cover-minded crappies to huddle there in schools, unaware of the fate which awaited them. It was a grand invention for a Grand Lake. Grandmother and grandpa introduced me to these holy haunts with a fervor reserved otherwise only for the garden.

Fishing with my grandparents was the purest form of Love I learned as a child. Most days you could not have gotten me out of bed at 3:30AM if you lit a fire cracker under my bed, but knowing we were going fishing, I eagerly went to bed with my grandparents and the chickens around dark and jumped out of bed when I heard the alarm at 3:30AM. Grandmother would fix breakfast while grandpa and I loaded the car with our fishing tackle.

“Someday Joe-boy will take us fishin’ George,” Grandmother repeated. “You betcha,” said grandpa as he reached for his coffee. They drank the most terrible coffee: Folgers, or Maxwell House, percolated in what is now an ancient contraption. They drank it black and I drank it with them. Maybe eight years old was just a little young for coffee, but I drank it! Grandmother packed a lunch for us and put plenty of that coffee in thermos bottles for us and off we went. It was so exciting to start off on our journey while it was still dark, the crickets still chirping, and the neighborhood still asleep. We drove the old highway to Joplin to a bait shop where we got our minnows, worms, and catfish bait. The best thing I knew about Joplin as a boy was that it wasn’t far from Grand Lake! Grandpa liked to drive old highway 60 through the big town of Seneca Missouri on route to Grand Lake. Grandmother and I might be nodding off but grandpa would loudly announce, “We’re now in Sen-ee-kee,” and we would pop to, knowing that the lake was near. Outside of Seneca there was a fork in the road and we would have to decide if we were going to go to Twin Bridges fishing dock or on down the lake to Ice Box Bluff or Blue Bluff. This day we made the turn as grandpa said, “Let’s go to Ice Box.” It was grandpa’s favorite dock and the owner was a friend of my grandparents, but then many dock owners were their friends. It was the first dock I fished when they brought me to the lake a year before. It was like heaven to a kid. All the grownups there didn’t act like grownups. They were all fishin,’ acting like kids!

Eighteen years later, I had graduated from college, spent two years in graduate school for theology, and was on my way to a new career as an opera singer. But before I left for the Santa Fe Opera and a new career that would take me away from them, I said to my grandparents, “It’s time I take you fishing.” They were both startled, like they couldn’t quite believe the day had come, but they quickly agreed. I was driving an old Rambler that had the “b” and the “l” knocked out of the front grill so that it read “Ram—er.” It shimmied if you went past 55 but off we went in it one clear day about 4:00 AM. Grandmother sat in the back and grandpa sat up front. I took the same route grandpa had always taken, into Joplin, to the bait store, down through Seneca. We came to the fork in the road and I said, “Let’s go to Ice Box.” Off we went. I don’t remember how many fish we caught but there was something wonderful about the completion of Love in that outing together. As I drove back home, I accidentally pushed the speed up past 60 and the old “Ram—er” began to shimmy. Grandmother said, “Boy the old thing shimmies doesn’t it?” I slowed back down to 55 and we made it back home. That was the last time we went fishin’ together. I moved on up to the big city, up to NEW YORK CITY, and became an opery sanger, but my love for Lena and George Ritchie has stayed in my heart strong! They loved me…and I loved them back. The fish were just part of the story.

I am not a medium for nothing! This story about my grandparents was prompted by my inner conversations with them in spirit. They are both still in spirit and together. Grandmother said, “We know how much you want us to meet you when you pass over, so we have been staying here for you.” Grandpa smiles. Grandmother chuckles and says, “Boy, we’ve been having to put off the angels that keep coming and want us to go back down.” Grandpa grins. “We’ll be here to meet you. Don’t you worry.” Grandpa says, “I’ve been trying to tell you not to use so much of that nose spay. It’s not good for you. But you cain’t hear me.” I am taken up in Love’s Presence with these little conversations in spirit. Believe me, there is not much separating us from our loved ones who have passed over. Grandmother chuckles, “Boy howdy, let me tell you Joe-boy, it is goin’ to take you a little while to adjust when you come over here. We were not prepared at all for it.” She laughs big.

Tonight I needed to go get something to eat. Instead of hopping in my car, I knew I should walk over to the shopping center and to Subway. Walking is not easy for me now and would never be my first choice, except tonight. I just wanted to wall slowly. Conversations with George and Lena continued in my mind as I walked, and the Love poured out. The girl at Subway recognized me and I flirted with her a little bit. That’s one of the nice things about being my age. You can flirt with the girls and nobody is offended. As I walked back to my apartment my whole life gently passed before my eyes. Somehow, there was something sweet about walking slowly with my cane and seeing the gentle irony that I used to be a dashing figure on the stage, running around as Macbeth or some other great character. What a figure I cut. Now my pace is slow and I need my cane, but it is alright. Nothing is amiss. I am no longer very famous and all my money is gone, but somehow, in a very sweet way, I am happy. I am thankful for my life and I have learned many lessons. I wanted this to be my last lifetime on this planet, but you know, if I have to come back a hundred more times, that is alright too. It is all alright.

George and Lena Ritchie

Joe at 9

Every Child

In wrong-minded perception, every child who appears to be born here is a spirit who is hiding out from God!!! Their birth is an attack on God. In right-minded perception every child who appears to be born here is a spirit straight from God who can teach the world the Truth!!! It all depends on perception. When the parents plan to have a child, their spiritual development, their perception, determines what kind of a child they will attract! If they would attract a right-minded spirit who wishes to come to share Truth, then they must be pure in thought and in their love.

My dear friend, Dr. Ken Wapnick, the teacher of ACIM, was talking to one of his ACIM students who told him she wanted to have another child. He said, according to her, “Why do you want to have a child? It’s an attack on God!” He obviously knew that his student was still wrong-minded. A much different story was given by an equally great teacher of ACIM, Tara Singh. Taraji talked to his students about raising a child of God. http://youtu.be/yQN_jCBh_W8 He wanted to open them up to right-minded perception about children and what they can be. Unfortunately, most of us forget that we came from God when we appear to come to this planet. Our parents, unfortunately, are the ones who help us forget by teaching us the ways of the world, fear, separation, suspicion, anger. “It’s dog eat dog out there son.” (sic!) So we forget we are from God and start believing we are a body! Such an insane thought can be undone! That is the atonement, the undoing of error in thought.

baby3

The Creation myth of A Course in Miracles And You…Right Now

The Creation myth of A Course in Miracles is not supposed to be literal truth. It is intended to help us right NOW understand how we go into illusion and believe we are a body, a bio-bag of mostly water, separated from others and from God. If you have forgotten the ACIM creation myth, you can refresh your mind right here. https://maestroshore.com/2014/03/23/a-course-in-miracles-straight-up-no-water-or-tonic/ Most of my postings are sharings from my experience, and they come from my principle willingness to join with others. The first requirement for joining with another is we make a decision that what is in someone else’s interest is also in ours. You have an opportunity now to see that what is in my interest is also in yours.

Most of you know that I came to be A Course in Miracles student after a lifetime of work in Christianity. I was even a theologian with two degrees and an expectation of teaching in seminary for my life’s work. But in graduate school I got a real whiff that something was wrong in the garden. There was skunk cabbage where there were supposed to be roses! I just could no longer bear the smell of the essential story of Christianity. When the Course came to me I was a reluctant learner. ACIM has great shock value to the ego and it will pull you back from the Course. That happened to me too. I got so threatened by it at one point in my life that I made a detour back into fear and became a Pentecostal Christian. To be sure, it bothered me that I had to check my brains at the door. They were so anti-intellectual. But they provided a place for me to hide from The Course. With their fierce dualism and their belief in sin, guilt and fear, they were the ego system in organization and belief. I could hide out with hundreds of other people! But eventually the lack of love left a real bitter taste in my mouth. They did not know unconditional love, nor even that they SHOULD know it! Their “love” was very conditional, which means it wasn’t love; It was judgment and they were ready, willing and able to dish it out to you if you strayed from their template of what they thought you should be! After a bitter dish of their judgment I realized that I was in the wrong place. Slowly I found my way back to The Course and have never left it since! I want Love’s Presence, not judgment.

Now this story is exactly what the ACIM creation myth is teaching us. When we choose fear and carve out a system of beliefs based on fear, we choose the illusion of separation from Love’s Presence. We are then lost. We believe in sin, guilt and fear and accept a world based on them. Then I am a body, a flimsy, disease ridden body, bound to die, marooned in a world without Love, a world where insane beings come to die! What made me leave Love’s Presence and choose fear? Simply the crazy, insane little idea that I would be diminished if I were nothing but the Love of God!! Why was I threatened by The Course? Because I wanted to be MY distinct, special, unique personality of Joe Shore, living the life he wanted! That unique personality, in order to be considered eternally real, needs a belief system of dualism based on fear! Of course, to perceive loss of that is a terrible threat!!! Time to laugh now! The Course tells us that when this insane thought comes to us that we must remember to laugh!!! Laugh at the crazy idea that we could be something different than the Love of God! Keep Laughing! I am just as God created me, the radiance of His Love. I am not a body. I am free, for I am just as God created me.

 

Sharing the Resurrection

When I was singing opera, there was a baritone on top of the world, heralded as the greatest. I hated him for having the position which I felt belonged to me by superior talent and right. Yet it was I who denied myself that position by choosing pain and sacrifice as my teacher when I could have chosen joy. Over the years he became a symbol to me of injustice and victimization and I hated him all the more for it. Then came A Course in Miracles into my life and I knew I had to forgive him if I wanted to be free. How I resisted. My hatred for him seemed the only thing left in my operatic career that I loved so dearly. Then there came a time that I saw him differently. He sang badly, though he was so highly touted, so badly that he ruined his vocal chords and had to leave the stage in disgrace. There were no plaques given to him, no retirement ceremonies, no nothing, just a phone call to his agent saying he would not be hired any longer. He seemed to have learned little from his life; no spiritual lessons, no advancement. He just faded away. I could see that I really did not want his life. I chose mine long before, and though I chose pain as my teacher, I at least chose a teacher and a path of advancement. I could have compassion on him as a lost soul. I could forgive him for what I thought he did to me, for he had done nothing at all. If we would share in Jesus’ true resurrection, we must learn to cherish no resentments, harbor no secret hates, and give up the story of our victimization. If we would know resurrection instead of crucifixion we need say only this, but say and mean it totally we must:“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.”

“We have repeated how little is asked of you to learn this course. It is the same small willingness you need to have your whole relationship transformed to joy; the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit for which He gives you everything; the very little on which salvation rests; the tiny change of mind by which the crucifixion is changed to resurrection. And being true, it is so simple that it cannot fail to be completely understood. Rejected yes, but not ambiguous. And if you choose against it now it will not be because it is obscure, but rather that this little cost seemed, in your judgement, to be too much to pay for peace.

“This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. 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.

“Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.

“It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing. 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. This is the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit, and even this He gives to you to give yourself. For by this gift is given you the power to release your saviour, that he may give salvation unto you.

“Begrudge not then this little offering. Withhold it, and you keep the world as now you see it. Give it away, and everything you see goes with it. Never was so much given for so little. In the holy instant is this exchange effected and maintained. Here is the world you do not want brought to the one you do. And here the one you do is given you because you want it. Yet for this, the power of your wanting must first be recognised. You must accept its strength, and not its weakness. You must perceive that what is strong enough to make a world can let it go, and can accept correction if it is willing to see that it was wrong.

“The world you see is but the idle witness that you were right. This witness is insane. You trained it in its testimony, and as it gave it back to you, you listened and convinced yourself that what it saw was true. You did this to yourself. See only this, and you will also see how circular the reasoning on which your ‘seeing’ rests. This was not given you. This was your gift to you and to your brother. Be willing, then, to have it taken from him and be replaced with truth. And as you look upon the change in him, it will be given you to see it in yourself.”
A Course in Miracles, Chapter 21 II.

Today is our Easter time, and Resurrection is our true birth right. Let us join together with Him who showed us the Christ Mind that we might awaken to share it.

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A Course in Miracles straight up, no water or tonic…

 

                     A Course in Miracles straight up, no water or tonic…

                                                              Joseph Shore

OK, I have a confession to make. ACIM says “Seek not to change the world, but seek instead to change your mind about the world.” If we apply that we could also say “Seek not to change the Course but seek instead to change your mind about the Course.” I have been using my own terminology lately seeking to avoid the Christian terminology. Just in case I have confused any of you 😦 I am going to summarize the central myth of the Course using its own terms. The myth is designed to take you mind past the Adam and Eve myth and the crazy god who punishes every small infraction with Draconian judgment. ACIM is rewriting Genesis. The Course says that all reality is spirit. God is spirit and He created a universe of spirit (not this physical one we are in). This real, spiritual universe is called Heaven, and in it is God (also called the Father) and His extension of His Love. To use an analogy from our physical sun, as light from our sun radiates into space, so God’s Love radiates into His spiritual universe. He creates by emanating Himself. This emanation of God, extending Himself is called “The Son of God.” Everything God creates is just like Him, spirit, Love, Truth, Knowledge, eternal. God does not know any other qualities, like vengeance, punishment, forgiveness. Were He to know them it would make them real and eternal and this could never be. This Heaven is total Oneness. There is no place the Father stops and the Son begins. The continuous creation that the Father and Son do by extending themselves is the flow of Love. There are no individuals in Heaven. There is no consciousness. There is only the one Song of Love, unconscious of itself as a Song, singing only Love, and this is the Flow. 

Next the Course tells us in this myth that something seemed to happen in eternity that is impossible. Into quiet eternity where all is One, there crept into the Mind of the Son, a tiny mad idea that He could somehow be different from His Father. Since this is an impossibility the Son should have laughed at the thought and it would have vanished. Instead the Son took the idea seriously. Since the idea was impossible, when the Son took it seriously His Mind fell into a little dream. In the dream His Christ Mind seemed to split off from the Oneness of Heaven and observe the Whole of Oneness. What a silly dream that anything could stand outside of Oneness and observe it. As soon as The Son fell into His dream of separation His Mind seemed to split off into a separate mind. None of this could ever truly happen. In this state of an “observer” the Son is now conscious for the first time and since this is a dream CONSCIOUSNESS is the dream. CONSCIOUSNESS is a dream. In that state the split off Son hears two voices come into his split off mind. The first voice that comes to the Son’s split off, dreaming mind, says, “You have really done it this time. You have diminished Heaven. God gave you everything and you spit in His face and left Heaven. You have stolen from God. Do you think He is going to let you get away with that? He is going to hunt you down like the dog that you are and He is going to annihilate you. You have ‘sinned and the wages of sin is death.'” This voice, the Course calls, “The Ego. The other Voice says, “This is not happening. You are as God created you. This is a dream. You can wake up now.” This voice is the truth that came with the Son into His dream. The Course calls this voice, “The Holy Spirit.” 

Now for some reason we don’t know, the Son chose to believe the voice of the ego and as he believes it, he believes himself to be guilty, sinful and afraid. The ego’s trinity, sin, guilt and fear, has now been accepted by the Son and he now sees himself to be those. Then the ego tells the Son, “Don’t listen to that other voice (The Holy Spirit). He is God’s general who has been dispatched to bring you back for punishment. The ego tells him, “you had better hide from God real well because He will get you.” This is all a dream and the Son now makes his dream even more of a nightmare. He projects himself into a physical universe (Big Bang) which he dreamed up as a hiding place from God. But as he enters this universe he splits into zillions and zillions of pieces, gas, light, matter, galaxies, planets, life-forms, animals and (wait for it) human bodies. Each split off piece contains the whole within it like a hologram. The body was made as an attack on God, someplace where God could never find the deranged, insane son who thinks himself to be sinful, guilty, and terrified. Now this is where we find ourselves today, in a universe which is not real, in a body that is not real. But some pieces of the son have begun listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We are beginning to wake up! We are beginning to intuit Oneness in a spiritual universe. This fake, physical universe and world cannot be real, or God is not. God does not even know about this world. If He knew it, it would have to be real and that it never could be. God does not know dreams. While the separated pieces of the son, or sonship, are hiding in bodies, the Holy Spirit is getting through to some. We begin to forgive our brothers and as we do, a little more memory of our true nature of spirit returns to us. The Holy Spirit will eventually bring together all the pieces of the splintered sonship. On our way back to our One Self, we forgive the world and we begin to see reflections of Heaven within it. We are waking from the dream. Our job in the dream is to be a light by offering forgiveness to our brothers. Jesus was the first to totally awaken from the dream and He has been placed in charge of the atonement. His voice and the Holy Spirit’s are One. Jesus did not die on the cross for our “sins.” Jesus died as a teaching lesson to show that the son of God cannot die, cannot be harmed, cannot be changed. The son of God is not a body! 

When all the pieces of the sonship have been brought back together, God Himself will make the final move and lift us back into Heaven from which we have never in truth left. Now is the Father and Son in their universe of Oneness. Now is the flow of Love extended. Now is the One Song of Love heard throughout our true Home.

Now this is a myth and is intended to replace the crazy Genesis myth. It is intended to help you hear the Holy Spirit’s call to you now! His call will guide you and me back to the Oneness we are and ever must be.
Namaste my brothers.♥♥♥♥♥

My mentor and hero in opera was Jerome Hines

My mentor and hero in opera was Jerome Hines, the great bass of the Metropolitan Opera and the greatest bass America has ever produced. Not only was he my mentor but we became very close friends, as close as Jerry could get to people. Jerry was born in L.A. to a socialite mother and an alcoholic Father who worked in low level Hollywood productions. When Jerry was born the parents thought they had no time for a child so they sent the infant Jerome to live with a foster family. Jerry grew up the first five years of his life thinking the foster parents were his real parents. Then, when he was five, his real parents showed up and said, “Hello we are your real parents and you are going to live with us now.” Can you imagine? He said it was like hell living with them. They were always fighting. The father was always drunk and in and out of jobs. The mother was over protective and smothering. But by the time he was 16 he discovered that he had a voice and could sing. At 17 he became a student of Gennaro Curci, a famous voice teacher who had been an operatic bass and the brother in law of the famous soprano, Galli-Curci. The rest is history. Jerry signed his contract with the Metropolitan Opera when he was 25 years old and went on to become the greatest bass America ever produced. In the 1950’s and 60’s he was a household name in America, appearing on TV and singing for the first family many times. He was the first American ever to sing at the Bolshoi in Russia, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. After his performance of Boris, Krushschev came back stage and gave him a secret message to give to President Kennedy. When he arrived back in New York he was quickly taken away by secret service officers for debriefing. He had to sign a national security non disclosure document never to speak of what he was told. But over the years he told us the gist of the message. Kruschev wanted Kennedy to know that Russia would not go to war over Cuba. Jerry remained at the Metropolitan Opera as leading bass for 41 consecutive years breaking all time records for a lead singer. He also had his own opera company which he used to perform his sacred opera on the life of Christ, called I Am The Way. He chose me as a leading baritone with his company in 1976 and I stayed with him until 1997. He dedicated one of his books to me. His wife, Lucia, contracted Lou Gherig’s disease and he spent his later years nursing her and spending every dime he had on her treatments and nursing. He said to me one day, “Do you know a good witch doctor? I have tried everything else.” At that time I didn’t. But now, I could tell him to take her to John of God who has cured people with the same disease. Lucia died in bed with him one night. Jerry was never the same. He was broke, could hardly sing anymore and there was a double mortgage on his house. He only had a few students, one of which would bring him food, because otherwise he did not eat. One day he asked his student Les, if he would take him to the Vet to buy some food for his old dog. Les agreed and off they went. Jerry went in the store and picked up a bag of dog food and went to the counter. He opened his wallet and just stared into it. Les quickly saw what was happening and went to the counter to pay for it. “It’s OK Jerry. This is on me.” They took the food and went back to the car. Jerry began to cry. “I never wanted you to see me like this,” he said to Les. Jerry would often call me during those days and wanted to talk with me about his career. He could not make the adjustment from being one of the greatest operatic basses in the world to being an old man who couldn’t sing anymore. Over and over he would ask me to tell him if he had really been a good singer. Over and over I would tell him he was one of the greatest basses of the 20th century. Then his threatened ego would come in and ask me to tell him, “Well, was I the greatest bass of all time?” His ego could not adjust either. Patiently I would tell him, “You were one of the greatest basses of the 20th century, Jerry.” For a while that would hold him, and then we would go through it over again in a few minutes. I couldn’t know then how he felt. At the time I was still in the prime of my voice and I expected to sing into my 70’s as he had. In the fall of 2002 Jerry became quite ill. He looked like a skeleton but he was still talking about singing. On Christmas in 2002 he went to the Salvation Army in New York where he had worked for years as a volunteer, and stood up to sing. People who were there said that this tall skeleton of a man, looking like father time himself, hobbled up to the podium. But when he opened his mouth, out came the voice of Jerome Hines. Shortly after that he was hospitalized and within a short time, passed over. He had used every ounce of his talent. He had traveled through the storms. I felt enormous loss when he died..and still do, but I did not feel what he felt about losing his ability to be on stage until 2006 when I had a disastrous heart surgery, during which the surgeons made errors which damaged my lungs, disabling my normal breathing. I could no longer sing like Joseph Shore. I lost my persona, my art, my profession, my self-image, my ability to make a living, all because of a surgeon’s incompetency. Then I knew what Jerry felt like; like all of a sudden you are not you anymore! Who can cope with that? I went from being Joseph Shore, one of the greatest baritones in the world, to being a semi-invalid with no ability to be me, and little ability to make any income. I suddenly understood the state of mind of my dear mentor and a man who had been a great world artist. All that saved Jerry was death. All that has saved me has been A Course In Miracles. Cherish the day you have. You have no guarantee of tomorrow. But this is not such a sad story for me. Since 2006 I have learned more about spirit and my abilities to work with spirit, which means my ability to help other people. Helping others is the way I escape despair. And it is better than just avoiding despair. I have had many episodes of Cosmic Consciousness, one of which lasted for six weeks!! Life is still beautiful. The sadness now, of no longer being Joseph Shore, the great opera singer, is a part of the happiness then! That’s the deal! And you can’t re-negotiate it; at least not until you pass over and have a good long discussion with the Lords of Karma. In the meantime, while I am still here, I try to help people. That’s my lot now. It’s not so bad.
hines and i, 1995 i am the way

Questions and Answers from the perspective of A Course in Miracles

Questions and Answers from the perspective of A Course in Miracles:

Do we have a soul? Yes, and it is as real or more so than your experience of self in this life; but it is not eternal. It is still an illusion because it separates you from your eternal Self which is One with God. Our souls are a pattern of lessons we need to learn in order to go back into God.

What is our eternal Self? The Christ Mind is our real and eternal Self. We share it with God.

Is the universe God? No the universe is not real. It is a dream the Son of God (that includes you, me, and everybody else) is having. God the Father did not make this world. The world is a dream the Son is having and it will be over one day.

Is A Course in Miracles true? Yes, it is indeed true. It is a gift of God to His Sleeping Son.

Is A Course in Miracles the same as Christianity? No the Course is a distinct path. You choose one or the other.

Is there a Pope for A Course in Miracles? No, and no church either. The Course is designed as a self-study course in which you and the Holy Spirit undo the mistakes in thought you have made.

Is God a person? No, indeed not. God is impersonal unconditional Love. God is the ground of all being, or being itself, not a single being, like the Old Testament Jehovah.

Does God send people to hell? God only knows eternal truths. He is Love, Truth and Knowledge. He knows no such thing as sin, error, retribution or punishment. He knows no forgiveness for it is not needed in Heaven.

Will I go to Heaven when I die? Not unless you have completed all your lessons. Otherwise you will be given other opportunities to learn them. The Course strongly suggests reincarnation as the way we are given new chances to learn old lessons.

Is there a spirit world we go to when our bodies die? The Course strongly suggests that nothing happens to the spirit when the illusory body dies. The mind is still present with its illusions, just without a body. But the Course does not rule out the idea that the spirit (mind) joins with other minds who have constructed spirit worlds, as reported often in Near Death Experiences. But these spirit worlds are still a part of the illusion of separateness. They are not Heaven.

Is there a Heaven? Indeed. It is our true Home. The Course tells us that God created a spiritual universe (not this physical one) in which He and His One Son create by extending themselves. Heaven is a condition of complete Oneness. There are no individual souls in Heaven. Heaven is the perfect Oneness of God and His One Son and is characterized as all-encompassing Love without an opposite. There is nothing but this Love, and so there is no observer.

Who am I? According to the Course, the body is an illusion. But you are your mind, or your spirit. The belief that you are distinct and separate from others is an illusion called the ego. In truth your spirit is the same as my spirit. We are all the same spirit, seemingly split into parts. And that whole spirit put back together is the divine Son of God.

Who is Jesus? The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do. Yet who can save unless he sees illusions and then identifies them as what they are? Jesus remains a Saviour because he saw the false without accepting it as true. And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions.

In his complete identification with the Christ, “the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and one with Him,” Jesus became what all of you must be. He led the way for you to follow him. He leads you back to God because he saw the road before him, and he followed it. He made a clear distinction, still obscure to you, between the false and true. He offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God’s Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death.

And therefore all your sins have been forgiven because they carried no effects at all. And so they were but dreams. Arise with him who showed you this because you owe him this who shared your dreams that they might be dispelled. And shares them still, to be at one with you.

Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you. He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God. And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared. Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is. Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world. Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you. For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.

Is he God’s only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognised. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ’s single message of the Love of God. You need no other. It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God. Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:

There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love. Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God’s Son.And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you.

Amen!

bench into eternity

Our Dear Brother, Ken Wapnick goes Home

It is my sad news to report that Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, the teacher of A Course in Miracles since its beginning, has passed over. His foundation gave this message: ” It is with the utmost sorrow that we inform you of the death of Dr. Kenneth Wapnick on Friday December 27, 2013. He died peacefully at home with his beloved wife Gloria and family at his side. The family will have a private service and plans are being made for a forthcoming public memorial.

“There is no death. The Son of God is free.” (W-pI.163)
“Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you.” (T-11.VI.7:3-4)

Ken was my dearest friend, and definitely my mentor in ACIM. All of the articles I have posted on FB about ACIM were given to Ken first for his comments. We never had any significant disagreements. Ken was a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology and a fine theologian as well. His many books and videos survive him. He fulfilled the job Jesus laid out for him and he is receiving, I am sure, thanks, gratitude, and good reviews for his life by the angels.

For me, it is a great personal loss. Ken was my fan as well as my mentor. Part of Ken’s journey into Spirituality came from his love of opera. Over the years I sent him many arias, scenes and operas that I performed and he was always a heart-felt fan. I always knew that I could share anything with him and get his honest answer.

We will not dispute the higher decision to call Ken Home now, but we inevitably wonder about the future of ACIM without Ken. Ken, there with Helen from the beginning, was appointed by Jesus to be the teacher of the Course. He held the ship steady even while ACIM was splintering into schisms at an alarming rate, matching even Christianity’s early splintering into sects, which continues to this day. Thankfully Judy Skutch remains at the helm of The Foundation for Inner Peace.

Thank you, my dear, dear, dear friend and brother Ken I love you and I so thank you for all you gave me in this life. You lived a Christ-like life and touched us all. Fly high dear friend. I will see you again one day. ♥♥♥♥

Ken

A Grand Process

We all know how potent evil seems. If you dare to call it unreal, it just may kick you in the butt. That bus coming towards you is unreal too (just a hologram) but it will still flatten you as flat as a flitter if you walk out in front of it. Every plane of existence seems to have its own rules. You can fly in the Astral Plane but if you try to fly here….well, you will only try once. It may be comforting to know that evil only shows up on the earth plane and the lower Astral. In all higher planes it is unknown; it does not exist. Many esoterics claim that there are seven planes before we merge into the One…into the Ocean of God, where all individuality merges with the Divine and where only unconditional Love and Truth exists. Maybe it is seven or maybe 70. What we know is that we are on a journey back into God…not the god of the Bible who is a person, but the real God who is spirit and knows only all-encompassing unconditional Love that is changeless and eternal. We are a part of Her (:) I just love calling ‘him’ Her) We are a chip off the old block, a part of the Divine Mind, Spirit, Light and Truth. We took a little detour into fear and miscreated this fake universe and split everything into opposites, including ourselves. Now we are awakening to the Truth of who we are. We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder, ascending upwards through the various planes which correspond to various stages of awakening. This low level of the earth plane is our self-constructed theatre where we learn our lessons by overcoming. It is a Grand Process. It is Divine, and that includes you and me, and every poor soul on the earth and Astral plane who believes they are evil or can control others through magic. They are just lost in illusions and are acting out. Look upwards beloved brothers and sisters! The Light of God is streaming down on to you this day, even as you are embroiled in a situation that seems to have you fighting for your life. Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with Good, the Good that is beyond the little category we have socially made of good and evil; the GOOD that is your true awakened Self, spirit, not a body; Loving not conflicted; eternal not dying and being reborn. We are the radiance, the glow, the Light of God. Just knowing that will lift you up today. Selah!!!

The Beloved and The Full Moon

I am so looking forward to the full moon, Tuesday for us. I will dress in my biggest parka and go to Burnaby Lake right at twilight to fulfill my promise to my duck and goose brothers. I promised them that in the cold of winter I would come and feed them and whisper thoughts of Spring and the return of life to the marsh. Most of them have wintered over, although most of the geese head south for Atlanta. I have missed my marsh. The PLeroma has been sleeping in me as well as the marsh, incubating…what, we know not. One cannot force the Beloved to show herself to you, much less to hold you in her embrace. Sometimes she sleeps. You know she is there but one cannot force her to awaken and come to you. She sleeps and you love her as she sleeps. While she sleeps, you “DO.” You act in the world using the inspiration she has already given to you. But when She comes to you, you sleep in her. She takes you into her Oneness, and any thought of doing ceases. There is just indescribable Love and Advaita–“Not two,” just One Love. You stay in this state happily. Who would want to leave it. I stay in it and let little words trickle out from it to you my dear ones. But I cannot “do” in this state, nor do I want to! And so our life with the Beloved, while we are here (or believe we are here) in a dualistic world, is a pulse of “Be”…and “Do.” Bedobedobe…or dobedobedo! There will come a time when the time for doing will be finally gone and we can rest in The Beloved, having gladly given up our little desire to do. Resting in Her we will be fulfilled. Until then I am content to await for her awakening in me and in nature. She will call to me in the rustling breeze in the tree tops. She will expose herself to me in the flowers that come in Spring. She will enchant me with the wonders of nature: courtship love among the ducks and geese; ducklings and goslings on parade through the marsh; fields of daffodils filling the lake; busy beavers building their lodges; birds making love in their nests; the Spring rains showering little newly hatched heads, scurrying for cover under Momma’s wings, and all through the wonder, the presence of The Beloved will call to me and I will answer. Together we will make planets and stars blush as we share a coupling greater than any we have forgotten. The Beloved and I are One, and as One I will sleep within her as all-encompassing Love that has no opposite, nor any need for doing. All this I will whisper into the ears of my duck and geese friends Tuesday at twilight, just before the Full Moon arises in all her glory.
Full Moon

The Beloved and I at Burnaby Lake

This beautiful magical day of the eclipse I went to Burnaby Lake to see The Beloved. The Beloved is the Divine Presence in all things. The Beloved is the Divine One that manifests all things. She is the Divine passion. She is the True One, and she will show herself to you if you care enough to quiet your mind. Bring the mind to stillness. She will come. Today the energy of the Lake is full. Beauty still exists in the flowers and leaves even though winter approaches. It is as though The Beloved is holding up her beauty for all to see as long as possible before the long winter sleep. The ducks frolicked today as though it were summer, and yet the darkness in the photos shows the approach of winter. As you look at the pictures, be open to see the divine.
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The most magical creature in the marsh is the Blue Heron. Today he sat in Eagle Creek, which feeds into Burnaby Lake, for a long photo shoot, just for me. The Beloved is so kind to me. She knows how I love the Blue Heron.
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The cycle of life was on display today. Salmon have made their way from the ocean, up through the Brunette River, over the Dam, into Burnaby Lake, and back into Eagle Creek so they can spawn in exactly the same place where they hatched. I saw them coming back from Eagle Creek, spawned out, ready to die in Burnaby Lake. The Blue Heron was feasting on dying Salmon. Tonight the Black Bears will be out in force, along with the Minks, to dine all night on Salmon. The beauty of the cycle was so moving, it brought me to tears, not for sadness but for joy and beauty of the way The Beloved has manifested Her nature. I am part of that manifestation. The immensity of The Beloved is mine as well. I am a part of Her and she is more than a mother to me, more than a lover.
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She is the beauty that comes with the dawn and shines through the twilight. She is the glory of the night, in whose beauty she walks.
Full Moon
She is the song of the birds which delight my heart. She is the Blue Heron who came today, not just for his Salmon, but for my heart. The beauty of this place owes itself to my heart. The Beloved is in all things because The Beloved is in me, and in her is my heart full, and Love stands still in a marsh that knows no time. Only in eternity is such Love found. I have found The Beloved in me…and I am Home for all ages…at Burnaby Lake♥♥Namaste dear ones.♥♥♥

THE BELOVED And I, Joseph Shore: A Collection of Writings about the Beloved

THE BELOVED

And I, Joseph Shore

 

Thunderstorms brought cooling rains to an overheated British Columbia coast, along with an incredible display of lightening. People sat on their porches and clapped and yelled in pleasure like they were watching fireworks on Canada Day. Today is cool and calm and my overheated long haired Himalayan cat is grateful. The energy of the day is sweet and slow. I can’t wait to get to Burnaby Lake tonight to see how the ducks and geese are fairing. We are getting so close now to giving up all illusions of particular identity. The sight of the Beloved is everywhere. I see her now in all forms, even the forms we call “bad” here in this dualistic world of opposites. I AM The Beloved. The jig is up. I have seen behind the curtain! There is just One of us here. Call him/her many names. They will all work. The Course calls him The Son of God, but that terminology is just meant for those who use the Bible and need their information corrected. As a name it is just a form. The Truth of the One may also be expressed as the sacred feminine and that is why I call her “The Beloved.” The first creation of God, She is, in a spiritual universe of One-ness, no different from God. There is no place God ends and The Beloved begins. They are One. And we are One in The Beloved. Namaste, my beauties♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

The night air glistens with stillness. The birds have retired to their nests but the sounds of night fill the air with a symphony of equal beauty. In the distance Coyotes sing their haunting song. Can you hear the Melos? Owls make comment in staccato. The cicadas sing their hypnotic tune. The sounds of night are magnificent and the Melos is in them. Within this nocturnal fortissimo, my mind comes to stillness. No thought intrudes. And in this stillness I see You. Your immensity is on display in my heart. Your boundlessness approaches me with a waiting kiss. I have beheld your Glory. You, it has always been You, my Beloved, my Enchantress, my Eternal Magician. What new form will you take to hide your immensity? I will seek You until I find you, hiding in the form of your choice. I will find You and join with You in a coupling forgotten from the foundation of time. Ecstasy…and we are One

 

Burnaby Lake has been my teacher for 25 years. I cherish and respect her as I would any other teacher. On these shore I have learned Oneness, not in some abstract way, but through the breeze rustling through the tree tops, the fragrance of the flowers, the beauty of the little flowers on the raspberry vines; and then the majestic beauty of Sandhill Cranes and Blue Herons, beautiful wood ducks, and all the fisher birds and the great Canadian Geese. My ego thoughts still; the chatter of the brain is stopped, and I am left with this immensity with which I fully identify. There are many minds within this immensity besides mine; the flowers, animals, ducks, geese, fishing birds, et al. We share this immensity and we are in truth all One Spirit and I am filled with love for all things. This full identification of one Self with the immensity IS Love. Yet it also brings something deeper. At times I see past the lake and instead see only the Beloved summoning me to join with her in embrace. I have channeled so many lines to you about the Beloved. Do you understand that the Beloved is God to me! She presents Herself to me as feminine. The full moon is the best time to see the Beloved. I shared this with you last year, but it bears repeating:

 

Dear Ones, I want to share the magic sight of the Beloved with you. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

I went to my holy place tonight. Two hours before sunset I went to the water fowl sanctuary at Burnaby Lake, a place that I have often written about in my blogs. This wonderful marsh is capable of bringing my mind to astonishment and peace. I am struggling for words to describe what I experienced tonight. As I entered the marsh lands I visited the gardens at the nature house, this garden that I know through the seasons. The Spring garden has now grown into a Summer garden with tall wild flowers of indigo, yellow, and red colors. The Honeysuckle still perfumes the garden. Bees, slugs, and hummingbirds do their work. The garden is alive and the presence of the Beloved is in all things, and enters me. As I am filled with the garden, my thoughts slow down, my mind stills, and tears come to my eyes for it is the Beloved that I see. The blackberries are thick on the vines, though they are not ripe yet. Marsh wrens and redwing blackbirds sit in the trees by the garden and give their little cries. As I go to the waterfowl sanctuary there is a fever of life going on. Mallards, wood ducks, tiels, pied-billed griebes, long-billed dowitchers, belted kingfishers, swim in circles, fish for food, nibble at grain thrown by children, young and old. The marsh is now thick with lily pads and the beautiful white lilies are still adorning the area. There is a rush of life. The full moon has energized the entire marsh. Ducks take off in flight from the water, their bell-beat of their wings sings the Melos of all things. They fly in circles, half a kilometer in diameter and then land back in the marsh in perfect precision. They are flying for fun!! They are drunk with the power of the full moon! The griebes, the dowitchers, the marsh wrens, the swallows are all drunk. The twilight comes, and the sleep drunk beavers reluctantly leave their lodges and glide through the lilies. There is but One here in this paradise. The BELOVED is showing herself in all the myriad forms of life, flowers, bees, birds, ducks, geese, kingfishers, so elegant they bring tears to my eyes and take my breath away. The baby ducklings I observed as hatchlings in the Spring have survived the eagles and crows and now swim with their mothers as beautiful young Mallards. Tiels, now unmated, swim in elegance among the wood ducks, and just when my heart can take no more, the Beloved shows me a tree in the distance and the most prized of sights in the marsh, the Blue Heron has come to show himself in elegance, splendor and beauty which takes the breath away and breaks my silence with tongues of angels coming out of my mouth, joining the sounds of the marsh. I AM THE BELOVED. I am not particular. I am part of this marsh and it a part of me. The twilight comes and empties its peace into the magic already on display. Peace and grandeur now mate in this place of wonder which is my heart as well. Tears cannot be stopped now, nor my tongues of angels. Fish come to the surface just to see me and I greet them with peace. The ducks and geese know me by heart, sight, and smell, for I am part of them. Oh, the Beloved, the Beloved, Thou who manifests all things for my heart. I and Thou are One and Oneness is all that inhabits this holy place. Consciousness is but a silly thing. This wondrous Oneness flows, uninhibited by consciousness. The flow is all there is, shaped as ducks, birds, flowers and me; there is nothing but the flow and this flow knows only a love that is so deep and impersonal that it obeys the moon and my heart. What need is there for words when there is the One, the Beloved. And in the top branch of the tallest true tree, the crowning joy and wonder of the marsh itself, the Blue Heron. Time has stopped but my heart is full and overflowing. In this place I am not a body. I am the Beloved. Wondrous Beauty and Timelessness have mated to form ME. I am the Beloved. I wait in this wonder until twilight has passed and the sun has set. Life is still full in the marsh. Ducks who would normally be in their beds, their bills tucked under their wings are still at play, scuffling with one another in a virtual frenzy of love’s presence. This is That!!! Love’s Presence has manifested as a marsh and as me. In the distance, an eagle flies across the lake to her nest in a far tree; a coyote sings its dour song and I know time has come for me to reluctantly leave this paradise for the night. Black Bears will be coming out soon, along with the minks and muskrats. The Beloved is such a shape shifter but Love is her only name and Oneness her garment. I have stilled the mind through tears of love for the Beloved, seen her naked in the twilight, her beautiful form more lovely than any woman I have known. No breasts are this lovely. No thighs this shapely; no legs this elegant. No thought of union this deep has entered the carnal mind. The Beloved and I are One and I am changed for it. The darkness has to pull me away from the marsh. I do not want to leave. How can I leave? How can I leave? I have seen through the Veil. I have seen that which we all seek for! I am that which we all wish to be! I am no longer a man, but the Beloved who gifts me with manhood and shows me my greatness in a beauty which cannot be spoken for it has no name. In tears I unlock the car door and so reluctantly become particular again. But it is all a ruse. I sit in top of a tree in the form of a Blue Heron. I pluck bits of grain as a long billed dowitcher, I nibble on lilies as a moon-struck beaver. I AM THAT I AM and there is nothing else. I AM THAT I AM. There is nothing else. There is nothing else. There is nothing else. My dear Ones, together with me in the Beloved, there is nothing else…but the FULL MOON in all its Glory!

 Full Moon

La Bella Luna Piena

This beautiful full moon tonight was wonderfully special. It gives such serene energy, mellow, and rich with gratitude. Use the energy to forgive someone today.

I went to my beautiful marsh, Burnaby Lake. The summer garden by the Nature House is now almost gone, but traces of its beauty still remain. I visited with the flowers, told them how much I loved them and what a wonderful job they had done this year. I petted the flowers and told them they were still lovely as I took their pictures. And then, I was overcome with tears by a visit from my old friends there in that holy place. My immensity returned to me and with it my stillness. These beloved gifts I gave to myself there in the presence of that autumnal garden. I thanked the Honeysuckle vines and kissed them. I plucked the last blackberries and thanked them for their sweet taste, and then I headed for the lake to see my ducks, geese, and waterfowl friends. Right away it was obvious that the ducks and geese reflected the serene energy of the moon. They were not frenetic in flight the way that had been in the summer full moons. They were all gently a chatter but not terribly interested in flying anywhere. People had come in droves to the waterfowl sanctuary for some reason unknown to most. They fed the ducks and scurried back home. The night air cooled to a Canadian chill before the grand arrival of La Bella Luna. First we were treated to a spectacular sunset with purple, orange and yellow colors reflecting off the cloud and pouring out its light on to the lake. Then finally the full moon rose and her sweet energy filled the marsh. She arose late tonight and towards her winter tilt, but there she was, In all her glory, looking slightly pink within the clouds. I just thanked the ducks, geese and waterfowl for their beauty and love. I thanked the marsh for another year of experience with her. I am that marsh. Those ducks are a part of me and I of them. That lake is my blood and I am its life. We are joined together in a song and dance of remembrance that makes Heaven blush. Shameless love fills my place and I am at peace. My heart has forgiven every one. I have forgiven the world. And now Heaven’s splendor radiates so strongly from every blade of grass, every blackberry vine, every flower in the garden, every duck and goose, every lily pad. The world that I had once made out of fear is gone with the past. The world I see now is a part of me and I of it and all a part of God. In the splendor of the grass do I walk, as each duck, bird, squirrel, beaver and muskrat. I am the great Blue Heron. I am the fishes he feeds on. I am the beaver in his den and the children he cares for. I AM THE FULL MOON AND THE UNIVERSE OF WHICH IT IS A PART. It is all me, not “Joe Shore.” He is just a body and a character I am playing. I thank “Joe” for his good work and at last I “love” him, but he is not ME. I am the radiance of the sun. I am the clouds that cover it. I am the mist that rises above the marsh. I AM THE FULL MOON THAT RISES OVER IT. I AM THAT I AM, not as a person, not as an Ego. I AM the immensity. I am the PLEROMA. I am the love that tells the flowers to spring up and the rain that nourishes them. I am the force that connects all things in spectacular quantum entanglement. I am the tears that run down my face now. I am the love that brought forth my companion, Blanche, who sits with me now in contentment. I AM THAT I AM and I am not alone for you are with me, and you and you and you and you and you who were my enemies, you who hurt for me, you who hated me as well as you who love me. You are here and we are One. This is the beautiful energy of this full Moon. La luna piena! Come bella sei tu. The gifts of Heaven you bring to those with eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts that yearn to be opened.

This immensity that I know now so intimately cannot be harmed. It cannot be diminished. It cannot fade. It will turn now into the winter of sleep. I will tell the flowers to sleep and the trees to shed their leaves. I will tell the berries they may safely go back into the cold earth and rest for a season. And I will tell my beautiful ducks to tuck their beaks under their wings and wait. I will come again and raise them to a new Spring and new hatchlings. In the meantime, this body that calls itself “Joe Shore” will visit them in the cold of winter and bring much needed seeds to them. I will tell them stories of the coming Spring and the love they will again feel for one another as mates are chosen, eggs laid, and ducklings hatch. This beauty will stay at Burnaby Lake until all the universe has awakened and returned to the Pleroma of God from which it came. I will never leave Burnaby Lake. We will ascend together…in the light of the glorious full moon. La Bella Luna Piena. This is as holy a writ as you will ever read and it is only fitting that, just for now, I say….
AMEN

 

 bench into eternity

On these shores, my mind now slips so happily and easily into the upper dimensions. The Lake has partnered with me in awakening for it has joined with me as a brother. The Lake and I are One, for the Lake is a manifestation of the Beloved. Love’s Presence fills my mind at the thought of her and to be with her is joy. Each leaf, each flower, each branch, every little stream that goes into her, all assist my mind. The Beloved  and I are One. We will go together into the higher dimensions, carrying our ducks and geese with us. My mind stills here and an ancient song fills my heart. I know no evil here, nor any little thought of conquest. Spirit has positioned me perfectly here and given me what I need to awaken. I will shake loose the skin of my little self and sluff off its housing. I am as God created me, spirit, not form. And now I am ready to journey cosmically into higher Spirit. I have others to join with, and the song of love comes with me to share with new brothers and sisters in higher places.

What an enormous and wonderful new frontier. What a good day to sail!!!

 

The stream of ages flows and in it is all that is of love. You and I are one bubble in that stream. Could we but see the world truly, the flow is all we would see. All love is the same. In every place and in every one you have experienced it, it is part of that stream of ages. I sit here now with my companion, Blanche, and we are one love in two silly bodies. The flow comes into and through the heart. Here we live and move and have our very being. We are Love’s Presence:) We are the magnificent radiance of God!♥♥♥ Could we but know that and stay in the flow, the world we think we see would disappear and all separations removed. Love is and we are its manifestations. We are the bubbles in the stream and the rocks over which it flows. We are source and the end. We Love therefore we are, not as separate bodies, but as One. We are the breath of the wind through the trees; we are the cat’s purr; we are the happiness of two becoming one; we are the birds that fly through the air and the fish that swim through the creeks; we are the Love that holds all things together as One; and we are here NOW, not in time, but in this moment of Love realized and fear vanquished. We are the tears that stream down our faces; we are the arms that embrace us; we are Love’s Presence, and there is nothing to do. No ambitions can stand in Love’s Presence. Consciousness itself cannot stand in Love’s Presence. From deep within the unconscious flow of the stream of ages, I know that I Love you.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

The Message…..I went to Burnaby Lake tonight around sunset to get a feeling for the big night tomorrow….the full moon. Burnaby Lake has been my teacher for these many years and I have accepted my position as a learner. I always come expecting to get a message. Part of the way ACIM has changed my life is in my relationship with nature. I literally feel no distance between myself and nature. I “know” and feel all the flowers, animals, birds, ducks, geese to be my “brothers.” They are a part of the radiance of God along with me and my human brothers and I love them. There is some form of quantum communication we share. I know the flowers put on their best when I come to see them and the Honeysuckle smells sweet just for me. The bees linger longer around the flowers when they know I am watching them. The ducks and geese always put on a show for me. The lilies are more beautiful when I am there. The beavers flap their tails louder and the fish jump higher. We are one family and we love each other. Sometimes a deeper quantum happening takes place and I experience the Beloved in all things, including in me. At such times, all things remember their divinity and we are One. So tonight I listened for the message, thinking I could get a sense of what the full moon tomorrow will bring! I listened hard. I listened for the music nature sings to me. But there was silence. Then a flower spoke to me and I was overwhelmed in wholiness. Tears came down my face as the Blue Heron placidly swooped down from the trees and began to fish for his supper. He is my most prized sight in the marsh and I know he came out for me. My love for him was sent on quantum wings and he manifested. This marsh is a part of me, and I it. Here I am not Joe Shore. I am the Heron and the birds, the flowers and the bees. I am the fish that swim and the beavers that dance, and I am Whole. The Beloved and I are One. Maybe it won’t seem strange then that at this point I saw the ducks and geese placidly floating on the water, without thought or burden. And then it came into my old Hippie mind that they were “stoned.” They were absolutely “stoned” on the energy that was making its way into the marsh. They were “hammered.” A smirk and a smile came to my face, and I thought to ourself, “It’s going to be THIS kind of full moon, is it?” Bring it on. Bring out the Jethro Tull records and Led Zeppelin albums, and a little Joe Cocker too!! Bring out that Hookah!! We are going to watch the walls melt! What a message tonight and what a night tomorrow will bring!!!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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The Angel of Peace lives here on these pages. Her name is Oneness! She knows my illusions and would gently lead me out of them to the Truth. “She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies…” And on her face all nature shines and points upwards to a love that is not of this world. In the trees the gentle breeze bespeaks her presence. Every bird and beast cries her name. She is The Beloved and I am found within her embrace. Speak to me no more of worldly things, of ambition wrought in the extreme, of the frightful ways of men. I would hear only Her voice and forget the world that knows only fear. Heaven’s ways would flood me and remembrance rush over me. In humble thanks I would be ready to give up little Joe Shore and go back into Oneness. She has captured my heart and gladly do I surrender it. What needs can there be in me when Her Peace is perfect? This I must remember. This Truth must stay and not leave to be rediscovered another day. Stay with me beautiful Angel. I would know Thee and drink deeply from your fountains. Love’s Presence is as sweet as clear water. I have no thirst.

 

The Love of God has come to me in fullness tonight. Tears fall down my face for the Presence he has brought to me. I love more tonight that I ever loved. I am in His Presence. I feel the presence of Jesus and the saints, the holy angels and the heavenly lights; I am just a short, tiny distance from my Father. And I am not alone, for you are there with me, and you and you, and you there, and you who are reading my posts for the first time. You are all here and we are all One in the infinite Love of God. The body can do nothing but weep but my spirit soars and I know I am the radiance of God. I have but one mission left me and that is to touch the world. Raise up my brothers and sisters. The Light has come. Raise up my beloved sisters, the Love of God has come to wipe away all illusions and lift you from them and take us all Home. Awaken sleeping children of God. Your Father has opened Heaven’s Gate and the angels sing songs in praise of our holiness, for we share it with the Father and never more shall we journey in childish dreams or suffer fears conjured by impossible thoughts. Tonight and forever, the sonship/the daughtership  awakens and returns to the Father/Mother.. Grateful is He that His Child has finally awakened from His long nightmare and bestowed on Heaven His greatest gift, His Love for His Father. The Lights in Heaven grow ever brighter tonight in celebration for an event told before eternity to last into infinity. What more can the Father do but run to His waking Son/Daughter, and with arms outstretched, vouch before all of Heaven that this my Son/Daughter thought s/he was dead, and is alive again. S/he thought He was lost, but S/he is found. “My Son, My Daughter, radiance of my Light, Joy of My Love, you, my Right arm and Left, You, Heaven’s Prince(ess), are Home and ever shall be so. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

Burnaby Lake has been a part of my contemplative life for over two decades now. She and her feathery, finny, furry, wildlife have been my friends a long time. In fact, my last wishes are to have my ashes scattered over Burnaby Lake. It seems only fitting. I go there to experience my soul. As soon as I park and start walking down the path I feel Oneness embracing me. My soul speaks to me in the garden where bees and worms, butterflies and slugs greet me. My inner mind-chatter slows and then stops. I am left with tears of gratefulness for remembrance of who I am. My soul sings to me in the breeze that shuffles the tree tops, in the fragrance of the honeysuckle. My soul speaks to me in the gentle current of the creek as it runs into Burnaby Lake. I know I am not a body. Or rather, the world is my body.

Today is the March full moon and I had to go to Burnaby Lake to worship the Beloved. She showed herself so well in the twilight and the dawn of the moon. I went to see my duck friends to fulfill my promise I had made to them in the dead of winter. As they sat huddled together in the cold, their beaks tucked under their wings, I promised them I would return in Spring, that new life would come to them and they would think again of mating and making baby ducks. And so as I came to them tonight I could see that they had paired up, mallard to mallard, wood duck to wood duck, redwing blackbird to redwing blackbird. The geese also were busy preparing nests for goslings to come soon. As the Beloved showed herself at twilight, the ducks flew in pairs and formation in a glory of ecstatic flight. They flew in glorious circles for a radius of a half mile and then landed back where they had started in the waterfowl sanctuary. The ducks began a quacking rhythm, some quacking on the beat and some in syncopation. And then the most wonderful thing: frogs began to peep! Frogs and turtles have been disappearing from BC at an alarming rate as a sure sign of danger in the ecosystem. These are the first frogs I have heard in Burnaby Lake for several years.

There is such a peace in this full moon. Even the ducks, who in other full moons have become drunk and riotous tonight were more stately and calm in their happiness. I think that I shall never see anything as beautiful as a Mallard or a wood duck in flight. The bell-beat of their wings above my head cannot be described for the peace that it brought to me. Still, I worship the Truth of the Real World that I see in nature. She brings me to remembrance of the grandeur and eloquence of the Beloved who she reflects. God is in all things I see because God is in me♥ After an hour there in such peace I feel the Truth of who I am. I am not a body. I am Burnaby Lake. I am the ducks and geese that live there, the fish that swim there, the birds that fly in the trees, the blue Heron that fishes at dawn, the beavers, ever faithful, who build their dams. I am the redwing blackbirds who parade before us with their winsome cry and the flash of their beautiful red wings. I am the earthworms who trundle through the soil in the garden and the busy bees who fly from flower to flower, ever busy with the knowledge only humans call “the birds and the bees.” There is such gentle, stately passion on display tonight as this March full moon ushers in an early Spring for BC, a gift all too uncommon for us to receive. How often we have waited until July for Spring here in this Northern country. Tonight, as I worshiped with the ducks and critters at the lake, there were times when thought stopped and stillness offered itself to me as the mate I have always desired. She who would be ever faithful and all loving is in that silence and her name is The Beloved. Call her name in Sanskrit, in Farsi,in Hebrew, in the tongues of men and of angels, she will answer. After two hours at the Lake I am now immersed in the eternal Love of The Beloved. I belong here. I belong in this experience. I will never leave Burnaby Lake. The Beloved and I are One…and we are One with you dear readers. Selah♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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I went to my holy place this night of the full moon. It is cold and rainy here but even through the discomfort I sensed the presence of The Beloved, the reflection of heaven. This full moon the ducks and geese, griebs, and wood ducks did not seem cold. They were in a frenzy of activity, little whirling dervishes of full moon energy. The garden is fast asleep but I paid it a little visit. I know I belong here. The wind that whistles through the trees is my breath. The beautiful waterfowl are me with feathers, and I them. As I walk and adore them, I do it as them. The lake itself is cold and austere but it is just another disguise The Beloved takes, as though going to a costume party. Soon spring will be here and ducklings will appear from the reeds trailing behind momma in single file. The Lake will warm and flowers begin to bud. Humming birds will reappear and geese fattened down in Atlanta will return to their true home. These spring full moons will be wild with wonderful play and energy. The Beloved will show off her beautiful body, and I will know stillness again. My immensity will return to me as I feel myself in truth and I will know that I am not a body! Come Beloved, my angel. Come to the heart that longs to know you deeply and drink fully of your fountains, to feel the soft caress of your beautiful breasts, and touch those long legs. I would lift you into me and become One together. Thou art The Beloved and the desire of my heart. I see you here even in winter. You cannot hide from me. I know your heart. We are already One from a coupling in eternity before tiny mad ideas made the world. When time is done and lessons won, our coupling will know no end.♥♥♥♥♥
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My beautiful friend, Burnaby Lake, is sleeping now. Some of the ducks have decided to winter over. Most of the geese have flown to Atlanta or some such city. The beautiful garden in front of piper spit is now all asleep, dreaming of a spring yet to come. Much as I do, the lake endures the winter and looks forward to spring. I whispered into the ducks’ ears, “Spring will come again and love will fill you with thoughts of ducklings and happiness. You will lead your ducklings through warm water again with pride and gratefulness.” They did not need my reminder. I needed it. Through season after season Burnaby Lake has been my teacher on the path to enlightenment. No priest or preacher, no monk nor scholar could serve me so well. On the banks of this waterfowl sanctuary I have glimpsed eternity, felt the immensity of my true Self, and truly discovered my Oneness with all things. The ducks are a part of me and I of them, and the lake is the expression of all things. The experience of our Oneness I have termed “The Beloved” in many of my earlier postings. “The Beloved” is the Tao, the watercourse way, and it is the Divine. It is the One Son of God that ACIM speaks of. It is the radiance of God! Now it sleeps in winter even as Divine awareness sleeps in many of my brothers. But it will awaken in the spring as surely as divinity will awaken in all things. I am enrapped with wonder and blessing. No winter chill can make my memory fade of The Beloved’s embrace. I know her. I remember her when she dripped of moonlight. Her smile entranced the sun, and the rain ran through her hair to the world’s deepest valleys. She held all nature as a luminous presence and blessed it with a Song. In her presence I believed nothing, but knew all things, touched all things afresh, as fresh as a Holy Instant. Of newness her brow was formed; of peace, her face, of sensuousness her long legs; and wisdom followed her footsteps as she sang her Song. I know her. She is The Beloved and in her embrace I am an enlightened being. Neither time nor season can change Her. She changes not but abides in all things that change. She is my Beloved and we are One.
 
Fall has come to Burnaby Lake. The last hints of beauty of the summer garden are fast fading. The blackberries have mostly been consumed by birds, squirrels, and me. Leaves have fallen and now rustle on the paths. The ducks have regained their plumage from their late summer molting and are prepared for the changes that will come. Such a different marsh from the summer full moon which had the lake in a frenzy. Now the ducks sit perched on logs together, as if calmly awaiting instructions. The lake too has changed. The lilies are long gone and the lily pads look worn. But peace is still here. The immensity of which I am a part is still here. Timelessness is still here, with the Blue Heron and the Belted King Fisher. The Beloved is still here. I see her all the more she tries to hide, and I love her so. Every inch of the marsh now seems to be whispering some unspoken truth. The rustling of the leaves and the twilight chill bring me a sadness which I must examine. The ducks are not sad. The trees have begun to paint their autumn beauty. The woodland paths that surround the lake see few joggers now and painted leaves are everywhere. . But the Earth is soothing. Her fallen leaves paint the ground and delight the child in me. Her chilly nights speak of relief from the hot summer. Burnaby Lake will be caretaker to its peace as the Fall and Winter come. I will return here in cold days when the ducks are huddled together for warmth and they will share their peace with me as we wait….for another Spring. — at Burnaby Lake.
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Angels are active symbols of God’s Love. An active symbol participates in the reality it symbolizes. As such, angels are active within the mind of the sonship. They work with our mind to unlearn illusions and remember the Love that we are in truth. If you put form to an angel, feathers, wings, or whatever, that form is just as illusory as any other byte of sensory data in this dream universe. I have just today been brought into contact with the primary angel whose message I have been channeling on facebook for the last two years. She is an angel of Peace and she worked very hard in Fatima. I have felt and known her in my love of nature and particularly in my love of Burnaby Lake. She IS “The Beloved” that I have felt so strongly there and written about here with passion. I am so blessed by Her and so grateful that she has graced me with Her Presence and her Truth. When I have talked about Love’s Presence, it is HER presence I have felt. And yet she points to God’s Love as the only reality. She has no personal reality of her own. There is no competition nor individuality among angels. If you give them different forms in your mind, you are creating distinctions that are not real. Making angelology real is as false as any other illusion. Her message has taken over my life. Only God’s Love is real and it has no opposite. It is all encompassing. Therefore there is no place outside of the Whole. There is no observer. There is no consciousness in Truth. Consciousness is the dream of separation, that we could somehow be different from our Father. The Beloved comes to me with that Truth as I am in nature. I do not see the ducks and geese as separate entities. I see them as part of my larger Self, along with the Lake and the moonlight that shines on it. It is The Beloved that I see in everything and when I see Her, I know Her and feel only Love. That is why God does not and cannot know about this dream world we are in. Were He to know about it, it would become real, and that it never can be. God knows that His Son is dreaming but He cannot know the dream, for it is unreal. But His angels are taught by the Holy Spirit and see our illusions a little while so they might lead us out of them. They work with the principle of Atonement and thus are under Jesus, the Head of the Atonement. Atonement is not “at-one-ment” as is often said. It is the “undoing” of illusions, the awareness of Love’s Presence by the removal of obstacles we have miscreated in our fear. Today I am thankful that THE BELOVED has made herself known to me so grandly and lovingly. Thank you my Beloved Angel. Thank you Father. Your son remembers a little more of you today and in the distance I can almost see Home. Selah!!
 
The Beloved comes to me now in waves. She is All there is. She is the One behind Shakti. The Beloved is Love and the Whole. She is Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Godhead and beyond. The Beloved is the Whole and She is One-ness in flow. She is the smile behind the sunyata, and the Love that never fails. Catch her you cannot, but she comes in manifestations and reveals herself to me. My heart is full. Who could observe the Beloved? She is the Whole, outside of which there is nothing. Could a part of her break off and observe the Whole? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. This is a silly idea. No thing, no particle, can observe the Whole outside of which there is nothing! It could only happen in a dream where silliness appears to abide. The Beloved in Her truth as the Whole is not conscious. Consciousness is the phantom experience of the “observer.” Where there is no observer there is no consciousness. In eternity does the Beloved flow as Love which is not conscious of itself. There is nothing to impede the flow. But parts of the Beloved dream dreams of particularity, of observation. In their dreams they believe they are galaxies, planets, animals, and you and me! Deep, deep down in our dreaming self we remember The Beloved. She comes to us in all things: water lilies, fish, ducks, beavers, you and me, and undresses our eyes. “See me in this,” she says with a power far greater than any seduction can know. I am Love in the Presence of The Beloved. Her hair is the wind. Her face is the dawn. Her breasts are beyond compare, softer than the clouds, as moist as the dew. Her face is as peaceful as the twilight and as beautiful as geese in flight. The Beloved drips of moonlight. Her smile entrances the sun, and the rain runs through her hair to the world’s deepest valleys. She stands above the earth as a luminous presence and blesses it with her Song. In her presence I believe nothing, but know all things, touch all things afresh, as fresh as a dew drop that poises itself in eternity just so that we might join in its experience together. Of newness her brow is formed; of peace, her face, of deep sensuousness her long legs; and wisdom follows her footsteps as she sings her Song. I know her. I caress her. I run my fingers through her hair and kiss her soft lips. I feel her breasts gently and caress them with sweet kisses. I feel her long legs and my mouth deeply kisses them. She has never left my mind for we are One. We watch the rain together as it showers a pond. In the distance, Coyotes sing their songs and Owls make comment. In this flow are all things perfect and meaning is unfettered by form. Love has remembered itself and taken up residence in our midst. The Beloved and I are One and I remember. I remember and I will never forget again. I will let go this little dream of particularity. Why would I want to be a body when I can be One with The Beloved? I will go back into her where I belong and have never in fact left. The dream has vanished and we are One.
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This is sort of what happened. Before all beginning there was Oneness, flowing with Love. There was no such thing as consciousness because there was no observer. The Oneness was/is the all encompassing whole. Nothing could be outside it to observe it. The Oneness flowed impersonally and unconsciously. It was like a Song, unaware of itself as a song, singing only Love’s Presence. Through a universe of spirit it flowed, and this song is the Beloved! In the depths of antiquity something seemed to happen which is impossible. One tiny part of the Beloved had a tiny, mad idea, that it could separate from the Whole and observe it. Since this would be impossible, the thought itself should have been laughed at. But the tiny part did not laugh and so, taking the idea seriously, it fell into a little dream, in which it believed it had broken off from the Whole and could now observe it from the outside. It is a ridiculous thought that any part of the all-encompassing Whole could stand outside and observe it! There is nothing outside of the Whole!! But the tiny part, with its tiny mad idea, dreamed that it had done so and become an observer. This dream of being the observer of the Whole is….(wait for it)…CONSCIOUSNESS!!!! Consciousness never existed in the Whole because there was no observer and in eternal fact there could never be an observer because the Whole is all-encompassing!!!! THE BELOVED IS ALL THERE IS IN REALITY! Now this little dreaming part thinks it is independent and observing the Whole. It is a dream. Two thoughts come to the tiny part . One thought says to him, “This is only a dream. There is nothing outside of the Beloved. You have done nothing but fall into a dream. Wake up!” The other thought that comes to the tiny part is “You have really done it this time. You have separated from The Beloved. You have hurt eternity! You have made the Whole less! Do you think you are going to get away with this? The Whole that you have separated from is not ‘The Beloved,’ as you think! It is an angry god who is going to punish you for separating from him.” For some reason–we will never know why–the tiny part believed this thought! Therefore  she believed herself to be bad, guilty, and terrified. This state of consciousness we now call the “ego.” The ego which began as the illusion of an “observer” outside of the Whole (an impossibility) has now made her dream a nightmare. Using her dreamy powers she projects herself into an imaginary universe (BIG BANG) to hide from this avenging god she fears. As she enters this imaginary universe she splits into zillions and zillions of pieces: light, matter, planets, stars, star dust, life-forms, human bodies. They are all a part of the one little observer who believes herself to be bad, guilty and afraid! You and I are parts of that little observer. We are CONSCIOUS observers and we all secretly feel sinful, guilty and fearful for reasons we cannot remember! Some of us say, “Let us grow in our consciousness.” It sounds good because we have forgotten our true state of being in the Whole in the universe of spirit. But in truth consciousness itself  is the dream, the illusion that any part could separate from an all-encompassing whole!! Consciousness itself is the illusion, the dream!!!!! You must get that or we can go nowhere!! How do we un-do the dream? How do we awaken back into our state of being in Oneness with The Beloved? First, we start simply by forgiving each other in this dream state. Nothing real is happening here. Forgive your brother or sister and feel them as part of you, for they are. All the splintered pieces are the same and each contains a memory buried deep of our true home in The Beloved. As we forgive, a little bit of remembrance comes to us. A little light comes into the dream. As it does we also become more loving. LOVE WILL AWAKEN US FROM THE DREAM!!♥♥♥♥ Now when the ego projected himself into this physical fake universe, there was a little bit of remembrance of the truth of the Beloved in her mind, and so this physical universe contains reflections of the true universe which is our Home. As we forgive and Love, we begin to see through the physical world and recognize the reflections of our true Home. We begin to awaken from the dream!! More and more remembrance comes to us. The memory of The Beloved is still in our split-off minds. This memory will gather together all the pieces until they all remember and awaken from the dream. The truth has never changed. The Beloved is still in eternity, extending Love through its spiritual universe. We are all still in the Whole. Nothing has changed. It was all just a silly dream!! Consciousness was a silly dream. Within all-encompassing reality the One Song still sings, unaware of itself as a song, singing only Love.

The Song that seems to be forgotten is not.
Its melody stays there, firm, beautiful,
structured as it was.
What could you do to change it?
And so it haunts you, coming back in little wisps
of memory, phrase by phrase, asking for its whole.
And you would remember.
Remember, and let a little of the Song
come back to you and through you.

In eternity where all is One,
A song was singing,
Unaware of itself as a song,
but aware of its content of love.
The song filled all that was or ever could be.
There was no place the song was not,
Nor was there any place which did not welcome it.
There was no place.
There was only the Song.
A note of the song heard itself
and thought of a descant to the melody
The descant became aware of itself
and wanted to listen to the Song.
The descant experienced the love in the Song it heard.
It filled itself with desire to hear.
More notes of the Song joined the descant as observers
And heard harmony to the Song.
Soon the Song was sung in harmony with many voices.
The descant said,
“Let us make form so that the Song can be remembered.”
Until this time there had been no difficulty in remembering the Song.
But other notes joined in the descant’s fear that the Song might be forgotten.
And fear began to remember the Song differently.
Soon the Song became embroidered with quick tempo changes, harmonic shifts,
Key changes, with such quantum rapidity that an ear was formed,
Then a brain, a mouth, a larynx, a body
And the Song forgot itself
But it could now hear.
It employed the body to search for the Song.
But no search satisfied it.

Soon the body forgot its purpose.
The Song which was fabric of its bones
Lay at rest in its tissues.
Having no purpose, the body began to think.
The Song which was only Love lay buried,
And the body thought of fear.
Fearful bodies created other fearful bodies
Each with a tiny memory of the Song
As a hologram within each cell.
There came a day when one body listened closely.
It heard first a tiny wisp of the Song,
Then a phrase, and then the whole Song.
It felt the Song in its bones and muscles,
Its brain and tissues,
And knew that it was the Song.
It told other bodies.
One by One they listened deep within and heard.
But the Song was complicated now,
Full of rapid key changes, tempo shifts, orchestral embroideries
The Song moved at quantum speed.
Bodies could not slow it down.
So they began to sing their own songs,
Some fearful but others prescient.
Great singers came into bodies and sang great songs.
Bodies began to remember more of the One Song.
It happened one day very quickly as a singer sang his song.
He listened deeply as he sang and observed his song closely.
He listened to his breath. He observed the tone until he saw his sound.
As his sound progressed he followed it,
First to his ear,
Then to his brain,
Then to his world.
He followed his sound to no place,
And there the One Song was singing,
Not complicated, not embroidered.
The slow, smooth melody began to unwind the fabric of his bones,
The sinews of his body,
For they were made of nothing but the melody made complicated.
As the body unwound there was no fear.
The slow, smooth Song spoke only of a Love that could not be different.
As complicated key and tempo changes resolved into the One Song,
Notes that had been trapped in the body rejoined the melody.
Note by note they flew from the body back into the Song.
As the last note approached the Song,
It tarried just a little as an observer.
Do I need to observe? It asked itself.
And as soon as it asked the question
It chose to rejoin the Song.

Singers, listen deep within,
And hear the Song that makes you sing.
Follow it and let it change you.
The Song that seems to be forgotten is not.
Its melody stays there, firm, beautiful,
structured as it was.
What could you do to change it?
And so it haunts you, coming back in little wisps
of memory, phrase by phrase, asking for its whole.
And you would remember.
Remember, and let the whole Song
Find itself in you.
In quiet eternity does the One Song sing,
Unaware of itself as a Song, singing only Love.

 
You are the Beloved. I do not complete you and you do not complete me. We are complete within ourselves and we are One Self. And so the two have found themselves as One and in this discovery Love is remembered. Love is present within our midst, giving us both our identity. But you are still the Beloved. You call to me from regions I have not explored and urge my footsteps on. Up just a little higher I see you over the stars calling to me. The breath of the stars knows your name in innocent remembrance. The Cosmos dances to your step. Planets smile at you as you brush their paths. You must know that you have been in my mind for all eternity. I am almost there. I see you, arms outstretched to the moon, a child of the stars..and my heart. “Come to me.” Angels blush at the site of our union. At last I remember you!! ♥♥

You have not changed.
As wisdom-bearer in Brahman’s House, who could change you?
As natural as the flow of the Tao, who could change you?
As the silence on the Buddha’s lips, who could change you?
In this space I have come to stillness
And in this stillness I have found you as perfect.
In perfection does my mind hold the moment and share it with you.
In this space where stillness shines there is relief from time
and freedom to remember the vast ages of our knowing.
Lifetimes upon lifetimes present themselves in parade of gallant splendor
for at last we remember.
Millions of years come to us in memory of who we are and the Love that grew within us.
We have not changed.
My alchemy shows its art.
In this space I have summoned stillness and I remember.

 
It is a good day!
I have pierced the veil of Brahma.
It is a good day.
I have touched the All and felt silence caress my lips.
It is a good day.
I have looked into chaos and pain,
Confusion and discord,
And I have seen you there,
Fresh as the dew on creation,
Innocent and whole.
It is a good day.
Peace has come to greet Love.
Who could deny them their union
Or freeze the genial currents of the soul so aroused?
 
A cabin sits on the shores of a small lake, surrounded by evergreen trees. There is a fire in the fireplace. A thunderstorm is brewing. Rain comes through the trees refreshing the forest, pelting the lake with its droplets. Yet stillness reigns in me as I share such heaven with one I love. This one is a girl I knew who dripped of moonlight. Her smile entranced the sun, and the rain ran through her hair to the world’s deepest valleys. She stood above the earth as a luminous presence and blessed it with a Song. In her presence I believed nothing, but knew all things, touched all things afresh, as fresh as a dew drop that poised itself in eternity just so that we might join in its experience together. Of newness her brow was formed; of peace, her face, of sensuousness her long legs; and wisdom followed her footsteps as she sang her Song. I know her. I will not tell you her name. She has never left my mind for we are One. We watch the rain together as it showers the pond. In the distance, Coyotes sing their songs and Owls make comment. In this flow are all things perfect and meaning is unfettered by form. Love has remembered itself and taken up residence in our midst. The rain dies down. The pond becomes peaceful again. Not a ripple is left. We watch the glowing embers die in the fireplace. Peace, Peace, Peace and Love is Present. Love has found one home in two hearts and the two hearts have become one.
The Cabin still sits there on the shores of that small lake waiting for our return and Love is still Present.
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Back to Burnaby Lake

I went to Burnaby Lake today after teaching. I wanted to check out the coming of spring to this beautiful marsh which has given me so much over the years. Nature was out. The ducks and geese have had their babies. Redwing Blackbirds gave their distinctive cry while marsh wrens, swallows, chickadees joined in. The wood ducks are some of the most beautiful of God’s creatures. I observe them closely and the chitter chatter of my mind dies down. I welcome the space and grace of nature.

Tara Singh was our beloved teacher of ACIM. In his lecture “How to raise a child of God,” He said. “Nature can come to a stillness that is so alive that it would awaken you to a reality, to potentials you never knew before.” But we shy away from that stillness, that silence. Who is going to give the child the gift of silence.? Where do you think love is born? It is born in the stillness of silence.”
It doesn’t take long to observe the beauty of the ducks and geese to experience the wonder of nature and the presence of God in the stillness that nature would give to those who have the eyes to see, the heart to feel. It does not take long to come to the place where you easily see the ducks and geese and everything in nature as part of One Divine Mind along with you. You are not now the observer. You have moved beyond that. Now you have come home where you belong, home to the heart of God because you have reverenced your brother and sister ducks and geese and seen them as part of YOU, not the little social you of course, but your True Identity in mind and spirit. And nature has given you the gift you so thought you had lost, Peace and the wisdom found in stillness. The ten thousand things of the Tao all flow in Truth. They need no purpose, no motivation. And in this flow, you find your Peace which you thought you had lost. How could you lose part of your own essence? “Nothing real can be threatened?” Have you actualized that into your life? If you have, and most of us haven’t but we are working on it, then you could never be afraid again, nor could you imagine yourself as anything but what you ARE, part of the BELOVED, the spiritual creation of God. So when we find peace we keep it by sharing it with others and tonight I did this. There in this beautiful bird and water fowl sanctuary there are people who go to the far side of the dock to fish for carp. I had always judged them as invaders. What kind of person would invade a sanctuary just so he can catch a Carp that he is just going to throw away? And tonight there were two fishermen invading my space. But the Peace spoke to me and said, “Go join with them. See what peace would teach your judgment.” So I walked up to them in the spirit of peace and got to know them. Before long I had given my peace to them and had lost all judgment. “We are very careful not to hurt the ducks,” they explained. “That would be a terrible thing.” Peace makes its way to us from all the precious helpers heaven sends.
It is so hard to leave the marsh. Often I think, “Why can I not just live here, in the bushes and trees?” Why must I go back to the craziness of the city? And the answer is that there is more peace to share with my insane brothers asleep so deeply they do not know who they are. Not one of the divine facts that are in God’s universe of Spirit is known by the insane mind. Can you imagine that? It would be sort of like being born as a human but thinking with all dead seriousness that you are a chicken! We don’t know heaven’s truth of who we are, and that is all there is to know. But there is truth to be found in stillness, in the holy instant of “now.” Nature knows such peace it can give you stillness.

Joe at Johns-2

Fall at Burnaby Lake

I went back to my Burnaby Lake today, needing to see the Beloved. Whatever melancholy I had it was not shared by my beautiful garden and lake. The grandeur of the summer garden is gone now. Just a few flowers still bloom. But they are not sad. They are preparing for their long sleep in order to awaken afresh next May. The Honey Suckle has lost its little flowers and its sweet perfume. It stands there, a grand family of vines still.

It was warm today and the park was filled with people hustling and bustling, doing nothing. My ducks and geese were filled with energy, cavorting and playing, scrapping and scuffling with one another. The Canadian Geese stood on guard. They rule the lake when they are there. In their absence the default ruler are the Mallards. The cutest little shore dowitchers were pecking in the mud to find critters. But the most obvious sign to me of the Beloved was in the presence of so many beautiful Wood Ducks and the symphonic chorus of the birds. Blackbirds and Wrens sang the most beautiful songs, and I could feel the presence of the Beloved. But there were too many people there, stomping around, and appreciating nothing. Soon the winter will come and all the people will leave. Then I will go and find the silence and whisper sweet nothings into my ducks’ ears. They will be sitting with their beaks tucked under a wing to stay warm. I will whisper to them that I will come all through the winter and feed them, and assure them that Spring will come again, and again they will be warm with love, and thoughts of ducklings will fill their hearts and nests. I will love them when nobody is there. The Beloved is there then with such a strong presence. I need her Love, that Divine Feminine energy that will fill me with hope and assure me that she will never leave me. But for now, a little of Autumn remains and the transition goes on. The Lake and I are One. The Beloved and I are One…and now my happiness has returned with the Holiness of the Beloved. I love Her so. Her Love fills me with thanks for wanting her and caring for Her creatures. I am made for the Beloved. I am just as She created me and I will always, always love her.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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My channeled thoughts…

Words represent thoughts and thoughts can be real (Loving) or unreal (illusory, dualistic, unloving). The real thoughts are shared with God and they can help change your mind. When you read my channeled thoughts you can say, “Oh he is just good at writing,” (in which case you miss out), or you can allow the words to come into your heart and find God there sharing those thoughts. All healing is of the mind. I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts. Every thought I have either brings the sonship closer together or increases separation (illusion). 
There is no such thing as “just words.”

 

 

 

 Joe at Johns-2

A Change

A change has come over me as I have prepared this whole year to re-visit John of God. I live now in the presence of God. I still walk through this world but I sense only God’s Presence. I had a vision a few months ago in which I found myself at the top of all dimensions, in a space that was not a space, and I was right next to the Ocean of God. The only thing that separated me was the thinnest film, no thicker than a soap bubble. I knew that I could walk through it and into that ocean any time I wanted to. That thin soap bubble represents the tiny little illusion that we have made with the tiny mad idea that we could break off from God and observe the Whole. It was an absurd idea. It has not changed God one bit, nor could this Ocean of Love ever be “angry” at us. There is nothing but eternal Love in that Ocean which is our true and only home. But our tiny mad idea has created this soap bubble of separation, which is an illusion as mad as the tiny mad idea itself. We are in that Ocean right now, you and I, and you, and you, and you over there, you the skeptic, and you the unbeliever, you the Catholic, you the Baptist, you the Hindu, Buddhist, you the Islamic, you who are angry and you who know something of Love. We are all there as one, not as EGO’s, thank God, or we would have to suffer evil and good for eternity, but as spirit, ONE Spirit.  ACIM calls this One Spirit, the Son of God.  Jesus is a part of that Son, but so are you and I and every sensory byte of information in this illusory universe. Let go of all your little hates today and just see the Love that is in all things. Stay up in the Love and sooner than you imagine, the universe will disappear and we will find ourselves in the Ocean of God. That Ocean is unconscious eternal Love and it is an Ocean which has no shore, nor an end. Don’t be afraid to give up the little conscious “you.” Every loving thought, every loving deed you have done, has been perfectly remembered in the Mind of God. None of your unloving thoughts and deeds have been remembered because they were all unreal. Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”

Real and Unreal

It can be helpful to divide your daily thoughts and actions into “real” and “unreal.” As long as we are in this world we will have unreal thoughts and actions. All thoughts that are not loving are unreal, and God does not know about them. “God did not create that plane crash, so it is not real.” But also at a personal level, “God did not create that fit I threw because the cable was out.” We can laugh it off. If our thoughts and actions caused anyone pain then we need to be aware of that and show compassion and sympathy to them. But forgive yourself. It is not real!

I was parallel parking my big Cadillac and just nudged the car behind me. The guy got out of his car all mad like I had really done something! I just told him how sorry I was and kindly pointed out that there was no damage. It was just a bump. He calmed down. Now we all know that terrible things appear to happen in this world, but it may help us not to get sucked into dualistic illusion by being aware of what is real and what is unreal. Any loving thought you have is real and is shared with God!! Anything else is illusion and God is not aware of it. God did not make this world!! WE DID, as One Mind, projecting an illusion of fear. It is all a dream. As One Mind we fell into a little crazy dream that we could be something other than our Father. In that dream we believed God was angry at us because we had “hurt Him.” So we projected our Self into this physical universe to hide from God. As we came in through the Big Bang we splintered into zillions and zillions of data: light, gas, matter, planets, suns, life-forms, humans. Each little byte of data is a part of the Whole Mind which projected us here. The universe is a dream the One Mind is having. Thankfully the Truth of who we are came with us into this dreamy universe. ACIM calls this Truth, “The Holy Spirit.” This Truth whispers to us, “Only Love is Real.” If we are wise we will listen. Then we can see how much of our day was “real,” (loving, shared with God) and how much was unreal (unloving). Stay up in the Love and the illusory universe will disappear!♥♥♥♥

Sex and A Course In Miracles

Unlike all other religions and paths, A Course in Miracles has nothing at all to say about sex!!! Whereas most other religions surround sex in taboo and sin, ACIM just doesn’t talk about it. We can infer from its teaching on relationships that sex could be wrong-minded (special relationships) or right-minded (loving intentions). The matter is left up to you. Certainly the ego likes sex as a way of affirming that the body is real and powerful. Sex often paves the way for special relationships which are a form of hate, not love, and come from the tiny mad idea that you have something I need and I have something you need! But like Tantric Yoga, the Course allows that sex can be a part of sharing true Love and experiencing union with God. It would then, not be the exclusive way Love is shared, but just one way among a million. We will either see that or not according to how well we have done our work in forgiving the world (and all its people) and seeing the world as a reflection of the Divine, what the Course calls the “Real World.” Two people can share awareness of Love’s Presence, share their walk together, and make beautiful sex that will have the angels smiling.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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If You Could Know

If you could know that these beautiful creatures were a part of YOU, would you still kill them? We are all One Spirit, a Divine Spirit, the Light of God, in these various bodies. Every byte of sensory information in this illusory universe (and perhaps others) is a broken off part of The Son of God. If you will awaken from your dream that tells you, you are a body, you will know. Only Love is real. The water in a creek runs over the rocks, and the rocks whisper, “Only Love is real.” The sea water breaks over rocks and the rocks whisper, “Only Love is real.” The Love of God is at high tide in your heart, and your heart whispers, “I surrender. I surrender to the Love that is all I am.♥♥♥
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Illusions of Duality and Old Jehovah (alias, Yahweh, Yahuah, Adonai, HaShem, El, Elohim et al)

As long as you believe in good and evil you will be caught in this dream world of duality. Here everything has an opposite and we create this world by opposites. In this dream world you appear to be a body, a bio-body bag of mostly water, separate from other bags similarly made, and most certainly separate from god, whoever that is! In this crazy dream we began to project images of a god who was like us. He was personal, also had a body bag similar to us and had emotions just like us.(Hey, if you want to debate that he had a body, He told Moses, “No man can see my face and live, but as I pass by you can see my back side.” “Back Side???” Sounds like a butt to me!) He liked some people and disliked others. He had a chosen people and was content to have no relationship with the rest of humanity, the ultimate dead-beat Dad. He threw temper tantrums, destroyed the world and then said, “Oops, I’m sorry I did that. I promise I won’t do that any more. Here’s a rainbow for you.” He approved of slavery. “It is perfectly OK to enslave some people. Just don’t enslave your neighbor. Go to a far off country and get your slaves.” Hmmmm….far off country? You mean, like Africa? He was the first to use atomic bombs on his own people at Sodom and Gomorrah. Whatever they did there, do you think that they deserved to be nuked….by an all loving, omnipotent, god??? This picture is all a HUMAN construct that comes from the human mind as it was developing 3,000 years ago. Today, to any thinking person, it is an embarrassment which shows that the Bible is telling the WRONG STORY. It is a part of the problem, not the solution. The Bible has no concept of an impersonal God, the Ground of All Being, which is all-encompassing unconditional Love. The Bible is the book the EGO wrote to justify its world view of sin, guilt and fear, and create a dream world in which you are just a sinful sack of water on two legs. Time to wake up and grow up.
Python God

God did not Create this World

A Course in Miracles is the only Scripture among the world’s religions to tell you the explosive, hard, liberating truth. GOD DID NOT CREATE THIS WORLD. WE DID. Not we individually of course but we altogether as one mind. We miscreated this universe, this planet and this body as a place that God could enter not. We are hiding from God whom we fear out of guilt that we have left heaven and stolen from him! What do we fear we have stolen? US! We fear we have broken off from the ALL that is God and now stand outside him, observing. That, of course, could not ever happen. There is nothing real outside of the ALL. The very thought that we could break off and become independent is a DREAM. In this dream we have created universes and bodies to hide from God in a material world, where God could never find us…or so we thought. But the Holy Spirit came into the dream with us and is constantly whispering in our ear the truth of who we are. We are the Son of God, temporarily lost in a dream.

The Course is very aware and would make you aware that there is a God created spiritual universe and the material universe that WE made. God is spirit and his universe is spirit. God is Love, all encompassing Love, the Whole, which has no opposite. This Love is also Truth and Knowledge. Within this spiritual universe, God and His One Son (of which we are a part) create by extending themselves. God is a spirit and his creations are all spirit. God knows nothing of evil, of tragedy, of bad dreams. God knows nothing of “sin,” “guilt” or “fear.” God is not a part of this human universe. The only part of God that really comes into this human universe is the Love that comes into your heart when you begin to listen to the Holy Spirit, forgive your brothers, and learn your lessons the Holy Spirit would give you. You are not a body!! You are a spirit, and we are all the same spirit split off (in our dream state). We are the Son of God, the radiance of God. We created this world as a place to hide from God, but the Holy Spirit has changed it to a classroom where we can learn the lessons that will enable us to remember our true identity.

This dream world of duality is based on the beliefs in sin, guilt and fear. It does not know the Love of God and is therefore unreal!! Only Love is real. (“Amo, ergo sum.”) The events that happen in this dream world are not real. They are all nightmares of terror, which itself is a nightmare. We are so sure this world is real and the terror in it, and so we ask, at every tragedy, “Where was God?” God does not even know this dream world exists. Were he to be aware of it, it would make it real, which it never could be. God is aware his Son is dreaming, but he cannot know the dream.
THIS IS NOT GOD’S WORLD! HE DIDN’T CREATE IT! WE DID!!! Out of our nightmares of sin, guilt and fear we have created a world of duality which constantly generates tragedy. These tragedies are no more real than anything else in this world.
The Course and Buddhism have similar perspectives on being compassionate to all things and people in this world who are suffering. We come along side and do what Jesus would do. But we can do that precisely because we know that God is in control of reality, and everything that happens here is unreal, except for the Love you remember!

When you are tempted to go into despair over some tragedy in this dream world, express compassion for those suffering, and then say: “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT PLANE CRASH, SO IT IS NOT REAL.” “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT SHOOTING SO IT IS NOT REAL.” “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT WAR SO IT IS NOT REAL.” After a short while, you would come to a place of peace inside yourself where the Love that you are lives. Then you have something to give to the world, suffering illusions about itself. You have the Light of Love and so you are the Light of the World, and you have Peace. In the middle of every tragedy you can extend your Peace. THAT is true compassion, to lead your brother out of his illusions to the Peace of God.

Once an hour today, look around at all the tragedies in this dream world and say: “GOD DID NOT CREATE THAT TRAGEDY SO IT IS NOT REAL. I LIVE IN A SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE WHICH KNOWS ONLY LOVE, TRUTH AND KNOWLEDGE.”297498_10150396855086320_676206319_9966848_1785417421_n

The Lessons of The Bridges of Madison County

The Lessons of The Bridges of Madison County
 
Last night I watched one of my favorite movies, The Bridges of Madison Country, the story of true love starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. This beautiful movie has so many lessons to teach us about true Love. True Love is often unconventional. It does not come to you the way you wanted or envisioned. Most people “settle” for a conventional marriage and then get divorced in a few years. In my generation, in the American South, you got married young and if you found out that you didn’t really love your spouse, you stuck it out, like a prison sentence. That was your duty. Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep) is living in THIS generation in the American Midwest. Her conventional marriage is like everyone else but her heart is sad, but not yet crushed. Deep within her heart she still yearns for love. It is just that her conventions of being a wife on a farm have steam-rolled over her deeper desires. This beautiful movie shows us many things. True Love may be very unconventional. If you are bound to convention you may miss out on Love! You would need to know yourself to know love, wouldn’t you? How else could you recognize love when it came to you. You have a conventional image in your mind of marrying your high school sweet heart, having good jobs and a house, 2.5 kids and vacations in the Hamptons! Isn’t that about it? Really? That is also the picture of a 60% divorce rate. What if your true love came to you in a very different form? An older man, a younger woman, you name the different form.

One of the things I loved about the movie is the attention to details. I grew up in this time in the Midwest. People really lived that way. Nobody locked their doors. Nobody thought of bad things happening. People would just drop over for a visit and home made ice tea was always on hand to offer people. Most of us couldn’t afford to drink cokes so we drank ice tea. I used to love to visit friends more well off than us because they had soda pop to drink!

The little country roads in this film are all straight out of my childhood. I recognized them all. I have been over them so many times. The little town square with the big Court House in the middle that looked like a castle… that looked exactly like my town of Carthage, Missouri. The people were also accurately portrayed. On the one hand they were neighborly and helpful, unless you stepped out of convention, in which case they were bitterly judgmental and unforgiving. So just what does the movie teach us about real Love (especially as we look at love through the lens of A Course in Miracles)? It teaches us many things. First Francesca did not marry for love. She married Richard to escape Italy. She had dreams of making a life for herself in America. Richard did not respect her dreams. When she found something of herself in teaching, Richard wanted her to stop, so she stopped. Her children didn’t respect her. She liked to listen to Callas on the radio. When they came into the kitchen they immediately changed the station without even asking her. Nobody cares for HER. She is the slave around the house to keep all their lives running in the world Richard wanted. Then when she has lost all hope, her true love comes to her door, in an unconventional way. Robert Kincaid, a photographer for National Geographic, has lost his way on Iowa country roads and has found Francesca. She is amazed at his life of freedom which she wishes she had. Then they fall totally and completely in love with one another, but Francesca does not know how to respond to love. She has never really had it before. She is addicted to her routines. She makes excuses that it would be bad for the kids were she to leave. But look how her kids grew up. They grew up not knowing love and having terrible marriages that didn’t work. By staying with Richard when she really loved Robert she taught her children the life she led, denying love and living by sacrifice.

So there Robert and Francesca are in town after Richard has returned and Francesca has very tentatively decided not to leave with Robert. Robert’s truck is in front of Richard and Francesca. He stays at the light, giving Francesca one last chance. Her hand goes to the door handle and wants to open it. She wants to run into Robert’s truck. At this point anyone who has ever loved is cheering for her, “Open the door! Run quickly to Robert.” She is just finally ready to open the door when Robert drives on, never to see her again. Stupid old Richard cannot even see what is going on.

So what would she have taught her children had she run away with Robert? She would have taught them to accept love wherever it comes to you, especially if it defies convention. She would have taught them to analyze their lives and really look at themselves. In the end, they have to do that anyway as they read her diary. Sacrifice is not the road to love. True love doesn’t call for it. It only asks us to receive it from whatever channel it comes from, conventional or unconventional. Francesca’s love for Robert is the crowning event in her entire life, but she cannot receive it because she believes in sacrifice and convention. That’s a helluva lot of truth in one movie!!

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To save God’s son

I have written many times about my mediumistic abilities so I will not shock you by sharing something. Often I get a feeling of remembrance about someone I knew and I begin to wonder, “Where is s/he now?” I may try to check old emails or google the person, check old connections, and many times I come up dry, but the desire to know about that person stays. And then, sooner or later, it hits me that the person has died and crossed over into spirit. Then it is so easy for me to connect with that person, talk with them, share with them, help them if they need it. I would not trade this gift for anything. Instead, I pray that God will amplify my ability so I can help others. There was a young girl I knew in the late 1990’s who came to a church I was going to at the time. She had many problems. I visited her in hospital once. She had a crushed spirit and I so wanted to help her, but I was not high enough at the time. Religion was putting a damper on my mediumistic gifts. Yesterday I had the strongest desire to find out where she was now. I checked all the usual sources. Then tonight at this lovely full moon, I knew that she was in spirit. I cried. I reached up and touched her. She had died of a drug overdose and her soul was still in confusion and illusion. We talked for a good while and I brought her the Light, and set her eyes on it. I watched as she followed it up. I watched as her spirit changed from dark to light. I told her all the things that religion had denied her, that she is still as God created her, that God is not angry at her and that nothing she has done can change the love of God for her. My dear brothers and sisters, there is no veil. We are all here together and we are as God created us, One Spirit and One Love. Fly high my darling, fly up to Heaven’s gate. It’s doors are open for you…and for me. This is not what I was expecting to receive on the night of the full moon, but how could I ask for anything greater than to see into spirit and help a lost soul. God knows my heart. I am here to save God’s son from his many illusions. I am here to heal and to make whole all those who fear they are broken and lost. Will you not join me my beloved brothers and sisters? There are worlds of lost souls in need of the Light and the Love it brings. To save God’s son is the work before us♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥Will you not shed a holy tear for God’s son who fears his Father so and believes hell is waiting for him? For his release is ours also. We go back to the Father as One. On this lovely night of the full moon, I commit my life to saving God’s son.

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The Message

The Message…..I went to Burnaby Lake tonight around sunset to get a feeling for the big night tomorrow….the full moon. Burnaby Lake has been my teacher for these many years and I have accepted my position as a learner. I always come expecting to get a message. Part of the way ACIM has changed my life is in my relationship with nature. I literally feel no distance between myself and nature. I “know” and feel all the flowers, animals, birds, ducks, geese to be my “brothers.” They are a part of the Son of God along with me and my human brothers and I love them. There is some form of quantum communication we share. I know the flowers put on their best when I come to see them and the Honeysuckle smells sweet just for me. The bees linger longer around the flowers when they know I am watching them. The ducks and geese always put on a show for me. The lilies are more beautiful when I am there. The beavers flap their tails louder and the fish jump higher. We are one family and we love each other. Sometimes a deeper quantum happening takes place and I experience the Beloved in all things, including in me. At such times, all things remember their divinity and we are One. So tonight I listened for the message, thinking I could get a sense of what the full moon tomorrow will bring! I listened hard. I listened for the music nature sings to me. But there was silence. Then a flower spoke to me and I was overwhelmed in wholiness. Tears came down my face as the Blue Heron placidly swooped down from the trees and began to fish for his supper. He is my most prized sight in the marsh and I know he came out for me. My love for him was sent on quantum wings and he manifested. This marsh is a part of me, and I it. Here I am not Joe Shore. I am the Heron and the birds, the flowers and the bees. I am the fish that swim and the beavers that dance, and I am Whole. The Beloved and I are One. Maybe it won’t seem strange then that at this point I saw the ducks and geese placidly floating on the water, without thought or burden. And then it came into my old Hippie mind that they were “stoned.” They were absolutely “stoned” on the energy that was making its way into the marsh. They were “hammered.” A smirk and a smile came to my face, and I thought to ourself, “It’s going to be THIS kind of full moon, is it?” Bring it on. Bring out the Jethro Tull records and Led Zeppelin albums, and a little Joe Cocker too!! Bring out that Hookah!! We are going to watch the walls melt! What a message tonight and what a night tomorrow will bring!!!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥Heron-2

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear, buried under the deepest level of repression, is that love will fail us in some way! We do not yet firmly realize that nothing real can be threatened. We still carry around this haunting, debilitating fear that either we are inherently unlovable or that love will suddenly turn on us and become hate. This fear is the biggest gun in the arsenal of the ego and at some time our repression mechanism will indeed fail us and we will have to confront this, the deepest of all our fears. That one person you love more than anyone else in the world will be the subject of the ego’s next little story it tries to create in your mind. S/he will fail you in this story. S/he will turn on you and say she/he never really loved you, or worse yet, that you are too old, too fat, too ugly, too this or that to merit her/his love. And in this story you will be devastated, left with nothing to hold on to and no future to look forward to. We still do not realize that we help to create this holographic reality by entertaining this, the worst of all stories. We will play out various ends to the story a hundred times, see ourselves homeless, destitute and loveless, or see our suicide which we will commit as one last act of anger against such lovelessness. You will see yourself asking a thousand times, “Why didn’t s/he love me? I loved her/him so deeply. How could she/he fail me? How could God fail me?” That is the deepest pit in this fear, the belief that God is not enough. In your story you will suffer without God’s intervention. God is powerless to change your story! Is this not the deepest despair? That is where the ego wants to take us and that is where we cannot go. As any soul who has done it will tell you, suicide will not change things. You will just be a despairing soul without a body. The ego believes there is no way out of this despair except to change the “other” person. “Make her/him love me, God! Change her/him!” And you really know that the “other” person is not going to change! She is NOT going to change her mind and marry you! He is NOT going to come back and tell you he loves you!! We have set up the story too well!!! At some point–take as long as you like–we are going to have to surrender our despair! We are going to have to trust God again!! We are going to have to hear the music and ignore the little stories!! We CAN create a world based on love instead of fear! We can! Love is our natural inheritance. We can find the way!! Though the path be dark, because we have tried to extinguish the light, we can find the way. And as we do, look to your left and right and see you are not alone. We are all on this journey together. We have all lived in the same world of fear. In our minds, love has let us all down a thousand times and made fools of our passion. To me, the first step in turning on the lights, is to have compassion for our brothers and sisters in this journey with us. In this journey, someone you may not know well, will say to you, “I love you.” It will surprise the hell out of you and you will react with fear. You will come up with a thousand things to say to make him/her go away. Let me hand out one little piece of advice. When someone says, “I love you” to you, you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Precious few people will say those words to you in this life!! Don’t jump into a lecture about how s/he is simply obsessed or needy or experiencing attachment! You might just say a simple “thank you” and smile, and if the spirit leads you to, you might even want to know that person a little better. This is a good first step out of the hologram of fear that we recreate daily. S/he might indeed really love you! Wouldn’t that spoil your story?

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The Stream of Ages

The stream of ages flows and in it is all that is of love. You and I are one bubble in that stream. Could we but see the world truly, the flow is all we would see. All love is the same. In every place and in every one you have experienced it, it is part of that stream of ages. I sit here now with my companion, Blanche, and we are one love in two silly bodies.:) The flow comes into and through the heart. Here we live and move and have our very being. We are Love’s Presence:) We are the magnificent radiance of God!♥♥♥ Could we but know that and stay in the flow, the world we think we see would disappear and all separations removed. Love is and we are its manifestations. We are the bubbles in the stream and the rocks over which it flows. We are source and the end. We Love therefore we are, not as separate bodies, but as One. We are the breath of the wind through the trees; we are the cat’s purr; we are the happiness of two becoming one; we are the birds that fly through the air and the fish that swim through the creeks; we are the Love that holds all things together as One; and we are here NOW, not in time, but in this moment of Love realized and fear vanquished. We are the tears that stream down our faces; we are the arms that embrace us; we are Love’s Presence, and there is nothing to do. No ambitions can stand in Love’s Presence. Consciousness itself cannot stand in Love’s Presence. From deep within the unconscious flow of the stream of ages, I know that I Love you.♥♥♥♥♥♥♥269336_388327181227476_1611554788_n

The beauty and peace our brothers have laid

We stand here today, in Love’s Presence, in higher dimensions, because of the beauty and peace our brothers have laid. We stand on shoulders so strong and can see the distant land so clearly because of those who came before us and cared. They raised us up and now we must do our part. We must find new levels of inspiration to lift up our brothers and sisters, to stand on one plane together. At Heaven’s Gate there is a plane for us to share. Just one tiny footstep it is into the Ocean of God. The tiniest film, no thicker than a soap bubble, stands between us there and the Fullness of the Father. We are here thanks to our brothers and sisters who came before us and paved the way with their honesty and truth. They saw the promised land, and they shall not fail to enter into it with all of us. God’s children– humans, animals, flowers, rocks and trees, every grain of sand–are all going back into the Father from which they appeared to emanate. In Truth, we have never left Heaven. We traveled but in dreams while safe at Home. And God’s Son has always been One and with His Father still. Rejoice! The Light of remembrance has come! Lift up your heads for God’s Son returns today to His Father!♥♥♥♥♥

 

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The need for love and connection

Love is an ache we all share. Even the biggest ego secretly aches for something he doesn’t know. We are all drawn to music and nature because they radiate the love we need and the connection we crave. This need is wonderful. It shows us a light away from the dark world, shining towards a Source we have almost forgotten. It shines through the denial and repression we have used to keep ourselves in the body. It begins to open our eyes to another world we always hoped existed but were too afraid to ask for. The time is now to remove denial and repression and remember our ancient identity. We would know ourselves as God made us, and take nothing less for an identity. The ocean of God’s Love is our Home. We travel here in dreams while safely at Home in that Ocean. Nothing real is extinguished there. The fullness of that Ocean enters into the one drop of this life. Perfectly remembered in the Mind of God are all your loving thoughts and deeds. All else was illusion and cannot enter that Mind. Nothing real can be threatened♥ You can let down your defenses now and invite the Truth to make itself known. If you defend yourself you will be attacked. “If I defend myself I am attacked. But in defenselessness I will be strong, and I will learn what my defenses hide.” I will know myself as God created me and I will know the Love that I have craved.♥♥♥