There Must Be

“There must be another way.”

(NB – on 5/29 I updated the links to A Course in Miracles, as I’d mistakenly put the wrong ones.)

And so began the birth of A Course In Miracles, the origin of which is as fascinating as the course itself. I won’t go into it because out of context it can be an eye-roller. I read the story of how it came to be as I was reading the Course itself – and though skeptical, I decided it didn’t matter where it came from or how it got here. It spoke Truth to me and that’s what mattered. And I’m talking about the serious Course in Miracles, not the watered-down Marianne Williamson version. I think she’s helped bring the Course to the attention of many; but I also think to begin to understand what it’s saying, one needs to turn to the Foundation For Inner Peace for help.

The Course is combination of three books – the text, the workbook and a manual for teachers. The workbook has a lesson a day for a year – I did it, but it took me much longer. Some lessons I lingered on, some days I skipped. If the purpose of the Course can be summed up in one sentence, “There must be a better way” is it.

If the Course taught me nothing else – and it taught me much – I came to understand that it is the way I look at things that creates my feelings, my very life. When something happens, it’s a fact – I perceive that fact and make a story. Like this: I’m driving to work, I hit the curb, my tire goes flat. I’m furious. I’m going to be late for work, I have to call AAA, I have to wait for them for God knows how long. I want to blame someone but there’s no one to blame so I blame myself for being a shitty driver, I blame the town for making the street so narrow.

So is the truth of this is that it’s a calamity? If I look at it from AAA’s view, it’s not a problem – it’s their job. If I look at it from my boss’ view, he knows I’ll be a late for work and he’ll go back to what he’s doing. I can sit and fume, but for what?? If a flat tire is inherently a calamity, then it must be a calamity for all. So if there must be another way to see this, what can that be?

I have a flat tire. I am not helpless. If I have to wait I can read or listen to the radio or sit and pay attention to where I’m at. I have discovered that when I give my full attention to whatever it is, I become interested. When I make room to breathe, the anxiety dissipates. And it’s not theoretical – I know what it’s like to sit and wait for AAA and I have spent the time enjoying it.

So you start with the small things to see how it feels and you come to see that that is the way. Then your kid dies and it all goes out the window because all you can think is Really? See this differently? Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME??

A  miracle, simply put, is a shift in perception. A Course In Miracles recognizes no difference in the degree of difficulty of that shift. But it takes major practice and willingness to see that other way. I say I want to feel better – is that so? When I think of my son dead, I have to wonder how much “better” I really want to feel. I am not talking about anything like “moving on” (the mantra of the unconscious and uninitiated) or forgetting. I am talking about my ability – my willingness – to join with life in the face of this most torturous death.

To see Philip’s death differently is to separate my riven heart from my shrieking mind, the mind that takes haunted voices from a troubled past and lets them speak of that which they know nothing about. My heart needs to put words on what this is because my heart doesn’t lie. I just need some quiet and patience to listen. And I’m not doing this alone. When Philip said, “Let me be the voice in your head” he was asking me to let him help me see things differently because that is the answer to the question, what can I do?

For months after Philip died I relived the moment I found out – the phone call telling me Phil had come, the knowing without another word being said, screaming down the stairs, crawling on the floor; My son, my son, my son my son. Over and over I would think about how I flew down those stairs, making myself sick and dizzy until one day I heard Philip: Mom, you don’t have to do that. Of course I didn’t. All I was doing was jackhammering my already raw and bloodied heart. So there was one, clear thing I could do. When I found myself on those stairs, I brought myself back to where I was, gave my attention to my surroundings. I tried to stop telling that story because my stories take me from life, which is only ever happening in the present.

What I’ve never been able to reconcile about “living in the present” is that Philip lived and died in the past, so am I supposed to forget?? But I think I’m starting to understand. It’s the past that’s gone, not my son. The past is memories of moments in time, and every moment in time becomes but a memory. Every word I write was a thought in my head a moment ago. Every moment is new until it isn’t. The future comes only as the present. And while Philip’s death can make my my life seem too long, when time comes to die I’m going to feel like it all went really, really fast.

Turning to the present from the dream of past doesn’t mean I leave Philip. He is not here as I want him to be and he’s not going to give me the future I had in mind. Such is my sorrow. But he is my love, my heart, my guide, my muse. He is here and he makes himself known. There are times I rest in that knowing…and there are times when it just isn’t enough. And too often lately it really isn’t enough. Next time I’ll talk a bit about why.

© 2015 Denise Smyth


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deeincollingo
    May 28, 2015 @ 03:50:46

    Denise, you have a gift with words. Thanks for helping me to better understand the Course in Miracles. My comprehension is still lacking and while I have tried to make sense of this philosophy, I find it all overwhelming. Marianne Williamson wrote to me last year and her words were beyond helpful at a time I needed them the most. You write “too often lately it really isn’t enough.” I agree.

    Love to you.


  2. Denise
    May 28, 2015 @ 08:07:35

    And love to you, Dee. You are of special help to me – your sorrow touches me deeply. I’m so sorry you’re “winding down” your blog – what will I do without you? Whether I comment or not, I always read what you write, and I think of you at least once every day. xoxoxo


  3. Rose
    May 28, 2015 @ 12:00:13

    Denise, this week it’s been interesting for me…I’ve been thinking about a few people and every single one I thought about it, either wrote me something or like you posted something. I was going to write you an email, just to say hi and see how u were doing…I think of you often, and I think about Phillip too and what happened to him, to you , to your family. Every time I think of you all, I feel sick in my stomach, just thinking about the whole situation with you and what you had to go through, and is still going through and it will always go through. Because I know as a mother, that the whole your son left inside of you will never be closed, there will always be a part of you missing in this world. But, what makes me change my perception of these facts, is that YOU as a human being is surviving, and trying to learn, and find new ways to cope with the situation, and pass that on to other people. YOU are amazing to me. I really look out for your posts, because I do learn so much about life through them. As I also learn about unconditional love, strength, survival, struggle, pain, and a word there is no translation in English, but it has such a broad meaning called SAUDADE. I’m always here, and will always be….in some weird way, you and Phillip are now part of my life too. And I care about you guys.




    • Denise
      May 29, 2015 @ 15:56:02

      It’s always good to hear from you – you are so kind and loving and you’ve no idea how that helps. And the things you say – what more could I want than to be of help? Funny, I feel like I’M the one who needs help, how the heck can I possibly help anyone else? Writing keeps me sane, for sure.

      You are part of my life, too. I hope all is well with you. I know you were going through a rough time a while back. If you ever want to email me, please do. Sometimes people hesitate to tell me things because they think I’m suffering “more.” I think the fact of what I’m dealing with only makes me want to listen more. So much heartache in the world. It’s the love we have for each other that gets us through.

      So much love to you, Rose! xoxoxo


  4. Lucia Maya
    May 30, 2015 @ 21:52:54

    As always, you say what I feel, and so clearly and beautifully. Thank you! This is an amazing piece, as a reflection of where you are in your healing and for others who will benefit greatly from your work. So much love.,.


  5. Denise
    Jun 08, 2015 @ 18:33:57

    So much love back, Lucia. I miss you writing but I think of you often. You’ve left a mark, you know – a loving touch. Thank you; it’s so very much needed.


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