The Past Is Over; You Are Free
by Mary Grace McCord
Back in 2000 best-selling metaphysical author Marianne Williamson visited Birmingham to teach peaceful activism from her brand new book, Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens. That weekend, exactly one year prior to 9/11, native New Yorker (and now AIHT faculty member) George Donnelly, D.C. helped organize an equally peaceful Unity breakfast in her honor.
I reminded Marianne of this “church fellowship” during our autumn 2007 reunion at Mind Body Spirit Expo in Valley Forge, PA—in the same historic locale from which George Washington was said to have “seen an angel and heard the prophecy of ‘strength in unity, from sea to shining sea’.”
Maybe it was ancestral energy that powered Williamson’s voice that night. Her provocative challenge for Americans to “return to our right minds” implored her audience to remember our souls’ connection, as citizens of the world, and to deeply care for each other, without borders and without expecting repayment.
“Countries are allowing an economic ethos of ego-maniacal competition to encroach upon our social interaction and, literally, our humanity,” she says, “but the past has passed. We can do better; in fact we are free to do better.”
It was Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsch who co-founded the Global Renaissance Alliance in 1999, seeking to apply spiritual principles to social and political issues. Known nowadays as the Peace Alliance, in 2007 it led a grassroots lobby to formally establish a U.S. Department of Peace.
Its landmark legislation, H.R. 808, seeks to create a new presidential cabinet post, the Secretary of Peace. Domestically, its role is to allocate resources and develop policies that address family abuse, gang violence and other societal plagues. Internationally, its designated leader will advise the President and Congress on best practices for conciliatory actions among nations.
With such progressive ideas as one example of her creativity in reshaping cultural and political thought forms, in 2006 Newsweek named Marianne Williamson among “The 50 Most Influential Baby Boomers.” That same year she started hosting a weekly web radio program on Oprah and Friends FX. She now leads a daily lesson from A Course in Miracles on Oprah and Friends FX.
AIHT is honored to have an opportunity to chat with one of our favorite curriculum authors about her two newest books.
Vibrations: Taking a page from your 2004 book, The Gift of Change, I love the section about “the strength that arises from our defenselessness,” told through the Biblical story of the angel Gabriel telling Mary about God’s plan for an immaculate conception. The universe’s redemption, as I see it, was thus made possible because of a young woman’s mild acquiescence.
MW: It sure would’ve been understandable for her to think, “Hhmm. This can’t be good news.” Right? (Laughs) But Mary was willing to be willing. Open to perceiving and open to receiving the unspeakable gift of being chosen in this way. She actually had the grace to simply say “yes.”
Love is infinitely creative. This book is about cultivating a mind wide open. Not constricted by the ego’s need to know everything, we can learn that the greater reality of any situation is not its form but its content. A marriage license is form, devotion is content. Age is form, spirit is content. Form draws boundaries, content breathes deeply.
Vibrations: Your books also suggest that we trade ambition for inspiration. Why do workers and neighbors perceive that sending love into a stalemate signals weakness, and why can’t societies and countries understand that healing even the smallest gaffe can lead to wonderfully bigger things?
MW: Whatever it is that we feel guided to do, we need not be second-guessing our own readiness. Once we ask God to be our conduit, the only thing left to do is relax into the flow. It’s not humble for anyone to think that he or she can’t manage to achieve what God wants. It’s arrogant to second-guess The One who makes all things possible.
Vibrations: Let’s talk about The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife. You and I are both Baby Boomers, women born into the simple, easy 1950s but raised into racial upheaval, military escalation, rebellion, liberation, materialism and a deepening concern for environmental, social, political and spiritual balance. No wonder we’re tired and we can’t sleep!
|Ph.D. candidate Autumn Brook enjoyed meeting Marianne Williamson during AIHT’s Crystal reunion weekend in 2007.
MW: In the mid-70s I was drawn to A Course in Miracles and within a few years of self-study and applying its daily lessons to transcend fear by simply choosing love, I found that I was traveling with a tireless intensity.
I became a church minister and I created benevolent organizations. I raised my daughter, mostly as a single mom, and wrote books every few years. My classroom teachings have been described as fast-paced and frenetic. Learning to love stage lights and noisy rooms from having been a jazz singer, I’ve been pretty much unflappable.
But I feel concern when I see people everywhere I go complaining that they’re old and fat; that they can’t do the things they used to; and they’re losing confidence because our electronic society is a deafening cacophony of sensory exhaustion.
Vibrations: So, how do we find internal clarity in the midst of outer chaos? One of the prayers in your book arises from the statement that “midlife doesn’t feel right if we don’t feel that we’re dispensing the best we’ve got before we go.” How do we make that leap to live deeply for God—not as an escape from the world, but as an ultimate effort at ‘right living’ within the midst of it?
MW: It’s so important to celebrate the tiny little moments that we call life as they happen, since these are the exact moments that are God-given. Have rituals and have community. Celebrate birthdays with friends, and family, or go to the park alone and tell the squirrels it’s your birthday.
Celebrate the sacrament of cool water or someone’s chocolate-brown eyes. God specializes in new beginnings, which is always another cause for celebration. Drop the cross and embrace the sky. Metaphysically, nothing is ever outside of us anyway. Everything we experience is a reflection of what’s going on inside our head.
Nothing is a more powerful state of being than a deep acceptance of what is. Instead of endless, fruitless rumination over how to change something that seems challenging, try asking instead, “How can I dwell within this circumstance in the highest possible way?”
I put in my new book that if God were leaving you a text message, I think it would say: “Enjoy yourself.”
It’s so important to celebrate the tiny little moments that we call life as they happen, since these are the exact moments that are God-given.
Vibrations: Some people grew up playing sports. If we aren’t able to continue, in later years, we feel defeated. We feel that we lost something and we miss it, instead of realizing that the sport, or the loved one, or whatever else that’s “gone” was a gift in the first place. Blessings may come and go…
MW: ...and maybe the more blessings that have come and have gone, the fuller our gift basket can feel, and the stronger our “release” muscle can become. The secret to “stretching out our time” is to go more deeply into the present. To go wider, you have to go deep.
Here’s what I know about myself. Maybe my energy level doesn’t allow me to run through airports anymore. But the bigger gift that makes it okay is this: when I am less frenetic, I can think things through. My planning improves. Sitting quietly is like heaven on earth. I don’t feel as jumpy nowadays. Instead of doing something constantly, I’m perfectly content to just be. Hearing a bird is precious.
Vibrations: In fact, it’s divine. Thank you for taking time to visit. Your friends at AIHT look forward to seeing you twice in 2008—in Albuquerque in March and then in Chicago in June.
“I understand Things in the Round”
As we get older, our spirits as well as our bodies need more quiet time, more reflection; more immersion in the magic of just being. Part of the value of aging is that it delivers us naturally to realms in which we’re not quite so tethered to the realities of the material world.
It’s not so much that we’re “losing it” as that we’re finding it.
I do find it utterly liberating to have forgotten certain things; thank God I forgot them. And that’s not to minimize scary monsters such as a natural fear of dementia. It’s just to keep some of our changes in perspective.
So… I don’t think as quickly as I used to, I’m sure of it. Okay. Nor do I speak as quickly or move as quickly as I once did.
But it does seem to me that I can think more deeply now. It’s like I understand things in the round.
Excerpted from The Age of Miracles by Marianne Williamson