by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
Last week, I wrote an article entitled, “A Wink from God.” It elicited many wonderful stories and comments, and then I had my own “wink” from my dear friend Hugh Prather.
Hugh made his passage into eternal life in November of 2010, and his physical presence is missed. I miss my fun, long phone calls with him, but luckily, I have shared that same connection with Hugh’s wonderful wife Gayle. The connection with Hugh continues through his brilliant work, and I often quote from one of his many marvelous books, Morning Notes.
Well, here’s the “wink.” I was busy working at my desk, and as I happened to reach for a file, an entire stack of The Holy Encounter magazines dropped all over the floor, except for one. The one magazine that landed smack on my keyboard featured on the front page an article by Gayle Prather written one year after Hugh’s passing in 2010.
Her story touched my heart, and so I want to share it with you now. I have a feeling it is a wink from God for all of us!
There Is No Death
By Gayle Prather
A Course in Miracles tells us that “death is the central dream from which all illusions stem,” and I can tell you that when you lose someone you love, the world becomes very real. The ego invites you to a misery feast where separation and loneliness are the main course. Other egos expect you to be miserable, and some are offended if you do not seem to be grieving in the accepted way. Please do not assume from this that I am denying the pain that losing a loved one brings. I am not. However, I am telling you that death also brings the opportunity to fully experience and commit to the truth of A Course in Miracles because grief focuses the mind in a way that lesser problems do not. Hugh and I noticed this in Santa Fe when we had two groups — a general one and one for parents who had lost a child. Most of the people in the first group worked somewhat halfheartedly at forgiveness and the other spiritual principles we presented; the parents’ group focused intensely on everything we talked about because they were in such pain. Consequently, they experienced the truth behind the words; they lived what we were saying and they taught us an invaluable lesson: there is no compromise in the Truth. The world is either real or it isn’t, but most of us live between these two dualities — we give lip service to the truth but we also want the world to work.
Nothing in the world can make up for the loss of a child or a husband or wife or any loved one, but there is another reality that can open, a place where we literally experience a truth that cannot be denied. In the year since Hugh’s death, I have come to believe absolutely in Lesson 163: “There is no death. The Son of God is free.” I feel Hugh’s peaceful, happy, loving presence every hour of every day. I talk to him; he talks to me. Of course there are times when I cry because I miss his physical presence, but our oneness with each other is still there; it did not die; it cannot die. It is eternal.
A woman told us that she had miscarried late in her pregnancy and never saw or held her baby because the doctor said it would be best that she not see her little girl. This woman spent years in pain, anger and fear about the loss of this precious little life. She was angry at God and had turned against all religion. But one day she found herself drawn to a church for the first time in years. She went in and knelt before the altar, not knowing what to say or do. Suddenly she felt someone kiss her on her cheek and she knew that it was her little girl letting her know that she was fine and that the love between them was real and untouched and whole. It’s easy to dismiss such stories as wishful thinking or even delusional, but I now know without any doubt that they are more real than the picture of separation that the world paints.
And so what message does Hugh have for you? Simply this: Do not be afraid to love; forgive quickly and easily; trust your Self, the Holy Son of God. Never forget who you are. Don’t take the world so seriously; let it fade from your sight so that you behold Love’s splendor. And like Bill Thetford said, “Never forget to laugh.”