Are You Steeping?

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

Though the year has just begun, it is not without many challenges. We in the United States have already experienced 67 mass shootings since the first of January, with innocent children and adults marred by gun violence. The end of this month marks one year of the unprovoked Russian attack on the sovereignty of Ukraine, a war that has killed and brutalized innocent people who just wanted to live their lives as free citizens of their own country. Perhaps you have had your own physical or emotional “wars” erupt in your life. It can certainly seem as if we are all facing devastating events.

When we face the world alone, it can be a hopeless place. In the face of challenges, some people take up arms and fight. That is one approach, but if we look at history, matching attack only with attack continues a cycle of attack, defense, attack, defense, etc., with no other solution. Others face challenges by giving up and retreating. They take their feelings of anger and attack within and thereby feel hopelessly lost in depression and sadness.

But there is another way, a better way, and that is the way A Course in Miracles offers us. It tells us that if we cherish the world and focus only on changing the world to satisfy our momentary needs, we will inevitably lose. If we retreat from the world in denial, we lose as well. But there is a way to walk between these two well-worn paths, and that is the way open to us now. We are asked to step back and let the Answer God has given us lead the way. It has been called insight, a hunch, the Holy Spirit, or simply love. It is the answer that says you are not victimized by the world, nor can you overcome the world by force, but you can transform the world because of Who you are and the Power and Presence that walks with you. The following is a story that exemplifies this powerful truth.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she would make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon each pot came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots; in the second, she placed eggs; and in the last, she put tea. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and put them in a bowl. Then she ladled out the tea that had been steeping and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and tea,” she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the tea. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The tea was unique, however. After it was in the boiling water, it changed the boiling water’s color and taste.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or tea?”

Take a moment to reflect on this story. Which are you? Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?

Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart but changes with the heat and adversity? Did the hardships and trials of life cause you to become hardened? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside, are you bitter and tough with a hopeless, hardened heart?

Or are you tea? The tea actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases fragrance and flavor. If you are like the tea, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you recognize your true strength by remembering Who walks with you?

How do you handle the challenges of life? Are you a carrot, an egg, or tea?

The purpose of A Course in Miracles is not to change the world but to change our minds about the purpose of the world. To realize that within the greatest seeming adversities of life, God is present, and through His love, we can transform the world.

In one of the Course’s powerful workbook lessons, it asks this question and then gives you the answer as it continues,

“Who walks with me?” This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace. Today let doubting cease. God speaks for you in answering your question with these words:
I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world, I light my mind and all the minds which God created one with me. (W-156.8)

We have a way to overcome the world’s adversities, and each of us is given an abundant supply. Let us stop diminishing the power of God’s love to embrace whatever you are facing today and transform it into the miracle you are entitled to.

Let us look at the pain and suffering not in denial, anger, or hopelessness but in faith. Nothing can change eternal love, and that is our reality. Embrace whatever you are facing with the power and presence of the “One Whose only purpose is your good.” (W-135.18) This does not mean that the adversities are good, those are part of this illusory world of separation, but the Answer given in peace can lift you to the awareness of how you can transform adversity through the light of love.

Love, which created me, is what I am.
Father, my thanks to You for what I am; for keeping my Identity untouched and sinless, in the midst
of all the thoughts of sin my foolish mind made up. And thanks to You for saving me from them. Amen. (W-229)

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February Prayer Thought: Love created me like itself