by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
When our son Jeffrey was around two or three years old, he became fascinated with clocks and telling time. He really did not comprehend the concept of time (do any of us really?), but he was sort of getting the idea of telling time on the hour or half hour, and that was about it.
The first “o’clock” he learned was 4 o’clock. Every time he looked at the clock, the time was 4 o’clock, whether it was or not. When friends would visit, they were amazed at how Jeffrey could tell time at 4 o’clock, but when the time ticked on and it was now five or six o’clock, they quickly noticed that my child was not the amazing genius they thought, as he was still saying 4 o’clock.
At that point in Jeffrey’s growth, time was all the same. Of course, as a good mother, I had to help him learn that was not so. Time changes. It marches on, it passes, and a moment from now, it will be in the past. But perhaps my child was on to something. Maybe time really is the same. Maybe I’m the one who needed to learn something.
Next year, Miracle Distribution Center turns forty-three years old. I am amazed to think that forty-three years has passed. Certainly things have changed. When I think about the Center and the changes that have occurred, I am stunned. How did we ever get along without computers and the Internet? I used to type (on an electric typewriter) the mailing list onto carbon paper sheets, so at any given time, I had five labels per person. When those five ran out, I had to type the entire list all over again. At that time, it was not very difficult to type the entire list over because the list was only a few hundred, but can you imagine that now with thousands on the list? It was the same with the A Course in Miracles study group lists. Each time there was a change, the lists needed to be retyped.
In the beginning of the Center’s life, I answered the phone, typed the lists, stocked the shelves, sold the books, dusted, wrote the articles, cleaned the toilets, talked with and counseled people on the phone, led the study groups and classes, vacuumed the rugs, stuffed and mailed each envelope, and coordinated the conferences. Now I have help, but we’re still doing a lot of the same things – just in a different way.
Nothing really has changed very much. And, frankly, isn’t that the way with everything? Time passes, but what is of real value is eternal. It’s the same with the Center. The primary goal of our work is to be of service to students of the Course – to be truly helpful, and we carry out that goal with great love and caring.
I remember one Thanksgiving weekend, quite a few years back, when Darin (the Center’s Administrator who has been here for nearly forty years — he’s getting old, too!) was at the Center finishing the duplication of the Center’s study group cassette tapes (now that’s dating us!) to mail out to the weekly subscribers. I dropped by and found him there with his two young daughters. He was making the copies, and the girls were stuffing them into the envelopes. As the girls sealed each recording into the addressed envelope, they gave a blessing by saying, “Happy Miracles to…” and then said the name of the person on the envelope. I was so touched by their caring; it took me back to the days when I would stuff the three volumes of the Course into boxes to send out. As we put hundreds of sets together, we blessed each book as it went in and off to its new “owner.” It was just our little way of reminding ourselves of what our true purpose was – not to just put books in a box, but to remember our essence by extending our blessings to others.
If you look beneath the surface of your life situations, the needs are all the same.”
Time seems to march on; things seem to change. But, nothing really changes. If you look beneath the surface of your life situations, the needs are all the same. We all want peace. We want love, to be accepted, to feel connected, and to join. When we realize the common need in all our lives, healing begins. It is not that God needs our understanding to heal us, but we do. To allow His Healing Answer into our lives, we must look at the blocks we have built up against that Answer. Once we have looked at those blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can see the common need in all our lives for understanding, compassion, and healing. This awareness that our needs are the same is what will heal the world.
So, when Jeffrey was saying everything was 4 o’clock, everything was the same, maybe he was a genius after all. Or at least he helped his spiritually-challenged mom to stop for an instant and become aware that every illusion (even time) gives her an opportunity to find the deeper truth and to be healed.