Love Notes

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

As I sit at my desk, I notice how cluttered it is. I have stacks of paper on every corner. Whenever I start to sort through the stacks, I get lost in the supportive notes and emails from readers of The Holy Encounter (yes, I do print them out!), wonderful stories and articles people have sent me, great thoughts from A Course in Miracles that I want to share, photos of family and friends, and the numerous origami objects and LEGOs that my son Jeff designed for me over the years and put on my desk to keep me company. When Jeff was young, he would put those little figures on my desk to remind me of him because I would get so lost in all my papers! So, I keep them there to remind me of what is truly important.

To an outsider, my desk looks like a mess. But to me, it’s a treasure of “love notes.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could always see each moment as a “love note?” In our busy world, we miss those present moments of love. We get lost in our hurried, mindless activities. We need to think of each moment as not just the passing of time but as an opportunity to welcome a “love note.” I know I have to slow down and take in the moment of beauty and love that is all around me.

I was looking at our old label maker the other day, and I was taken back to when we purchased it to label all of Jeff’s belongings when he went to his middle school weeklong Science Camp. Jeff loved making the labels but did not limit the label-making to just his name; he busily typed out one little note after another. I remember admonishing him and telling him not to waste the tape because we needed to make his name labels. Then I saw what he was making. It was a label for Paul and me that he put on each of our nightstands that said, “I love you, Dad!!!! I love you, Mom!!!!” Needless to say, I was a little red-faced by that. I was so caught up in what I was doing and what had to be done that I almost missed the literal “love notes” he was sending!

It’s amazing the “love notes” we can see if we just slow down, lift our judgments, and look. No matter how chaotic or hateful the world may seem, love is here now. The purpose of the world is to distract us from the truth, and it does its job well! But nothing can change what is real. Love is our reality, not the fear and attack of the world. But our reality of love requires our full attention and focus; as we read in the Course,

“To be in the Kingdom is merely to focus your full attention on it. As long as you believe you can attend to what is not true, you are accepting conflict as your choice. Is it really a choice? It seems to be, but seeming and reality are hardly the same. You who are the Kingdom are not concerned with seeming. Reality is yours because you are reality.” (T-7.III.4)

This powerful statement tells us the conflict we see in the world is really within us. If we can reset our minds to realize who we truly are and what our real function is, we can see the “love notes” that are all around us.

Many of us have experienced the passing of loved ones. I have read from those of you who have stood beside a spouse, sibling, parent, or dear friend as they made their next experience in the journey of life eternal. I often say that death is not convenient. It comes into our busy lives to stop us and remind us of God and His infinite love for us. Death is not a punishment but an opportunity to experience the presence of love without any worldly limitations. As The Song of Prayer (the supplement to the Course) says about death,

“This is what death should be; a quiet choice, made joyfully and with a sense of peace, because the body has been kindly used to help the Son of God along the way he goes to God. We thank the body, then, for all the service it has given us. But we are thankful, too, the need is done to walk the world of limits, and to reach the Christ in hidden forms and clearly seen at most in lovely flashes. Now we can behold Him without blinders, in the light that we have learned to look upon again.”

Those who make this journey have earned the right to look upon the Christ once again without any interference. I have spoken about death many times at seminars and meetings and have performed many memorial services. Death is the great mystery of life, and it can seem scary simply because we don’t understand it. But I think of death as a “boost” of clarity, a choice to be love without limitations.

The Course tells us life does not begin with birth nor end with death. Life is eternal. I think that death gives us an opportunity to see life more clearly like a film being lifted from our sight – everything is more vibrant; we “see” more deeply. I think we see the “love notes” that are all around us … those we have given and those given us. As that same section in The Song of Prayer continues about death,

“Now we go in peace to freer air and gentler climate, where it is not hard to see the gifts we gave were saved for us. For Christ is clearer now; His vision more sustained in us; His Voice, the Word of God, more certainly our own.”

We don’t have to wait for death, though, to see the “love notes” that are all around us. In thinking about Course teacher and my dear friend, Hugh Prather, who passed in 2010, I am grateful for the “love notes” he left us. Not only through his books but through the way he touched our minds and hearts. We will never be the same because he shared his spirit with us in this life experience and continues to do so. One of my favorite “love notes” from Hugh is how he interpreted the nursery rhyme “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Here is the “love note” he gave about that rhyme with a few of my thoughts mixed in…

“Row, row, row your boat”
Row your boat, not someone else’s boat. You don’t have to worry about fixing someone else, but simply focus on healing your own life. Don’t wait for someone else to forgive; you forgive. Don’t wait for someone else to be nice; you be kind. Don’t wait for something to happen first before you can be happy and at peace; be happy and peaceful now. As A Course in Miracles reminds us,

“Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation.” (T-17.VII.4)

“Gently down the stream”
Gently is the keyword to life as we all go down our chosen streams. Certainly, Hugh moved with a gentle spirit down his stream. He had no desire to be famous or speak to crowds; he simply wanted to be of service. He had the potential to be quite famous, and yet he chose the gentle life, quietly giving his message as he gently went down the stream. For many of us, we may think we missed our chance for this or that. We may live in regret, but it is never too late to be gentle with yourself and thereby align yourself with your true purpose, which is available to you right now. You are as God created you. It is time to emerge from the lowly caterpillar experience of the world to become the mighty butterfly of truth. Do not doubt your power for the fleeting specialness of the world. As the Course tells us,

“The death of specialness is not your death, but your awaking into life eternal. You but emerge from an illusion of what you are to the acceptance of yourself as God created you.” (T-24.II.14)

“Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily”
Isn’t that the key to our lives? To have joy and humor as we look at our lives and the world. Where would we be without our humor? I find that life is so much easier to handle, personal issues are much less dramatic, and the little annoyances that have a way of completely destroying our peace are quickly dismissed by a little chuckle. As the Course reminds us,

“You can indeed afford to laugh at fear thoughts, remembering that God goes with you wherever you go.” (W-41)

“Life is but a dream”
The idea that this world is not our reality is a thought we find in all perennial philosophies and is not unique to the Course. Christianity tells us this world is not our final destination. The Course’s focus on the unreality of this world is so that we might not fight against the world of form, thereby making its unreality real to us. Its goal is to help us gently acknowledge the dream and then choose to move past it; recognizing its true value is to help us wake up to the love that is all around us. As the Course says, forgiveness, which is its chosen approach for our awakening,

“… does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. And there they disappear entirely.” (W-134)

So, while we seem to abide where we are not at home, let’s make this dream as heaven-like as we can. Let us walk with gentleness, act with kindness, and forgive with joy.

“Love notes” you can experience

A Course in Miracles tells us we are entitled to miracles. Miracles are natural for us and when they do not occur, something has gone wrong. What has “gone wrong” is our willingness to experience them. We have built up so many walls to love’s presence that we now need help to believe we are deserving of love and of the miracles that are all around us. And so we take God’s hand and become willing, like a child, to begin again. It is time for us to remember the innocence that still abides in us and all of God’s children and to dismantle the blocks to love’s presence one by one. We may think it is impossible to do when we have so many judgments daily, and perhaps even every second! But, we are reminded in the Course,

“It cannot be that it is hard to do the task that Christ appointed you to do, since it is He Who does it.” (T-25.I.1)

The awareness of God in our minds (Christ) is what helps us do the seemingly impossible task of focusing on the miracles, the “love notes” that are all around. If we just begin the practice of silently extending love or recognizing when others are calling for love, we can begin to experience heaven on earth.

We all learned how to walk by standing up and falling down. Then we stayed up and put one foot in front of the other, and finally, we ran. It was practice, but we did it. Now it’s time to do it again. It’s time to focus on the love that is within us and all around us. Let us see the innocence in others and ourselves that was never diminished by the dreams of the world.

The goal of the Center is to help in our awakening, and so we want to give you a “love note” that you can share and extend to others. On our website under “Services,” you will find the Wall of Innocence. As you scroll down it, you will see photos of students of the Course when they were children, around the ages of 5 or 6. As a matter of fact, throughout this issue, you have seen each of our author’s childhood pictures from the Wall.

When people look at their own childhood photos, it is amazing to see the smiles on their faces. They remember their innocence, and if they can remember theirs, perhaps they can think that way about people who tempt them to anger. Our innocence can never be lost, no matter what we have done. It is time for us to awaken to the “love note” that we all are for each other.

“Be innocent of judgment, unaware of any thoughts of evil or of good that ever crossed your mind of anyone. Now do you know him not. But you are free to learn of him, and learn of him anew. Now is he born again to you, and you are born again to him, without the past that sentenced him to die, and you with him. Now is he free to live as you are free, because an ancient learning passed away, and left a place for truth to be reborn.” (T-31. I.13)

Respond to Beverly’s Article
Support Our Work
Get Articles in Your Postal Mailbox
Submit Your Photo for the Wall