The Survivor Tree

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

At the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, there is a tree near the fountains named the Survivor Tree. This tree is aptly named as it survived the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. In October of that year, a pear tree was found severely damaged. Its branches were burned and broken, and its roots were snapped; it was removed from the rubble and nurtured back to health by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. In 2010, after its recovery, the tree was brought back to its original home at Ground Zero. If you look closely at the tree, you can see that the new limbs are smooth and strong as they extend from the gnarled stumps of the tree’s past – new, strong life growing out of the scars of devastation. It has become a living reminder of resilience, survival, and rebirth.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a new experience for the entire world. You are not alone in the feelings you have had or are having. We are all experiencing much of the same things.

As I look around the world, I see messages of hope. Most people listened to health officials and scientists who were sharing the hard facts of what we needed to do to arrest the virus. And, as everyone worked together to flatten the curve of infection, it made a difference. We can do remarkable things when we realize the power of working together in a healing and constructive way. It is time to still the voices of division and chaos wherever we hear them. We cannot hear the mighty Voice for God when we listen to the hateful shrieks of the ego.

We recently presented our seminar “Above the Battleground…finding peace in turbulent times.” It was a powerful reminder of A Course in Miracles’ ability to speak to us at the exact moment of our need, with the help that we need. We don’t need a variety of responses to the conflicts of the world, for the myriad conflicts are all the same and so is the answer: calls for love must be met by extensions of love, if we are to finally heal.

We must stop giving so much power to what never existed in the first place. An illusory thought of separation must be looked at for what it is: an illusion. Our choice then becomes whether we will continue in conflict and insanity, or we will allow the Answer that God has given us to lead the way. As the Course’s text says…

“The way out of conflict between two opposing thought systems is clearly to choose one and relinquish the other. If you identify with your thought system, and you cannot escape this, and if you accept two thought systems which are in complete disagreement, peace of mind is impossible. If you teach both, which you will surely do as long as you accept both, you are teaching conflict and learning it. Yet you do want peace, or you would not have called upon the Voice for peace to help you. Its lesson is not insane; the conflict is.

There can be no conflict between sanity and insanity. Only one is true, and therefore only one is real. The ego tries to persuade you that it is up to you to decide which voice is true, but the Holy Spirit teaches you that truth was created by God, and your decision cannot change it. As you begin to realize the quiet power of the Holy Spirit’s Voice, and Its perfect consistency, it must dawn on your mind that you are trying to undo a decision that was irrevocably made for you. That is why I suggested before that you remind yourself to allow the Holy Spirit to decide for God for you.” (T-6.V.B.5-6)

This is the Course’s coherent Answer for the world we have made. It asks us to clearly look at the world we are experiencing and decide if we want to stay in it. Is a world of conflict, inconsistencies, judgments, and moments of, perhaps, calm before the mighty hammer of fear and attack crashes down on you really what you want, or is the peace of God a better choice?

We can resprout our commitment to peace no matter how we have been tossed and tumbled by the world. Just like the Survivor Tree, we too can survive anything because we have always been held lovingly in the heart of God.

If you have already received your annual donation letter from the Center for this year, you discovered inside it a removable cling which can be put on windows, mirrors, etc. It features the mighty prayer from the Course’s workbook that ends its lessons 361-365 and says…

This holy instant would I give to You.
Be You in charge. For I would follow You,
certain that Your direction gives me peace.

And if I need a word to help me, He will give it to me. If I need a thought, that will He also give. And if I need but stillness and a tranquil, open mind, these are the gifts I will receive of Him. He is in charge by my request. And He will hear and answer me, because He speaks for God my Father and His holy Son.

This lesson aptly leaves us with a powerful prayer of support as we turn to the ever-available Answer that God has placed in our hearts. The Voice for God has never left us comfortless and is available for any need we find ourselves facing right now, but we must want the Answer more than we want the conflict, division, and anger that we have become so comfortable with. We cannot defeat an illusion by fighting it and thereby giving it power. We must look clearly at it and see it wanting; it no longer serves us, so we withdraw our loyalty to it. Instead, we invite in God’s Help and follow in the way of peace.

So, in place of getting lost in the next email thread or Facebook rant, take a moment to invite peace and truth to reign in your mind. Perhaps put your cling on your computer screen! It might just be the best thing you’ve seen on the internet in a long time!

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