I’m back from a whirlwind time in Sedona (followed by a visit to California and a week here setting up home and office after a move). It was truly a momentous time and it’s important to catch all of you up on it. I’ll go through it event by event.
For those who were there: Please fill this out with your own comments about your experience of these events.
This was Friday night and all-day Sunday, March 23rd and 25th. About 23 of us gathered from all over the North America. Many of us knew each other already, and many were meeting for the first time. For me it was a real joy to meet people in the flesh that I had only known over the phone or by correspondence.
Friday night was socializing, with food and organizing made possible by Veronica and Julie, with help from others of us there. Sunday we got down to business. After reading the Workbook lesson and meditating together Sunday morning, I talked about the history of the CCC and the reasons for establishing it. I then invited us all to share about the ideal community that we would want to be part of. After that sharing, we talked about new ideas for the CCC, which indeed produced some promising ones (Amy wrote them all down).
We also talked about what worked best for us about the CCC. Out of this, we realized that what has worked best so far is the following pattern: a small group, dedicated to a particular topic, led by someone with passion for that topic, with the group members performing an actual service in the world. As we crystallized this, Patricia Zamudio volunteered to lead just such a group, focused on those who want to apply the Course to their work.
Workshop on Relationship with God
Sandwiched in between the Friday and Sunday CCC events was a general workshop, “The Only Real Relationship: God in A Course in Miracles.” This was held at the Sedona Creative Life Center and, at 72 people, it was well-attended.
I was very eager to present this material, first, because my relationship with God has become so central for me, and second, because I have slowly realized that Course students (following general cultural currents) tend to be in a massive avoidance of God. So the theme of the day was turning this avoidance into approach.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Comments made at the start of the day showed that people were in exactly the place I had assumed; i.e., the Holy Spirit has stolen all the attention because we see God as remote and inaccessible. Despite this, though, I felt that people were really with me all day. I felt a real openness to seeing and relating to God in a different way. The sense I had was that there is a hole here, a hole that people may not know is there, but which, once pointed out, they are eager to fill. To invite people into the relationship that has come to mean so much to me, and to have them happily accept this invitation, was extremely satisfying. For me, it was an unforgettable day.
Memorial for John Perry
On Sunday evening, we held a memorial at the Circle house for beloved friend, teacher, and fellow student John Perry. This was open not just to CCC members, but to all who knew and loved him. We felt particularly honored that John’s wife Suzanne flew out from Texas to join us for the weekend. She said that she wanted to be there because we were part of John’s family, and more than once she remarked on how loved and included she felt.
Mary Anne led us in a time that was filled with loving reminiscences, with much laughter and many tears. Suzanne set up a computer with a slide show of photos of John and of some of his artwork. And we managed to dig out a collage of photos from our Year 2000 program, which included quite a few of John. It was a really lovely time for remembering a dear friend who will remain with us despite the absence of his body.
Beginning of Teacher of Pupils Training
On Monday through Wednesday, we had the in-person gathering to begin an 18-month training for teachers of pupils. 16 of us gathered down the street at the Poco Diablo resort (in the room next to the gym and pool where I used to exercise and take my kids swimming) for three intensive days. (Two people couldn’t make it, and so for them Mary Anne was able to record the meetings.)
These three days felt truly momentous to me. The theme was committing ourselves to the goal of the 18 months, which is to become a “devoted teacher” of pupils (to use Jesus’ phrase). This involved: reviewing the evidence for this role in the Course and its crucial place in the Course fulfilling its purpose in the world, sharing the personal benefits of having a teacher and being a teacher, looking at our own authority issues—our resistance to having an authority and our fear of being an authority, the foundational importance of our own walking of the path, getting clear on what it means to be a devoted teacher, and finally dedicating ourselves personally to that goal.
What really struck me—and I think it struck all of us—was the significance that this gathering and the ensuing training could potentially have for how the Course is done in the future. There may be only 18 of us, but between us we already have more than 50 pupils. With some of those pupils becoming teachers, and other teachers coming up through future trainings, such a thing could easily grow exponentially. And if it keeps growing, it could one day become the acknowledged way that one “takes” this course, which would at last bring things in line with how Jesus envisioned them. At that point, who knows what effect the Course could have on its students and on the world? At that point, it could genuinely do what Jesus said it would: “grow from infancy into a helper of the world.”
End of “Love” workshop training
The next four days—Thursday through Sunday—were the conclusion of a training that began with seven weeks of phone classes. In this, with help from Mary Anne, I am training thirteen of us to present an overview workshop I have designed for bringing both new and old students of the Course into a right, fruitful, and practical relationship with it.
These four days were quite intense as well. We covered the mental side of being a presenter. This included both the positive—having “the real place” in us reach past our masks to “the place of truth” in our audience—and the negative—overcoming the fear of teaching. And we covered the more behavioral side, including basics of speaking, how to answer questions and respond to comments, and how to read quotes, explain diagrams, and take people through exercises and meditations.
Then, of course, came the hard part: All of our trainees had to, in turn, stand up in front and do each of these things. At various times, they had to present a chunk of material, explain a diagram, read (and comment on) a quote, and answer questions. This last part was especially difficult because it required a command of both the material and the Course, and because the rest of us had the job of playing the role of pesky questioners, whose questions may be less sincere attempts to understand and more grandstanding, autobiography, or any of about twenty other troublesome roles.
We ended, though, with a commitment to follow through and actually present this workshop in our respective areas, and to keep in touch about it all through a forum on the CCC, so we could support each other and continue to evolve the workshop itself. So look for this workshop in your area!
One thing that I noticed about both of the trainings was that they approximated what we want from an eventual center. We not only met together during the day, but most people were staying at the same place (King’s Ransom, down the road). And, thanks to Julie(!), we all ate together at the Circle house for lunch. So it was a real experience of learning, eating, and staying together—as close as we can come for now to a real center.
If you were there, I want to again invite you to add your own comments. There is no way I can do justice to ten days of rich and meaningful events. So please take a moment to give our other CCC members your experience of these events, so that even if they weren’t there, they can feel like they were.