How y’all doin?

I finally made it to Atlanta, and as you can see, I’m using my handy phrase book. Now that I finally have the Internet connected at my new apartment, I thought I’d update everyone on how things are going.

The trip was uneventful. (Thankfully, contrary to U-Haul’s slogan, I did not have a “Moving Adventure.”) My apartment is very nice and the people have been wonderful, but still, living here will take a little getting used to. From the time I saw an actual full-size Confederate flag flying on a flagpole, I realized that I wasn’t in New Age Sedona anymore, where you’re more likely to see Tibetan prayer flags or one of those earth flags that says “Love Your Mother.” I don’t think drum circles are nearly as popular here.

Indeed, what has struck me the most is just much fundamentalist religion there is here. Of course, I knew I was coming to the South so it shouldn’t have surprised me too much, but it is still startling for someone who lived for years in a place that features vortex tours and a UFO-themed diner. There is a conservative church on seemingly every street corner here. The cable guy noticed my Course book encased in a leather cover with the name “Jesus” on it, and asked if I wanted to come to his Bible-believing church. (Really nice guy, but I must admit I was tempted so say, “No, I’ll stick with the Satanic verses I’ve got hidden in here.”) And two of the first five channels on my new cable TV system are 24-hour conservative Protestant religious channels. (But the Catholic channel I got in Arizona is channel 264 and not part of the basic package.)

What I really want to report on here, though, is my practice. The big thing I learned from this cross-country trip is that I must never skimp on my morning quiet time. I did a lot of frequent repetition practice while on the road, but to make faster time, I decided to forgo my morning meditation. Big mistake. In the course of a four-day trip, in spite of all the frequent repetitions I did while driving, I slowly degenerated into an animal. It felt like something essential was missing from my diet. My foundation was gone, and I found myself losing my peace way too easily. (Of course, living out of a suitcase and driving a U-Haul towing a car through endless road construction with a cat yowling in the passenger seat didn’t help things.) It was really kind of depressing to see just how quickly the mindset established and maintained by my practice could collapse.

But, lesson learned, at least for now. Since I’ve arrived here, I’ve resumed my morning quiet time, and when I started again, I could feel the peace flowing back in like a refreshing cool drink after wandering in the desert. My practice, every aspect of my practice, is truly essential to living the kind of life the Course wants me to live and I want to live. To paraphrase the elephant man, “I am not an animal! I…am…a…Son of God!” I don’t want to skimp on the means for realizing that any more.