Charisse stood at my office door offering me a lie. She held in her hands the poem she said she had written the day before in class. I knew she had not written it. After months of listening to her taunts and dealing with her belligerence, I was surprised at how interested she was in this assignment – to write your own poem that expressed a truth about yourself. And it was a good poem. I simply knew she did not write it.
She had lingered after class the previous day and shyly asked me if I’d like to read it. I did, and was impressed with the rhythm and sense of experience. I told her to come see me the following morning before school began so we could work on it together.
I went home that night in a panic. I had no idea how to confront this 14-year old black girl who had consistently demonstrated her disregard for my class. She rarely completed assignments and was often absent, something I liked because the tenor of the class was much calmer when she wasn’t there. I had tried talking with her many times about her lack of effort, but she just laughed it off. And to make matters worse, the principal had asked all faculty to be careful about inciting anything that might stir up racial resentments.
I hadn’t started A Course in Miracles yet, though I had been on a spiritual path for many years. I knew that help was out there, just had never invoked it, afraid that it wouldn’t work. But now I was desperate. I had no idea what to say to this girl. Do I confront her with no evidence of her plagiarism? I knew that would not work and would create animosity, possibly stirring things up. But I couldn’t just let her get away with cheating.
I remember praying that night, “God, I have no idea what to do but you do. There is a perfect solution to this problem. I give it to you to solve.”
I had recently discovered a mental exercise called “pink light.” You begin by focusing on your heart, thinking about someone or something you love. Then you envision a person you are upset with sitting across from you in a chair. I pictured Charisse and me facing each other scowling, arms crossed. Then I pictured pink light coming down from heaven, entering the top of my head and descending downward until it reached my heart, at which point it made a 90-degree turn and entered Charisse’s heart, filling her entire body with the shimmering pink light of love. As this happened mentally, we both smiled and held hands. I finished this brief exercise by repeating, “You are a perfect child of God. You are a perfect child of God. I see only God in you. I see only God in you.”
And that was it. I felt in my gut that this was true. I just hoped it would work.
When Charisse arrived at my office door that day, my back was turned to her and I prayed, “God, put the right words in my mouth right now because I have no idea what to say.” I turned around, and the first words out of Charisse’s mouth were, “I have something to tell you. I didn’t write that poem.”
Surprised at her admission, I asked her who did. She told me it was her cousin.
“He’s a good poet,” I said. “Let’s look at his poem more closely to see what it is he does that makes it so effective.”
We did. I told her that I thought she could do something as good and would she like to take another day to try?
She looked relieved and agreed to do it. I even told her to return the following morning with her first draft and I would help her with it. She thanked me and left.
Relief and wonder flooded my body. Wow, I thought, not quite believing what I had witnessed. This really works! My thoughts make a difference! There is a God in Heaven and He loves us!
I knew I had discovered a new power within me. Turning my problem over to God and inviting His love into my anxious heart not only changed me, it changed Charisse.
“The miracle is an expression of an inner awareness of Christ and acceptance of His Atonement. The mind is then in a state of grace, and naturally becomes gracious, both to the Host within and the stranger without. By bringing in the stranger, he becomes your brother.” (T-1.45.2:1-2)