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Carla’s Niche

Carla’s Letter Tapes

CAVEAT: Warning! These letters have not been edited by Carla. Expect errors.

Letter to P

September 2, 1991

Dear P,

P, I’m not sure that there is anything that I can say that will create in you a spaciousness of spirit, which I would see to be the only effective way to deal with the self-perceived suffering through which you are now going. But I will give it my best shot and about all anyone can do is give it a good honest try.

My opinion is only my own; it is fairly fixed in the situation in which you describe and it may or may not help. So if it does not seem to you to be of help, I humbly ask you to leave it behind and continue on with whatever seems to you to be more helpful.

What I have to talk about is being a Christian. I am a mystical Christian; I believe very deeply in the teachings of Christ and I love Jesus. It has been my observation through my own life that Jesus guaranteed us nothing in the way of fairness or justice or vengeance or any of the Old Testament things that the Old Testament god promised and often delivered. It is not my choice to deal in an Old Testament way with injustices that I perceive have been done to me. It is my perception that Jesus said that we should do two things: Love the Lord with everything we have and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

I would not presume to judge how much you love the Lord although I see very little praise or thanksgiving to the Lord for the blessings in your life. You seem to have a feeling that you yourself—(Carla is interrupted by her cats.) You see I have a very clear lesson right in front of me now as I’m talking to you. I have a very jealous cat who wants to sit on my lap all of the time. She sits on my lap 90% of the time, every once in awhile another cat gets there first and she feels that her place is precisely in that one place in my lap and if she can’t sit there she will continue to be more and more unpleasant even to the point of scratching and biting me because I am protecting the other cat’s right to have a seat if he got there first.

Now this is a dumb animal, but it is a good lesson. She has accepted sitting on my knee; she’s not happy but so far she hasn’t ruined anything. Okay, back to you.

We, who come into the world, come into the world with gifts and a desire of some kind, either to make use of these gifts for the good of other people or for the furtherance of the self, or perhaps the choice might be made to not use those gifts because we are not particularly interested in using them and are more interested in being relaxed and enjoying life as we find it.

Any way of approaching life that works towards harmony in a person is to my mind a way of positive living. Now when Jesus said to “Love the Lord and to love other people as we love ourselves,” he gave us a very, very loaded set of commandments. It replaces ten negative commandments with two positive ones.

But the two positive commandments, which in Jesus’ own words, replace all of the law and the prophets, require of one a great deal more thought and clarity and spirit and a much more humble surrendering to the apparent injustices and disappointments of the world.

I’d like to deal with the second commandment to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

I have taken the trouble to read through all of the diatribes which you have leveled against the people whom you perceive to have wronged you. I do not and cannot know the entire story, no matter how much you tell me because people do not live lives of fact, they live lives of perception and two people in the same situation will perceive it differently—any two people and any situation.

If you doubt that ask any policeman who has attempted to get a straight story about a simple car wreck, or ask any policeman who asks three witnesses who saw up close and for a while, the same thief engaged in a robbery. The three people will have seen different things and will express themselves differently and while there may, within the three of those speeches, be kernels of undeniable fact, we basically live our lives in a kind of fiction or myth which we create, not by the things that happen to us but by the way we deal with the things that happen to us.

The things that happen to us are just the things that happen to us. There is no meanness or lack of meanness in the things that happen to us. They, themselves, are not changed by the fact that they have come into our lives. They act as a catalyst. We look at the catalyst and use the catalyst according to (say we’re a chemical) the reagents of chemicals that are within our emotional and spiritual and mental lives.

Obviously, there were disagreements between you and a couple of Presbyterian Churches in West Virginia. That much has got to be true. What more there is that you are not saying, I do not know, or even if there is any more. However, in bitterness and the anger and the desire for justice, according to your own standards of justice, your self-justifications, your attempts to let other people know that injustice has been done to you and something should be done about it, I see a person who is attempting not to love others as he loves himself, but to defend himself against those who are persecuting him.

Let’s look at Paul, St. Paul. Paul was persecuted; there was no question about that. However, he did not attempt in any way to see justice in the world of mankind. Quoting from Corinthians II, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus; but the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh, so death works in us but life in you.

“But having the same spirit of faith according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke. We also believe, therefore also we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sake, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

This quotation is one I keep by me because I have a very painful condition and often feel a bit overwhelmed by the simple experience of pain and limitation and the inability to do anything about it. I have a realization that life is unfair, is unjust and is actually set up to be that way. It is set up not as a heavenly unified circle of love, but rather as an arena in which we see all the opposites, the hot and the cold, the love and the fear.

I could go on and on about all of the dynamics of opposites in the world but the important one in my own opinion is the choice between love and fear. For if we act in love, and if we love ourselves, then we shall love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Not judging them, not wrecking vengeance on them, but when it seems that the situation is untenable, thanking the people for the good that they have allowed in your life, however small it may be, although you mentioned several times that there was a lot of good feeling before you had unjust things happen to you according to your own opinion.

You have focused upon these good things only to build up a case to show the injustice with which you were subsequently treated. The turning of the cheek is perhaps a reality to you in your mind, but it has not shown forth in any manifestation at all. To expect any organization or people to appreciate you as you wish to be appreciated is to expect an impossibility. Sometimes people will appreciate you, sometimes they will not.

The whole gist of your anguish can be traced, I think (and again, this is just my opinion, I’m just a regular person) is due to the fact that you are not willing to surrender right and wrong, fair and unfair, just and unjust, you’re not willing to surrender judgment. You’re not willing to leave things behind and go forward. There is some reason that you are holding on to these grudges. I do not mean to imply that you have no reason to be unhappy. We all have reasons to be unhappy, to feel that injustice and unfairness has occurred in our lives. It is a guaranteed portion of our lives. There will be injustice; there will be utter lack of communication, lack of appreciation and so forth.

I do not know anyone who has not been in either mental, emotional, physical or spiritual pain, not just once, but many times in his life.

Now, how do we deal as Christians with a world that is patently unfair and unjust? Basically, I think we pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves off, and we do not allow our joy, our praise and our thanksgiving to be diminished because of circumstance. Through studying the mind of Jesus over a long period of time, we try to think as he spoke, to have a concept that nothing is truly what it seems, but that everything can be transformed by love and there is nothing outside the power of love.

But when we choose to act through some kind of fear, then the choice explicitly denies us the opportunity to let things go; to have the self-confidence to move on, to go somewhere else, to offer what we have to the world in whatever way we can.

I happen to be good at several different things, very few of which I can still do because of the limitations of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus over a period of 25-35 years. If I were to brood on all that I have gone through, and all the various difficulties I’ve had because people were not able to understand or be considerate of my difficulties, I would be a very bitter person.

However, I have not chosen that kind of response. I have, through faith and through the use of the surrendering of my will, come to the conclusion long ago that whatever has been put before my face is not an accident, it is not a cruelty, and although it may seem patently unjust and unfair, it has been given to me specifically so that I may better learn how to love; how to love myself, how to love my neighbor and how to love my Lord.

This does not eliminate from me my ability to recognize that something or other that I have done has not been perceived as I would have wished it to be perceived. It simply eliminates the strong urge to get even; to wreck vengeance, because I would not want that done to me. I would not attempt to wreck vengeance on myself and I would wish no vengeance to other people. I would wish to be as close as possible to the mind of Jesus when he said “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

You speak of being criticized because you were channeling improvisational organ music along certain styles. The practice of improvisation in organ music is a long standing one and does not need to carry the new age label of “channeling” for it to be understood and respected by people who grasp what improvisational organ music is about.

I take it that what you are saying is that you are able to take a fugue subject, for instance, and improvise on it in such a way that you are able to work the fugue subject into the various voices of the organ and still make a music that not only is disciplined to that but also transcends the possible monotony of a mechanical mathematical solution to including all of the fugue subject in such a way that the chords make sense.

It’s a difficult gift to develop, even for those very talented and I would think in a way that your own knowledge of the fact that you can do it is, in and of itself, its own reward because it is not a gift given to many.

In being a steward of that gift, pride does not need to play a part. It is something within you that is asking for validation from a source outside yourself and outside of the spirit. You’re asking frail, imperfect humans to recognize something which most people can’t even hear and don’t know anything about.

So I suspect, reading between the lines, that either there are more things than this that were disagreements between you and your churches, or that you wished for them to appreciate you as a very special person because you had the ability not given to very many at all, to do improvisational organ music and do it well enough to suit yourself.

Whether the case is that there was more disagreement than simply your organ music, or whether the disagreement was simply about the organ music in both cases, I do not know, but I do know that there were choices that you made to defend yourself and in the defense of yourself you moved into a territory that was judgmental and angry and very Old Testament.

It is not a situation in which there is a payoff of anything good. When you are upset with people and you want to control their reactions to you, you have stepped far beyond the bounds of that which a Christian would hope to be able to express or manifest within his life, because all we can hope to manifest as Christians is that we love each other and that whatever has occurred, it is forgiven.

The Father has forgiven us, the Father has forgiven everyone. It is we who are not forgiving of ourselves or of others in many situations.

The choice that you haven’t in any of your communications mentioned, is the choice of releasing these memories from any important or consequential status within your own experience. You wish to hold on to the injustice, to the anger, to the desire to set the record straight, but you see, you’re working in an illusion in which the record is never straight, in which there is never complete fairness or justice, so you are asking of yourself not only that you act in a self-destructive manner by not loving, but also that you are compromising your own peace of mind because you refuse to let these things go and move on.

Life is not all of a piece; life is not coherent. We experience things very differently than we sometimes think we do. We think that we are experiencing a very linear set of things that occur one at a time, one after the other, in a space/time continuum. Actually what we are experiencing, I think, is a lesson to be learned about love, and that lesson will be continually repeated in our lives until we learn it.

The lesson of love that you, at this point, are looking at, is the willingness to forgive and forget and go on. These diatribes have the opposite effect on people that you would wish them to have. You will never get any sympathy by writing hateful words or accusatory letters. You’re asking people to look at the injustice that’s been done to you and to be on your side instead of someone else’s side. That is buying into the divisions and the illusions of this world.

Afflictions are in this world to teach us to be compassionate of ourselves when we fail and of others when we perceive that they have failed.

So what I would ask you to do is to take one last look at all that has happened to you, the perceived injustice that you are unhappy about, and allow it to float away as you praise the Lord because you still have a pulse, you’re still alive, you still have the gifts that you’ve been given and the choice of how best to be a steward of these gifts.

When something doesn’t work out and when you are not appreciated, the pain can be terribly, terribly intense, and you may, indeed, go directly to those people and attempt to communicate with them until some kind of understanding can be reached. However, usually the kind of understanding you desire is not going to be reached or the people would not have polarized in disagreement with you in the first place.

Were you a peacemaker, were you humble, were you poor in spirit, you would have seen that this affliction is light and momentary and a kind of teaching tool to teach you to be able more and more to have compassion for yourself and for other people because truly we do not know what we are doing. We will never know the impact of our actions or our thoughts manifest or unmanifest. We operate in blind faith but we can all recognize the hallmarks of love; peace, harmony, acceptance, faith, light, joy, and love.

Why should you stop loving people because they don’t agree with you? You might not want to be around these people, but if someone is being a real stinker, that person needs your love more than your best friend, because he is not likely to get love from other people who think he is a real stinker. It takes a strong stewardship of love to be able to love the unlovable, to be able to accept the unacceptable.

But more than that, it takes a faith that things are well and things will be well and that whatever is happening to you today, you still need to focus on that for which you can praise the Lord, that for which you can give thanksgiving. You can pray for those whom you think are persecuting you. But judge them or attempt to extract from other external sources some sort of punishment for their actions toward you? This is not to my opinion, a helpful, spiritual point of view and since I feel that you are genuinely desirous of accelerating your spiritual evolution, you need to realize that if you are hardhearted, your evolution has come to a grinding halt, because you are holding unloving feelings and judgmental feelings and that’s like poisoning the well of life so that any water that you drink will be bitter, any bread that you eat will be sour. You cut yourself off from the kingdom of heaven as we can perceive it here on earth when you are angry and judgmental and holding on to the past.

You still have your gifts. You even have letters of recommendation from the churches that you say despitefully used you. So I think, if I understand at all, the way to live lovingly and peacefully in this world, the thing to do is shrug off the yesterday. Not only forgive, but forget. That was then, this is now. This is a new day. This is a day where birds are singing, where the season is just beginning to change and beauty is all around us. This is a day where we are given this incredible opportunity to be alive, to be conscious of all this beauty and to look for ways to serve. Not to judge, not to condemn, but to serve.

Maybe that serving is going to be doing a pile of dishes. Maybe that serving is going to be doing improvisational organ music. It is my personal opinion that if one is oriented towards service to others it does not matter at all what the service is, but only that your attitude toward whatever situation is at hand is that of wishing to be of service if at all possible. If it does not seem possible, to bless the situation, forgive the situation, forgive the people in the situation and above all forgive yourself.

Somewhere, I would guess, in the past of your life, you have been unappreciated before you were old enough to defend yourself and your self esteem has been hard hit and you’re looking for reassurance for your gifts from people. When you were helpless and unable to defend yourself you were not appreciated and this cut you to the bone and lowered your ability to esteem yourself and be self confident and not to need the reassurance of other people in order to know that you’re doing the best you can.

So let’s look at that second commandment carefully. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. I must admit I did not place you until Jim reminded me that I had written to you before. I write to a lot of people and so I have no idea what I’ve said to you before but I’m sure that it wasn’t this much of an effort because I would have remembered attempting to express myself with this much clarity.

Your past history where you were not appreciated does not have to color your opinion of yourself. Because other people did not appreciate you, didn’t mean then and doesn’t mean now that you weren’t worthy of appreciation. But most of all, what other people think of you is quite irrelevant. It is how you feel about yourself. How you love and forgive yourself. We all have traits that are good according to society and traits that are not good according to society.

We all have our selfish side, and our generous side. We have 360 degrees worth of beingness to us. We are capable of anything. We are capable of the greatest love and sacrifice and we are capable of the ultimate cruelty. A good bit of this depends on the circumstances in which we find ourselves, that is, you are in a place where you are warm and fed and have a means of keeping yourself instead of starving and being very very diseased and probably dying very shortly because of the famine in Sri Lanka or a place like that.

But even in the best of circumstances there are going to be a multitude of things that hurt, that happen to you that bruise you. Not just in the body, but in the mind, the soul, the emotions and its your choice, either to react in fear to the things that happen to you and try to defend yourself against them, or to react in love by having no resistance past simple communication to try to get things cleared up. If that doesn’t clear things up, simply forgiving the whole situation. Forgiving the people because they don’t understand you. Forgiving the situation because the situation was one that bred the situation in which you find yourself now that you feel wrong, and perhaps the most centrally, forgiving yourself for having these feelings of necessity to defend yourself.

You don’t need to defend yourself. No one in this life has to defend themselves because this is an illusion. We’re here to learn how to love. The person that you hurt the worst by this activity is yourself. You’re not loving yourself if you are limiting yourself and hardening your heart and holding onto these things. You’re stopping the good that is coming your way because you simply cannot pay attention to fear and love at the same time.

You are in a situation of being, as you feel, a man of God, a preacher, an apostle, a giver, but the giver cannot demand a specific appreciation for his gifts any more than I could in any way shape or form expect that you would have a good opinion of this tape or of me simply because it was the best I could to do try to help you as I see in my own way how to help people.

I don’t expect one way or the other. All I can do, all I wish to do, is prayerfully, honestly, openly share my faith and my love and what little understanding I may have in such a way that you can harmonize your feelings, let go of the baggage that you are carrying and see this day, as every day truly is, a newness, a recreation of the first day. Always, this is a new day, this is a new opportunity, we are not bound by our pasts and we are not chained to our ambitions for the future. We are simply here in the moment attempting to give to that moment our full and loving attention and to find in that moment any positive option we may have for action.

If we choose to act in a non-positive manner that is a choice we are free to make. We have freewill. We have complete freewill. However, we are cutting ourselves off from a supply of infinite mercy by forsaking the mercy that could flow through us to ourselves as we’re manifesting, to the situations at hand, to the people that seem to be disharmonious.

Nobody can do this all the time. I certainly cannot. Every day I make mistakes. Every day I act in unloving ways. Maybe they’re very, very small; maybe nobody saw that but me, but I’m very serious about trying to lead a loving life and so if I see in myself something that is unloving, I work at forgiving myself for that because I know that Jesus forgives me. I know that the Father loves me regardless. I know that I did not have to justify myself in any way, shape or form to be loved, to be worthy, to be accepted by the Lord.

If I am accepted by the Lord and if I can have the humility to surrender to that acceptance, to that opinion, and allow myself to become free of judgment of other people, of myself, and just do the best I can, I am no longer living in the past and the present and the future. I’m living with the Creator and I’m spending my time, this precious tiny little slice of time we have between birth and death, attempting to learn to love.

So probably what I would suggest more than anything else is that you recognize that these gifts of yours have been given to you; that you are willing to use them in the service of the Lord or in any other way that may not seem to be directly in service to the Lord, in any way that can be of service to people. Or that you are willing, if the situation of that day does not give you the opportunity to share those gifts with people, to see that any gift of love, including as I said before, cleaning up the dishes after supper, is a way of being a living loving being, a child of the Creator; self forgiven because you finally believe that your redeemer does live.

“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” This man was dying. He was in incredible pain and he forgave and he didn’t quibble about it either. He didn’t say, “It wasn’t right that they did this to me, but I forgive them any way.” He wasn’t justifying himself. He didn’t need to. He was in love with love and with the love that had sent him here. And above all things he was going to be loving.

He turned to people who were quite obviously criminals, and because one of them asked him, “When you come into your kingdom, Lord, is there a place for me?” There was no hesitation in his voice, he said “This day, ye shall be with me in paradise.”

If someone that has in your opinion treated you very unjustly came to you and said, “I’m not changing anything about the past, because I can’t. That’s history, but will you forgive me now?” Can you, could you say “this day you are one with me and everything I have, you have, I’m not holding anything back.” Life isn’t a matter of measure, life is giving all you have all of the time and rejoicing that you can do that.

I had to ask Jim what you had said to me before because he was aware of my having answered you before and quite honestly I had forgotten. But I seem to remember that you said, “I want to explore you, what do you have that I don’t have?” I think I said something simple like “you have everything that I have and you are everything that I am.” We are all one. Everything else is an illusion.

If we live according to the illusion we will constantly be buffeted about by circumstances. We will feel unjustly treated, we’ll see unfairnesses and we will spend a lot of our time in negative emotional space and in these negative emotions lies, as far as I can see, just the spinning of spiritual wheels. We’re not going anywhere, we’re not getting anywhere.

We can pray for the people that we see as being against us, we can love them, we can care for them, and they need it, but we can’t judge them, we can’t change them, all we can do in this life is work on ourselves. I can’t do your learning for you any more than you can learn for me.

I live on a hospital bed during the day. If I go out of house it has to be in a wheelchair. Is that fair for a swell chap like myself? Well, of course not. There are a lot of healthy people around who feel very sorry for me. But if I were to feel sorry for myself what good would my day be? How could I come to the service of offering what little I have to say to people like you who are in pain? How could I be any kind of a spiritual healer if I were focusing on the injustice of my apparent disease? I couldn’t. I would nullify myself. I would be unable to help myself or anybody else so I choose love.

I hope you can too. It’s not too late. It’s never too late. The present moment is always right here, right now, right in front of our face, and in that moment we can choose to love any which way we can and that means suspending judgment, refusing to deride or seek vengeance from people that we feel have wronged us in some way.

There’s a great deal of difference between open communication where you say “This is what I was trying to do,” and saying “I was doing something really good and you’re not appreciating me.” In one way you are vulnerable, you are open, you are saying, “This is what I was doing, this is what I was attempting to do.” And people can say to you, “Well, you certainly didn’t do that. We don’t see that you did that at all.” They can be very hateful and cruel and you can perceive that.

But to seek vengeance upon them is to seek to poison your own well of love and a complete stoppage of your own spiritual evolution. I feel absolutely certain that this is not what you want for yourself, and I ask you to think about faith. Faith is not something that you have because things have happened to you. Faith is something that you have blindly and it isn’t a belief in anything, it’s just a general attitude that what’s happening to me is good; it is giving me what I need in order to learn the lessons in my walk with Christ right now today.

I know that in this very moment that may seem very difficult, there is a positive choice I can make and I want to make that choice. That attitude will sweeten you—will leach out the bitterness of your history; will encourage you in your own self-confidence and will allow you to be humble before the will of the spirit for you. You may think that you know precisely what the spirit has in mind for you today, but you don’t. We cannot know ahead of time what’s going to happen. All we can do is keep ourselves ready, just as the virgins with the oil for their lamps so that when something happens, when something occurs we can respond to it in light. We can be loving, we can be giving, we can be generous because we’re not locked into a finite strange shadowy world. We are locked into the infinity of ourselves as imperishable light beings, as souls who seek the Kingdom of Heaven.

By all means, seek ways to multiply your talents, to be a good steward of them. But please realize, at least in my opinion, that the greatest of love is in accepting that which is and moving in a positive way with it, even if it seems very, very negative to you at the time. Even if your feelings are hurt. Even if you’re completely unappreciated. Especially if you’re unappreciated. That’s the time that you really need to break out the love in yourself and open it like a bottle of fine wine and share it with the world.

Don’t let the world make you bitter. Don’t seek vengeance. Get on with your life. Get on with loving. Get on with releasing these things that are causing you to begrudge what is happening to your life. Look these things that have happened to you as injustices, but opportunity given to you to love in difficult situation, okay? Okay, you didn’t quite love in those difficult situations. You wanted to be appreciated. I, I, I, I. When you hear yourself saying, “I deserve, I want, I need,” you’re on the wrong track.

You can trust that. The more there is an “I” in there, the more that there is an ego in there that needs to be reassured and told that he’s doing a good job and so forth, the less strength you have as a human being that is a servant of the Lord.

So I urge you to fall in love with yourself, to the point that you do not need people to tell you that you’re good at what you do. You do not need the compliments, the appreciation, all of those nice warm hugs and good feelings that are so pleasant. It’s wonderful when that happens. But this isn’t why we’re here. We’re not here to be consoled. We here to console.

Remember the prayer of St. Francis. I’m going to say it to you and I want you to listen: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred let me so love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, unity; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, let me seek, not to be loved, but to love; not to be understood, but to understand; not to be consoled, but to console; for it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in giving that we receive; and it is in dying that we rise to eternal life.”

Let this little life be for you, the joy that it can be. Let yourself be a servant of the light. Let the criticism stop; drop all of that and move on in faith, blind faith, that what is to occur will be for your benefit and if it is a hard time, if it is a time in the desert, then you have your 40 days and your 40 nights and your temptations and it’s time to pay attention and to give thanks for that season in the desert. Life is not an oasis. Life is a desert with oases in it. That’s the way we experience it; that’s the way it was set up.

Leach that bitterness out of the soil of your heart. Open yourself to the dew of mercy and love and compassion for people, yourself and everybody else.

I wish I could say something that would speak to you in such a way that there would be utter clarity between the two of you—you and whomever else you’re dealing with at this time. But I can’t do that. I can’t do your learning for you or their learning for them. All I can do is say please remember that somebody needs to be a Christian here. Somebody needs to forgive. Somebody needs to be willing to harmonize, to forgive, to console, to be a light, and you cannot do that yourself. You have to surrender this being that you think you are to the will of the Creator and say, “Not my will, but thine.”

How much good to you or anybody would I be if I were blaming God or myself, or circumstance for giving me a difficult disability. I wouldn’t be any help at all, I would just be a middle-aged woman in pain that was rather disagreeable because pain makes you disagreeable. But I don’t choose to see it that way. It doesn’t do me any good. Why should I bother? I choose to see this as the place I have been given in which to learn. Perhaps my universe is very small on the outside, but because of the infinity of the love of the Creator that flows through me I have no limitations, I have only joy to give, I have only peace to offer.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want to be healthy and lose my love of life and people. Why would I wish that? Why would you wish to go back to something that is already done and stale and untasteful and mess around with it anymore? Why go back? You are here today in the early autumn of 1991 with what is left of your life before you. This precious time in which you can bear witness to an infinite love. Think about how to bear witness to that love and release the thoughts of justice and vengeance and people recognizing that you were in the right because it doesn’t matter what people think of you.

It only matters that you love the Lord and that you are willing to let the Lord lead you and believe me the New Testament Lord, the Lord of the Christian church forgives, forgets, and gets on with life with a joy and a strength and a will and a faith that is far, far greater than any human characteristic. That’s why we have to let all these limitations go. If we try to love from ourselves, that love will run out. If we try to create harmony from within ourselves we will fail. We are finite beings.

The only path to infinite love and compassion and understanding is the path of the servant who does the best he can to serve regardless of how it is perceived, who prays and hope and wills for all things good and never ever bears a grudge because why cripple yourself as a Christian pilgrim? Why put stones in your own shoes if you walk along the path of the pilgrim. Release all this; release this my brother. “They will know we are Christians by our love,” one of the hymns says.

Let your love brighten your heart; let it flow through you and be a blessing to the world and if the world does not see it, if it doesn’t appreciate it, it matters not because you are not intending to impress anybody; not yourself, not your neighbor, you’re only intending to do the best you can to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Hold that before you. “Teach us how to pray,” said the disciples, and Jesus said, among other things, “Forgive us our trespasses insofar as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do you want the Creator to judge you as you are judging the people in your past that have supposedly done you wrong? But if you can transcend that and let it go and know the mind of Christ, your path will be more and more blessed, more and more full of light and all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, will just be that, things that happen to us in the course of a lifetime, and in which there is always a positive option.

I’d like to end this tape by telling you about Dietrich Vonhoffer. You probably already know this because you’ve done a great deal of study and I have not, I’m just a layman. But Dietrich Vonhoffer was a Christian preacher and more than that he was an academic, a teacher in seminary in either Germany or Austria, extremely well respected. So well respected he spent most of the 30’s outside of Germany teaching in England, America and people couldn’t get enough of his teachings.

But when he discovered, to his own satisfaction, that his beloved Germany was being systematically de-Christianized and persecuted, he did not stay away from Germany he went right back into the thick of things because he felt that his people needed him. He was clapped into a series of jails. He spent numberless days in places where he could see no light, he was in total darkness. He could only communicate with other prisoners by tapping on pipes. He bore witness to the love of Christ in the most unforgiving persecution.

In a poem that he wrote that has been made into a hymn, this is what he said. He was killed within a week or two of the end of the war. He never got out of jail but he never lost hope. He wrote this song sometime before 1945. This is what he said.

“By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered and confidentially waiting come what may,
We know God is with us night and morning and never fails to greet us each new day
Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented still evil days bring burdens hard to bear
Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation for which O Lord you taught us to prepare
And when this cup you give us is filled to brimming with bitter suffering hard to understand
We take it thankfully and without trembling out of so good and so beloved a hand
Yet when again in this same world you give us the joy we had, the brightness of your sun
We shall remember all the days we lived through and our whole life shall then be yours alone.”

(Then Carla sings this as a hymn.)

Let your life be given to Christ, not given to the misfortunes and frailties of an ever imperfect valley of the shadow of death. P, be a witness to the light and leave the darkness of your soul where it belongs. Respect it, acknowledge it, it is part of you. But you do not have to choose to express it because your consciousness is the greatest gift you can give. Do you think you’re an organist? Oh P, you’re a soul and your consciousness is the gift you give, the gift you give to yourself, to the whole planet, to all that you see and all that do not know you and to the Lord.

Lighten your consciousness, lift your heart in joy, diminish not your life because it tries to diminish you, but love without stint, without hard feelings, without holding grudges. I wish you the job of redemption and salvation. I wish you the joy of knowing that your redeemer lives and that on the last day you shall be with your savior.

Everything else is a shadow and all you can do is bear witness to the light for within that shadowy world there is an endless and crying need for forgiveness and love and acceptance and light. Play the hand that is dealt you, not yesterday’s hand, but today’s and go forward rejoicing with the power of love.

God bless you P, take care,

Yours in Christ,

Carla

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