Marianne Meets Midlife
In the early 1990s, I studied the works of Marianne Williamson, author of many books including A Return to Love, and the self-professed prophetess of a New Age bible known as The Course in Miracles (or, as she once referred to herself, "The B**** for God"). I never actually studied the Course, even though a copy of it is in my library. But I used to listen to her recorded lectures. I stopped when she started getting farther out in left field than she already was. By then I was also reading more of Father Benedict Groeschel, who actually knew Helen Schucman, the woman who had "channeled" the text, while he was studying psychology at Columbia.
Her latest book is entitled The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife. I was reading the back cover at Borders today. I was struck by this select quotation, which effectively justifies my transition of the last five years:
Sometimes what we appear to have lost is simply something it was time to leave behind. Perhaps our system just lets something go, our having moved through the experience and now needing it no more. A friend of mine was sitting once with two of his best friends, a couple he'd partied long and hard with during the 1960s. At about ten in the evening, the couple's twentysomething daughter came home, saw them on the couch, and admonished them, "You guys are so boring! You never go out!" To which all three responded in unison, "We were out, and now we're in."
The mind is its own kind of dance floor. If in fact the highest, most creative work is the work of consciousness, then in slowing down we're not doing less; we're doing more. Having slowed down physically, we're in a better space to rev up psychically. We are becoming contemplative. We are shifting from the outer to the inner not in order to begin our demise, but to reseed and regreen the consciousness of the planet. And that's what is happening now: We're going slower in order to go deeper, in order to go faster in the direction of urgently needed change in the world.
Well, that's true, at least for me, I hope. Five years ago, I was out as many as three or four nights a week, vicariously living the Louisiana life at roadhouses and dance halls. I would even drive to Philadelphia, about two and a half hours away, if that's where the party was. Lately, I gave up dancing for Lent, and spend a lot of time with community service work, returning to college to study web design, and directing traffic in the sanctuary as a master of ceremonies. And I haven't been to Philadelphia in over four years. These days, it's all I can do to get up to Baltimore.
Maybe that's my way of "changing the planet." Or whatever.
[NOTE: In his 2004 book The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visions, journalist Randall Sullivan includes a discussion with Father Groeschel about meeting Helen Schucman. An excerpt from that book appears in BeliefNet, where Groeschel describes how the Course undermines the Faith. Obviously the above should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the Course.]