The Sparrow and the Eagle
Some thoughts that came up in my mind after visiting this years ACIM Conference in NYC.
This is a translation of the article I published earlier on april 23.
“Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him?” (M-4.I.2:2)
I “dreamt” that I was in New York City attending a Course in Miracles conference.
Dreams are always symbols, the form in which they are dreamt, so the images themselves are not the cause of the dream. All projected images symbolize an underlying thought that I believe in, which I then project outward.
For me, the theme of this dream trip to NYC turned out to be “trust.” And the way to return to trust is through the blockages of mistrust that we set up to shield against trust.
About trust, the Course says:
“Trust. This is the foundation on which their ability to fulfill their function rests. Perception is the result of learning. In fact, perception is learning, because cause and effect are never separated. The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a power that is in them but not of them. It is this power that keeps all things safe. It is through this power that the teachers of God look on a forgiven world. When this power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one’s own petty strength again. Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before him?…” (M-4.I.1,2:1-3)
The foundation on which the world rests is mistrust. The foundation on which Reality rests is Trust.
All the images I project, and then observe and call my world, come from mistrust. My world is built on mistrust! And only by looking at my thoughts of mistrust and forgiving them, and taking back the projections that are associated with them, can I return to trust. Therefore, I first must learn to observe my thoughts of suspicion and paranoia, I first must see them, before I can start to see them as forgiveness material and let them be used as such by the Holy Spirit.
Where there is mistrust, there can be no trust:
“Interpret anything apart from the Holy Spirit and you will mistrust it. This will lead you to hatred and attack and loss of peace.” (T-8.VII.4:8-9)
What do we experience as a foundation in this world? In the first place, there are our parents. And while we ourselves are not always parents, we all have parents, and our parents have parents, who in turn had parents, and so on.
Especially the mother figure symbolizes the foundation on which we rest. After all, that’s where life begins, life in a world of bodies, with living as a body in a world of other bodies, things, and situations.
But do we really experience the projection of this mother figure as an unshakable foundation? I am not saying anything new when I suggest that this foundation, which we have placed in our world as a substitute for Trust, is not always perceived as an unshakable foundation at all.
No matter how this expresses itself—positively or negatively—or whether the mother figure in our lives is loving or terrible, in the end the trust in this seemingly immutable, unshakable foundation will be breached, because sooner or later she dies and leaves us behind, all alone.
This goes for the father figure as well. He, too, is a symbol for what we have built our trust and foundation on in this world.
One way or another, both symbolize a foundation that is built on quicksand: mistrust.
It is the opposite of what Reality is built on: a solid rock that never changes.
Anyone who experiences himself in this world projects stories that depict misplaced trust in this shaky, changeable foundation. Stories of abuse, neglect, lack of love, abandonment. Tough, dramatic, painful experiences of suffering and sacrifice.
What are we to do with it?
Among the speakers at the conference, there were two Course teachers/students (I always use this combination because the Course sees everyone as both teacher and pupil) who showed how a deep mistrust of everyone and everything that resulted from a very painful and unhappy childhood can be turned to trust by means of the path of True Forgiveness. The two I speak of are Joe Wolfe and Diederik Wolsak.
For those who are interested, you can see and hear Joe Wolfe in this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj02oSKV01g. I really enjoyed his story and experiences, which are also portrayed in his book “In Warm Blood.”
Diederik Wolsak can be seen on YouTube, for example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvkKHWmDUWI. This is in English, but since Diederik Wolsak also speaks Dutch, there is also a video of the lecture he gave in Amersfoort, which took place on the 7th of September 2014 (the first Sunday of that month), organized by Miracles in Contact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Bf_U89NWM.
I was deeply touched by the honesty of both these men as they told their stories, which were unadorned, humble, and ego-free, with the sole purpose of sharing with us that it is possible, through the path of True Forgiveness, to return to trust and thereby remember Truth, regardless of how nightmarish their stories seemed to be. These are powerful examples for anyone who has seriously chosen the Course as his/her path.
For me, the whole conference was clearly an invitation to take a hard look at all my own projections of mistrust, so that I can turn them over to the Holy Spirit and let them be transformed to Trust.
And there is almost no better place to do this than a city like New York City, a city full of contrasts, where the ego appears to carry the day, doing most of the talking. And of course it is here where the Course came into being.
Jon Mundy, another speaker at the conference, told the story of the birth of the Course in New York City. He personally knew all the players who were on the scene as the Course came into being. It’s good to know the real story told by someone who was there.
Also, it was a real treat to hear Gary once again and this time to also hear his wife, Cindy, speak. They, too, as always, delivered the Course’s message in a great, direct, simple, loving way, as it was intended. And they clearly bring the message of Trust, as described in the above Course quotation on “Trust.”
And I was also very pleased to learn that Gary and Cindy had been approached about doing a workshop in the Netherlands once again, and plans for that event are under way.
However, there are some who would rather choose to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow instead of the mighty wings of an eagle that were given them, the Course’s symbols for the puny strength of the ego versus the mighty power of God, which is our true heritage.
And then the mistrust hit me: Is it really necessary to perform this masked ball, to glorify your organization, to present yourself and others with the title of “reverend” (pastor), to turn the Course into a religion, and to present the so-called “urtext” as the only true version of the Course, and denigrate the one and only official version, published by the Foundation for Inner Peace, as one that had been “edited” by “some beginning Course students who didn’t understand the Course”?! Duh …!?
The tiny sparrow chirped with a loud shrill, bravely and arrogantly fluttering his tiny wings, shouting over his fear, while anxiously dodging the threatening shadow of the mighty eagle, spreading only mistrust and fear!
But that was just another invitation for me to look yet again at my own thoughts of mistrust and littleness and see these as opportunities for Forgiveness, because we all have that tiny sparrow within us, afraid of our true Power.
And that was the great gift to me: the deep realization that everything is an invitation to forgiveness, True Forgiveness as the Course offers and teaches us.
A new religion or church is not what is needed. Nor is training to become a reverend (pastor). ACIM is a self-study program that invites the student to learn to look at his/her own judgmental thoughts and to accept the invitation to see all occurrences as forgiveness material, opportunities that will help the student and the entire Sonship to remember Truth, the Love of God that we Are. Nowhere in the Course does it say anything about the need for study groups and meetings, let alone the founding of a new religion and church! Meetings and gatherings can certainly be an enjoyable setting for exchanging thoughts about the Course, which can be helpful and supportive.
Well, I’ve never seen so many noisy sparrows as there were in the frenzied, busy streets of NYC, culminating with a lone fluttering sparrow on the floor of the departure hall, at the time of our departure from JFK Airport. Thank you, sweet, cute, innocent, harmless little sparrow. I have learned a lot from you.
But I’ll leave you here, and now I fly back Home with the wings of that big blue eagle.