In the year of our Lord, two thousand and eight, the dream insisted it be heard by the fitful sleeping man. That dream came in the form of a poem that would not yield to sleep. After it became obvious that arising and recording the words would be the only way to ensure any rest, the man awoke and looked at his bedside clock. It read exactly 3:33am. At that time, a tale of two brothers named, oddly enough, Nicobod and Ichobod, was born. Unknown to the dreamer and soon-to-be poet, much more than he could possibly know was also being bred.
Nicobod and Ichobod went up the hill
Through the valley and round the bend
They went high and they went low
They went to and they went fro
From here to there they went
Looking up but fell down
Looking for good but evil found
Searching for truth, looking for peace
Til they came upon a stone
A large obstacle in their way
They pushed and shoved
They pulled and prodded
But the stone remained
And ever will, until they know
Where lives the stone
And its refrain
Reluctantly written, the ode became the first of several hundred the man would write before his poems would make their way into the public domain. Strangely enough, Nicobod and Ichobod did not go to print first. The first book of poems containing their small adventure was destined to arrive after a second volume, which you now hold in your hands. In the months following the birth of the boys of similar name a series of small miracles occurred. Although more poems were destined to arrive in the sleeping state, more and more they arrived when the man was awake, usually after or during his morning meditations. Though not as insistent as the original, they came without invitation at first. A word, a title, a thought was all that foretold arrival. As the man became accustomed to the late night interruptions and the morning appearances, he began to welcome them. The man’s life was inexorably changed from that point onward.
That man of course, was me. Although I had, like many men, written the occasional love poem for my wife on Valentine’s Day or her birthday, this was completely different. And despite the fact that I had pursued a rather unconventional spiritual path most of my life, I was unprepared for the volume, depth, and profound nature of what was to become the center of my life. Many times over the years I have asked for guidance. Many times I have prayed for a vision or enlightenment that would validate my course. Just before one of my darkest hours was to arrive, the answer came in the form of a book. I have read hundreds, possibly thousands, of books in my life and the vast majority was of a spiritual nature. But never before had I read anything that I knew was true.
The book, A Course in Miracles, was given to me by my wife shortly before the death of my mother. Although I found it difficult to understand at first, a deep inner knowing relentlessly drove me to continue reading. The more I read, the more I was convinced I had been given a gift from a divine source. A few years later, after what was by now a daily study of the Course, my young son was murdered by a boy he once considered his best friend. I will never forget the feeling of dread as I stood at my front door facing the police who had come to call late that night. I knew, even before they said anything, that it was about Christopher and that our lives would never be the same after the next few moments. My son’s violent and pointless death was the most difficult event in my life. It almost destroyed me. And I believe it would have, had it not been for my loving family and this strange new book that had taught me the true meaning of forgiveness. Had I not been able to forgive my son’s killer, I would have died in the most meaningful way possible. My soul would have perished and the continued existence of my body would have meant nothing. A Course in Miracles taught me how to forgive and how to live. I will never again for one moment doubt its efficacy or truth.
A Course in Miracles is difficult for most people at first but with continued reading, becomes relatively simple. That is because, although it is radically different from conventional religions and spiritual paths, it is at its heart, simple. The primary tenet of The Course is forgiveness and how it leads to untold spiritual riches. The difference between The Course and the many other spiritual paths that advocate forgiveness is The Course’s definition of the term. ACIM teaches that forgiveness is essential to spiritual growth and salvation not because our brother has harmed us and we need to be magnanimous enough to “pardon his sin”. It teaches instead that the world as we experience it with our senses and perception is false. Therefore, anything done in that context is forgiven because it is illusion and a projection of the ego mind. As radical as this may seem, consider for a moment what you consider real. If we truly believe in a benevolent, all-powerful, and loving God, then how is it possible to reconcile the world as we know it with these qualities? Is it possible that God did not create the world as we know it? How could a loving God create such a foul and reckless place? Perhaps the real world is one of love, peace, and harmony. And maybe, just maybe, we made the world we experience on a daily basis. Let us consider the possibility that separation from the Oneness that must be God would leave us with a deficit that could certainly blind us to what we had traded for an individual life. In that blindness, is it possible that we made a world of separate things, a world of opposites, filled with the qualities that are antithetical to the divine nature? Maybe the real world is the one God created and this world is the one we made in His absence.
Rather than attempt to describe the beautiful place that I believe God created for us, I will leave that to The Course and my poems, if you choose to read them. What I can say about it is that it has changed my life; completely, profoundly, and so much for the better that my frail words cannot do it justice. So if I have yet to alienate, offend, or amuse you, please read on. I can guarantee but one thing. You won’t be bored.
* J. Michaels has completed five books. They are: The Poet’s Quill a spiritual poetry collection, Treasure of the Mind a novella based on the death of his son, plus poetry collections Common Ground, Emerald Mandala , and Mystic Twine, all scheduled for publication in the next few months.