My Experience of Finding
My ACIM Teleconference Family
By Rhett Billings*
Graphic by © Deposit Photos
For many years, the almost overwhelming love and wisdom contained within the pages of A COURSE IN MIRACLES were more than I could take in. I sensed there was something there I REALLY wanted, but I resisted it strongly, without knowing why. Periodically, I’d pick it up and put it down again, like so many others have… until now!
It was as if studying it on my own was not only difficult, but perhaps… lonely, or that part of me KNEW it needed to be studied and practiced in another way. Even my weekly ACIM class wasn’t quite locking it in for me. Although I eagerly looked forward to and deeply enjoyed my class each week, it always went by so fast, leaving me wanting and hungry for a whole week. Eventually, I became keenly aware of an almost desperate need for more. I loved studying under Harrison Blackmond’s leadership and with my classmates, but I seldom studied between classes. Studying alone left me with an empty feeling. Maybe one meeting per week just wasn’t enough for me.
Then, my landscape changed and I’m so very thankful it did! My weekly Course instructor, Harrison, sensed I was longing for more, so he invited me to join him in the mornings on two daily ACIM teleconference calls.
Hearing the Course’s writings read by the many voices I met there did something miraculous for me. My loneliness gave way and I felt safe to share in the comfort of our common longing to know our true Selves again. Their different voices, filled with love and passion for the writings, brought out the Light in such engaging and delightful ways! After we read, we are invited to freely share what came up for us. The rich and deep wisdom, born from living experience within each member, brings the Truths and Principles to LIFE, which unleashes and captures even more treasure for me!
One of these calls, facilitated by a fun and spirited minister named Rev. Pamela Whitman, from New Jersey, focuses on studying the Workbook for Students. Into our daily study and practice sessions, she wisely builds in some meditation time, as the Author suggests. It’s astonishing how beneficial this group silence is for me. There’s a trust and reverence that begins to build. Rev. Pamela’s opening prayer and centering is AWESOME and her closing prayer just makes me want to jump up and go practice my forgiveness training in the theater of the “real” world. She is amazing! She also allows two volunteers from our group to facilitate on Thursdays and Sundays, something I love to do. To me, she is a wise and loving Truth Warrior who inspires me to stretch out, open wide, and bite off more of my forgiveness potential!
The other call was wonderfully facilitated in 2014 by Carl Lammers and focused on the Text. I find his soothing, deep, rich voice to be so comforting, encouraging me to expand. He has mastered the art of leadership in a particular way, making me feel so safe and secure. To aid in the digestion of the material, we read each paragraph twice, slowly and deliberately, with a different reader on each to extract more “juice” from the grape. All of us have voiced our deep appreciation to Carl for this method of study, which he borrowed from a group out in the Oregon/Washington area. Carl and his wife currently live in Lexington, Kentucky.
Both calls encourage use of “A Course in Miracles Original Edition” [ACIM OE], published by Course in Miracles Society [CIMS]. This edition is the unedited manuscript, as it was completed by the scribes Helen Schucman and William Thetford.
We are blessed to also have Lee Flynn, a CIMS member, on both calls daily. Lee contributed his efforts to the invalidation of the copyright, which was inadvertently instrumental in bringing the scribe’s original shorthand notes to the world.
Within days of “meeting” my group members on the phone, I felt like I had known them forever. I felt so loved and accepted, marveling at how they could identify a caller dropping in with so few words. Even a little chuckle or a, “Good morning, family”, is enough to identify Carla, for example. Many of us also enjoy a Skype and Facebook group forum for further communication.
Before finding this group, I was not aware that the rich and useful nuggets of living Truth contained within the pages of this MIRACULOUS book just begged to be experienced daily within the embrace of a loving, supportive community. I feel that being unable to see each other’s body is actually an advantage, as it robs my ego’s eyes of yet another avenue to judge. The Course teaches that judging others is how we separate ourselves from God.
As Harrison says, “In order to really GET what the Course is aimed at achieving (undoing our attachment to the ego’s thought system), we have to be bathing our minds in this material 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s the only way it will actually take hold.”
I believe Harrison is right. This world is a tough place to “BE REAL”, and I need a daily dose of love from this community to keep my strength and dedication fortified. I cannot believe how rapidly my spiritual muscle and vision are growing. My ability to forgive myself and others is like nothing I ever dreamed possible, not to mention my ability to love all of my brothers and sisters in the world, despite their seeming shortcomings. It is flat-out astonishing to me!
Taking in and digesting the Course now is effortless and I can hardly wait for the start of each day to reunite and go digging some more with my Truth-seeking spiritual family. In fact, starting my day without it now seems almost incomprehensible. I just LOVE listening to the recordings later in the day, as I always seem to pick up more yummy stuff I missed on the live call.
The profound concepts in the writings, sometimes couched in complex sentence structure, can be a little challenging at times, leaving me scratching my head. That’s when this community comes in so handy. All I have to do is voice my confusion and someone makes it so simple for me to understand. There are several members who have been teaching and studying it for many, many years. They are like ministers of Light to me and, when the “light bulb” comes on, I am frequently filled with so much excitement and gratitude that I can’t help but cry, so I do… and I let it roll. It’s very cleansing for me and the group seems to appreciate it.
Since my junior year of high school (I’m 50 now), I’ve been passionately interested in self-help and have enjoyed years of deep therapeutic work, but I could never afford group therapy (in the world’s view, the ultimate powerhouse of psycho-therapeutic healing). To me, these conference calls are almost like group therapy, only better. I am bathing my mind in the Truth, and this causes what I’ve been hiding in the dark to become exposed and surface. If I then choose to ask the Holy Spirit to show me who I really am and find the courage to share my insights with my Course family, I am engaging in the purification process and removing these obstacles to my awareness of Love’s Presence. SHARING, I now believe, is the most essential ingredient in healing. Perhaps this is one of the reasons group therapy is so effective.
By sharing ourselves with others we come to: sense the heat of Love aching to be released from within our crusty, defensive shells; contribute to the growth of others; feel and rekindle the blessed awareness of our Oneness with the community of the Whole; and, ultimately, return to Love by remembering Who we really Are—extensions of the pure Love of God.
For me, tears and laughter are like the 1-2 punch when it comes to deep, lasting healing. They are a common experience for us during the calls. AND IT’S FREE!!! Well… almost. I do choose to make a weekly tax deductible donation [love offering] to support Rev. Pamela in their life-enhancing ministry.
I will forever be grateful to Harrison for leading me to these TOTALLY LIFE-CHANGING Conference Calls, and for his AMAZING leadership. Were it not for the compelling demonstration of his own work and healing through the Course, and through the love and joy in his eyes and laughter, I very much doubt I would have found this treasure chest of fulfillment!
If you, or someone you know, feels frustrated or lonely when studying A Course In Miracles, please consider my invitation to step into the Light provided by this welcoming, enlightening community. The Holy Spirit heard me calling for more… more love… more clarity… for a better way. Ask and you shall receive!
Please feel free to drop in and visit our community anytime. We will welcome you to our circle of Love and Truth when and if the time becomes right for you!
Join fellow ACIM students from around the world.
The ACIM Conference Call Number in 2015 is 712-775-7035
• DAILY LESSON CALL 8:00-9:00 am EST code: 150777#
• M-F TEXT READING CALL 9:15-10:30 am EST code: 974635#
• TU TEXT STUDY CALL 7:30-9 pm EST code: 150777#
• SAT APPLICATION CALL 9:15-10:30 am EST code: 974635#
• LINE AVAILABLE 24/7 code: 974635#
* RHETT BILLINGS comes from a long line of Swedenborgian Convention ministers, but later in life discovered his true faith home in the contemporary scripture contained within A Course In Miracles. He received his B.A. in Social Service from Urbana University in 1992 and, while filling out the application to the Swedenborgian seminary, felt guided to wait until the second half of his life. Rhett lives in Troy, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) with his wife, Karen, and younger son, Jesse (20). His older son, Reece (23), lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, near his Mother, Anna (Rhett’s former wife, also a loyal member of our Conference Calls). Rhett works for WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone as a multi-dwelling unit sales rep and hopes to one day become an ACIM minister (with a Swedenborgian background).