Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Living in the Bahamas

I wrote the following post two years ago while working in the Bahamas. Today in Michigan it was two degrees when I got up in the morning. But it was sunny all day and as I basked in my sunroom I could not have been happier had I been in a warm clime. From the Bahamas I learned that I'd rather be surrounded by loving friends and family in the cold, than be surrounded by physical beauty and unhappy people.

Have you ever longed to live on the ocean or in the mountains? I always dreamed of living on the ocean, and now am working in the Bahamas, with a house on the water. When I got this job I had a strong feeling that my spiritual growth would be accelerated by meditating on the beach for hours and being awestruck by splendor and beauty.

Well, I’m growing all right, but exactly opposite from what I thought. I’m working at a substance abuse treatment resort, and the staff and client tensions have been enormous. The first week was a honeymoon. I was ecstatic and basked in the phenomenal views. From the second week on, it’s been tough. I can’t stand group dynamics because everyone’s petty egos, including mine, roar with a vengeance. Combine that with addicts just coming off years of being strung out, and it’s not pretty.

And, I’m getting exactly what Spirit knew I needed. Another goal of mine has been to be happy no matter what my circumstances are, and this is the perfect opportunity. I haven’t been able to enjoy the ocean as much as I’d like because I’m so upset with problems.

The other day I decided to be the joy that I AM, no matter what is going on around me. A Course in Miracles says that as the Son of God, we are love, joy and peace itself. Ok, time to step up to the plate. I asked the Holy Spirit for help with a decision, and the Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror” popped in my head: “I’m talking ‘bout the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer: if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make that change.”

Since I decided to be joy, I’m once again enjoying the panoramic vistas of aquamarine water and pink sand beaches. But the ego rears its head daily, and Lorri, small ego self, can’t change. She’s moody, irritable, and a complainer. But my True Self, the Christ Self, is what I AM, and identifying with that is the only thing I need to do. The Course says that “I need do nothing” is a statement of allegiance, a truly undivided loyalty. Believe it for just one instant, and you will accomplish more than is given to a century of contemplation, or of struggle against temptation (T-18.VII.6:7-8). We need do nothing because what we already are is whole, complete and perfect. I AM the joy that I thought I would find outside myself, in my longing to be near the ocean. The ocean cannot give it to me; I have to bring my joy to the ocean.

Being in the Bahamas has taught me this important lesson: that I will only enjoy the “perfect environment” if my heart and mind are at peace. ACIM reads, "A Son of God is happy only when he knows he is with God. That is the only environment in which he will not experience strain, because that is where he belongs." (T-7.XI.2:6-7).

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