Started the seedlings on March 5 in a Jiffy seedling starter. Added the grow light when the shoots came up since even our sunniest windowsills were not that bright! Note the tin cans stacked on top of each other for the grow light holder. Later on I will fill the cans with dirt and place a marigold in each can (I have lots more) to give them away or hold them until it is warm enough outside to plant them. Little goes in the bin here until we get a few novel uses from something.
The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake is here. Moist, chocolaty perfection. This is the chocolate cake you’ve been dreaming of!
— Read on thestayathomechef.com/the-most-amazing-chocolate-cake/
Zachary chose this recipe for his birthday cake this year. We had so much fun putting this together. We chose to make the 2/3 recipe because a three layer cake seemed like too much. Afterthought: One could not get enough of this cake or the luscious frosting. Next time we will make the whole recipe and have three yummy layers instead of only two! We would keep the cake from slumping next time by inserting some chopsticks to hold it in place after frosting it with the creamy, buttery rich icing.
This is how it turned out!
PART II. SECTION 7. What is the Holy Spirit?
Lesson 290 My Present Happiness Is All I See.
- Unless I look upon what is not there, my present happiness is all I see. Eyes that begin to open see at last. And I would have Christ’s vision come to me this very day. What I perceive without God’s Own Correction for the sight I made is frightening and painful to behold. Yet I would not allow my mind to be deceived by the belief in the dream I made is real an instant longer. This the day I seek my present happiness and look on nothing else except the thing I seek.
- With this resolve, I come to You, and ask Your strength to hold me up today, while I but seek to do Your Will. You cannot fail to hear me, Father. What I ask have You already given me. And I am sure that I will see my happiness today.
Joy flooded my being as I first read today’s lesson. Like a child, I clapped my hands with glee. As the lesson says in sentence two: Eyes that begin to open, see at last! (Exclamation point, mine.) There were the crispy white sheets and soft pillows of our hotel bed; the good French roast coffee brewing in the kitchen, my hard-working Lover looking handsome in his blue polo, beige khakis, and steel-toed loafers. My day’s writing tools were arranged invitingly on the desk. There was chicken and veggie soup to make from our garden harvest: cabbage, onions, carrots, peppers, and jalapenos. Outside the rain clouds were gathering, blowing a lovely, fresh breeze through our open windows. Our housekeeper arrived with fresh towels and washcloths. My soft velour loungers keep me warm and toasty. My present happiness is all I see.
How fearful and hurtful are our thoughts without Holy Spirit’s correction. When we live in our yesterdays, we are denying ourselves today’s blessings, joys, and triumphs. The adverse experiences of childhood, the bitterness of past wrongs, dwelling upon our past mistakes, jealousies, and petty grudges will drive us batty if we are not willing to let them go! We can spend a fortune on psychiatry, medication, or self-medicate with food, drugs, sex, or rock-and-roll, if you like, but only letting go of the past will set us free from it. Even if we spend our time dwelling on wonderful memories from the past, we only serve to make the eternal present seem less desirable in comparison.
Today let us resolve to keep our minds on the happy present. In recognizing what we have called our life and our reality here in time as only the holographic teaching and learning experience it is, our minds are free to take serious only that which last lasts forever.
Our prayer today dedicates our focus, our attention, and our will to God, where it belongs:
Our Father in Heaven, we come to You and ask for Your strength to hold us up today and always while we seek only to do Your Will. Your ears are open to this prayer, because it is the prayer of aligning our will with Yours where it belongs, where it is in truth, and where it has always been and ever will be. For our eyes are being opened and we see that we are but in a dream! Our eyes are being opened, and we will surely see our happiness today. In Jesus name. Amen.
 A Course In Miracles, Workbook for Students, 290. My present happiness…Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition, p. 442
When Lover and I saw that the Downton Abbey movie was playing at the Regal across the street from our hotel, we headed over. We missed the Earl of Grantham saga in the four years which have passed since the final season. We were curious to see how those dear, British characters at the abbey were coming along. We loved that big fortress that the family and help called home. We loved the scenes of the English countryside. Lover, in particular, enjoyed the period cars, and I enjoyed the fashions and hairstyles. It had been such a pleasure to visit that time in history through such an engaging series.
The 1910s and 1920s were around the time that my parents were born. The 20th century was still fresh, and the idea of the class system was being questioned. Though no fans of television, we did find ourselves binge-watching the seasons that Prime offered. And then splurging to buy the seasons not offered on the Prime subscription. The chance to revisit our favorite characters and catch up on their storylines was a real treat.
Two years have passed in Downton Abbey time; the year is 1927. From the outset, we know something important is going to happen because of a letter from London. The monarchs are coming for a visit – they are touring the country’s estates. Everybody – family and staff – are anxious about making sure everything is fit for the royal stopover. It is a beautiful plot development that brings nearly all the former characters together in a common goal. The kitchen staffs’ concerns are about what they will feed the king. The housekeeping staff is put to work, shining the cutlery and putting everything in place. The sisters are more concerned about their gowns and appearances.
Engaging little side stories give nearly all the original characters a chance to shine. When small objects curiously go missing, it is the quick-witted Anna who confronts the guilty culprit and manipulates the situation to the advantage of her mistress. Tom Branson develops feelings for a woman who stands to inherit a sizable fortune. The anti-hero Thomas Barrow finds friendship and the hope for love and acceptance within the underground homosexual community. The royal visit is pulled off, but with a few hitches. Tom Branson shows not only his loyalty to the Crawley family but through his own decency is commended by the king. The Dowager Countess schemes. Daisy’s doubts about her fiancé are assuaged after his display of jealous rage. By the end of the movie, all our beloved characters have hope for a brighter future as they face their difficulties, address their particular issues, and learn more about themselves and the world around them.
We loved the movie, and both agreed that it was nice to catch up on the lives of our old friends because that is how these characters feel. Both Lover and I are impatient when it comes to the daily melodramas that play out in the lives of our family and friends. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s just that it is ongoing, circular, and is seldom if ever resolved. We discussed that this series, as much as we liked it, would fall into that same go-nowhere, repetitive cycle if continued on indefinitely. For our entertainment purposes, we need a clear beginning, believable, lovable, characters whom we grow to care about, a proper setting, plot development, challenges or hardships to be resolved, and a satisfying, optimistic, but convincing resolution. Downton Abbey, the movie, provided this in the two hours three minutes, we sat munching popcorn and slurping an over-sized Diet Coke.
I love movies, and I love to read – I tend to be drawn to character-driven fiction, drama, and literature, while Lover is drawn more to technical writing, documentaries, and research-driven material. So when he is engaged in a series such as this with me, it is particularly enjoyable and gives me insight into his character and our relationship. Seeing his sympathy, for instance, over the plight of Thomas Barrow, an otherwise loathsome character at times, when he is hauled into jail for dancing with another man at an underground nightclub, I realize that he is compassionate even for people who engage in things that he fails to understand. When we nudge each other during the movie and give each other knowing looks, we are thinking along the same lines – Yepper. Look at old Jim Carter coming out of retirement and drawing up his dignity. Yepper. Something is going on between Lady Bagshaw and her maid; she didn’t raise that orphan to be her lover, surely not. And then the shared relief Nope, it was another kind of relationship altogether! Yepper, that Daisy is still a piece of work, not making up her mind about her fiancé, keeping the poor thing on tenterhooks.
We came out of the theater gratified and happy- everything about the movie was lovely – the scenery, the clothes, the cars, the music, but most of all the characters and the story. Our shared experience drew us closer. “That’s the way I am,” he said to me, referring to Henry Talbot’s mad rush up the staircase to reunite with his wife, Mary. “Rushing up the hotel steps at the end of the workday to see the love of my life.” And then when we got back to the hotel, well, we both ran up the stairs anxious to get to our room. Not like in the olden days to fall into bed in a fit of passion, but because there was some tiramisu to top off our evening, and we were anxious to get to it.
Part II.1 What is Forgiveness?
- Words will mean little now. We use them but as guides on which we do not now depend. For now we seek direct experience of truth alone. The lessons that remain are merely introductions to the times in which we leave the world of pain and go to enter peace. Now we begin to reach the goal this course has set and find the end toward which our practicing was always geared.
- Now we attempt to let the exercise be merely a beginning. For we wait in quiet expectation for our God and Father. He has promised He will take the final step Himself. And we are sure His promises are kept. We have come far along the road, and now we wait for Him. We will continue spending time with Him each morning and at night, as long as makes us happy. We will not consider time a matter of duration now. We use as much as we will need for the result that we desire. Nor will we forget our hourly remembrance in between calling to God when we have need of Him as we are tempted to forget our goal.
- We will continue with a central thought for all the days to come, and we will use that thought to introduce our times of rest and calm our minds at need. Yet we will not content ourselves with simple practicing in the remaining holy instants which conclude the year that we have as He has promised. We have called on Him, and He has promised that His son will not remain unanswered when he calls His Name.
- Now do we come to Him with but his word upon our minds and hearts and wait for Him to take the step to us that He has told us, through His Voice, He would not fail to take when we invited Him. He has not left His son and all his madness, nor betrayed his trust in Him. Has not His faithfulness earned Him the invitation that He seeks to make us happy? We will offer it, and it will be accepted. So our times with Him will now be spent. We say the words of invitation that His Voice suggests, and then we wait for Him to come to us.
- Now is the time of prophecy fulfilled. Now are all ancient promises upheld and fully kept. No step remains for time to separate from its accomplishment. For now we cannot fail. Sit silently and wait upon your Father. He has willed to come to you when you have recognized it is your will He do so. And you could have never come this far unless you saw, however dimly, that it is your will.
- I am so close to you we cannot fail. Father, we give these holy times to you, in gratitude to Him who taught us how to leave the world of sorrow in exchange for its replacement, given us by you. We look not backward now. We look ahead and fix our eyes upon the journey’s end. Accept these little gifts of thanks from us, as through Christ’s vision we behold a world beyond the one we made and take that world to be the full replacement of our own.
- And now we wait in silence, unafraid and certain of Your coming. We have sought to find our way by following the Guide you sent to us. We did not know the way, but You did not forget us. And we know that You will not forget us now. We asked but that Your ancient promises be kept which are Your Will to keep. We will with you in asking this. The Father and the Son, Whole holy will created all that is, can fail in nothing. In this certainty, we undertake these last few steps to You, and rest in confidence upon Your Love, which will not fail the Son who calls to You.
- And so we start upon the final part of this one holy year which we have spent together in the search for truth and God, who is its one creator. We have found the way He chose for us and made the choice to follow it as He would have us go. His Hand has held us up. His Thoughts have lit the darkness of our minds. His Love has called to us unceasingly since time began.
- We had a wish that God would fail to have the Son whom He created for Himself. We wanted God to change Himself and be what we would make of Him. And we believed that our insane desires were the truth. Now are we glad that this is all undone and we no longer think illusions true. The memory of God is shimmering across the wide horizons of our minds. A moment more, and it will rise again. A moment more, and we who are God’s Sons are safely home, where He would have us be.
- Now is the need for practice almost done. For in this final section, we will come to understand that we need only call to God, and all temptation disappears. Instead of words, we need but feel His Love. Instead of prayers, we need but call His Name. Instead of judging, we need but be still and let all things be healed. We will accept the way God’s plan will end, as we received the way it started. Now it is complete. This year has brought us to eternity.
- One further use for words we still retain. From time to time, instructions on a theme of special relevance will intersperse our daily lessons and the periods of wordless, deep experience which should come afterwards. These special thoughts should be reviewed each day, each one of them to be continued till the next is given you. They should be slowly read and thought about a little while, preceding one of the holy and blessed instants in the day. We give the first of these instructions now.
1. What is Forgiveness?
- Forgiveness recognizes what you saw your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. Is sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin except a false idea about God’s Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God.
- An unforgiving thought is one which makes a judgment that it will not raise to doubt, although it is not true. The mind is closed and will not be released. The thought protects projection, tightening its chains, so that distortions are more veiled and more obscure; less easily accessible to doubt, and further kept from reason. What can come between a fixed projection and the aim that it has chosen as its wanted goal?
- An unforgiving thought does many things. In frantic action it pursues its goal, twisting and overturning what it sees as interfering with its chosen path. Distortion is its purpose, and the means by which it would accomplish it as well. It sets about its furious attempts to smash reality, without concern for anything that would appear to pose a contradiction to its point of view.
- Forgiveness, on the other hand, is still, and quietly does nothing. It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not. He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive. But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.
- Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do through Him who is your Guide, your Savior and Protector, strong in hope, and certain of your ultimate success. He has forgiven you already, for such as His function, given Him by God. Now must you share His function, and forgive whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees, and whom He honors as Son of God.
Peace to my mind. Let all my thoughts be still.
- Father, I come to you today to seek the peace that You alone can give. I come in silence. In the quiet of my heart, the deep recesses of my mind, I wait and listen for Your Voice. My Father speak to me today. I come to hear Your Voice in silence and in certainty and love, sure You will hear my call and answer me.
- Now do we wait in quiet. God is here, because we wait together. I am sure that He will speak to you, and you will hear. Accept my confidence, for it is yours. Our minds are joined. We wait with one intent, to hear our Father’s answer to our call, to let our thoughts be still and find His peace, to hear Him speak to us of what we are, and to reveal Himself unto His Son.
We are home! There we were sitting up in our bed, sipping our good French roast coffee, for starters. No rushing off to work for James. It was a sunny pleasant day and I spent the morning catching up on my blog and lessons, or at least the one from Thursday. And then other things were calling to me and I spent the day in the kitchen making good things to eat and cleaning and enjoying our place.
However, later in the afternoon when I went outside to garden and do some yard work, my mind felt as if it were under attack. There was an ongoing review of all the ways in which people have wronged me – it started with a beloved, but estranged family member. The insinuating voice began as defense – how yes, you did something wrong, but you were sorry, and they never even said sorry for all the mean and nasty things they did. They are projecting their negativity on you. Those things that they were saying all along, instigating, and blaming you for saying them because you aren’t there to defend yourself. You had no reason to protect them all those years. You fell right into their trap, and now you are the one that has to suffer.
Then the “you” changed to “I.” It went on to someone fresh – how the kid never said thank you and then to his parents, how they never taught him manners. And then the voice went to an old co-worker and reminded me of all the things that he got away with at work. It went from one person to the next, and I was reminded me of a circling pack of wild dogs, yapping and yipping and closing in on their victim.
It started to make me feel sorry for myself for not getting to go to the beach this year like everyone else. I never have any real fun anymore, the voice in my head was telling me. But here’s the thing, my whole life is fun. I spent the whole morning doing what I love to do. If I really wanted to go to the beach, Lover would not hesitate to go with me or wave me off to go with a friend.
Still, it seemed as if I could not get my mind off the crazy negative loop it was on – bringing up past hurts and fears. I could feel myself growing bitter and angry all over again. Let me tell you one thing, Holy Spirit, I said. I forgive it all, but they better not project their shit on me and try to make me look like the bad guy. Just because I tell the truth, they have another think coming if they think I am going to be sorry for things I never did or said. Then I realized that this was the Holy Spirit I was sassing in response to the insane victim thoughts trespassing in my otherwise happy mind.
The ego whose goal is not forgiveness and peace, but something entirely opposite, is not my friend and does not tell the truth. I chose and continue to choose forgiveness for it all – imagined or otherwise! I have long since moved past the pain of old hurts, betrayals, and disappointments. And so I mocked the victim thoughts. Oh you poor little thing, I told them. All these people are out to get you. Oh you poor little thing, you never have any fun. Go get your bikini and get your ass to the beach – screw working in the yard and cooking and writing. You deserve a break! Oh you poor little thing all those special relationship that you just can’t live without are making your life miserable and stealing your joy. Oh you poor little thing.
Well, it may sound crazy but evidently the ego does not enjoy ridicule. Attack and defense let my mind and I was able to sink into my outside chores and enjoy them to the utmost. It was a lovely dusk in central Pennsylvania. The sky cast a golden pink glow over the earth. It was quiet and still.
Peace to my mind and yours.