The Greatest Gift of All
Shared by Brian
As a young blind person growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, there was no such thing as an electronic book. There were very few audio books produced on vinyl records and still fewer books published in braille. When A Course in Miracles was published in 1976, the printed volumes were the only format commercially available, and the Course would have likely remained out of reach for me for many years. Thus, looking back, I smile at the way in which the Holy Spirit arranged for me to encounter the Course, as well as a means for me to access its printed pages.
I was truly blessed to be raised by parents who placed a priority on reading, education, and open mindedness toward new ideas. Each afternoon and evening, Mom and Dad would read to me my school books and help me with my homework. It wasn’t until my junior and senior years that school personnel were available to read me my assignments. This freed up enough of Mom’s time for her to begin reading me books of my own choosing, using the exciting new technology of audio cassette recorders.
Mom and Dad also encouraged me to explore metaphysical and spiritual teachings, to seek for answers to life’s deepest questions. For me, two of those questions were – why was I born blind, and does God have a plan for me in this world?
In the summer of 1981, while I attended a conference at Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in Virginia Beach, my conference roommate, Larry, took me over to the association’s library and eagerly introduced me to A Course in Miracles. He described it to me as a “spiritual masterpiece.” I remember us sitting down at a wooden table in the library. He reverently opened an extremely worn hardback copy of the Text of the Course and read me passages for about a half an hour. I thought it sounded interesting at the time, but also a bit abstract for my taste. After all, I had to be “selective” in deciding which books I would ask Mom to read to me, and my list was long! So I didn’t think much more about it once arriving back home.
Four years later, unaware of my earlier introduction to the Course, Mom spent over 40 hours reading the entirety of the Course onto audio tape as a surprise birthday present for me. She had seen the Course highlighted within the A.R.E. magazine. She said she “just got the feeling that it would be something we would both be interested in.”
I opened the birthday gift bag and put my hand on the mound of audio tapes, all bundled up in neat stacks and arranged by volume and chapter. I was struck in that moment by how much Mom had invested her time into something that she had no idea if I would even like. “Well, thanks Mom,” I said with more awkwardness than excitement, “I’ll give it a whirl.” I took the bag of cassettes upstairs to my bedroom and laid down on the bed to settle in for the beginning of a long read. “Well,” I thought, “this is going to need to be a commitment, just to get through this thing. Mom spent all this time reading it for me, so the least thing I can do is to give it a try to see what it is all about.” I popped the first tape into the machine, and thus I began reading A Course in Miracles for the first time.
Like many first time readers of the Course, I found its teachings and wording to be magnetic. I kept coming back to it again and again even though I found its message and what it asked of me to be nothing less than daunting. For ten years, I struggled with how to regard the Course. Ultimately, after working through it to transform and heal several very contentious relationships in my life, I accepted the truth that it is the authentic teaching of Jesus for the modern world. It now provides me the framework for my every thought and action, and a way to assess my spiritual progress each day and over time.
A lot has changed since the early days in the way I access the printed pages of the Course. Now days, I utilize screen reader software on my computer which reads aloud the text on the screen. So, in this wonderful age of technology, I have full access to the electronic versions of all of the Course source materials and all of the commentaries and articles!
For Mom’s part, she remained “interested” in the principles of the Course, and I ended up asking her to read several more Course related books to me over the years. Although she did not study and practice the Course daily as I ultimately did, I suspect she benefited from its ideas at some level.
Mom’s gift of reading A Course in Miracles to me brought purpose and joy into my life, a gift of inestimable value. Yet, perhaps the greatest gift of all was Mom’s selfless dedication in making the world of printed books accessible to me, fostering the growth of my mind and my awareness of spirit. She spent innumerable hours reading to me books for school and pleasure for over 40 years. Through her loving service, the Course entered my life, and it has changed me forever.