I just love birthdays. I’ve always felt that they are my own personal New Year’s. It’s a time to acknowledge accomplishments, goals, setbacks, loved ones by celebrating that extra number being added on.
I am about to ring in “53”. I make sure I celebrate my birthday every year with one women who has brought such love and light and grace to my life.
I met Judy over 25 years ago because I took a crazy chance. In my mid-twenties, I finally learned to cope with my addictions to alcohol and food and had released over 100 lbs. For the first time in my life I was at a healthy weight and no longer was using booze and potato chips to manage my emotions.
But I still wasn’t happy. For so much of my life, releasing weight had been a magic, unattainable cure-all; if I could only let of my weight, I’d thought, I’ll finally be at peace. In truth, the years of low self-esteem and self-abuse had taken a last toll, one that could not be washed away with the pounds.
It was then that I found my first miracle, aptly named A Course in Miracles. The Course is a self-guided text that aims to help readers achieve peace. My friend Sharon led me to Reverend Matt, the minister at a San Francisco church, who turned me on to the Course back in the late 80’s. He spoke about the Course being a place of safety, forgiveness, and self-love, that it was a place to come home. At the time, I didn’t even know what ‘coming home’ meant. None of my therapists nor 12 step programs could give me the spiritual connection that my soul needed in order to heal. The Course provided this; it taught me that ‘coming home’ means owning my essence and being who I am, not who I think I should be.
The Course changed my life profoundly, giving me the tools to find the self-love and inner peace I had never before known. I had such gratitude for having it in my life that I felt compelled to write a letter to Judith Whitson, the president of the Foundation for Inner Peace, which publishes and distributes The Course.
I sat down and poured out my heart onto the page, telling her my story and thanking her for her role in my coming home to myself. Wiping away tears of joy, relief, and appreciation, I sealed it up and sent it off. I didn’t even know if she’d read it (and of course at the time, way back when, I believed that she wouldn’t respond), but I knew I had to tell her how I felt.
And then there was miracle number 2. Judy called me up and invited me to come meet her and offered me a job working for the Foundation for Inner Peace. There are no words to describe how I felt meeting her for the first time, let’s just say, I felt gratitude bigger than the sky and I truly felt held in the arms of God. My just “going for it” led me to her, despite what my mind said about her “not replying” and her friendship has been one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime.
Judith Whitson is the same Judy who I now celebrate my birthdays with every year. She is the same Judy who married my wife Kathleen and me, she is the same Judy I always call for advice, a shoulder to cry on, or just a good chat. All because I followed my heart and wrote her a letter against all odds that she’d have the inclination or even the time to write back. Her presence in my life is an absolute blessing – a true miracle.
What miracle stands out in your life? I would love to hear about it.