My Neighbor, My Friend, My Brother… The Call to Remember Who We Are

By Dr. Christine Kiesinger

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On Thursday, May 30th, I woke to these words from A Course in Miracles, Lesson 361:

“This Holy Instant, would I give to You. Be you in charge. For I would follow You, certain that Your direction brings me peace.


And if I need a word to help me, He will give it to me. If I need a thought, that will He also give. And if I need stillness and a tranquil, open mind, these are gifts I will receive of Him. He is in charge by my request. And he will hear and answer me, because he speaks for God my Father and his holy Son.” (Lesson 361, ACIM, Complete and Annotated Edition, p. 1559).

            It would come to matter very much that these were the words that would guide me through the day ahead.

*

He was my neighbor and he was my friend.

The truer statement is that he was my brother and I, his sister, both of us part of the Sonship.

The truest statement of all is that he is me and I am him. We are One.

There is no person, situation or circumstance that can change this. Not even death.

He was a mirror through which I saw my Holiness. I was a mirror through which he saw his. Together, we were a manifestation of the holiness that is each of us. Every encounter with him contained a felt sense of sacredness—no matter how mundane.

He was and remains a powerful “teacher of God.”

*

My neighbor, my friend, my brother took his life recently.

At the time of his death, I was facilitating a training at a local organization. When I finished, I reached into my bag to scan any text messages that came in while I was teaching.  I gasped when I read a text sent to me by my sister:

“Michael is dead. He jumped from the Main Street Bridge.”

I read her words again—and then again. A sense of panic, dread and overwhelm washed over me. The room began to spin. I felt unsteady on my feet.

“I just saw him last night,” I thought to myself. I recalled nothing out of the ordinary—just that he was a bit quiet.

A few days prior, during a lengthier and deeper exchange, Michael asked me about meditation. He was grappling with physical pain and had a back surgery scheduled for mid-June.

“I watch you sitting so still, “ he remarked. “I can see you meditating through my kitchen window. I am feeling drawn to that sort of quiet,” he shared.

“I will help you,” I responded. “I have thought about offering this to you more than once,” I told him.

And I did. It had intuitively come to me several times that I wanted to leave Michael a copy of my favorite meditation book on his front porch rocker. I felt called to do so, but I was not sure how he would interpret the gesture. Thus, I was thrilled that he requested that I help him.

“Let’s begin by reading a short book.  Are you open to that?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “I am.”

After our chat, my heart beamed as the following words came from a place deep inside of me:

“Michael is being called home. He is being called back to a deeper remembrance of who he is.  Christine—you are being called to play a role in this. Let there be no delay. It is time. And you are ready.”

*

This would be our last significant exchange. So many thoughts raced across the terrain of my mind as I stood so very still—shocked and dismayed, after reading my sister’s message to me.

I closed my phone and tossed it back into my bag. It was in that moment that I saw an index card with a few phrases I had jotted down from my morning meditation.

One of my practices is to jot down keywords and phrases from ACIM that resonate with me during my morning reading and meditation time. These words and phrases become food for contemplation as I move through my day. I make sure that I put the card a place where I will see it often. On the morning of his death, I put the card into my purse because I knew that I would be leading a training all day. Having it with me at the training site ensured that I would see the card each time I opened my purse.

The words on my index card read: “This Holy Instant, be in charge. I will follow you, certain that your Direction will bring me peace.

In the moments following my learning about Michael’s death and finding the index card in my purse, I thought:

“Here you go, Christine. It is time to shift into Christ consciousness and focus on what is True about this situation.

You are surrounded by immediate and extended family and an entire small town of people who live from a place of fear. The gossip and drama around this situation will be immense.

It is time to shift out of your own fear-based, delusional thinking and remember what is TRUE.  Most of all, remember who you are—and remember who Michael IS.”

Feeling my knees shaking, I took a deep breath and chanted:

“Be you in charge…be you in charge…be you in charge,” as I walked to my car. While walking, I invited the Holy Spirit to be my companion as I navigated the hours ahead.

Standing on the crooked pavement next to my car, I stood still. I centered my spine. Closing my eyes, I felt its length and its nobility. Standing tall in Christ, I could breathe better. As I centered, I could feel the vertical connection between my thoughts, my Voice, my heart. I invited Christ’s Presence to come forth and to infuse my thoughts, my voice and my heart with right thinking, the “right” words, and right guidance.

I felt my feet grounding deep into the sidewalk beneath me and as I did this, the spinning sense of overwhelm no longer threatened to topple me. As I embodied Christ consciousness more fully, I began to feel an unshakable strength.

Bringing my shoulders down and back, my heart expanded and softened. “I can hold all of this,” I whispered to myself. “And with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will minister to this.”

As I began my drive home, my phone chimed constantly indicating the arrival of text after text about Michael. Several calls came in—all of which I muted until I felt firmly held in the strength, sanctuary and serenity that is the promise of embodied Christ consciousness.

I prayed:

“Christ, be in charge. I will follow your direction. I trust that you will restore me to right thought and thus help me to aid others who struggle with this news.

I trust that you will provide me with the right words—words that will diffuse any fear-based drama, gossip and rumors, anger, disappointment and judgment.

I have but one function—keep me in remembrance of who I am and who Michael is.”

A Course in Miracles invites us to remember that “the Truth is True, “ and upon this—we can fully rely.

During my drive home, I pondered 3 questions:

“What is True?”

“Christ–how would you have me see this situation?”

“How would you have me speak about this to others?”

The answers to these questions would become my north star as I was firmly committed to honoring Michael as a beloved brother.

*

What is True?

Stories and drama might surround the circumstances related to Michael’s passing—but these dramas mean nothing. They are expressions of the chokehold of fear that can overtake us when things happen that we cannot understand.

Here’s what is True: the body that is Michael is no longer Present here. The Essence that is Michael remains.

In just the brief year that I have lived in my current home, I came to refer to Michael as the “Buddha of the block.” He had a quiet and reflective demeanor. He tread lightly as he walked. I saw him daily. Our talks were never very long, but always deep. I knew very little about his personal circumstances but I knew a great deal about his heart.

It was easy to recognize his Divinity. It was expressed in his very Being. During our talks he sat serenely in a rocker on his front porch. We talked about the things we were doing to be happier, more peaceful and evolved. Although he did not know about A Course in Miracles, I could derive from our talks that Michael—like so many of us—was aiming to free himself from the chains of Fear.

How would you have me see this? How would you have me speak about this?

In all of our encounters, interactions, and affairs, we must meet the Divinity in others from the Divinity within ourselves. As students of A Course In Miracles, it is our responsibility to be a “teacher of God,” and to do so immediately, confidently and without delay.

I could have chosen to be impatient in conversations with others about Michael’s transition. To the woman on the block who was angered and referred to his death as an act of cowardice, I asked: “What did you most enjoy about him in the years you spent as his neighbor?” Asking her this question significantly softened her demeanor. When she spoke about Michael’s protective nature and how he was a good custodian of the neighborhood block, I could see her move into less defensive and more open hearted state.

To the teen that rode his bike down the street—slowing down, as if in detective mode as he passed by Michael’s house, I asked, “What are you most curious about?” Non-judgmental and supportive, I opened up a dialogue with this young man who had genuine questions and wanted to get nearer to that which he did not understand. With love, patience and compassion, I could minister to him by slowly changing his focus.

“See that rocking chair on the porch? “ I asked him. “I learned some of the most important lessons from the guy who sat there. He was full of great wisdom. Get to know your neighbors, “ I said, “But get to really know them, deeply know them. They can be great teachers.”

And to his biological, earthly brother—who arrived much later in the day after having just learned the news of Michael’s passing——how did I meet that moment?

With sheer benevolence—expressed through the eyes of Christ.

Sometimes, there are no words in situations such as this. When I saw Teddy in Michael’s yard, slowly approaching the front door of Michael’s house—I walked slowly to toward the fence that separated our yards.

He walked slowly toward me. For a long moment, I just gazed at him. I did not ask or pray for words. I just asked for the capacity to be there with him and to allow him to feel what he was feeling fully—without having to fix it, change it, or make it go away.

My only thought was:

“How would Christ behold another brother in a moment of such deep suffering? How would Christ look upon another who is in unspeakable pain?” Click To Tweet

The eyes of Christ would be soft and would express a radiance and a depth that conveyed:

“I see you and I see your suffering. And meeting you here—in this moment—is the holy instant. And in this moment, we become One in our shared love for a beautiful expression of God who in this lifetime—here on this planet, was named Michael.”

When the time was right, I said to Teddy aloud, “He was my neighbor and my friend. I appreciated everything about him. From that rocking chair, he shared great ideas with me. I will miss seeing him every day. But the lessons—they remain with me.”

Teddy looked toward the porch and to the rocker that now sat empty. Inside, my heart smiled wide. “God sat there,” I thought. “God sat there.”

          

*

As I write this blog, I am sitting on my front porch. I can see Michael’s rocker. It is a beautiful day. It is a bit windy so Michael’s chair is actually rocking a bit. Although empty of his physical form, I can feel the fullness of his Presence and I am glad. And I am grateful—grateful for my Brother, A Course in Miracles, and the God within, around, and beside me.

Most of all, I am grateful for the living expression of God who lived next door “named” Michael in this lifetime.

*

How does ACIM speak to you during difficult times? I hope that my story helps to shed light on the pivotal role that the course plays in moments when navigating the terrain of this journey can feel rough.

I invite you to read and to contemplate Lesson 361 and to not hesitate to say: “Be you in charge,” whenever you feel the spinning nature of overwhelm and/or get caught up in drama, gossip, judgment and story telling related to things that happen that we cannot explain or understand.

Post-Script

Although I finished this blog earlier this afternoon—I wish to add that soon thereafter, I saw Teddy (Michael’s brother) again. He came to Michael’s house to start emptying it. I talked with him about the white rocker on the front porch and how I watched it rock gently back and forth all afternoon because of the gentle wind.

“Our best talks happened during the times that Michael sat in that chair,” I told him.

In response, he looked at me and smiled. “Then I want you to have it.” The chair in the photo included in this blog is Michael’s chair, now sitting in my yard. What a gift to be bestowed upon me—especially because I make reference to this chair earlier in this blog.

I will always cherish this rocker and it will serve as a reminder that our neighbor IS our Brother—that Divinity is fully expressed in everyone we encounter—and at every moment—no matter how mundane or difficult, we get to fully embody Christ.

The time is now. Let there be no delay.

Until next time, BE the Christ. With love, Christine

I would love for you to leave a comment below about how ACIM speaks to you during difficult times.  If you like this teaching and want more, consider the Presenter Series, for more information click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Christine Kiesinger, Ph.D.

Personal and Professional Development Coaching/Leadership Trainer/Integrative Wellness Educator

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Katy Below
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Katy Below

Hi Christine,
I loved what you wrote. To deal with the death of someone we loved and cared about can stir up so many emotions. You went into this situation with such good intentions and it had positive reactions from others. Michael was also very lucky to have had you as a neighbour. Thank you for reminding us how to look at life when tough times hit us. Sending you peace and love.

Christine Kiesinger
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Christine Kiesinger

Katy— thank you so much.

Victoria
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Victoria

Thank you! Lovely!

Sandy Zimmerman
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Sandy Zimmerman

Dear Christine, Your blog about Michael deeply touched my heart today. My father took his life when I was 5 years old, and I’ve always held a desire and wish that I could have helped him. Reading how you gave Michael that book and helped him with meditation, and how you held space for him during and after his physical life, was healing for me. Since we are all One, your gift of love to Michael is the same thing as my gift of love to my father. As you spoke about, death cannot separate our Oneness. And since giving… Read more »

Christine Kiesinger
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Christine Kiesinger

Sandy, thank you for your kind response and for sharing so openly about your dad. Much love, Christine

Owen Wiggins
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Owen Wiggins

Thank you Christine for the recipe for “at a loss of words” situations. It remains difficult to remember that death does not entail loss.

Christine Kiesinger
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Christine Kiesinger

Thank you, Owen. Much love, C.

Robert
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Robert

Thank you Christine.

Robert
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Robert

Yesterday morning i saw a sparrow from my window on the water dish i keep for the birds on the patio below. This one caught my attention because unlike the high energy dip and go, drink and fly of all the birds i see there, it was moving very slowly. It stayed on the edge for a long time and it dipped its beak with slow deliberation. Then it was gone. Later while having my breakfast on that patio, i saw it emerge from the shadows in the corner and work very hard to fly up to the water dish… Read more »

Stephan DelleChiaie
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Stephan DelleChiaie

I just read about your experience with Michael and for now I just want to say thank you for sharing this! Much love to you and all our brothers

Laura
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Laura

Beautiful post, needed that, perspective on what’s truly real , death is not real , love is only real

Oliver Blue
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Oliver Blue

Great story that brings the Course to life. To love our brother is to love ourself, because our brother is ourself.

Christine Kiesinger
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Christine Kiesinger

Oliver–yes, we are ONE. Much love to you…

Jean
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Jean

A deep message, Christine. I’m so grateful to have read this today. Thank you for actively practicing ACIM; your words and experience teach and show me better how to do the same.

Donna Jardine
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Donna Jardine

Wow That is a powerful expression of Love that couldnt help but touch all on the day your friend departed Thank you I havent reached that level in my training but try everytime troubles arise…….This helps to realize that when I fumble around trying …..just be at peace and keep going………soon it may be effortless..This is so inspiring…Blessings

Christine Kiesinger
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Christine Kiesinger

Donna–blessings to you. Thank you for your feedback. Much love to you.

Julie .Bolwell
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Julie .Bolwell

Hi Christine,
Thank you so much for sharing this .Very much touched my heart and reminded me of how I can be the light for everyone and myself.

Carmen
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Carmen

Hi Christine, I wanted to thank you for sharing your experience and one that will effect all of us….. death of a loved one. Death has been my lesson to learn in the last few years. One of my best teachers of love and living in the Holy Instant has been animals! With the passing of my beloved cat and soon my mothers dog, I had contacted a pet communicator to help ease us all into the transition and the expectations. What I was surprised by is that animals see death very differently than us. We see it as a… Read more »

Alexandra
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Alexandra

So beautifully written – so sensitive and yet so informative. There is much advice here that I am sure many of us shall retain to use in our own challenging moments. The detail of your writing, such as … “the centering of the spine … feeling its length and nobility … and feet grounding deeply beneath” … is deeply impacting. Are you writing professionally? If not – you probably should be. You have a talent that should be shared!

Sharon Honerlah
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Sharon Honerlah

Thank you so much for sharing your open heart. Very moving and a great reminder to be present and ask to be lead. I am very pleased I got to read this blog. Namaste’

Cliff
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Cliff

A very nice reminder for us to continue experiencing Love, even within a friend’s death. Thank you Christine.

Susan
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Susan

This morning, after a troubled night with my husband… the words, “Be You in charge” came into my mind. I hadn’t said the prayer in a long time and suddenly the words were there; only to open to your beautiful testimony and full prayer! Thank you, we are the One!
Susan

Cathy
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Cathy

That was beautiful Christine. Beautifully written and a beautiful expression of Christ consciousness in action. Thank you for sharing.

Linda
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Linda

The prayer on page 28, I am here only to be truly helpful. I am here to represent the One who sent me. … comes to my mind during challenging moments.
Thank you Christine, you have been truly helpful in representing Christ consciousness for all of us, who are One!
Namaste and Blessings of love.