October 17, 1998

The Shortcut

(to hear a song by Erik Balkey about this vision, click here)

I dreamed I was a nun, living in a convent. I was new to this particular convent, and another nun was showing me around the place. She took me next door and showed me a little door in a wall which opened in. When we looked inside, I saw only a black tunnel of uncertain length. She said, "When you want to go to chapel, you must open this little door and crawl down the tunnel. Then you will find the chapel."

I was stunned and terrified. I had no intention of crawling into a black hole. But then, she crawled in before me, quickly lighting a candle in the chapel. I could see the tunnel was not very long. After a scary and uncomfortable climb through, I appreciated being in the pretty, dim little chapel to pray.

Later, I wanted to go back to the chapel myself, but I was still afraid of the dark. Someone loaned me a flashlight, so I could see the length of the tunnel. I felt better. I was able to go there alone, knowing the tunnel was short. I had the help of the light.

Later still, I took the flashlight and went back to the chapel. I discovered the electric light switch and illuminated the whole space. Very quickly, I identified the chapel's real door. I opened the door. To my surprise, I was in the large, busy, well-lit library of the local university.

I could hardly believe my eyes. I turned to see and, yes, the door did have a handle on the library side which was unlocked. The university people just didn't have much interest in the little chapel, so they rarely ventured there. Only the nuns went there for its solitude and peace.

I could get into the chapel through the front door of the library. When I was ready to leave, I exited out the real door, thrilled to walk out into the sunlight through marble columns, down a glorious sweeping stairway.

For months, I walked around to the library when I wanted to go to the chapel. I delighted in the light, fresh air and sunshine accompanying me on my walk.

Then one day I had a blister on my foot. It hurt to walk. I decided I could easily call a cab, or ask a friend for a ride. Then I remembered the tunnel in the wall. I no longer had a flashlight, but I knew the way was safe and easy. It was a shortcut! I delighted in walking to the wall, opening the door, crawling a few feet into the chapel, and going directly to the light switch to turn it on. After that, I often used the shortcut when I was busy, just to snatch a little time in quiet meditation.

This vision provides a metaphor to explore the mystical vs. rational access to God, what we could call the Path of the Mind vs. the Path of the Heart. Even the word mystic can be scary until you bring it into the light and begin to explore it. When I got more comfortable within the path of the heart, I had discovered a shortcut to joy.

The shortcut vision retells metaphorically the story of my life in regard to my appreciation of Spirit within me. The chapel is a symbol of time spent in prayer and meditation. Before I found Science of Mind, I sensed that something was missing in my life. My yearning to find Spirit led to a dark, scary tunnel of unknowing. My life wasn't working. I hadn't walked thorough the door of a church in 15 years, except for funerals and weddings. I didn't know how to approach Spirit, although I could feel a desire building to get to a place of deep communication with God.

Then I found the Cherry Creek Church of Religious Science in Denver, Colorado. When I attended my first service there, I had a wonderful feeling of having finally come home. There I found a guide with knowing, my first SOM minister, Rev. Mary Ann Trifaro. She had already explored the mystical darkness herself. With her assistance and encouragement, I dared to explore the mystical tunnel of spirituality. She had gone in first, and lit a candle for me, so I could see the way was not as frightening as I suspected.

The way she did it was so gentle and loving. I signed up for the first Science of Mind class just as soon as I arrived at the church. Three weeks into the class, Rev. Mary Ann took me aside at the break, thrusting an open copy of the Science of Mind textbook into my hands. I was a bit startled when she said, "Here! You are a mystic, you need to understand what that is and what to do about it. Read this chapter!"

The book was open to the part of the textbook entitled "What the Mystics Have Taught." In this chapter, page 327, Ernest Holmes begins with: "A mystic is not a mysterious person but is one who has a deep, inner sense of Life and of his unity with the Whole."

What Rev. Mary Ann knew then, as I know now, was not just about my being a mystic. She knew all of us are mystics. She knew within me was a deep place of connection to Spirit, and she lit a candle to help me find the way into it. If you don't already know yourself to be a mystic, I'd like to light a candle for you today. I know you to be a mystic, one who has a deep, inner sense of Life and your unity with the whole. I know you, as an individual, have a special gift to explore. I believe you, personally, have a light to shine, unique to you in all the Universe.

Rev. Mary Ann shone a powerful light for me on the essence of my own nature. Suddenly, the whole idea of conscious communion with Spirit did not seem so dark and scary! Nevertheless, my mystical experiences through Science of Mind developed slowly over the years. My heart was not yet open enough. There was so much to learn, so much illumination of my path which was accomplished by studying the words and lives of other teachers.

I have read scores of books, taken and taught many, many classes, spent much time in the well-lit, spacious library of metaphysics. Always, though, I eventually return to focusing on time spent in meditation, contemplation and prayer, as the building blocks of my personal understanding of God and as a touchstone for joy in my life. Whether I get to the chapel of my heart to commune with Spirit through the tunnel of mysticism or through the door of the library doesn't matter. What does matter is my getting there, spending time in contemplation, meditation, and affirmative prayer.

I can think of little else to enhance life more than choosing to develop our special gifts, our unique, personal and valuable methods of experiencing Spirit directly. Imagine allowing personal divine guidance to assist in handling the increased energy of these times. Perhaps you are already a well-developed mystic. Or maybe you have yet to explore this magnificent aspect of your being. It does not matter. That heart-centered quality within you is endlessly expansive. It is the essence of your divine nature. Claim it now!

Spirituality, as I understand it and practice it, is a two-pronged path. It teaches us to reach new levels of awareness of God within our lives both through the Mind and the Heart. The mind path is like the wide open University Library of my vision, filled with light and space. Yet, few in my vision of the shortcut sought out the chapel through the library. Most found the light of others sufficient. They did not seek out the chapel to commune with Spirit directly themselves. As it is sometimes said, the longest 18 inches in the world may be the space between the Mind and the Heart.

The more direct route, the dark tunnel of the heart, can be narrow and cramped. I know it was for me. My heart was closed by the experiences of my lifetime. Both persistence and conquering fear were required to make the path more comfortable and familiar. These days, I use both entrances. The path of the mind is still enticing and delightful as I read and listen to tapes offering the knowing of others. Over time, the path of the heart has become easier as I have learned to find the light always residing within me.

For many people, following the mystical path may seem to be living on the edge. At first, the tunnel seems narrow and frightening. Over time, however, the way becomes familiar, sure, and easy, even a shortcut compared to what previously felt so much safer and brighter. As more of us choose the mystical path, now, the tradition of martyrdom formerly entangled with choosing the way of the Christ becomes more clearly separated from the path of the heart itself. It is possible to live in joy, dwelling in the heart of God. As I understand it, this is the meaning of bringing heaven to earth.

We may choose to go deeper within ourselves by becoming familiar with the knowing of others, which ultimately may lead us inward. Or we may just use the inspiration of our spiritual teachers to take the shortcut of following our own heart's knowing inside us to God. Either way, a door is open - either a wide, well-lit, spacious door, or one that may seem more personal, narrower, and darker. It's up to us to choose whatever path works best for us at a particular time.

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Copyright 2000 Connee Chandler

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