Expressions with Paula Payne Hardin and Joanna Jaya


I am overjoyed to offer the two reflections on the heart that are shared here: one through poetry and one through art. Joanna Jaya is the artist. Paula Payne Hardin is the poet. Their joining together expands my heart! ~ Mari



A few years ago, I felt the urge to write poems honoring some of what I have experienced during this human/Divine journey.  I am in my 83rd year and have been living with A Course Of Love since October 2014. This Course has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Paula Payne Hardin

Paula Payne Hardin



This painting was inspired by a walk along the beach at sunrise on New Year’s day. Everything was so so still, even the waves were quiet as the sun rose above the mist. It was one of those numinous moments where the veils between worlds seems to part for a moment.

And now we begin to see with the eyes of our heart. 

We are no longer looking out but looking in. All landscapes and horizons form within the embrace. C:20.8

Is not the embrace itself holy? Is not the sunrise and the
sunset? Is not the least of the birds of the air as holy as
the mighty eagle? The blade of grass, the fleck of sand, the
the wind and air, the ocean and her surf, all live by the
universal heartbeat and exist within the embrace. C:20.21

Joanna Jaya

Joanna Jaya


The following verses are chosen around the theme of Love (to partner with Jaya’s compelling heart painting) and excerpted from longer poems.


August 14, 2013

There were times I felt as though some great
Angel took tongs
And stretched my rib cage to the cracking
point to make room for—
The necessary enlargement of my heart.




March 9, 2014

I muse while writing this poem and am reassured
Immature though they often were
My attempts to love over the years are not lost
And my worried heart is consoled
Love can never be erased.

September 22, 2o14

Learning to love well is my soul’s deep desire
Inflated fear doesn’t serve that desire
But constricts my heart until
Fight or flight takes over.

It isn’t easy to turn our lives into a celebration
Gathering the wisdom hiding in our fears
But the harvest is a heart
Freed up to love.

June 7, 2013

I want all creation to know it is marvelous
Saturated in every cell and molecule
With imprisoned Splendor
I want every creature and tree and cloud to feel valued
Then and only then
When my name is called and death is near
Could my heart bear to leave this bizarre and spectacular planet.

June 12, 2013

So I offer my heart and hold out my hands
Because bottom line
Love is all there is
And the rest of the time I play
And blow kisses.

August 24, 2013

And I did it, I kept on keeping on
That is the one piece of advice I’d pass along to anyone seeking
Keep on keeping on.

And something miraculous
Which you slowly recognize, keeps you company
You don’t need to understand
No one needs to explain it more than this
But everything, everything, everything is sacred

Now we can recognize love, be love, and give love
And when grace helps us see some pollution in our loving
Love propels us to become more aware
And liberating clarity emerges.

What a journey
What a magnificent journey
I join with Nobel Prize winner Dag Hammarskjold
“To all that has been, thank you.
To all that will be, yes.”

This last poem “appeared” on my computer screen one morning in 2000. I do not remember writing it. Mystery. Gift. I had life threatening cancer at the time and the message I kept receiving was: “All there is is love.” Today I appreciate the message and the poem more than I could then.

…And beyond to the stars
And outer galaxies
The smallest grasshopper
Was not left out
Nor were my own flaws and failures.

Redemption rolled over all
Like some cosmic ocean
And everything sang love’s song
There was no you nor me
There was only the greatest WE

About our contributors


Paula authored the book “What Are You Doing With the Rest of Your Life? Choices in Midlife” (1992). This opened the door for her to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her next book was: “Love After Love: Stages of Loving” (1996). She mentored many children in her blended and extended family and has traveled extensively, hiking and trekking around the world. These commitments, she says, prodded her heart to expand— a necessary expansion.

JOANNA JAYA introduces herself

A Course of Love came to me when I desperately needed it. Its kindly voice and sweet message of heartsealove soothed my grieving heart and troubled mind.  My beloved husband had recently died and I was in a state of deep grief and did not know where to turn for solace. I had been revisiting A Course in Miracles via the internet when I stumbled upon a link to A Course of Love.  At once I was blown away by the direct and beautiful message of love speaking directly to my heart.  Mari Perron on YouTube talked about how she came to receive the words of Christ and I felt an instant connection to her beautiful presence and voice.

My spiritual journey has been a long and rocky road to travel at times. As a child I was always the outcast and found solace in my books and imaginary worlds.  As a teen during the late 60’s I started my search for answers through the drugs that offered the possibility of easy enlightenment.  This led on to discovering yoga and TM meditation and reading books like Be Here Now.  In my search for an alternative way of being I joined the Hare Krishna movement attracted by their philosophy of simple living in community with others and the promise of a direct connection with God through the Yoga of devotion.  I raised my two daughters in the community and dedicated my life to serving God.

After immersing myself in that life for over 10 years I realised that it was not working for me and that God felt far away from me still.

Many know me by the name Jaya; it is a name for the divine feminine and means victory. It is the name I was given during my Krishna days; I mostly go by the name Joanna nowadays.

In the following years I tried to make sense of everything and to find a way to life outside the spiritual bubble of community. My children left home, my first marriage ended and I had two bouts with cancer.  I moved away to Cornwall on the rugged Atlantic coast to try to heal my soul and find my true spiritual home. After a couple of years I moved across the country to be closer to my daughters and went to college to study art and design.  This was a good time, but I was still restless and searching for deep spiritual connection. I went to live in Glastonbury, a place that calls many spiritual seekers.  There I met a dear man who was a true soulmate who had shared some of my past experiences. We  quickly became a couple and we shared many happy loving times together until his time came to leave his body behind three years ago.

Now I live alone in a pleasant house close to the sea in a small town in Suffolk England.  I spend my days quietly, sometimes meeting my daughters and helping out with my grandchildren.  I love to tend the garden, to paint and sew and play with clay.  My great solace is my daily reading of ACOL. I am now on my sixth reading and each time is freshly new and wonderful.  I feel a close connection and a deeply loving connection to everyone in our Facebook group and love to join with them often.  I continue to be inspired by the beautiful imagery and poetic words in ACOL and am willing and hopeful that I will be able to express that through painting.  I am looking forward to joining with Paula and sharing our art and poetry.


Expressions with Bill Heller

Bill HellerWhen Bill Heller shared his Holy Week exploration with me, I knew right away I wanted to add his expression to this page. Below is his story of finding A Course of Love, followed by Holy Week 2016. It’s theme of resurrection is always current.

Finding A Course of Love         

My journey with A Course of Love began with a note from my friend and fellow Course in Miracles student, Bill Marchand. The trigger occurred a few days later, when I heard about it again from Rev. Tony Ponticello, in an announcement for the “A Present Love” conference in New York City. Hearing twice so quickly, I knew this must be waiting for me.

The book arrived by mail, and I jumped in that night. I recall reading the note on receiving the material, the forward, and the introduction. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back, saying, “Is this you Jesus?” Instantly, I saw an image of his face in front of me, smiling and beginning to laugh. I felt the joy and energy of this connection, and broke out in a laugh from my gut! “So we’re at it again,” I thought. For me, there was never any question as to the source. I haven’t needed to look back!

Reading this validated the journey I’ve been on to this point. I recalled asking a year earlier, “What’s next?” as if there was something further beyond ACIM. Gratefully, this has been the answer. That “shift in perception” commencing with ACIM served me well in jumping in with both feet, observing, opening my heart, and trusting the expression of Jesus being offered. Curiously, I noticed a distinction in the writing between Helen Schucman and Mari Perron, while also finding the common wisdom of Jesus imbedded in the beautiful sentences. I felt the individual expressions of Helen and Mari were ideal for the material each were offering; also, they could not have delivered what the other had.

In a year now, I have been through the book twice, and am clear my commitment to awakening is picking up steam. I couldn’t be more grateful, excited, and confident. “We’re going home!”


The Crucifixion

You might recall from the line in ACIM wherein Jesus stated “The journey to the cross should be the last “useless journey.” (Text, 4, Introduction, 3.1) Sounded sweet and profound to me at the time, though not much more.

Later, I recall reading “The Message of the Crucifixion” as section 1 in chapter 6. Reading this section brought me to the point of clearly accepting ACIM was given us by Jesus, and eliminated any of my doubts. I recall from paragraph 9:

“I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed.”

Followed by:

“The crucifixion cannot be shared because it is the symbol of projection, but the resurrection is the symbol of sharing because the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its Wholeness. Only this is knowledge:

Teach only love, for that is what you are.

If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than the call for peace for which it was intended.”

And now, I find this even more relevant to our journey today, as found in A Course of Love. The material that follows is found in the section entitled “Original Purpose.” (emphasis is my addition.)

T3:5.4 You have tried to live in a house built on a faulty foundation, attempting to make do with what you have. All your time was spent in making repairs through the cracked and peeling walls that you built. That you would eventually call to yourself a fire that would burn these walls to ash or a flood that would wash them away, was as much a part of the survival mechanism of your real Self as was the rush to rebuild a part of the survival mechanism of the ego-self.

T3:5.5 All this you have already tried to do. These lessons you have already tried to learn. This Course has come so that these many things that you have tried need not be repeated, just as the crucifixion came to end the need to learn through suffering and death.

T3:5.6. The story that I lived was appropriate for the time in which I lived it, and has an appropriateness that continues even now. I walked the earth in order to reveal A God of Love. The question of the time, a question still much in evidence, was how mighty could God’s love be if it were given to a people who suffered. The answer was so mighty that he would even allow the death of his only son to redeem the world. (Historical perspective)

T3:5.7. The death of an only son, then as now, would be seen as a sacrifice of enormous proportions; the greatest sacrifice of all. The point of the story, however was not one of sacrifice but one of gift giving. The greatest gift of all was given, the gift of redemption. The gift of redemption was the gift of an end to the pain and suffering and a beginning of resurrection and new life. It was a gift meant to empty the world of the ego-self and to allow the personal self to live on as the one true Self, the one true son of God. The gift of redemption was given once and for all. It is the gift of restoration to original purpose. Without there having been an original purpose worthy of God’s son, the crucifixion would have ended life in form and returned the sons of man to the formless. Instead, the sons of man were freed to pursue their original purpose.

T3:5.8 This story has been repeated endlessly in time, in time extending both forward and back. Each father’s son will die. This means not what you have taken it to mean, an endless series of generations passing. What this means is that in each the ego will die and the Self be reborn to life eternal. Without rebirth of the Self, the original purpose goes unfulfilled. Since God is original purpose, original cause, the origin of self and of relationship, the original purpose cannot go unfulfilled. What this means is that the illusion will be no more and the truth will reign. Such is the reign of God.”

And so, our purpose here from the beginning, is once again stated, perhaps more clearly or simply that before. Also, closer to being fully realized than we could imagine.

The Resurrection

The material that follows is found in the First Treatise: A Treatise on The Art of Thought, Chapter 8, Incarnation and Resurrection.

  • “…What I was in life was the manifestation of form, of the Will of God. Thus too have you been. …But with my resurrection, which was accomplished for all, the meaning of life, the reality of life changed, though we know this not. The great experiment in separation ended with the resurrection, though you have known this not. For the resurrection and life are now one and the same.” (T1:8.2)
  • “That they are the same has not meant the automatic realization of this change of enormous proportions….the understanding of the truth of an historical event changes over time and it may take a hundred or a thousand or even two thousand years for the real truth to be realized. Even though many versions of the truth have been accepted previously, there is only one truth. There was only one truth at the time the event or change took place, and there is only one truth in time or eternity regardless of the variety of the interpretations of the truth.” (T1:8.3)
  • “I’ve come now to reveal the one truth that has existed for the past 2000 years without your comprehension of it. The nature of life changed with the resurrection. I am the resurrection and the life. So are you.” (T1:8.4)
  • “As I no longer suffer separation, you need no longer suffer the separation. Even though the resurrection returned not life to the form I once occupied, it returned me to you in the form of the resurrected Christ who exists in all of you, bringing resurrection even unto your forms [bodily idea of life]. I became the Word incarnate upon my resurrection rather than upon my birth. ….my resurrection brought about the Word [Christ, I Am] made flesh in each of you. You who have come after me are not as I was but as I Am. …You are the resurrected and the life.” (T1:8.5)
  • “… you have been reborn as god-man, as God and man united. The resurrection is the cause and effect of the union of the human and divine. This is accomplished. This is in effect the way the man Jesus became the Christ [the Christ consciousness in all].” (8.6)
  • “The heart and mind joined in union accomplished the reunion of the separated self with God. The resurrection was the evidence of this accomplishment. It laid aside death’s claim and with it the claim of all that is temporary.” (T1:8.8)

The link between resurrection and incarnation.

  • “Illusion is the death you need but arise from. Arise to your resurrected self! There is no longer a god-head to follow into paradise. [ignore all others and] know instead the example of Mary, Mother of God.” (T1:8.9)
  • “What is a mother but she who incarnates, makes spirit flesh through her own flesh, makes spirit flesh through union. That you have in your version of creation, made it necessary for woman to join with man in order for new life to come forth, is but another example of how your memory of creation was made to serve what you would have come to be. The separated self could not exist in separation and so created a way in which other separated forms could come into existence and live with you in separation. That you recognized union as a prerequisite to creation is proof of your memory’s tenacity and the failure of illusion to completely rid you of what you know.” (T1:8.10)

Time to reflect on this. “… in your version of creation” speaks to the dream we’ve made that calls for intercourse to create life. This perpetuates the dream of the physical being real. It also perpetuates separation. The last sentence then provides two valuable points. First, the “memory’s tenacity” to selectively forget our reality, and secondly, regardless how we hold onto this dream, our true reality (as God’s extension) is not completely forgotten.

  • “The virgin birth was thus a necessary step in the reclaiming of the real act of creation, the bringing forth of the new through union with the divine Self….. This is a call to embrace the truth.” (T1:8.11)
  • Mary is called upon now as the myth to end all myths for in this example life alone is the key to the riddle provided. (T1:8.12)
  • “You are each called to return to your virgin state, to a state unaltered by the separation, a state in which what is begotten is begotten through union with God. It is from this unaltered state that you are free to resurrect, as I resurrected. It is through the Blessed Virgin Mary’s resurrection in form that the new pattern of life is revealed.” (8.13)
  • “The new pattern of life is the ability to resurrect in form. The ability to resurrect in life. The ability to resurrect now.” (8.14)
  • “Thus is the glory that is yours returned to you in life rather than in death.” (8.15)

Here is the bottom line on the gift to me, and to you: We are not to resurrect as Jesus did, through the form of death! We are to resurrect as the Mother Mary did, during her lifetime while in form!

  • “The male [Jesus] provided the manifestation or the effect of the cause created by the female in the virgin birth. My mother, Mary, was responsible for the incarnation of Christ in me as I am responsible for the incarnation of Christ in you. This union of the male and female is but union of the parts of yourself expressed in form and story, expressed, in other words, in a visual pattern that aides your understanding of the invisible. It is one more demonstration of the union that returns you to your natural state. It is one more demonstration of cause and effect being one in truth. It is one more demonstration of what needs to occur now, in this time, in order for the truth of the resurrection to be revealed and lived.” (T1:8.16)

Later in the book, this is reiterated in The Dialogues, Day 18:

“Resurrection lays aside death’s claim and with it the claim of all that is temporary…. Your separated state was a sickness, an unwanted state, and thus a temporary manifestation. The joining of mind and heart provided reunion of the human and divine and thus accomplished the resurrection of the eternal in form. Your virgin state, the state unaltered by the separation, has been returned.” (D:Day18.5.6)

Jesus, you hear my asking, and desire to understand this message you’ve given us. I long for this answer, this direction, this full awakening. Thank you!