“Once Upon a Time...”
Paul L. Garlington
Once upon a time! This is the traditional, universal opening phrase in fairy stories about events occurring at some indefinite time long ago. In folk-lore and legend, a fairy was a diminutive, supernatural being of human shape, with magical powers. Do you remember as a child how much you loved to hear a parent, teacher, older sibling or friend introduce story time with the immortal words, “Once upon a time...”? It was a passport to a place and time where people lived like masters, creating and ruling over circumstances rather than living under them.

What is this enduring fascination of folklore and legend that has spawned the creation of mega-empires like Disney World? Are the children the only ones captivated by these legends? Or could they also be our convenient excuse to participate in the experience as well? Is it possible that our enduring myths and legends contain eternal truths about ourselves and others? Could it be that what we’ve accepted as truth is the real fairy tale and what we’ve rejected as “the lie” was actually the truth now coming to us cloaked in folk-lore and legend?

“To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “Once upon a time, we knew God as the infinite, absolute, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent One, besides whom there’s none else, in whom we all lived and moved and had our being. Because we lived in the awareness that the One God who is all that is lived His life as all that I am, we exercised dominion and lived like masters.” How many times, in point of fact, have we privately dreamed and fantasized about this very lifestyle that the kids enjoy so unabashedly in “Once upon a time”?

What happened!? To concede that God/good is the only power compels us to admit that, “all things came into being by Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being.” Obviously, only what God is doing is real, and only what God has created exists. Since God/good saw everything He had made and pronounced it good and very good, and there is no other power, only what is good is real. Evil in any form is not real. Nevertheless, in spite of this awesome truth, once upon a time, for reasons still shrouded in mystery, we became restless in paradise. Although we knew God, we no longer glorified Him as God (i.e., conceded that God/good is the infinite One, besides whom there is none else), neither were we thankful. Once upon a time, perhaps for reasons too absurd to contemplate, we chose to become futile in our speculations and our foolish heart was darkened. Accepting lies about God, we negated our own reality, for God is all there is of all that I am...there is simply no one else. Even until this present time, we are still groping like blind men, trying to return to the place we never left, seeking to acquire the good we never lost, hoping to become what we already are. There are even those who insist that they cannot be saved until they uncover and unravel the mystery of paradise lost. Isn’t that similar to refusing to leave the house that is practically engulfed in flames until you know how it occurred?


Once upon a time, there was a man called Jesus who actually lived His life in this dominion that we call a veil of tears as if God/good is all there is. So convinced was He of the allness of God that He concluded, “I am my Father are one.” Moreover, He insisted that if we believed on Him and lived our lives as He did, we would not only perform the awesome things that He did, but even greater. In fact, when challenged to produce the source of His authority for the claims He made about Himself and the works that He did (i.e., how dare He perform miracles on the Sabbath), He called upon our own scriptures that refer to us as, “gods”. He was in the world, but not of it. He was the light shining in a dark place. He rose above the limitations of human sight and sense, and demonstrated that, not only is mastery possible, it is normal. At no time did He ever take credit for what He did as a separate self, for this would be denial of God/good as all there is. It was ever His joyful contention that it is the Father doing His thing in (as) me. He showed us the way back home.


Once upon a time, still shrouded in mystery (apparently we like it like that), Jesus showed us the secret of how to make a successful entrance into this dimension. When it was said of Him, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written (prescribed for) of me; I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy Law is within my heart.” (Ps 40:7, 8) He lived his life with 100% intentionality as if God/good is all there is. Hence, He saw no sickness or disease to destroy, only health and wholeness to call forth with joyful celebration. He lived as if omniaction is the only power in operation with such total abandon, that even when He stood before Pilate, crowned with thorns and fettered, He boldly announced to the so-called powers that be, “You have no authority over me unless it had been given to you from above.” “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus...to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur.” (Acts 4:27, 28)

He never saw secondary (human) causes, but rejoiced in the fact that God, the One and only power, does all things well. He lived as if divine life is the only life that I am, unfolding at all times precisely as it should. Finally, He lived in the present moment accepting His good as an omnipresent, present that was pre-sent, even before He entered this dimension. Apparently, He understood that He and the day in which He lived was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” He understood that the radical acceptance of, “Thank you, Father, you have already heard me,” was all that was necessary to bring good into one’s experience. In other words, He was and still is the prototypical model for the Alpha and Omega Project.


Once upon a time, let’s say, July 4th, 1993, a small band was called to embrace a higher call based on the celebration of One power, infinitely good, eternally unchangeable, doing wondrous things. Like Abraham, we went out not knowing where we were going. Since there was no preexistent model or established precedent, we had to follow an unchartered course through a trackless wilderness, trusting that we would surely hear a word behind us saying, “This is the way, walk ye therein.” We have had to learn to live with not knowing, knowing that it would be given to us in that hour and we would discover that, although the way was new for us, God had already gone ahead of us leaving in strategic places the perfect provision according to His infinitely good purpose, established before the foundation of the world. Once upon a time, sometimes individually, often in a group, it began to dawn upon that motley crew, that yes, it is indeed time: I am becoming what I already am; returning to a place I never left; recovering what I could not lose, and all that remains is to celebrate what is. Once upon a time is really now, is really you, is really possible if you will only accept it like Jesus, by saying, “Thank you Father, you have already heard me.”

Do you get it? Except you become like a little child, you will not be able to enter the kingdom that, ironically, you never left. You see, the kids understand that separation from God/good is a game played by the adults who have forgotten who and where they are and, for some strange reason, are trying to return home through logic and reason, rather than through heartfelt, heart seen and heart understood gratitude, giving glory to God alone. (“‘And now, here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ ‘What is essential is invisible to the eye,’ the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.”)

“Bless the Lord (give thanks, feel joy and gratitude), O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.” Radical, joyful, yes even, ecstatic acceptance of God/good as all there is is the key to mastery, daily miracles, and never forgetting who we are, what we have and where we came from.

Once upon a time, that little band that went out on the fourth of July ignited with the fire of joy, praise, gratitude and thanksgiving, were turned loose like Samson’s foxes in the standing to literally set the fields afire. If you will receive it, Once upon a time is now!

Out of the pit of gloom and despair, I rise.
Ascending on wings of gratitude, I soar.
With a shout of joy, they welcome me home.
Futility and pain, I will know no more.

Sighing and mourning, I’ve tossed aside.
Laughter and singing define my new state.
Walls of salvation rebuilt and restored.
The doors flung wide open, praise at the gate.

I’ve come to that city, Jerusalem, peace.
I’ve entered in with thanksgiving in my heart.
I’ve cast down futility, speculation and doubt.
I’ve returned home, I’ve made a new start.

Out of the pit of gloom and despair, I rise.
Ascending on wings of gratitude, I soar.
He led captive a great and glorious host.
I am here now, nowhere no more.


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