Guest Articles 2000 to Present

Guest Articles 2000 to Present

83 Million Can’t Be Unimportant!

On June 18, 2017, Rev. Kelly Hallock spoke to those gathered at the Community Miracles Center Sunday Gathering in San Francisco, California. The following is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.

83 Million Bits of DataI titled my talk today "83 Million Can't Be Unimportant." I got that from google.com. I was shocked. I googled just the word "forgiveness." I was wondering what google.com said about forgiveness. It has over 83 million hits on just the word "forgiveness." I was like, "Oh my gosh! This apparently is a big deal!" I was then curious as to how many hits A Course in Miracles has. ACIM has just over 532,000 so it is important! But at least in the global Google internet world, "forgiveness" has about 160 times more hits than A Course in Miracles. I really felt like this was what I should talk about today.

Someone shared with me a different perspective on forgiveness a couple of weeks ago, and this has really changed how I am looking at it. It's changed how I am approaching it. It has changed how I feel about things. I want to share that. I knew I was talking this Sunday so I thought "Ok, that works!" Then Tuesday or Wednesday, I went on amazon.com and ordered my dad's Father's day gift. I sent him his Father's day gift.

Then last night at about 9:00 p.m. I thought tomorrow is Father's Day! I knew I was speaking on Sunday; I knew Father's Day was Sunday, but I hadn't connected them. Then I realized I am speaking on Father's Day! I had a moment where I felt bad because I gotta give a shout out to the dads, "Hi Dads!" I love the dads out there, but I still felt forgiveness was really what I was supposed to talk about today. So that's why you aren't getting a "God is our Father. We love God as our Father" talk today. That was usually what I would have done had I realized it. However for some reason, Spirit just didn't want me to make that connection for today.

So we are going to talk about forgiveness and the 83 million hits that it has on Google. How do you even start with that? I think there are about 20 hits per page. (laughter) How do you go through 83 million? I can't even conceive of how Google counts that. This relates a bit to the last time I spoke. The last time I spoke, the title of that talk was "The Time for Healing is Now." I talked about some of the steps we take in bringing healing into our lives. We look at circumstances differently. We try to see the good in all things. We don't suppress our emotions, but we acknowledge them and allow ourselves to work through them with the help of Holy Spirit.

Then the last thing I said during that talk about healing was that we are to be a channel and conduit for healing. That is where the change came for me regarding forgiveness this past couple of weeks. I have a friend who shared that forgiveness is not something that you do, rather it is something that is done to you. It is a mystical experience that is done to you.

I thought that was an odd concept. I've always thought, "I am going to forgive Rev. Lucas. I am going to forgive Rev. Tedosio. I am going to forgive my sister. I am going to forgive …" (Rev. Lucas and Rev. Tedosio were at service that week – Rev. Kelly has no grievance with them.) It's always something I've thought I did. Yet how often, let's be honest, have we thought we wanted to forgive this person and two years later we are still pissed off. Don't we do that? Or we say "They screwed up. They don't deserve my forgiveness." We all do that. Even on the earthly plane, we don't forgive because we feel bad and we punish ourselves by not forgiving. This way we feel guilty about it because we have some issue we are working with. I have struggled with that a lot over the years. Friends, family, teachers – I look at them and I want to forgive. As much as I said I wanted to forgive, there was a part of me that didn't. Then I go into that cycle where I get mad at myself because I didn't forgive and now I need to forgive myself for not forgiving. (laughter) It gets into those crazy cycles.

This person said to me, "It's not you forgiving. It's a mystical practice, not that you do, but that is done to you." I wondered what the Course said. I've never heard it phrased that way. I wanted to know what A Course in Miracles said about it. I looked it up. It was interesting. I looked up the part in the Course that is titled, "What Is Forgiveness?"  It was interesting because I realized it talks about forgiveness in the third person. I had never seen that before. It doesn't say, "when you forgive."

It says in the reading from earlier this morning, "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you ..." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.1) It doesn't say, "When you forgive, you recognize …" It says "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin." It also says down a little further, "Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do …" Isn't that interesting? "... let forgiveness show you what to do …" (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.5) If you are doing the forgiving, how does it show you? It couldn't. A Course In Miracles is talking about forgiveness as if it's a third party. It's a third party outside of yourself. That's an interesting concept!

Think about it! It takes a lot of guilt away. It gets us out of that cycle of needing to forgive ourselves for not forgiving. Now, it's I have this thing out there. It's a tool for me to use. It's a tool for me to bring into my life, but it isn't something I am having to create within myself. It's something that will guide me. It's something that will teach me.

So how do we move towards it? How do we get into it? A Course in Miracles tells us forgiveness, "... offends no aspect of reality nor seeks to twist it to appearance that it likes. It merely looks and waits and judges not." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.4) Again, it's talking about forgiveness as if it is a third-party. Forgiveness merely looks. It waits. It judges not. How do we get to that point of embodying forgiveness? What do we do when we say I am going to let forgiveness comes through me? How are we to be the channel, the conduit for forgiveness?

Forgiveness is this idea that comes in and tells us, let's release judgment. Let's release this thought. What is the critical piece on our part? I've talked about this before. It's willingness. We have got to be willing. It's not that we are doing the forgiveness, but we have to be willing to let forgiveness come in and change us. In Chapter 30 of the Original Edition Text, it says, "Look on your brother with the willingness to see him as he is." (OrEd.Tx.30.77) Since I've been changing my perspective on this, I found this really interesting. The Course says, "Look on your brother with the willingness to see him as he is." (OrEd.Tx.30.77) It doesn't say "Look on your brother as he is." If you did, you would probably be pretty much enlightened, right? (laughter) You would be like "Oh, he is God too." We are pretty much good to go then. We don't really see that though.

So how do we look at our brother? We move to a point of being willing to see our brother as he is. We say, "Ok, Holy Spirit. There is Reverend Lucas. Let me see Reverend Lucas as they are." But we have to be willing.

I was reading Teach Only Love by Gerald G. Jampolsky. I'm not sure if I pronounced his last name right. That's close enough. (laughter) I read it while I was on retreat a couple of years back. In this book he says pretty much the same thing. "Forgiveness is relinquishing an unhelpful train of thought. Forgiveness is the gentle refusal to defend ourselves against love." I thought that was great. "Forgiveness is the gentle refusal to defend ourselves against Love." It doesn't say to grab love; it says to stop fighting it.

That's what the Course says, right? It doesn't try to teach love. It teaches us how to remove the barriers. There has to be a willingness to open up to that. Then Jampolsky continues, "It's a willingness to perceive everyone including ourselves as either expressing love or feeling a need for love." Again, it's a willingness. It's a willingness.

Jampolsky also says, "Forgiveness does not imply a type of behavior." How often do we do that? I have forgiven them so I have to act a certain way. The Community Miracles Center has had issues on Facebook. People have said that if we are being forgiving, then we can't block people who won't follow guidelines. I have had people say that if I have forgiven my sister, I would need to take telephone calls from her if she called. Jampolsky is saying that forgiveness is not a specific type of behavior. It is a willingness to see the brother as needing love or expressing love.

I asked my friend how do I implement this? He said to me, "You stop letting yourself go into your story. You keep coming back and say that you are willing."

We aren't going to say that you have to forgive. If we said that, what would we do? It's like when you are on a diet. People tell you don't have the chocolate cake. Then the only thing you obsess about is the chocolate cake. That is the worst! People will say, "Don't eat french fries." Then every time you turn around, there is a McDonald's right there on the corner. This is the same thing. You can't just say, "I'm going to forgive my brother, forgive my brother, forgive my brother." Because then what are you doing? You are thinking that need to forgive your brother for being a jerk. You are thinking that you will forgive them even though they did this crap to you. You are going to forgive your brother for …

My friend simply said, "I am going to stop repeating this story and I come to a place of willingness." He comes to a place of saying, "I ask that forgiveness set me and set that person free." It may not even be a specific person. It could be, "I ask that forgiveness sets me and sets the Republican party free." "I ask that forgiveness set me and my sister free."

We will reference my sister again because that is a big forgiveness lesson for me. I don't see her as perfect. I will admit that. I look at her life choices and I think that they are messed up. She's messed up. So every time I go to that thought, I have to pause and I say, "I'm not going to keep thinking that thought. I am going to stop." It only takes ten seconds. "I ask that forgiveness set me and sets my sister free."

It seems too simple. It's a ten second phrase. "I ask that forgiveness set me and this person free." Here is the difference. You aren't fighting it. You are trying to bring the forgiveness in. It's not something you have to do. There is an acknowledgement, first, that forgiveness is "outside" of me from the Holy Spirit. I am saying I am willing to allow Holy Spirit to do this work through me. I am willing to allow there to be forgiveness in this situation.

Like I said about Jampolsky, you don't have to behave a certain way. It doesn't mean you have to behave a certain way. In the reading again it says, "Do nothing then …" That is an implied "you" – you, yourself. Don't be fighting this. Don't be trying to figure out what to do. "… let forgiveness show you what to do through Him Who is your Guide." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.5) So forgiveness is being talked about again here as a third party. This third party comes through Holy Spirit. It says do this – do nothing.

I will tell you that another big forgiveness lesson for me has been to forgive myself that I can't tolerate everybody. (laughter) I've looked at the compromise approach that the Course teaches about illness, and for me that applies to all parts of my life. I am not spiritually at the point when I can just sit there and allow somebody to be verbally abusive to me and not let it affect me. I'm just not there yet. I've asked Holy Spirit what to do.

The very clear guidance that I have received is that I allow the person to say what they need to the first time. Again, this is the guidance that I've received for me. Other people are different. Then I don't leave myself in the situation. If that person chooses to continue to be offensive, that is fine. I know they are a perfect child of God, but I've been shown for me that I am not in a place to be able to just sit there with it and not go into false beliefs about myself.

So Spirit said to me, "Take the compromise approach. Take yourself out. On another day when you are doing better, then you can deal again with that person." I don't judge them for their behavior. Yet I allow the guidance that I have received to direct me. If I start to go into judgment, I go back to Spirit and say, "I ask that forgiveness set me and set that other person free too." Sometimes, you have to take that break. The Course talks about taking that little magic pill when you have a cold. You know that the Course says it is just a magic pill. But guess what? You think you are a body. You are sick. You are coughing, sneezing and whatever. Sometimes you just need to take that compromise. So for forgiveness, you say "I ask that forgiveness set me and that other person free." That is acknowledging I'm not feeling free at this moment. "I ask that forgiveness set me and that other person free."

How does this look going forward? "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred … What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.1) We talk a lot in the CMC office about level confusion – people focusing on the spiritual realm and trying to deny their world experience. It isn't saying that you deny things like that person just crossed the street in front of me.

I was driving for Uber this past weekend. I am trying to pay off some credit cards! Good old Uber! I had this guy get into the car, hopped in and was kind of grumbling to himself. He then flipped open his laptop computer and it was a long drive. He didn't say a word to me for the rest of the drive. My initial thought was, "This guy is a jerk! Really???" It was from San Francisco airport to past Walnut Creek (an hour plus trip that includes going over the San Francisco Bay Bridge).We are talking a long Uber drive. He didn't say a word to me the whole time. He just sat and played on his laptop. There was the thought I had that he was a jerk. How rude that he wouldn't even barely say hi to me.

The Course isn't saying that I deny that he got into the car and opened his laptop. What am I thinking about this event is what didn't happen. "He was a jerk; he was ignoring me." Truth was, I don't know why he was on his laptop. He just didn't talk to me the whole time. I could say, "Man got in car. Man opened laptop. Man didn't speak to me." but the whole rest of the story was my story. I looked at it and had to say, guess what? "I ask forgiveness to set me and this man free" because I knew that the story wasn't real. I was going into anger and judgment about things that weren't really there. It was my story.

How do we know it is working? I was talking to my friend and asked him if he just forgives everyone and he said "Oh, no." But the guy that my friend was wishing was dead – now maybe my friend is just praying that the guy got the flu last week. (laughter) It is a process! That is why you keep going back to it. You realize that you are still not free of your thoughts. I am still not free. I am still holding this judgment but it does get better.

It used to be that my mom would start talking about my sister and I'd be like "Heck, no! I don't want to hear about that crap! She's a messed up brat!" Then I would start going into my story. I would start venting to my mom how stupid I thought my sister was. Now, I just sit there, listen and think it's okay. She's my sister. Those are the not the choices I would make but that's fine. I'm not always necessarily the most loving. I said something a few days ago that I am not repeating. We will leave it at that. (laughter) I said something I probably shouldn't have, but it's less frequent.

You realize that you are not caught up in those emotions any more. You are not being ruled by your feelings and your thoughts. You don't have to say, "I'm mad at him so I'm going to go do this." You are able to say, "I am mad at him and I am asking forgiveness to heal him and me. Holy Spirit, what would you have me do?" Then you are able to follow that with a sense of peace, of knowing, whatever the circumstances are, that you are being Spirit guided. It is your healing. It is part of the healing process, that as you are healed you are now bringing healing to that other person. Maybe it will change the outward appearance. Maybe it won't. Who knows?

The other part of it is that it helps us to be open with one another – not just the person you were upset with, or the situation you were upset with. Now you can be open with others. Here is what happens. I get mad at my sister. If I can't trust my sister, if I can't trust blood, how can I trust my friend? Don't you go there? In college, every time I took economics, I hated the professor. So I could think, "Obviously, professors are just jerks." Is that true? "No." But what do we do? We haven't forgiven one so we put it out there on everybody. We want to guard ourselves; we want to protect ourselves. So it's not only that the forgiveness is towards that person but it is healing yourself so that you can open up to a relationship with everyone else too. So that you can live in a life of Love.

I love the lesson today. It seems the lesson of the day always ties into what I was to talk about. That is cool. It said, "By grace I live. By grace I am released." I think you could bring that into this discussion. By forgiveness I live; by forgiveness I am released. Bring it into your life and say "I am willing; I am open. I am not going to fight this. I'm willing to be healed." Be willing to let forgiveness heal whatever is bothering you. Be open to that. Thank you. That is my talk! (applause)

Rev. Kelly Hallock is CMC's 89th minister. She currently works remotely as the CMC's Assistant Minister from her home in Anderson Island, WA (03.17.2019). She is also on the CMC Board of Diretors. She was ordained by the CMC on Sep. 13, 2015.

83 Million Bits of Data


© 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Rev. Kelly Hallock
c/o Community Miracles Center
POB 470341
San Francisco, CA 94147
(415)621-2556
miracles@earthlink.net
www.miracles-course.org

This article appeared in the July 2017 (Vol. 31 No.5) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.

Ordination Ceremony - April 8 2017

Reverends: Lucas, Brenda, Brooke, Lisbett, & JanelleOn April 8, 2017, five candidates were ordained as *A Course in Miracles* Ministers of the Communnity Miracles Center. The ceremony was held at Nick’s Rockaway Beach Restaurant in Pacifica, California The following is a lightly edited transcription of the talks that the five new ministers gave after being ordained.

 

Rev. Lisbett Christensen,
CMC Minister #99

Rev. Lisbett ChristensenI just want to say to each and every one of you, I am grateful for this blessing today, for all the abundance that has come here and blessed me in order for me to be here, and everything that has come together. I am so very, very grateful to everyone – so very grateful.

When I first started thinking about what I was going to talk about here today ... it wasn’t that I didn’t know what to talk about. This has been the culmination, the logical culmination, of being involved with A Course in Miracles. This two year program is like the icing on the cake. It was something I had to do. So I stood and I thought, “Ok what am I going to talk about?” Because I could talk about anything that comes from A Course in Miracles. It came to me the other morning while I was standing at the kitchen window. I was going through one of those moments that even though I’ve been reading the Course for 30 years, when you live with someone as I do, you have those “domestic” moments. You just go, “Uuugh ...” and the ego is alive and well. It has its reasons for getting upset. So I was standing there in the kitchen and I thought to myself – these holy instants come faster now thank goodness – “Is this really worth giving up my peace over?” The answer was thankfully, “No. It’s not worth giving up my peace for.”

I got to thinking, this is a good way to break into what I’m going to talk about today. It picks up on a couple places in the Course. I’m going to use a couple of quotes. One of them comes from the very last section of the Text of A Course in Miracles which is “Choose Once Again.” It says, “Temptation has one lesson it would teach in all its forms wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this: ‘Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell and hold your brothers there.’ For He has come, and He is asking this.” (OrEd.Tx.31.83-85)

Later it says, “Learn then the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words: I am as God created me. His Son can suffer nothing. And I am His Son.” (OrEd.Tx.31.89-90) Over the years I’ve grown more and more into trusting this. At first, when you first start reading the Course, the words are just like words. There isn’t that depth, the level of really sinking in that comes with more years of practice – years of doing those lessons – after repeating them over and over. After years that depth is there every moment when you are tempted to go into fear mode, perceiving yourself as someone who can be attacked, and afraid, and fail, or whatever. There is that moment where you go, “No, I could choose peace instead,” or “If I attack anyone, I am attacking my own invulnerability.” All those things. So I have come to trust more and more, and I think we all will on our journeys. My trust isn’t totally there. However, it grows and grows every day. It comes more and more of the time.

What it really comes down to for me over the years, and especially lately, is I’ve come to realize A Course in Miracles is a course in identity. We learn all these nuances of what is in the Course, what miracles are, what it is to give and receive, and all these other different things. But it all really comes down to what I just read about temptation. Are you just this frail thing that will disappear, or are you the Son of God? Are you as God created you? They are not just words. Because every time you choose that holy instant, there is that flow that comes through you. More and more it becomes affirmed in you. You see it matching your own life.

So, a very important part of the Course jumped out at me. I find the words of the Course are very powerful if you use them with great intention. This particular passage for me is very powerful because when you say these things with great intention, there is something that happens. This one is from the “What am I?” section:

“I am God’s Son, complete and healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love. In me is His creation sanctified and guaranteed eternal life. In me is love perfected, fear impossible, and joy established without opposite. I am the holy home of God Himself. I am the Heaven where His Love resides. I am His holy sinlessness itself, for in my purity abides His own.

“Our use for words is almost over now. Yet in the final days of this one year we gave to God together, you and I, we found a single purpose that we shared. And thus you joined with me. So what I am are you as well. The truth of what we are is not for words to speak of nor describe. Yet we can realize our function here, and words can speak of this and teach it, too, if we exemplify the words in us.

“We are the bringers of salvation. We accept our part as saviors of the world, which through our joint forgiveness is redeemed. And this, our gift, is therefore given us. We look on everyone as brothers and perceive all things as kindly and as good. We do not seek a function that is past the gates of Heaven. Knowledge will return when we have done our part. We are concerned only with giving welcome to the truth.” (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp351.1-3)

Then at the end it says, “We are the holy messengers of God who speak for Him, and carrying His Word to everyone whom He has sent to us, we learn that it is written on our hearts. And thus our minds are changed about the aim for which we came and which we seek to serve. We bring glad tidings to the Son of God, who thought he suffered. Now is he redeemed. And as he sees the gate of Heaven stand open before him, he will enter in and disappear into the Heart of God.” (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp351.1-3)

And I will close with, “This holy instant would I give to You. ...” In the name of all of us here and myself. “... Be You in charge. For I would follow You, Certain that Your direction (and only Yours) gives me peace.” (OrEd.WkBk.361) Thank you.

 

Rev. Brenda Culbertson
CMC Minister #100

Rev. Brenda CulbertsonI just want to say I am so happy and so thankful to be here. I am so happy and thankful that all of you are here with me. You are absolutely my family and I love each and every one of you. So my talk is about focusing on the solution rather than the problem.

Recently I was entertaining myself with social media. It is a little bit of an addiction for me. I was scrolling by those pictures of puppies, “Yeah! Curie’s pretty cute!” (Curie is Rev. Kelly Hallock’s dog) and of food, “It looks pretty yummy!” and lots of things about Trump. Not going to touch that one with a ten-foot pole! (laughter)

I came across an interesting post from my friend named Lois. The post mentioned that she had just bought a Berkey water filter to remove the fluoride from her water. In her post she said, “This way I can drink clean water without having to buy it in bottles. You can get a flouride-removing filter too.” Those are not easy to come by. I know because I’ve researched that.

I responded to the post saying, “Berkey filters are the best! I have two in my house. One in my kitchen and one in my bedroom right by my bed.” Then I thought that she didn’t tell why it was so important to get the fluoride out of the water. So in my “By-the-way, I’m going to point out ...” I go into my YouTube history, find the two best YouTube videos and attach them on my response to Lois’ post. They are titled The International Conspiracy Against Enlightenment - Do Not Consume Flouride Ever and The Great Culling - Our Water. 

I commented, “THIS IS ABSOLUTELY CRIMINAL ...” in capital letters “... that they are putting this in our water.” All the while thinking I am doing a huge service to Lois and people that read her page by pointing this information out. Later I got that little notification window at the bottom of my screen saying someone else had commented on Lois’ post. I went back to her post wondering if anyone else was pointing out why fluoride was so very horrible. I noticed that she had removed all of my comments about fluoride leaving only the comment that I had two filters. I thought, “What was she thinking? This is important information! People need to know this.”

I took some time to reflect on it. What did I learn from that experience? My friend Lois is an energy worker. She’s a psychic intuitive. She’s able to consistently hold in mind how the Law of Attraction works. By focusing our thoughts on the problem, it generates negative feelings and frequencies of anger and fear which bring us more and more anger and fear experiences, which in turn generate anger and fear to us. So it is important to hold thoughts that generate positive emotions associated with finding an excellent solution to the problem and focus on that.

A Course in Miracles, The Way of Mastery, and A Course of Love are all tools helping us to remember and exercise our connection to God, Source, Energy. We must remember that our thoughts, feelings, and emotions have literally the power of creation in them. We have the power to create the reality we see and experience, with our thoughts. It’s just a matter of if we do it unconsciously or choose to do it consciously. That is why A Course in Miracles is a course in mind training. We literally have the ability to manifest a world of peace, love, joy, happiness, prosperity, and freedom for all – if we so choose – using just the power of our mind.

In this current life we will perform miracles greater than we did in our past lives that each and every one of us shared as Jesus. Yes, I said it. Each and every one of you was Jesus. You have that life experience walking the world as Jesus. You were Jesus in a past life. I will say it. This time, we will not just heal the sick, raise the dead, and walk on water. This time we will transform the world of seeming chaos into our idea of heaven on earth by using the creative power of our mind and focusing on new solutions instead of old problems.

It is so important to keep holding our energy high and keep the vision of what you want to create in your new heaven on earth timeline as you step into your God power and not get swept up into the worries of others that may pull you into lower darker and denser energies. Keep your energy signature high. Keep your vision of what you want clear. Know where your soul resonates and where you want to be. Now is the time, right now!

 

Rev. Brooke Vernon Grant
CMC Minister #101

Rev. Brooke Vernon GrantYou all know he’s a great teacher (said as Rev. Brooke pointed towards Rev. Tony Ponticello). I’m sorry Rev. Paul Marinkovich isn’t here. I had him for part one of this course. Thanks to Rev. Heather Holmes also who is not here. She was a significant part of my learning this Course. Working on thinking through what to talk about tonight, and I know we only have 50-70 minutes, and that’s not much. (laughter) Just kidding. I’m a retired teacher. I really miss teaching and if I go on for more than an hour, stop me! (laughter)

Most of you probably know the Course pretty well so I can’t teach you anything, but I wanted to go over one of my experiences. It got reinforced with this new edition of A Course in Miracles talking about there is revelation happening after miracles. Miracles lead to revelations. Let me tell ya. I’ve been working with the Course – this is my 38th year – and this program has been really significant. These last two years have been so much more powerful – being able to talk with my classmates and the teachers.

Last February, over a year ago, we were doing Lesson 41 again “God goes with me wherever I go.” Now in my 38 years, I’ve probably looked at it again four or five times but it was like I was reading it for the first time. There’s a particular phrase in it, maybe you caught it. It’s “God goes with me wherever I go” and there’s this little phrase “It is quite possible to reach God” and another little phrase, “This exercise can bring very startling results.” (OrEd.WkBk.41.7)

I never had a very startling result with the Course in my 36 years of practice. I don’t know how many of you – how many of you want to show your hands – have had a startling experience with any of those lessons? (A few hands go up.) Ok, there are some. That’s great! I just want to share one. When I read that in Lesson 41, I decided I’m going to meditate until I have a startling experience. (laughter) The lesson says three to five minutes, but I just threw out that advice. I was going to ignore the time limits. I was just going to go, start, and have an experience. But the scientist part of my head said, “I better set a timer just in case. Set a kitchen timer.” I think it ran for twenty-four hours. (laughter) I’m not sure, but I set it before I started the meditation.

I’m usually pretty good about guesstimating time. I thought I was into this, I’m going to say fifteen minutes. My mind would wander on stuff and then I’d keep coming back, “God goes with me wherever I go.” I am going to guess that after fifteen minutes, it was almost like I got struck with a gentle lightning. I had my eyes closed. The sky opened up above the house I was in, and a friend of mine who had died three months ago came down through the clouds like you see in pictures of Jesus coming through the clouds. I’d been saying “God goes with me wherever I go.” She said to me, like mental telepathy, “We are all God.” Then is was just – whatever power, whatever electricity – something just increased going through me. It was like I was paralyzed. I wasn’t hurt by it. It was a gentle, loving paralysis. I don’t know if she said anything else to me or not. That is all I remember.

When I came out of that state, and I looked at the clock, 45 minutes had passed. I don’t know what happened in all those minutes. It was a pretty powerful experience. Now, I feel a little bit guilty because I was afraid to do it again. I was afraid I would fail. You know the lesson says we can always be successful.

I have tried it twice since, and I got a lesser version. I didn’t have anyone showing up and coming through the clouds or something like that. I did have some of an electrical type of state. There are four or five lessons like that. That’s the first one for the deeper meditation. It’s really powerful.

I wanted to talk about something else that I do. I do this teaching. Some of you might know this. I think this is real important. If you don’t know this ... maybe you do. Teach everyone. It’s Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). How many know this? Can I see hands? Ok, then you probably know this is like right out of A Course in Miracles. It’s the same set up.

(Rev. Brooke holds up a sign he has prepared. See page 8.) Some Activating Event “A” happens. Usually you think of something bad. This event might be someone breaks something valuable of yours, or you break up from a relationship. They will skip over their Beliefs “B,” and jump down to the Consequences “C.” They are upset, frustrated, irritated, pissed off, or something. They blame; they go back here. They are holding a grievance about someone back here at “A.”

All the things that we have happen, so many of them are lessons. I’d encourage you to work with REBT. Go and spread it around. Go talk with people about it. I talk with people in subway stations; I stop people on the street. I wander around always thinking this is part of my ministry, teaching everybody we can change all the thoughts. But people skip over their thoughts. This step “B” is their thoughts, and beliefs about “A.” That’s what upsets people. That’s the same thing the Course says. It says that you are only affected by your thoughts and you can elect to change all thoughts that hurt down here at “D.” Dispute your irrational beliefs. Just jump down here. You think better thoughts. You have a new effect down here at “E.” It’s part of the lesson. You can take out a lot of thoughts, take out a lot more grievances. Thank you.

 

Rev. Janelle Karas
CMC Minister #102

Rev. Janelle KarasI am so grateful to be here. Not only was it a journey to get here today, but it has been a lifetime journey to get here. That’s what I wanted to share today, a little about myself as Rev. Roxie (Rev. Roxie Benson, CMC minister #55 had spoken earlier in the ceremony) was saying, our story, or in this case my story, and how I’ve gotten here today.

I, like you, have been a seeker of truth from a very young age. I remember looking out at the world and wondering “How did I get here? This place is strange.” I really couldn’t relate to it. I also at a very young age had a voice, that I now know was the Holy Spirit, telling me I was going to change the world. At a very young age that seemed overwhelming, thinking how am I, this one small person, going to change the world.

Through my life I have learned. I have grown. I have definitely experienced a lot of trials and tribulations. I left my house at a very young age but again, I was always a seeker of truth. And Spirit, even though at that time I wasn’t really sure what that was, I felt something deep inside of me that always moved me. It always reminded me that no matter what I was going through there was something more, there was something different and there was something inside of me that continued to push me onward in my journey, in my journey of seeking the truth.

You know I tried on different religions, but nothing ever really seemed to hit home. There were some things I believed and others that I seriously doubted. Many years later I met a gentleman named Warren Wertheimer. He was going to be here with us today, but unfortunately he was unable to attend. I know he is here in spirit. He was the one who introduced me to A Course in Miracles. He instantly became a friend, one of those soulmates, one of those people you meet that you know is supposed to be in your life for a reason. He mentored me through the teachings of A Course in Miracles. He ended up giving me the book, and I tried to read that thing but it was very confusing at the time. It was like the Bible. I remember picking up the Bible at a young age and thinking, “I don’t understand any of this.”

Several years later I moved to Denver and I got introduced to Early Purdy who I am sure many of you know. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Walking in, on that Sunday afternoon, having another trial and tribulation in my life as it went, and sitting in there and feeling like I had found my home. I finally felt like I was hearing the truth. I was listening to the truth. What I learned was about my innocence and what God’s love is, not what the world’s description of love is. And forgiveness, again, not the world’s description of forgiveness, but what true forgiveness is and being able to look at my brothers and see the innocence in them and see that innocence reflecting that back to me.

So I was thinking of this speech that we have to give. One of the recommendations given was maybe one of the lessons. One of the lessons that really hit home for me was, “I am sustained by the Love of God.” (OrEd.WkBk.50) Again leaving home at a young age and having to take care of myself at a young age, I just got in this mindset that I was alone. I had to do it by myself. The only person I could rely on was me. When I learned this lesson I must have said it a hundred times a day, but in it I learned that God is always with me. It doesn’t matter what I do. If I feel I like I have stumbled, or failed, or whatever, I have never left God’s embrace. So that helped me in so many ways to just really clear up a lot of stuff in my life.

I got to this point where I truly wanted to minister to others like my friend Warren had ministered to me. So I was moved to become a minister of A Course in Miracles. I didn’t know what that looked like or how to do that. Honestly, from thinking that to maybe two days later, there was an email in my inbox from Community Miracles Center talking about this ministerial program. I was instantly on the phone and within a week started this program. (Woohoo!)

It has been the most amazing thing for me. My learning, my healing, my growth, continues. I, from the bottom of the heart, want to thank you Rev. Tony Ponticello (the Executive Minister of the CMC) and Rev. Kelly Hallock (the Assistant Minister of the CMC), everybody that supports the CMC to bring this to others. I feel so blessed through my journey, through all my trials and tribulations, that I am here today. So, thank you! God bless!

 

Rev. Lucas Sanchez
CMC Minister #103

Rev. Lucas SanchezThank you all for coming here and supporting us. Thank you and congratulations to Lisbett, Brenda, Brooke, and Janelle. We did it! (cheering!)

It seems for me it’s been a shorter journey than all of you. I’m pretty much a newbie to A Course in Miracles. I’ve known about A Course in Miracles through other spiritual teachers from the global, metaphysical community. They talk about ACIM all the time, and I’d say, “Oh ok.” In the back of my mind, “All right. Sounds good. I like it.” I like what other people say about the Course.

Yet I never felt really compelled until about two years ago. I was like “Ok. Let me check into this.” I didn’t come into this thinking I wanted to be a minister. It was more like, “Ahh, Let’s try this. Why not?” I’ve tried other things and I was looking for another community. Then right there on Market Street, though no longer on Market Street**, Community Miracles Center was so close to me. I was fortunate enough to have CMC right by me in that area – so thank you.

This is interesting to see. This speech is kind of like an acceptance speech in a way. “Thank you all for helping me and supporting me in my journey.” (laughter)

It’s been hard. I am dyslexic and so reading a book like this – reading any book – is very challenging. And understanding it! I still honestly have a tough time understanding, but I feel like a little bit is seeping in from time to time. More than anything else, not just reading the Text and practicing the Workbook, but being a part of a community ... I feel like I see and experience the Course out in the world. “Oh – that’s the Course’s teachings right there. Right there!”

For example, I just recently got back from vacation. I went to Cuba with my family. (cheering) My family is here. My mom and dad are here. Thank you for coming to be here and supporting me. (applause) I was in the Fort Lauderdale airport waiting for my flight. I saw a book from Paul Young. Some of you may know Paul Young who wrote The Shack that also recently came to be a movie. I have yet to see The Shack but a new book of his just recently came out, Lies We Believe About God. It caught my eye at the airport. It has a bold, black and white cover. It really got me thinking about the lies that I’ve believed about God, and in turn, the lies I’ve believed about myself. Who I am? Lies about what my identity is.

This has been my continuing journey of seeking the truth as I am sure you all have, all of you here are seeking that. In turn, what could be the opposite of truth? one could say that it was a lie or an untruth. I ran into this one quote in the Course which was quite interesting about the story of origin, about Adam and Eve. It says “When the ‘lies of the serpent’ were introduced, they were specifically called ‘lies’ because they are not true. When man listened, all he heard was untruth.” (OrEd.Tx.2.13) Then it goes on to say “Man’s Spiritual eye can sleep, but a sleeping eye can still see. What is seen in dreams seems to be very real. The Bible mentions that ‘a deep sleep fell upon Adam,’ and nowhere is there any reference to his waking up.” (OrEd.Tx.2.13) 

One thing that I really love about the Course is reframing these stories, phrases, ideas – about salvation, about Easter, about resurrection and all these things – and reframing them. “Ok, this is what it really means. Think about it this way.” It’s interesting that the Course is saying as Adam ate from the “fruit of the tree of knowledge,” I have believed my knowledge of the Bible. When Adam ate the “fruit” he fell asleep. So we are still asleep in many respects. This is what this world is, it is a dream. I thought that was a very interesting way of reframing what it means to be alive.

I keep on thinking about this significant thing for me here, what it means to become a “Reverend.” Not so much about that I now have this title, but where I am at in my spiritual journey. I feel a need to talk, to just let my voice be heard which often times in the past I haven’t. I don’t talk very often. A lot of people don’t get to know me and don’t know what I’m thinking about or what I’m up to. This is an opportunity for me to speak more and to really know what’s going on, what’s my perspective on the world, and the changing of my perspective. With our current U.S. president, I’m not going to speak any more (laughter) about that. It just seems all the more important for me, and also for other people, to speak their voice – to find their voice if they don’t know what it is and to speak it.

We all have unique perspective that needs to be heard. Because of the technology, because of the internet, we have an opportunity to do that. So, I am looking forward to the times to come, because I believe they’re going to be rocky, but it’s going to be shining – bright and shiny! Thank you so much! I guess now is the time for dinner! (laughter and cheering!) Thank you all. 

Reverends: Lucas, Brenda, Brooke, Lisbett, & Janelle


© 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Community Miracles Center
POB 470341
San Francisco, CA 94147
(415)621-2556
miracles@earthlink.net
www.miracles-course.org

This article appeared in the June 2017 (Vol. 31 No. 4) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.

My Statement of Faith

Dove Flies in Sun BurstA declaration or Statement of Faith can be defined as a phrase or phrases that articulate a set of spiritual or religious beliefs representing the key ideas in a religion or spiritual practice. Statements of faith are often used in religious services or celebrations to allow members to reaffirm their shared beliefs regarding their relationship with God. A statement of faith can be short or long and at a deeply personal level it can be an explanation of your spiritual beliefs. A guide suggests that in writing a statement of faith, that some of the questions you ask yourself include:

what you believe about the Scriptures,
what you believe about Jesus,
what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit, and
some other important belief statements.

As I grew up, my first exposure to a Statement of Faith was The Apostles Creed. It articulates a belief in God and Jesus Christ, the Immaculate Conception, Jesus' death, Resurrection and Second Coming, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. The current traditional church I attend also has a Statement of Faith that is recited at every Service by those attending. Guests are welcome to participate as well. The power of sharing beliefs and thought systems is well articulated in the Course with the following popular passages: "Thoughts increase by being given away." (OrEd.Tx.5.8) "…ideas increase only by being shared," (OrEd.Tx.5.76) and Jesus also says in the Course, "Each of us is the light of the world, and by joining our minds in this light, we proclaim the Kingdom of God together and as one." (OrEd.Tx.6.38).

As part of my spiritual practice, I have been consistently prodded to distill the teachings of A Course in Miracles into some type of declaration or statement that would provide me with a foundation for reaffirming daily my allegiance to its thought system using as much as possible Text, Workbook or Teacher's Manual passages. We receive great encouragement to align our thinking to the Course's thought system when Jesus says, "To join with me is to restore His power to you, because we are sharing it." (OrEd.Tx.8.38) While I am mindful of the need to consistently consult the Holy Spirit for guidance, developing and using a personal statement of faith allows me to take the initiative to begin the process with the acknowledgement of my choice to follow the Holy Spirit and remember fundamental teachings. This assists me in reaffirming my allegiance to God and leads me into a mindset of receptiveness to be still and listen for guidance.

The process of developing a statement of faith began by assembling some of the content that "leapt off the page" to me during certain periods of reading, engaging in Workbook practice or participating in Community Miracles Center sponsored class times. Recently, I have begun my day with the following excerpts on being happy, the responsibility for sight, what is often referred to as the Course version of the Lord's Prayer and the opening paragraph to the Workbook section "What Am ?"

"Be happy, and you gave the power of decision to Him Who must decide for God for you. This is the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit, and even this He gave to you to give yourself. For by this gift is given you the power to release your savior that he may give salvation unto you." (OrEd.Tx.21.17)

"[The offering of my small willingness to the Holy Spirit] is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain, and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

"I am responsible for what I see.
I chose the feelings I experience, and I decided
on the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I asked for and received as I had asked.

"Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear." (OrEd.Tx.21.14-16)

"Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You in which there are no illusions and where none can ever enter. Our holiness is Yours. What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect? The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love. Let us not wander into temptation, for the temptation of the Son of God is not Your will. And let us receive only what you have given and accept but this into the minds which You created and which You love. Amen." (OrEd.Tx.16.81)

"I am God's Son, complete and healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love. In me is His creation sanctified and guaranteed eternal life. In me is love perfected, fear impossible, and joy established without opposite. I am the holy home of God Himself. I am the Heaven where His love resides. I am His holy sinlessness itself, for in my purity abides His own." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.351.1)

However I have been led to refine this further incorporating a wider selection of key Course teachings that are repeatedly emphasized through the book. I struggled with how to structure it until I spent more time examining the structure of the United Church of Christ (UCC) statement of faith that is used in the church services I attend. I liked its multidimensional approach of several brief statements that covered a number of important aspects of the UCC's traditional theology. I also found it interesting that there were three statements of faith that congregations in the United Church of Christ (UCC) can use. They differ in their length, breadth of traditional Christian theology, and emphasis on Jesus and the Holy Trinity. But, it is important to note that they do not conflict allowing churches to select the statement of faith that fits their congregation best yet remains aligned on core principles.

Below is the UCC statement of faith used in my traditional church. I have included a brief description of what each section addresses or a primary theme.

Fundamental Belief Statement: "We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, and to his deeds we testify:"

What God Does: "He calls the worlds into being, creates man in his own image, and sets before him the ways of life and death. He seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin. He judges men and nations by his righteous will declared through prophets and apostles."

The Role of Jesus: "In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, he has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to himself."

The Holy Spirit: "He bestows upon us His Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues and races."

Our Function: "He calls us into his church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship; To be his servants in the service of men; To proclaim the Gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil; To share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table; To join him in his passion and victory."

God's Promises: "He promises to all who trust him forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, his presence in trial and rejoicing and eternal life in his kingdom which has no end."

Praise to God: "Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto him. Amen."

The purpose of this article is not to debate the traditional belief statements above but to use the descriptions or primary themes as suggestions on structuring a Course focused Statement of Faith. In addition to and in some cases instead of considering these primary themes, I have attempted to focus on key phrases that hold special meaning for me and themes that are repeatedly emphasized throughout the Course's body of work – the Text, the Workbook for Students, the Manual for Teachers, etc. The content below is primarily direct quotes from the Course. There are some personal edits I have made that are in brackets that mostly reflect grammar changes from the original Course wording to relate to me personally and/or identify who is specifically referred to by pronouns in its original wording. There is some slight paraphrasing to consolidate multiple sentences into single sentences.

Fundamental Beliefs: Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God. I am as God created me – in understanding, appreciation and in love. I am God's [holy] Son, complete, healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love. I can choose to listen to two voices. One, the ego, I made myself. The other is given me by God Who asks me only to listen to it. [I] can only find peace by complete forgiveness. By giving, [I] receive. But, to receive is to accept, not get.

God: God is the Giver of life. God is not the author of fear. God is all in all in a very literal sense. God is the only Cause. God is love. God is incomplete without [me]. God is my strength; my Source; the Light in which I see; the Mind with which I think; the Love in which I forgive; the Strength in which I trust; God is my Life; God is my Father; my refuge and security.

The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit was God's Answer to the separation. The Holy Spirit is God's voice and is the highest communication medium. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of joy. The Holy Spirit will respond to [my] slightest invitation. The Holy Spirit judges every belief [I] hold in terms of where it comes from. If it comes from God, He knows it to be true. If it does not He knows that it is meaningless. [I will to] learn how to offer to the Holy Spirit everything [I] do not want. [I will to] follow His teaching in forgiveness then because forgiveness is His function. Miracles are merely the sign of [my] willingness to follow the Holy Spirit's plan of salvation. [By being] happy [I have given] the power of decision to Him Who must decide for God for [me].

Jesus: Jesus bridges the distance as an elder brother to man on the one hand and as a Son of God on the other. In this world [I] need not have tribulation because [Jesus has] overcome the world. That is why [I] should be of good cheer. [Jesus] was a man who remembered the Soul and its knowledge and as a man did not attempt to counteract error with knowledge so much as to correct error from the bottom up. [Jesus] demonstrated the powerlessness of the body and the power of the mind. [Jesus] is in charge of the process of Atonement which [he] undertook to begin. Jesus says, [I] must join the Great Crusade – "Listen to my [Jesus'] Voice, learn to undo error, and do something to correct it."

The Atonement: The Atonement is an interlocking chain of forgiveness of which miracles are a part. Atoning means undoing fear. The Atonement is the way to peace. The forgiven are the means of the Atonement. Those released by Christ must join in releasing their brothers, for this is the plan of the Atonement. I accept the Atonement for myself.

Miracles: There is no order of difficulty in miracles. Miracles are expressions of love and are natural expressions of forgiveness. They are a form of healing. Prayer is the medium of miracles. The miracle is an expression of an inner awareness of Christ and the acceptance of His Atonement. Miracles are a sign of my willingness to follow the Holy Spirit's plan of salvation. Each day should be devoted to miracles. Miracles make minds one in God. The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself.

The Mind: The Atonement belongs at the center of the inner altar, where it undoes the separation and restores wholeness of the mind. Your holy minds are altars unto God and where He is no idols can abide. Only the mind needs the Atonement. The mind is the only creative level and its errors are healed by the Atonement. The miracle places the mind in the service of the spirit. This establishes the proper function of the mind and corrects its errors. The mind that serves the spirit is invulnerable. Minds that serve the spirit use miracles to unite with Christ for the salvation or release of God's creations.

Our Function: [Salvation and forgiveness are the same and are my function as the light of the world]. Only by fulfilling the function given [me] by God will [I] be happy because [my] function is to be happy by using the means by which happiness becomes inevitable. Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation. The only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness because those who have forgiven have everything. [I] bring His happiness to all [I] look upon, His peace to everyone who looks on [me] and sees His message in [my] happy face.

God's Promises: Whoever says, "there is no gap between my mind and yours" has kept God's promise. You are beloved of Me and I of you forever. Be you perfect as Myself, for you can never be apart from Me. The Holy Spirit offers [me] another promise, and one that will lead to joy. For His promise is always, "Seek and you will find" and under His guidance [I] cannot be defeated. He (the Holy Spirit) has promised the Father that through Him [I] would be released from littleness to glory.

Praise to God: God is praised whenever any mind learns to be truly helpful. The truly helpful are invulnerable because they are not protecting their egos. The truly helpful are God's Miracle workers whom [Jesus] direct[s].

As I went through the development of this Statement of Faith, I used my Kindle search engine exhaustively since I often could only remember portions of phrases and wanted to ensure that I utilized complete versions of the ideas. Developing the Statement of Faith may become an iterative process reflecting any future guidance I receive. It is longer than my original intention but I found it difficult to cull and wanted to make sure the ideas where presented in an understandable way. I am sure that there are other key Course concepts that you may perceive are absent. With blessings on your path, I invite you to use that as motivation to create your own Statement of Faith. 

1. The guide referenced here can be found at http://www.theologydegrees.org/how-to-write-an-effective-statement-of-faith/
2. The UCC Statement of Faith can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.ucc.org/beliefs_statement-of-faith

Dove Flies in Sun Burst


© 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Community Miracles Center
3006 Buchanan Street, Unit #1
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415)621-2556
miracles@earthlink.net
www.miracles-course.org

This article appeared in the March 2017 (Vol. 31 No. 1) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.

Amazing Scholarship - For Experienced, Committed Students

On March 11, 2017, Dr. Bob Rosenthal, the Co-President of the Foundation for Inner Peace posted a 5-star review of the newly released *A Course in Miracles, Complete & Annotated Edition*, published by Circle of Atonement, on www.amazon.com. Dr. Bob Rosenthal is the author of the *A Course In Miracles* related book,*From Plagues to Miracles*. He will also be a Presenter at our 2018 International *ACIM* Conference. The following is a copy of that review, reproduced with Dr. Rosenthal's permission.

Circle of Atonement Edition ACIMIt has been the long-standing  policy of the Foundation for Inner Peace to offer no comments, positive or negative, with regard to any edition of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) or any other works about the Course. As the Foundation's new Co-President, I fully abide by that policy. Therefore, I had no plans to review this book. After receiving a complimentary copy of this new Circle of Atonement (CofA) Edition from Robert Perry, however, and carefully looking it over, and after having received a number of queries from students and friends, I am guided to share my thoughts after all.

What follows then should not be construed in any way as representing the opinion of the Foundation for Inner Peace. Rather, these are my own personal views and observations, offered as one of ACIM's earliest students, and one of the few still alive who actually knew its two scribes. Indeed, Bill Thetford was a close friend and mentor of mine from the time we first met in the Skutch's New York home until his death in 1988.

Circle of Atonement has been meticulous in documenting its reasons for producing this edition and the myriad changes it contains. I want to be equally conscientious in my review, which will make this a long read. Much of what follows is addressed to the community of existing Course students. It will probably seem irrelevant to newer students and those trying to decide which edition to purchase. Therefore, I have summarized my conclusions at the end of this review. If you don't want to read the whole thing, but simply want the recommendations, feel free to skip directly to the end.

History and Healing

In order to fairly evaluate the changes to A Course In Miracles introduced by this edition, some history is in order – history that many in the Course community are not fully aware of. The first hardbound edition of ACIM was printed in June of 1976 by the newly formed Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP), the organization specifically authorized by the Voice that dictated the Course to Helen Schucman to "publish, disseminate and discuss" the Course. Its two scribes were very much alive and played an active part in that process. There was no controversy over which edition was best or most authentic because there was only one. Furthermore, Helen herself had stated about the Course (in her Preface) that, "Only a few minor changes have been made.… [S]ome of the more personal references that occurred at the beginning have been omitted. Otherwise, the material is substantially unchanged." 

Given that Helen had brought the Course into being, and that without her, there would be no Course, there was no reason for anyone to doubt her words. Some were aware that she and Bill had given an early draft of ACIM's Text to Hugh Lynn Cayce (Edgar Cayce's son) for his feedback. He had promised Helen and Bill that he would share it with no one but his son, Charles Thomas, and so it was deposited in a hidden vault in the library of Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in Virginia. However, there was no interest in this draft because we already had the complete Course as scribed and edited by Helen under the direction of the Voice (of Jesus).

This was the situation that prevailed for over twenty years. Then, sometime in the late 1990s, the Cayce draft was removed from the A.R.E. library without permission, photocopied, and circulated. (Charles Thomas Cayce, unaware of the promise made by his father to Bill and Helen, had moved it from the vault to a locked, private room.) The Cayce draft was eventually published without permission under the title Jesus' Course in Miracles and later as ACIM Original Edition. In addition, Helen's notebooks and the earliest complete draft of the Course (known as the Urtext) were illegally removed from the Library of Congress, copied, and posted online.

A cursory glance at these earlier drafts revealed that far more material had been cut from the authorized FIP edition than anyone had realized. This was particularly true in the early chapters of the Text. And so today we have four different sources for ACIM: Helen's ‘shorthand' Notes, the Urtext, the Hugh Lynn Cayce draft editions, and the FIP Edition(s). This proliferation of Courses is confusing to say the least. But it has had far more serious consequences. It has led to schisms and factionalism among a community ostensibly devoted to the practice of love and forgiveness. I have no doubt that those who stole and made public Helen's Notes and the two earlier drafts saw themselves not as thieves, but as liberators. Yet these actions were divisive because they have sown division.

Which brings me to my first and perhaps most important point regarding this new Circle of Atonement Edition. Whereas previous actors vilified the Foundation for Inner Peace and were more than willing to break laws in pursuit of their agenda, the CofA has gone in a different direction. This edition has been meticulously assembled, with obvious care for the material. Robert Perry and CofA have demonstrated the utmost in integrity and transparency, explaining the changes they've made and the reasoning behind those changes. The work is scholarly and respectful throughout. It should also resolve any debate about which version of the Course adheres most closely to the original source material.

Therefore, it is my hope that, unlike previous published editions of ACIM, this annotated Circle of Atonement Edition will begin to mend the rifts in the Course community. I view it as a profound opportunity for healing. The misdeeds of the past, along with all of the ugly accusations and conspiracy theories, can at last be put to rest. If we choose, we can reunite in forgiveness as a community of Course students. We can discuss the various editions with the understanding that their similarities far out-weigh their differences. Any of them, if diligently studied, can bring about profound transformation.

However, there are some important points to be made about the changes featured in this Circle of Atonement edition and the assumptions underlying them.

Material Cut from the Early Text Chapters

With Helen's notes serving as their backbone, Robert Perry and the Circle of Atonement have tried to rebuild the Course from the bottom up in order to achieve their stated goal of restoring the Course to its original form, that is, "the original words as Helen received them," (p. 1920) editing these words with only the lightest touch possible. As a result, they have reinserted a great deal of material from the Notes and Urtext that was cut, not just from the FIP Edition, but from the Hugh Lynn Cayce draft as well. This is particularly true for the early chapters of the Text, where approximately 150 pages of new material and explanatory footnotes have been added.

In doing so, they make a key assumption, one that is essential to understand if we are to view this new edition in proper perspective. They consider the original wording from Helen's Notes to be the most accurate. This implies that the rapid-fire, stream of thought that Helen managed to capture and record in words, taking it down in her own personal shorthand, came through with such precision that it required little or no revision. Of course, anyone who has sat in a lecture hall attempting to take notes from a fast-paced lecturer can tell you how improbable this is. But there is a more significant issue here. Helen and Bill clearly stated that their editing was fully directed by the Voice: the same one that dictated the Course to her in the first place. So basically, we are being asked to believe that Helen overrode the explicit instructions of the Voice of Jesus in order to change and ultimately degrade the very Course she gave birth to. Robert Perry and the CofA give their reasons for making this assumption on pages 1911-1912 of this edition and their arguments come across as persuasive. But as neither Helen nor Bill are alive to present an alternate point of view, let me attempt to stand in for them and say what I believe they might have said in response.

There is no question that the material cut from the early chapters of the FIP Edition, but included here, is intriguing. For a seasoned Course student, there are some real hidden gems to be found. But is this material necessary for an understanding of ACIM? Is it fully congruent with the rest of the Course? In all too many instances, I would have to say it is not. Therefore, should it be treated as part of ACIM proper? The Voice didn't think so, and I agree – again, not because it has no value, or because it is somehow esoteric or special, or too "personal," and therefore compromising to Helen and Bill, but rather, because it was never intended for Course students. It was intended for its two scribes.

We must remember that, at the time of the scribing, Helen and Bill were not students of ACIM. There was no Course when they began: no Text to study, no Workbook lessons to practice. They were given this material fresh. And because the Course is so radical, so contrary to what we have all been taught to believe, they needed their own unique preparation – a rapid immersion program – if they were to bring it through and persist in what turned out to be a seven-year process. They needed to be able to trust the Voice of Jesus.

Consider Helen's position. She was born Jewish, became enamored of Catholicism at an early age, but gave up on religion altogether and was a confirmed atheist by the time the scribing began. She was also employed as an academic psychologist at an Ivy League medical school. All of a sudden, she's receiving communication from a voice in her head that, by the nature of what it's telling her, could only be that of Jesus. Her first assumption? She's going insane, which is quite understandable, really. (It is a testament to Bill that he could assuage her fears and create a setting that allowed her to feel safe enough to proceed. Without Bill's help, I am quite certain that Helen would have quit and there would be no ACIM today.)

Now flip this around and consider it from the viewpoint of Jesus. You're trying to get through to this atheistic psychologist, her curious but irreligious boss and engage them in an intensive, years-long process. How do you go about that? How do you manage to convince them that you are not merely a symptom of incipient psychosis? The way you convince them is to speak their language. You offer powerful insights (both personal and scholarly) that they could not have reached on their own. You gently reveal to them aspects of their personalities that they've kept hidden. You focus on specifics, not theory. You do not speak in formal iambic pentameter; you converse in a relaxed and plainspoken manner. Because above all else, you do not want to frighten them.

I think that when viewed in this light, the newly-included material from the early chapters of the Text makes far more sense. It is not a didactic course like the rest of the Text; it is an informal discussion, with Helen asking questions and Jesus responding. (But only His answers are preserved; we are essentially hearing only half of the conversation.) This early material was intended for Helen and Bill; the rest is for all of us. This is the reason why words such as "create" change in meaning, and why the Voice shifted so dramatically from casual to formal in tone, and from specifics to the abstract, once it got past the early chapters – and never reverted back. Otherwise, why devote an entire section to the nature of possession? Because Helen was no doubt frightened that what she was experiencing might be some form of possession. And why the voluminous psychoanalytic references, which require from two to seven explanatory footnotes per page in order to become comprehensible? Because Bill and Helen were steeped in psychoanalytic thought. In the world of 1960s psychology, unlike today, Freud was gospel. But was this intended to be part of ACIM proper? Or was this the Voice of Jesus assuring them, speaking their language and establishing both its authority and authenticity – that He knew what He was talking about, that He was credible and trustworthy, and that He had something truly valuable to offer them?

When I read the early material, I hear Jesus courting Helen and Bill, recruiting them to join him in a grand enterprise. Where Circle of Atonement sees "a bias against specifics" (p.1914) as motivating the elimination of the early "personal" material, I see the removal of material addressed to the specific needs and worldview of Helen and Bill, and therefore not readily generalizable to new students.

By reintroducing this material, the editors have conflated the needs of Helen and Bill with those of all Course students. Circle of Atonement  states that, in their experience, "this additional material has made and continues to make an immense contribution to our understanding, appreciation, and application of the Course's teaching." (p.1914) I have no doubt this is true – for them, and for myself as well – but we are well-traveled students and teachers, not newcomers. We already have a context in which to make sense of this. The Voice's tone may be casual and conversational, but the language is difficult and opaque. Consider how it might impact the new student who has zero interest in Freud, psychoanalytic theory, Edgar Cayce, or the Bible. Despite CofA's beautiful work restoring this material, new students will likely find it confusing. Or worse, boring and irrelevant. And then there are the statements like, "Sex relations are intended for having children?" (CofA.p.11,para.4) Is this congruent with the ACIM we have come to know? And how might a new student react to it? How many would bother to read any further?

Circle of Atonement states that "… the early material constituted a much needed bridge into the unfamiliar world of the Course's ideas, the kind of bridge that Helen and Bill needed" – yes, that is exactly right! – "the kind of bridge that every student needs." (p. 1916) Well, not necessarily. That is the core assumption underlying the inclusion of so much additional material in this edition. And that is where CofA and Helen's Voice part ways.

There are two final points I want to make in order to fully address the contention that Helen's editing was not guided, as she claimed, and therefore compromised "the purity of the original dictation." (p.1917)

First, Circle of Atonement quotes Helen as saying that in her editing, she wanted to "change just about everything." But she also says, "Any changes I made were always wrong in the long run, and had to be put back." (p.1912) The point here is that, in the end, Helen felt she was unable to override the wishes of the Voice of Jesus. Would she have even made such a statement if she had introduced copious changes contrary to the guidance of Jesus and left them in place? And yet, these quotes are cited to suggest that she did exactly that.

Second, I think it is safe to assume that Bill Thetford, of all people, would have known if Helen had changed or subverted the material in any meaningful way. Yet Bill, as the Course's first student, used the FIP Edition of the Course himself for a dozen years, right up to his death. He read aloud and taught from it and never expressed any concerns or complaints. However, he did once confide to me that there was one place, just one, where Helen did in fact intentionally defy Jesus's Voice. (I raised this at different times with both Judith Skutch Whitson and Kenneth Wapnick. Neither was aware of it.) In the last section of Chapter 1, "Distortions of Miracle Impulses," found in both the FIP Edition and HLC Editions, Helen insisted on changing the word "sexual" to "physical" because, she said (and here Bill imitated her indignant distaste), "I will NOT have sex in my Course!" I bring this up because, to Bill's knowledge, this was the only example of such willful disregard by Helen. By implication, she bowed to the wishes of Jesus in all other instances – or her minor stylistic changes were deemed so inconsequential that they required no correction.

Now, I would like to evaluate the many new features and other changes included in this edition.

New Features

1. Annotations (Footnotes)

The Circle of Atonement Edition is packed with footnotes. These serve several purposes. They help to explain unfamiliar terms, difficult passages and cultural references, and they clarify the Course's all-too-frequent ambiguous use of pronouns. They also cross-reference certain passages, as when the Course states, "we have said before…." And they flag the many references in ACIM to Bible passages, providing the matching Bible quote with chapter and verse. The annotations are almost always helpful. For Course students with a special interest in the Bible, they will prove invaluable.

My sole objection to the annotations lies in the nature of all annotations. Footnotes are intrusive. They break up the flow of the material. We are drawn to read them. There is simply no avoiding this. Like trying to watch a movie with subtitles or closed captions, your gaze naturally attaches to the words over the images. Therefore, I feel that the footnotes – much like those in a study Bible – are a plus for intermediate and experienced students, but a minus for newcomers, because they interrupt the flow of the language, making it far more difficult for the student to lose herself in its beauty and power. And there is considerable value as well in wrestling on your own with the ambiguous pronouns and tortured syntax to extract meaning from them. These are integral to the Course's learning process.

2. Underscores

The original Course dictation was replete with words either underlined or rendered all in CAPS for emphasis. To include these in any published edition would have resulted in a distinctly amateurish, sloppy-looking product. Circle of Atonement has neatly solved this problem by using a very light gray underscore for all words emphasized in Helen's notebooks. They are easily identifiable, but not the least intrusive. And they do make a difference. With the underscores, you hear the language as Helen "heard" it. As a result, the meaning is often clearer. Of course, there was no way to achieve this sort of subtle underscoring in print back in the 1970 or ‘80s. And the underscores appear only in the Text, adding to the impression that the Text is intended as a lecture on Course theory, while the Workbook is for putting its teachings into practice.

3. Transcription Errors

The promotional material for the Circle of Atonement Edition includes the discovery (in Chapter 18 of the Text) of a transcription error in which the word "not" from the Notes was inadvertently changed to "now" in the Urtext. Basically, a typo. The sentence still made sense, but it was not really congruent with the surrounding teaching. CofA also tracks the changes in certain passages from one edition to the next, showing how the editing choices actually wound up changing the meaning. These are significant. Robert Perry has told me that there were perhaps scores of these – neither hundreds nor only a very few. Some were meaningful, others not so much. But do they impair the student's ability to learn the curriculum? Given the phenomenal redundancy built into ACIM (after all, it can be summed up in the three lines from the Introduction), I doubt it. Nonetheless, future revisions of all ACIM editions should take them into account.

4. The Cameos

At the back of the Circle of Atonement Edition, there are thirty-three "Cameos" (over 200 pages worth) that expound upon aspects of the teaching as it applied to Bill and Helen's lives, or that add new material or deeper insights that are not part of ACIM proper, but are nonetheless interesting or helpful. These come with extensive commentary by CofA. I think they are a most worthwhile addition, with one important caveat. To the extent that these examples are drawn primarily from the lives of Bill and Helen, we must once again be careful not to confuse their learning needs with those of all Course students. What was relevant for the two scribes is not necessarily pertinent for the rest of us. We have the completed Course to study, they did not. The Cameos do give the reader a greater appreciation for Helen and Bill's life struggles, and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.

5. Glossary

This edition contains a comprehensive glossary of ACIM terms which will be helpful to newer students. However, some definitions reflect the interpretations of Circle of Atonement; not all ACIM students would agree with them.

6. Changes to Formatting and Wording

A. Changes to Chapter and Section Numbers and Titles

Because of the addition of so much early material, the chapter numbers in the CofA edition do not consistently match the numbering of the other editions. But then, the FIP Edition and Hugh Lynn Cayce or "Original," Editions had this problem too.

A few sections retain the same titles, but have been moved to reflect the original ordering of the Notes. This can be confusing.

And Circle of Atonement has changed many, but not all, chapter and section titles. Some of their changes do indeed better reflect the subject matter – their stated purpose – but others substitute a prosaic title for a more poetic one. For example, "God Is Not Insane" replaces "The Rock of Salvation." (T-25.VII) Whether this appeals to you or not will be purely a matter of taste.

B. Changes in Paragraph Breaks

Circle of Atonement has introduced new paragraph breaks, primarily in the Text, again adhering as closely as possible to those found in Helen's Notes. Many of these changes feel right, though some are awkward and others just trivial. But there are problems that come with this new structure, which I will address at the conclusion of this section.

C. Changes to Punctuation

Circle of Atonement has taken the liberty of changing punctuation throughout the Course to better reflect current standards of usage. The pervasive incorrect use of semicolons, for example, has been remedied. Commas have been inserted where necessary. To my mind, this is all to the good. But sentences starting with "And" or "For" have often been linked to the preceding sentence, making for a more fluid and grammatically correct read, but one that is stylistically less powerful in many instances.

D. Word Changes

The Course is full of awkward sentences and poor syntax. I checked some of the most glaring examples of these and found they had not been changed in any way. So, we can assume that these were present in the notebooks right from the start.

However, because of Circle of Atonements fidelity to the notebooks, it appears that wherever wording was changed in the later editing, CofA has reverted to the original word choice from the notebooks. In Workbook Lesson 43, for example, there are 23 such changes; in Lesson 44, there are 27; in Lesson 45, there are 13. Only rarely were the CofA reversions an improvement; more often I preferred the FIP version. However, the vast majority of changes were utterly trivial. Unless compared side by side (as I have done), they would pass unnoticed. Because they made no difference whatsoever to the meaning, I question why they were considered necessary, especially since they introduce a serious complication with using this edition in groups.

The new Circle of Atonement Annotated ACIM does not emerge on the world stage in a vacuum. The community of Course students is already extensive and well-established. The FIP English Edition has been available for over forty years and has found its way into the hands of approximately two million people. Another million have been reached through the twenty-six (and counting) translations shepherded by FIP. The two so-called "Original" Editions have been available for at least a decade, though I do not have access to their sales numbers. And there are over 300 books in print about the Course, the majority of which cite passages keyed to the FIP Edition's line-and-paragraph numbering system.

Many students also choose to participate in ACIM study groups, of which there are currently thousands in existence around the globe. One thing that most have in common is reading aloud, paragraph by paragraph, from sections of the Course. Because the Circle of Atonement Edition has different sections, different paragraph breaks, and changes in wording throughout, any attempt to read from it aloud in a group setting where most members are using the more established versions will prove problematic. This may well turn out to be the major liability of this edition. The only way group study will be possible is if the entire group commits to buying and using this new edition exclusively.

Summary and Recommendations

This is a beautiful book. The design is attractive and distinct. Its 1945 pages weigh in at 3½ pounds (shipping weight), so it's going to be heavy to carry around. The paper is a bit lightweight and there is some bleed through of text where there is blank space or where the print does not align perfectly on opposing pages. But the layout is clean and the type easy to read. The annotated footnotes are well-marked and their smaller font is still quite legible. As previously discussed, the underscores are beautifully executed. Given the amount of work that has gone into this book, it is hard not to be appreciative.

Therefore:

For Established ACIM Students, those with several years of practice and a solid grasp of the Course's central teaching, I would certainly recommend this edition. If you want a window onto the lives of its two scribes, if you currently use one of the "Original" ACIM Editions, or if you happen to agree with Circle of Atonement that Helen's editing was a departure from the guidance of her Voice and you seek to recapture the "purity of the original dictation," then this book will serve you well.

The primary reasons for my recommendation are, in order of importance: 1. the underscores, 2. the Cameos, 3. the annotations (especially for those interested in Bible passages), and lastly, 4. the inclusion of ‘new' material in the early chapters – but only for those with sufficient knowledge of ACIM not to be confused by it and with sufficient interest to read through the annotations and contend with the psychoanalytic jargon.

For New Students of ACIM or those still struggling to understand its core concepts, I would not recommend this edition. My reasons for this are:

1. The reintroduction of 150 pages of early material (understandably cut by Helen under the direction of her Voice) will likely prove confusing, frustrating, or downright off-putting. Therefore, if you are approaching the Text for the first time, you would do well to start with the authorized Foundation for Inner Peace Edition or one of the others. (I disagree with other reviewers on this point, but they are pretty much all well-established ACIM practitioners.)

2. As previously noted, this edition will not fit well into existing study groups, and for the new student in particular, study groups are an invaluable learning aid. It will also make it difficult to look up Course references from the 300-plus books about ACIM that help explain its teachings.

3. Even though the annotations may seem tempting, I believe that they are more likely to impede learning rather than promote it. ACIM students develop their own very personal relationship with the material and with their inner Teacher. That is in fact one of the primary goals of the curriculum. By breaking up the reading experience, the abundant footnotes make this more difficult to achieve. The beauty and power of the Course's language, the dense but irrefutable logic of its world view, and most of all, the sense of peace that flows from it – all become disjointed by the intrusion of footnotes, and your experience of ACIM will likely be proportionately impoverished.

In closing, I think Robert Perry and the Circle of Atonement have done a terrific job with this new edition. I thank them for their work and dedication in bringing it to the ACIM community. Although the FIP Edition will remain my mainstay, I will certainly be consulting this edition and reading the two in tandem. If the Course is your path, and you know this beyond any doubt, then this volume will make a worthwhile addition to your ACIM library. 

Dr. Bob Rosenthal's author page: www.fromplaguestomiracles.com

The Circle of Atonement Edition of ACIM can be purchased for $39.94 for the CMC's On-Line ACIM store. (Regular retail is $48.) Here is a direct link to the product page: Circle of Atonement ACIM

Circle of Atonement Edition ACIM


 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA

Community Miracles Center
3006 Buchanan Street, Unit #1
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415)621-2556
miracles@earthlink.net
www.miracles-course.org

This article appeared in the May 2017 (Vol. 31 No. 3) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.

Who's Afraid of a Big Bad Bear

(or "I Thought That I Was Saving My Dog from a Black Bear Attack")
(or "I'm So Spiritual That Bear Won't Hurt Me")

Brooke Vernon Grant, a soon to be ordained CMC Supporting Member, wrote the following article. Brooke took ACIM-1 with Rev. Paul Marinkovich and ACIM-2 with Rev. Tony Ponticello.

Seated Black BearI live in "black bear country" of western Pennsylvania on 144 acres of woods not too far from a thriving Amish community. My nearest neighbor lives several hundred yards away. Since I love to interact with the wild birds of the area, I put up a bird-feeder, which hangs about ten feet from my kitchen window and also five feet from my front porch. I tell you this because one of the other fringe benefits of this is that some black bears regularly visit the bird-feeder and my front porch. 

"My" bears love to eat black oil sun-flower seeds; and they also love to rearrange my porch furniture. They do that on most visits to the bird-feeder, which I mention again, is only a few feet from my front porch door. In the last three years, the bears have knocked down the feeder more than a dozen times and stole the metal cage feeder twice. It was several months later, when the leaves had fallen from the trees that I discovered one of the missing feeders hiding about 80 yards from the house in the woods. The other feeder is still A.W.O.L.

During the time that the feeders were "stolen," I would sometimes sadly imagine a frustrated bear with his/her head stuck inside the metal cage feeder, like Don Quixote jousting with gas wells in the woods which are "kinda" like windmills. Sometimes my imagination would do role reversals with the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but in my story the three bears come to my house and eat all the porridge bird seeds and then wreck my porch furniture (or at least move it around a bit)

One evening, just two weeks prior to my signing up to take the A Course in Miracles Ministerial Program from the Community Miracles Center, I cooked up a huge beef bone for my 80 pound, part pit-bull, muscle dog, Sunshine-Adventure. Sometimes I forget and call her Forgiveness, which is the name of my previous shepard collie dog who died a few months before I got Sunshine-Adventure from the same rescue center. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this new dog was brought into the shelter on the same day that my old dog had died. What a coincidence since we know not to argue about reincarnation.

To continue my aside about my previous dog, I had named her Forgiveness because my study of A Course In Miracles had shown me that it was the most important thing to learn in order for me to be happy. By naming my dog Forgiveness, I kept the concept right in front of my face for most of my day with her. As another aside, my 85-year old mother, Rosalie, who I was taking care of in my home at that time, argued strenuously that "Forgiveness" was definitely not a dog's name and so, she said, I could not name the new dog Forgiveness. In my usual highly logical manner, I explained to my mother that since I had already named the dog, "Forgiveness," it obviously truly was a dog's name. To top it off, I told my mother, "Watch this." I then called out, "Forgiveness." The dog ran joyfully to me thus proving that it was obviously the dog's name and that she knew it. For the next two weeks, my mother was "loudly silent" about the dog's name.

Eventually she grew to love the very affectionate dog. She started to call her "Forgiveness" just like the rest of the family and friends were doing. And so, it turned out to be a dog's name after all. Now when I read ACIM, I realize that the book was written about my dog and it's a great tribute to her. Forgiveness really is the key to happiness!

Now, back to my adventure with a 400 pound black bear, and my present dog Sunshine-Adventure. Though wasn't it nice to also hear about my loving mother who "passed away"/transitioned at 90 and a half in January, 2008, after outliving four husbands? I sneaked Forgiveness into the emergency room after the nurse told me that my mother had "passed." That loving dog ran over to my mother's still body and licked her arm and then we left after a prayer on my part. (Thanks for listening.)

Now, again, back to the bear story – you people get so easily distracted. Try again to pay attention. This is the same way that we tend to do the daily lessons in the Course (lots of distractions). I had given Sunshine-Adventure that huge beef bone that I told you about. She was eagerly devouring it in the front yard near the porch. As was my usual custom, I left the door ajar so that she could push the door open if she wanted to come back inside. I know; I know. Bears could also push the door open and come inside too. My two sons, Seth and Justin, keep telling me that also. But, I'm so spiritual that only very friendly house-trained bears would ever come in. While my sons do warn me about the dangers of my open-door policy, they certainly have not suggested that I build a high wall around my property to keep out illegal immigrant bears. Besides, who would pay for the wall? Certainly not the bears – and certainly not the Mexican government.

From what I learned in the Course, if I defend myself by closing my door tightly. I am attacking the bears. So I faithfully remain defenseless. "In my defenselessness my safety lies." (OrEd.WkBk.153) 

Okay. Stop interrupting my story. While the dog chewed on that most delicious bone (I'm guessing, since I'm a vegetarian and sometimes vegan), I started watching a fascinating, two-hour long, History Channel film about ancient religions. Periodically, maybe every 20-30 minutes, (see how I started this sentence with a "big" word to impress you, but you were not impressed), I would get up from my potato couch and walk to my front door to check on the dog out in the front yard. (By the way, I also mentioned that "ancient religions" film to impress you. I guess that didn't work either. You're a tough audience). Okay, onward! Everything was fine for the first couple of dog checks. But this time, when I peered out the glass top of the door, I was looking at maybe a 400-pound black bear running full-tilt out of the woods into my front yard. 

I could not see my dog. I thought that perhaps the bear had already killed her in the woods before I came to the door, or the bear was running towards her to attack her on the other side of the porch banister which was blocking my view of where she could be lying with the bone. 

Without fear, I immediately ran out the door to save my dog!!! I was running towards a big black bear who was now running towards me. I started waving my hands over my head to look bigger (I read that technique somewhere), and yelling, "No! No! No!" at the top of my lungs!!! When the bear and I were about ten feet apart, the bear executed an amazingly beautiful, lightening-fast, u-turn and ran back into the woods the way it had come. 

For the next several minutes, I called and searched prayerfully for my missing dog. Was I too late to save her? Then, I prayed that perhaps Sunshine-Adventure miraculously had pushed the door open and came inside before the bear ran towards the house. If she had done that, it was unusual that she had not come over to me on the couch, to greet me after her long stay outside with the bone. But, she could have gone into her dog bed in my back bedroom without telling me. Hopefully, that was the case this time. I prayed that she was still alive and well. I went back to the house and pushed open the front door and there she was – safe and sound! Probably wondering why I woke her up with all my yelling outside for her. Well, I guess that I am entitled to Miracles after all.

Then, it hit me. I realized that I had confronted a charging 400 pound black bear while thinking that I was saving, what turned out to be, my imaginary dog who certainly did not need to be saved since she was already safely inside. I surely was only affected by my thoughts. Then, I started to have fear about what I had done. My body started to shake for several minutes. I am and was extremely grateful that the bear humored me and/or had realized "how spiritual I am." Also, I am thankful and grateful that I am not the victim of the world that I see. 

Hey! Wouldn't it be interesting if my whole story had been written in iambic pentameter ? Check it out and see.

P.S. I love you all. Next time, try to stay more focused when you read a story. Try not to get so easily distracted.
P.P.S. Remember, you are love. 

Rev. Brooke Vernon Grant is CMC's 101st minister. He is a CMC Supporting Member. (10.01.18) He was ordained by the CMC on April. 8, 2017.

Seated Black Bear


© 2017 Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Community Miracles Center
3006 Buchanan Street, Unit #1
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415)621-2556
miracles@earthlink.net
www.miracles-course.org

This article appeared in the March 2017 (Vol. 31 No. 1) issue of Miracles MonthlyMiracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.