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On Sunday February 25, 2007, a large *A Course In Miracles* conference was being held in San Francisco, California named “An Opportunity To Gladden Yourself.” The Sunday Service at this conference was being hosted by the Community Miracles Center. Rev. Tony Ponticello had been scheduled to be the speaker at this Sunday Service. Unfortunately he was called away because of a family emergency the night before. Luckily, right before he left, he got in touch with his twin sister, Rev. Antoinette who lives in Memphis, Tennessee and asked her if she could fly in on a “red eye” to be the guest speaker. To everyone’s surprise she ran in, suitcases in hand, just after the service had started. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of her talk that Sunday morning just minutes after she had run up on the stage.

Rev. Antoinette“An Opportunity To Gladden Yourself” what a great title for a conference, don’t you think? (applause) I hope you’re all being very glad. (more applause) Rev. Tony faxed me his notes and I’ve been studying them on the plane. I’m going to try to give a little bit of the sermon that he wanted to give but with my own Rev. Antoinette flair. (laughter)

In the year 2000 we were in the midst of a terrible controversy in the A Course In Miracles world. There were copyright law suits. Different Miracles organizations were getting sued by other Miracles organizations. Why, Endeavor Academy, Miracles Healing Center, one of our cosponsors was being sued. The Circle Of Atonement was involved with a law suit. CIMS (Course In Miracles Society) the organization which has brought us the A Course In Miracles – Original Edition, they were involved in a law suit. The Community Miracles Center received a very threatening letter from lawyers. It was all over the community. It wasn’t really a fun time for a lot of people and things seemed rather gloomy.

But somehow in the midst of that, a group of organizations spearheaded by the Community Miracles Center, and several others, decided that it was a new millennium and it was time to have a party! Regardless of all this dark energy they would get the A Course In Miracles community together and bring it into the new millennium. Many people thought that it couldn’t be done. “They” wouldn’t let us do it – all kinds of things like that. But the cosponsors, and certainly Rev. Tony and Rev. Larry, just were listening to something else. They felt those dark thoughts too, but every morning, for them, the bird would sing and the bird would tell them of a new day – to start again.

They did start again and had the first, big joined A Course In Miracles conference. It was a revolutionary idea, different Miracles organizations joining together and doing something in common. It was unheard of. How could all these diverse people get along? But they did get along and they did have a conference. We’re still having conferences and this one in San Francisco, of course, is an off shoot of that. We all have to do that. We have to start each day new. We have to hear the bird sing that tells us of a new day. We have to forget about the past and not worry about the future and just live the best day in front of us that we have to live.

There’s always going to be problems in the Miracles community. People talk about the problems in the Miracles community like, maybe we could solve them. (laughter) We’re never going to solve them. There’s always going to be problems in the Miracles community. There’s always going to be flaws in the Miracles community. There’s always going to be cracks in that framework. The cracks aren’t going to go away. Actually, there’s cracks in everything and that’s the title of this presentation, (laughter) “There’s A Crack In Everything.” Think about it. (lots of laughter) It’s not going away.

The copyright controversy healed itself thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of people and especially a lot of hard work from Endeavor Academy and Miracles Healing Center and that’s something that I don’t every want to forget, how much work and money – vast amounts of money – they spent to give us a free A Course In Miracles today and a free trademark. The words aren’t trademarked anymore. Anybody can use them (lots of applause, whoops and hollers for Endeavor Academy) and we owe that to them. They’re not a perfect Miracles organization. They have flaws; they have cracks. Community Miracles Center isn’t a perfect Miracles organization. My center the MCM (Miracles Community Memphis) isn’t a perfect Miracles organization. None of them are perfect. There’s flaws in them all and yet they all do good work! If we were going to reject them because of their flaws their good works wouldn’t be able to come forth.

There’s cracks in the Miracles community, like I said, and a lot of time we argue. People argue over what A Course In Miracles means and how to interpret it and how to practice it. People get all bent out of shape because of those flaws, those cracks. What does the Course mean? But I always remember this passage from the Course which says, “... theoretical issues but waste time, draining it away from its appointed purpose.” (M-24.4.5) Let me repeat that, “... theoretical issues but waste time, draining it away from its appointed purpose.” Well, what is time’s appointed purpose? Time’s appointed purpose is to extend love, to practice forgiveness. That’s the appointed purpose, not to figure out theory. Now figuring out theory is a good thing and sometimes, many times, it helps us to fulfill our purpose but we have to remember that the theory is there to serve the purpose, and we can do the best serving of that purpose every moment, every day, when we hear that bird sing and start again, just from right where we are. We can get better and better at it, but we’re always able to do the absolute best that we can do right from where we are regardless of our cracks! (applause) Thank you! (applause continues) Thank you!

A Course In Miracles says, “Forget not that the healing of God’s Son is all the world is for.” (T-24.VI.4.1) That’s the only reason why we’re here – to heal us, to heal our brothers and sisters and to participate in the healing of the world.

Now, some A Course In Miracles students look at themselves and what they see are their flaws. They see the cracks in their understanding or they see their inability to understand things, to practice things and they think to themselves, “Well, I’m not ready yet. I’ll have to study a little more. I’ll have to go to this teacher or that teacher or read the book a few more times or work my way through the Workbook lessons a few more times. I’m not ready.” But there’s one passage from ACIM that I always remember and it’s this one. It says, “The healer who relies on his own readiness is endangering his understanding. You are perfectly safe as long as you are completely unconcerned about your readiness, but maintain a consistent trust in mine.” (T-2.V.4.1-2) (pause as Rev. Antoinette looks intently to the audience) You are ready! (applause) Trust the Voice. Trust the Divine. Trust Jesus. Trust the Holy Spirit. That will give you the guidance. You are absolutely ready to be miracle workers and to be healers right now, right where you are. Absolutely.

All the wars in the Miracles community, well they are going to be fought again. They’ll be healed and they will be fought again. This is always going to go on just get used to the idea. (laughter) It’s not going to go away. There were several well known teachers of A Course In Miracles who did not want to participate in this conference and they were asked – several of them. The feeling that Rev. Tony and Rev. Larry got was that somehow this conference was too diverse or there were too many, maybe dangerous elements participating. (laughter) Maybe some didn’t really want to be associated with those (laughter) — elements. Who knows what might happen in a conference like this (lots of laughter) hosted in San Francisco (more laughter) Thank you!

Some people think that some A Course In Miracles teachers are really just interested in money or maybe it’s fame and they’re not really clean with their motives or that their motives are suspicious. Many people think that the Holy Spirit is being caught and captured and then sold and then parceled out (lots of laughter) and bought (more laughter) and that this is a problem. (laughter) And they get disillusioned. But that’s just the crack. It’s in everything. A lot of good work happens regardless of that even if that might be true! (laughter) It doesn’t matter. Good work still gets done. Are you looking at the good work or are you focussing on the problem. I think all of us here really have a wonderful opportunity to be that bell of freedom that gets rung telling ACIM students everywhere that it’s okay with whatever flaws and cracks that we have and that the idea of a perfect ACIM community is an absolute myth. Perfection is not in the realm of form. It’s not in the realm of manifestation. It’s in the realm of reality. In the realm of form, those cracks, those flaws, are always going to be there.

There’s a wonderful Canadian poet, signer who I have always loved and his name is Leonard Cohen. (applause) We have a lot of people from Canada here, I know, and a lot of Americans know Leonard Cohen. He’s responsible for that wonderful line which I’m using which is, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” (laughter and applause) “That’s how the light gets in.” (more applause) It’s not the problem. It’s the opening. (Rev. Antoinette make a gesture of opening with her hands.) A Course In Miracles says, “Do not despair, then, because of limitations. It is your function to escape from them, but not to be without them. If you would be heard by those who suffer, you must speak their language.” (M-26.4.1-3) See, if we’re going to be heard we have to have the same flaws and cracks as everyone or we won’t sound like them. They won’t be able to hear us.

Four hundred and seventy-seven of you have made the choice to be here and to let go of whatever limitations and ideas of lack that you might have and it is a great sign of miracles coming and miracle here that so many of us have joined together to strengthen our practice and understanding of this wonderful discipline. And if we think we want signs and miracles that we can observe before we feel confident to take our practice a step further just look around you now! This should be sign enough and miracle enough to show you that this discipline works. Think of this weekend and how great it’s been and the fun you’re having. (“Yeah” from the audience) Yeah! (applause)

A lot has transformed in the A Course In Miracles community. The old government of A Course In Miracles has been rather – widowed of sorts. The marriage of the old power elite has somehow gotten divorced, dissolved. Former partners are somehow now, single again. It’s actually a very wide open movement right now. Obviously, this conference launched a new edition of ACIM published by someone else, another organization than the old publisher. This is a wide open movement. It’s a very diverse movement. It’s an exciting time in the movement. It’s a time of unlimited possibilities in the movement. It’s a time to embrace the diversity of the movement and what a better place to embrace that diversity than right here in San Francisco. (applause and hoots and hollers)

You know, Rev. Antoinette has a confession to make. Sometimes I get a little sad. Sometimes I get a little blue. In former years I even got depressed. You see Rev. Antoinette has a flaw. I’m not he perfect woman that some men want. (laughter) Once they get to know me – well, it’s like they get a little more than they bargained for. (roars of laughter and applause) I always thought of it as a little something extra! (more roars of laughter) They choose a different perception. (laughter) To them it was just a little bit too much. (laughter) It was my special problem and many times in the past I felt cursed. Why did I have this problem? Why me? Why was I burdened so? (Rev. Antoinette finds a tissue tucked into her bosom and wipes her eyes.) (laughter) But then I read something in A Course In Miracles that got me to shift that perception. It says, “Each worshipper of idols harbors hope his special deities will give him more than other men possess. It must be more. It does not really matter more of what; more beauty, more intelligence, more wealth, or even more affliction and more pain. But more of something is an idol for.” (T-29.VIII.8.6-9) I was making an idol of my flaw. I was making it important. Somehow, I was special because I had a special burden to bear. Then ACIM told me something else. It said, “The specialness he chose to hurt himself did God appoint to be the means for his salvation, from the very instant that the choice was made. His special sin was made his special grace. His special hate became his special love.” (T-25.VI.6.6-8)

So, it’s like Leonard Cohen says, yes there is a crack in everything but that is how the light gets in. That becomes our special grace. It’s not a special problem. It’s our special blessing when perceived correctly. It is how the light gets in. That was a moment of transformation for Rev. Antoinette. I would use my specialness in special ways and embrace it. We all need to embrace our flaws and our cracks. That’s how we fulfill the atonement. That’s how we let the light into the planet.

And you know, sometimes I get a little mad too! Sometimes I get my panties all in a bunch! (laughter) I get a little mad, sometimes, at those teachers and organizations who aren’t comfortable in the diverse crowd – who aren’t comfortable with all miracles students everywhere. Who, at least, can’t open to the good that’s being done. It seems so Godless to me. And you know what, I’m not going to run anymore with that Godless crowd. If my teachers can’t embrace, a little bit of everyone and see the blessing everywhere then I probably really don’t want to associate with them. I’m taking that on as a challenge. Actually, I’m taking that on as being the voice for that myself! There is a storm cloud on the horizon and it’s us and Rev. Antoinette and we’re going to be the voice that’s going to say we need to look at all Miracles teachers and all Miracles organizations and all Miracles students and see the blessing in them and see the good work that they do because we all are part of a very, very diverse community but our flaws are our blessings and our differences are our transcendences. It is a wonderful community. There is a place for everyone in it and we can be that storm cloud and we can be ringing that bell of freedom telling people to open themselves up and take a look at the whole movement. Explore all teachers. Learn what there is to learn.

There’s a passage in the Bible, it’s Matthew: 22. You probably didn’t think that Rev. Antoinette knew the Bible but it’s very prevalent in the South. (laughter) In Matthew 22 it talks about the wedding feast. At the moment of the wedding feast they sent out invitations to the honored guests. But the honored guests all seemed too – busy to come. They had their own things that they were doing. But the feast had to happen anyway. So then they sent an invitation and the King said “Bring everybody. Bring everybody that will come and we will have a grand feast!” And so they did bring everybody and a lot of the people that they brought did seem to have cracks. They did seem to have flaws but they had a grand celebration because it was the celebration that was important. It was having the celebration and joining together celebrating – it was feast that actually had to happen. Perhaps the ones who came did seem like refugees to some but to every heart love will come and even to the heart of the refugees.

I want the nine cosponsors and the 22 presenters to think about this conference and what we have accomplished by joining together and letting go of our differences and not making a big deal of diversities. We need to stop looking for the perfect teacher. We need to stop looking for the perfect A Course In Miracles organization. We need to stop looking for the perfect ACIM theory. They all have flaws. We need to stop looking for suspicious motives. We all have suspicious motives. (laughter) We all have cracks.

Think about it. Helen Schucman was this older Jewish woman. She had the hots of this younger, tall man. (laughter) Rev. Antoinette can understand that. (laughter) He didn’t want anything to do with her. So what does she do? She comes up with this very interesting way to engage him every day (laughter) for seven years. She would meet with him privately in their little office. (applause and laughter) It was their “dirty little secret” we’re told. (laughter) And she would cry and he would hold her hand. Suspicious motives. (laughter) But so what?! Look what came through that flaw. Look what came through that crack, A Course In Miracles did. If we were going to reject it because of the flaw .... (applause and laughter)

There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. I want to do something a little different now and as I said before the sermon Rev. Tony and Rev. Antoinette share a lot of things in common. One of the things they share in common is they both like to sing. If you’ve ever called the Community Miracles Center you hear Rev. Tony singing on the phone. (applause) Rev. Antoinette is going to sing that Leonard Cohen song for you that I’ve used as so much of an inspiration for the service. When you listen to Rev. Antoinette sing I want you to think of the first week or two of American Idol (laughter) and you will have the proper framework to appreciate this.

I brought some music and Scott (Rev. Antoinette to the pianist Scott Pratt) Rev. Tony told me that you were a really good sight reader. I know it’s just right off the bat but .... it’s the song “Anthem.” It is in five flats I think that’s “dog flat” – ah D flat major. Well, we’ll just .... Here you go. (Rev. Antoinette hands the sheet music to Scott who comes up to the stage to get it and then returns to his piano.) We’ll just do the best we can. (Rev. Antoinette takes the singer’s microphone and Scott starts to play the piano. After a short introduction Rev. Antoinette begins to sing.)

The birds they sang at the break of day
Start again I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be
Ah the wars they will be fought again
The holy dove it will be caught again
Bought and sold and bought again
The dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring
(Rev. Larry is suddenly inspired to pick up the
Tibetan cymbals and starts ringing them.)
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

We asked for signs the signs were sent
The birth betrayed the marriage spent
The widowhood of every government
The signs for all to see

I can’t run no more with that Godless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
Oh but they’ve summoned up
They’ve summoned up a thundercloud
They’re going to hear from me
Ring the bells that still can ring
(Three more of the CMC conference staff and Rev. Larry
begin ringing Tibetan cymbals.)
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

You can add up the parts but you won’t find the sum
You can strike up the march, there is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come but like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring
(Three more of the CMC conference staff and Rev. Larry
begin ringing Tibetan cymbals.)
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in. That’s how the light gets in **

(As Rev. Antoinette hums the last few lines of the melody Rev. Larry sets up a small platform about a foot high. Rev. Antoinette steps up onto it. Rev. Larry then drapes Rev. Antoinette with a shawl and puts a crown upon her head. As she stands there like a queen two of the Community Miracle Center’s conference staff come forward and hand her two dozen roses. As the music fades Rev. Antoinette stands on her *Queen For A Day* platform and blows kisses to the audience which is now also standing and applauding very loudly along with lots of hollers, laughter and whistles.)

(Rev. Larry take the podium microphone.) “Ladies and gentlemen, Rev. Antoinette!” (More applause, more laughter, whistles and Rev. Antoinette continues to blow kisses.)

** “Anthem” from the album The Future released 1992
©1992 Leonard Cohen Stranger Music Incorporated, USA 


© 2007 Rev. Tony Ponticello, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Rev. Tony Ponticello
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

This article appeared in the February 2007 (Vol. 20 No. 12) 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.