On Sunday January 24, Rev. Peter Graham addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. It was a wonderful bright and sunny day. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
It’s great to be here today with everyone. I’m enjoying the weather break that we’ve got with some sun. That’s always good. If nothing else, A Course In Miracles should bring some more sunshine into our mirs – right?
The title of my talk is “Accepting Our Role As Miracle Workers.” A Course in Miracles says this, “‘Many are called, but few are chosen’ ...” which is from the Bible, “... should read, ‘All are called, but few choose to listen. Therefore, they do not choose right.’” (OrEd.Tx.3.49) What inspired me to give this talk today about being, myself, more willing to embrace this role of a Miracle Worker – and also the hope of being able to pass that identification along to all of us – is because about a year ago I decided that I would teach the Community Miracles Center’s ACIM-1 class on Wednesday afternoons. Being in the ACIM-1 class means that you take the whole year and you go through the Text. You read it out loud with people who call in on the telephone. We read a section at a time, and then talk about it. Within a year, in 52 weeks, you read the whole Text. I found the class very inspiring, because there were some very knowledgeable and serious ACIM students in the class.
For myself, I had, of course, studied A Course In Miracles when I moved to San Francisco in January of 2000. I then went in the CMC’s ministry program and became a minister, (Rev. Peter was ordained an *ACIM* Minister of the Community Miracles Center on January 23, 2002. That was almost exactly a decade prior to the day he gave this Sunday talk. He was our 40th minister.) but I hadn’t really studied the Text since then. I had read a lot of the companion books by various Course authors, Ken Wapnick, Gary Renard, .... Of course I’ve come here and heard Rev. Tony lecture, and Rev. Larry, and all the other Associate Ministers lecture. I’ve read companion articles and other things, but I hadn’t engaged in the Text.
At first I was like, “Oh, I get A Course In Miracles. I get it.” Then suddenly, there I was in the class as the facilitator of the class. I am the teacher, but I consider myself more as the facilitator, and students started asking me questions. They asked, “What is the holy instant?” “What is meant by level confusion?” “What is the real world?” I didn’t say this out loud but my response was something like, “Oh well, it’s all associated with the miracle. Just concentrate on doing miracles and don’t worry about the definition of terms and all those things.” But, I soon realized that I had to hone up on all this stuff. I needed to do some more study. There were people in the class that were sharing experiences of having revelation, when they really felt outside of time. They had experienced life this way. Some other folks had holy instants and could talk about them and their experience. I was thinking, “Wow!” There was another level of commitment and experience that people were having. I was really drawn to that.
My reading of A Course In Miracles, now that I’ve been reengaged with the Text for a year, is that Jesus is really teaching us in the Course through our own self interest. This is what it says in the Course. “Conditioning by rewards has always been more effective than conditioning by pain because pain is an ego-illusion and can never induce more than a temporary effect. The rewards of God, however, are immediately recognized as eternal.” (OrEd.Tx.4.87)
What that was telling me, what I was starting to get, was that we are self interested. We are self interested folks, the ego, the ego illusion, all of us have this investment. So, I think the Course and Jesus are so intelligent, clever I guess I should say, because they appeal to that self interest. What I have realized, for myself, while teaching this class is that I wanted to have those experiences that folks were talking about. If that is the case, if I wanted to have more experiences of forgiveness, joy, and miracles, then I was going to have to up my game. That’s what I was going to have to do. What is the reward? The reward is I’m going to feel better. So, teaching this class brought me out of my own complacency. My own sense of, “Oh, I know what Ken Wapnick says. I know what Gary Renard says. I know what Rev. Tony says. Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, ....” Boy, when you get back into that Text, there’s a lot of material in there. It was inspiring.
Another aspect, for me, in terms of wanting to have more miracles and seeing myself as a Miracle Worker, was confronting my own doubt. Rev. Dusa Althea read from A Course In Miracles today, “This illusion can take many forms. Perhaps there is a fear of weakness and vulnerability. Perhaps there is a fear of failure and shame associated with a sense of inadequacy. Perhaps there is a guilty embarrassment stemming from false humility. The form of the mistake is not important. What is important is only the recognition of a mistake as a mistake.” (OrEd.Mn.7.5) When I looked at this quote I looked up “false humility.” I had always heard of false humility but what exactly is false humility? It’s when you actually deny a gift that you have. You say, “Oh no, no.” You do something wonderful for someone. They thank you, but you say, “Oh no, no. It’s nothing. It’s nothing.” That’s false humility. But, when I thought about it, this is something that I do often.
I doubt that I can do miracles like Ken Wapnick can, or Gary Renard can, or Rev. Tony can, or whoever else is out there. It’s like I say, “Oh, that’s something other people can do.” They can be the Miracle Workers. Marianne Williamson can be the Miracle Worker. She can go out there and talk in front of 450 people like she did at our conference last February. But, for me, I am not at that level. That of course is my ego – right? Right. My ego doesn’t want me to embrace this teaching because my ego is invested in the world, in the things of the world, and getting something from the things of the world. My ego plants doubt, and that’s what the reading from today was telling us. When we hear doubt, that’s our ego, and that’s undermining our role of being Miracle Workers, undermining our accepting that role. Doubt is also undermining our ability to believe in miracles; it’s undermining our ability to experience the miracles.
As some of you know, I’m a teacher in special education. I primarily teach students with learning disabilities. These students, often times, come with behavior issues. One of the things that I’m best at is counseling, working with them when they are sent out of the class, and when they are interacting poorly with teachers and teaching assistants. As part of our role in San Francisco, you are a teacher, but also you have a case load of learning disabled students that you counsel. You provide their academic and behavioral counseling. I clearly have brought a lot of my gifts and the Course into this kind of work, but often times it’s very challenging. This past week I had a student who clearly has started to experience some issues with mental health: paranoia and other serious mental health issues. This has been happening for about a year or so. It’s been one of those situations when, systematically, it’s been hard to get him professional counseling for a lot of different reasons. I’ve invested a lot of time. I’ve invested a lot of energy in this students. He had a really big event around Thanksgiving time which almost lead to his expulsion from the school. I, and a team of other people, advocated for him to stay in the school. He came back from the winter break, and he got worse. He had another big event this past week, and he has to leave the school now.
Part of me, in having this experience with this student, went into the egoic place. Part of me was thinking, “I didn’t do enough.” Part of what I was doing wasn’t effective. If I had been effective we would have seen some different results in terms of how this student responded. The Course sometimes talks about this. The Course talks about the symptoms that we see in our brothers and sisters. We think we are doing the work. We think we are turning this person over to the Holy Spirit, the relationship, the person, and then we judge the results by what we see in their behavior. The Course says that we don’t have any business doubting ourselves. All we have to do is turn it over and know that we’re making that decision to turn it over. I don’t know what curriculum plan the Holy Spirit has for this student. All that I know is that I was doing my part, and the results are not on me.
I think another part of being a Miracle Worker in the world is about acknowledging our gifts. A Course In Miracles says this, “I gave only love to the Kingdom because I believed that was what I was. What you believe you are determines your gifts, and if God created you by extending Himself as you, you can only extend yourself as He did. Only joy increases forever, since joy and eternity are inseparable.” (OrEd.Tx.7.5) One of the things we have to do as Miracle Workers, as people who want to experience this peace, is not hide our gifts, not doubt ourselves.
Often times, when I speak, I use experiences from my work life, because I supervise this department that has almost 225 students with disabilities. I supervise 15 teachers and 20 other adults that assist with this. It’s a big deal. Often times, where my mind goes is to what I’m not doing right. I’m not advocating enough for the students. They are going into those classrooms to get their education and the teachers that teach them don’t know enough, or aren’t willing to do enough for the students in the class, so that they may learn. Certain members of my staff are more motivated than other members of my staff, and I’m not an effective enough motivator. Those are the things that I am sometimes saying to myself. But, what I’ve realized in this past year, of more intensive study of the Course, is that I am not acknowledging my own gifts. What are my gifts within that? I have to look at that.
I can say that I get along with just about everybody that I work with. I have good relationships with them. They come to me with their problems. I help problem solve. Hopefully, I am bringing that miracle awareness into it, because all I can be is an open channel for them. One of the things that I have to acknowledge is that, clearly, I have my weaknesses as a manager. One of them is organization. Paperwork is a challenge. But, I have to also acknowledge the fact that I am a good problem solver, and I’m good with people. People feel comfortable coming to me. I think that this has to do with acknowledging my gifts and being willing to embrace myself as a Miracle Worker.
I sometimes think like this about A Course In Miracles, Miracle Working and myself. I think, “Okay, what about ....” let’s pick somebody “... what about President Obama? What does he get up in the morning and think about? How am I going to get re-elected?” It’s a re-election year. (laughter) “How am I going to pay down the national debt? How am I going to get the Iranians not to build nuclear weapons? How am I going to get the unemployment rate down?” And most important of all, “How can I keep Michelle happy?” (laughter)
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, for me, it’s tempting to say about Miracle Workers in the world, “Where do I fit with these other great teachers in the ACIM community?” The truth is we fit where we are, right in our mirs. Whoever and whatever we have in front of us, that’s our material. The Course tells us this. The very first line of the Course in the very first chapter, the very first Miracle Principle, “There is no order of difficulty among miracles. One is not ‘harder’ or ‘bigger’ than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.” (OrEd.Tx.1.1) So, whether it’s President Obama deciding about a piece of legislation, or you or I extending love, and you or I in a personal situation asking for guidance and then extending love. – it’s all the same. There is no hierarchy of miracles. There’s no hierarchy of illusions even if in our own minds, and in our own world that we have created, there seems to be one. Everyone is just as important as any other. Any time that we are choosing, any time that we are stopping in that moment of decision – remember the Course says decisions are continuous. Any time time that we are stopping and asking the Holy Spirit what to choose, instead of that crazy ego mind that wants to judge and wants to be anxious and worry and wants to do all that the ego does, we are being Miracle Workers.
For myself, and for all of you, I want to encourage us all to choose at that moment to make the decision for the Holy Spirit so that we can experience the miracle and mir in the peace and joy that we were promised.
That’s my talk for today. (applause) Y
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the February 2012 (Vol. 25 No.12) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles 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.