On Sunday, September 7, 2014, Rev. Vincent Fuqua addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, California. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
Good morning everyone. "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty we are free at last."
As we are probably aware, this is a line from one of the famous speeches given by Dr. Martin Luther King, the "I Have A Dream" speech. This is one of those moments in history where an individual took a stand and spoke the message of hope and freedom. It has reminded me of how important it definitely was for him, that each and every person was treated equally. For me, and I'm sure for each and every one of you, this is such a very inspiring message that he was delivering during that time. It is about us making sure that we are sending out the message of love and sending out the message of hope. I know for me, as an A Course In Miracles student, there is one thing that I want to continue to work on and that is to extend love to everyone whom I come in contact with no matter who they are.
As I reflect on this and think about what it was like in the sixties, it's actually reminding me of how things are now today. Even though it's 2014, still, not every one is treated as equal. Still, there is a lot of violence and hatred that is in our society and as Dr. King points out in this speech, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and lift out the true meaning of its creed. ‘We hold these truths to be self evident that all men ...' black and white people, ‘... are created equal.'"
This is a very, very powerful statement for me because I do think it is now time for our country to rise up, to wake up, and to realize that we can not continue to put out so many negative ideas. That negative message of inequality is not the message that we should be giving out. We need to rise up, look within ourselves, and see that it is time for us – no matter what we're doing or who we are with – to shift all those thoughts that we know are negative and put out more healing and positive thoughts. I know, for me, it's something that I have to work on.
I know I still have my prejudices. I'm aware I have my judgements. I'm aware that when someone does not agree with me, specifically if they're in a different political belief than I am, I can have many negative thoughts. I recognize that. But the thing is, I need to find a way to embrace these people. I need to find a way to allow my mind to be free to extend love even to those individuals with whom I don't agree. That is our challenge. This is what we need to continue to work on and figure out how we're going to be able to do that.
I'm aware that we are all one, according to A Course In Miracles. I'm also aware that I do have separation in my mind and I need to look at that. I need to ask "What is that about?" What is it that continues to block me and see the separation instead of actually seeing each and every one of us as one? The great thing is, I have a wonderful spiritual practice with A Course in Miracles that continues to help keep me grounded, reminds me of our oneness, and helps me recognize that while we're not perfect, we're working towards perfection. My spiritual practice is one of the great things that I know I have, no matter what's going on in my life.
"Do you not understand that to oppose the Holy Spirit is to fight yourself?" (OrEd.Tx.30.33) When we allow ourselves to oppose the will of the Holy Spirit, we're not trusting in our true Self. This is a lesson I know I'm going through right now in this stage of my life. I know, I want to be free. I want to let go of all those negative thoughts that continue to enter into my mind. I'm aware of that, but I'm also aware that I've been stuck in these negative thoughts. My mind has not been free. I need to figure out a way to get to the point where I'm having peace of mind the majority of the day, not just for a little spur of the moment, but throughout the majority of the day. That's what I need to work on. That's what I continue to challenge myself to do.
"He tells you but your will; He speaks for you." (OrEd.Tx.30.33) He speaks to us if we allow ourselves to listen to Him. And for me, I haven't. I've been in such a tail spin of late, that I forgot how to have that peace of mind. A lot of it has to do with my job, because I realize how many grievances and resentments I've been holding on to.
I've been at my job for over 22 years now, and I love the work that I'm doing. I have such a huge passion for doing HIV work: working with individuals who are HIV positive, or to ensure that the ones who are HIV negative, stay HIV negative. I love that. That is such a wonderful gift to be able to do that. However I also recognize when working for the city of San Francisco, there are some things that are not great.
Meanwhile, I'm very clear about it. One of the things is that over seven years ago, I was told that I was supposed to be reclassified into a proper classification, into a higher classification than I am in. And still to this day, it hasn't happened. It's been seven years. I'm doing way higher class work than when I was first hired, and yet because of city bureaucracy, this hasn't happened. Recently, one of my colleagues was going through the exact same thing, it took him forever to get his reclassification. He finally got his, and I was so grateful and so happy for him that it finally actually transpired. Then, as our ego loves to do, my ego will find a reason to still have a little resentment going on. This person got his and I did not get mine. And to add to it, this individual was white. (Rev. Vincent is African American.) The color of people in line who were going ahead of me were white. So immediately my mind went, "Oh my God it's race. It's a race thing." Why is it that they got to be reclassified, before me? Then, A Course In Miracles reminded me of this, "How wonderful it is to do your will! For that is freedom. There is nothing else that ever should be called by freedom's name. Unless you do your will, you are not free." (OrEd.Tx.30.34) I need to do my will. It really does not matter what others are doing. I am put here for a reason. I was guided to do the work that I'm doing for a reason. It is not about the fact that I haven't gotten my reclassification. It's about doing something that God wanted me to do and that's to help the community. That's what my goal was. That's my will. That is what I need to keep in mind.
An important fact is, I always have the wonderful opportunity to travel for work, to go to different conferences and talk to lots of individuals about the work that I'm doing. Another great thing is I've been able to utilize the message from A Course In Miracles when I do this. I'm extending all the love, all the healing, and all of the things that we've been taught in the Course out to lots of individuals – a much larger community. That's what my will is. Another good thing that I realize about my job, it gave me the opportunity to go back to school – to be flexible with my schedule. I'm going after my doctorate in clinical psychology, "Wow!" This is how generous my job actually has been. These are things that are important for me to remember. I need to actually recognize – "Wait a minute here. Take a step back. Look and see the big picture instead of keeping your perspective so narrow-minded." That's what I've been learning now.
Going back to school is allowing me to integrate the many different aspects of the work that I am doing, because I have an opportunity now to do my dissertation on looking at internalized racism among black men and seeing how it impacts HIV and other health disparities. Because of my job I've been able to utilize the A Course In Miracles spiritual practice that I have to help a community that continues to be disproportionately affected in every health challenge, every outcome you could think of. And I can do all these things because of my job, because of the flexibility it gives me. These are the things I need to remember and keep in my mind, because that's how we start clearing our mind to be able to walk the path that each and every one of us has. Let us look at the things that we are doing and how much we are giving back not only to our communities but, more importantly, to ourselves.
Trust me, it's still frustrating. I have to admit, it's real frustrating that my reclassification hasn't happened. I believe it will happen eventually, and when it does happen, it will be a huge increase in my salary. I'm not going to lie! (laughter) I'm not going to lie. It will be. But I'm aware that when the time is right it will happen. And it is up to me to be able to be patient, to trust, and to believe that when that moment happens it is meant to happen.
"He joins with you in willing you be free. And to oppose Him is to make a choice against yourself and choose that you be bound." (OrEd.Tx.30.34)In order for us to be free, we truly need to trust the path which has been set for us and to follow it. In order for us to do that we need to, I need to, free our minds of all the negativity, all the judgement, all the fears that we have within ourselves. We need to allow ourselves to explore ourselves on a much deeper level both emotionally and spiritually. We need to more deeply explore our relationships with whatever it is that we are connected to. This is our way of getting to the point where we do feel free, getting to the point where we are aware that no matter what obstacle comes our way we know where to go back to. This is something that I know that I will continue to work with. It's challenging. It is not an easy thing to allow ourselves to go to deeper levels, to look at ourselves within thought. It is the time for us to have the willingness to get to that point, because that is how we are not only going to heal ourselves but heal this world that we actually are in.
My schooling requires me to do 24 hours of personal therapy, which makes sense. If I'm going to be a good therapist I must be willing to deal with my own crap. (laughter) So it makes perfect, perfect sense to do that. I've done therapy throughout my life; I've been to therapists. I even had spiritual counseling from Reverend Tony several times, so I have the keys to do that too. But I also realize, reflecting back on all those times, I just barely did the sharing that I felt needed to be shared. I always put a block to the degree. I'll let a therapist push me to this much, and then I will stop. And that was it. I was not allowing myself to get to the deeper level that is really important.
I had to search for a new therapist. I belong to the big HMO Kaiser, and Kaiser doesn't cover psychologists, and they felt that I was not mentally .... what's the right word? Let's put it this way, I was not as needy as they thought I would have to be for them to cover therapy. That's the way Kaiser is. So I had to go out and get a psychologist which cost more money. Instead of having to pay my co-pay of $20 an hour, I had to pay much more. That's how our health system works sometimes. I have to appreciate that. So I searched and I found this therapist I really liked, and connected with. I thought this person would be good for me.
However, later I found myself thinking, this is typical for me, "Yes, okay. But there may be something wrong with him. Maybe there's no way I can be with him. He told me what his prices were and I thought they were way too much. His schedule was very tight. It would not fit well with my schedule. All these rationalizations came into my mind telling me that I did not want this therapist. But a part of me knew immediately that he would be good for me (laughter) and so I went. I would not go down that other path.
I got very clear regarding that. The Holy Spirit stepped in and said, "(sarcastically) Ah yeah. – No. This is where you're supposed to be." And it worked out. The therapist reduced his price pretty significantly to see me. He worked with my schedule. Holy Spirit was definitely telling me that this is where I needed to be. And so I had to listen, and so I went.
"Look once again upon your enemy, the one you chose to hate instead of love. For thus was hatred born into the world, and thus the rule of fear established there. Now hear God speak to you through Him Who is His Voice and yours as well, reminding you that it is not your will to hate and be a prisoner to fear, a slave to death, a little creature with a little life. Your will is boundless; it is not your will that it be bound." (OrEd.Tx.30.35) I believe it's necessary that we continue to take a deeper and deeper look at ourselves. Look at the whole enemy aspect. For me, the way that I'm looking at the enemy is – the enemy in me. I'm recognizing the self-hatred that I bring to myself. That is where the enemy lives. That is where I am allowing all of my fears, all my doubts, to come to me, instead of allowing all the love that actually exists within me, within all of us, to express itself. This is what I personally need to continue to work on, because this is one of my biggest blocks. This is what's keeping me from moving forward to where I'm supposed to be, and that enemy prevents me from recognizing the love that actually exists in me. It's hard to see and accept the self-hate, but I know it's an important step for me that will allow me to move forward. It's something that I encourage each and every one of us to take a look at, to examine where we are and how these things are blocking us from doing what is really set for us to do.
"This world awaits the freedom you will give when you have recognized that you are free." (OrEd.Tx.30.37) It is now time for us to recognize our freedom, and to believe that each and every one of us deserves to be free. We need to free our minds in ways that we never even thought possible. When we are finally able to do that just imagine where we will be. Just imagine the spirit, the space, the healing, that we will have and be able to manifest in this world that we are in. In the world that we are now aware of there is still so much hatred, violence, and prejudice that exists. But as a collective we can actually change that. We can allow ourselves to free ourselves in ways that will blow this world to pieces. And to me that's a wonderful, wonderful concept – a wonderful way of looking at our path.
Dr. King said this, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." This is so relevant today in so many other different ways. It is so important, so crucial for us to recognize that when we meet someone that we do not judge them. That we do not come with our own pre-conceived notions of who these individuals are. The truth of the matter is we really don't know unless we allow ourselves to connect with them. When we meet someone, instead of going in with our own judgements with who we think they are, let's just be present with them. Let us see who they really are and allow ourselves to recognize them in that way.
A person who came to my mind, this has to do with professional football, is Michael Sam. He was the first openly gay player to be drafted in the National Football League (NFL). This is a huge breakthrough – huge! Even though at first he was not picked up from the practice squad of the team that drafted him, he was eventually drafted by another team and now there is a very good chance that he is going to actually be a starter in the NFL. He is the first openly gay man to be in the National Football League. I thought about this, and I realized one of the great things about him was his own acceptance of who he was. He accepted himself no matter what the fears, risks, or the challenges might be. He believed in what his path was supposed to be. To me, this is something that inspires. No matter what our society thinks, we cannot allow ourselves to let that hold us back. He went for his dream and I think that each and every one of us can do the exact same thing.
"It is your will to heal him, and because you have decided with him, he is healed." (OrEd.Tx.30.37) When we allow ourselves to get to that point when we heal our minds of all those unnecessary ego thoughts that continue to rule us, we will – each and every one of us – put out nothing but healing energy. We will be allowing ourselves to be free, truly free, sending a message of love, and hope and healing.
Each and every one of us has our own particular dreams in this world. I know for me, one of the biggest things that I'm going to continue to do as I move forward, is to trust that one day this world that we are in will focus on nothing but healing and spiritual thoughts and not the negativity. That's my dream to see one day. And my dream also is to catch myself much quicker than I have ever done before, when I go into those moments of negativity and judgement and to shift that into a more healing space.
We need to heal our minds first, and once we do that we are truly free. "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last." That's my talk. (applause) ♥
Rev. Vincent Fuqua is a member of the CMC's Board of Directors and a CMC Associate Minister. He was the 51st minister ordained by the CMC on October 2, 2004.
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the September 2014 (Vol. 28 No. 7) 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.