On July 29th, 2017, 6 candidates were ordained as ACIM Ministers of the Community Miracles Center via telephone. Below are lightly edited transcriptions of the talks they gave during the ordination service.
~~~ Rev. Karen Aiken, CMC Minister #104 ~~~
Good morning! However it’s afternoon my time here in North Carolina. I want to thank Rev. Paul, my first year teacher, and Rev. Tony, my second year teacher. Their love of truth and dedication to to the Course was wonderful to be a part of, throughout those two years.
A friend of mine asked me recently what I am passionate about. Three things came to mind: the value of excellent early childhood care and the quality or lack thereof, the food we eat and how it affects our health, and the costs of health care in this country. However the passion that stands out way above all else is my firm conviction that in spirituality, and only in spirituality, do the answers lie. From there comes the help for saving mankind, and this planet, which seems to be at a crucial point.
Soon after this conversation with my friend I came across A Course In Miracles Workbook Lesson 186 which states, “Salvation of the world depends on me.” I immediately thought, “How can that be? What exactly does that mean?” In Workbook Lesson 96 it states, “Salvation comes from my One Self.”
To digress a bit, I was to take part in the ordination service in April but was unable to fly out to San Francisco due to an accident. I had fallen and broke both wrists. My wrists were put into casts and the doctor told me that at my age bones need a lot longer time period to heal. That’s when some serious spiritual work began. I called upon an experienced spiritual healer. I’d call him and we would go into deep prayer and listening.
When I started this spiritual work, I was one week into the casts. Every two weeks the casts were to be taken off and an updated x-ray would be taken. They felt the one wrist would most likely need surgery. In one of the prayerful “listenings” or meditations I felt an overwhelming, all encompassing, total envelopment of an indescribable Love. I felt healed at that time and had a blissful night’s sleep. One week later, when it was time for the two week x-rays, both wrists were completely mended and no surgery was needed. During those moments of what I would call a glimpse of spiritual reality there was only a sense of my oneness with all good and I knew then that this was for all mankind.
Back to Workbook Lesson 96, “Salvation comes from my One Self.” The second paragraph reads in part “The fact that truth and illusion cannot be reconciled, no matter how you try, what means you use, and where you see the problem, must be accepted if you would be saved.” (OrEd.WkBk.96.2)Truth being our oneness with God and illusion the separation is the place where we make our choice. So the lesson title, “Salvation comes from my One Self,” says to me, that we choose oneness which includes all and that choice saves me, and it also is the savior of the world.
Returning to Workbook Lesson 186, “Salvation of the world depends on me.” Well that sounds like a very big order. My question as to what does that mean is answered in the choice we make. Is our identity Oneness or is it found in separation. As we choose the answer of Oneness and live it out to the best of our ability, that’s our part in saving the world. What a joy to have that as an assignment for our lives!
In ending I want to express appreciation for the friendships made in my classes which is certainly an endearing benefit of these classes. I’m deeply thankful for the entire experience and look forward to saving myself which saves the world, a fulfilling job for the rest of my life!
~~~ Rev. Peggy Griffith, CMC Minister #105 ~~~
The Course is my chosen path. My talk is how it all began in 1975. During my last counseling session with Dr. Lieberman, he told me about a book that had just come on market. It was A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace. Dr. Lieberman was noticeably excited about this new book. He told me, “Just get the Text, Workbook and Teachers Manual. Then, do the lessons, Peggy.” He said, “You need do nothing more. Just do the lessons.” I bought the books that afternoon in 1975.
After struggling with the readings, not understanding, and not integrating the Course, I shelved the books. That’s where they sat, collecting dust sometimes and in boxes other times.
Now fast forward 37 years. I had attended a nine day workshop with Byron Katie, “Loving What Is.” After one week home, my body and mind began experiencing an interesting and crazy shift that took me “out of reality” as I had known it. This nightmare event of 2012-2013 was the death of “the me” I had made up and grown to identify with. There was this “death” and my very angry ego was fighting for it’s life, trying to literally take my life.
During that year I lived in a consciousness where my physical eyes and body saw as if I was among the living, but I felt separate from all. Naked to the eye, yet experienced, my life’s projector was now out picturing on two separate screens. I was on one screen, and everything else was on the other. I was watching my own movie as a detached observer. Things I used to know and rely on: habits, foods, likes, dislikes, shopping, sleeping ... were flushed from my memory. Also, during that year, I spent a few days at a mental health facility. My adult children hired live-in caregivers and signed onto all my finances. I had no appetite and I lost 52 pounds. I had to be retrained in sleeping, movement, water aerobics, and even eating. It got worse throughout the year. There is not enough time today to speak a years worth of healing and miracles.
The good news is that during this transformation, my A Course In Miracles Text dropped off my book shelf onto the floor in my bedroom. It reminded me that ACIM was still in my life, patiently waiting (37 yrs) for my return. Then I also rediscovered A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson on the shelf too. These books along with the Bible were my sleeping companions during the year of my dance with death even though I could not read a word.
Now let’s jump ahead to November, 2013. It was fourteen months after the beginning of the long dark nights of my soul, the death of my old self, before it morphed into my everlasting life. I was feeling a lot better, like I was back, but back in a very different way. My interest in A Course In Miracles peaked due to the many events that had occurred during that year. So, I got on the internet to find an ACIM study group in my area. Since there were none, it only made sense to start one. I knew nothing, yet there was no fear in going forward, as I was feeling guided to study with other like minded people.
Our Oakmont, CA study group started in January, 2014, two months after my comeback. We met weekly. Then last year, the Center for Spiritual Living opened the doors and invited me to hold a study group there. We also met weekly. For me, study groups are a source of inspiration. The loving kindness shown in relationships with people, the depth of conversations, the devotion, the miracles that happen … it’s such good practice and discipline as we all become messengers of God.
My regular life is now sprinkled with my spiritual life and it becomes One Life. I turn within asking Holy Spirit for Guidance, not just at crunch times but at all times. I am fortunate to have people in my life who support me reaching my goals of the discipline needed for the mind training of A Course In Miracles.
I am devoted to the Course’s teachings and principles. I am most grateful for the many people, experiences, and lessons, that I meet daily. Everyone I meet is an opportunity to be in Christ, opening my heart to the flow, the Truth in the reflection of His love.
Thank you, all my brothers and sisters who have and still are on this journey of love and truth. Beyond and above all else, I love you all. Words cannot say enough how much Rev. Paul has supported and facilitated my practice of A Course In Miracles. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And big hugs and loves to all my mighty companions.
~~~ Rev. Judi Kirkland, CMC Minister #106 ~~~
Now the one mind! The one mind! Thank you everyone for just being who you are and sharing yourselves so beautifully. It is so healing! I thank God for this blessing we are experiencing here today with my brothers and sisters present (past and future). I want to talk about what forgiveness and acceptance mean to me and how through A Course In Miracles, going through the Text and Workbook with the group, and the one-on-ones during the past few years, has helped me practice and apply acceptance and forgiveness in my life.
When I was born into this human experience, I was taught a lot of stuff, and I learned! I was taught by family, friends, teachers, etc. Because I was taught this stuff from the time I was born, I believed I needed to be a certain way, have certain beliefs, and behave a certain way in order to fit in and be liked, loved, accepted, and to feel safe. For me, that resulted in making my self miserable. I made my own misery! I felt not at peace.
This is how I showed up in my life! It is how I showed up in the world. I wore many masks and many disguises. That was palliative at best. The feeling of self hatred was at worst. This is what led me to A Course In Miracles in 1995 and subsequently to Community Miracles Center in 2015. During the past few years, with a lot of help from our group, I found another way of being.
“The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself” (OrEd.Tx.5.68) You save the world by working on yourself. Wow, not others? They do provide the opportunities! They are my teachers, my triggers. When I saw or felt something that made my tummy clench, that was my cue! I spot it! I got it! What other people think of me truly isn’t my concern, or business. It’s their projection of themselves onto me. Most importantly, what I think of others is not their concern, because it originates in me.
I got angry and resentful. I felt justified in thinking judgmental thoughts about them which I sometimes disguised as “just my opinion!” However, I learned from A Course In Miracles that there is nothing outside me. Every thing, every situation is a projection from my mind. Everything going on in the world, my world, is a reflection of what’s inside me! So when I see and experience anything it is always coming from within me. I wrote the script; I cast the actors. I produced, directed, and played my part.
When I’m upset, it’s because I’ve judged. When I judge, blame, find fault, feel jealous, angry, resentful, entitled to my opinions (which is just another word for judgment), and all the other stuff I learned, I do not feel good. I go into fear and then I’m on a hamster wheel.
When I resist, argue, cling to my limited tunnel vision beliefs, I’m not at peace. I am rejecting “what is.” I’m rejecting myself and my brothers and sisters. Why? Because we are one mind. That only leads me to pain and ultimately physical issues because everything is always about my perception.
When I reject myself and I reject my brothers and sisters, it leads me to pain. Ultimately, physical issues. Everything is always about my perception. So what do I do? I forgive myself for my misperceptions of everyone and everything else. I do that by asking for help from the Holy Spirit.
Then little by little, I got it. Instead of reacting and getting upset, I began turning within, to the God within me, to the Spirit within me. For me, it’s a very quiet, very silent inside job. It’s a conscious awareness, a quiet recognition, recognizing again, remembering what I am in truth and who I am in truth – Spirit, right? Formless love. Then accepting that truth, and acceptance, I’ve found, is the answer for everything. If I accept, then I am at peace. If I fight, argue, protect my turf then what? I feel miserable. Perhaps not right away but eventually I do. If I do not choose to change my mind, it escalates. Then it lodges in my physical body. My mind tells my body what to experience.
That’s how in retrospect, I gave myself breast cancer. Did I know this at the time? Yeah. I think I always know what I don’t choose to recognize or accept. But I was so angry and so full of resentment at that time preceding the diagnosis. I knew I was feeling this way. I chose not to do anything about it. I felt I was right. I was justified. I felt I was misunderstood, perceived wrongly. I felt powerless. I felt victimized. Then man oh man. What a wake up call that was.
Of course you know I then joined the class and through sharing, through receiving the love and support of the members of my group, I came to understand that I needed not to forgive everybody involved, but I had to forgive myself for thinking that they were wrong in any way shape or form. I had to forgive my own misperceptions. I fought with that thought in my mind. Then I accepted it. I accept what is. As soon as I got off the phone with the doctor who gave me the diagnosis, I immediately went deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep within into a deep meditation. I felt, I experienced something that is beyond I can’t even describe it. It’s beyond my words.
The most I can say is that the feeling of love is overwhelming. That’s what we are. We are love. Forgiveness is acceptance; acceptance is non-resistance. So you know I have to accept what is. If I want to be peaceful, I accept what is. If I’m struggling with it, I find the lesson and that lesson always leads me to forgiveness. Not of others, but forgiveness of my own misperceptions.
I love books. I love A Course in Miracles. I love the Bible. I love reading channeled material. It led me to where I found the peace that is inside. It’s not outside of me. It’s within me. It’s my heart. It’s my soul. The more I feel and experience this love and light within me, the less I personally feel I need to do anything. I don’t force myself to do anything. I feel guided. I feel moved to do something.
This is a world of doing rather than just being. People think, “Huh. Sloth!” and that is okay. I don’t have to do, do, do. What I uncovered within me, what I discovered within me, is that. One morning I was just wandering through my house and this voice said, “Gee you don’t have to do anything because it just doesn’t matter.” Whatever I do or don’t do, I can’t screw up who I am. I tend to see this life on this earth as a test run, a classroom of space and time to use to find – not search, not look for – but to find the truth, to find God, to find that Spirit within me which is my guidance.
That truth always whispers to me, “Do, or do not do. It doesn’t matter. You are love. You are pure. You are innocent. You are love. You are lovable. You are safe. And so is everybody else. Whatever it is you do, or don’t do, this is what you are.” This is what we all are. I am discovering that more and more as the days go on. I am discovering this.
It has truly been a blessing and I have to say I just have so loved listening to everybody’s sharing. Listening to everybody’s, either prepared or spontaneous talk. Whatever it is. I feel whatever it is. I feel it’s from the heart and that’s what always touches me. I love to live heart to heart, soul to soul. I am so grateful and so appreciative to be a part of this. I thank you all so much. That’s what you are love. That’s it. That’s it. That’s all. Thank you very much.
~~~ Rev. Myke Marinkovich, CMC Minister #107 ~~~
Like everyone else, I am of course so grateful for the Community Miracles Center, for my mighty companions and very grateful to my dad who has been such a light in my life, such an example of truth. So thank you and I love you all for that and for many other things as well.
I would like to talk about the gift that is my practice. It is a gift because only in my practice comes awareness of God’s knowledge. My studies have taught me that love is beyond this world’s comprehension which is why the Course doesn’t aim to teach us what love is. Yet, I can learn to unblock my awareness to it, to accept my awareness of it. It can only be really achieved through my practice. I can’t really learn it but I can experience it. I can be a demonstration to others which is ultimately an invitation to the world to step into truth along with me and we can all accept the atonement that way.
When I am in my practice, life unfolds in a collaboration with my practice. For instance, the current selection of daily lessons is the twenty day review of “I am not a body. I am free for I am still as God created me.” While doing these lessons I’ve experienced the death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis of a friend, a terminated pregnancy from another, and being hit by a taxicab while crossing 7th Avenue on the way to work one day. (Rev. Myke lives in New York City) Seemingly intense stuff. Pretty intense stuff if I didn’t have the awareness of what is actually happening here. “I am not a body. I am free for I am still as God created me.”
What I am finding is that my practice just collaborates with life’s circumstances in an effort to keep me in awareness of God and to be an example of that to those around me. These are all reminders that I still have work to do in this world. So I forgive my misperceptions of what I think is happening through my practice. I just step into God knowledge and let the natural intelligence guide me. Then life becomes interesting, dynamic, fun, loving and challenging. Yeah – but the challenges guide me back to love. They are an invitation back to understanding truth and everything that is happening is for my greatest good and for our greatest good.
Whatever inspires love is a miracle, because that is the chance for the shift in perception to occur. That is why to me I think my practice is just such a blessing in my life. As we always find out, we know all this stuff. We go to lectures not because we are learning something new. We know it. It’s a reminder that we know it, so we can then lead and share it with the world as we go through it in our day to day. That’s a miracle worker!
I am so grateful to be on this journey with all of you. I am so grateful for the Community Miracles Center. Thank you again so much for providing a channel for me to express the best version of myself, the highest vibration of myself so that I can ultimately invite the world to join with me. So thank you.
~~~ Rev. Alex Melgarejo, CMC Minister #108 ~~~
Wow! Today is my turn, guys! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it! It’s been such a long journey. Such a path that I’ve been riding along on and meeting beautiful people on my way. I am really happy to be a part of this group.
I think we all strive for the same thing which is love, peace and oneness That’s what we have been talking about. I’ve been learning such a lot since my first meeting. In the beginning, I didn’t know I’d be taking the A Course In Miracles Minister classes that I just finished. This shows that, shows myself that, I can avail myself to the opportunities in my own journey, for my own future. I liked that.
I learned through the Course to stop judging. Putting judgment away is such an incredible tool that has been helping me in, so many ways, to do what I wanted. It’s not just that I stop the judgment, but after awhile the stopping of judgment creates a feeling of neutrality. That feeling is more rewarding than just the physical part of not saying something against somebody. I feel happier in my heart. When I stop, really stop judging from the bottom of my heart, I stop feeling that judgement. I have a lighter heart. I’m a happier person. I spread more light than before. That for me is an incredible thing and makes me feel very happy – happy to be here.
I learned also that there is no time in my experience. I thought there was time, and I often thought about my future. I thought about how this was going to be, how that was going to be. At some point during the daily readings with my amazing classmates, Myke, Peggy, Julie, Janelle, Steve, ... A to Z, all my classmates, helped me to understand there is no time but there is progression. We all look for progression. We look for advancement. We are looking to get to the next level. We are looking to enhance ourselves to be better persons here, and there, and everywhere we go.
I learned during some point on in my journey that through silence and prayer, I was able to open more doors in more ways to real manifestation in my life. I received more signs of clarity of how to do things. When I went into silence and prayer, I found my own way instead of reaching out to friends, co-workers or anyone else when I had a real problem.
I recognize after this Course that if I have a problem in my life, I can understand it better, because the answer is inside of myself. It is not in others, their opinions, or with people who have been through experiences similar to mine. I understood that they could put pressure or doubts in my life. I learned through this Course, through this reading, this class, through everybody, that I have to turn around and look inside of myself and my heart. I will be able to get the answer.
Today I feel really joyful for the ride with a pure heart that makes me feel a little bit closer to salvation. When I say that I’m close to salvation, I want you to understand that I am not alone. We are one. We are close to salvation. It might take us a little work, or a little longer, to bring more and more people through – but that is the only way we are going to make it. It is through being purified, being united, and feeling the oneness that exists inside of our hearts that we are saved. Nothing can prevail against the Son of God and forgiveness is my full acceptance of being an innocent child of God. Jesus always said that the Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t meant just for the children but also for the adults who resemble them. I think of me, this class, and all of this group, resemble in one way or another the innocence of a Child of God. That makes me feel like I’m in a strong chain of positive people. They want the same thing which is to change the world to a better place to be.
In my own studies I feel like I’m almost going through a car racing circuit. Sometimes I speed a little faster and sometimes I take my foot off my pedal and I slow down. Every time I feel like I speed with my own studies, I keep bumping spiritually and mentally into my classmates and instructors. For example, like Rev. Paul, Rev. Tony, Rev. Vincent, Rev. Kelly and people who inspire me in my journey, and I think that is a beautiful thing when I can connect with people mentally and spiritually without having to see them through my eyes physically. After today, I want people to stop calling me Alex. After today, I am BHA. I am “Big Heart Alex.” I have a big-heart. I am a warrior. I am a gangster of love. I seek full life and that is what we deserve. I will pray tirelessly today, because I know that in this life we all deserve love and peace. Thank you.
~~~ Rev. Susan Nakashima, CMC Minister #109 ~~~
I am here with gratitude for Rev. Paul, Rev. Tony, the Community Miracles Center and my classmates over the past two years for being on this journey with me. They have enabled me to deepen my understanding of the Course.
I’ll share a little about myself and how I arrived at the CMC classes. As a child, it certainly seemed like I was handed quite a cast of characters to deal with, but somehow found that I possessed a gift that helped me to know there was something greater than little me in my life. I could pluck a four-leaf clover from almost any patch of grass, yet no one else seemed able to do so. I would always win the prize at the birthday party games until I decided that maybe I should let others win and shut the gift down. I listened to my Baptist Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Croft, telling me that I was going to go straight to hell if Jesus returned to earth and found me attending a junior high school dance or going to the movies. Some awareness guided me to not trust these teachings and not to worry.
In high school I realized the power of my thoughts. If I wanted the attention of a certain boy, that would always happen. College brought the awareness that life went much more smoothly if I said some daily prayers than if I didn’t. Physical illness happened when there was a particularly stressful situation in my life. I also began to experience what I called knowing, where the Holy Spirit would gift me with information.
At the beginning of my career, a co-worker recommended Life Spring. I attended and experienced a significant change in my life. I learned that we are all Love at our core. So at that time, I set the intention to love unconditionally. I attended metaphysical classes and read many books, enjoyed metaphysical experiences and continued to seek truth. I heard about the Marianne Williamson book, A Return to Love and watched her on Oprah Winfrey’s show one day. That is how I first became aware of A Course in Miracles.
Some time around 1993, I decided to take my children to the San Francisco, Marina area to show them where I lived in the 70s prior to getting married. We walked along Chestnut Street and Union Street and went into the Solar Lights Bookstore where this thick, dark blue book called to me from a shelf that I could barely reach.
I was fascinated with the story about how the Course came about. I soon realized understanding the Text was quite a challenge so I jumped into the Workbook and that made more sense to me. It took me two and a half years to get through the Workbook. Then I went back to the text with a little more understanding. Each night I read a paragraph or so, not with a lot of comprehension, but I knew there was something in this that I wanted to understand. Years went by reading a paragraph daily. Some time around 2004, I purchased a set of cassette tapes by Ken Wapnick. The teaching of A Course In Miracles became much more clear. I found myself in touch with my guilt and experiencing a dark night of the soul.
In January, 2015, I was no longer working in my career or on contract. I thought it would be a good time to deepen my spiritual practice which by this time included many teachings and time spent with many great teachers. I considered the Course my main path. Shortly after I had a more open schedule, an email from Community Miracles Center came into my email inbox. Imagine that. It mentioned the ACIM-1 and ACIM-2 classes. I was open to taking the ACIM-1 class but was not really planning to take ACIM-2. I did not take the classes to become a Reverend but I got so much out of the classes with Rev. Paul and my companions that here I am at the finish line.
It seems a natural culmination after picking up the Course twenty-four years ago. While attending the Community Miracles Center ACIM Conference in Las Vegas, I learned that the Workbook lesson for our birthdays has special significance for us. Mine is Workbook Lesson 126. “All that I give is given to myself.” It is a reminder that how we see the other person is how we see ourselves and that in forgiving others, I give the gift of forgiveness to myself. It seems as if this one lesson could be the perfect obit for my life.
I cannot honestly say that I perfectly understand every passage of the Course. I can honestly say that I feel greater joy and that I have a greater understanding. Each of you has provided me with a gift of your understanding the Course better, understanding myself better.
I feel incredibly grateful and abundant, increasingly so since having completed ACIM-2. Making the shift to turn it over to Jesus and Holy Spirit more regularly has made a great difference in the quality of my life. With that I thank you all for being on this journey with me. ♥
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the September 2017 (Vol.31 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.