On June 19, 2016, Rev. Kelly Hallock gave a talk to those assembled at the Community Miracles Center Sunday Service in San Francisco, California. A week before, a mass shooting had occurred in Orlando, Florida, at the Pulse nightclub, a popular gay bar. This talk was in response to that, but has material that can be relevant for any challenging situation. Below is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
It is kind of funny. It always cracks me up how things work out. Last time I spoke, I said that I had been trying to speak several times but then finally I spoke on Mother’s Day. I finally got to speak on Mother’s Day. I wasn’t going to speak this week but then ended up speaking. I realized, “Oh, it’s Father’s Day! Of course!”
Then I looked at this week. When I speak, I try to talk about what I’ve learned and what I’m experiencing, but I also want it to be something that is meaningful for those who are listening. I thought about it being Father’s Day. Father’s Day is great. I love Father’s Day. But right now I think the LGBTQ community is still reeling from this last week and the Orlando shooting.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I had the response that I had to it. It has been pretty neutral. I’ve been feeling a little bit flat. At first I was a little upset. Then I was like, “‘Meh,’ not so much.” I thought back to 9/11 which was similar for me in some sense and compared my responses. I didn’t know anybody there. It was across the country. I just heard about it from the news. However, 9/11 profoundly affected me much more than the Orlando situation has. I remember sitting at home basically paralyzed after hearing about 9/11.
This was different for me. I have wondered, “Why am I having this different experience?” So I want to share with you some of my thoughts of what happened in Orlando. I am sharing it from the expectation that since you are here at the Community Miracles Center, you are interested in spiritual concepts. You are interested in “How do I live the Will of God?” A Course in Miracles teaches that God’s Will for us is happiness. How can I be happy even when something so crazy seemed to have happened and affected our community so profoundly. I want to share on that. I am approaching it from we are all on a spiritual path here.
I have seen teachers before share some of these concepts and then say, “So don’t be upset.” I think that denies we are people. We are having a human experience. At the same time, if we can look at these concepts, maybe we can find a way of processing the Orlando event better, to process it differently.
A Course in Miracles says, “What could you not accept if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present, and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good? Perhaps you have misunderstood His plan, for He would never offer pain to you.” (OrEd.WkBk.135.19) This is one of those concepts we all know is there, but sometimes it is hard to say that everything is for my good. How do we look at these situations? How do we say, especially to the families, that this was good? There was one person I read about who was texting their parents from the rest room saying, “I love you. I think I am going to die” and they did. How do the parents look at that and say, “This is for my good,” or, “God intended it for my good,” or “Spirit has a plan even in this?”
One of my friends is an astrologer. It is very interesting to talk with him. He is an astrologer but he also specializes in dream interpretation, was trained as a psychologist, and is a spiritual teacher who studies A Course in Miracles. He is very well known. He’s written a couple of books on dream interpretation. He is freaky accurate when it comes to the astrology. I’ve never been into astrology but he’s very accurate and it scares me some days. He says that astrology, like everything else, is just our projection. The stars don’t make things happen but since we are one mind, they are a projection of our consciousness.
My astrologer friend said this in the time leading up to the Orlando shooting, “I am not sure what is going to happen this week, but it is one of the biggest weeks of the year.” He said this was a time for us to expand into our consciousness, expand into Love. Then two days later we heard about Orlando. He said in an article that he wrote, that he didn’t know how, he didn’t know why, but everything was a chance for us to expand. He didn’t expect for the Orlando shooting to happen. He didn’t expect to see something that we saw as a tragedy when he was looking at this chart thinking, “Oh my gosh! It’s going to be a great week!” Then suddenly we are faced with something much different than we thought would happen.
The reading from today says, “The only judgment involved at all is the Holy Spirit’s one division into two categories – one of love and the other the call for love. You cannot safely make this division, for you are much too confused either to recognize love or to believe that everything else is nothing but a need for love. You are too bound to form and not to content.” (OrEd.Tx.14.52) The second passage from the Workbook says, “You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of ego goals. These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests because the ego is not you. This false identification makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for.” (OrEd.WkBk.25.2)
We look at things and think, “That should not have happened. Why did that happen?” A Course in Miracles says we aren’t in a position to know what anything is for. We look at things like the situation in Orlando and we think, “Oh that’s a call for Love. That person wasn’t being Loving. It must be a call for Love.” For all intents and purposes, that is how we see it. We don’t see it as a loving act. Yet A Course in Miracles says, “You cannot safely make this division, for you are much too confused either to recognize love or to believe that everything else is nothing but a need for love.” (OrEd.Tx.14.52)
We’ve got bodies that are perceiving things through our past. We’ve got bodies that see things through our history. We can’t really look at things and say what is or what is not loving. I’ll be honest. I hesitate to talk about this a bit because it can be controversial with some people. A Course in Miracles talks a little about reincarnation. It says if you believe it, and it is useful for your growth, then fine. If you don’t believe it, that’s fine too. Basically it says, “I’m not taking a stand on it” in the Teacher’s Manual. It asks if our belief about reincarnation is being used towards salvation. Salvation is recognizing that heaven is here, and all there is the now.
For me, reincarnation does help with seeing heaven now. When I am able to look at something and say: I don’t understand why it’s happening, or I don’t understand why it happenening where it’s happening, or that I don’t understand why I feel a connection with this person but I think that there must be some sort of history that I may not remember – it helps me to see my brother in the present as perfect. It helps me to see that our human lives here are not the extent of our lives. We exist apart from this. We existed before our birth. We exist after, because Spirit is eternal. So for me the concept of reincarnation just gives that idea form.
There is a book I love that is called Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping. It is based on A Course in Miracles. I want to read this one passage. He says, “The decision about which energies we work with on the earth plane are not made by us on the human level. The decision pre-dates our incarnation and is made by our soul group – a group to which we belong made up of souls that either incarnate with us or act as our spirit guides during our incarnation. Once it is decided which energies we will work with …” this is the key part. “… then we carefully choose parents who will provide us the experiences we need as children, and we arrange for others to come along at the right time to play their respective roles in the experiences necessary to accomplish our mission. We create dramas through our physical lives that allow us to experience the feelings that make up our mission. These dramas serve as opportunities to experience the separation that we came here to experience.”
Now I don’t always 100% agree with Colin Tipping. However, the essence of his theory and his teaching behind Radical Forgiveness, is that everything happens for our good. So going back to A Course in Miracles it says that everything is planned for our good. Tipping says on a spiritual level, the existence of different beings is so that we can be here to support each other for awakening. He says, “Maybe I need to learn the lesson of how do I not get tied up in my thoughts and my drama and things that don’t impact me directly. How do I extend love when things seem challenging?” So he says, which I think is completely consistent with A Course in Miracles, we draw in, we project, and we create our own reality. We create our experience and we bring people in so that we can be supported in our awakening. That means everything we say, everything we do, everything we experience, is a gift to help us learn to see ourselves as Love.
Someone said to me one day, “Thank your …” I am not going to use the exact quote because there was some swearing. “Thank your ‘bleep bleep’ of an ex-husband for being the ‘jerk’ he was because he taught you how to forgive. He taught you how to love myself.” We look at situations like Orlando and we need to ask ourselves, “What are the lessons we can learn from this? What are the experiences that we can get out of it? How can we process it in a way that shows us Love?”
I have about four to five things I consider when I go through an experience that I think is challenging, an experience where I think “This doesn’t feel good.” I mentally run these through my mind. First, I try to always see the innocence of the Child of God. It says in the Workbook’s What is Forgiveness? section, “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. And in this view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin except a false idea about God’s Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity and therefore lets it go.” (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp221.1) There is a lot in that little passage. It says there is no sin. When you say, “That person is in sin” you are saying that person is not as God created them.
A Course in Miracles says a thought does not leave its source. A lot of times we read that and think that the thoughts in our mind don’t leave us. But also the thoughts of God, which we are, don’t leave God. God extends Itself as Itself. God extends Itself as Love. When we say “That person is a sinner. That person is bad,” we are denying their innocence. We are denying that they are still a thought within the mind of God, because their actions weren’t the way that we think they should have been.
Sometimes that is hard to look at. The go-to example is always Hitler. What about Hitler? I don’t know why Hitler did, said, and existed, the way he did. What I do know, because of what I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced, is that God is Love. Somehow that was an expression of love that needed to come to this world so we could awaken. It supported us in some way. Sometimes that is hard to accept. I will totally acknowledge that. You think, “That guy is a jerk, and I am not going to see him as innocent.” The hard part of that is when you don’t see him as innocent, you think judgment can happen. You end up judging yourself. Let’s say you think, “Ok, I’m not quite to that point.” I acknowledge that some people aren’t there. “I’m not to the point of seeing this shooter in Orlando as innocent. I don’t necessarily want to acknowledge that I am one with him.”
One of the big things, I think, in our spiritual practice is to not just say that I’m responsible for what happens. Not to just say, “I am responsible for the dream” and to stop at that. Where the rubber really hits the road is that I am responsible for how I react to my experience. There is a big difference. People will say that they know what happened. The truth is there is a big difference between believe and know. I know something because I experienced it. I know something because I had an interaction with it. Anything that I have not been able to experience and someone just tells me about it, falls into the belief category. I believe there was a shooting in Orlando because I heard it on the news. I believe he was probably a closeted gay guy because I heard it on the news. I believe he was probably studying different forms of Islam because I heard it on the news. Yet all those things, do I really know any of them to be true? I don’t.
There is a part of me that wants to say “He went to a gay club. He shot a bunch of gays. He must hate gays.” I love the work of Byron Katie so I want to look at that. She has four questions. The first question is, “Is it true?” It looks true. I think it’s true. I believe it to be true.
The second question is, “Can you absolutely now that it’s true?” Do I really, know that it’s true? I have to acknowledge, “Well, I really want to think it. If I say that, then I can say we’ve been victimized. I can say it’s time to rally the troops. We need to do ... whatever.” Ultimately though, everything I think about this man, I’ve heard from stories through the news.
The next two questions that Byron Katie has are really powerful. “How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?” and “Who would you be without the thought?” I don’t really know for sure what was in the mind of the shooter when he went into the Pulse club. I don’t know the experiences he had leading up to that night. I don’t know why he chose that day and that time, that weapon, that article of clothing to wear that day, ... everything. I don’t know. So I have to ask myself how does it feel to have that thought? The thought is painful. I start feeling like a victim. What I know is that a man went into a club and shot people. Anything beyond that is my story of being a victim, and that does not feel good.
The fourth question, as I said, from Byron Katie is, “Who would you be without the thought?” Man shot people. I don’t know why. I don’t know why those people were there. I don’t know what their families are experiencing. I don’t know what is coming out of it for them. But I do know that God is Love. This event was orchestrated for some reason, for each person to experience it. If I say that I am a victim and I can’t be safe in a club, I would not be able to go to a club and have fun.
A year ago was the Charleston nine, but it didn’t even make the news this week because of the Orlando shooting. A group of people were in a church having a study group and nine people got killed. We think churches are supposed to be safe. Yet within the experience of the world, we can say nothing is safe. Nowhere is safe according to our human / ego mind. But we can look at the other side of it. God has got this.
A Course in Miracles says, “The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible. What God did not create does not exist. And everything that does exist exists as He created it. The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist.” (OrEd.WkBk.14.1) That is one of those things that I would not say to the parents of one of the kids who got killed. I would not say, “Hey, by-the-way, this didn’t happen.” They are experiencing that it happened, but as someone on a spiritual path, I can look at it and say that I am having this experience for a reason. If it doesn’t feel like Love it’s not from God, and I know that God is everything that is. I can reach into that comfort. I can reach into that space. I can say that even if it seems horrible, I know that we are eternal Spirit.
We are not these bodies. It looks like we are in these bodies. It feels like we are in these bodies. We eat and drink like we are in these bodies. But I really believe we existed long before, we existed eternally, before these bodies popped in. We are going to exist eternally when they pop out. Someone asked me a while back,“What is death?” I said to them, “It is other bodies thinking that they are not experiencing you anymore.” You are still you. I believe that. Just because your body is gone, the Spirit is the Spirit. The difference is what other people are experiencing and what other people are going to do in response to that.
I don’t know why this shooting in Orlando happened. I don’t know why he went into a bar and shot mostly young gays. There are rumors he was trying to avoid shooting the African-Americans, but I don’t know. I don’t know why he did it or what he was thinking. I don’t know why we all have experienced it the way we did. I just know that each and every experience I have is a call for Love because A Course in Miracles says when there is Love, your brother must give it to you, or if there is a need for Love, I must give it because of what I am.
I want to read a little prayer during this last minute of closing. I always start off with light during my meditations. In my personal practice I also read a book called The Seven Sacred Flames. Some think these flames are seven sacred rays, and these are the “Great Rays” mentioned in A Course in Miracles. Each flame is involved in bringing a different attribute of God to our consciousness. One of the prayers talks about being Love. I would like to finish with that. You can close your eyes and just listen.
“In the Name of my Beloved I AM Presence
I call the Power of Divine Love to be magnified
Within my heart and world daily.
I AM Love, Joyous Love
Radiating Love, Unconditional Love!
God consumes my shadows
Transmuting them into Love!
“This day, I AM a focus of Divine Love
Flowing through every cell of my being!
I AM a living stream of pure Divine Love
That can never be re-qualified by fear, Anger, hatred, dislikes and greed!
All negative thoughts and feelings Are NOW dissolved and consumed By the power of Divine Love which I AM!
“I AM, I AM, I AM Love,
I live in the consciousness of Love!
I AM Love in its fullest expression,
Blessing all mankind with Divine Love!
I radiate love! I AM Love in action
Blessing, Uplifting and Healing all on Earth!”
And so be it, Beloved I AM. Thank you and God bless.(applause) ♥
Rev. Kelly Hallock is CMC's 89th minister. She was ordained by the CMC on Sep. 13, 2015.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the February 2018 (Vol. 31 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.