On January 13, 2019, Rev. Vincent Fuqua addressed those attending the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering in San Francisco, California. Below is a lightly edited transcription of his talk.
Good morning to everyone who is listening to this on ACIM Gather, to those who watch the Live Stream, and definitely to those who are going to watch later on YouTube. It always amazes me just how far we've come. You can listen to the Sunday Gathering even when you are away now. It's such a beautiful thing to be able to recognize how far we've come and be aware it's available when we are not here.
I made the decision about what to talk about with guidance from the Holy Spirit. I always ask the Holy Spirit if He's got guidance for me when I speak, because the Spirit always has something in mind. Usually it is something that is happening in my life right now. I don't always want to hear it. I don't want to listen to Him, but sometimes I have to.
Today it was about being present. What I mean by that is, when we think about everything that goes on in our lives it's not surprising how often we are distracted. No matter what's going on our minds, our minds may be going a thousand or even twenty thousand miles an hour. Yet with all that thinking, we aren't being present with ourselves. We aren't being present with the people we are interacting with.
I was reflecting on where I am in my life. We are in a new year. We are in 2019, and we are already going into the third week of January. Man! Time is going fast! Whoa! Wait a minute here!
I was also reflecting on things I want to accomplish this year, in 2019. There are many things I want to accomplish. I definitely want to graduate from my doctoral program this year. This is high on my list to accomplish. I want to recognize that I'm turning 50 this year which is a big accomplishment. (cheering) There are other things I haven't been paying attention to though.
Also, I am recognizing that since I am turning 50, I need to pay more attention to my own health. It's been 13 days since I've had sweets – doughnuts, candy, anything like that. It is hard, but it feels really good. I get tempted, but it feels really good to not have those foods in my system now. That feels great!
The other thing that kept coming up for me is, I needed to recognize for some reason I have been distracted more. I haven't been as present as I feel I would like to be. I realized that and thought "What is going on? What is preventing me from being present with the people in my life that I'd like to interact with?" I also asked, "What is keeping me from being more present with myself?"
This is something that I want to deal with. Being distracted and not present is not working well for me. Being present is not happening how I want it to. There is something that is keeping me from being present with individuals. I recognize that I am now giving myself permission to look at this. I am giving myself permission to take the time to realize what is it I need to do to be more present.
By distracting myself with many different things, am I preventing myself from doing things I really need to do? Am I constantly putting things off rather than dealing with them? Truth of the matter is, when I do those things that distract me, it doesn't feel good. All it does is add more pressure and stress to me when I don't do the things I need to do.
The truth is – there is really no need for me to be distracted. I know what I need to do, but I just allow myself to sit and be distracted. Then I thought about, and recognized the fact, that earlier on in life I was diagnosed with ADHD, Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder. What I think this does is it makes it very hard for people diagnosed with it to focus. People with ADHD easily get distracted.
I began thinking about that. I don't want to use the diagnosis of ADHD as an excuse. There is no reason for me to use that as an excuse, because I know how to be focused. I know how to do that, yet for some reason, at times, I don't allow myself to be focused. Yet, I am working on that. I am not letting that label I was given earlier in life to be the reason I say, "No, no, no, no. I have this attention deficit disorder therefore I can't .... It's understandable that I get distracted. It's understandable that I don't pay attention all the time. After all I have ADHD."
"No." For me, I don't need to buy into that. For me, I just need to use the mechanisms that I have to be more present. I need to truly look at why I'm not doing what I know to do for myself. I do not have to remember this past diagnosis. A Course In Miracles tells us this. "The Holy Spirit can indeed make use of memory, for God Himself is there. Yet this is not a memory of past events, but only of a present state." (OrEd.Tx.28.4) My ADHD diagnosis was an event in my past. However the truth is not in memories from our past. The truth is in the memories of our present state right now, in this moment, that matter.
I was thinking about when I went back to Phoenix to visit my brother. Of course I am also visiting my nieces and nephews, and now my great-nephews and great-nieces who I am very proud of. I was thinking about my visit there and what that was like. Yes, I enjoyed myself. It was a great time to be able to see them, to be able to interact and enjoy being with them.
However, then I was thinking how I wasn't present while I was there. Even though I was physically there, mentally there was frequently something else going on, so I wasn't present with them while I was there.
Then I was thinking, "Wait a minute here. I don't see my family that often." We are spread all over the place. I have a sister who lives in Southern California. Of course my brother lives in Phoenix. I have two sisters who live in Houston. Then, of course, my nephews and nieces are all spread out. I don't have anyone here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because of that, we don't get to see each other that often. For various reasons, it's not easy for all of us to pick up and travel and see each other on a regular basis.
I was thinking, "Okay. I don't see them that often." The only times I do see them is usually around the holiday seasons, when we have a family reunion, or at some other big gathering or happening. It is for a very limited amount of time when that happens. So I thought, "Wait a minute here. I barely see my family. Then when I go visit them, why is it that I'm not present at that time? Why am I not utilizing every moment that I have to be with them?" It's not like I see them every single day.
When I was there for Christmas we played a lot of games and did a lot of things together. Yet I realized I constantly kept getting on my phone when I was there. No reason for doing that, but I was constantly checking my phone. I was constantly checking sports. I was constantly on my phone for ... whatever. I would frequently look to see if I had gotten a text message.
Why? There was no reason for it. There was no emergency happening. There was nothing that I really, needed to see or read. What I needed to do was be present with my family, but I wasn't doing that. These technologies make it easy for us to get distracted. It was easy for me to get distracted so I had to look at that. Whoa. Wait a minute. That's not good.
I remembered that a few years ago my niece said something to me. I spent the whole day there hanging out with them and my niece said, "Oh wow, Uncle Vincent! You are still here!" And I thought "Of course I'm still here. Why would I be not be here?" Then I remembered when they were younger and I would go visit, say "Hi!," hang out a little bit, and then I would leave.
Even though my intention was to go there to visit them, I would leave after just a little bit. In those moments when I did interact with them, I was always thinking about something else I needed to go do. This made me realize how much that impacted them. She was young when that happened, and she is an adult now. It stayed with her that when she was younger her Uncle Vincent wasn't present for her.
That woke me up to realize, "Wow, we really have an impact when we lose focus, when we allow these technologies to interfere with us being present." When we – when I am afraid just to be in that moment with the people I am with – people who I care about – I am not present for them. I recognized that I've wasted valuable time with my family at Christmas during all those moments when I was distracted.
My brother was very clear about being excited that I made the trip to visit him, and that he wanted to connect. Yet, I let my own feelings, my own stuff, prevent me from truly being there with him. But I am learning how important it is for me to work on that. I know the next time when I visit him I will be much more conscious of this, to have much more awareness, of what I am doing. I need to just be there.
That has made me make the decision to leave my phone somewhere else when I visit my family. I don't need it on me. I'm there for something else. It may be hard, it may be challenging to do that, but I can't just grab my phone so frequently. I will have to be there, present with them. I don't have to be planning my future or remembering my past.
The Course tells us this. "There is no link of memory to the past. If you would have it there, then there it is. But only your desire made the link, and only you have held it to a part of time where guilt appears to linger still." (OrEd.Tx.28.4)
In my mind, I am the one who allowed myself to stay stuck. I am the one who allowed myself to be on the path of not being present in the moment. I don't need to think about what happened in the past, and I also don't need to start thinking about what's going to happen to me in the future. What I need to do is stay right here, right now, in this moment. That's what I need to do.
I know that I have a spiritual practice that can help me change this distraction habit, to help me get into the moment. No matter how much our ego will want to continually come into our mind and find a reason to say to us, "No, no, no, no. You have to think about ‘that.' No, no, no, no. You need to think about that presentation that you just did." Sometimes I go over and over completed work projects, looking for, "What did I miss in that work presentation?" Maybe I am replaying that conversation that I had with someone. I start wondering, "What did they hear? Did they understand what I was trying to say? I think I need to go back and correct that."
"No." We don't. All we need to do is move forward. That's what I need to do. That's what I am learning how to do.
It became really clear this week when I was seeing a new client at my internship for becoming a therapist. They came in for their first session. As you know, I am working with kids. One of the big things that we are trained to do as a therapist is to build trust and rapport with the clients who we see. That's important. When they are coming in with these things they want to talk about, as they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable, it is important for us to be there and to create a safe space for them.
For this client, I asked them several questions. With teens and children you have to ask a lot more questions than you do with adults. They were talking and telling me what was going on with them. I responded back to them about what I thought they were saying.
Then I saw this puzzled look on their face. They didn't know what I was talking about. I had totally brought something into the conversation that was not even there. I didn't know what they were telling me, because I got distracted. My mind had started going other places even though I was in a session with someone who was new.
I realized that was not a good thing, especially for a therapist, to lose track when someone is sharing their deepest stuff with you. It's not good if I'm not being present in the moment with them.
This is especially important with teenagers and kids. I'm sure it's hard enough for them to talk to someone. Then they realize, once again, someone is not listening to them. This person is not understanding what they are trying to share with them.
Who knows if they are going to come back next week when I am supposed to see them again. They had the experience of realizing for a moment, I lost track of what was going on. For that moment I wasn't present for them. Even though for most of the session I was present with them, I wasn't present for them then. As you know, we tend to go after the things that we see as negative, that tend to cause us harm, and we focus on those. For this person, I need to recognize the impact I may have had on them.
It is making me realize more and more, that I need to slow down and truly pay more attention to all the things I am creating in my own world that are unnecessary.
I want to be there for my clients. I want to be present and listen. I know and understand the courage that it takes to come and talk to someone so they can hear you and help guide you on your way. I cannot afford to have even a moment of lapse like I did. That is not me being present. That is not me being able to demonstrate and model for people who I interact with. When I think about being present, it's about us connecting, relating to others. We can do that when we let go all that chatter which come up for us, all those things that exist in our lives and distract us.
"Time neither takes away nor can restore. And yet you make strange use of it, as if the past had caused the present, which is but a consequence in which no change can be made possible because its cause has gone." (OrEd.Tx.28.6)
I get, and I understand, that our past does have something to do with our experience today. I recognize that, and I understand that. Yet the truth is, we don't have to stay stuck in that past. The thing is we, I, can figure out a way to let that go. I can give myself permission to move forward. I understand that no matter what my experience was in the past, I am glad that I can't change or relive it.
What I need is to live right here in this moment. I understand and recognize that because of this world that we are in, the world is going to constantly bring up these challenges for us. It's going to constantly bring up all these distractions. But if I turn these over to the Holy Spirit and ask for guidance, my experiences will change. When I go into my counseling sessions, I need to ask Holy Spirit to help me be present with these individuals. When I am in meetings, I need to ask Holy Spirit to help me be present.
One of the things I am starting to do is put my phone on "Do Not Disturb." That way I do not feel distracted worrying about who is texting me. I consciously made the effort to leave my phone over there right now. (Rev. Vincent points to a chair where his things are in the audience.) These little things are the things that I need to do in order to be present, because I want peace of mind. I want to be able to heal myself and this world. I can do that if I am present with myself and others.
That's my talk for today. (applause) ♥
Rev. Vincent Fuqua is CMC's 51st minister. He was ordained by the CMC on October 4, 2004.
Rev. Vincent Fuqua
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the April 2019 (Vol. 33 No. 2) 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.