On Sunday, February 20, 2022 Rev. Vincent Fuqua gave a talk for the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering. A lightly edited transcription of the talk is presented here.
Hello, everyone. As usual, it's always good to have the opportunity – to be able to share my thoughts from the A Course in Miracles perspective and just to be here, just to be present with everyone. I have not been as present as I normally am, because our softball season is getting ready to get started and I've been doing a lot of practicing on Sunday mornings, but I still try to hop on Zoom as much as I can. One of the beauties of having the Sunday Gatherings on Zoom right now, no matter where you are at, you can log on and listen to these beautiful messages that we get every week.
Also want to say happy belated Valentine's Day. This is definitely a month of love that we love celebrating. In my mind we celebrate love every single day, every moment, with everyone whom we connect with. I also want to say "Happy Black History Month" as well. February is Black History Month, so I definitely want to say "Happy Black History Month."
As usual, I always ask for guidance about what I want to talk about. It's very interesting how my initial thoughts – what I wanted to share and talk about today when I knew I was going to be speaking – shifted and changed. Spirit wanted me to talk about voices, lifting our voices. I'm thinking, "Okay Spirit, if that's what you want me to talk about. I have no idea what you want me to talk about regarding that aspect of it." All we can ever do is just keep turning it over to Spirit and trust. Then I realized that probably the reason why is because "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is actually the Black national anthem.
This month I've been organizing a lot of events regarding Black History Month. In every event we have done, we actually played the song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." I'm thinking, "Okay Spirit, if that's the reason why I keep getting in my mind that I should talk about this and reflect upon what that means for me ... okay. I will just trust, turn it over, and do just that." That's part of it.
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This really is one of the things I've learned more and more each year, each day I've been a Course student part of this healing process – sometimes we just can't argue with what the Spirit wants us to do. We go with it and just trust.
An interesting thing is "Lift Every Voice and Sing" has been around for over 120 years. It's been around for quite a long time. What's also interesting is I didn't know about the song until probably 10 years ago. At one of our events* that I put on every year, the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness event someone had suggested, "Listen, we should play this song for our event." I didn't know about it. So it took me many years until I actually knew about the song myself. This tells a lot about how much at least in my mind, it's important for me to start studying my history a little bit more than I have, especially when it relates to my Black or African-American culture.
One of the things that I found out, when I did a little research about the national Black anthem, it was written during a moment fraught with conflict in Black African-American history. At that time, it would've been "Negro" American history. At the dawn of the 20th century, post Civil War reconstruction efforts were being dismantled. Segregation had been classified legal by Plessy versus Ferguson*, and the Jim Crow* ring of terror, and exploitation had taken hold across the country. At that time period the whole idea of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" actually started coming about. For me, this made it important to take the time and truly reflect on the whole idea of lifting every voice, not just my own voice, but actually lifting a collective voice of every single individual who I encounter.
I was thinking about that and I was processing that. I realized for us as A Course In Miracles students, we are fortunate because we have Spirit, or guidance for us to listen to. We hear the Voice that comes from the Spirit, and are able to speak, sing, or whatever it is regarding that aspect of it individually. However, now the key is how are we able to allow ourselves to lift other voices as well. I think for us as Course students and as healers, we have the opportunity to do that, to take the time, to really listen to other voices. I know at least for me, at times, that can be challenging. It can be challenging, because sometimes I really don't want to hear other people voices. I just want to hear my own voice and really don't want to pay attention to other people's idea, but when we're doing that we're not allowing ourselves to be connected. We're not being a collective individual, a collective being here in this world that we are in.
It's important for us to listen, to really allow ourself to pay attention to other individual's voices, even though we may not always agree with them. That's the thing. It's not about having to agree with those individuals. It's just about creating that space for them to be able to actually say what they need to say regarding themselves, regarding their aspect of it. A Course In Miracles reminds us of this. It says, "It is possible even in this world to hear only that Voice and no other. It takes effort and great willingness to learn." (OrEd.Tx.5.20)
One of the important parts of that quote that I like, is that it takes effort and great willingness to learn – our willingness to learn, our willingness to have an open mind, and to be able to allow ourselves to listen to others. I experienced that these past few weeks when I had a few challenges. I had to check myself regarding that aspect of it. One of the challenges was a few weeks ago when I had to attend a weekend meeting. These meetings can be intense at times and everyone has their own thoughts, their own feelings, their own whatever they want to bring to the table. I found myself doing that weekend and becoming angry. I found myself becoming frustrated. I found myself becoming judgmental. It's like all these things were happening that I didn't like. And then I realized the reason why that was happening. I was not coming from my Spirit. I was allowing my ego mind to let all this judgment come forward. Because of that, I put a block up where I was unable to listen to other people voices.
This made to realize I needed to take a moment – to take a second, to allow myself to breathe. I needed to allow myself to really understand that in order for me to not be frustrated, in order for me to not to be in judgment, in order for me to not get angry at what an individual had to say, I needed to allow myself to have an open mind and to listen. I needed to have willingness to learn, to learn from others, to hear their perspectives, to hear their voices, and to be able to allow that space to take shape.
When I'm able to do that, when I'm able to allow myself just to take that moment and to truly listen to other voices I have a better sense of peace. I'm allowing myself just to feel the healing that is taking place, and to create that space, that sense for others to be able to share what they wanted to share. Then A Course In Miracles goes on and says this, "The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the call to Atonement or the restoration of the integrity of the mind. When the Atonement is complete and the whole Sonship is healed, there will be no call to return, but what God creates is eternal. The Holy Spirit will remain with the Sons of God to bless their creations and keep them in the light of joy." (OrEd.Tx.5.20) These are the beautiful messages that the Course continues to bring to light for us.
For me, that weekend, that was an opportunity for me to be able to allow myself to manifest a different energy, a different energy than I was having initially, when the meeting started. Fortunately I had the opportunity to be able to do that when I was asked to lead a section regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am telling you now – being able to put aside my own ego mind, being able to allow myself (and allowing ourselves), to create an open space, to allow "heavy" voices to come out was beautiful. Creating that space to hear everyone share their experiences, to share it in such a vulnerable, beautiful, insightful manner was remarkable to be able to see. That happens when we allow ourselves to lift everyone's voices, not just ours. As healers, as A Course In Miracles students, we have the opportunity to be able to do that on so many levels. For me, I was able to do that when I turned it over to the Spirit and I got out of my own way. I let that space be there for those who wanted to share where they were at.
For me, when I think about the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," I think that's what part of it is about. It is an opportunity to go to these events, or whereever we are, to be able to allow people to express who they are, to put that out into the universe. The messages that we put out to the universe with everyone's voice included, it's an opportunity for healing. It's an opportunity for us to allow ourselves to experience the love that actually exists. That happens when we allow ourselves, give ourselves permission to create, the space for others, to allow others to come into our space where they can do that.
This song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" in my mind, that's part of what it was about. We recognize all the struggles that have happened in this world that we are in, but those struggles can be shifted and seen differently when we allow other's voices to come through. We allow those voices to come in a way that they are an opportunity to experience the healing, the opportunity to experience the light, the opportunity to experience the love.
That's what I experienced that weekend, especially in that diversity and inclusion group, just to see it, just to hear it blew me away. It blew me away to hear individuals get that deep about what was going on with them and to share it in front of so many people. That's because of removing potential blocks and creating that space to let them know it is okay to allow their voice, not just my voice, but their voice, every single one of our voices to come through. Then A Course In Miracles tells us this, "Direct communication was broken because you had made another voice through another will. The Holy Spirit calls you both to remember and to forget." (OrEd.Tx.5.22)
This reminded me of an incident that happened just recently at work. As I mentioned, I've done a lot of different events for Black History Month. There was another event that they wanted us to do regarding celebrating our Black African-American colleagues who worked for the department, specifically the ones who were very involved, like myself. I was not part of the planning committee, but my name kept coming up as one of the ones to be the co-host of the event, to help lead it. So with guidance, I said, "Yeah, sure. No problem." Yet, during that process, during the planning for this event, I noticed that we were not allowing others' voices to come forward.
I noticed that we were stifling what individuals wanted to share. I also noticed that I got caught in the middle of what was going on, what was happening. I was only supposed to be the co-host of it, just to lead the meeting itself and simply show up. Yet someway, somehow, I got put into the middle of it, and people were coming to me with their issues. Many times I did feel like I was coming from my truth and really listening to what was happening. Yet there was just this one particular incident when this individual wanted to share some things at the event. Because some people felt threatened or upset or whatever ... we were going to ask this person not to participate. That didn't sit well with me. Something about that just did not feel right – to stifle someone's voice, especially another African-American, when the purpose of this event was to celebrate our Black African-Americans colleagues. To stifle their voice – it just felt wrong. It didn't feel right. So I asked for guidance
A Course In Miracles reminds us of this, "As a result, there are choices which you must make. In the holy state, the will is free in the sense that its creative power is unlimited, but choice itself is meaningless." (OrEd.Tx.5.22) I had a choice. I had a choice to either continue to go with what some individuals were saying or thinking, or allowing myself to trust that it's important that we hear all voices, that we ask all to participate and not stifle them. My responsibility was to allow healing to happen. Allowing healing to happen, that was about lifting up everyone's voice. And we did. We allowed this individual to participate. It was incredible what this person had to bring to the table. We wouldn't have heard that if we would've stifled their voice.
We never know when we have an opportunity to grow, to evolve, and to heal if we stifle others' voices. It's about lifting them up. Lifting everyone's voice, in my mind, is what it is all about. That is, in my mind, what this whole national Black Anthem song is about. It's lifting each and every one of our voices, not to stifle any, because it's another opportunity for us to heal. It's another opportunity for us to connect together as one and not to separate. I'm so grateful that we allowed this individual to speak. I'm also even more grateful that this individual called us on it, asking us the reason why we were stifling their voice. I am also grateful we took the moment to listen to them and realized that we were not in the right to do that, especially since the event was for our colleagues, and they were part of that group.
Now I'm going to end with reading the Black National Anthem, since I can't sing well, I'm going to read it.
"Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and Heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
"Sing a song full of faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
"Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the day that hope Unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place on which our fathers sighed?
"We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our star is cast.
"God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus
Far on the way;
Thou who has by thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Least our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee,
"Shadowed beneath the hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land"
Happy Black History Month. And that's my talk! ♥
Rev. Vincent Fuqua is CMC's 51st minister. He currently (06.20.22) serves on the CMC's Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 4, 2004.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the February 2022 (Vol. 35 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.