On Sunday, August 7, 2022 Rev. Peter Graham gave a talk for the Community Miracles Center’s Sunday Gathering. A lightly edited transcription of the talk is presented here.
Thank you, Rev. Tony, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to the talk portion of the Sunday Gathering, and thank you for taking your time out of your summer, and as someone mentioned, the hot summer. In fact, even today here in San Francisco, I had to take my fan out of the closet and turn it on, because it’s warmer here today. If you see me go for my towel to dry off because I’m sweating, you’ll know why. It’s one of those hot days here which is great because we don’t get a lot of hot days.
My talk for today is titled “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions,” because as Rev. Tony read from A Course in Miracles, we know that we’re always making decisions, decisions are continuous, as it says in today’s reading. We all made choices even today. Maybe we decided what we were going to eat for breakfast. If we drink coffee, were we going to put milk in our coffee, cream, sugar? We made a decision to come here, come on Zoom, and take an hour, an hour and a half, out of our day to hopefully receive the healing message of A Course in Miracles through the various activities we do here.
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We’re making these decisions every day. What we know from A Course in Miracles is that we are encouraged to be kind and thoughtful about the significant decisions that we make. We have routines that we do throughout our day. The Course doesn’t say you have to necessarily ask the Holy Spirit, “Should I take a shower today or not?” The Course doesn’t necessarily say we should ask, “Should I put sugar on my cereal or not?” Some of those things are just routines. They are just what we do. We have routines for work. We have routines at home, and so on and so forth.
However, we are confronted with other kinds of decisions, such as what we want to do with our day, who we want to see, and how should we respond to people in our relationships. A Course in Miracles does give us an outline about how we can make decisions about our daily lives, and that of course builds over time and creates our experience of life here. What’s very interesting to me about what the Course says about decisions, is there are two rules that it gives and they are instructive and very clear. The first thing it asks us to do is, just today, to not make any decisions by ourself. Of course by ourself is talking about our ego self, our individual self. We know from our study in the Course that a lot of times the ego counsels us first. The ego’s voice speaks loudest. The Course is asking us to consciously surrender our day to our higher mind, our mind of love and light and peace, and try to access that voice which sometimes takes practice.
Then the second thing, which I think is even more interesting, is in the reading that Rev. Tony did. It says this, “Throughout the day, at any time you think of it and have a quiet moment for reflection, tell yourself again the kind of day you want; the feelings you would have, the things you want to happen to you, and the things you would experience, and say: – If I make no decisions by myself, this is the day that will be given me.” (FIP.T-30.I.4.1-2) I think that’s truly interesting because, I know there are, for example, enlightened masters like Jesus in His lifetime and others, they knew the script ahead of time. They knew what events were going to come down in some manner. They were informed in advance by the Holy Spirit.
I humbly can say that I haven’t had that gift of being able to see ahead in the future yet, but what I do get from this particular second part of the decision-making process is that I can, at least at this point, impact what kind of day I’m going to have. A Course in Miracles says, “What kind do you want?” It’s getting us to at least start training our mind to think about, “How would I like to feel today?” We can make decisions, “What things are going to happen?” and “How will I experience those things that are going to happen?” We may have some structure to our day, as the day goes on. Maybe it’s a day of work, or maybe we’re going to see friends, or maybe it’s ... so on and so forth. We may have mixed feelings or mixed thoughts, conflicting thoughts about those kinds of experiences, or maybe we have a relationship challenge to handle, so on and so forth. The Course at least gives us an opportunity to prepare for challenges in a way, and to ask Holy Spirit for help.
Recently, actually on July 26th of this summer, I had a day in which there were all these very interesting options and possibilities presented to me for my life. We all know. We have our own experiences. A Course in Miracles says there’s no “more difficult,” or difference really in miracles. Whether we perceive the decisions or experiences in our lives to be significant or not, there’s really no difficulty or difference in the miracles that can happen. They’re all the same, but sometimes decisions that we make do have more significant implications in our practical life. We understand this. Some of these recent experiences have gotten me to think about this decision-making process, how we make decisions with the Holy Spirit. As I mentioned earlier, some decisions we have in life are simple. They’re easier decisions to make, and some appear to have more complications for us.
I’m just going to share, in a very honest way, a little bit about what happened to me on July 26th. I had a friend coming into town. This was a friend who used to live in San Francisco, and who I had dated in the past, although we had different ideas about the long-term nature of relationships so we didn’t stay together. I still loved him and had a lot of respect forwhat he had acomplished and the kind of person he was. He had a lot of really wonderful qualities.
We decided to get together. We were going to go have lunch before we saw Elvis, the recent movie starring Tom Hanks and Austin Butler, which was actually a wonderful movie. We were having lunch. He started talking to me a little bit about why he was in San Francisco. The first thing he told me was that he was here because, he’s a business person, he wanted to start a business. I had almost invested in one of his previous businesses before, but then I didn’t. I regretted that. I always thought to myself, “If my friend wants to do this business again, I’m going to do it.” I told him this right away. His idea was he wanted to start a boba or bubble tea business here in San Francisco which is a very challenging market. I instantly said, “I will invest with you.” I’m not like a venture capitalist, but I have some capital. I said, “I believe in you, and I’ll invest in you.” That is true. It totally came from my heart.
We started talking a little bit about that business, and we got excited about the whole idea. My contribution in terms of actually working the business would be limited, because I’m a teacher, so my full-time job takes a lot of work. I would just be backing the idea and providing capital. We were finished with lunch, we had time before the movie, so we walked around. If you’re familiar with San Francisco, we walked around Yerba Buena Garden. It’s a really beautiful area outside of the Metreon complex, and it even has this wonderful civil rights memorial honoring Martin Luther King, and many quotations from Martin Luther King are on the walls. It’s a wonderful, beautiful park in the city, a small park within the very urban landscape.
As we were walking around there, my friend presented me with a challenging situation in his life. His immigration status was in jeopardy, meaning his visa was running out within a few months and he was going to have to leave the country. I don’t remember the exact specifics, but – well there I was. I’m a single man. I said, “Well, I’d be willing to help you with that situation.” I was still excited about the business proposition we had been talking about. Helping him would entail us getting legally married. So – I made this decision on the spot to agree to getting married.
For the next few days, we were figuring out all the implications for this, and there were a lot of implications in terms of a shared home, looking for a place, and so on and so forth ... all of this. To be honest, some people might have qualms about this because of the legal requirements, what the government says, immigration laws, and all that. However my prevailing thought was more in line with, “Well, we’re under no laws but God’s.” (See OrEd.WkBk.76) Sometimes I personally feel that the immigration laws in our country are unfair and unjust, and particularly in this situation with my friend who I felt was an eminently decent fellow. He is somebody who employs people here in this country through his business efforts. I felt that the government’s laws were unjust and unfair. At that moment I was willing to support him in his quest to remain here legally in the United States.
As I said, we were going into business, and it was exciting, looking for the business location and then considering the other implications for it. Then as time went on, as the week progressed, I started to have doubts about my decision, my decision about getting married. It would have meant changing significant parts of my life, especially where I live. That would be a big. (Editor’s note: It sure would considering you live in my apartment with me! – Rev. Tony) For most of the time, I probably would have to change that. Plus going through the legal process – the government makes you go through a very rigorous process to prove that your marriage is valid and so on and so forth.
I started to think about all these implications and also my own feelings about where I was in terms of being a person getting married and what I thought about marriage and so on and so forth. Over time, I really thought about those things. I also had other thoughts occur to me. There are a lot of times when – actually several times this past year, when I’ve been in social situations and people will say to me, “Peter, you’re a handsome man. You’re a really great guy. Why aren’t you in a commited relationship?” I started thinking about those things for myself.
This business and marriage idea got me thinking about special relationships and holy relationships and all the rest a little bit more deeply. What I realized is that at this point in my life, the most important relationship that I have is with God. Use whatever word you want or that’s comfortable. For me, it’s Holy Spirit. Sometimes it’s in the form of the voice, kind of like I hear during my morning meditation and my prayers. The best part of my day is in the morning. I try to get up early and put on music and read from A Course in Miracles and other inspirational texts. I try to spend time with God, Holy Spirit – whatever word you want to use – Love. That’s the best part of my day.
I think what I realized is for myself is, at this point in time, I’m just not absolutely clear whether I want to be married. Well – I guess I am clear that I don’t want to be married. Often times, people that I meet or date have the worldly view of relationships and what they mean, and maybe what’s more along the lines of the special relationship. There’s trade-offs you have to buy into, certain myths you have to accept – I guess myths from the ego, about what relationship are, or what those primary relationships might mean. For me, when I was pushed on those ideas, these ideas around getting married to another person, I discovered that I’m just not really there in terms of my commitment to that kind of relationship.
When I told my friend this – it was about five days later – when I told my friend “I can’t do this right now” it was heartbreaking for him for lots of reasons. To have to do that wasn’t pleasant either, but what I realized is that, for me, in order to feel comfortable in marriage, and this is what I said to him, I would definitely need a longer period of time to get to know the person. Even though I know I love and care for my friend. I need a longer period of time for them to get to know me, and all my complexities. I know in some ways we’re simply love, and that’s all we are. That’s our experience too, but we’re also still working through our own egos, and my ego has some pretty significant challenges. I’ve shared here before that I do have some obvious flaws and some challenges. One of my significant challenges is trust, which I know is one of the characteristics of the Teachers of God. I’m going through that trust process with the Holy Spirit and on my own.
I realize that there was a significant event in my past, and I’m going to share this with you all. I’m not sharing this to really blame anyone or anything. Rev. Rudy is often reminding us in our classes that we’re responsible for the world we see and everything we experience in it. What I’m about to say – I’m not going to blame people – but there was a significant wounding experience I had as a child. For the first nine years of my life, I was led to believe that my stepfather was my biological father, and then in a dramatic fashion, something happened significant in my family, I was told abruptly that my stepfather wasn’t my biological father. The story was told to me about what happened. It was one of those stories that happens in families. My original parents divorced very early on, and my family decided the best way to deal with this was just to pretend that my biological father didn’t exist, just push him out of the picture.
I realize now that at that moment I was devastated as a child, a nine-year-old, and I made a vow that I would never get close to anyone again. I would never let anyone get close to me. This is what I recently realized. We all do our work in A Course in Miracles. We have different vehicles to get through our work. In my journaling, which I sometimes do with the Holy Spirit, I realized that I was still under the influence of this wound. I’m still under the control of it. The Holy Spirit says we have to bring all these things to Him. Maybe we have to bring them to Jesus. We have to bring them to the Holy Spirit to be healed. Our bigger wounds, at least as we perceive them, may take time. They may take a long time.
This is what I realized. I was in denial about how this wound was impacting me, all my relationships, and all my commitments. It was even impacting my commitment to A Course in Miracles, the commitments to people in my life. This summer – I’m off school for the summer – I was truly able to look more deeply inside myself and see that I still had this controlling experience. I was still very much under the ego influence of it. I was still really wary of people. I am still having trust issues. The guidance I got from the Holy Spirit was I needed to start talking about this more in safe spaces. For me, I’m not going out in the street and talking to everyone about it, but this is an A Course in Miracles community. We’re a healing community. We’re trying to awaken from the dream, and I have to heal from some of the significant wounding experiences I’ve had.
What has been the revealed lesson for me is that I’m still on this trust journey, and trust is really important for human relations, and also for our relationship with God. A Course in Miracles talks about the six stages in the development of trust. I think the first one is undoing, then sorting out. The third one is relinquishment, and then there’s a period of settling down. This is followed by unsettling and finally by the stage of achievement. I don’t know exactly where I am in that process. I actually feel like sometimes with just the Holy Spirit, I’m in a much better stage, or much further along, than I am with some people. What I will say is that I feel like we sometimes go back and forth into different levels and stages of that trust. We’re at several different places in that trust continuum at once, if you will.
When I told my friend about this – I didn’t tell him about my experience with my parents – but when I talked to him about this I did come back to peace. I did come back to my center, because I knew not getting married was the right thing. I don’t know how it’s all going to work out. Further down in this teaching, if you look at this deeper, if you go back and do the reading on the Rules of Decision, what A Course in Miracle says is that even if we make a mistake just turn it over the Holy Spirit. I guess people who have great authority can make great mistakes, right? Even if it’s a mistake in the world, or if it’s in our personal lives, even if we make a huge mistake and hurt people – not necessarily intentionally – but hurt them, just turn it over to the Holy Spirit and the miracle happens.
That’s been a real lesson for me this summer. I’ve been seeing it more and more in my life. I just turn things over to the Holy Spirit and ask for a miracle in the situation. This has been the blessing for me during this summer off. Decisions, in my mind, when I’m having these different choices to make with other people, even with my own biological father who I do have a relationship with now, I still have lots of healing to do, but we talk and I have turned the relationship over. Even yesterday, he called me for the first time ever. Reverend Vincent knows this. My father called me for the first time. He’s never calls me unless it’s to give me bad news. But yesterday, he just called me. It’s the first time ever.
What I’ve been working on is just my mind. Often times the ego will, as A Course in Miracle says, in relationships predict all these catastrophic outcomes. Then the ego will tell me all these compulsive things I have to do to stop these catastrophic outcomes from happening. The real truth is that if I place my future in the hands of God and turn it over, just ask for miracles when I’m thinking about my relationships challenges, then I return to peace and things just work out.
Today, I want to say that A Course in Miracle does give us great guidance about the decisions in our own lives and we’re all on a healing path. We just have to embrace sometimes that we don’t know what’s going to happen, but if we trust – even if we acknowledge that our trust isn’t one hundred percent – Holy Spirit will take care of it. We’re all going to be fine.
That’s my talk for today. Thank you. ♥
Rev. Peter Graham is CMC's 40th minister. He was ordained by the CMC on February 23, 2002.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the August 2022 (Vol. 36 No. 6) 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.