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What would I do if I didn't have a sermon to give on Sunday morning and an A Course In Miracles church service to attend. I'd most likely be leisurely sleeping a little extra instead of getting up at 6:30 a.m. Hopefully I'd be with a "significant other", drinking coffee, making love with no time pressure, then having a meaningful discussion afterwards about where we will have brunch that day. Sounds good, but I'm happy with the choice I make on Sunday to be with my congregation and I'm honored for the opportunity it gives me to speak and share my thoughts. I'm also very happy that the local congregation continues to come because I know they have the same choice to make. I know that ACIM tells us we are always in the right place at the right time. I don't regret my choices.

Sunset Behind Golden Gate I wear a pocket watch. I have always worn one because my father always wore a pocket watch. I was used to them and I liked them. I had a few, very inexpensive pocket watches early in my life and they usually broke within a short period of time. About 30 years ago I bought a much more expensive pocket watch, a very nice imported Swiss watch. It was beautiful and it had a flip top to it. I loved it. I moved to San Francisco with this Swiss watch. After living here for about a year the Swiss watch broke. I looked through the Yellow Pages and I found a Swiss watch shop located in downtown San Francisco at Second and Mission Street. I brought my watch into the Swiss watch shop which was managed by a Swiss watch maker. He wore a dress hat with a brim even in his store. I handed him my broken watch and he opened it, looked at it and in a Swiss accent said, "Oh, very good watch." I said, "Thank you." I was proud. I had bought a good watch and the Swiss watch maker recognized it was a good watch. I left it there and a week later he had fixed it. It cost me about $45 dollars and at that time, that was 26 years ago, that was a lot of money for me but I had my watch working again and that was great.

Another year went by and my watch broke again. I went back to the same Swiss watch repair shop and the same man was still in the store. He came out with his hat on again. He didn't remember me but I remembered him. Again he looked at my watch carefully and again he said the very same thing, "Oh, very good watch." Again I said, "Thank you." He fixed it again in about a week and it cost about the same amount, but I had my watch back and I was happy, again. It lasted about another year and then it broke again. I brought it into the shop again. The same Swiss watch maker with the hat (I'm not sure if it was the same hat) came out again. He didn't remember me but I remembered him. Again, he opened my watch and again he said, "Oh, very good watch." (pause) It was at that moment that I had my shift in perception. I realized who it was a very good watch for. Not for me. It was for him. It was a definite shift in perception, a miracle. I got it fixed one more time and the next time it broke, about a year later, I threw it out. Since then I've bought medium price watches which last much longer than that Swiss watch ever did. They cost less and when they break I throw them away. Sometimes we have to put ourselves in another person's point of view. We can then see that people may be truthful but they are talking from their perception, not necessarily ours.

Interesting things are going on in the world. Hillary Clinton (Democratic Senator from New York) has announced her candidacy for President. I gave a sermon on August 27, 2006 named "Illusions End" (The full 30 minute sermon is on the "Audio Lecture ACIM" page of the Community Miracles Center web site as an .mp3 file which was about Hillary Clinton being the Democratic front runner for the nomination and how interesting it was to me that in the cover story that TIME nowhere in the story was a mention about the significance that a woman might be running for President. That was merely apparent and assumed. The writers of the TIME article didn't think that point was important enough to write about although I certainly thought it was significant. Time not mentioning the gender breakthrough of this Democratic front runner made the article even more significant. magazine did about her,

You can go to Hillary Clinton's web site which is and there is a very nicely done, two minute video where she talks about beginning her candidacy. She mentions how she wants to be in conversation with all Americans. That's how she starts and end the video. Being in communication is an important A Course In Miracles idea so I liked that. She outlines what she feels are the five main issues of this election. They are:

1) end of the war in Iraq
2) restoring the respect for the USA by foreign countries
3) decreasing our dependency on foreign oil
4) the deficit which threatens Social Security and Medicare
5) how to get affordable Health Care to every American

That's Hillary Clinton's statement about the agenda of this election. Again, in this two minute video and on her web site nowhere is there any mention about the significance of her being a front running, woman candidate and possibly the first woman to hold the office of US President. There is no statement like, "It's time for women to emerge as leaders." It just about this candidate and the issues. This is so significant for me. We've had such a shift in perception, that the possibility of a woman being President is a non-issue. No one is even focusing on it. Hillary Clinton has a very good chance of getting the nomination and becoming President. There's a female Democratic Speaker in the House of Representatives. Democrats hold a majority in both branches of the legislature and let's be honest – we're used to the phrase, "President Clinton." "President Clinton" – has a familiar sound to it. The same familiarity worked well for our current President, George Bush. We were already accustomed to hearing "President Bush" so it just seemed to fit. Watch the video on her web site if you are so inclined.

This web site is how she announced her candidacy. Others are announcing their candidacy via web sites too. Barack Obama (Democratic Senator from Illinois) did the same thing recently. His video can be watched from . This is how people are doing this now. They don't go on television, radio or to the newspapers. Candidates do it from their web sites. The internet truly is the information super highway.

This past week week, I worked on a new issue of our monthly, printed on paper, publication, Miracles Monthly. This issue has a transcription of our special Sunday Service which we held on October 22, 2006 named "Community Voices." That's when eight of our ministers demirred five to eight minute talks. I had the honor and the privilege of transcribing these and reading these about five times as I continued to edit them. They were great. I'm amazed at how wonderfully all those separate talks worked together to form a cohesive whole. I'm going to borrow something from Rev. Beatrice Theodorou's talk. She talked about the Scott Peck book from the 1980s named The Road Less Traveled. She mentioned that book was based on a Robert Frost poem from the 1920s named "The Road Less Taken." If you wonder why the change in name, "Why didn't Scott Peck name his book 'The Road Less Taken?'" It's because of the actual wording in the poem. If you go into the poem there are these lines.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

The "less traveled" phrase is in the poem itself. Scott Peck talked about the significance of taking the road less traveled. Rev. Beatrice said, that by studying A Course In Miracles we're taking "the road less traveled" and that it does make all the difference. I've thought about that. I have probably always known this but what has shifted in my perception is my understanding of the word "less." It's the road much, much less traveled. This has been an important shift in perception. How much less traveled? I probably used to think it was an 80/20 thing. Maybe 80% of people took the roads of the world and 20% took a spiritual pathway. I think that's how I thought of it originally. Not too long after I began my study of A Course In Miracles, well over 20 years ago, I probably shifted that to a 90/10 ratio. By studying ACIM we were traveling a type of spiritual pathway only 10% of the world traveled on. Now I've begun to wonder even more, what is the percentage of people traveling on this type of profound spiritual, metaphysical path? Is it a 95%, 5% ratio? Maybe it's even a 99.999% versus .001% thing. I am beginning to see when they say the road less traveled it's truly much, much less traveled. What ACIM is asking us to do is something very unique and very different, even from what I thought the spiritual pathway was. ACIM is even the road less traveled in the spiritual sense. It's not the typical spiritual pathway.

A Course In Miracles tells us this, "I want the peace of God. – Many have said these words. But few indeed have meant them. You have but to look upon the world you see around you to be sure how very few they are. The world would be completely changed, should any two agree these words express the only thing they want." (W-pI.185.6-9) By the Course's own admission it's "very few." There are many people who say "I want the peace of God." There are many people who are pursuing a spiritual pathway. However, to say "I want the peace of God" and truly mean it you must be willing to shift every idea that you have about God, yourself and the world. To shift into a more peaceful perception about things, a perception which is guided and not prescribed by somebody else, a spiritual teacher or a religion, is a tremendous shift and very, very few people say "I want the peace of God" with this meaning.

I see the world changing. Hillary Clinton running for President and it not being a big issue that this candidate is a woman – that's the world changing, but it's not the world "completely changed" that A Course In Miracles tells us will happen. I look around the world and I still see the world that I've always seen and I do see it evolving. I don't see that it has "completely changed" because I think not enough of us have truly embraced what it means to have that kind of change. There is another shift in perception that has to take place.

After, going to the Swiss watch maker three times I shifted. I got it in an instant when he repeated the same line on three consecutive visits. It was a "good watch" – for him. It wasn't a "good watch" for me. It was costing me a lot of money and time. We need that kind of shift. It's good to say "I want the peace of God." Many spiritual people say that but they mean different things. When A Course In Miracles says, "I want the peace of God." it means something radically different. It means we have to be willing to shift the way see: ourselves, God, and the world. It means we have to be willing to let go of all our thoughts, all of our conceptualizations of: who we are, what's right for us, what's wrong for us, what's good for us, what's bad for us. We need to embrace the instant with a divine "not knowing" and let the Holy Spirit fill us with whatever new ideas the Holy Spirit is guided to fill us with. We have to be willing to suspend our judgment and let go of our old ideas – even what we thought the Holy Spirit would tell us – so we can be truly open. That is the road, very, very few people actually travel.

I now want to talk about nature. These ideas I have about nature have been coming clearer to me as I study A Course In Miracles for another year and as I begin the whole process again one more time. A lot of what we think of as higher spiritual thought, and with many organized religions, still revolve around this idea that nature is God acting in this world. We think God created the natural order of things, but A Course In Miracles wants us to challenge this belief. The way we look at nature as being something that was given to us by God is not correct.

"It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as 'the way of nature,' not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the 'natural' law of life. The cyclical, the changing and unsure; the undependable and the unsteady, waxing and waning in a certain way upon a certain path, – all this is taken as the Will of God. And no one asks if a benign Creator could will this." (M-27.1.4-7)

We elevate nature to a high Godly expression into our world and we don't even question, would a benign Creator, a loving Creator, a Creator that was not attacking us, have manifested something like this? Would a loving Father give us something like nature – an existence of a short, little life? We're born as infants, totally helpless and then we finally grow to maturity where we have a small window of opportunity to mir at our peak physical and mental condition. Then we go through a slow, awful, degeneration of our faculties which leads to a, usually, miserable end of lessened mental capabilities, lessened physical capabilities, senility, chronic disease to end our experience here totally helpless similar to how we came in. This is what God gave us? This is supposed to be wonderful Divinely reflected nature? This is supposed to reflect God? A Course In Miracles is challenging us to understand and embrace that nature isn't natural. This is not what is natural for us.

We say someone died of "natural causes" thinking somehow that disease and death are natural. A Course In Miracles wants us to challenge these ideas. Death of any kind, isn't natural. We were not created to go through an experience of death. Anything that brings death to us is not what is supposed to be happening in our life experience, in our mind's perception. It's not natural to die any way – in any shape or form. ACIM wants us to challenge that belief and think about how very, very, very few are willing to engage that thought. It's not where the world is at and I think that's why we haven't seen the world "completely changed." We see the world evolving which is great, and I embrace the evolution, but a complete changing of the world – no. We are not willing, ourselves, to challenge these firmly held beliefs.

"The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt. Look carefully at this world, and you will realize that this is so. – Children are born into it through pain and in pain. Their growth is attended by suffering, and they learn of sorrow and separation and death. ... And their bodies wither and gasp and are laid in the ground, and are no more. Not one of them but has thought that God is cruel." (

God would be cruel if this was indeed what God had given us. If this is the existence that God has given us, this does not declare a loving God. What a cruel thing it is to give entities temporary existence, with only a few years at their peak and all this degeneration. Are you ready to challenge this? A Course In Miracles wants us to see how cruel and what an insidious killer, nature really is and then to turn away from it. We're asked not to embrace nature but to confront. Yet we are so thoroughly deluded by nature. The culture, most of us, frequently myself included, are thoroughly deluded by nature. We don't want to see it as the killer that it really is. We are deadly accomplices with nature in this merciless killing. We actually hired it. Nature is a contract killer who we have paid to do our dirty job. We set this "hit" up. We are very complicit with the whole plot. Are we ready to challenge this?

How can we challenge it? I can challenge it by not elevating nature into this grand and Godly thing. I certainly can appreciate beauty when I see it. Yet, I am also being taught that beauty is everywhere. I can see the beauty in everything. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. If I think the beauty in nature is any more than the beauty I see when walking through downtown San Francisco then I being nature's accomplice and I'm actively taking part in this contract killing of myself and all my brothers and sisters.

Every time we look at a beautiful sunset, hear the pounding surf on the beach, gaze at a majestic purple mountain, or feel the refreshing spray from a gentle waterfall tumbling and splashing down cascades of rocks – and then start waxing poetic about it in our minds thinking how wonderful God is, thinking that this is a direct expression of God's grandeur – were killing hundreds of people including ourselves. If we could remember the death underneath the seeming beauty it might stop us for just a moment. We could reconsider. There might be another way of looking at all this beauty that wouldn't be so deadly. Every time we look at a little baby and think, "Oh how innocent, cute, sweet – how adorable that little baby is" we're probably slaughtering thousands, pushing them towards increasing old age degeneration and senility, including working steadily on our own dreadful demise. A little baby isn't any more cute, or adorable, or sweet, or innocent – than a slightly balding 54 year old man. (a short description of Rev. Tony) We're all cute, adorable, sweet and innocent. We should all be going up to each other and pinching our cheeks and saying, "You're so cute!" Actually some of my Italian relatives do this.

Challenge nature's strangle hold on the world and our experience in it. A Course In Miracles isn't asking us not to enjoy some of what we see. It's asking us to shift into the perception that we could enjoy everything that we see instead of separating out one part of it, declaring, "That's the Godly part, the nature." Then saying, "This is the man made part. Isn't it awful?" "Look at the nature. Oh, we've ruined nature with all our man made ugliness." We need to question all of those ideas. The Course is asking us not to be accomplices to this murder that goes on all the time with nature. What an insidious killer nature really is. Let's call nature on it's murderous intent. We have see that this emperor who we think controls the world, this nature – this emperor has no clothes. Nature does not hold up to a true spiritual perspective. It isn't even benign. It is murderous, incredibly deadly and totally insane.

Sometimes there are nature specials which don't just show the birds chirping but animals viciously killing each other and you see how violent and murderous nature actually is. Nature is very vicious. It's vicious in fast ways and it's vicious in slow torturous ways and it is time for us to challenge it!

This is the road very, very less traveled. We have to learn to mir in this world unnaturally not in harmony with nature. People think it's spiritual to mir in harmony with nature. We have to get out of harmony with nature. It's killing us! We need to mir in disharmony with nature. We have to mir in harmony with the Divine and the Divine is not nature. The Divine has a different order of naturalness we have to learn to appreciate.

It took me just three visits to the Swiss watch shop to have my miraculous shift in perception that this good watch wasn't good for me. How many people, how many thousands of people do we have to watch die of "natural causes" before we get that this is not the natural that we want for us. We want something else. This is the road very less traveled by and it will make all the difference for us and for the world.

I started this article speaking of the choice I make every Sunday morning and the choices we all make to mir profoundly, spiritual without regret. We will never regret the choice to to let go our our murderous addiction to nature. It's not "a good watch" for us.

Love, Rev. Tony 

© 2006, Rev. Tony Ponticello, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

Rev. Tony Ponticello
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

This article appeared in the January 22, 2006 (No. 18) issue of CMC Ezine. CMC Ezine 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.