On May 3, 2020, Rev. Peter Graham addressed those attending the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering. It was held via the Zoom internet conferencing platform due to the Shelter-in-Place order that had been implemented in San Francisco as a result of the Covid19 pandemic. Below is a lightly edited transcription of his talk.
Good morning, everyone! It is great to see everybody here on the Zoom platform. I want to say we've already started the day with a miracle! Rev. Tony had me shift my seat so I have more light.You have a better view now. When I've been teaching my Zoom classes, there has been this shadow on half of my face, but now this is better lighting.
Since I have a different backdrop, I wanted to add my Eagles blanket to it. This is for Rev. Vincent. They just had the NFL draft this week and the Eagles got some really good players. Sorry Rev. Vincent! I think the Eagles are going to take back the NFC this year. I just wanted to have a shout out to them. Rev. Vincent actually got that blanket for me so it's appropriate.
I titled my talk for today, "The Journey Home with Bumps Along the Way." I don't know about you, but sometimes A Course in Miracles can come across as kind of tongue in cheek. It says things that understate our experience here. A Course in Miracles will say something like "... though there be some lack of ease at times and some distress" (FIP.T-31.V.9:1) I think probably that is a little bit of an understatement. (laughter) When we do experience our egos, and there is a big ego event being the pandemic right now, it does really seem to impact us in very significant ways. As we've seen, it can impact people a lot.
Experiencing unease or a bump may actually at this point in time for many of our brothers and sisters be more like climbing the Himalayas and going into dark gorges, valleys, and the world's largest underground caves. Right now that might feel more like our experience. We know from A Course in Miracles that all miracles are the same. Whether we are experiencing a crisis or we are stubbing our toe, that process is all the same. Yet that can sometimes drive me a little bonkers when I think about it. I still think it is good for us to keep in mind though that they are the same.
What I have come to appreciate a little bit is that this is part of the ego's script, this pandemic that we are experiencing. It impacts us on all levels. It impacts us each individually in our own inner life. It impacts us socially. It impacts us globally. It's a global pandemic, right? All of us are having a universal experience and we are all experiencing things in our communities, in our families, with our friends, around the nation and world. It's actually an incredible learning experience because the whole world is kind of going through the same thing. So in form, we can look at it from that perspective.
It's nice to have Rev. Tony as a roommate. (Editor's note: "Thank you!") We were talking this week about how you look at these events. With everything going on out there, I was saying it's like a science fiction movie. We can't get near people. We have to wear masks, and you see the medical people dressed up in what looks like space suits. In some ways that is how it feels to me. If you want to give the script a name, it is a science fiction movie for me. Rev. Tony was funny and said "Good thing it isn't *Zombie Apocalypse*. Can you imagine how everybody would react then?!" I was like, "There you go! Right?" It's not that so – we are lucky.
In the reading today, A Course in Miracles says this. "The real world is not like this." (FIP.T-13.VII.1.1) That is one thing I need to remember. It's easy for me sometimes to get hooked into whatever story I'm telling myself about this. Whether it's personal, or on the national or the international scale, or whatever it is – like the "social distancing," it's incumbent upon me as an A Course in Miracles student to keep, "The real world is not like this." (FIP.T-13.VII.1.1) in mind at all times. The world is calling it a pandemic and that has consequences for bodies and for everyone. We have all kinds of experiences around that but it's not who I am, and it's not who you are. It's not our true reality.
The Course talks about how we can surrender ourself to the Holy Spirit's judgment. What would the Holy Spirit's judgment be of this experience, this global experience, that we are all having? I think that A Course in Miracles would say to "Go gently about your way. Go gently about your way." I need to hear that. My ego has lots of viewpoints. My ego has lots of opinions. I have opinions about leaders. I have opinions about the school district I work for. I can get really caught up in being right. I can get caught up in what I think should be done.
This week for some reasons which I'll get into more, I've been pondering a lot. I wondered in terms of the world's population, how many miracles workers are out there? How many A Course in Miracles students are out there? Rev. Tony often says, and I hear other Course teachers say this, that we have a really significant impact on the collective consciousness if you will, on the collective mind. Our healing has really permeated throughout the global consciousness.
I've taught social studies as a teacher. I know something about history. However for us, as miracles workers, our opinions about what is happening aren't as important as doing our forgiveness lessons. It is important for us to stand aside from the politics of it, our opinions of it, and what others are or aren't doing, and instead go within and heal.
I did not come to this realization very easily. I had a really challenging week. The Course says, "Remember what was said about the frightening perceptions of little children, which terrify them because they do not understand them. If they ask for enlightenment and accept it, their fears vanish." (FIP. T-12.II.4.1-2) We do have nightmares. I think for many people this experience is a nightmare.
I had my own version of a nightmare this week. What happened was that I got caught up in a lot of judgment and criticism directed towards my work. I was feeling overwhelmed by grading the amount of papers I had to grade, the lessons I had to do. Another thing that a special education teacher has to do in California is manage a caseload of students. As a special education teacher, you really have two jobs – you are a teacher and you are a case manager. It makes it challenging at times. I was feeling really stressed about that.
On top of it, I was getting very judgmental towards my supervisor. I have a lot of judgments about my supervisor. My supervisor doesn't appreciate my work in the way that I want him to appreciate it. He isn't doing what I think he should be doing as the principal of the school. I have all kinds of issues about that – equity issues that aren't being addressed. I have judgments about how he is using our resources. We have paraeducators who aren't doing anything for distance learning, or at least not much because they haven't been called upon by my supervisor to do it. I have these issues about him.
On Thursday, I decided, "Hey! I'm going to call him." There was another outstanding issue about a position opening at my school next year perhaps that wasn't posted yet, and I was really anxious about it. You get better teachers the earlier you put it out there, and have more candidates you can interview. So I called him. He and I have had a rough year together. Apparently I've been investigated and all this other stuff.
I just said, "Hey, can I share some things with you? I know we've had kind of a rough year. Can we just kind of reboot and do this over again?" I talked to him about what I had heard about a position opening and it not being posted. He gave me information back and it wasn't what I wanted to hear, but he gave me information as to why it wasn't posted yet. It wasn't posted, because there is no position at this point to post. That was fair, and I felt better about it.
However, I still left the conversation not feeling validated. I wanted some validation for everything I had been pushing for and doing. I wanted to feel some collaborative spirit with him on some of my ideas. I didn't get any of that. It bothered me. It was Thursday now and I started getting judgmental and angry about it. My anger escalated throughout the day.
It was then time for me to go to the ACIM class that night. I teach / facilitate that class. I was facilitating the class and Rev. Rudy was there. Rev. Vincent and David were there, and I just couldn't make it through the class. I was reading the Course, and I was like this is "B.S." This doesn't relate to me. This doesn't help my students at school. I was like "blah, blah, blah" in my mind.
The whole situation with my prinicipal and how I felt in class made me think about Gary Renard. In Gary Renard's books, Arten and Pursah talk about unconscious rage. That was where I was at! I was so enraged about my experience. Rev. Tony texted me asking, "How did the class go?" and I was like, "The Course is just gobbledygook!" That's just how it felt. I left the class in the middle of it in a dramatic fashion, but I knew my brothers, in this case, Rev. Rudy and Rev. Vincent and David understood. I just left class. It was a bottom point for me. It was a down point for me. It caused me to reflect, and I certainly did get some lessons from it.
A Course in Miracles says, "Yet the real world has the power to touch you even here, because you love it. … Love always answers …" (FIP. T-13.VII.4.1&3) Love leads so gladly! That is what I had to do. I had forgotten to ask the Holy Spirit. I had forgotten that sometimes you don't get a miracle in the time frame that you want it. I had forgotten that sometimes the miracle doesn't show up in the way you want it to either.
I think at some time I've talked about this before. There are these folks who do scientific research on the brain. They say that we have somewhere between 45,000-60,000 thoughts per day. If you latch on to a couple of those nasty thoughts that come into your mind, I can tell you folks from personal experience, they can take you into a really bad place as I was at Thursday.
Friday, I taught my regular class for the school district. I said, "Peter, you have to shift out of this. What do you need to learn?" The first thing that came to mind was my supervisor. What is it about my supervisor that is bothering me? Well he's uncommunicative. He doesn't have a vision. He's not motivated. He doesn't communicate well.
Oh! Interesting! I'm saying to myself, "Have I ever been uncommunicative?" I was a supervisor at one point. "Have I ever been authoritarian and made decisions without consulting people?" You know everything he did, or I perceived he did, I have done. So here it was! I have to forgive me! He's just showing me – me! I got it. Now I need to start forgiving him too. That was the first lesson.
The next thing that came to mind was what are the blessings of the pandemic that I'm seeing for me? I'm now getting to teach English instead of Geometry. I switched classes with another teacher. She wanted to teach Geometry and I wanted to teach English. In the English class, we are reading Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl. The kids – they are amazing – these are kids with anxiety and depression who don't want to show up anywhere, and they are showing up for class! We are reading this wonderful book that we can all relate to in some way.
This isn't as severe as what Anne Frank was dealing with. If you don't know, though I'm sure you know, she was writing this diary as they were hiding in this secret annex, hiding from the Nazis who wanted to send them to concentration camps. My class is reading this story. The kids are doing great. They are participating. They are doing their assignments. That's a blessing! Can you imagine that? These kids who have anxiety disorders and depressive disorders are showing up. It's like "Peter, hello! Wake up! This is happening." It is something I really got.
I also got that I have more time for myself now. If I get out of my own head space about what I could be doing, or I should be doing, and all this kind of stuff – if I can get out of this head space I can see this as an opportunity. I usually have to be at work by 8:30 a.m. in the morning. That means I have to be out of here, out of my house, by 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. Then I have to prepare and do all this other kind of stuff. With the Zoom class, I don't have to start class until 9:15 a.m. most days. So I have more time in the morning for meditation, for exercise, sometimes I connect with a friend, or whatever. That is what is really happening!
I also signed up for a subscription with this website called www.gaia.com. They have all these cool meditation and yoga type videos and documentaries. Right now I'm watching one about the brain and how the brain works, another on kundalini, and other things I've heard about but never done.
I have more time to invest in my own being if I give myself permission. I wasn't giving myself permission. I'm in this line of work that promotes compulsive brain judgments about what I should be doing. Holy Spirit is telling me, "No! I'm giving you more time for opportunities for yourself. Take it!" It can be really, really interesting to do that. It's like yeah, we have all these opportunities to gladden ourselves.
Yesterday, I went with a friend to Baker Beach. That is a beach here in San Francisco. It's probably my favorite beach in San Francisco. There is a view of the Golden Gate Bridge off to the right and Marin headlands in front of you. Then the Pacific Ocean comes in and meets the Bay right there.
I'm from the East Coast. I grew up swimming in the ocean which is comparatively pretty warm. The Pacific Ocean is so cold, but I go in anyway. I went in and I swam in the ocean for a half hour and then just sat there. There was a whale that crossed in front of me. Far enough away for me to be safe, but I saw it breach the surface of the water.
It was just a magical experience. For that moment, I took it all in. That's the one thing about cold water. It will activate your central nervous system. Your senses will come alive! Go in water that is 59 degrees, or whatever, and your central nervous sysem will just come alive! I was out there for about a half hour and I had a great time.
I cut my hair by myself for the first time. My hair was getting long. It's a little uneven. My friend Terry helped with the back, but I did the front. My hair was driving me crazy.
These experiences of ours really help us to learn about getting back to our center. What I learned from this experience is that the truth is with us through the whole pandemic. I am not any of the titles I think I should be or anything else.
What it reminds me of is this prayer in A Course in Miracles:
"I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do,
because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal."
So folks, the journey home may have some bumps along the way, but let us all be truly helpful to ourselves and to our fellow brothers and sisters and beings on this planet during this science fiction movie known as the pandemic. That is my talk for today. Thank you. (applause) ♥
Rev. Peter Graham is CMC's 40th minister. He was ordained by the CMC on Feb. 23, 2002. He is a member of the CMC's Board of Directors for which he serves as Secretary (May 17, 2021).
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the June 2020 (Vol. 34 No. 4) 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.