On Sunday, March 26, 2006 Rev. Larry Bedini addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
Friday night after I finished several hard weeks of working on special projects for our Community Miracles Center, I decided I needed a day off. I was going to take Saturday off and do whatever I wanted to do. I was going to have some fun and go downtown, go to the stores and what have you. So I went downtown yesterday morning looking for a special trash can for my kitchen – my newly remodeled kitchen. Now that’s quite a reason for taking a day off, isn’t it? Going downtown looking for a trash can. (laughter)
I got in my car and I started on the road. It was one of those rare times when all the traffic lights, so far, had turned green just before I approached them. (I was taking roads where the lights were not synchronized.) Well, by the time I got to the fourth one, I thought, “Wow! The lights seem to be favoring me this morning. This is great.” I continued on and sure enough they kept turning green. I thought, “This is really interesting.” I was amazed, in fact. There was little traffic on the road. No one was in my way. No one was slowing me down. I wasn’t speeding; I was keeping good pace. It was 9:15 in the morning. So, I probably drove to Mission Street and Van Ness Avenue in about 5 minutes. Unheard of. Right?
I turned left on Mission and all of a sudden it was as if I were in a different world. The streets were packed, traffic was at a crawl and there appeared to be no immediate relief in sight. I wondered what was going on. There were dozens, literally, dozens of people walking quickly on the sidewalks, standing around looking as if they were trying to find someone. I thought there must have been an accident somewhere down the road, except that these people were also crossing the street, Mission Street, going into parking lots. You could see, down further, another parking lot on the right, and they would go into that one. Well, I didn’t know what was going on so I finally decided to make a U-turn on Mission and go up to Market Street and that way I could get to where I was going. I did so and then decided to go up further and park at the Ellis Street garage, across from Macy’s. That was close to where I wanted to go. I was a little concerned about going to the Fifth and Mission garage in light of all the traffic and the Ellis Street Garage has 7 floors of parking. The electronic sign outside indicated that all the floors were empty – plenty of parking. Didn’t even indicate a lack of parking spaces. It just meant to me, “Go for it!”
As I drove up the first floor, it was blocked off. I drove up to the second floor, it was blocked off. I drove up to the third floor, it was blocked off. I drove up to the fourth floor, it was blocked off. Finally, on the fifth floor I found a place to park. So! I began to think, “What’s going on here?” Also, there were no cars on any of the preceding floors. What was that all about? I was still feeling good and so I proceeded on. I thought maybe something was going on that was connected with the “accident”, or the presumed accident on Mission Street. Yet, there were no cars here.
Still feeling good, my mind was focused on my having a nice time. I was early, the day was young, so off I went on my adventure. I hadn’t had coffee yet because I had decided I would go to the Starbucks across from the Metreon (on Mission and Fourth). As I walked out of the parking garage, there were bunches of people walking quickly in the direction I was going. Strangely, and without realizing it, well, at least until Market Street, I began noticing that I had been picking up their walking tempo and I found myself rushing along with them and keeping pace with them. Then, all of a sudden, when I hit Market Street, the light was red. That was the first red light I had encountered. I stopped and suddenly realized, “My God, I’m picking up their tempo! I’m getting involved in their drama!” I looked to the left and saw a Starbucks, just a few doors down. I’d been there before and so I thought, “I’m tired, keeping my pace with them. I’m going for coffee.”
I went into the Starbucks there and it was packed! I’d been there before but I thought, “Well, I’m not going to do this!” I left the Starbucks and as I got out of it, another group of people came busily by and without realizing it again, I picked up their tempo and I’m crossing Market Street like, “I’ve got to get there!” (Wherever “there” was.) And, this is what they were doing! So, I thought, again, “Wait a minute, whoa, whoa, whoa!” I had to make myself stop. Then I thought, “Wow! This is bizarre!” I got to Mission Street and I saw the Starbucks I had originally intended to go into, across from the Metreon. I went in and saw that the line had gone to the end of the room and doubled back! Again, I thought, “Wow! This is really bizarre.”
It never occurred to me there would be another long line. I never thought anything bad and I was happy. I was moving along, I was experiencing all this. So I got in line and thought I would just wait it out. I had nowhere to go. The Metreon wasn’t open yet. I thought, “Okay, wait it out.” I certainly wasn’t going to hunt down another Starbucks. It probably would be packed as well.
There was a woman standing in front of me and, after a moment or so, I asked her if she knew what was going on. She said, “Oh, yes. There is a convention here at Moscone Center. Tony Robbins is going to be speaking.” I thought, “Oh! Of course! The Tony Robbins crowd. The real estate people, and so on.” I didn’t say it critically but just thought, “Of course! He’s a big draw. He would have this kind of response.” I said to her, “Well, are you going?” She said, “Yes, I am but he’s not speaking until 11 o’clock. It started at 8 a.m. but he is coming on later.” Then I knew that was why the people were rushing. I said, “I notice that you have a V.I.P. badge on. Are you with the organization?” She said, “No. This allows me to sit within the first twenty-five rows.” I said, “Oh, but it says V.I.P.” She smiled and said, “Oh yes. It just means that you pay a lot of extra money to sit there.” She looked at me with that knowing look and said, “I paid my money.”
Anyway, the coffee line was lo-o-ong. The service was slow because there was only one cash register person working. The girls behind the counter were very cheerful. I felt good. I was impressed at how cheerful they were. Every once in a while, one of the girls would shout out, “Public service announcement. Public service announcement. We want to apologize for how slow everything is but we’re short handed and we really appreciate your being patient with us.” The crowd of people called to them, “It’s okay; it’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”
The woman in front of me would ask me something, I’d ask her something. We’d chit chat for a bit, and that went on for about 25 to 30 minutes. I remember thinking how it didn’t bother me at all to be waiting. Normally, I get very impatient about those things. I figure, “It’s not worth it. Get out!” Again, it was early. I had nothing to do. I was waiting for the Metreon to open. I was waiting for the Container Store to open. So, I figured, “Okay, so what!” And I felt good. The woman was very friendly. She was very polite. I was very impressed with her manner. And, I was enjoying it. When we finally got to the counter to order, the woman said to me, “I would like to buy you coffee.” I thought, “Wow!” So, I smiled and said, “Thank you, but that’s really not necessary.” And then the thought occurred to me, “Did she think I was a street person?” I wasn’t dressed that way. But, you know, did she think I was some poor old man and that she could buy this poor old man a cup of coffee? I laughed at that thought. Then, she again said, “Please let me buy you a cup of coffee.” So, I graciously accepted. She bought the coffee, I got myself a little pastry, which I insisted paying for. I said, “I’ll pay for the pastry, you pay for the coffee.”
I told her my name (I hadn’t told it to her, yet.) She told me hers. I gave her my card and we said, “Goodbye.” As she got to the door, I looked at her, she went out, and as she passed by the window, she turned and waved to me. Then I thought, “Wow! What a beautiful morning. How really lovely this is.” I thought, “You know what? I just had a Holy Encounter.” (thoughtfully) “I had a Holy Encounter.” And, I was aware of it! I thought, “How beautiful it was. How very very beautiful it was.” How happy and lovely our meeting was and how we both had experienced a Holy Encounter. I’m sure she’ll remember it. And I’ll remember it. I took my time, had my coffee, had my pastry, looked around, enjoyed myself and, finally, I got up. The Metreon had opened. I went over, went to Sony, looked at some cameras to see what the latest one was.
I went to the Container Store and was greeted as if they had been waiting for me forever. I thought, “My God, it’s still a Holy Encounter.” Every salesperson that I encountered greeted me as if to say, “Why Larry, how lovely to see you.” I picked out some things, had them in my arms. A saleswoman came over to me and said, “May I take those from you? I’ll put them off to the side.” I said, “Well ... yes, thank you.” I thought, “What a morning! What a morning this is.” And then I thought (thought it was silly) but I thought, “I could have this every morning. This is mine. I can have this. It’s out there in the world (in me.) I can choose this.” And I felt very, very good. What grace. What charm. I remember the days of grace and charm. I really do. And then I thought, “Gosh, it’s still here in the world, you know? We think it’s gone but it’s still here.”
I realized then that I’d been having a day, a morning, filled with Holy Encounters, and I was aware of it. I smiled even more. What a happy time. So, you see, you never know where your Holy Encounter is coming from. Even though you go down to get a garbage can, you can have a Holy Encounter. (laughter) You can look forward to throwing out the garbage now because you might have a Holy Encounter with somebody. (laughter) You never know!
Then I remembered, curiously enough, that my morning started out by giving me the green light. I put the two together and I thought, “Wow! That’s what it was. I was given, or rather, manifested the green light for my morning, that day and the next day. Or for as long as I wanted it. I had the green light. And when I did get into a situation where I could have had a grievance, such as the traffic on Mission Street, I rose above it. I rose above the battleground. I let it go. I sought a different way of handling it, rather than playing victim and just sitting there in the traffic. I felt very happy about that. I realized I had taken a moment, the green light moment, and ran with it. I was able to keep it. I was very happy about that. I still am happy about it. It affected me all day, yesterday. It affects me this morning. I intend to keep it as long as I can, as long as I choose to.
Today’s lesson says, “My grievances hide the light of the world in me.” (W-pI.69) I could have chosen to sit in traffic, expressed my grievances. I didn’t. I chose a different way. There are many things in life that we choose to fall victim to. We choose it. There are many situations we choose to get involved in that give us some sort of negative gratification. But we choose them. We convince ourselves that we don’t. We convince ourselves that we are a victim. We convince ourselves that it just happened to us for some reason. But the Course teaches us that’s not true. We choose them.
I am a Holy Child of God! We are all Holy Children of God. We don’t have to choose to stay in grievances. We don’t have to choose red light days. We can choose green light days. If your life isn’t working, isn’t it time to give yourself the go-ahead for a happier day, a happier life? Isn’t it time to do that? If your life is filled with red lights, isn’t it time to realize the green lights have already been given you, and that it’s your choice to turn them into red lights. Isn’t it time? Isn’t it?
We are not novices in the Course. We are not novices in life! Not one of us is a novice in life, and yet we act at times, many times, as if we are. We act like, “Uhh, oh, uhhhh, life! Wow, oh, oh. Gee, this is happening to me. Wow!” And we’re in total control and we know it. Isn’t that interesting? We know it! The road is clear for us. Enjoy the drive! Know that your inner light will brighten the way, if you choose it. If you choose it! If you allow it! How many years have the lights been red for you? How many years have the lights been red, for you?
We were given the green light when we were created. We’ve been given nothing but green lights since we were created. And yet, how many times do you choose the red ones? Don’t expect Jesus to change the bulb! The Course teaches us that. He says, in the Course, “I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear.” (T-2.VII.1.2)
We can say, “Jesus, take this from me. Jesus help me, Jesus, I’ll make a deal with you. God! Why are you doing this to me?” And so on. We can do that ’till the day we die – and it won’t be true at all. God didn’t take anything from you. God didn’t do it to you. Jesus certainly didn’t do it to you. Jesus isn’t going to change it. He can’t. He just said so. He also says in the Course, “If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course.” (T-2.VII.126.96.36.199) Isn’t that interesting?
And yet, how many times in life do we say, “Oh, Jesus, please help me here. Please help me there. Do this ...!” And (allow me to conjecture here,) it’s as if he keeps saying, “I can’t folks. I can’t! I can’t go against your free will! If you decide and choose to be miserable, I can’t do anything about it!” But he does say, in the Course, “It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough.” (T-2.VII.1.7) That’s all he can do. He can only remind us that we do not guard our thoughts carefully enough. He can be there for us.
Remember, he says, in the Course, “Nothing God created can oppose your decision, as nothing God created can oppose His Will. God gave your will its power, which I can only acknowledge in honor of His. If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind. I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching. How else can it be, if God's Kingdom is freedom? Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of any kind, and the perfect equality of all God’s Sons cannot be recognized through the dominion of one mind over another. God’s Sons are equal in will, all being the Will of their Father. This is the only lesson I came to teach.” (T-8.IV.6.1-9) So, you see? He can’t change our will (our minds) for us. How much more simply can it be put?
You’ve all heard what I’m about to say before, I’m sure. Life is not a rehearsal! This is not a rehearsal! It is not a rehearsal! This is it! As far as we know! Soap opera melodramas, in life, are tiresome! Well, on television they usually are. As far as I’m concerned they’re tiresome. They’re boring! If you’re living one, consider canceling the contract. Consider withdrawing your sponsorship. By the way, it was announced on television news that The Guiding Light is going off the air after an interminably long period of time. Millions of people will be devastated! Yes, they finally gave up.
As a well qualified and well established teacher of the Course, I recommend to those of you who have led melodrama existences, please, follow The Guiding Light and go off the air!!! It’s past time! It’s long overdue! Jesus says in the Course, “There is much to do, and we have been long delayed. Accept the holy instant as this year is born, and take your place, so long left unfulfilled, in the Great Awakening.” (T-15.XI.10.9-10) That having been said, take the time to see the green lights and have some Holy Encounters. Stop trying to be right. Be happy instead.
I’m still glowing from my Holy Encounter with this woman and the Holy Encounters with all the other people. I’m still glowing from it. I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t be happier! I’m so very grateful and happy that I was greeted by a Holy Child of God who recognized me as her brother. It gave us both the opportunity to extend love to each other. And – I’m also grateful for the green lights.
I wish you all Holy Encounters. That’s my talk for today. Y
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the March 2006 (Vol. 20 No. 1) 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.