A Change Is Gonna Come

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

I grew up in Oregon, but, as a child, our family traveled a lot. My dad was a salesman who traveled all across the United States. He would always wait until the summer, though, to travel to California so our family could go with him. We loved going to California because that meant we could go to Disneyland (it was the only Disneyland when we were growing up). My brother and I planned our trip to Disneyland down to the minute, so we could hit the rides we loved the best. We even saved our unused tickets from our ticket books (remember those?) from year to year so we could use them on the upcoming trip.

Our parents loved to indulge our planning, and they excitedly followed our itinerary for Disneyland. But, at the end of the long day, my dad always wanted to make our last attraction be “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.” It was on the way out, so it was the perfect ending. My brother and I were not necessarily that excited about the attraction, but we “indulged” our dad’s itinerary – plus, the seats in the air-conditioned theater were soft and comfortable, and by then our feet were tired.

I am grateful that my dad made this our tradition, because the speech the Audio-Animatronic Lincoln gave stuck with me. It was a compilation of a few speeches Lincoln presented over his fifty-six years of life, and what impressed me was when he spoke about our liberty and what could bring this country to its knees. He said…

“The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.

What constitutes the bulwark of our … liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, …. These are not our reliance against … tyranny …. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.

At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant, to step the ocean, and crush us at a blow?

Never!

All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, … could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all times, or die by suicide.
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by the menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves.

Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

Wow! I still am deeply moved by Lincoln’s words. We are our own destruction or salvation. “Nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace.” (W-70.2)

According to A Course in Miracles we either awaken to the truth of love and unity or we remain asleep in our nightmares where we weave a world of destruction filled with fear and separation. As the Course so powerfully says…

There is no part of Heaven you can take and weave into illusions. Nor is there one illusion you can enter Heaven with. A savior cannot be a judge, nor mercy condemnation. And vision cannot damn, but only bless. Whose function is to save, will save. How He will do it is beyond your understanding, but when must be your choice. For time you made, and time you can command. You are no more a slave to time than to the world you made. (T-22.II.8)

In this fast-moving time of change, let us not forget that the change has been coming for a long time. Just like Sam Cooke’s iconic 1964 civil rights song, A Change is Gonna Come, this has been a slow evolutionary process, but the time is now. It has always been now, in truth, but it seems we had to catch up to this truth.

Lincoln said it nearly 200 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. marched for it nearly 60 years ago, and Black America has been entitled to it since the first black slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619.

All of us can feel the change – it is palpable. Something is different about these marches now. We see people of all colors marching together. In many cases, those protesting for equality in small rural communities in the South are all white. For far too long, the inequities in our broken justice system have been the persecutors of the races and minorities, but now a change is gonna come. We see, in some cases, the representatives of that system taking a knee or marching in solidarity.

Yes, a change is gonna come, because we are the change.

A Course in Miracles tells us that only we can make the change. We have to decide how long we will live in the darkness of the ego’s fearful thinking, afraid of every “other” out there – needing to hide or attack those we see as different or don’t understand — or will we … “arise in glory, and allow the light in [us] to shine upon the world throughout the day.” (W-237)

Martin Luther King Jr., said…

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

King’s thought is echoed in the Course’s truth…

Your picture of the world can only mirror what is within. The source of neither light nor darkness can be found without. Grievances darken your mind, and you look out on a darkened world. Forgiveness lifts the darkness, reasserts your will, and lets you look upon a world of light. We have repeatedly emphasized that the barrier of grievances is easily passed, and cannot stand between you and your salvation. The reason is very simple. Do you really want to be in hell? Do you really want to weep and suffer and die? (W-73.5)

The Course rings out: it is our thinking that keeps us captive, but it is this same thinking that is our salvation. The thoughts of light and love are much stronger than those of darkness and fear. It is time we use those truths to work through us through the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness reasserts your will and your power because unity and love are stronger than hate and division.

None of us want to live in hell, and hell is the thought of separation. We all live in hell until everyone is free. We all weep and suffer and die until forgiveness spreads across this world.

What does this mean for you right now? It means pray, let forgiveness rest on your anger, and then follow the guidance given you by the Voice for God.

We see the reflection of this guidance as many have been moved to speak out and to march in peace and solidarity. And, we need to vote. We have to look, meet illusion on the level of illusion, and lift it to the truth. That is the real message of the second coming. It is not the end of the world in fear and destruction, but in love and healing. This change from fear to love, from separation to unity may seem fearful to some, but it is the end of fear. A change is gonna come, but the Holy Spirit needs your voice…

The Second Coming is the one event in time which time itself can not affect. For every one who ever came to die, or yet will come or who is present now, is equally released from what he made. In this equality is Christ restored as one Identity, in which the Sons of God acknowledge that they all are one. And God the Father smiles upon His Son, His one creation and His only joy.

Pray that the Second Coming will be soon, but do not rest with that. It needs your eyes and ears and hands and feet. It needs your voice. And most of all it needs your willingness. Let us rejoice that we can do God’s Will, and join together in its holy light. Behold, the Son of God is one in us, and we can reach our Father’s Love through Him. (W-pII.9.4-5)

This change, this second coming needs our “eyes and ears and hands and feet. It needs [our] voice. And most of all it needs [our] willingness. Let us rejoice that we can do God’s Will, and join together in its holy light.”(ibid) Hallelujah, change is gonna come!

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