Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King gave what has become recognized by historians as the most powerful speech of the 20th century. That speech is commonly called the “I have a dream” speech. But “I have a dream” was not part of Dr. King's prepared remarks.
None of the powerful closing remarks about “every valley being exalted and every hill and mountain being made low” was included in the prepared speech. None of the remarks about “letting freedom ring” was part of the speech. There was no mention in his prepared remarks about “the sons of slaves and the sons of slave holders sitting down together at the table of brotherhood.” There was no mention of “little black boys and little black girls joining hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
Mahalia Jackson was standing near Dr. King as he spoke. What we now know is that about twelve minutes into the speech, she called over to him and said “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” And she repeated it, saying “Tell them about the dream, doctor.”1
At that point, Dr. King dropped his prepared speech and went into the part we all know so well.
The very moment Dr. King shifted his awareness from his own personal remarks to the dream that God had given him he himself shifted from being a great minister to becoming a great prophet. And the very moment we hear the words that God is giving to us we also shift from being a race-torn people to being a people of great justice and equality for all.
And so we are grateful for these words of Dr. King that has helped us to become a better country:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
It may be that as you are sitting quietly in meditation that God is speaking to you. It may be that God is speaking to you as God had done so for eternity, in the still small voice. And it may be that God is speaking to you through a great prophet, as was done in ancient times. If so, perhaps in this moment, sitting in front of you, toe to toe, knee to knee is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He may be reaching toward you, holding your hand, looking you directly in the eye. Perhaps is he is saying to you:
Like anybody, I would have liked to have lived a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just wanted to do God's will. And He allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I looked over. And I saw the Promised Land ... I want you to know that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. Don't worry about anything. Don't worry about any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord ...
This is our hope, and this is our faith ... With this faith, we are able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we are able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we are able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will are free.
How is it that Dr. King was able to lead us fifty years ago along the path to freedom, to lead us in becoming a better people. How did he know when to push and when to pull back? What gave him his understanding and love? I believe it was because God was personal in his life. That is the testimony of all prophets. It is the testimony of all mystics. It is the testimony of all those who have accomplished extraordinary things. It goes like this: when we know that God is present, then there is always a perfect and elegant solution to all life's problems.
But how was God present in his life? What did God say to Dr. King? What is the perfect and elegant solution that Dr. King heard from God?
We don't know. But we do know that at one point in Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech he put down his own prepared words. In place of them he spoke about the dream that God had implanted in his heart. Dr. King was nudged by Mahalia Jackson “tell them about the dream, Martin.”
When he put down his own remarks and took up the dream that God had provided him, he not only gave the most powerful speech of the 20th century, he also quoted from perhaps what is the most powerful speech of all recorded history, the book of Isaiah, chapter 40:
A voice cries out:
Do we hear the voice? It is a “still small voice” (II Kings 19:12) of Spirit speaking within the depths of one's being. It is not audible, but comes as “spiritual knowing.” (RW). As Emerson said, it is an Intuition. The “still small voice” of God is direct knowing moving into our consciousness as ideas, without intellectual reasoning.
Our minds are not private. My mind and the mind of God are one. It is in our minds that God is able to speak to us. It is in our minds that our communion is with God. And listening to the voice is a developed skill. But when it is developed, it quickens and enlightens the faith faculty. The inner teacher.
How do we know if the voice is from God? By means of our faculties of Judgement (James) and Love (John). They always accompany Faith (Peter).
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord
The Wilderness is a multitude of undisciplined and uncultivated thoughts. The wilderness is a fertile imagination. It is Iron John. It is sense consciousness. It is a belief in dog-eat-dog living.
The wilderness needs to be tamed. The intellect, which does so well in protecting us, needs to rest. It needs to lie down at the feet of wisdom and understanding. God has given us capacity of wisdom and understanding.
The thoughts of our wilderness need to rest in our capacity to love. Love casteth out all fear. When our wild thoughts are calmed, when our thoughts are stilled, we are in Sabbath, are in peace.
Make straight in the desert a highway for our God
The Desert is the different from the Wilderness. The Wilderness is overrun, but the Desert is barren. It is a dead imagination. The Desert is a belief in the sense of lack and barrenness. It is a place in consciousness of a seeming lack of substance and life. In Truth, such places do not exist. But our Desert is a place of with no faith and no imagination. Our desert is our inability to feel God's full blessings.
We are told to build a highway for our God in the desert. It is through this highway that God will pour life and substance into the Desert of our consciousness.
Every valley shall be lifted up
Valley's are places of servile, inferior thoughts. They exist because we have forgot who we are, of our true nature, though ignorance of Truth. When this happens, we die. Valleys are places of death. “As I walk though the valley of the shadow of death.” The valley of Gehenna, where the refuse of Jerusalem was burned.
But the message of Dr. King is that "I am somebody; I have a right to be here." When we are reminded of who we are then we overcome the shadow of death. When we know that we are not servants of God, but rather children of God, when we know who and what we are, then the valley of inferiority is lifted up.
And every mountain and hill be made low
Mountains and hills are places of pride, arrogance, haughtiness and self-sufficiency.
BUT WE ALL HAVE DIGNITY. In the final analysis, we, like Jesus, have no credentials but ourselves. There is no pecking order, no social hierarchy in God's kingdom. There are no “somebodies and nobodies” in God's kingdom.
In the realm of God there is neither slave nor free, Jew or Gentile, Protestant or Catholic, black or white or yellow or brown, male or female, gay or straight, physically challenged or fully healthy, young or old.
The uneven ground shall become level
Our world is constantly changing, is unreliable. We take steps but have no solid footing. We don't know everything. We are somewhat blind and must go forward without perfect knowledge. How was Dr. King able to lead the marches when he knew hostile police and mobs were going to attack? Where did he find the solid, level place to march?
When God is present, we have solid footing.
And the rough places a plain.
We all have our rough places. They are the dings and dents caused by the hard lessons in life. They are the bruises that have left us with thick skin, so thick that we no longer are warm and kind. All of us are rough at times, too rough for the Glory of God to shine through.
But the rough places shall become smooth. It is through denials and affirmations, held day-by-day, that our rough places are whittled away and we are left with a smooth, plain from which the Glory of God will be revealed.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
Will we choose to hear the voice that cries out?
Will we calm the destructive wilderness thoughts of our soul by making a path to God?
Will we allow the life and substance of God to enter into the desert of our minds?
Will every valley of servile, inferiority thoughts be lifted up the full greatness of who we are?
Will every mountain and hill of arrogance be brought into the full measure of equal dignity for all?
Will we look to God as our level ground of being?
Will we allow God to smooth the rough places of our heart?
Then, and only then, will the Glory of the Lord be revealed in our life.
Our "hope of glory" is the Christ spirit within, revealed from the secret place of the most high (Psalms 91).
And all people shall see it together
The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed to "all flesh" (KJ and ASV). The Glory of the Lord penetrates into physical realm. The dream has become a vision.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken
We are all of One Mind, the Mind of God. When a prophet utters the Word of God that has come forth from One Mind, it speaks to all creation, all flesh, all people. We know this as Truth and we are free at last.
All scripture references from New Revised Standard Version. Used by permission.
Contributed by Mark Hicks on 01-20-2014
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