Showing up as a Force of Inclusive Love

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The CSL 2024 Spiritual Living Convention will be held in Charleston, SC, February 19 – 22. There had been initial concern about holding the conference in South Carolina because of the state’s restrictive voting laws affecting African Americans and laws impacting treatment of transgender individuals.

Last November a case was heard by the US Supreme Court regarding gerrymandering of South Carolina districts. The decision has not yet been reported. Justices will decide whether the legislature subordinated traditional race neutral districting principles when it moved most of the Black population from a Charleston County district.

South Carolina does not have a statewide law that expressly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving LGBT people vulnerable to harassment and discrimination in the state. Several localities, universities, and private corporations in the state have adopted local ordinances and internal policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Despite these policies, many LGBT South Carolina residents are not protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity absent a statewide non-discrimination law that includes these characteristics.

Posted under the Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement (SMSE) Council on the CSL website is a portion of a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade: Centers for Spiritual Living’s North Star is our Global Vision, our organizational shared values, and our Science of Mind statement of belief, all of which speak directly to liberty, equality, equity, inclusion, human rights, compassion, safety, self-determination, and spiritual living. For that reason, we are unambiguously in support of the lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; unambiguously in support of gender equity and equality; unambiguously in support of LGBTQ+ lives, and unambiguously in support of women being sole decision-makers about their lives, wellbeing, dignity, and choices.

A task force, including the CSL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DEI) was formed to study the matter and determined that CSL would indeed hold the conference in Charleston and show up as a ‘force of inclusive love.’ They connected with the City of Charleston and received cooperation in planning an inclusive conference. The Convention’s motto is ‘Soul to Soul to Soul – Lighting the Way of Love.’

A new International African American Museum opened in 2023 in Charleston. Representatives from the museum are participating in opening Convention events. A bus will transport CSL attendees to the museum. (iaamuseum.org) CSL will emphasize that February is Black History Month. A Gullah Geechee choir from the Outer Banks will perform. A diverse group of musicians will be performing at events throughout the conference.

CSL will be supporting Trans and LGBTQ individuals. The committee partnered with the Pride Center, who will have a booth at CSL’s event. After CSL’s gathering, the Pride Center will host a Prom for transgender individuals. Pride is hoping that CSL participants will stop by their booth and leave affirmations of support for those attending the Prom.

I anticipate a lot of stories of participants’ experiences during their time in Charleston. Centers for Spiritual Living is contributing to Social Activism on a global basis. They stress that efforts are not political and do not endorse any candidates. The basis is that consciousness should lead to action; prayer should lead to movement; CSL principles should become reality.

Excerpt from Centers for Spiritual Living Global Vision:

● We envision all people, all beings, and all life as expressions of God.

● We envision a world where each and every person has enough food, a home, and a sense of belonging, a world of peace and harmony, enfranchisement and justice.

● We envision a world that works for everyone and for all of creation.

–Linda Bullock

 

Community Visioning

This past weekend, Reverend Rhonda led us in a community visioning. (In February, the theme for her talks will be Visioning, Visualization and Mental Equivalents.) About 20 people participated both Friday evening and Saturday morning. We gathered to see what would bubble up to be known for the highest vision for our beloved CSLT for this next year.

A wide variety of ideas and images emerged which were analyzed to discover recurring and similar themes. These are my take-aways from this process:

Community – We are a cohesive group. We are a welcoming center. We choose inclusivity and diversity. We are growing.

Fellowship – Many food and coffee references showed up. We want more opportunities to share conversation over meals, potlucks and coffee. We want a place to converge and linger after service. We enjoy each other’s company.

Expansion – We grow as individuals and as a Center. We don’t hide our light but shine it like a beacon for others to see, feel and experience. We want a place to call our own that allows for our increasing congregation.

Joy – There was much laughter in the room. We allow Spirit to express through us in delightful ways. Laughter>Joy>God.

Music – Many song titles were mentioned or alluded to, followed by brief bursts of singing. Music is important to us. We value our musicians. We realized that SOM also stands for Sound of Music.

Open to the Mystery… – The Mystery being the realm of possibilities. We don’t know exactly what the future looks like or how we will achieve it, but we remain open to all opportunities.

This was then all distilled into a theme for the year which is:

Open and expanding into the Mystery…

–Janet Salese

We Plan and God Laughs….

Welcome 2024 and thank you CSLT for the opportunity to serve as your Spiritual Leader. In the words of Socrates, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Or, a simpler statement might be, “we plan, and God laughs.”

A year ago, I had no idea walking through the doors of the LTW last March would place me on a trajectory path of becoming your new minister. What I knew at the time, is I fell in love with a spiritual community, and I hoped I would be asked back to speak. Over the course of last year while you were creating your covenant of intention, I was playing the role of a teacher in a Montessori school in Tempe. (Having left my pulpit and Center of 12 years in California, because I decided to get married.) I thought being a schoolteacher was my “new ministry” working with kids and I was okay with my new role.

However, my 5-year plan of the Montessori assignment was to be cut short after only a year, as “God was calling” again. I received two “nudges” during this last year from “the universe” to go back into ministry. It’s as if God gives me a few hints of where I should be, and I often have chosen to say, “eh, later” and push it aside.

Not the right answer, you don’t ignore the universal “I have this for you.” In my experience, the third nudge is usually a drastic change when the spiritual 2 x 4 hits me, sending me flying into my purpose.

The positive side of my flying lesson was everything began aligning for my husband Charles and I to be here near Tucson. A home we had admired for months became available for purchase, and we did. As we went through the process, I began looking at the school district to teach within a Montessori school.

However, the next nudge came in a call to action from a dear friend and colleague telling me, “Tucson is waiting for you, you need to apply for their pulpit.” After many heart-leading discussions, Charles, a retired UCC minister encouraged me to apply as the window of opportunity was closing quickly. In September, with a week left, I did.

As I filled out the spiritual leader documents to be sent to the search committee, I discovered the God presence within me was calling me to my highest good. My heart has always been in ministry, and it took a small but mighty spiritual community to be that light of “this is your purpose” leading me out of the dark hallway of “what’s next?”

It is with a grateful heart, I look forward to being your spiritual leader, teaching not just the principles of Science of Mind, but other faith traditions, and how all interact together in the great metaphysical beingness in our daily lives. Religious Science is truly a philosophy of how to live in unconditional love and be unconditional love to all we interact with.

Ernest Holmes our Founder wrote in his book, Can We Talk to God? “Of what value would a religion or philosophy be to the world which simply taught it a few laws of cause and e8ect, or how to heal a pain? This is good and wonderful, but unless it teaches how to live and how to be, unless it gives something which is a divine certainty of life and being, it is useless.” (p.11.2)

I look forward to our relationship of not just Sunday celebrations but classes, holidays, and the unknown unscripted adventures of the heart. Please know my door is always open when I am in my o]ice at Craycroft, and reachable through email if you require support for any life situation. I love you all, and thank you for all that you are, and all that you are becoming. I look forward to getting to know every one of you!

–In love and gratitude, Rev. Rhonda

Learning & Thinking

I learned today that Alexander the Great (yes that world conqueror) in a drunken argument killed a very good friend – killed a very good friend. After three days of bottomless mourning and grief beyond my imagining – he went on to do what he did.

One wonders what he might have learned from that experience.

What a way to learn a lesson.  One hopes we all are quicker studies requiring less violent instruction than he appears to have needed.

One hopes to learn and do in such a way as to create more good for ourselves and for our world.

Blessed is he who plants trees under whose shade he will never sit.”  Indian proverb

And the way of that has been available for a very long time to all who would study, learn, and practice.

“You Control how you respond to things.” – Epictetus

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”  – Marcus Aurelius

And from our somewhat more contemporary teacher –

“Thought can be creative of my good and it can also be productive of things I do not desire, for all thought is creative.”  Ernest Holmes,  A New Design for Living  page 29

“We always succeed.”     “We need to learn to succeed in the right things.”  Ernest Holmes, A New Design for Living page 149

A major project/goal for me in the coming months, is the whole “what am I thinking –  aka am I actually thinking right now – or have I backslid into letting my unconscious create my life with no direction.  Am I reacting without thinking or responding with care. The post-it in the kitchen reads:  “who’s in charge right now?”  Work in progress always.

And holding the following from The Text close to my heart and head:

 “We may change the trend of causation which has been set in motion at any time we decide to do so.” Ernest Holmes Science of Mind 128.2

Of course, on the preceding page he quoted Jesus saying, “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto you.” Going on to add Jesus did not say: “It  is done unto you as you wish.”

“Such is the power of right thinking that it cancels and erases everything unlike itself.”Science of Mind 128.4.

Do it with Power & Presence.

–In Peace, Mariann

Butterflies: Chaos and Change

You most likely have heard that a butterfly fluttering its wings wreaks havoc half a world away. But for me the question has become does it create “chaos” or “change”? The more I read and absorb teachings from individuals I trust and respect – the result is ours to create.

“There is a phenomenon in groups of ants that could teach us a lot: When a large community of ants is seeking something–some food, something to build with, or a way out of or around something–it seems that mass chaos breaks out with ants scurrying in all directions and even over one another. However, when a single ant finds whatever is being sought, this seems to be communicated almost instantly throughout the group consciousness, and all the ants converge on the discovery. A similar experience has been noted among bees. What this illustrates is that “chaos” in any situation, system, or group is actually a form of order we simply haven’t understood.” (emphasis added) Roger Teel – This Life Is Joy 229.2

How does one do that? That seems like an immense challenge and a great responsibility.

“There are things that are known, and there are things that are unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” Aldous Huxley

To practice seeing the “doorway” of opportunity within chaos–or more often within a habit or tradition–is to allow possibility and solution–accepting that opportunity as the way out of confusion.

Chaos or emerging order – Stasis or conscious growth? It seems the choices should be clear-cut, but when we are in the middle of a muddle it can seem ridiculously complex.

“We should be able to look a discordant fact in the face and deny its reality, since we know its seeming reality is borrowed from illusion, from “chaos and old night.”…. We should be able to look at a wrong condition with the knowledge that we can change it. The realization that we have this ability must be gained by the application of our knowledge.” Ernest Holmes – The Science of Mind 53.5

When my inside seems chaotic or confused, I know what I should do: stop, relax, allow, let be and trust what emerges.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

John O’Donohue – “For a New Beginning”-To Bless the Space Between

–In Peace – Mariann

Places

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments….
                   In My Life by John Lennon

I first visited Lahaina, Maui in 1977. It was part of a one-week 3-island trip, a real bargain with flights out of LAX. I fell in love with Hawaii, eventually purchased a timeshare and visited one or more of the 4 major islands at least 30 times. On my first visit to Lahaina the town was small with no high-end lodging in town. The recommended restaurant, The Whale’s Tail, was tiny and upstairs on Front Street, across from the Banyan tree. This historically significant town was the filming location of several movies. It was destroyed by wildfire the week of August 7. We are friends with 2 couples who live on Maui full-time. The losses are immeasurable. In such situations my feelings of sadness eventually mature to acceptance.

I seem to form emotional attachments to places. Sometimes the connections are due to the beauty and atmosphere of the place itself; often places become special because of the activity and people involved. I know that change is inevitable and change over a long period of time can be major. I would prefer that my special places remain the same so that by revisiting I can recapture some of the magic I first felt. I have been shocked, angry, and sad at some geographical changes. One of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is to “take nothing personally.” Just like with any kind of loss, I can choose gratitude for the experience and love how it enhanced my life. So I will do that. My special times in Hawaii were numerous. None of my experiences were unique but they were personally intimate.

I once told someone that after cremation I wanted half my ashes to be sprinkled off the end of the pier in Hanalei, Kauai, and the other half around the base of Bell Rock in Sedona. I was sort of kidding. I first visited Sedona in 1984. Tlaquepaque was relatively new, and the population was a fraction of what it has become. In visiting in 2008, I took offense at the traffic circles and the new mall where Oaxaca restaurant had been located. The amount of traffic was another inconvenient change. Sedona is still lovely, and I enjoyed its beauty on several trips. Gratitude to the Source for the natural wonders.

In 1991 I spent 6 months on a temporary job assignment in Chicago. I met some amazing people and got to experience the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Chicago River being dyed green. Lack of familiarity and experience in city life caused some slight fears at the beginning but I am grateful for every minute I spent in Chicago and for the wonderful interpersonal experiences.

For a few years I traveled to Charleston, SC for the Spoleto Festival and shared a beach house on the Isle of Palms across the river. Details were all arranged and scheduled by a friend who grew up in the Charleston area. The food and music were phenomenal. Activities were fun. Another special place is San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a colonial-era city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its centuries-old Baroque and Neoclassical style architecture. A life-long friend of my husband is a resident and was full of useful information. We visited once for a week and a couple of years later we stayed for a month. I lack the space and vocabulary to describe this magical city and the joy I experienced on my visits.

In New Thought we know that positive expectation, believing what we are thinking, influences outcomes. In Creative Mind and Success, Ernest Holmes states “Wherever you go, know that the Spirit of Truth goes before and prepares the way, bringing to you every friend and influence that will be necessary to your comfort and wellbeing.” This language richly describes what is possible if we apply the Law to our planned experiences.

I likely will not travel to these places again, yet they are part of me, my tapestry. Thank you, Carole King.

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view…. Tapestry by Carole King

 

–Linda Bullock

CHANGE THAT I KNOW…

This morning I felt the small but definite feeling that fall is in the air. Living in the desert often means the signs of seasonal change appear subtle. It doesn’t necessarily mean the heat will be gone. It means the change is apparent to me as the sun moves south in the sky and the experience of cooler nights is close at hand.

I recognize that our desert is a delicate balance of resources. The wildlife that occupies the area has adapted to the environment. I love having the understanding and awareness that any small change can have a lasting effect. I do my best to honor and protect the environment.

Generally speaking human beings have been ravaging the planet since we emerged from the ocean in a more primitive form. The consequences of our actions have always been changing and mostly we have been able to adapt.

Since discovering Science of Mind I continue revising how I’m thinking. My life, like all life, has been constant revisions (or not) until we arrive at the present – the only time that really is.

Finding new and better ways to interpret and use thought is an exciting and promising approach to interact with my perceived reality. I really mean perceived. It is now accepted that our vision is actually interpreted by our mind as right side up when in reality our eyes flip the image on the way to the brain and the brain makes the corrections.

Our brain takes some time from birth to self-awareness to what I recently heard that our brain was described as the game engine. And that engine interprets and influences the world in very real ways. That I am the player, and that player has been developed by Law until I think of myself as an individual and I continue to interact with my perceived world.

To me this is just another example that I get to experiment with and learn from on my way to the next idea.

— Chris Wheeler

PASSION PURPOSE POWER

Recently life has been distracting with a few experiences definitely needing some improvement. And then I was having a hard time finding my topic. So when in doubt, go to the Source. Thank you, Dr. Holmes.

For me the following quotes support this month’s always important theme of Passion & Purpose. They address what is needed to claim a purpose with passion and then deliver with power. When I allow myself to recognize and commit to an idea with full personal force then these passages come to Life and Law delivers for me.

“We must consciously know that we can use creative power. The more complete such acceptance on our part, the more completely we shall be able to use this power for definite purposes. Ernest Holmes – The Science of Mind 401.3

“Mind as Law is helpless without direction. It has nowhere to go and nothing to do of Itself. IT MUST BE DIRECTED OR IT WILL DO NOTHING OF PERMANENT WORTH…. Ernest Holmes. – The Science of Mind 396.3

“The Law of Mind obeys the orders that are given It whether we are conscious or unconscious that such orders are being given. Ernest Holmes – The Science of Mind 397.3

These are the reminders of the three actions needed: Claim the Creative Power that is mine. (That is everyone’s). Admit and define completely what I want. AND do that persistent, consistent direction of attention thing.

“We should be careful to distinguish day dreaming and wistful wishing from really dynamic and creative treatment. When we treat we do not wish, we KNOW. We do not dream, we STATE. We do not hope, we ACCEPT. We do not pray, we ANNOUNCE. We do not expect something is going to happen, we BELIEVE THAT IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED. Ernest Holmes – The Science of Mind 399.3

And for those unclear times we all experience:

“If one does not know exactly what he wishes to do one should treat for general success in whatever one attempts to do…. One must treat for guidance … remembering that the Inner Mind knows infinitely more than the intellect…. how to take ideas and form objective circumstances around them. Ernest Holmes – The Science of Mind 400.3

And the last words I have for all of us: If you haven’t re-read the General Summary of the Text recently, it’s a really good read.

–In Peace, Mariann

A Personal Manifesto

In week one of our class, Your Authentic and Innate Goodness, we talked about having a personal credo or manifesto, a personal promise to live to our highest ideal of how we would like to show up in the world. In his book, Ordinary Goodness, Rev. Dr. Edward Viljoen writes that “The pledge describes such a high vision that it makes me wonder if I will ever be able to live that way. But that is precisely what a vision is supposed to do: take us beyond what we already know we can do, stretch us into an idea that we have faith exists despite there being no evidence of it, yet.”

Our homework week one was to write a personal declaration, or manifesto that would draw us into the next greater expression of ourselves. In week two of our class, each of the class members expressed a desire to continue working on the project, each of them embracing this challenge to express their values and ideals in a way that would take them beyond what they already know about themselves. This past weekend, I celebrated my 63rd birthday and thought this was a beautiful way to draw myself into this next year. Here is my pledge to myself:

I pledge to love myself unconditionally and to share that unconditional love with every being I meet.

I pledge to release all anxiety and fear about money; knowing I am one with the infinite abundance the Universe has to share. I know it is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom and it is my good pleasure to receive it.

I pledge to look for the good in every situation, especially when conditions are showing up as Truth.

I pledge to stop asking, “what is mine to do” and take action doing what is calling me, what is right in front of me to do so that I may better be in service to others, my community and the world.

I pledge to declutter my physical, mental, and spiritual space by releasing those things, ideas, and beliefs that no longer serve me so that I may move into a new experience of wholeness and freedom.

I pledge to honor my physical body by shifting by diet to better support my health, by incorporating movement and exercise that supports strength and flexibility, and by listening to and honoring the messages my body sends me.

I pledge to be awed by at least one thing every day; to notice something that is miraculous, inspiring, and amazing; something that reminds me of the infinite wonder of Life, of Spirit.

When I notice myself falling short of these ideals, I pledge to promptly congratulate myself for noticing and forgive myself for slipping and gently move back into alignment with my truth.

I pledge to embrace this year, to stand in my personal power and be in flow with transformation; to rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of my previous self, boundless and unlimited, flying to unimagined heights, being a light in the world.

I invite you to create your own personal manifesto as a guide for living up to your highest ideals. It can be short and simple, or long and eloquent like David Ault’s A New Pledge of Allegiance – however you create it, know that it is perfectly perfect for you.

Use this link to hear Rev. Ault’s Personal Pledge

–Sharon Whealy, RScP

InSPIR(IT)ation

So much to do and time running short. Between preparing reports for the Board, putting together a budget for next fiscal year, preparing myself and the office for my vacation, where was I going to find the time to write a newsletter article? Then I heard a small voice in my head say “chat…, AI”.

Well, that couldn’t have been my thought because I don’t keep up much with new technology and didn’t even know the proper name for it. Was Spirit suggesting I use this Chat GPT I’d been hearing about? Wouldn’t that be cheating? No, not if Spirit so inspired me and I don’t claim it to be my own. And besides, there is only one Mind after all.

Inspiration in Science of Mind as written by ChatGPT – Open AI

According to the Science of Mind, inspiration is the stirring of the divine presence within us, guiding and uplifting our thoughts, emotions, and actions. It is the process through which we connect with our higher selves, tap into universal wisdom, and access our creative potential.

Inspiration in the Science of Mind is often associated with the recognition of our oneness with the divine intelligence or Universal Mind. By aligning our consciousness with this higher power, we open ourselves to receive intuitive insights, new ideas, and innova4ve solu4ons to challenges we may face.

The Science of Mind emphasizes the importance of cultivating a receptive mindset to allow inspiration to flow. This involves cultivating qualities such as openness, gratitude, and mindfulness. By developing these qualities, we create a mental and emotional environment that is conducive to receiving divine inspiration and guidance.

Moreover, the Science of Mind teaches that inspiration can be consciously cultivated through various practices. Meditation, prayer, visualization, and affirmations are some of the techniques used to quiet the mind, focus our attention, and attune ourselves to the divine inspiration within.

In summary, inspiration in the Science of Mind is the process of connecting with our higher selves and the Universal Mind to receive guidance, insights, and creative ideas. By aligning our consciousness with the divine presence, we open ourselves to the flow of inspiration and allow it to guide and uplift our lives.

–Janet Salese

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