Cows Don’t Give Milk

While living in Sonoma County California in the seventies, Clover Dairy billboards could be seen everywhere, even into Marin County to the south. One day, I saw my all-time favorite. It showed a Holstein cow sitting in full lotus with her eyes closed. The caption read, “I moo; therefore, I am.”

This is my last article for the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson newsletter, before I “ride off into the sunset” of retirement and my “next yet-to-be”. Therefore, it must include thoughts about frog-princes, farms, cows, love, and our relationship with Life and living. In specific, it focuses on cows and loving, and how they are connected, and that by looking at them together, one can capture a snapshot of reality, and if there is anything I want to leave with you, it’s another dose of reality, my favorite subject.

First: I must say, “The Science of Mind is a bunch of crap. This is true, if you think about the highest use of crap, and from this point of view, all philosophies are a bunch of crap.” Without crap, the garden of Life would not be nearly as rich; the plants would not have the basic nutrients and required elements to produce fertile crops. So whether it’s The Science of Mind or some other philosophy, the points of view they offer give us ways of understanding Life, and points of view about Life, so we can more readily experience Life and Its full bounty. All philosophies are crap, but they work for us, when we work with them.

Second: We are always in relationship. We’re never not in relationship, whether it’s with ourselves, another, our community, our planet, an idea, a philosophy or whatever. We’re always in relationship.

Third: Glamour and delusion change nothing, absolutely nothing, except our experiences in life. Smoke and mirrors do not change the world, or a person’s life. They only change appearances and set up expectations that always shatter peace of mind.

Many years ago, I edited and retold a story, which I called, “The Lady and The Frog.”

A woman had experienced difficulty in all of her relationships with men. She hadn’t succeeded with any. To add insult to injury this particular week, work had been exceptionally tough, so when she arrived home that fateful Friday evening, totally bent out, torqued and twisted about her whole life, she was thinking that life was too much of a struggle.

As she approached her front door step, the automatic sensor light came on, and when she put the key in the door, she heard “ribbet, ribbet.” She thought maybe one of her friends had gotten one of those noise-making guard frogs that croak “ribbet, ribbet”, when you walk in front of them. She looked around to find it, and sure enough, there in her little flower garden, next to the concrete slab porch, was a frog. But this was a real frog, and when the frog looked up at her, he puckered up his lips, air-kissed at her, and said, “ribbet, ribbet.”

She froze and thought, “My God! Am I freaking out? That frog just kissed at me and croaked ‘ribbet, ribbet!’” So she looked at the frog again, and when she looked at the frog, the frog looked at her, air-kissed her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet” again.

Since it already had been one heck of a week, this was the frosting on the cake, so she decided that she was up for a little bit of distraction and entertainment. She picked up the frog, walked into the kitchen and put the frog on the kitchen counter. Putting down the rest of her stuff, she poured herself a big glass of wine and couldn’t help noticing that every time she glanced at the frog, the frog would make eye contact, air-kiss at her and croak “ribbet, ribbet”. She poured a second glass of wine; followed by a third glass of wine, and then, all the fairy tales she had heard started becoming more real for her. That can happen after three glasses of wine. And it continued: Every time she looked at that frog, it air-kissed at her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet”.

Finally, she said to herself, “What the hell! I’ve got nothing to lose,” and she picked up that frog, held him under the faucet to clean him off a little bit, because you never want to take a dirty frog into your bedroom, and she put the frog on the bed. She went into the bathroom, took a shower and worked on looking good and smelling good. She was becoming more and more convinced that when she kissed that frog, it was going to turn into a gorgeous, beefcake of a Prince, and since frogs don’t wear clothes, neither would he, so she wanted to be ready. Throughout the process of her cleaning up, she kept looking to see if the frog was still there, and every time she made eye contact, it would look her straight in the eye, air-kiss at her and croak “ribbet, ribbet”.

Wow! She seriously started to get her hopes up here. It was looking like this could turn out to be a pretty good evening after all. She finally completed her cleanup process, walked into the bedroom; bent over and kissed the frog right on the lips, and sure enough, that frog transformed into a gorgeous, beefcake of a very naked Prince. She screamed, “My God! It worked!”, and as she looked into those deep, hazel-green eyes, he air-kissed at her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet.”

The moral of the story is, that no matter how much make-up and glamour and delusion you bring to a situation, a delusion is still a delusion, and no matter how much wine you drink, a frog is still a frog. You can dress them up and make them look like a Prince, but they always will be a frog.

Take out a piece of paper up and draw a vertical line down the middle. At the top and of the left-hand side of the paper, write the word Delusion. On the right-hand side write the word Reality. Now spend a few minutes listing situations and conditions in your life, under the column where they belong: Does that situation or condition belong in the Delusion or in the Reality column?

It has been said, “Pain is the difference between what is, and what I want it to be.”

The Delusion column is your, “What I want it to be.”

Life experience tells us: “If my ‘Want to be’ is different than ‘What is,’ that’s what causes the pain or chaos or confusion in my life.”

Tell yourself the truth now, and tell it fast. Write down at least three situations or conditions in each column, before continuing with your reading.

You have heard me say, “Love is a Verb.” In my mind, as a noun, Love falls horribly short sometimes. It makes a very crummy noun, unless you’re talking about the effects of Loving.

Looking at Love only as a noun can be problematic, and in fact, sometimes catastrophic, since our definitions shape our experience. This is how love and milk begin to relate.

If I want love (as a noun), without loving (as a verb), it may take a while, and it likely will not last very long. It’s hard to fill my love-bucket without putting in some energy.

As a verb, Love would be something we do. It’s active, it has impact, it moves, and there is an exchange of energy. Verbs support an exchange of energy.

At the same time, Love is part of our nature. It’s a function of the True Self. If it’s a function, then it’s a verb. It’s something the True Self does. It’s part of our “frogness”, as well as our “prince-ness” or “princess-ness”; it’s part of our essence. It’s natural. When we’re natural, we love. In fact, we have to stop ourselves from loving.

Love is a verb. It falls radically short of its true potential if it is considered only as a concept. Love needs to be actualized; it needs to be practiced and lived.

In Ernest Holmes’ and Willis Kinnear’s New Design for Living, we find, “The proof of any truth rests only in our practical use of it, and each individual must prove this theory for himself in his own life and experience.

Here is the story that became the title of this article:

I had a Great Uncle and Aunt, who lived on a little farm near Newcastle Texas. When I was four years old, I got my first pair of real cowboy boots for my birthday. In Texas you can get them early, and earlier, when I turned two, I had a pair, but they weren’t real cowboy boots. These four-year old versions had red leather and stitching up the shank; the whole bit. They were really cool looking, brand-spanking new boots, and I wore them proudly.

We went to visit my Great Uncle and Aunt’s little farm, and Uncle Richard was going to show me how to milk a cow. Most of my life, I have lived in a particular way. My Dad used to say that I “bogied right in,” which meant that if I wanted to do something or go somewhere, I just took off and went there, fearless to a fault sometimes. So I stepped right off that porch and started walking, hell bent for election toward the corral, determined that I’m gonna milk me a cow. Four years old. Sooner or later we learn things, and it musta’ been time for this one thing to be learned.

I stepped through the lower slat of the corral fence and stepped right into it. Yep, I stepped into some of that stuff that I called The Science of Mind and other philosophies. I stood there for a moment, looking down at the mess, and that’s when my Dad learned that I knew what it was. I called it what it’s called, but I said it as an expletive. He roared with a belly-jiggling laugh. He thought it was hilarious: What I had just stepped in, that I had stepped in it, and that I knew what it was and said so, for all the world to hear.

Well, I stepped right back out of that corral and started rethinking things a bit, as much as a four-year-old can rethink things. After a while of standing there, stomping for some time, to get that stuff off my brand-spanking new boots, Uncle Richard walked over to me. He had on those big, black, knee-high rubber boots. He had figured out how to do this thing, so he grabbed my hand and hauled me around the corral. He said gently, and not without a grin in his voice, “You don’t cut through the corral, Donald. You walk around the corral to get into the barn.”

When we arrived in the barn, there was old Bessy, or whatever her name was, and she was huge. Here I was, a little bitty shrimp in red cowboy boots, just about to milk my first cow. Uncle Richard showed me where the milking stool was, and he brought another stool over and sat next to me. He showed me where the bucket was; and this next part, I will never understand: That cow was just down-right dirty, and Uncle Richard made me wash my hands before milking her. Explain that one to me! Anyway, after washing my hands, I looked down under that cow, and I can tell you for sure, that was one utterly huge bag. I had never seen anything that big in my life. I was bottle fed, and my bottles didn’t look nothin’ like that udder.

Uncle Richard reached out and grabbed one of those puppies, and he started working on it. Right away, he got milk, but I noticed that the milk didn’t fall out on it’s own. He said to me, “This is what you’re supposed to do, Donald,” and he showed me the hand action, so I grabbed on, and I went for it. I started pulling, and kept pulling, and pulling, and pulling, and I thought, “I ain’t getting no milk.” It was the goofiest thing. So I looked at him like, “You’re tricking me. You’re playing a practical joke on me. This thing doesn’t work. It’s empty!”

And he said, “You’ve got to squeeze hard and like this.” Well those little four-year old hands could barely get around it all, but I worked and worked, and finally I got a couple of drops and began to feel pretty satisfied with getting even a couple of drops. I was ready to bag all this nonsense, because the longer I sat there and struggled, the more I noticed that it stunk in there. I just didn’t really enjoy the process much. Farms were dirty, and it seems like a whole lot of work to me.

On again and off again throughout my life, I have held to the romantic notion that living on a farm would be sweet and lovely and fun. Then I found out that my Great Uncle and Aunt get up before sunrise, go to bed after dark, and they work their tails off. It’s dirty. It’s messy. It stinks. They dealt with the realities of life like life and death every single day. Farm life is hard work! They had to eke out every drop from the cow, every head of lettuce and every single carrot they got from that land. They had to work for everything. Eggs were the easiest part, except for cleaning out the coop. And as I watched my Great Uncle and Aunt that day, they weren’t worn down by doing all of that work. They loved it. It was a true labor of love for them. It was their livelihood.

To complete the story, my aunt cooked a homegrown ham for dinner, and that was the sweetest piece of pork I have ever tasted. After eating that literally homegrown dinner, I could easily have called that farm their lovinghood, and I think that’s how Love is, as a verb. It doesn’t have to be struggle, and it yet it’s work. Energy gets exchanged, and when it does, it’s powerful and the most magical of activities. It’s as sweet as that ham.

I learned a great lesson that day. The lesson didn’t complete itself until many, many years later, but it finally finished percolating: Work doesn’t have to be a struggle. Work is nothing more than the exchange of energy. Metaphysics can be hard work, too, but it doesn’t have to be a struggle.

We don’t have to eke and pull out every single drop from this thing called Life, especially with Love as our nature. It’s just that we have been trained out of loving naturally. We have gotten trained into thinking that Love is a concept, an abstraction, a noun, a thing. But when we are at our best, most natural state, we simply love, and we naturally perceive and receive love. The flow of real love is a natural exchange of energy.

Loving is easy. It’s natural. It just takes practice. It takes practice to realize that loving is what we are, and when it’s natural, it’s what we do.

From The Jerusalem Bible: “Love is always patient and kind, it is never jealous, Love is never boastful, nor conceited, it is never rude nor selfish, it does not take offense, and it is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love gives naught but itself, it takes naught but from itself, Love possesses not, nor would it be possessed, for Love is sufficient unto itself.”

Cows don’t give milk. It is in their nature to provide it, but energy must be exchanged to express the milk. The same is true for love. The greatest souls are those who love.

Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself.”

Become the great soul that lives within. Become the love within you. Become the great Center; the Center that lives in you and awaits your discovery.

I trust that you continue to milk Life for all It’s worth, and It’s worth a lot of love!

I love you and have appreciated our time together, so with the Best of Blessings and with Love in Its Greatest Verbness, I leave you.

~ Rev Donald Graves

Natural Oneness

There is One Infinite Mind from which all things come.  This Mind is through, in, and around man.  (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind)

During the early months of this past summer, I began my day in the usual fashion of watering my outdoor plants.  I started my daily routine by refreshing the mesquite tree that provides shade for my front yard and a resting place for the birds in the heat of the day with a cool splash of water.  As I unraveled the garden hose from its storage box, I dropped the hose onto the ground between two flowerpots on either side of the mesquite tree.  After a few moments, I started to reach down to pickup the hose when I suddenly noticed a coiled diamond-backed rattler snake perfectly camouflaged in its natural surroundings of the mesquite tree and Mother Earth.  I stood up straight, took one deep breath and on the heels of my feet I made a sharp 180 degree turn.  Next, I turned off the running water and in two or three swift movements I retreated into the safety of my home.

I spent the next ten minutes searching the Internet for an available resource to have the limbless reptile removed from my front yard.  Eventually, I found a Rattle Snake Wrangler who happened to be at a work site near my home. The only downside to this possible solution as the Wrangler explained was the fact that he had to finish his current work assignment and he would not be available for another 90 minutes.  The Wrangler assured me that I had nothing to worry about and if I decided to wait for his arrival, the only thing he would ask me to do would be keep a watchful eye on the movement of the rattler from a safe distance.  I agreed to wait and to also maintain vigilance.

Looking out of my kitchen window, the sight of the creature that momentarily took my breath away and made my heart skip a couple of beats, remained still and visibly clear in plain sight. I decided that it was time to relax so I opened the shutters, positioned a chair in front of the window, took a seat and I appropriately named the rattler “Diamond.”  I felt a calming influence flow through me as I slipped into a meditation with Diamond. Rather than holding onto my initial fears, I came to a resolution of Peace. I experienced the wonders of nature and I felt as One with Diamond.

The Wrangler arrived and humanely removed Diamond from its resting place. The Wrangler commented that he thought it was odd that a rattlesnake found its way into my front yard.  I did not think that this was odd as I know that One Mind spoke through Diamond.  I felt the presence of Divinity moreover I experienced Oneness in the least likely way that I could ever imagine.

In the Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes explains that faith expresses as the power of prayer.   What started out as the appearance of a hazardous situation developed into a lesson of personal empowerment and peace.  Most importantly, I learned that elevated thoughts, raised into awareness of Spirit, prove my ability to recognize life force as all shapes, forms and fashions of the Universe.

By Carla Hodge

Just a Philosopher’s Musings? No.

The Center for Spiritual Living Tucson offers spiritual tools for both managing and resolving the every day challenges that we all encounter from time to time. Those daily challenges may express as loss of employment, failed relationships, financial anxiety and mental, physical or emotional stress, to name a few of them. That’s a tall order.

If our philosophy is the cure for every day challenges, then why are our Sunday Celebration seats not filled to capacity? Why are we averaging around 100 congregants per Sunday? What are we missing?

I believe our physical addresses can seem challenging. Neither our office nor celebration service is readily accessible to many in Tucson. Neither is on a bus route. Either you own a vehicle, get a ride or walk to be part of our community. To those of who do walk, or bike, we thank you. The maxim, out of sight out of mind may apply. Other than our presence in the Natural Awakenings Magazine we are virtually invisible to a community that may be unfamiliar with the Science of Mind Philosophy. And, I accept that, no matter what we do, we will remain invisible to those who are not quite ready to fully embrace the idea that they are responsible for their lives and that they have dominion in the situation that they currently experience. The belief in an external savior is a very hard one to give up.

The above is unfortunate, because individually and collectively we have proven that this stuff works! However, to know that it works, the spiritual tools offered must be applied. Wallace Wattles drove this point home when he said, “That is the rock upon which so many otherwise scientific metaphysical thinkers meet shipwreck – the failure to connect thought with personal action.”   It is critical for the metaphysical thinker to know that he/she is not merely the physical experience or the body.

I was completely focused upon, and absorbed in, the life of my body. My consciousness was centered in and identified with my body, and totally captured by my physical experience. And, whatever was happening in the world got my total attention. That includes its moods and pains. It was not until I learned about my inner self that I could change my focus of identification. It was this introduction to the inner man that made it possible for me to become a scientific metaphysical thinker. While the scientific metaphysical thinker is aware of his depression, financial anxiety, stress and so-forth, he does not identify with them. His body may be diseased but he is not the disease. The Science of Mind philosopher does not desert the truth that “Man’s nature is identical to God’s.”

“Whatever is true of the Universe as a Whole must also be true of the individual … Man is evolved from the Universe as a self-conscious, thinking center of Living Spirit.” (The Science of Mind 106) So often we do not perceive ourselves as thinking centers of Living Spirit; this contributes to our disconnect.   According to Holmes, we have not received full benefit from these teachings because we do not understand the conditions under which freedom operates or the laws governing life. If this is true, and I believe it is, then perhaps we can demonstrate how freedom and the laws governing life operate.

On a personal note, this philosophy is responsible for my mental make-up, peace of mind, healthy relationship with money – which is a form of concretized spirit -, and the home and vehicle I have today. I, too, have physical health challenges, but none of them have me.

Our philosophy must bear fruit to be seen as valuable. Thus, in revisiting a previous question: Both as individuals and as a collective congregation, are we connecting thought with personal action? Are we demonstrating the effectiveness of our philosophy in our personal lives? Are we living in such a way that strangers will ask, “What do you have that I don’t?” The apparent absence of “fruit” may make us doubt our ability to make a difference in our own lives, and in the lives of others. Food for thought…

By Keith Gorley

Crossing The Threshold

As I reflect on the events and opportunities I experienced this year, I am reminded of specific angels written about by Brian Andreas (StoryPeople.com), “there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable & fall asleep & miss your life.” Like all years, this year has contained moments when I surely must’ve been dozing. There have also been many moments that I was glad to be wide-awake.

I gave myself the gift of time to read a novel over these last two weeks. The Promise, by Chaim Potok, is not a book I would select based on the cover art, or on the synopsis of the story-line, however it was a stunning coming-of-age story about a young man growing up in a culture that I had very little awareness of, and even less experience with. He finds himself at several difficult and uncomfortable crossroads, those proverbial ‘rocks and hard places’, where he faced no easy or pat answers, and no one could really guide him in choosing the most universally beneficial choice. While at times he seemed to be frantically flying by the seat of his pants, he thoughtfully and intentionally chose the path that ultimately led to the greatest good for himself, as well as for all others who were directly involved in the story. The story of this young man’s coming-of-age is everyone’s journey (also recognized as the hero’s journey or Joseph Campbell’s classic monomyth). According to Campbell, everyone hears the call to adventure, and everyone responds in the way that seems most appropriate, reasonable (or perhaps, safe) to them at that particular moment of time.

I remain very clear that life isn’t tidy like a novel, or a 60-minute drama on television, where every little thing gets wrapped up and there are no loose ends by the end of the hour. And I know a successful life doesn’t depend on a one-time only event, which means you can’t miss it! There are always opportunities to perceive our world with new eyes, make decisions about our place in it, and choose, and choose again, as we learn, have experiences and increase in our own awareness and sense of place. At the same time, a sizable dose of self-compassion remains in order. Self-criticism, flagellation, diminishment and deprecation provide no value. Always, and in all ways, we each do the best we can, with what we know, what we have, and what we believe we are capable of at the time. It is enough. It is always enough.

This past weekend we allowed space and time to engage in a very special, succinct, year-ending and year-beginning ritual, to take stock of our individual decisions around events, conversations and activities that had left us feeling diminished in some way, and those that had enlivened our lives. I got the chance, just like everyone else, to formally accept and allow that freedom and grace in the releasing and claiming rituals that we shared this past Saturday evening.

I trust you found your way through the events and activities of this holiday season and feel easy and comfortable with the choices you have made, and any intentions you may have set, about how your bright, brand new year will unfold. I also trust you to remember to be compassionate with yourself and others when things don’t turn out exactly the way you envision them.

Best blessings for 2017 as we walk this road of life together.

By Rev Janis Farmer

Selfless Service

Reverend Janis recently sent me a You Tube video of a Sunday message by Dr Edward Viljoen, Minister of the CSL in Santa Rosa, CA. I’ve had the opportunity to meet him several times as my daughter used to live in Santa Rosa and attended his Center. His messages always challenge me to think differently and I thought I’d share this one.

I will summarize the points that hit home for me. The title of his talk was “Service to the World” and he spoke of the difference between a good deed and selfless service. Selfless service is a shift away from the self in me to the self in ‘thee’. The self in me is the smallest part of me. The biggest part of me is in you and you and you and you… If I focus on me I miss the beauty of life and feel lonely and disconnected, says Dr Edward. He likens it to the love of a parent for their child. Even when the child reaches the age of separation, the parent continues to love the child unconditionally the way the sun shines unconditionally because it is not about how the love is received that matters, the reward is in loving.

Selfless service is like that. The reward is in the giving, not in seeking acknowledgement, because without my giving I can’t feel my wholeness, he says. He tells the story of a congregation that organizes a three day festival annually. One of the biggest problems was the port-a-potties. You can imagine after three days they would be pretty awful. So a group of congregants scheduled themselves to clean and restock the potties every couple hours throughout the three days of the festival. The potties were the cleanest spot in the whole festival grounds! There were no banners of thank you, or names or accolades, this group of individuals just went about their task with no fuss. That is how the Divine works in the world as sacred action. The Divine has no hands or feet or eyes except ours. It is our nature to serve in order to feel our wholeness. How many ways do unseen hands deliver food, products, comfort, information, services to each of us every day that improve the quality of our lives?

He tells another story of a woman who over several years came to the Center irregularly, usually when she was experiencing difficulties in her life. Each time she came there was someone to hold the door open for her, greet her with a smile, serve her a cup of coffee, there was music and flowers and words in spirit. She assumed it would always be there and didn’t think too much about it. Some years later she took a class and learned about giving rather than just taking. She became a member and donates her share to help pay the bills so the Center will be there for others when they need like it was there for her when she needed it.

Selfless service is like that. It’s doing tasks that others won’t or can’t do, and doing them without complaining or blaming. Doing what brings relief with empathy, not pity. Dr Edward encourages each of us to look around. If someone is hurting, or dying or grieving or ill, take care of each other. Call and ask what you can do to help. Know how to listen, be quick to forgive, these attributes build strength of character. Get clear on what you are grateful for. You have the power to make someone else’s burden lighter. As I said at the start, his message gave me a lot to think about. If you want to hear the whole talk, and I highly recommend it, here is the link. https://youtu.be/rmSQR5mV0qA

by Sue Mason

Holiday Past, Holiday Present

Now that there our days are getting longer…daylight that is, we are reminded by the passing of the Season of Light. The time of the Solstice has given us an opportunity to celebrate many holidays with family and friends, a time to “stand still” as the earth did on the 21st.

Now the daylight hours that are slowly extending beckon us to return to normality. As we move forward into 2017, we find new opportunities and challenges before us.

I’ve made a few changes in the Sunday evocation from New Year’s Day and offer these words to jumpstart your effort of getting back into your routine. I encourage you to bring the Light with you and radiate it to all you encounter.

Treatment adapted from the New Year’s Day Service:

I feel the light around me. I breathe in the light around me. I remain an integral part of that light, that energy called God, Universal Spirit, the One, the Higher Power. My awareness of this spirit augments and resides within me with every breath I take.

I feel great joy as the holiday ends knowing that I can bask in the afterglow of that God light just by breathing in the memory of that beautiful light that shone from every candle, every window, every holiday decoration, and each child’s joyful face.

I carry that light into the present. The Season of Light has given me a new comprehension, a new understanding. I bless all who shared it with me. I move forward to an exciting, healing and uplifting spiritual journey.

I feel great joy in this knowledge and with complete confidence turn these words over to Law. God Light lingers in this experience. I just stand here in Faith and witness the miracles. And So It Is

by Karen King, RScP

It’s All Me, Really…

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” 
― Leonard CohenSelected Poems, 1956-1968

As we neared the Winter Solstice, in this month of endings and new beginnings and, as if to mirror the path of the sun, my world burst wide open flooding with a sudden brilliant light. What seemed like a sudden and unexpected but long-yearned for opening, followed months, maybe a year or more even, of feeling downright halted in my tracks. My way forward felt blocked, the path to the expansion I yearned for had seemed dead-ended.  I felt an urgent need to move myself forward but I couldn’t see the way. I told myself “I’m just not good at change. Change is hard for me. I just can’t see what’s next as easily as others.”

I knew I was done with being ‘here’ but I didn’t know the way to ‘there’ or what I wanted ‘there’ to be like. The vision for the path forward just wouldn’t form for me. My life had seemed to be at a stand still, forever grinding in place, gear on gear without movement or any ‘grease’ so to speak.  The ‘a-ha moment’ came in the form of what felt like ‘grease’. The vise grip that cramped my mind suddenly felt blissfully looser. I could finally move my chess piece, and in any number of directions. There was no need to wait in indecision before moving forward or to stay locked in the ‘checkmate’ or game-over position. I could see that the game was not over after all.

I suddenly saw all kinds of moves I could make and a sense of freedom and big relief flooded me. Fear mysteriously dissipated. For months, my biggest fear was that I couldn’t move my pieces, that I could not and would not EVER see how to move them.  I now saw that I could create support in the areas of my work which had seemed joyless and which I allowed to cause suffering for me. I saw that I could look and see all the other places in my life that lacked joy and that I can make shifts. I can trust myself to make the changes I can see I can make and once there, I can trust that I will see the next steps I can take.

I asked Reverend Donald for insight. What happened? Was this divine timing? Why now? He said I had finally “LET IT” and went on to explain that nothing outside of me had occurred. He explained that ‘letting’ is not something you ‘make’ happen. That sounded logical since letting and making seem to be polar opposites. I could see that. But why had I finally “LET IT” happen now when I had wanted this shift for so long?

I thought well, it must have been ‘Divine Timing” but that sounds like a force outside of me which Rev. D clearly stated was not the case. There is no ‘Divine’ controlling the puppet strings– it’s all me. So…. I feel blessed for this renewal of faith and trust, for this seemingly mysterious opening, which I’m told is not mysterious, after all, I let it. I continue to grow in understanding concerning the concept that I live as God, God lives as me and it’s all me… really.

by Holly Baker

When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”  – Edward Teller

The Hours of God

Not for the first time this week, I found myself at the end of a very long day feeling as if I had just crash-landed in time. It was one of my busy work days in which I’d skipped meditation time to get to the office early. From that beginning, I embarked on a series of meetings and appointments that left me without so much as a moment for a swallow of water. It was past 6:30 pm when I crashed, realizing everyone had gone home, that my head throbbed from 22 hours without food or water, and that I scarcely remembered what had occurred. This was no conscious one-pointed absorption in creative spiritual self-expression. This felt like a tedious slog through endless obligation and the expectations of others that left me drained.

I reached into my pocket for the stash of affirmations I carry with me from CSLT. The one I drew said “God makes my schedule.” At first I laughed. Then I realized that all day I had only been reacting to conditions around me, not consciously choosing to experience life as an expression of God. I am only able to remember God as my life when I am fully present in the moment to respond to events and choose my actions.

Believe it or not my next thought was about Benedictine monks. I was recently gifted a small book by Brother David Steindl-Rast, a scholar and monastic, entitled Music of Silence, A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day. In it, the author reminds us that time was not always equated with our modern linear 24-hour clock. Monks still seek to remember God through Hours of the day that are more like seasons of the year. In agricultural life, the seasons each bring their own call to action, whether for planting or reaping or rest. Likewise, the Canonical Hours like Vigils, Lauds. Prime and Vespers are calls to experience the seasons for waking, praying, working, resting and praise. Each Hour is an angelic Presence celebrated with bells and Gregorian Chant and offers an opportunity for awareness that we only really live in the present, here and now. To live according to the real rhythms of the day is, as Steindl-Rast puts it,

…to live responsively, consciously, and intentionally directing our lives from within, not being swept along by the demands of whatever happens. By living in real rhythms, we ourselves become more real. We learn to listen to the music of this moment, to hear its sweet implorings, its sober directives. We learn to dance a little in our hearts, to open our inner gates a crack more, to hearken to the music of silence, the divine life breath of the universe.

In 2017 I choose to stop more often, breathe, and be grateful for the gift of life and the Hours of opportunity and possibility it brings. I choose to seek the silence and in that timeless space of eternity experience my Oneness and even find clarity to tie vision together with action. Seeing the hours of my life from a higher viewpoint, beyond societal expectations and successes I find joy.

If you would like to experience the bells and Gregorian chant of the Hours, Steindl-Rast has an interactive website at http://gratefulness.org.

by Leah Hamilton

You Never Know

by Karen King

On July 15, 2014, I was stopped at a red light at the split in Camino Seco that is interrupted by Golf Links. My car was facing West and all of a sudden I was rear ended by a commercial truck barreling west on Golf Links at sixty miles per hour.  He hit me so hard it knocked the ABS system right out of my car. The Ford 350 driver got out of his vehicle and we exchanged insurance info and he said, “Gee, I forgot all about this light, I wasn’t looking anyway, I had my mind on something else.”

I felt fine at the time, no adrenaline shakes, just a slight stinging sensation running from my heels to the top of my head that didn’t seem to last very long. I thanked God for that and went on with my business. Within a few weeks, I began to develop symptoms and began asking the Master Physician for Guidance. “Who’s going to help us with this one?” With no obvious mechanical parts broken or fractured, no bruises or signs of physical trauma, where does one begin?

It’s been a journey and I had such wonderful healing help along the way: prayers of my fellow Practitioners and friends, a pain clinic, a physical therapist trained by a Brazilian Osteopath, my D.O, and since late summer, another physical therapist who had a whole body approach (neuro-muscular skeletal).

On Black Friday, I awakened realizing I had had a major breakthrough. The pain left my body. Oh, it flirted with me for a few more days, but it finally disappeared. I give all these healers credit for this accomplishment but I can’t help but wonder that this prayer on my refrigerator didn’t make a big difference; perhaps a big difference within me. I had been reading and experiencing these words for thirty days in a row while my morning oatmeal was cooking.

I wrote this affirmative prayer (treatment) for a Roots class and then rewrote it for Sunday invocation at CSL Tucson. (I write all my prayers/treatments while in meditation.) Many of the congregants asked for copies of it. I know that somehow, this prayer so appreciated by the congregants had its influence on me and in all places, next to the microwave where I cooked my daily oatmeal. So, here I stand, in the light of God and all those who were part of this healing and share it once more:

I set all other thoughts aside and silently breathe in the breath of God. There exists no other moment but this one occurring right now. With my deep breathing, I release the tension of the day on each exhalation. I spend some time in that space right now. I allow the God energy that I breathe in to extend to every inch of my body and feel the light energy of God penetrating every cell of my being.

I allow my deep breathing to return to normal; I relax into the private time with the one Source, the one Power, Universal Spirit, God the Good. I know that I manifest as a perfect creation of the living God…..spiritual, harmonious, fearless, and free. I reflect all that consists of the universe of Good.

From every direction, everywhere, come words of truth, making me know that I feel free, wise, and happy.  I appreciate the world in which I live. I show forth to the world health, wisdom, and peace.  I reveal to myself and those around me perfect health in every part of my being.

I feel fearless, free, strong, wise and able to do everything that belongs to me to do each day. God works through me to will and to do that which ought to be done by me. I function as a living demonstration of the power of Truth to set freedom into health and strength for living service to the world.

I acknowledge to myself, and to my internal being that I generate wealth and strength and a livingness through and through. God emanates life, health, strength, and support forever. I sense it in body, mind and spirit. I pronounce myself well and strong. As God saw the works of His hands Good, so I myself manifest as Good. All manifests as Good. And So It Is.

 Adapted from The Sixth Treatment of Emma Curtis Hopkins, modernized by Karen King RScP  p.261-262 of Scientific Christian Mental Practice

Heart of Gratitude

by Shelly Dunn

About six weeks ago I had a definite, unpleasant, sorrowful experience when I received my cat’s ashes back from the crematorium. I knew in my gut that his ashes belonged in California where my mother’s ashes had been spread four years ago. This was a definite order from my Universe that this was what wanted to be done, seriously, and soon.

As a school counselor, I have a publicly-funded position. There was talk at work that none of us were going to receive back pay because of a vote that happened last May. So after pondering a bit about all of this, my prayer partner did a spiritual mind treatment with me for money to cover a plane ticket to go back to San Francisco over the Christmas holidays. I had been really clear that I didn’t know how the Universe could possibly supply me with cash for an airplane ticket and spending money, and knew I needed help in changing my mind.

I absorbed the treatment given by my prayer partner, and felt it resonate in my heart. Because I allowed this possibility, I felt so open and accepting. Then the very next day I was slammed with a few unexpected bills that had to get paid. Crap. So yes, I did do argumentative work (i.e. deny the impact or effect of the unpleasant and unwanted experience and claim /allow/accept the desired experience) with myself, saying “no” to feeling worried or fretting, and started saying to myself “I choose to trust my Universe because my Universe is gracious and bountiful!”

My “busy monkey mind” would randomly start chattering on and on, trying to force me to slip into doubt. It occurred to me I could counteract, or minimize, that Negative-Nellie by doing a gratitude list of ten things that occurred during the day, every day, that were blessings. It didn’t matter how small or inconsequential these blessing were, they still counted. I did this every night for a week right before bed. Within the week of persistent gentle self-work through the argumentative conversations with myself, continuously reaffirming my belief in the possibility of a positive outcome and doing my nightly gratitude list, I had a lovely surprise — a friend blessed me with a free round-trip airplane ticket!!! I feel such humble gratitude for this teaching and the BIG heart of my friend! I also found out that there would be extra money I had previously earned in my next paycheck!

This definitely goes into my demonstration log just to prove that THIS STUFF WORKS!

Note: Practitioner students have been asked to keep a written record (or log) of when they have, or see, demonstrations of answered prayer treatments. This helps them remember, and build their faith muscle around, the knowing and affirming that prayers do yield the life-affirming results desired. This practice is not restricted to practitioners and practitioner students, but is available to anyone who desires to prove to themselves that they have access to all the potential Good of the Universe.     — Rev Donald & Rev Janis

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