Signs of Change

Queen Butterfly

This summer’s rains have brought a plethora of butterflies. This morning a single queen butterfly flutters past me while I’m on my walk. I see the orange glow of light shining through its wings. “Go little butterfly, go!” I exclaim. And they encourage me in the silent way that butterflies do.

 

A little further on my walk I look at the ground and pieces of dried Texas ranger flowers and leaves are magically moving, seemingly by themselves. Upon closer look I see the ants under the moving plant parts. It is the subtle sign of the shift of season, the time of year when ants start preparing for the winter. Seeing these small creatures carrying their load, I ask, “Where are you going?” There was no ant hill in sight. With my eyes I follow the single row of ants crossing the street to their home, a beautiful circle of dried flowers. My heart sinks knowing many of them will not finish their work. I want to put up a detour sign, ANT CROSSING.

Abert’s Towhee

At home looking out the window where the bird feeders are, I see mourning doves, sparrows, house finches, sometimes Abert’s towhees scratching the ground like chickens looking for seeds, but there are no more white winged doves, gone for the winter. Subtle, gentle signs of change.

It is hard to believe a full year has gone by since I became a CSLT Board member. Both Marya and Janie finish their terms for serving on the board at the Annual Meeting on October 3rd. I thank them for their time and talents, and for all the many ways they continue to support the operation of this Center.

On Sunday, October 3, during our Zoom annual meeting, Madeline, Janet, Rev. Janis and I look forward to welcoming three potential new members to our board.

I encourage you all to come to the meeting.

–Maria

What Can We Do?

I know a lot of us are frustrated and disappointed that our world isn’t returning to ‘normal’ fast enough to suit us, that people seem to be particularly grouchy, irritable and mean right now, that CSLT isn’t meeting in person (yet), that in the big wide world the supply chain seems to be screwed up and lots of things are still harder than we think they ‘should be’.

My handyman is finally able to continue working on my porch replacement, because the job he was working on got put on hold because all the kitchen cabinets he was supposed to install for another client came in damaged and will take several months to replace. This morning, in tearing out the old porch, he discovered some improperly installed electrical wiring that needs to be redone. It seems like it’s just one thing after another and we can’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s not the events themselves that hang us up. It’s our expectations of how we think everything ought to operate.

This past Sunday, Tish Harrison-Warren wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that was particularly rich, thoughtful and valid called, “Isn’t This Supposed To Be Over Now?” She compares her family’s experience of pandemic fatigue with a story out of the Jewish Torah — Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. For the Israelites, the experience was alternating blasts of euphoria (freedom!), followed by fear & despair (anxiety!), followed by rescue (joy & relief!), followed by wandering in the wilderness for ’40 years’ (bewilderment & disappointment!). It’s no wonder the Israelites grumbled and felt discontented. It’s no wonder we are, too.

Tish also wrote, “In this new phase of the pandemic, we sit poised between celebration and continued suffering. We aren’t sure how to feel. We aren’t sure when — or if — things will go back to normal. So what must we do? We grieve. We admit we are worn out. We do what we can to help (which for most of us is simply to continue to wear masks and get vaccinated). And we take up the practices of patience and perseverance amid uncertainty. Perseverance isn’t simply a ‘grin and bear it’ stoicism, much less a call to deny our frustration, disappointment or anxiety about what lies ahead.”

Tish points to a book in the Christian New Testament, that I haven’t read in many years — The Epistle of James. In crawling around the theologian and philosophical discussions about the book of James, the only thing the thought leaders seem to agree on was that this was a book of instruction about how to act in the world. Ideas like steadfastness, patience and doing-the-right- things-for-the-right-reasons figure prominently.

So, what can we do? Steven Covey formalized this familiar diagram (circles of control, influence and concern). Most of us know of this model, few of us apply it consistently and accurately in dealing with the events and situations of our lives. What is actually ours to control? For most of us humans, our ability to control lies solely in the actions we take and decisions we personally make.

Dr Holmes wrote (The Science of Mind 266.3-267.2), “There is such a thing as demonstrating a control of conditions. We shall be able to prove this in such degree as we are successful in looking away from the conditions, which now exist, while accepting better ones. Not only must we accept this intellectually, but our acceptance must become a subjective embodiment of which the intellect furnishes but a mental image. Consequently, this Science does not promise something for nothing. It does, however, tell us that if we comply with the Law, the Law complies with us. No one can demonstrate peace and cling to unhappiness.”

How do we rearrange our lives and our minds to embody the good we imagine? By increasing our spiritual practices until we actually know the truth, not just wish and hope for it. It’s a lot of work. I’ll join you in it.

–Rev Janis

Looking Back and Looking Forward. Thanks for Everything!

Janie and I will both cycle off the board early next month and, so, this will be my last newsletter article for now. Writing articles for the newsletter has been a blessing. Rev. Janis might laugh to hear me say that because I often submitted my newsletter article right at the deadline. It is not something that I initially welcomed. The practice has given me moments to look inside and share my thoughts, challenges, and joys.

Writing articles for the newsletter has been like so many things in life seen through the Science of Mind lens. It wasn’t exactly fun at first and, even with this last one, includes an element of difficulty. But the experience of reaching inside and writing honestly about the way my life has been so improved by following the Science of Mind is a privilege.

I am sincerely so much happier because of what I’ve found at CSLT. Compared to how I was back in 2014 when I attended my first service, it’s amazing. It was during tax season in March. A friend told me about attending a CSL in San Francisco and praying with a practitioner. I googled Center for Spiritual Living and discovered CSLT. It’s changed my life. It’s changed my family’s life.

The first class I took was Prosperity Plus II. Mary Morrissey asked for tithing during the class. I just about threw up. I asked all the members of the class if they tithed. I had taken the class because it was the least expensive of the classes and I certainly did not have the funds to tithe. I brought my husband Chris to the class the next week and we dove in.

Science of Mind is a philosophy that I would have scoffed at when I was younger. I had so many resentments in which I lived. Feeling desperate and rageful, feeling like a victim was a more normal emotional state for me. Maybe I wasn’t ready.

We took the first Foundations class with Reverend Donald. I remember how difficult it was to read the Science of Mind. I just could not wrap my head around the readings, so confusing. I practically found it mind-numbing.

Not anymore, I can read the SOM books with understanding and love and receive the essence that the beautiful words impart.

During the Foundations course, Reverend Donald discussed the mantra meditation practice of which he was a devotee. I had been schooled in the same meditation practice in the mid-70s and picked it up again. After practicing it for four months, with a gentle nudge from Rev. Donald to practice it twice a day, I began a daily meditation practice in 2016. That practice has given me the strength to go forward with opening my own business. I have prospered financially.

My husband Chris has joined me in the Science of Mind practice for which I am so grateful. He has found great joy in participating and has been sharing his music with the Center regularly for over 5 years, I think. Serving on the board was a natural way for me to be able to apply the gratitude I feel. It is fun being on the Board.

During the first year I was on the Board, we had regular Board potluck/socials at a board member’s lovely house every month or two. Meeting with the Board is not a chore. I looked forward to meeting with my friends monthly to discuss the business of the Center and to engage in its continuing operations.

Although I will no longer be on the Board, I look forward to continuing participation in the daily meditation practice and to the PP3 Alumni and Intention Setting practice. And I will be leading the movie discussion groups after October. I will continue to be involved in the Youth program, which will resume at some point. I do this because I love CSLT and I love the members and Reverend Janis and the practices. It allows me to flourish and grow and feel so much better and to live with harmony, ease, love, liberation, order and even more God qualities every day.

PS – My favorite newsletter article and favorite project that I’ve done in a class was being able to share the video of the Sandhill cranes that I took when Chris and I woke up so early and made the trek to see them, going early on a Monday after missing them by 15 minutes the Saturday before. Thank you all for letting me share with you.

Love, Marya

Change is the Only Constant

“Success can only be measured in terms of distance traveled” — Mavis Gallant

We are forever moving from one experience to another, one challenge to another and one relationship to another.

Our ability to handle confidently all encounters and challenges is a gift from God, the One that accompanies us throughout every day, and we humbly express only gratitude for the One. We are never standing still, no matter how uneventful our lives may seem to be, we are traveling toward our destiny, and the thrills, tears and joys are contributing to the success of our individual and collective adventures.

We can reflect on yesterday, better yet on last week, or even last year’s problems. It’s doubtful we can even remember them. We have put distance between them and us, by Gods grace, knowing they were handled in some manner.

We continue to progress, and then eventually succeed, in getting free of and moving beyond them. How far we have come as a community of like-minded souls since COVID began. We will keep traveling forward with the courage and adaptations necessary for us to succeed.

It has been a blessing and a privilege in more ways than I could have imagined, being a member of the Board of Directors at CSLT these last 3 years. I am ever grateful for the experience and feel encouraged to move forward with my own choices and my own life.

Blessings to all and Thank You.
Namaste,
❤Janie

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Hide The Ball

I don’t know if you remember that old magician’s trick with the usually three upturned cups and the ball that seems to magically move from cup to cup, and the observer never quite knows where the ball is, or how it got there. In one of our Practitioner classes years ago, a dear friend said, “I play hide the ball with myself all the time, and it frustrates me!” When she said it, I realized I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate way to describe how we keep ourselves from knowing ‘stuff’ that we claim we want to know. Most of us do this, at least sometimes. This is not a criticism. I think it’s an aspect of being human.

I’ve been using this pandemic cloistering period to work on my writing practice in a world-wide community of writers. The way this program is set up, everyone has a page of their own as a place to show their work. It’s a little cumbersome until you get the hang of it (like most things are when they are new), but it’s really not hard to find your own page. I’m watching one of my writing friends do his darnedest to keep himself from writing, and letting himself acknowledge that he actually writes well and beautifully. He’s a smart guy. He’s got a successful day job. And he’s got this other side that’s creative, poetic, profound and astoundingly lyrical in its beauty and depth.

This morning I noticed that he’d written an extraordinary piece of incredibly touching poetry on someone else’s ‘page’, and sheepishly admitted that he didn’t know how to find his own page. We’ve been in this writing program for five months. Twice I’ve offered to zoom with him on his computer to show him how to find his own page. I know of two other people, moderators of the writing program, who have also offered to assist him. Someone even made him a ‘how to’ sheet of directions, and he persists in hiding the ball from himself. I just wanted to cry when I saw his commentary this morning.

If we, or someone else, don’t want to know something, there is nothing that can be done to force them or us to see, and know. It’s not like having a puppy and rubbing their noses in it when we catch them peeing in the house. We don’t learn that way. Once we finally do wake up to the game and see though, and are willing to own our own ability, agency, autonomy, authority, responsibility and power, there’s nothing that stands in our way.

Being part of a world-wide writing community is both exciting and terrifying. I was telling one of my artist friends about it, and she was horrified at the idea of showing her work to others as it was in process, specifically so that other people could comment on it. I told her it was really quite fabulous, because one of the rules of engagement in this group was that commenters were required to be constructive, and kind. Early on when I joined this online writers’ group, I noticed the moderators, quickly and decisively, removed two people who didn’t know how to be constructive and kind.

It serves each of us to have a small group of supportive friends, who we trust and who actually have our best interests in mind and heart, and who will help us see our blind spots. Without that, it’s easy to just keep playing ‘hide the ball’, and we don’t learn and grow.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Got Food for Thought?

I once was scolded by a doctor because she thought Sissy was obese. “What are you feeding her? I can’t even feel her ribs!”

I started to tell her Sissy’s diet and she stopped me in mid-sentence, holding her hand up at me. “Stop it. I’ve heard enough. She needs to be on a special diet which we will discuss, AFTER I finish my exam.” She glared at me, stethoscope in hand and listened to Sissy’s heart.

“I’m the one who needs to be on the special diet!” I told her. She rolled her eyes in disgust and continued writing down her notes. Our office visit was quickly over.

She couldn’t help me with my diet since she was a veterinarian. Sissy is my full-figured girl maintaining 160 lb weight throughout the years. For a St. Bernard, that is an average
weight. Since my veterinarian’s office has many vets there, we have never seen that particular doctor since. No other doctor ever scolded me. Sissy needing to be on a diet has never come up for discussion again.

Discussion of me being on a diet, well that’s a different story. I’ve been on many diets in my lifetime and I have to say they have all been successful. I have lost many pounds, almost too many to count. Oddly enough I find the pounds again and lately carry them where ever I go! Nothing is ever really lost. I must say I have never been scolded by a doctor for the weight I carry around. Someday, I’ll let the extra baggage go for good, probably when it no longer serves me.

Since we are discussing diets, here is the food for thought. This is the best diet I have ever been on, and I want to share it with you. You too can do this diet and see immediate results! Yes, you! You don’t even have to be overweight! I know, how can you imagine that? Wanting to be on this diet and you’re not even overweight? Well listen up, this is a really good diet. Try it out, take a bite and enjoy having a great day every day!

Here is a 5-day mental diet. It’s good for healthy mindedness. It will help give you a great day every day.

  1. First day: Think no ill about anybody-only good about everybody.
  2. Second day: Put the best possible construction, the most favorable interpretation, onthe behavior of everybody you encounter or have dealings with.
  3. Third day: Send out kindly thoughts toward every person you contact or think of.
  4. Fourth day: Think hopefully about everything. Immediately cancel out any discouragingthought that comes to mind.
  5. Fifth day: Think of God’s presence all day long.

With great gratitude I thank Dr. Norman Vincent Peale as I found this diet in his book HAVE A GREAT DAY EVERY DAY!

–Madeline Pallanes

“And It Was Good”

As a spark of God, I am illumined by the Spirit of Wisdom. I am free from the bondage of all false beliefs. The Spirit of Wisdom enables me to see all others as they are in reality — perfect expressions of God. — Ernest Holmes, 365 Science of Mind 156.2

Above is one of the thoughts read at a daily practice. The line that resonated with many of the participants was, “The Spirit of Wisdom enables me to see all others (I added “and myself”) as they are in reality — perfect expressions of God.” I had shared during the last Spiritual Practitioner Class for the first year, we shared our final projects reflecting what we learned, how we grew in our first year. People shared amazing drawings, poems, songs, video presentations. I was in awe. Afterwards, I started comparing my project to what others did and felt less than.

Someone else in the zoom room shared an experience “comparing” themselves with others. We realized comparison brought out judgment, feelings of less than or perhaps even better than someone else. Judgment leads to a sense of separation, that I don’t belong. It’s a feeling I am not a part of the whole.

I put myself in bondage, a lack of freedom, when I compare and make judgments. This is a pattern of behavior that is not conducive to living a joyful life, to letting my light shine. One of Rev. Janis’ reminders was about memories, how old stories can keep me stuck or propel me into a higher level of consciousness. I (’m going to) choose to believe that my presentation has value, that I share my individualization of Spirit. “And it was Good.”

The Divine Plan is one of freedom; bondage is not God-ordained. Freedom is the birthright of every living soul.
Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 25.3

I think of the phrase “And it was good,” found in Genesis after God brought light into existence, then created night, separated land and water, created plant life. It wasn’t the most awesome, spectacular, out of sight thing (although it was). It was just a solid recognition of a day’s work, no comparison to yesterday, no thought of tomorrow, just now. How freeing!

(No wonder God gets so much done!)

— Maria

What A Lovely Open House!

Saturday, August 7 from 10am to 2pm, the Board of Trustees hosted an Open House at the Education Center on south Craycroft. The Board showed up with plenty of individually wrapped, Covid-safe snacks. One of the Covid specific adjustments that was made were the name tags at the door with three different color markers. Green meant that hugging was welcome. Blue meant ask before hugging and Red meant I love you but prefer not to hug at this time.

For some period of time, it was just the Board but then we had our first visitor. I won’t reveal her name as I have not asked if I could share it in the newsletter but her name is lovely as she made it herself. She follows us primarily through the newsletter and had a long-time connection with one of the CSLs in San Diego as a practitioner! Affiliation with CSLT would be fabulous if she has interest, and it is even an option.

After 12 noon we had several more visitors. They were all regulars, and included our new practitioner who hadn’t yet experienced the in-person camaraderie of CSLT. We were able to pull up chairs to the table and all share in a fun conversation and in the numerous snacks. Marsha M had asked if I would eat a bag of chips for her, which I did. Eating Fritos for Marsha meant the calories did not count. Lucky for me, as I was also able to eat a bag of Doritos for Gregg as well. 

Seeing people in person was the goal of the Open House and we certainly accomplished that! There were many hugs all around and it was sweet to see people in person. A member was even brought to tears by the experience. For me, meeting in the Education Center felt like we’d never stopped meeting in person and that Covid hadn’t happened. I mean it felt totally normal although everyone started out with masks before they ate something.

I understand that Zoom does not work for some people. They don’t feel engaged by watching on a computer screen. I am lucky as I use my 24-inch computer monitor. I am also so grateful that, through my work, I regularly have several Zoom conversations almost every day. This has taught me to feel engaged through Zoom. One of my networking meetings has elected to stay on Zoom as it is so much more convenient. And our CSLT Board has also met on Zoom a number of times, after meeting in person once, because it is simpler.

Meeting in a Science of Mind group in person yesterday was great fun and felt good. Science of Mind is such a powerful way of life. I could relate to what Cerise Patron said in Sunday’s service focusing on Power, Connection, Oneness and Light. Her affirmation reflects my experience with our Open House and with being a part of CSLT. “Spirit within me, Spirit that is me, Breathe as me, Speak as me, Sing as me, Love as me, Live as me. Every wall that I have ever built to hold You back, I now tear down to set You free.”

Here’s to tearing down more walls, alone, on Zoom, and in person!

Marya Wheeler

A Belief in the Potential Goodness

What is Hope and why is it so important to sustaining a happier more fulfilling life?

I looked in the dictionary and found different definitions for Hope — words that include desire, anticipation, and expectation. But, that is not really what Hope is about.

The problem with desire, anticipation and expectation is that when a particular thing is not forthcoming, they can disappear, leading to a void into which negative thoughts and feelings can enter. I have certainly experienced this result many times.

Hope is not tied to a particular outcome, it does not depend on certainty, but a belief that there is a potential for something good to happen.

Knowing that ‘something good’ is not specific; it is merely the expectancy of a Positive outcome, which is one of the reasons that spiritual mind treatments are so helpful in redirecting my negative expectations.

Hope is a healer, puts my hurts and pains into a perspective and reminds me that things are forever changing; it is akin to trust that any negative feelings will pass.

Hope is a motivator, and beautiful source of energy that keeps me going when I feel like I have hit a brick wall.

Hope has never been more needed and believed in, than our present time, with COVID and its variants on the rise again. It helps me to know that there is still the potential for something good to come out of it.

I have already seen some positive changes in my own life and the lives of others I know, that can be partially contributed to COVID and subsequent lockdowns.

I see it as a creative opportunity for me to go within and find my true God-self and gain inner peace and trust that life has me just exactly where I am supposed to be.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”
— Desmond Tutu

–Namaste, Janie

Didn’t It Rain?!?!?!?!

Photo M. Horowitz

I’m so grateful for the substantial monsoons we’re experiencing in Tucson this summer. They have a long way to go before we’ve caught up to our average rainfall for this past year. I choose to believe the rains of the last month have helped reduce the deficit. When I saw the rainfall totals late last week, and the flooding in parts of town, I was reminded of an old spiritual, “Didn’t It Rain, Children“, performed and sung by Sister Rosetta Tharpe
in 1944.  She was incredible, the lesser-known grandmother of rock and roll.

The picture I posted in the newsletter shows Sabino Dam at 700 CFS (cubic feet/second) The photo is courtesy of M. Horowitz, past-president of Sabino Canyon Volunteer Patrollers. As of last Friday morning (after our big rainfall event last Thursday night), the discharge rate at the dam is about 3500 CFS (or 5 times higher than when the photograph was taken), and the water volumes briefly hit about 9000 CFS overnight. The levels on Friday still indicated dangerously high flooding. We’ve had continued rainfall over the weekend, so while the water levels might have dropped, they might still be as high. I haven’t gone out to the Canyon to look.

We have a complicated relationship with rain. Rainfall is critical to life in the desert, just as potable water is critical to human life. In both cases, too much or too fast can create problems, if we haven’t prepared adequately for them. Sometimes, it isn’t possible to prepare, and we just hold on.

The song “Didn’t It Rain, Children” tells the story of Noah’s Ark. It can be told from a couple different perspectives, like all good teaching parables presented in the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible. It’s either a cautionary tale about what can happen when we misbehave, and ‘daddy god’ gets really upset with us and wipes us off the face of the earth. Or it can be a tale of redemption and promise, that heavenly parent god taking care of the humans who noticed, listened and worked toward their own experience of good for themselves and others (the animals). While I don’t believe this story is an actual-factual literal account of what happened to Noah and his family (if, indeed, they were actual people), or necessarily that there was a cataclysmic flood that destroyed almost all of humanity, there are some useful take-aways in the teaching parable.

We do always get to pay attention to what’s going on in our minds and in our lives, and take appropriate action. We have this failsafe partner in the Law that shows us exactly what we believe, and makes no errors in matching up what we believe with what we get to experience. And we have the perpetual promise of a rainbow when we align our actions with the highest and greatest good.

From Ernest Holmes, Hidden Power of the Bible, “The Bible is a book pointing a way to freedom under law, to guidance under love, to revelation through reason. Let us approach its study with this in mind, and much will become clear.”

“I’ve heard tell that what you imagine sometimes comes true.” – Roald Dahl
(creator of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, James & the Giant Peach, Matilda and so much more)

–Rev Janis

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