Visiting Washington DC

A week ago, I was in the middle of an incredible visit to Washington D.C.  Having never been there, I had high expectations about what I would be seeing.  I had no idea that these expectations were miniscule in comparison to what I actually would experience.  My trip to the various monuments and memorial sites were such a shot in the arm, boosting both my pride in our country and admiration at the skill with which our Founding Fathers created this great nation of ours.  The Grand Experiment indeed!

For the past several years I have grown quite weary of the pervasive negative attitudes that permeate our national discourse.  As a former teacher and therapist, I thought I should be an “informed citizen,” taking that role very seriously.  I developed an anxiety that, at first, I could not identify.   I felt I was being bombarded by negativity coming at me from all directions, left and right, up and down. When I realized the cause of the angst, I made a conscious choice to stop watching news.  I also posted a sign on my front door:  “You are entering a politics-free zone.”    I took a vacation from news!!!  (I also knew that if there were some monumentally important events I needed to know about, someone would call and let me know.)

As I stood at the base of the Lincoln Memorial and studied the expression on his very familiar face, I was struck both by the look of strength and compassion it exhibited.  I read the powerful words excerpted from various writings, and was moved to surprising tears.  All of the pictures I had seen of this very familiar icon of American history did not prepare me for the power of the actual memorial.  I felt both humble to be in this place, and proud that our country had such a giant as a loving, competent leader.

That was the first of many surprising reactions to familiar words from familiar, diverse Americans. After three days, I saw the pattern of language that at first eluded me:  Jefferson, Lincoln, F.D.R. (Roosevelt), Martin Luther King, J.F.K. (Kennedy), and so many others used the same language as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ernest Holmes.  It is a language of positivity: love, accept, encourage, inspire, embrace, move forward, learn, find a way, succeed.

My daughter-in-law told me she wants to organize a compulsive field trip for all persons holding office in government.  She believes that if they will stand in these places of honor and respect, and ponder the words of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, and so many others, they will remember that they are about the business of the people, and not the various special interest groups. She is sure this could heal the political chasm that so permeates Washington politics today.   We become the change we wish to see.

I visited the Pentagon, the National Library, the National Cathedral, the many monuments, museums, and memorials; and of course, the iconic cherry blossoms, just days short of their peak explosion of color.  As we walked beneath them, I appreciated how Mother Nature and Man conspired together to create this awesome tableau.

Home now, I feel reinvigorated by my experience, confident that we are a great nation based on sound principles.  As a (still) young nation, we learnas we go.  As Abraham Lincoln said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”  I choose to remember my kinship with all my fellow Americans … and all citizens of the world.  Will you join me?

by Pat Masters

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Happy isn’t just a song by Pharrell Williams

Yesterday I caught myself sabotaging my joy and declining the very happiness that has eluded me in the past.  The good news? – I caught myself and changed my mind.  Here’s how I busted myself:

Before church started yesterday morning, I was in the lobby and a woman who is very dear to me walked in.  She is in Tucson only four months out of the year and I hadn’t had a conversation with her all season, so we hugged, and she asked me if I was available for lunch after the service. I said I really shouldn’t as I had a newsletter article due and I didn’t even have a topic yet, so I needed to go home and write it.  What?  I couldn’t make time for lunch with this beautiful, kind, insightful, loving person whom I hadn’t seen in months?

Mind you, I am in Foundations (for the third time) to go deeper.  When old ways of thinking and doing have become so ingrained that I don’t seem to be able to find my way out, I do something about it – eventually.  My presence in Foundations class is the result of becoming sick and tired of feeling periodically depressed, going into isolation and despair, and never feeling truly happy.  When class began, we were asked to set a goal, something that we saw no way of attaining, and to begin spiritual mind treatment for it.   I boldly declared, “I want to experience happiness.”

So, after I said ‘no’ to my friend, I sat down to listen to the warmth and wisdom of Rev. Janis.  From Ernest Holmes book, It’s Up to Youshe shared a list of ten points for living life.  One of these made me gasp: ‘Learn to forgive myself and others for real’.  I had a huge ‘aha’ moment, realizing how much I let guilt and shame from my past sabotage my happiness, because though I have forgiven others, I had not yet forgiven myself.  I also realized how much I operate on the system of punishment and reward; i.e., I can’t have fun with my friend because I haven’t written my paper.  Seriously?  I wasn’t even disciplined as a child, so why have I become so hard on myself as an adult?  The answer is guilt, shame, and lack of self-forgiveness.

Ernest Holmes defines freedom thus: “To live in a space without guilt, shame and blame.”  If I truly want to be happy, it is time to forgive myself for real.  I thought I had, and to some degree, I’m sure that’s true.  But my life doesn’t look like I want it to, and for that, ONLY I am responsible.  And I know of only one way to change it – change my consciousness, because that’s where Cause lives.  My task is to be willing to change, and this isn’t something that just happens to me because I want it to.  It is mine to show up, remain teachable, tell the truth to, about and on myself, and be willing to give my attention to faith rather than to fear.

“Just keep right on knocking on the door of your consciousness until every ‘no’ becomes a ‘yes’, every negation an affirmation, every fear a faith.  You cannot fail if you remain steadfast.”

… and

“The only thing that can hinder you is yourself.  The only thing that can help you is yourself. Because it is you who reflects the image in the mirror.” — Ernest Holmes from This Thing Called You, pg. 45 and 46

Freedom lives in my consciousness, and I call freedom Heaven.  So I’m going to keep on knocking on Heaven’s door…

by Renee’ Mezzone

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Ride That Pony!

I remember learning in Foundations class that everything that happens in our lives is ultimately for our good. I think it was phrased like “when the brown stuff starts to pile up around you look for the pony”. I have had ample opportunity to work with this aphorism of late. Upon my 30-year anniversary at my job I received the shocking and unsubtle hint that it was time to leave. I began the stumbling transition into retirement.

At first, I confess I saw this situation as a pile of poo and I was mighty angry about it. All the conditioning from subjective mind rushed into my brain telling me I was now obsolete, powerless, likely to become a bag lady, and get sick and die if I retired. Whoa, I had to rein in that thinking! As a metaphysician I know I get to choose my thoughts and my story and I really did not want to be a victim.

Not long ago, near the end of my practitioner training, I had a meditation in which I saw myself climb out of a dumpster. I knew it meant I was leaving behind my small life of limitation based on old beliefs. At that same time, I found myself chafing more and more at the constant battling in my legal job in which the goal is to “win”. I knew I had outgrown that paradigm and I started wishing I could do something different. As Reverend Janis pointed out a few weeks ago, the Law acts to manifest what we really want and believe more than what we think on the surface. Did the Universe just give me what I secretly wanted?

As I ponder my future, I understand my situation in a new way. I have found that pony in my situation of retirement! I have been gifted a new vista of opportunity. I get to choose how to spend my time! I am not being stripped of identity, power or purpose. I know my identity: I am a unique expression of Spirit! I know my power does not lie in the trials won, the committees chaired or the legal knowledge in my head. My true power is always in BEING my authentic divine Self and my true purpose is bringing my light to the world. I know I am always supported by Spirit. There is no way I will be a bag lady!

I like to remind myself of this quote by Ernest Holmes, “When we learn to trust the Universe, we shall be happy, prosperous and well.” I am going to ride that pony on my new path. I think I will celebrate by adopting a new name!

–Leah Hamilton (for now)

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Life Lessons

My personal aphorism goes like this: The road to perdition is based on incorrect assumptions.

My most recent experience of that personal truth happened one night around 10 o’clock as I was on my way home from a meeting in downtown Tucson.

I stopped at my local gas station to fill up and saw an older man – obviously homeless. He was dirty, long tangled hair and scraggly beard. He was push/pulling a roller chair holding the plastic bags of his belongings.

He started across the station drive and honestly my first thought, was oh no – I don’t really want to deal with this tonight. And, I looked away.

When I looked back he had fallen and with extreme difficulty, was trying to get back on his feet.

Before I could do anything – enter two young men: baseball caps on backwards, dressed for shenanigans with the 12-pack on the pick-up seat, etc. etc. They went over, gently picked him up, talking quietly to ease him. They asked if they could take his stuff off the seat of the roller-chair so he could sit. They made sure he knew where his stuff was at all times. Then while one of them moved him toward the office, the other went in to have the manager call for assistance. Then the three of them got him settled and the manager stayed with him while waiting for help.

The guys, after saying good-bye and reassuring him other help was coming, got in their well-traveled pick-up and went on their way.

I just sat there and watched the great goodness happen. A great goodness that I was not a part of.

I had assumed the homeless man was going to ask me for something. I also assumed the two guys parked over to the side with their 12-pack were other than what they truly were: actual good Samaritans.

My lessons from that night were downright painful to accept, but amazingly good for my soul.

…God makes no mistakes. All mistakes rest in the experience of man. “There is no sin, but a mistake, and no punishment but a consequence.” We must declare that no mistakes have been made, none are being made, and none are going to be made. If mistakes have been made we must neutralize their effect by the direct declaration that they no longer have power over us.

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 612.6

It certainly felt like I made mistake. Yet, the homeless man was in better physical hands with the two guys then any attempt I might have made to help him.

BUT, did I miss a chance to live/love the whole experience of knowing that we are all one in Spirit? Oh, you bet.

Am I working deeper and trying harder to master that lesson? That’s an even bigger you bet.

Travel well on your path and mind the lessons as they appear.

— Mariann Moery

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Remembering to Be Love

When I started ruminating about this article, I knew I wanted to follow our Theme for the Month of February: Love.

In doing our community prayer, Rev. Janis will often remind us that we swim in the Cosmic Soup of Divine Love. We access all of the Love that we can by our knowing the Truth of who and where we are. Sometimes we make a conscious decision to tap into this power; other times we tap into it on a subconscious level. Other times it filters into us by osmosis. In whatever manner we choose to access it, it always says, “Yes” to us.

I think of my own life as a continuing series of love events as I swim within the Big Ocean of Love. Some of them are fabulous, some of them are so-so, and a few, now and then, are downright hideous.

When I was younger, I could get very angry because someone had done something to me. Or I could get very insecure because I thought I was not enough and deserved whatever negative stuff was showing up for me. I had not yet learned that most of the “stuff” was a product of my own thinking.

As I grew older, I changed my mind about what might be happening to me. When anyone in my life showed up as someone I labeled as mean, snarky, rude, thoughtless, or insincere, I would climb up on my horse of Self Righteousness and ride by them with my Sword of Better-Than-Youness (new word). When I climbed down from my saddle of Superiority, I could see the truth of who they truly were: a perfect person, ACTING in an unloving way. What a relief to realize that “Being” and “Acting” are not the same. I can always love you, even while I am not happy with the way you are acting. Wow.

Many decades ago, I was standing in an early-morning line at the airport in Hilo, Hawaii. Standing behind me was a young mother whose whining, crying toddler was tugging on her skirt, demanding to be picked up and soothed. An older, much wiser, friend of mind looked down at the crying child and said, “He is exhausted. When children act the worst is when they need the most.” WHAM. That one sentence, delivered so casually, became one of the best life lessons I ever learned. Not only children, but all of us, do not act our best when we are tired, scared, or worried.

When I see someone acting in their not-so-best manner, and I am in my Right Mind (The Divine shows up as me, too), I ask myself what they might need. Then I can love them unconditionally, even if I do not always love their actions or attitudes. I don’t know about you, but there are times that I am afraid if I give up my own need to be right, I might “lose” — lose face, lose position, or lose respect. After a round of self-talk, I come into the knowledge that I do not always act in perfect way (GASP!) And that is very ok, too.

But I am Perfect, because I was designed so. I am almost always able to swim in my Attitude of Gratitude for the loving world in which I find myself. I remember and bless my own experience and expression of the Spirit of Love.

— Pat Masters

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Saying Yes to Life

My favorite paternal aunt, Merris, is here from my birth state, Iowa, visiting me for a couple weeks and I’m totally preoccupied, exhausted, excited, and I might as well throw in anxious, because I have a newsletter article due and haven’t a clue as to what to write.  But I do my best to be in integrity and keep my commitments, so I think I’ll just write about what’s foremost on my mind… gratitude.

It’s not that everything is hunky-dory and smooth sailing all the time, but I know I live in choice as to how I look at every single thing that happens in my life and I choose to see the cup half full and continuing to fill!  But I’ll get to that in a minute…

For starters, this is the aunt whom I had met only once, briefly, in the 1970’s.  Many years and a couple dozen address changes later, a Valentine card – a sweet, loving, old-fashioned Valentine from an aunt who had loved me since the day I was born (mind you, I didn’t know anyone had loved me when I was born) – found me.  We began to write and she invited me to visit her and Uncle Fred, and in a stroke of genius, I decided to do just that.  What a gift I gave to myself!  Now, because she decided to make her first flight on her own having recently lost her husband of fifty years, I get her all to myself for two whole weeks.  Country miles worth of gratitude, I tell you!

Aunt Merris and I have been hitting the Gem Show pretty hard the last couple days and as a result of so much walking and standing, my knee is super swollen and I pretty much hurt everywhere below my waist.  I cried myself to sleep last night from pain, and then gratitude. Yes, I hurt, but I had experienced so much pleasure in the company of my aunt as well as hundreds of other rock hounds!  We had both found some great deals on little treasures that made our hearts sing.  (And having shattered my hip and wrecked my back in ’04, I am so happy that I am able to walk and stand at all, let alone for hours at a time!)  To heck with pain, I feel grateful!

And there were little things today where I chose gratitude over grumbling:  We need rain; I would love to show Merris a lush, green Tucson vs. brown plants and dust everywhere, but until the rain comes, I’ll bask in the soul-warming February sunshine and let it soothe my body.  Then when leaving the gem show, we found ourselves trying to merge onto I-10 into crawling, bumper-to-bumper Friday rush-hour-gem show traffic, and voila! – a kind man let me cut in front of him – thanks, dude!  There was the jam-packed Costco parking lot (barely needed to go there as I only needed two items) when a spot right by the door opened up…I thanked God right out loud.  Silly little things?  Maybe, but I’d rather bank a bunch of gratitudes than a bunch of gripes.

Life is as good as I make it.  Are there ruts in the road and occasional roadblocks?  Sure, but if I continue to find the good in what may appear to be otherwise, it becomes otherwise.  Today my life is truly very good, and I attribute this to maintaining an attitude of gratitude.  I’m especially grateful for what surprises most assuredly lie around the corner!  Because you know what? – it’s gonna be good.  How do I know?  Because Good is already present and I am just saying yes to it!

“Every day and every hour we are meeting the eternal realities of life, and in such degree as we co-operate with these eternal realities in love, in peace, in wisdom, and in joy – believing and receiving – we are automatically blessed.” — Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 154.1

–Renee’ Mezzone

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Stars and Dirt

Our Center is changing; it is growing, empowered by the intentions and work of each person making up our community. At the start of each new year we celebrate our opportunities for growth and change by participating in a Community Intention Setting, (previously called a Community Envisioning). This year our event is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 2nd and 3rd at the Center’s office. On Friday night a potluck is planned to kick off the event and on Saturday we will begin at 9:30am, work through the morning with a brown bag lunch, ending at 2:00. This year is extra special because we will ground our intentions after the meeting with a Property Blessing at our land on 22nd Street at 3:00 on Saturday.

As Reverend Janis explained last Sunday, we employ both rational and intuitive methods in articulating our goals. We use our rational thought to figure out who we want to be as CSLT. We also vision about the highest ideal for CSLT to catch thoughts from the One Mind within each of us. But there are even more parts to successful Intention setting which track the process of manifestation illustrated by our Science of Mind teaching symbol “V”.

When I was trying to figure out how to write this, a memory came to me about something that happened in my life that I had not thought about in decades. The story is a useful analogy. Back when I was at the U of A, I took an elective class in Astronomy. I got very excited when the professor announced that the student with the highest grade at the end of the class would get to view the planets through the University’s telescope on Kitt Peak. I wanted that opportunity so I decided at that moment that I was going to be that student. I had set my intention, and at the end of the semester I was the student who won the trip.

Likewise, we at CSLT desire a permanent home and in 2016 we purchased land on 22nd street to begin fulfillment of that intention. But that is only the beginning of the adventure of manifestation. As my story continued, I learned that winning the opportunity to see the planets still required me to get to the top of Kitt Peak. The “how” of getting up the mountain turned out to be both scary and thrilling and largely out of my control. I learned I had to ride with a grad student in a dilapidated state car up the curving mountain road on a moonless night without benefit of headlights. This was to avoid light pollution for the telescope. I never wavered in my belief that I would somehow safely traverse the switchbacks to the top of mountain because I could see that telescope in my mind’s eye. I had what Holmes calls a mental equivalent of my desire. Similarly, we at CSLT have a desire to occupy our new land with expansive dreams to set firmly into our vision as a mental equivalent. This is where faith plays a role, for we must believe that our intentions, like seeds, will grow fruit. We must believe in our final success and let Law figure out the “how”.

I did see Mars up close and personal that night on Kitt Peak, and in looking through that huge telescope I was inspired by the endless expanse of space. It awakened in me a thirst to explore and expand. I was ready to set a new intention but first I had to descend the mountain again in the darkness, car brakes squealing, to return to the level desert floor. I had to assimilate the experience into my life.

Likewise, we as CSLT develop our intentions about using our land to grow our community and then we implement our vision. The old saying goes “faith without works is dead”. Our success as a Center requires both faith and action. We will finish our intention setting Saturday afternoon and drive out to our new property. Our Land Blessing gives us each an opportunity to bring our personal intentions to the property and ground our experience there. We will implement our vision with action and go forward in this great endeavor.

I experience CSLT as a community without limits, as vast in potential as the Milky Way in the sky. I look forward to this Intention Setting event and I hope every CSLT congregant participates, as they are able, next weekend.

— Leah Hamilton, RScP (and Board Chair)

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Introducing….

I’ve been attending CSLT for two years now and its place in my life is amazingly huge. Raised Catholic – including Catholic school through the 8th grade – I eventually came to a deeply felt distrust of institutionalized religion.

A distrust deep enough to send me seeking through the usual list of alternatives:

  • Wicca — From which I learned great lessons I still live by
  • Zen — Is there a writer who speaks more sweetly and humorously to the soul than Pema Chodron?
  • Congregational Church — Briefly, when my late husband was active in the choir.

But there was nothing which brought about regular attendance or active participation until now, in Tucson, with CSLT. As with so many others I’ve found my spiritual home here and the beginnings of truly wonderful friendships.

One of the best lessons I’m studying here is to actually, finally let go of the belief that I must compensate somehow for all the “mistakes I’ve made”. That is — only after paying for them is it possible to move on.

Well, I’ve learned you can put those bags down, and decide to travel lighter.  Although some lessons aren’t exactly new news…

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy  not on fighting the old but on building the new.” — Socrates

Recognizing CSLT’s importance to me, I joined the Board officially in January. It’s a sweet challenge to imagine how we can grow this special place into a larger, “home-owning”, continually learning, life-enhancing, soul-strengthening community.

Or, as Dr. Holmes would have us remember:  “The one who dares to fling thought out into Universal Intelligence, with the assurance of one who realizes his divine nature and its relation to the Universe — and dares to claim all there is — will find an ever-creative good at hand to aid him, God will honor his request…. Let us, then, enlarge our thought processes, and dare to think in Universal terms. Let us dare to believe that every constructive word is invincible! ”   The Science of Mind 142.3

I, personally, am quite eager to see what beauty emerges as all of us together dream, nurture and build an ever-more-perfect CSLT.

And, I am so totally grateful that I got myself into my car and drove to CSLT that first time and every time since then.

— Mariann Moery

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Connections

I drove home a new way on Sunday after services and noticed the bright blue sign of a Napa Auto Parts Store. It was the first one I actually remember seeing in Tucson. Part of me doubted that it could possibly be the only one, so I googled it to see how many there are in town. One. There’s only one. Huh.

The reason it caught my eye, I think, is because my mom worked in one for nearly a decade while my brother attended the lower grades of public school. She was of the generation who fiercely believed that moms needed to be home when their kids got home from school, so she wanted a part-time job where she could do that. I never could figure out how my mom worked in an auto parts store, since her interest in car parts was negligible.   Honestly, it was non-existent.

As I pondered this, driving across town, what came to me was an awareness of what her expertise actually was. She was the undeniably, unstoppably, irreplaceably queen of customer service. People mattered to her. After my brother was old enough to drive himself home from football practice, my mom got a job working full-time at the photo lab on the airbase near where they lived. She served as the film librarian; her primary job was to interact with the customers and make sure they got exactly the service or the product they needed. People would stop by her desk all the time for hugs, and to take a piece of candy out of the candy dish on the corner of her desk that was always full. She kept that job for the next 40+ years and was still happily working when she became terminally ill; she could not imagine not being there to take care of ‘her people’.

I retired from my technical career at 52. She and I would often talk about how odd it was that her daughter retired before she did. I kept telling her that it was really obvious to me when it was time for me to stop working (at that job) and that she would know when it was time, and to retire any sooner would be silly. That seemed to satisfy her, mostly. There were times that she wished she could be a retired grandma and do the craft activities, the outings, or the book studies, with the old, retired ladies. When it got right down to it, she didn’t believe that she would feel as vital and alive if she didn’t have to answer to an alarm clock 5 days a week. So she kept doing what she loved – connecting with people.

There’s something about pleasant human interactions that adds brightness and liveliness to our days. Social scientists say we need a certain number of hugs each day to be emotionally healthy – four at a minimum. When I was working on last Wednesday night’s class on Mysticism, I was reminded that the need to connect with others is a basic human survival need. On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it ranks just slightly above the need to feel safe, and just below the need to feel respected or esteemed.

“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.” — James Baldwin

When I first saw this quote by James Baldwin, I thought of it as a negative commentary, but the more that I pondered the lifestyle that my mom chose, this idea remained quite valid and uplifting. She was the undisputed queen of making people feel important, no matter who, and no matter what. Even on Sundays and with the youth ministry at church, she was the first of the women to be given a plaque that read, “Mother of Our Youth”. I always thought the plaque was a little disconcerting, but it recognized the identity she had created for herself, and how she wanted to be seen in her world.

It seems I picked up just a smidge of that connecting mindset myself. I’m OK with that.

— Rev Janis

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Epic Goodness

We all know the premise of a Spiritual Mind Treatment is that One Universal Divine Intelligence flows through all people and nature.  It is my belief and faith of Oneness that bridges the past and the present events of my life together in unison.

For instance, as a teenager growing up in the 70s, one of my favorite Saturday morning television shows was Soul Train.  Soul Train featured a genre of R&B, Pop, Gospel songs and contemporary musical artists.  Recently, I discovered that the purpose of producing a mainstream musical television show that attracted so many teenagers as myself was to introduce music into the lives of all people.  The title “Soul Train” symbolizes music being transported by a train from one city to the next all over the world.

By first appearances, the singing, dancing and high-end fashion trends of Soul Train may have seemed superficial, but the truth of the matter is that watching Soul Train inspired me to become my creative best self.  Although I never considered myself musically inclined, my creativity developed in the originality of the clothes that I constructed first in the sight of my imagination and then into its final physical form.

This past New Year’s Eve while participating in the Ending and Beginnings Ceremony, I could not help thinking of the parallels between Soul Train and my readiness to walk over the threshold into a new year.  The Endings and Beginnings Ceremony is an annual CSLT tradition that I regard as a high esteem event that encompasses the entire community.  More importantly for me, the Ending and Beginnings Ceremony invoked an inner reflection and for a few brief seconds as I crossed the threshold into 2018, I felt a spark of my creative self come to life and in my inner ear I heard the words of the titled song “Love Train”, written by the O’Jays.  “People all over the world, join hands, start a love train.”

The teachings of Ernest Holmes advocates that we should look boldly expect our Infinite Good to manifest without hesitation.  In Its grandest expectations, I am ready and willing to receive my Good.  Flooded with the memories of a carefree teenager, I am grateful for the artistic value of music, dancing and creative fashion designs.

Divinely inspired in the Oneness of All, I accept my Epic Goodness in 2018!

So it is

–Carla Hodge, RScP

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