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

A Miracle Healing

By 1995, I had become an avid reader of all the spiritual and mystical books I could find. I visited a nearby metaphysical store every week searching for more knowledge and inspiration. My relationship with my husband was not going well and I was having difficulty in my spiritual life because of my long-standing feelings of anger and frustration.

One morning, I woke up and when I opened my eyes, it felt like dozens of little pulsing needles were poking my eyes! I was intensely sensitive to any type of light. It was excruciating! I asked my husband to close the blinds and drapes and tack up blankets to completely block any light from coming in the windows. I spent all day lying on the couch with a dark towel over my eyes. That evening, I couldn’t stand to have a lamp or ceiling light on or to watch TV even with dark sunglasses on. I had to cover all LED lights on digital clocks with black paper.

For the next few days, all I could do was lie on the couch with a dark towel over my eyes. I had a “poor me pity party” and angrily ranted to God, “What have I done to deserve this? I’ve been reading every book I can find to learn how to be a more spiritually balanced person. Now THIS happens! I feel absolutely useless right now! Oh no, am I going blind? PLEASE don’t do that to me!”

This condition intensified as the days wore on, so I went to my doctor. He said my eyes looked normal but gave me some eye drops. I had an MRI, to rule out a brain tumor as a possible cause, but it was normal. Well, I wasn’t going blind; it was a condition known as Photophobia. It would eventually, probably, go away on its own.

For 3 weeks, I continued my miserable existence on the couch, eyes closed with a towel over my face! I begged, cried and ranted, but my condition wasn’t improving. Finally, one Saturday, I said, “OK God, I GIVE UP! I went out to my car and drove to my favorite meditation spot; a church with a large campus of separate buildings and desert landscape throughout. It was very peaceful there. I walked to the back of the property, went behind a classroom building where no one could see me and sat down on the concrete walkway. I rested my back against the building and in a calm voice, said “God, I do not understand why this is happening to me, so I am here for answers. What is the meaning behind my eye problem? There must be a message for me in this experience and, until I understand and am healed, I intend to remain here, for however long it takes.”

I started to close my eyes, but then, I heard a rustling sound beside me. I looked, and there was a little bird flopping around on the ground. One wing was bent and when it tried to fly, it fell over and rolled. No matter how hard it tried, flight was not an option. I told it, “Believe me! I know exactly how you’re feeling right now!” I felt such compassion for the little bird’s plight that I picked it up and set it in my hands forming a little round nest with my palms and loosely clasped fingers on my lap. It offered no resistance. I gently tucked both wings around its body and softly rubbed my thumb over its head until it went to sleep.

I closed my eyes again. All anger and impatience was gone and only a sense of peaceful surrender remained. I said, “God, there are two of us, here, waiting to be healed. We know you are our Creator, so we have no doubts that you can fix us. We will be patient and trusting. Then, just like a tape recorder started, I heard all the desperate pleas, angry thoughts and words I’d cried out to God in frustration, since the first day of my symptoms. However, I listened to them in a detached non-emotional state. What was obvious to me, immediately, was how many times I had screamed out to God with questions but then never listened for answers. I had been so focused on my physical suffering, that not once, did I ask “What is this about?”

I took a deep shaky involuntary breath and when I exhaled, I let my mind go completely blank. Then, I saw/felt myself as the bird being cradled in a loving hand. I felt like I was a child again, who had fallen down and was now being comforted in the loving arms of my parent who stroked my head and kissed away my tears, saying, “I know you’re hurting, but everything’s going to be OK; I promise.” My entire world of trouble melted away in that complete and unconditional loving moment. Every muscle in my body relaxed and a huge sense of relief came over me when I realized I didn’t have to figure this out; I only had to listen.

The Message: “You do not have to look outside yourself to find answers to your problems. The solution is always available when you go within. I am always with you. Books are a source of information, but I will always have you, specifically, in mind when you ask for help in any situation. Just be still and listen for that guidance – it’s always available.”

With that, I opened my eyes and looked at the desert landscape surrounding me and at the beautiful mountain that loomed in the distance. My eyes were OK, and I no longer needed to squint in the bright sunlight. I looked down at my little bird friend, and its eyes were open and looking around as well. I knew we were both healed!

I set the bird back down on the sandy ground beside me and watched as it hopped up on a nearby wire fence. I cheered it on, “Come on! You can do this! Just go for it!” It fluttered its wings a bit and then flew away as birds with healthy wings do. I felt like a proud mom!

My energy was boosted and I felt like I’d just had my battery charged! I stood up and jogged across the landscape to my car. When I got home, I walked through the door laughing and commenting on what a beautiful day it was. When my husband asked what happened to me, I simply said, “A miracle!” Then I pulled all the blankets off the windows, threw open the curtains and thanked God for my vision. I felt such joy!

This experience taught me that whenever I need assistance in my life – rather than read a book, get angry or struggle to figure things out on my own, I can sit quietly and trust that God will always tell me what I need to know. I’ve experienced several spontaneous healings that most people would consider to be miracles. I know it as God continuing to bless my life.

(I was prompted to write the above story because I recently watched an Oprah Winfrey interview with Dr. Michael Beckwith, of Agape International Spiritual Center. He talked about his book, Life Visioning. One thing he said really hit home for me, “When you struggle with a problem, focusing only on that problem, it will intensify. The only way you can overcome circumstances and situations that are pressing in upon you, is to go within. He said pain pushes until a larger vision pulls. When we ask disempowering questions like, “Why is this happening to me?” all we’ll get is a bevy of excuses. But when we ask empowering questions like, “What message is trying to emerge?” and put our full attention on possibilities of a higher purpose, the process of moving out of the darkness is speeded up. He said, “The good news is that our potential is infinite, and is always bigger than any problem that we face.”)

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

By Serina French

Grateful … For This?

An attitude of gratitude is most salutary, and bespeaks the realization that we are now in heaven. (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 497.2)

Wednesday night following the elections, we had a regularly scheduled Journey class. It was supposed to be about “The Hero’s Journey” and how archetypes color our lives. In a way it was. This election moved each of us through our own personal hero’s journey, or as I like to think of it, the agitation and spin cycles of a washing machine. Ultimately, we come out cleaner, clearer and more focused, and the process tends to be disorienting and generally unpleasant.

Obviously, we talked at length about the election results and our impressions of the particular candidates and our feelings and fears about them, recognizing that we each carry a biased caricature in our individual minds about who these two individuals are, and what they represent. By the end of the evening, most of the individuals present felt less at the effect of the election results, and recognized that this election calls each of us to shift from a sense of complacency into engagement and involvement in some fashion and at some level that is unique to each individual.

Each of us has had experiences, or have read about, or heard about experiences, that reinforce our viewpoint of the state of our country. I know it has been true for me; suddenly, random people seem more rude and pushy and arrogant and unkind. And we know, at least hypothetically, that we can only see what we believe. Is it time to pull out some elbow grease and scrub our pet points-of-view and see what we discover? When we remember, we know we are at liberty to think the kinds of thoughts we choose, and work towards the kind of world that we desire to live in.

No democracy, or organization, works long or well if participants willingly allow others to do all their thinking and deciding for them. Each one of us has to do our own heavy lifting. In this instantaneous information, misinformation and disinformation, age in which we find ourselves, sifting through the noise to find accurate, pertinent and meaningful input to allow conscious, intentional decisions can be challenging, and time-consuming. It’s not a whole lot of fun, unless you really enjoy detective work.

You have heard the quote, “Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.” It is attributed to Gene Fowler, a journalist, author and dramatist. I think it is fair to say that he was an observer of the human condition. Whether he is a cynic or a realist, I’ll leave that to your interpretation. He is also quoted as saying, “Everyone needs a warm personal enemy or two to keep him free from rust in the movable parts of his mind.”

So now, how do we move from disgust and distrust to that salutary (i.e. favorable, healthful, beneficial, wholesome) attitude of gratitude? How much personal work will it take so that we can find gratitude for the individuals who wake us up from our slumber, and move us back into our active, participative adulthood as members of our lives, and our society?

In The Hidden Power of the Bible, Ernest Holmes reframed the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden as the necessary waking up that humanity had to do once they collectively chose to experience a world view that contained duality – good and bad, light and dark – and in that choosing, realized that each was always at liberty to choose, and choose again. Maybe this election has created the necessary momentum for each of us to remember to choose the biggest, boldest, brightest life expression we can imagine, and to step on to a bigger stage than we ever imagined. And maybe it has served as a bold reminder that we are in charge of our life experience, and not be at the effect of something or someone outside of ourselves. I can find gratitude for that reminder, and step boldly into my life.

Best, Rev Janis Farmer

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