Self Determination – It was up to me and it’s up to you too

Have you ever had people want you to share information about another person; information which was that other person’s story to tell? Recently, I had the opportunity to be reminded of the power of love, and the marvelous way God works through us. I find whatever experiences I’ve gone through in life, it’s been well worth those experiences to have and feel AH-HA moments.

Recently, I watched a woman friend go from sheer fear in her eyes to being relaxed, calm and ready for whatever would happen next. I saw her change her mind from thinking it was time to leave us – to being prepared to return home and live more.

Some people tried to ‘pressure’ me (as though it was up to me) to share information about my friend, or to give them permission to go see my friend, or to tell others about her condition based on what I knew. I didn’t give into the pressure. I stood my ground by remembering I was supporting her. I helped her to stand her ground by doing as she had asked. I insisted that others understand it was not within my right or theirs to alter her experience to influence her right of self-determination. What was happening was hers and hers alone. It was my responsibility to honor the word I had given to her; and to help her honor her wishes for herself. It wasn’t a personal decision against anyone; it was the right decision for me and for my friend.

Priorities were messed up. What I saw were some putting their “but we must show our concern” in front of “but we need to be respectful of that persons request.” There seemed to be an underlying belief there was an obligation to “do for” others, rather than to allow them ‘to do’ for themselves, especially when they ask for that freedom. I wondered why some seemed to think they knew more or better than the individual. Honestly, I think sometimes we forget it’s not our obligation at all to replace our judgment for another’s.

Our obligation, in my opinion, is that we assist others in finding their own voice, in feeling respected for the choices made even when we don’t understand them and by remembering; it’s not ours it’s theirs. Self-determination can be challenging to bump up against when individually, we have a different opinion of the actions an individual chooses.

I am grateful for my extended family at CSL Tucson. I believe that as my extended family, I choose to be available to assist when I am able; when I am asked. I choose to extend my love and compassion to each of you and to do what I am called to do, when asked, in a way that assists you, but which does not decide for you. I trust others to appreciate that as well.

Zach Saber

Experiencing Connection with All of Life

Lynne and I have been co-facilitating a non-certificated class the last four Tuesday evenings. The class, entitled “Care of the Soul”, is about our awareness and connectivity with our personal experience of our life. After each one of us becomes aware of where we are, we are more easily at choice if we wish to change or deepen this experience. It has been a great joy to play in this experience each week with the intrepid and adventurous souls who have shown up for our class.

In the readings for one of the classes Lynne and I are taking for ministerial school, I found this quote. The book is called Will and Spirit; the author is Gerald May. The quote from page 43, is a tad long, but worth it:

“Human consciousness is the capacity to perceive and appreciate not only various stimuli but the ongoing process of being, and the mystery of that process. This sensitivity far transcends the simple observation of events and occurrences. One may sit by an open window, quietly noticing all that is there within and around oneself. Hearing a bird chirp, feeling the breeze, sensing the aroma of afternoon air, one is not only aware of these things, but can also sense that one is being aware of them….

Even more subtly, but just as solidly, one can sense and appreciate the process of one’s own thinking. Sitting by the window, increasingly relaxed and quiet, a thought comes, and it is noticed — as it is happening! One can even begin to perceive how thoughts form, how they seem to come into awareness. Many people have so busied themselves with the contents of their lives and minds that they may fail to appreciate such subtle processes. But utilized or not, the capacity for such open appreciation is present and accessible, within each human being….

Somehow these direct perceptions also include an immediate appreciation of being as a dynamic ongoing process. And somehow this in turn involves a person with all that exists in the cosmos, not just in terms of being related to it, but at a level of intimate communion and participation.”

I celebrate the experience of connection, within and throughout my life and in the lives of each person I come in contact with. Would you join me?

— Janis

Our Community Garden

by Don Chatfield

Do you remember what first made you feel at home at the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson? Was it a warm greeting from an usher? Perhaps it was inspiring music provided by a soloist or the choir. It might have been a Sunday talk that spoke deeply to you. Maybe a member spoke with you after the service and helped you feel welcome. All of these things are vital components of the community that we are building at the Center.

A recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that the fastest growing segment of our population is those with no religious affiliation. The Pew research found that one-fifth of the U.S. public, and a full third of those under age 30, are religiously unaffiliated. Of those without a religious affiliation, about 37 percent consider themselves to be “spiritual but not religious” (a group commonly referred to as SBNR). Those who classify themselves as SBNR tend to believe in God, find a deep connection in nature, and pray regularly. Most of this group, however, say that they are not seeking a spiritual community. They tend to practice their spirituality individually.

At the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson, many of us can identify with the sentiments of the SBNR population. Some of us have previously dealt with pressure to believe a certain way, experienced unpleasant expectations about behavior, or seen excesses in the name of organized religion. For many of us, our first experience at the Center was like a homecoming. Our New Thought philosophy provides a practical spirituality that is “open at the top,” providing each of us with an opportunity to experience and express our spirituality in a way that makes sense to us. Drawing from truths of many spiritual traditions, we experience Sunday celebrations that are meaningful and inspiring.

While enjoying this personal freedom of spiritual expression, we also enjoy the many benefits of a spiritual community. It is these benefits that keep me attending the Center. While I sometimes enjoy meditating alone in the mountains or by a stream, I find vitality and encouragement in meeting regularly with others who are on a spiritual path.

Over the years, I’ve experienced the warmth of deep discussion in classes offered at the Center, along with numerous new friendships that grew from these connections. I’ve enjoyed laughter and connection at socials and community meals. I have savored the sound of a familiar voice on the telephone when I was hospitalized. And I have leaned on strong shoulders when I was feeling discouraged or stuck. I hope that you’ve had many of these same experiences.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German politician, author, and poet described the importance of community in this way: “The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and….is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”

I’m delighted that this “community garden” is growing at the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson. Many have commented on the positive energy enjoyed in recent celebration services and the importance of being together with one another. Over the coming year the Board of Trustees, along with the Team Leads, will be working to provide additional tools to deepen our connection as a loving community. I invite you to explore ways to deepen your connection with our community.

Blessings,

Don Chatfield
President, Board of Trustees

Changes and what’s to come of it all.

I’ve read that change is difficult for some people. I’ve read and observed people claiming to want change in their lives, however, some seem to want others to change so they avoid looking at themselves and making changes. It’s like grumbling at the driver in front of you in traffic. In attempting to change others, some find themselves very frustrated and emotionally charged over the changes occurring, meaning they’re not responding in a healthy way toward encouraging change, changing changes or managing change etc. Confused? Me too.

The reality I know is that we must continue to change in order to survive and thrive. This is true of CSL as well as the individual souls who attend. In my time here, I’ve seen change and it made so much difference to my wife, DeeAnn Saber, and to me that we joined this community even when we were initially skeptical about becoming members (ask me about this story I’m happy to share). Honestly, I have found that when I’m involved in asking for what I want and in acting on what I believe is good, I’ve seen improvements and changes that make a huge difference in my life and here at CSLT. It’s happening all around us. This stuff we believe does work and I’m here to say so.

For example right now, looking at change we need to realize what we have to work with here at CSLT:

  1. We have a team working toward assisting in finding out what congregants REALLY want by creating a survey that will allow each of you to have input (Community Development Envisioning Team)
  2. We have a team that is searching for a new location that would provide us with a permanent home, class rooms, space for a children’s program etc… (Facilities Team)
  3. We have a team working toward feeling, seeing and guiding us toward our highest good (thank you to each of you for holding this space for us) called the Visioning Core
  4. We have a team called Altared States that creates beauty on our Altar each week and is trying to bring other groups together to unite for a commonality; loving and welcoming each other as well as newcomers
  5. We have a team that greets you each Sunday morning (the Ushers) providing that Sundays’ Program
  6. We have a team (the Music Core) that brings us music, talent, laughter, dance!
  7. We have a team that attempts to assist you, contact you, bring you food when you need compassion and help (Compassionate Heart)
  8. We have a team making the fellowship hall pretty and bringing supplies needed so that after services you can sit and visit comfortably (Hospitality)
  9. We have a team providing books and learning materials (Bookstore Team).
  10. We have a marvelous group of Practitioners who are also guiding the spiritual center of our community and each of you – our members.

We have more teams too which I haven’t mentioned. Each and every team is working towards teaching, change, healing and being supportive.

There is a way for every one of us to participate in supporting our spiritual community – join one of these groups. Know that each group/team contributes to CSLT’s overall well-being even while making changes.

I want to continue to champion more changes – and if nay sayers exist to a planned change, I to ask them to suspend grumbling, ask for more information if there might not be enough and to remember this:

I believe, trusting that the love and the compassion we exchange is real. Have faith in the fact that affirmative prayer and treatment DO work, all the time. Maybe it doesn’t always look like we thought it would but it does indeed work. Trust that your Board of Trustees truly opens, works within and completes each session focusing only on the highest and best outcome for us all.

Change is going to occur with or without your acceptance, in spite of you, because of you, for you, from you. Remember, you’ve been changing all your life. It’s not stopping now. You can choose to be positive and open where you’ll find it’s far easier to digest, guide and appreciate. Or not.

In closing, changes are not about stepping on anyone’s toes. It’s not about wanting to bypass individuals. It’s not about deliberately overlooking anyone. It IS about moving forward to see what’s available, what’s possible, what’s not being considered, what’s limiting, what’s another option. We must be willing to explore openly knowing final results will ONLY occur if it’s truly in the best and highest interest of our congregation.

So, knowing BIG CHANGE, that which we’ve experienced already and knowing that we will have MORE to come; as a spiritual community I look forward to us coming together without coming apart in the process.

I welcome the support I know we feel and share and will continue to show for each other.

Zach Saber
CSLT Board Member

A Few Words about the George Zimmerman Verdict

Back up from the media, whether it’s ABC or FOX or Facebook or whatever, and take a look from a bigger picture: Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Mourn the unnecessary & tragic death of any young person or adult, and then extend that mourning to any perceived injustice. Honor the life of anyone who is senselessly killed or treated unjustly by advancing and/or establishing the very ideals that were violated. Take whatever energy you feel, about the George Zimmerman verdict last Friday evening or the Marissa Alexander verdict of May 2012, and use them and other similar situations to educate, beginning wherever you are right now.

George Zimmerman is not a free man. He will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life. Zimmerman is far from free.

Keep in mind that two people died in Sanford, FL on February 26, 2012. And in a very real way, both deaths were a result of the race consciousness in which they lived. Every perpetuated thought, decision and belief contributes to this pool of consciousness, and this is something each of us can do something about.

We each can heal the racial barriers in our own minds and hearts and promote inclusion rather than separatism, beginning right now. We each can remember: When senselessness and injustice have no place to live, they cease to be.

Let’s remember The One Life, The One Light. Let’s let THAT Light shine brightly within and without. Let’s light up the darkness by infusing it with Light.

BlessingsBe,
Rev Donald

The Snowden Dilemma

The Snowden dilemma is not about Snowden but rather about us. It is about us because we may or may not have opinions about his disclosure that our government spies on us. Our response says more about us than it says about him. Here’s what I mean by this statement. If I choose to put Snowden in the “traitor” box, then I am saying to myself that I do not identify with the God Qualities that our philosophy claims is necessary for our being one with Spirit, an identification that leads to a vital, prosperous, healthy and happy life.

Hopefully, you know that some of the God qualities are Love, Light, Wholeness and Spirit.

I contend that these qualities are descriptive of the KINGDOM THAT IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. It is stated this way so that those of us who grew up in the Christian tradition would know where this is coming from. The greatest light bearer to date was rejected and nailed to a cross. Copernicus and Galileo were marginalized and threatened. Then there has Ellsberg, Assange and many others. Kingdoms of this world, both religious and political have persecuted them all.

On the other hand, if I choose to put Snowden in the “Light” box, then I am identifying with the God Qualities and not identifying with the appearance, body, form and conditions of the KINGDOMS OF EARTH. Snowden’s actions then indeed conform to the injunction that one is to let one’s light shine before men … and glorify the father which is in heaven. To glorify is the to identify with the qualities of the Father Which Is In Heaven. (Matt 5:16). What is the point? It is this. Who do you answer to? Or in contemporary verbiage, Who is your daddy? Bluntly stated, if you are identified with your patriotism, you are not identified with the God Qualities. Yes, this is where we get to choose between God and State, as they are not one and the same.

Since Light illumnates darkness, I must allow the Light to illuminate the darkness where ever it appears. Who are you choosing to glorify? Is it the kingoms of this world, with all of its appointed rulers, who are intent on keeping the people in darkness, or the kingdom of Light, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light (Mattt 11:30).

Isn’t living in choice fun?

Keith A. Gorley

A Tribute to my Dad

By Serena French

It didn’t matter whether you were in a suit and tie in your fancy office or in old clothes and BBQ apron grilling steaks in the backyard, you were my Superman.

You always encouraged me, no matter the task, to make the effort to do my best even if no one noticed because it would build character. So, whenever you told me you were proud of the way I conducted myself or handled a situation, it was like taking in a deep breath of fresh fragrant air. So sweet; I couldn’t get enough.

Whether I was in a school music concert or competing with my horse, I would always search for your face in the crowd and watch for your wink and nod. With that I committed myself to doing my best and, win or lose, in your eyes – I knew I couldn’t fail. It meant so much to me to have you there in my rooting section.

You taught me that some people haven’t had the same advantages, so to never forget that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. And I learned from you to be grateful for ALL the good that came my way. From your humble beginnings you became a self-made man with a dream of being a good husband, father and successful provider for your family. Even though no one helped you get to where you were, you never missed an opportunity to encourage others and do whatever you could to help them up the ladder or through hard times.

People loved being near you, to work for you or to be your friend, not because you were a “rock star”, but because you knew how to put people at ease. You were confident, but not arrogant. If you got something wrong, you were the first to laugh at yourself.

You said when I made mistakes, to admit it, take responsibility and do my best to make things right. Whether it was an apology, a do-over, or a negotiated compromise, you’d coach me on how to do that and said honesty was always the best policy. You told me to stand up for myself when I felt I’d been misunderstood, but to keep my cool and be respectful. Over the years, that advice has been the key for me in turning negative situations into more positive outcomes.

When I was a young adult, you also taught me when plans fell through and dreams got shattered, to remember I’d overcome and see a brighter day on the horizon. Yes, I’ve been literally and figuratively thrown from a horse and gotten right back on again, proving to myself I was not to be counted out – which created a little more confidence for the next crisis.

As a single parent, I often heard myself passing on your pearls of wisdom. Now, I’m a grandparent, and your words are still current and appropriate and being said by my daughter to her children. So, if you ever wonder if the world’s a better place because you were here; it absolutely is! And I will never let anyone forget what a wonderful man you were.

I really miss you Dad

Pray Unceasingly

By Jeanne Griffith

Last fall I realized that I was dissatisfied with my life – physical ailments and economic constraints while living in a small park model mobile home made me feel trapped. I started attending the learning circles on abundance and got the idea to sell the park model and go back to full time RV’ing. Economically that would free me for easier traveling and maybe allow me to save for a small retirement home when I eventually became “rooted.”

As time passed and the holidays arrived, my enthusiasm for change dampened. I was comfortable, and the real estate market for the Voyager RV resort where I was living was slow.

There were 96 models for sale! The very few that sold were going for peanuts. Did I really want to uproot my life?

I re-examined my situation and found that I had a good goal but fear and anxiety were undermining it. Trust and faith in the spiritual mind treatment and my Higher Power were called for. So I affirmed I would move forward. I would do those things I had control of and leave the rest to God. I painted, cleaned, organized and put the park model up for sale! It was old but lovingly maintained and “showed” well. The entire month of February I had only a few showings. I faithfully did my readings and meditations.

By mid March, I was getting uneasy. My affirmation had been to sell, but my time frame was just wishy-washy. I kept thinking I don’t have to sell. It’s ok if it doesn’t sell now. I sought guidance from Rev Donald who helped me focus my attention and offered support. One of the most helpful suggestions was: When I had doubts, and it looked like it wasn’t going to sell, to know that it was.

During this time friends and family kept asking, “Have you sold it yet?” “Have you had a showing?” I finally started answering, “I have a buyer. I just don’t know who it is yet.” Then I started doing things I would need to do once it sold, i.e. had maintenance performed on my RV, started collecting boxes for packing, found a storage facility explored options for mail forwarding, etc.

By the end of March I was getting nervous. Why had I changed my affirmed time frame for the 1st week in April? When such doubts crept in, I reaffirmed, repeating and
repeating until that was all that I could think. (Now I understand what it means to pray unceasingly).

On April 2 some relatives of my neighbors made an offer for my full asking price which I delightedly accepted! I must admit I was in a state of shock. Spiritual Mind Treatment and affirmation worked! It seemed miraculous. I had sold my park model but felt Spirit’s power and influence at the base. I felt so in awe and humbled. It made me feel incredibly grateful, and I reveled in this connection with God.

I have since closed on the park model and moved into my RV. I’m back on the road and
enjoying this new life and adventure.

What a great personal learning experience: God and I as a team, attaining my choices.

Contradicting Yourself

To contradict yourself is to grow.

In science, it is easy to change opinions because once you have new data you can throw out the old assumptions proven false. Where the opinion is tied to a judgement however, changing opinion is deemed wrong because there appears an unspoken assumption that your power of judgement may be poor if you have to go back on the choices you’ve previously made. That is, of course, nonsense, for to change your opinion based on new information or better understanding is to be honest with yourself and others, and it is the only way to grow.

If you never contradict yourself it is because you are either very wise and never make mistakes, or, more likely, that what you do say is not very important or is not precise enough to be of much value, perhaps partly due to the fear of having to retract your words at a later date should you dare to commit yourself to a strong opinion1. But clinging to a judgement for no better reason than the fear of appearing foolish or attracting the barks of critics is to paralyze yourself and degrade your active mind to a statement of beliefs carved in stone, never to be changed again.

________________________________________________________

1. It need not be said that the opposite of this, that is to always contradict oneself, is a sign that one either doesn’t value what they are saying or is a hypocrite who uses words to achieve selfish ends. This is not the sort of contradiction I’m talking about here.

– DMITRY FADEYEV

Let There Be Light

As I sat in Church April 15, 2012, listening to Rev. Donald Graves talk about our Center and Community visioning, a great, deep peace and feeling of well being swept over me. I’ve had this experience at times in the past and usually in this deepened state of consciousness – comes the Light. As I sat there listening, the Light appeared. First it seemed only around me and then it filled the auditorium. And I was overwhelmed by the Love and Oneness I was experiencing.

As Rev. Donald talked about filling out the information sheet all I could think was Light. Just Light, Light, Light. Then the knowing came that the right Church Home is out there just waiting for us to discover it. Also had the thought “Do not limit your search.”

And then I realized the Light was dissipating and fading. What an absolutely wonderful and beautiful experience for me. The feeling of deep peace stayed with me for the rest of the service. And I didn’t want to leave the auditorium. Have absolutely no idea what I wrote on the information sheet.

When I got home and walked into the apartment I realized how full of light it was and how happy I was to be here. Sat down in my chair and thanked Spirit for this wonderful, beautiful experience I was given that morning. I believe completely that “The Infinite is there, awaiting the touch of our awakened thought.” Life is good.

And then I cried because I was so very happy! What a special day.

~ Sandy Mallory ~

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