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 ~

I Love The Now

Every time I hear Jimmy Buffett sing “I Love the Now” I remember that I always live in choice. I, like everyone else, have the perpetual opportunity to live in this present moment, this right now, or to live in the past and operate as though the experience I am in the middle of right this minute is exactly the same as something that happened before. Its easy to relive a memory and say “this is the same as that” because our minds like to pigeonhole events, circumstances and occurrences. It’s easy to do that. Some would say it is even natural and appropriate. If you are trying to avoid getting eaten by a saber-toothed tiger, or stomped by a Brontosaurus, it makes some sense to remember how one set of circumstances seems very similar to a previous set of circumstances. In fact, even subconsciously translating or projecting from someone else’s story might save your life if you are operating in survival mode.

Our bodies react to our memories exactly as though they are actual real-in-the-moment events. There’s no difference. In the Spiritual Thought from this past Sunday, Ernest Holmes (from A New Design for Living, p. 130) says “In whatever aspect of living we desire a betterment – be it in respect to health, abundance, or happiness – we have to know that it is ours now. We establish the pattern now, we accept what it is now, we know that it is our experience now. There is no difference between thought and thing. There is no time element in Mind, nor need there be in out mind. Whatever good we desire must be accepted as the present reality of our experience. Only now can it exist.”

If I create a fear situation in my mind, my body acts fearful, releasing adrenaline and cortisol, and my body gets ready to fight, flee or freeze. Basic physiology again. The bad news, according to the physicians and psychologists who study such things is that this internalized fear state, which may have been created by something completely imaginary, causes an internal physical-chemical stress on the body, and has a long lag time before the body can even begin to come back to its own balance, equilibrium and well being.

What if “this is not that”? What if this apparently threatening situation isn’t really inherently threatening? What if the Universe is predominantly a safe place and that all the events in my present experience can be viewed from a positive and supportive perspective? This doesn’t mean I’m going to be stupid and step out in front of a bus to see what happens, but it can mean that I don’t automatically interpret a conversation, and impression, or a look as antagonistic from the start.

Feels like a happier way to live to me. How about you?

— Janis

Greetings Beloveds!

It is my hope that you and your families are in excellent health and finding more excuses for love and joy in life.

I am trusting that everyone will be forgiving of this mass communication, and hopefully pass onto others our brief update. Needless to say, it has taken me a while to be able to form the ideas of what this crazy experience has been like for us here in Abu Dhabi. A lot of processing going on. lol

It is hard to believe that I have nearly completed my 2-year teaching contract here. Prayer is an incredibly powerful tool, but one could have never expected it to be answered in the way it was–Wow! Not only has this opportunity provided for us financially, allowing Ryan the chance to work on his degree as well as availing us to travel to places that we NEVER would have thought that we’d visit, but it has been such incredible spiritual fodder. Living in a Muslim country has been such a tremendous experience for us, and we are ever so grateful for being able to experience Islam first hand. Prior to moving here, we, like many folks, thought that the Middle East was a place full of angry Muslims who were trying to impose their radical beliefs on others–I mean, that’s what the media tells us, night after night, right?? — everyone is Taliban and women are silenced and imprisoned by Islam. Whoa, so NOT true!! As Donald has said on more than one occasion, the news reports on the “exception” and not the “rule”. I don’t think I could possibly articulate the Peace and Love that I experience here, as people are so friendly, so hospitable, and so respectful. They don’t gossip, but laugh at their petty complaints and shrink from confrontation. It’s almost the complete opposite of the Western paradigm, which has probably been the hardest part of coping with this culture here–accepting that I have a lot of areas to improve on. lol Naturally, living in this environment has impacted my consciousness greatly, and I often wonder in awe what prayer I made to create this wonderful experience.

I just want to share a couple of Arabic words that are sprinkled into nearly every sentence here, and are so attuned with New Thought/SOM teachings, that have had a profound impact on me.

  • In’shallah: directly translated, it means “God willing”. It is almost synonymous with the word, YES, and it implies a promise, a trusting, a knowing that something is going to happen. Whenever something in the future is described, “In’shallah” ends the sentence. When someone asks you to do something, this is your response. Even though this expression seems commonplace, I don’t know if I can really articulate what a powerful word this is. It has personally reminded me that every intention is prayer that Spirit is eager to manifest; and it is not an “if….” but a matter of “when…” So I love hearing that “God is willing” to do something for me when I make a request.
  • Alhumdiallah: This means, “Give thanks to God”, and is the response you give when someone asks you ” How are you? — How’s it going?”– Whoa! — isn’t that interesting? I love when someone asks me this question, because it gives me a moment to pause and feel grateful for this body and this life that I have. I think, “Yea, thanks to God, I am here, having this breath and sharing this moment with you. Pretty cool.”
  • Asamalakum: This is what you say when you want to say “hi” to someone, and it means “The Peace of Allah Be Upon You”. How cool is that? I remember when I went to Catholic mass, the part of the service where everyone shakes hands and says “Peace” to each other used to be my favorite time. But now I get to do it ALL the time! It is wonderful to be in the awareness that you are offering Peace to people you meet, recognizing that the Spirit of Life is “upon them”. I think this is my absolute favorite Arabic expression because of this.

As you might imagine, we are in no hurry to leave the “sandbox”, our amusing term for the UAE. We are content to stay at least another year, or at least until Ryan completes his degree–In’shallah! lol However, we hope to see many of you when we come to visit this summer in August. We may only be able to come to one Sunday service because of our schedule, but we feel hopeful that we might be able to meet up some other time to officially catch up. Know in the meanwhile that you are always in our prayers and thoughts, and that we love you very much.

May you continue to enjoy your journey into your Divine enfoldment, as I know you are a blessing and a joy to this world. We look forward to seeing you soon!

— Judy Imamudeen

Breakthrough!

Today I sat quietly, closed my eyes and ventured into a bold inward quest to understand why I hadn’t been able to manifest my goals. As the process evolved, it became obvious; I was responsible. I guess I’d always known that, but hadn’t wanted to deal with it!

Under a microscope, I saw evidence of a substantial build-up of resentment in my life. Beginning in childhood, and continuing throughout my life, I had accumulated quite a load of anger and hurt feelings. I tried to forget them, but truthfully, they were old familiar “companions”. I hadn’t figured out how to let them go, forgive and move on. I felt “entitled” to feel “wronged” by those mean-spirited people and regretful events that had impacted my life so negatively. I hadn’t seen it as any of MY doing; I had been the victim, here!

Oops! Had I thought of myself as a victim? That would mean I had no control over what happened to me. That really touched a nerve! If I am responsible in my life, what was I thinking – giving someone or anything power over me? I started getting angry again, only NOW I was mad at MYSELF!! (I had to take a few deep breaths to calm down.) If I am undermining my own progress of manifesting, because of resentments I can’t forget, how do I wipe the slate clean and move on?

Carrying around all those resentments tainted every new relationship or situation. I also saw that it hadn’t just been anger I’d been carrying around; I’d also been harboring FEAR that I could potentially fall prey to some of those old familiar scenarios in my life again in a present day experience. Because of this, I’d been denying myself the simple privilege of enjoying the “now” – a new, previously unknown, unblemished moment in time.

I’d always believed myself to be intelligent and evolving spiritually, but I hadn’t been very happy or content. So, obviously, I needed to make better CHOICES. First, I made the choice to forgive myself, because I realized I couldn’t imagine continuing in life without forgiveness for the many blunders I’d caused, all on my own, in my life. Next, I chose to forgive everyone else whoever hurt me, knowing I couldn’t ask anyone else to be infallible when I’m so obviously imperfect. Thirdly, I chose to change the classification of “Resentments” to “Lessons Learned”. New slogan: Better choices yield better results. This stuff works! I felt so much lighter already!

At the end of this inward quest, I felt so liberated and free! As I opened my eyes, I understood that what had blocked my manifestation had been my death-grip on my old RESENTMENTS! Forgiveness took them away in a flash! Amazing! What a productive use of my time!

– Serina French

Janelle

by Carolyn Crawford

The first time I met Janelle she was kicking in the door of her beat up old car which wouldn’t start. She was all of 19 years old and fresh out of prison. I suggested if she wanted to sell the car she should keep it in the best shape possible. She agreed and let go of her anger for a moment.

We became fast friends or perhaps a better description would have been big sister, little sister. She couldn’t hold a job because of her anger. Her mother was a weak woman, an alcoholic and incapable of being any help. Janelle was a reformed tweeker. Drugs had been the only way she could get along with herself. I helped her get a new car and an apartment on her own. I got her work training as a ballroom dance teacher and she was brilliant. She learned patterns easily but when it came time to work with new students, her immaturity got her fired. She didn’t have the language skills or the patience. She opted to become a stripper which of course led to bad company and drugs again. So she decided to move to Texas to live with her fundamental religionist father who had strict rules which she couldn’t follow- not surprising. She ran away, ending up with a boyfriend in Florida and got pregnant.

She returned to Tucson to have the baby and gave it up for adoption as she couldn’t take care of herself- let alone a child. She now ekes out a living doing office work for my ex-husband. She is however growing up. Her spirit has been crushed but a new love is reviving her. We talk now and then. I give her books to read slowly leading her to a new thought perspective.

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are the tasting the taste this minute of eternity
We are the pain and what cures the pain
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours

– Jalaluddin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can…

We each remember the story of The Little Engine That Could, that we first read as children and then some of us read it to our children (and some even grandchildren) with the not-so-very hidden message that no matter what the obstacle, if I think I can overcome it then I will put my muscle and mind into it and I will succeed. We tell ourselves and our children this story, and it is a true story.

Holmes tells us this again and again. It is one of the main operating principles in the Science of Mind. “Law of Life is a law of thought — an activity of consciousness — the Power flows through us. The Spirit can do for us only what it can do through us. Unless we are able to provide the consciousness, It cannot make the gift. The Power behind all things is without limit, but in working for us it must work through us.” (SOM 141.2)

The way I read these words, and ponder that dear old childhood story is that I recognize that I choose what and how I wish to experience my life. We all do, whether we know it or not.

Patanjali said, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

I’m going for an ever yet greater, more expanding, joy-filled life … and I ‘think’ I can. How about you?

–Janis

Graves’ First Law: “Use It All”

Driving home after potluck today and pondering all I had heard during services this morning, I reflected on a comment that Rev Donald made during his talk. Graves First Law: Use It All. That would have to include the good, the bad and the very ugly. The good is pretty easy, unless you are like my stepdad who doesn’t think he deserves a fabulous life. He does, but he has to own that realization, and since he doesn’t, it is done unto him as he believes and his life is less than wonderful.

The bad and the ugly take a bit more work. So let’s see what I can do with this. The other morning I woke up with an intensely sharp pain in both my right wrist and my right ankle and I knew I hadn’t done anything particularly physical that would have created that specific effect, so I got really quiet and asked the question “What’s this about?” The almost instantaneous response was that I was feeling severely limited in my movement and my choices. That’s what was manifesting in my physiology. Once I named and owned the feeling, the physical sensations disappeared within moments and have not returned. It didn’t have to be a big, gut-wrenching deal; it was as simple as a change of heart-mind. If there’s no baggage or history that needs to be shifted or cleared (that has more stamina than the present awareness), then it really can be that simple.

What about the very ugly? What about someone misrepresenting me and disrespecting me to others? That’s pretty ugly. And it happens. What then? Well, obviously to tell the truth and clear the air, cleaning up the mess as best I can without thrashing or trashing the other, because that doesn’t serve either. But then what? Forgiveness? Oh, that. If I carry around and magnify a hurt, then I’m the one hurting myself. The other isn’t hurting me, though they must be hurting pretty bad to do and say those things about me. To forgive another who seems to have wronged me can take a good bit more prayer and journaling work on my part, because there’s a part of me that would like to have a gigantic pity-party and play victim. The Adult of God in me, as me, knows that I’m never a victim. I’ve chosen to participate in this game for some unknown reason and I may never know exactly why. And that doesn’t matter either.

Taking the very ugly further, Rev Donald clarified his First Law by adding, “It’s all there for our good, so use it. It’s either there for our awakening, or for our joy.” Rev Donald suggests another possibility: “Look for the gift in it.” Finding the gift in misrepresentation and/or disrespect takes me even deeper, to see what I’m calling to myself, furthering my journey along my path of awakening and expansion. Maybe it’s to recognize that I have an old belief that I need to be punished. Perhaps I just need to further clarify my boundaries in my interactions with others.

That’s my take on the idea. What’s yours?

— Janis

Janet and Jeanie

My sister Janet died in the middle of February. On the day she died, I opened to this poem by St. John of the Cross from the book, Love Poems From God:

My soul is a candle that burned away the veil;

Only the glorious duties of light I now have.

The sufferings I knew initiated me into God.

I am a holy confessor for men.

When I see their tears running across their cheeks and falling into His hands,

What can I say to their great sorrow that I too have known.

The soul is a candle that will burn away the darkness,

Only the glorious duties of love we will have.

The sufferings I knew initiated me into God.

Only His glorious cares I now have. (p. 305)

In the last days of her life, Janet was in a tremendous amount of pain as her bones disintegrated from bone cancer. With any movement, she would moan in pain. From brain cancer and the morphine, she really wasn’t able to talk much, and not like before. As I was with her, I would sometimes think, “Oh my gawd. I want to do all the inner and outer work and the healing and growing that I need to in order not to end up dying the way she is.” The beautiful thing about it was that she knew these stages were coming, and as Rumi says, she allowed herself to die before she died. She contacted everyone that she knew and cleaned up any lingering unfinished business or wounds. We didn’t have much to clean up and I always I felt so treasured. She saw the best in me, the beauty of my inner bring, and she forgave the rest or else gave it no energy. Ultimately, she did that for everyone.

I think that through this very powerful experience, Janet burned away huge amounts of karma and illusion. When I attune to her now, I see her in mists of golden and white light as she prays for her family, her loved ones, and all of humanity. She surrendered deeply to Love, dying to her old sense of separation, and she is now reborn into an awareness of what Rev. Donald said in his prayer on Sunday, “I now know that all is Love.”

With her death and transition, something new was born in me as well. It is a deep desire and commitment to love and to see the highest good in everyone; to forgive, so that I can be free to let Love Itself flow through me in the way that my sister Janet learned to do. She truly took a “Leap into Love,” surrendering everything, and as a result, experienced who she really is and Life Itself. For her modeling of that to me, I am deeply grateful. I just hope to do it without going through what she did, but instead, clean up and transform my life every time I remember to remember that it is all Love. In that way, I hope to take on “the glorious duties of Love” that St. John of the Cross wrote about in his poem. I want to do it by choice, without being faced with a terminal illness as she was.

It is not easy to even contemplate, but through her, I can experience the glorious end result. For this parting gift, I give my deepest thanks.

– Jeanie Underwood

I Am Love

I am Love. Will you let me in?

To have me in your heart is to receive an essential element of life. Just as your lungs need air – you need Love.

I am Love and I’m not blind. I love you as you are today, unconditionally – a precious soul in a perfect life. I am God’s gift to you. Accept and trust me and allow yourself to take me in without fear that I will leave.

I make life worth living and inspire you to reach out and perpetuate the eternal connection with others so you all shine like candles in the darkness of doubt, fear, loneliness and uncertainty.

To express your unselfish best unites and transforms lack and limitation into all possibilities – ever growing, ever rising – miraculously new in every moment. This is Love.

Love is the key that opens channels blocked with resentments. It brings the fences down and opens ways to see anew without boundaries. Love grants wishes for forgiveness and makes dreams of a better tomorrow come true.

Can you stand and sing of beauty, filling empty spaces with your own vibration? This is Love.

Imagine what it would be like to see only the best in everything. Without judging, analyzing, and defining people, places, situations and things as positive and negative, simply make the decision to lift the things you do not understand about yourself and others up for the Sacred explanation, for it expresses solutions through Love.

Notice and feel the numerous moments in your day when I lift your spirits, your thoughts and your gait with kind and encouraging words and random acts you perceive as miraculous strokes of good luck.

I am Love and I am never wasted. I am never offered with limits and conditions. If care is given selfishly, I’m not there.

You cannot hear a child’s laughter without me being there. I bring the sound of angels singing to the tune of child’s prayer, for I am Love.

I reside in the unprotected layers within your heart, stirring emotions you thought were hidden under all your masks and shields. Even if you hurt, I am there.

My essence will shine brightly through your soul in every unselfish moment and tender expression of kindness. When you show Love, the angels dance to the rhythm of your heart and blessings abound.

So, Beautiful Child of God that you are, make this your quest – to express unconditional love and grant forgiveness; to live humbly with gratitude and joy in your heart; and graciously accept the gift of God’s rich blessings.

I am Love, God is Love and so are you!

– Serina French

Being in Peace

Today’s posting was written by a friend of mine, who captured a sentiment I desire for us all. Enjoy! And be in Peace…Rev Donald

I had an experience this week that was both remarkable and rare, at least for me.

I was at peace.

I was driving around the town where I live, a place I have grown to love as if it were another member of my family, my window was down and the bright sun was shining on my arm, and I thought to myself, that I had nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to achieve, no unmet dragons to slay or damsels to save, and for that moment and several moments after, I was at peace.

Now I know that peace is a difficult state of mind to cultivate. God knows I’ve tried my whole life either to find it, or keep it when it comes. But here it was, almost the antithesis of my personal mission, which is to do something remarkable with my life; to attain the impossible, and win the prize at the end.

And so I began to look into what allowed these few moments of peace. And this is what I found:

Peace is who I am – I am not the gerbil on the treadmill. I am free.

Peace is not a destination – It doesn’t come because you’ve been good, or because you’ve finally arrived. It comes with the realization that letting go is more fun than holding on.

Peace comes when you stop looking for it – You can look all you want, but eventually you come back to the moment you’re in, and the sheer joy of being alive and aware of it.

Peace is not a weapon, a political ideology, or a reason to leave – There are some things in life that are just fine as they are, with no need to label, change, or improve them. Peace is like that.

Peace is available when wanting ends – Nothing needs to be added or taken away, for me to be happy and at peace, right now.

If peace is the light that enters the room of my mind, then that room is brighter today. I can see more opportunities when I look out my windows, and I’m more willing to risk, that it might disappear, or even be greater than I ever imagined it could be.

My wish for you is to be at peace.

– Michael Davis

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