You Can’t Give Others What You Don’t Have

Saturday, I woke up feeling very humanly grumpy, no divinity in sight (or in my mindset). I know for me, meditation makes my “mind right” (reference to Cool Hand Luke movie). I lay down and was quickly joined by BuBu (pronounced Boo Boo, my cat). When I closed my eyes to aid my focus, there was a very old “friend” of mine – loneliness. I was missing people. I work from home, so my home has me, and BuBu.

I decided to call a dear friend that I owed a phone call. (I have 3 friends that live elsewhere in the US that I talk to by phone 4 times a year, the Equinoxes and Solstices). Since Spring Equinox happened last week, I needed to call. It was a great call to a dear friend that lives in San Francisco that I have known since I was a teenager. She and I have the Renaissance Faire connection, that’s where we met. It was great to talk with her, as the Bay Area is one of the places I call home. Anyhow, after the call, I felt the loneliness even more so!

In a split second I made a decision. After recognizing that my body felt tired and some aches and pains, I decided not to spend my Saturday wallowing in the ocean depths of loneliness and thinking about the past pulling me into a depressive funk for the day – no not on what I call Sacred Saturday! It is a fun day where Shelly gets to play! Even though my body was arguing for me to just feel sorry for myself, I turned on a brand new guided mediation under the subject of “Happiness” on my Insight Timer app. When I started focusing on my breath as I was instructed to do from the guided mediation, I reminded myself that it was Sacred Saturday and it was time for fun!

During this particular guided meditation it talked about smiling and I don’t even remember how it happened but I got out of my own way and at the end of the guided meditation I was smiling and Peace was in me! After the guided meditation was over, I said a treatment with the intention of keeping the peace within and happiness filling my here and now always and in all ways.

Later in the day, I was driving around town and there was an elderly man with an old Rottweiler dog with him standing on the intersection median panhandling. As soon as I saw him I broke out in a smile and tears went down my face! I remembered the $5 I keep in my car for emergencies. There was lots of traffic but my heart was overflowing with joy to give this man the $5. This kind of thing has never happened to me before. Yes, my heart has overflowed with love for dogs, but this joy and compassionate love was for the man! I quickly rolled down my window and gave him the $5. He quickly said “God Bless You! I am a preacher!” I just smiled. My heart felt ablaze of energy! That heart chakra was wide open!!!!

I cried happy tears home and felt very happy inside like an explosion of glitter twinkling all around me!

Sunday. Sundays I don’t wake up to an electronic alarm. I have a different alarm named BuBu. Despite having blackout curtains, she knows when it’s 6 am (that’s sleeping in because on weekdays/workdays I get up at 5 am.) I’m up early to do my laundry because it is usually quiet in the apartment complex’s laundry room and no one else is there. This was not so true this morning.

Inside the laundry room there was a fellow with a dog. He was struggling to put his laundry into a washer. Kona, his dog, found me very interesting. I noticed the fellow was having difficulty putting his laundry in the machine while hold onto the dog’s leash. I offered to hold the leash. The fellow agreed. So Kona and I had a few moments of happy interaction and I did my usual “good girl” talk to her. The fellow started chatting with me about his plans for the day as I put my laundry in the dryers. He thanked me for taking care of Kona and I said no worries. As I came out the same fellow was there filling up his water jugs at the filtered water machine. I can’t remember how it started but what stayed with me as I write this is that he talked about being tired of caring and taking care of others and he is now taking care of himself! I responded with “You can’t give others what you don’t have.” The fellow stopped and looked at me shaking his head in total agreement! At that moment I had a big “hit” of feeling of connected to this fellow and being thoroughly awake vibrating with energy! I’d never seen him before this morning. He introduced himself and I told him my name. We waved goodbye to each other. I felt so good inside!

I made a difference in that moment and I knew it on a level I haven’t felt in a while! This wasn’t romance or anything like that. It was just full present knowing what I said made a HUGE impact on the fellow! In my mind, I connect the dots that all this good happened because I made the decision to not let my aches and pains and loneliness win!

Here’s to more EXTRAORDINARY moments of awareness! YESSS!!!

–Shelly Dunn

Retreat

Last year I started taking day trips to Mount Lemmon, to walk, read and study for Spiritual
Practitioner class. I found a spot tucked away from the “crowds” where I could mostly be by myself. I think of these times as my date with God. On the first trip up the mountain there was a service truck with the bumper sticker, “The one source for all your… needs.” I smiled, yes, there is One Source for all of my needs. And I know had I been with another human being, I might have missed that bumper sticker.

I had recently retired and was starting Spiritual Practitioner training, and looking for a new symbol for this next section of my life. On my first trip I saw turkeys. And I was a little put off by having a turkey as a symbol, thinking of people getting called “turkey” and it not being such a positive thing. However, when I got home, I learned turkeys are a symbol of “sacred service.” And indeed, this new adventure does feel very connected to sacred service.

I have just finished my second semester of Spiritual Practitioner Studies. It was a difficult term for me, reconciling different issues. During this term I also didn’t have my dates on the mountain with God. I am someone who feels the Presence of God when the breeze caresses my face, when I drink in the scent of the pines, when the birds sing, when I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.

I needed to spend time alone with God. I felt a giddiness inside that felt extra ordinary when I noticed a bumper sticker “God went to art school.” Yes, I have always felt nature was God’s coloring book, the beauty of nature, the metaphors of the natural world speak to me. During this day on the mountain, I decided to go on a retreat on the mountain for a couple of days.

I made accommodations for a couple of nights on Mount Lemmon. A few days later the weather forecast was for snow during my trip. I made it to the top of the mountain and just as predicted snow started falling and falling. The next morning there was an inch or two on the ground and more snow was still gently falling. I went for a walk and felt I had the mountain top to myself. It was so quiet I heard the snow land on my coat. I was in awe and joy and deep gratitude for this experience. In the distance I heard turkeys calling.

It was easy to make the accommodations for the retreat, but somehow I feel God put the “treat” in the retreat.

And my prayer of gratitude for this experience comes from a song by John Denver…

 

You fill up my senses.
Like a night in a forest
Like a mountain in springtime                                                                                      Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert                                                                                           Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again

 

 

–Maria

It’s Been A Year…

And what a year it has been. When Marya asked for someone else to cover her board article this rotation (because she’s in the middle of tax season), I said I’d take it. It was only after the fact that I realized we are at our one year anniversary of being virtual for all things. What a perfect time for a little reflection on where we have been, and what we have accomplished in a time period with so much uncertainty flying around us.

I began by looking at the pandemics of history. Most lasted at least two years, and some last decades. In our present era, I think because of our interconnectedness, and the intensity with which information sharing has happened in scientific communities, we have a potential or partial solution to this worldwide experience in less than two years. Most impressive.

Religious Scientists (of which I am one, and most of us are) claim that physical experiences do not create our reality, unless we allow them to. I also know that unless someone has a highly trained consciousness, they are strongly biased toward reacting in default, or ‘common hour’, thinking. While I do not see the coronavirus as harmful to me, I do know that many people do. Some have had the experience of the virus, some have gotten seriously ill. Many have died. In the Christian Bible, Paul wrote to the church at Rome (Romans 14), cautioning them not to intentionally do things that they knew would cause ‘their brother’ to stumble, or act in sinful (harmful, hurtful) ways. Master Teacher Jesus also reminded his listeners, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). In my regard for consciousness of the whole, I continue to practice safe distancing, wear a facemask in public spaces, and maintain better-than-my-usual hand hygiene.

Today, I want to write about the benefits that I can presently see that have developed or evolved from our experience during this most unusual year:

  • We’ve been online on Sundays for an entire year. We’ve talked about having a true video presence for almost as long as I’ve been part of this Center, but have never actually had a compelling reason to do it. Now we’re beginning to think about how to continue this inclusive activity when we return to having in-person services.
  • We’ve attracted, and gotten to know, some really cool people from outside of Tucson, too. Our winter visitors have been able to remain active participants even if they have gone elsewhere for part of the year.
  • We’ve discovered the joy of being able to have and take classes without having to drive at night, or limit our participation to only those people who live in Tucson. We’ve had guest facilitators from other CSLs in classes, and there’s more of this shared learning coming. We’ve also had students from other Centers join us for classes.
  • Morning practice has been going continuously, daily (except Sundays) for over a year. Attendance fluctuates, as participants have other things they prefer, or need, to do. Morning practice has provided a source of individual connection and community for folks from all over North America.
  • We’ve discovered that the zoom squares don’t actually inhibit deeply shared personal, inter-personal and community experience, unless we decide they do.
  • Since we’ve been completely online we’ve been able to hear from speakers and musicians who would normally be unavailable by time, distance or our budget. Robin Hackett joined us from her living room in Evergreen Colorado this past Sunday. Faith Rivera will join us from her home in Hawai’I in late April. Jan Garrett & JD Martin join us live in early May, and Gary Lynn Floyd in mid-June. Life is good.It is done to us as we believe. Our opportunity, as Religious Scientists, is to consciously observe our own erroneous default thinking and upgrade it with a new level of default thinking that supports the life we want individually and collectively. This past year has either the worst possible thing that could have happened to us, or the best year ever (yet). We get to choose.

–Rev Janis

Work-Around(s) for Feeling Unworthy?

In many belief systems or teachings, the one who delivers the message or facilitates the healing isn’t as important as the message, or the healing. In many of the native cultures, the speaker or healer often describes themselves as a hollow bone or a hollow tube, and offers their gift with as little of their own personal spin as possible, and takes virtually no credit.

In one of last week’s daily practices (Guidance for a Spiritual Journey), Dr. Daniel Lee Morgan wrote about the inter-connectedness of life. We are part of God’s self-expression. God sings a song, and that song is us. We are the song of the Divine Singer, and celestial harmony is our nature.

Participating in that morning’s daily practice, Gregg Molzon interpreted Dr. Daniel’s words in his own unique voice, The Divine Singer performs its solo, the magical notes and vocals carry outwards throughout the Cosmos at warp speed, creating individualized souls to join together in unison.

One of the challenges of spiritual maturity is honoring and exploring that continuously moving and ever-shifting balance ‘point’ between feeling like a hollow bone which is individually unimportant, and recognizing because we are each, and all, ‘part of God’s self-expression’ we do individually matter and have worth. How do we do that?

How do we see ourselves as intrinsically worthy as we are, flaws and all, and not just how we look, or because we serve some function, while at the same time not seeing ourselves as more special, or more valuable, than the next person?

Emma Curtis Hopkins (Scientific Christian Mental Practice, p 96) offers us some clues. “I do believe that my God is now working with me, through me, and by me to make me omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. I have faith in God. I have the faith of God.”

One of the constant practices that Emma strongly encouraged was to speak out loud what was true for you, and to admit, acknowledge and truly embody and know it. Many of the students in the “Exploring the Roots of the Science of Mind” class took on the practice of repeating this affirmation for a week. Two things happened for many of the individuals who honestly engaged in this practice, and certainly happened for me, were that the words of this affirmation shifted and morphed over the week, and I began to experience what it would feel like for a human to ‘grok’, and experience, the three omni’s.

I want to dig into these two ideas a little more.

How did the words of Emma’s affirmation shift (for me)? Here’s what the affirmation became for me as I worked with it over the week. “I do believe (declare/claim/recognize/know) that my God now works with me, through me, (as me) and by me … to make me (aware that I am already) omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. I have faith in God. I have the faith of God.”

Just breathing into those words and repeating them hundreds of times over the course of a week, I recognized I felt/feel more powerful (to accomplish my goals and intentions, not power over anyone else, or even anything else, empowered by the Divine operating in me, and as me), more grounded and centered in my beingness (rather than centered in my doingness or my accomplishments). I also feel like I have greater comprehension and understanding of what I think, how I think, and to a greater degree, why I think what I do. This gives me a window into seeing the situations and times where I have believed common hour, or default, thinking was the Truth (and it seldom is), and being able to see myself more clearly (as God sees me) and a window into seeing other people as God sees them.

Pretty cool, huh? More to be revealed, I’m sure. Yes, I’m continuing to practice this practice. I like what I’m seeing, and feeling, as a more conscious, participating, and empowered ‘part of God’s self-expression’. The Divine sings its song through me. I love the song I’m part of, and I sing my part in the celestial harmony.

–Rev Janis

Help! I Broke My Internet!

We were in the middle of morning practice. I had spoken about feeling challenged by the necessity of showing up every single day to make sure we had the forum, and the structure, for morning practice. I had asked those in attendance to consider being the responsible person for hosting and/or leading the practice, once a week or so, on a regular basis. I did get a volunteer, sort of, and a suggestion they could all perhaps take turns leading the practice.

My internet connection, which normally is as solid as the rock of Gibraltar, began behaving unevenly. Someone else spoke about feeling challenged by technology, and unable to ‘get it to work right’, no matter what they did.

That day’s reading, from 365 Days of Richer Living, reminded us to give thanks for the blessings of the Divine in our lives. “…blessing what we have, recognizing that it flows from a limitless resource…” and reminding us “we are merely using it and distributing it. There is always more. The limitless resources of Spirit are at our command.”

During the silent meditation portion of the practice, my internet quit. Completely. The little icon that showed how good my connection was, said my connection was solidly there, but it wasn’t. Zoom couldn’t connect. My web browser couldn’t connect. Dropbox kept trying to sync. I rebooted my computer. Nothing helped. Finally I accessed a little sliver of connection (I don’t exactly know how), enough to touch base with my internet provider, who reported a system-wide outage, that should be back up … in three or four hours.

It wasn’t lost on me (for more than a minute) that I was fully ensconced in the mental model of ‘this doesn’t work for me.’ It also wasn’t lost on me that the “Foundations” class was discussing how we talk to ourselves, and the reminder that the Universe must return to us evidence of how we think, and how we talk to ourselves. It doesn’t matter whether we know about this rule of ‘as within, so without’ (or ‘as we think, so it is for us’), or not. The Universe is not being mean, harsh or cruel by showing us what we are thinking. It simply demonstrates something that works automatically, impersonally, implicitly, all the time, for everyone.

When we have the awareness that this law operates, and must operate, we have the option of choosing to use it for our benefit. This does not means we don’t ask for what we want, but we get to pay attention to how we are thinking about what we want or need. If we are coming from any place of lack, like I was this morning, then what we must get back is an experience of lack.

Something shifts internally, when I remember (again) that the experiences of my life show me my thoughts. It’s not that anyone or anything is against me, except possibly myself, and my old stories that I haven’t (apparently) quite shed yet. Remembering I have more control of my mind, and my thinking, than I do of anything else, I can always choose again.

Here’s to greater, and more consistent, awareness!

 

–Rev Janis

To Living a More Compassionate Life

Do you have a desire to expand your own self-awareness and understanding of “other people” who seem opposed to living a peaceful, God-centered life that is in harmony with “all that presently is”?

We don’t always see things as they are; we do always see things as WE are. We see the things we want to see … including all the things that confirm our assumptions and our preferred way of looking at the world. And yes, that includes me!

Here is the good news. There’s a 12-week book discussion group and class starting Friday March 19th on an amazing book by Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, facilitated by Keith Gorley, on zoom.

The Twelve Compassionate Steps begins with a wish for a better world, learning what compassion really is, taking a look at our own world, including compassion for yourself, empathy, mindfulness, taking action, realizing how little we really truly know, how to spread to one another concern for all people, knowledge of reality, recognition, and how to love your perceived enemies.

It’s a big drink, but really worth any effort you put into it.

I had the privilege of participating in the first class that Keith led on this life-enhancing book that opened my eyes and heart to looking at the world and others in a new way. I could begin to see how others might perceive a situation, and/or react to circumstances of life that are constantly changing.

I spent most of last night looking at my notes from the class several years ago and realized how easy it is for me to fall back into complacent, reptilian thinking and forget that I am living in God’s grace and bounty all the time, even when I can’t see it or acknowledge it.

I want to be open minded and open hearted to all possibility and continue to expand my understanding of what compassion really is, so I am willing to practice, practice, practice.

Treat yourselves to this heart-felt opportunity to grow.

–Namaste, Janie Hooper

P.S. Anyone who would like to participate in this book discussion group, has access to a device (computer, I-Pad, smartphone…) with a camera and a microphone and doesn’t feel comfortable on zoom, please let the office know that, and someone will be delighted to help you expand your skill set in that area too!

Got Shot?

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” –Ernest Holmes

What role do you play in making yourself sick? As easy as we unconsciously speak sickness into our lives, we can also speak good health into our lives. What sickness have others helped you to create just by the words they speak to you? What conversations are you having?

(My) Keith returned home after receiving his second shot (vaccination), sat down and sighed.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“9 out of 10 will get sick tomorrow.” He was unconsciously preparing himself to be sick. By already preparing his mind to welcome in the sickness, the seed was already planted.

“They told you that?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Yes, they’re telling everybody that. They want everybody to be informed!” He was unconsciously affirming he will be sick tomorrow.

I was in disbelief. I imagined all the sick people tomorrow. I thought to myself, how can I change his thought on this? I don’t want him sick.

“Remember Keith, YOU ARE A 10!”

I said it a couple times and he got it. He didn’t get sick.

“It is done to you as you believe.”
— Ernest Holmes

Letters, Words, Thoughts, & Discussions

The sun is a shining, radiant being, and that is the meaning of the word sun when we are said to be the sons of God. In our sonship to God we are truly radiant with the light of the father.     — H. B. Jeffrey, The Principles of Healing 10.2

Letters are so important, the simple change from “o” to “u”, from “son” to “sun,” to be a radiant being of God, which includes all of us. Words are so important, the change from “the” to “a.” Yes, I can be “a” radiant being of God, a light of God, not “the” light of God, for we all have the potential to be a light. I love playing with the multiple meanings of words, such as to be a light and to be light. Light is not only to radiant energy, but also not heavy, to not be burdened, or limited.

The word “scared” becomes “sacred” by switching the order of the “a” and “c”. It is a subtle shift in letters and larger shift in life. Understanding that there “is a Power of Good in the Universe, greater than I, and I can use it” has allowed me to reduce my fears and doubts. I am reminded every Sunday:

Wherever we are, we are in sacred space. Each individual IS a unique expression of The One Life. That Life is God’s Life, That Life is Perfect, That Life is Our Life Now.

I edit some passages in my readings by changing the “you,” “him” into “I” and “my.” I think Dr. Holmes wouldn’t mind. He would want me to embody the teachings. The difference between “The light he throws on others is generated in his own soul” and “The light I throw on others is generated in my own soul” (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 281.4) makes me personally engaged and responsible.

Then there is the task of putting the letters into words, and the words into thoughts, and ideas. I feel blessed to have found Science of Mind, and a community which believes in living affirmatively, lifts my spirit and fuels my light.

Most importantly is understanding the thoughts and ideas that lift our lives. Recently, I took a discussion class on Emerson with Keith Gorley. It was wonderful to go over the writings which influenced Holmes, and apply them to my life. The discussions were deep and rich. If you haven’t taken a class from Keith, I highly recommend it.

–Maria

Tommy T is the Answer

The Roots class I am taking has been wonderful. I am actually surprised. I did not expect the authors we were reading to provide the stimulation and excitement that I have experienced in the class. I mean, actually, the word Roots made me think of something old and dusty and messy.

Surprise!

First, we read Emerson. I had, of course, heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson but had never read any of his work. Old, right? Do you remember how difficult it was to read the Science of Mind when you took the Foundations class? It made my head explode when I started. So circuitous and verbose. That was my experience reading Emerson. We read four articles and each article became easier to read and to understand. Some of the people in the class looked up words and references they did not understand. I do not have the time available to do that. I read for understanding and for glimmers of understanding. And I found them. Emerson believed in Unity, not dualism. Reading his words describing the crime of dualism made my heart sing.

Now we are reading Thomas Troward. Tommy T, as Reverend Janis calls him, was a retired judge. His writing is very systematic and logical. But his thoughts and his conclusions are spectacular. I do not know if his logic would survive a peer-reviewed publication at the U of AZ unless the peer reviewers were metaphysicians. His thoughts definitely encompass metaphysical ideas. “If we conceive of anything as entirely devoid of the element of extension of space, it must be present in its entire totality anywhere and everywhere – that is to say, at every point of space simultaneously.” (The Edinburgh and Dore Lectures, Essay on ‘Spirit & Matter’, page 5, paragraph 1). Judge Troward has changed my understanding of the Divine Spirit in that Its entire presence is complete at every space. I am not articulating this idea as well as I wish I could but after reading this book, I feel more confident in my understanding of the Spirit and of Law. It also helps to have a definitive text in addition to Ernest Holmes wondrous writings. I have received so much more than I expected from this class.

Why is Tommy T. the answer? This Saturday, Chris and my two daughters were to go to Flagstaff to go skiing. Nicole, whom many of you know, arrived Saturday night with only one dog in her car. Teddy had disappeared on the drive from her house to our house. We searched both neighborhoods to no avail. Nicole stayed home Saturday night and Chris and Aimee headed up to Flagstaff and to Snowbowl to ski, arriving at 2:30am! They were able to ski Sunday. Nicole found Teddy on Sunday morning on TucsonLostandFoundAnimals.org at a home in my neighborhood. He somehow snuck out of the car when she stopped to answer her cell phone. According to his rescuer, he ran up to her door and barked. When she opened the door, he ran right in, making himself at home with her four other dogs. Sunday, the question was how to get Nicole to Flagstaff to enjoy some skiing. You know, I was quite invested in making everything turn out okay. It is Nicole’s birthday on Tuesday, and she had really hoped to ski. I was in my usual mom-mode of being extra-controlling trying to ask the right questions to prompt Nicole to make the arrangements. This was not a fun space to be in – I clenched my jaw and I was wound up tight like a spring. I had to let it go and attend to my homework for Roots. Reading 4 lectures by Tommy T. relaxed me and gave me the space I needed to remember that Spirit will impress what I send out and return it to me. I was grateful for Tommy.

So, now for 2 1⁄2 days, my son Sam and I are watching 6 dogs, 3 of my own and Nicole’s two and Aimee’s one dog. But, luckily, I am still able to attend class Monday night. And have another great experience discussing Tommy T!

–Marya Wheeler

It’s the LOVE month!

Disclaimer: Due to the present circumstances of what seems like a forever ongoing Covid-19 to try and avoid, which now has variations that sound pretty scary, it’s difficult for me to focus on writing about love. And so, that’s why I practice and keep on practicing.

After Rev. Janis’ talk this morning, I realize there’s a part of me that sits patiently waiting for acknowledgement, and to be reminded, that I am a part of the Eternal Love – that’s what brought me to my life on earth, and that I have both given, and received, an abundance of love throughout my life. It’s so easy for me to feel separate and alone, especially when I can’t gather with my family and friends to feel the physical companionship that comes from socializing and physical contact in community. This has been limited for (almost) all of us … for what seems to be a very long time. I also miss the stimulation of my thinking that’s just different when we aren’t together in person.

The Bible tells us there are 4 kinds of love:

Eros, which is the Greek god of erotic love. Storge, which is familial love.
Philia, which is brotherly love.
Agape, which is selfless, unconditional love.

Mahatma Gandhi so beautifully stated, “Where there is love there is life.”

Love is essential for our lives, and is both a feeling and an activity. Love encompasses opposites, and understands all things.

The supreme happiness of life consist in the conviction that one is loved.

A quote from Helen Keller: “One of the most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or heard, but must be felt with the heart.”

Love moves us in a particular, beneficial, direction; I have to ask myself, is love my impelling force? And if not, I can ask Spirit to reveal to me how I am to love and serve, not just my family, but my community of sisters and brothers whether we are physically together or apart.

I remind myself today, as often as I need to – Love dissolves all fear and I live as a powerful expression of the Love of God today.

And from my favorite mystic, Rumi:

“Close your eyes,
Fall in love,
Stay there”

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, Namaste, Janie

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