Names of God

As we head into the busy holiday season, I’ve been leaning into Spirit and all its Divine aspects. Troward says God/Spirit is Life, Light, Joy, Love, Peace, Beauty, and Power. One of my favorite meditations is to repeat the phrase, “There is only one Life, that Life is God’s Life, that Life is perfect, that Life is my Life now.” I then repeat the phrase replacing Life with Light, Joy, Love, Peace, Beauty, and finally, Power. I will also insert Mind, Body, and Source; “There is only one Mind, that Mind is God’s Mind, that Mind is perfect, that Mind is my Mind now.” This chant always brings me calm and is a great reminder that I am one with Source (God is my Peace, my Source, my Power Now!).

In our recent membership class, we were asked to bring five names for God to class. Some people had two or three names; others had a long list of names they use for God. I have often heard it said that Ernest Holmes said we can call God “Potato” if that is what works for us (as God created potatoes, Spirit is there, too!). Below is the combined list of names for God our group came up with:

Every faith tradition has multiple names for God. In Islam, it is a practice to meditate and recite the 99 names of God. Several years ago, Rev. Dr. Edward Viljoen compiled 99 names for God out of the Science of Mind text.

This holiday season, and into the new year, I invite you into the practice of meditating on the names of God. Pick one that resonates with you and sit with it for a while; recognizing you are that. Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year.

–Sharon Whealy, RScP

Additional Thoughts on a New Minister

I’ll be honest. When our previous minister announced to the Board of Trustees that she was retiring, I was shocked and disappointed. Reverend Janis was the first person I encountered when I showed up over 10 years ago at the Gregory School looking for the meditation meeting. She was a practitioner then and obviously a leader in the congregation.

My negative reaction came from fear of what would happen to CSL Tucson and the pain of losing a caring, intelligent minister, whom I liked. Of course, I didn’t stay in fear and sense of lack. I calmed down, remembered I am at choice and accessed my faith. Ernest Holmes states, “We know that thought is constantly changing, forever taking on new ways of expression. It cannot possibly remain permanent. It has to change. Can we not, accordingly, change it to a better state instead of to a worse?” (Science Of Mind 216.3)

I have enjoyed and benefited from our visiting speakers in the last few months. Yet something has been missing. Last December I was attending a Christmas chorale with a friend and ran into Reverend Janis. It was a comfortable feeling to introduce Reverend Janis to my friend as “my minister.”

I lived part-time in Lake Havasu City for 5 years from 2014 -2018. I had become ‘Grammy’ and was blessed to experience the joy of spending time with my grandson. I attended CSL there regularly. There was no permanent minister and available classes were rare. The population of Lake Havasu City swells substantially in the winter months and declines in the hot summer. Visiting ministers from Las Vegas and the Phoenix area were Sunday speakers much of the time. One Sunday, Reverend Janis was the visiting minister, and I was thrilled to see her. From time to time, especially in the summer months, a local lay member would talk. This had mixed results. One Sunday a local was speaking and, in my judgment, his talk was self-centered rambling and offensive in a couple of comments. I spoke to two Board members to express my concern. A handful of people who attended regularly walked out early in the talk. Unfortunately, one of them wrote to the local newspaper’s Orchids and Onions column, complaining about the speaker and by connection the Center. Awkward.

A Position Description for CSL Tucson states, “The Senior Minister is the spiritual leader, ecclesiastical head, and administrative executive officer of the church. S/he is responsible for expressing the vision of the church through its ministry and through teaching and embodying the principles of Science of Mind as expressed by Ernest Holmes…” Specific responsibilities are described.

Your Board of Trustees and Minister Selection Committee strongly recommend that members vote on Sunday, December 17, to affirm Reverend Rhonda Tretsven as our new minister/spiritual leader. She has experience and qualifications too numerous to mention here. In interviews we found her to be sensitive to the needs of our community, capable of wise leadership of a congregation, authentic in presence, strong, yet charismatic. She is also a musician who sings, plays the guitar and other instruments.

I envision Reverend Rhonda as both coach and cheerleader for our community. I look forward to getting to know her and her getting to know us. There is potential for intimate connection, trust, and respect in our interactions. We all experience challenging life events and would benefit from the compassion Reverend Rhonda demonstrates. Her previous talks are available to watch online through links in our newsletter. I believe that Spirit delivered the perfect candidate for our new Minister. I encourage all members to vote in favor of this next adventure for our Center.

–Linda Bullock

Co-Creation in Action

Back in March we began the co-creation process to call in a new minister after Rev. Janis retired. Dr Kathy Hearn started us off on the exercise with a community meeting from which we agreed “wholeness” was how we wanted Spirit to express Itself through our new minister. Dr Kathy then facilitated the process by which the Selection Committee along with all Board Members created the Sacred Covenant Prayer, every word of which was analyzed and agreed upon. Words become things and we wanted to be precise in what we were asking to be made manifest. On March 26th, this Covenant was presented to the congregation, and we began reciting it aloud together each Sunday since. One congregant told me this was exactly what she had been wanting. We put the intention into Law.

The Selection Committee worked then diligently to create a CSLT video and PowerPoint presentation which was uploaded to Open Pulpit on July 18th. Open Pulpit is a site where ministers can search for various openings and apply to the ones they are interested in.

After speaking as a guest on March 12, 2023, Rev. Rhonda Tretsven knew she wanted to be a part of CSLT in some capacity. She and her husband Charles Barfoot, began exploring Tucson and liked what they found. In January of this year, they decided to look for a house in the area and have recently closed escrow on a property November 20, 2023.

Rev. Rhonda had been the Senior Minister with CSL Hemet, in California, a position she held until December 2021 when she decided to get married and relocate to Tempe with her husband. She soon realized how much she missed having a ministry. Finding our call for a Senior Minister on Open Pulpit, and after getting the third nudge from Spirit, she applied for the position.

Just as we have been exploring her, she has been researching us: reading the newsletters and board meeting minutes, investigating our financial status, watching YouTube videos, etc. She impressed the Selection Committee and Board Members with her knowledgeable responses during extensive interviews. Her Reminders and Prayers as guest speaker here at CSLT over the past several months have been well received. We were excited to announce her as our CSLT Senior Minister Candidate.

There was some surprise expressed that many more did not apply for this position. I realized we didn’t need multiple applicants to choose from, only THE right one to apply. I personally see Rev. Rhonda as the joyful, vibrant community leader we have been declaring. I believe Spirit was guiding Rev. Rhonda to us as we were calling her to us.

The CSL theme for December is “Wholeness” and the talk title for December 10 is “Recognizing Wholeness”. Rev. Rhonda has a workshop prepared that she will be facilitating entitled “Revealing Wholeness”. More signs of Spirit working with and for us, and through Rev. Rhonda.

Now it is your turn to get to know her better. This Sunday, December 10th, there will be several opportunities to do this. (See first article for details.) Please let the office know if you plan on attending the workshop. A vote on Rev. Rhonda’s candidacy will be held on December 17th by Members in attendance in-person at Service and on Zoom.

–Janet Salese

GOT CLUTTER?

Clutterers Anonymous (CLA) is a fellowship of compulsive clutterers who practice a 12-step and 12-tradition program modeled after AA (Alcoholics Anonymous.)

What is clutter? Clutter is anything we don’t need, want, or use that takes our time, energy, or space, and destroys our serenity.

I know I am a clutterer and I know I am not alone. I have created physical, mental/emotional, and paper/email clutter to name a few.

Physical: This is the behavior that results in the stacks piles and objects and unfinished projects that fill my home. Whether organized or thrown about, it is all so overwhelming. I have become owned by my possessions.

Mental/Emotional: This is the mental clutter I carry in my mind-resentments, unfinished thoughts, emotional baggage, worries about the future, regrets about the past. My mind and thoughts often are often filled with clutter. Paper/e-mail: Unprocessed mail, notes written on scraps of paper, endless books and e-mails not yet read all add to the clutter. It’s so overwhelming.

What I really want is to be in surroundings of beauty, order, and serenity; a balanced life; and harmonious relationships.

How do I achieve this?

By following the 12-step program of CLA along with the teachings from our Center for Spiritual Living.

They complement each other beautifully.

–Madeline Pallanes

Gratitude 2

Gratitude is one of the chief graces of human existence and is crowned in heaven with a consciousness of unity. (Ernest Holmes, The Hidden Power of the Bible, 171)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am going to Piggy back on Chris’ blog from last week using the practice of Gratitude Rainshower. (Join Sharon on Tuesday November 28th at 6:30 p.m.on our Zoom channel).

I am grateful for the cooler weather and the migrating birds that have appeared at the feeders outside my window. I am grateful for the Source of all creation for creating the world of symmetry, balance, harmony, beauty, of stillness and movement.

I am grateful for a home, and a partner to share it with, and with friends. I am grateful for eyes to see, ears to hear, for health and vitality.

I am grateful for our CSLT community which helps me deepen my relationship with the One Infinite Mind, through our studies, reminders, music, and interactions.

I am grateful for Sharon inviting speakers, and for the speakers coming to our community to reveal their relationship with Spirit.

I am grateful for Rev. Dr. Kathy Hearn coming in March to lead our co-creation process with our congregation, revealing that Wholeness is the top quality we want for our center. And for the beautiful Sacred Covenant we have spoken for the last 9 months.

I am grateful for all the work of the Nominating Committee for creating the video and profile for calling in our new minister, and the guidance of Rev Julie in the process of putting all the pieces together for our posting on Open Pulpit.

I am grateful for the board’s time, talent and treasure making sure all the behind-thescenes work gets to keep the business of CSLT working.

I am grateful for our Sunday Services the musicians, hosts, greeters, LTW technicians, altared states providing a beautiful setting, meditation leaders, speakers, and participants, live and on Zoom.

I am grateful for you all….

–Maria

Thanksgiving Becomes Gratitude

November and the holiday known to Americans as Thanksgiving rolls around every year. We reflect on many aspects of the history and the holiday. Eat variations of a feast. Often make statements to the effect that another year has flashed by. Then set our sights on the next holiday, Christmas. While I was preparing for this article, I checked the etymology of Thanksgiving. Then I looked at early American history and some of the stories that surround the initialization of events that led to the creation of the holiday. Interesting Site Here

The recovery communities often suggest gratitude practices to temporarily alleviate old attitudes and behaviors long enough to begin replacing them with healthier ones.

Gratitude practices can help you focus on the positive aspects of life, which can lead to a happier and healthier you. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can have a positive impact on your overall well-being. Gratitude can be instrumental in centering yourself and helping focus into the present. There are many ways to integrate gratitude into your life, such as:

• Keeping a Gratitude Journal: This involves writing down three things you’re grateful for each day. It helps in focusing on positive aspects and cultivates a habit of noticing things to be thankful for.

• Expressing Thanks to Others: Showing appreciation to people, whether friends, family, or strangers, can strengthen relationships and spread positivity.

• Reflecting on Positive Experiences: Taking time to recall and appreciate the good things that happened during the day helps in acknowledging and being thankful for those moments.

• Noticing Abundance: Being mindful of the abundance in your surroundings, whether it’s nature’s beauty, opportunities, or other resources, and expressing gratitude for them.

• Attending Gratitude Events like “Gratitude Rainshowers” at Tucson’s CSL: Participating in events focused on gratitude can be a communal way to celebrate and practice gratitude. The next Gratitude Rainshower is Gratitude Rainshowers

• Don’t forget the apps. If a nudge is needed now and again or you prefer the digital realm there are quite a few apps that can facilitate gratitude formulation.

• For a quick set of gratitude prompts ask chatgpt “What should I be grateful for?”

Engaging in a practice of gratitude aligns with research that shows how gratitude positively impacts mental health, relationships, and overall happiness. Integrating gratitude into daily routines can gradually cultivate a mindset centered on appreciation and positivity. Gratitude becomes really easy with a small amount of practice.

–Chris Wheeler

Learning & Thinking

I learned today that Alexander the Great (yes that world conqueror) in a drunken argument killed a very good friend – killed a very good friend. After three days of bottomless mourning and grief beyond my imagining – he went on to do what he did.

One wonders what he might have learned from that experience.

What a way to learn a lesson.  One hopes we all are quicker studies requiring less violent instruction than he appears to have needed.

One hopes to learn and do in such a way as to create more good for ourselves and for our world.

Blessed is he who plants trees under whose shade he will never sit.”  Indian proverb

And the way of that has been available for a very long time to all who would study, learn, and practice.

“You Control how you respond to things.” – Epictetus

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”  – Marcus Aurelius

And from our somewhat more contemporary teacher –

“Thought can be creative of my good and it can also be productive of things I do not desire, for all thought is creative.”  Ernest Holmes,  A New Design for Living  page 29

“We always succeed.”     “We need to learn to succeed in the right things.”  Ernest Holmes, A New Design for Living page 149

A major project/goal for me in the coming months, is the whole “what am I thinking –  aka am I actually thinking right now – or have I backslid into letting my unconscious create my life with no direction.  Am I reacting without thinking or responding with care. The post-it in the kitchen reads:  “who’s in charge right now?”  Work in progress always.

And holding the following from The Text close to my heart and head:

 “We may change the trend of causation which has been set in motion at any time we decide to do so.” Ernest Holmes Science of Mind 128.2

Of course, on the preceding page he quoted Jesus saying, “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto you.” Going on to add Jesus did not say: “It  is done unto you as you wish.”

“Such is the power of right thinking that it cancels and erases everything unlike itself.”Science of Mind 128.4.

Do it with Power & Presence.

–In Peace, Mariann

Celebrating the Ancestors

Samhain, Halloween, All Saints Day, Día de los Muertos – it is the season when it is believed the veil between the living and the dead becomes thin. It is a time to celebrate and remember those who have come before, the good and the not so good, all of those who have contributed to who we are today.

I first became personally aware of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) when I moved to Bakersfield. Every year there was a celebration with food and music, shopping, and my favorite, ofrendas, the family altars remembering those who have passed. As a gringa I wondered if I could fully participate in what has become, for me, a blessed celebration. Worried about being politically correct, and sensitivities to cultural appropriation, I thought about how I celebrate my ancestors. First, a brief history of the holiday.

Indigenous people everywhere had and continue to have rituals honoring their ancestors. Samhain is a pagan festival that is centuries old and is still celebrated by Wiccans and Pagans around the world. As Christianity moved around the world, Samhain was appropriated as All Saints Day, celebrating the Catholic Saints. All Hallows Eve became Halloween (with its own origin story). When the Conquistadors arrived in the Americas they brought their Christian celebrations with them, overlaying All Saints Day on a centuries old Aztec ritual and celebration. This, over time, became Día de los Muertos celebrated through much of South America.

At the heart of the Día de los Muertos celebration is the ofrenda. On Saturday, I attended a workshop at a local Pagan/Metaphysical store on “How to build an ancestor altar.” They suggested several points on why it is important to honor our ancestors. First, creating an altar helps us build spiritual connection with those who have come before. Next, it is a beautiful way of honoring and preserving our cultural traditions of how we celebrate our loved ones who have passed. Creating an altar helps us to heal and have closure with those who have left with unfinished business. Our ancestors provide blessings and protection. Finally, they say honoring our ancestors helps to create balance and harmony between the living and the dead.

So this year, rather than carving pumpkins, I am creating my own ofrenda. I started with finding a space that I can dedicate for the week. I selected a cloth to ground the space and am gathering photos and mementos of those I wish to honor. I’ve already pulled a beautiful picture out of a photo album of my father and his father, my grandpa, that I am now looking at. It fills my heart with joy to see these two men together in my home.

From Ernest Holmes: “According to Unity of Mind, thought is everywhere present, and so long as it persists it will remain present. Time, space, and obstructions are unknown to Mind and thought. …If we persist after the body shall have suffered physical death (and we are convinced that we shall) this law must still hold good, for past and present are one and the same in Mind.” The Science Of Mind 352.

I invite you to set aside some time this week to thank your ancestors. We wouldn’t be here without them.

–Sharon Whealy, RScP

Laughing Until It Hurts – Someone

Irony and sarcasm are forms of communication in which the literal meaning of the words is different, often opposite, from the intended message. In both irony and sarcasm, there may be an element of criticism and humor. However, sarcasm is a particular type of irony in which the underlying message is normally meant to ridicule, tease, or criticize. Brené Brown, Atlas of the Heart

I enjoy being funny. When we make others laugh it can feel joyful and the ego gets a bump. Yet my primary motivation in relating to others is to be kind. Often humor at another’s expense can be unkind, even cruel. This is often accomplished with sarcasm. According to Oscar Wilde, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence.” Brené Brown asks, “Are you dressing something up in humor that actually requires clarity and honesty?”

I first practiced sarcasm as a defense against an older brother who was physically bullying at times when we were young. Of course, spewing mean words that put down the enemy doesn’t necessarily make up for receiving sticks and stones, but it was the best tool I had in my arsenal since I didn’t like hitting anyone, even my brother. It’s not unusual for a first-born to think “things were just fine until they brought that other baby home,” especially if there’s a short time between births. Sibling rivalry is an interesting phenomenon rife with opportunities for sarcasm.

I noticed a puzzled reaction from my 3-year-old grandson once when my husband said something sarcastic such as, “Gee, you don’t have any toys, do you?” Clearly, what my grandson was hearing wasn’t true and he seemed confused. He hadn’t been exposed to that kind of teasing and couldn’t perceive my husband’s motive to be funny.

Some April Fools’ jokes have caused misunderstanding, confusion, and embarrassment for the target of the joke. Often, I may not be clear that a remark is sarcastic and find myself asking.”Really? Or are you kidding?”

In the section titled Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged (Science of Mind, page 433), Ernest Holmes reminds us “…life must return to us the manifestation of our motives, thoughts, and desires – whether these motives, thoughts and desires were intended for ourselves or others. It means that the thought of judgment, criticism and condemnation must, in time, operate against the one who sets it in motion!” A good reason to be careful in what we put out verbally.

I think of Henny Youngman with his “Take my wife, please.” Making his wife the butt of his jokes entertained a lot of people and made him a lot of money. I believe this form of comedy can be offensive. A broad category of offensive jokes includes sexist, racist, and ethnic jokes along with jokes about sexual orientation, disability, nationality, profession, and other human traits.

Sometimes we are quick-witted and say something sarcastic or insensitive without first thinking it through. Making amends is sometimes called for. I believe that sarcasm can be an example of a passive aggressive attack and too often we think saying “I was just kidding” will excuse our lack of compassion. Sarcasm can be displayed in varying personal encounters from the boardroom to the cheerleading squad especially where there is competition.

I hope to avoid sarcasm but still enjoy humor and laughter. As Ann Lamott says, “Laughter is carbonated holiness.” To me the solution is recognizing that we are one with the Divine; that Source supports and guides us through any change or perceived difficulty; that love and compassion are our answer when dealing with our fellows. One of the Four Agreements, as written by don Miguel Ruiz is to “take nothing personally.” When we take the risk to live our ultimate truth, we don’t need anyone else’s validation. Kindness should be our primary intention in communicating with others.

–Linda Bullock

Friends

Friend [frend] (noun) – a person one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.

Due to recent events, I have been thinking a lot about friends and friendship lately. Just as there are different types of love, there are many different types of friends.

I celebrated my birthday last month. That always brings phone calls from friends I’ve known for a very long time, some of whom I may only talk to once or twice a year. The conversations flow as if we had just spoken yesterday. We catch each other up, talk about what is on our hearts or just chatter. An hour or two goes by before we finally say goodbye.

Last week I traveled to Prescott at the request of a dear friend to attend her party. To see her face light up when I entered was priceless and filled me with just as much joy. A long hug followed. Hopefully it won’t be years before we do that again.

The day after the party I stopped by the Unity Church I attended when I lived up north. I caught up to a girlfriend where we talked about our spiritual journeys that have led us both to CSL. Another familiar face just embraced me and smiled.

And there are the friends I talk to and see on a regular basis, sharing everyday events as they occur. We may chat about this and that or maybe simply sit in silence appreciating each other’s presence.

My acupuncturist and I have a unique relationship. I spend about 40 minutes with her every other week. We’ve come to know a lot about each other’s lives and likes/dislikes over the decade I’ve been seeing her. I count her as a friend also, especially when she came out of Covid retirement to treat me.

There’s the neighbor I wave to on my morning walk and the one I invite over for dinner. And the favorite barista who knows how you like your coffee without having to ask. They serve it to you with a smile as you wish them a good morning, enriching each of their days.

“If you are going to gain anything in life, gain a friend. They will always be there and that makes all the difference in the world.” finetofab.com

“Good friends are like stars: you don’t always see them, but you know they are there.”

“A silent communication takes place at all times between friends.” SOM 421.4

–Janet Salese

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