Can’t? Or Won’t?

If you missed this past Sunday’s talk from Rev. Janis, it was not recorded, and the topic was “The Experience of Freedom”. What freedom to be means to me is that I don’t have to stay stuck in a world that has been defined for me in the past by my parents, teachers, experiences and my life’s choices.

The wonderful thing is that we can give our past stories up, and move forward in a more open, expansive way. What really hit me right between the eyes was Rev. Janis’ statement, “If you say you can’t, what you really mean, is that you won’t”. After reflecting on that, and thinking about the many ways I have remained entrenched in my own story, and the stories that have come from outside myself that I have agreed with, I had believed those stories defined me, and what I could or couldn’t do.

I told myself just last week, when I realized it was my turn to write this Newsletter article, that I just couldn’t do it, that I can’t write very well, and have always had trouble putting my thoughts on paper. I discovered after this morning’s talk that my “I can’t” thinking only keeps me entrenched in my belief about my inability to express myself.

Apparently, I needed to be reminded again that I can always, always, change my mind, my thoughts, my dreams and intentions. I am already equipped with all I need to do anything that I put my mind, heart and soul into. I am a creation of the One and only need to focus on whatever I choose to do. Oh, and practice, practice, practice. 🙂

So, I choose to give up some of the old restrictive stories that have programmed me over the years, and move forward in a totally new and free life, one that has always been mine to choose. I intend to continue to study the principles of Science of the Mind, continue to go to classes, continue to pray for inspiration and direction, and see what happens. While it may be easier to stay “in my rut of familiarity and safety”, I miss out on all of the wonderful opportunities that life has to offer if I am willing to step out of who I think I am, and become who God intended me to be.

Namaste, Janie Hooper

I KNOW WHERE I BELONG

“ This is the whole secret, a complete mental acceptance,
and embodiment of our desires.”
—– Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 398.3

Having grown up a gypsy child, moving and changing schools frequently, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Since we were poor, as well as having no parent-figure(s) around to ‘raise’ me, I had the resultant low self-esteem and either just kept to myself or ran with the kids I probably shouldn’t have been. I was a very lost little girl and even my own skin didn’t feel like it belonged on me.

Enter drugs, alcohol, blah blah, blah, until I ended up in Alcoholics Anonymous. These were my people telling my story; I had paid my dues and, for the first time in my life, I had a sense of belonging. It was delicious, and I gave it my all. I did service work, sponsored newcomers, went to meetings, worked the steps, and reaped the rewards – I stayed sober.

Because of my thorough self-examination in working the twelve steps of AA, I began to heal and to feel like I belonged on the planet and that to live in my own skin might be an okay thing after all. Life marched on but it wasn’t really fulfilling until I found the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson (even though I’d attended and taken classes at CSL Seattle for a few years, I never felt like I belonged). This is my center, though it didn’t start out that way…

When I first walked through the doors and heard Rev. Donald Graves speak, I felt the effervescent energy and knew I wanted to be a part of it. But being an introvert and not knowing anyone, I didn’t know ‘how’ so I just kept showing up on Sundays. I made myself talk to strangers and tried not to be too star-struck when someone who had clearly been around for a long time would sit at my table during the potluck. I know it sounds silly, but such was my desire to be one of ‘them’. When the opportunity arose to take classes, I signed up and again started from the beginning, Foundations. Taking classes was a great way to get to know people because as we learned each other’s names, we learned each other’s stories. I began to feel a sense of belonging, and I added to it by volunteering to usher; then I asked if I could be a host, and before I knew it I was on the Board of Trustees filling out a term of someone who had retired. Since our classes are always inspiring and changing, I show up for them. And come this fall, I will be signing up online for Practitioner 2 studies. I’ve delayed it long enough and it’s time to step into my calling and let my light shine! (Yep, I said that.)

Belonging. I am so grateful to belong to this center that so obviously is experiencing the manifestations of our awesome collective consciousness — in one week, we are moving into our own education/office building! We will be paying a mortgage, not rent, while we establish equity and grow closer to realizing our intention of one day having a center that is all in one place. Do you realize how many things had to line up for this office purchase to transpire? It’s mind-blowing! Even when the road was rough and rocky over this last year or so, we declined to be discouraged and stayed our course, knowing without fail that in spite of appearances of lack, we move in abundance and everything is right on track, bringing our good, as we wish. And here it is!

Bottom line, if you want a stronger sense of belonging at CSLT, show up! Join teams, take classes, stay for potluck, talk to people you don’t know but think you might want to. We’re a positive, growing, inspirational, and inclusive community of people who are aware enough to know we do experience a better life, more abundance, better health, and all the good stuff as we are able to allow it. So, come on, let’s do this thing called ‘Our Center’ together! There’s no doubt in my mind. You belong, too!

–Renee’ Mercer

C-C-C-C-h-a-n-g-e….

Nobody likes to have change forced on them. Nobody I know, anyway. Most of us don’t mind a little change, especially if it’s our idea. I think it was metaphysical teacher Stuart Wilde who once said, “If you are being run out of town, get in front of the mob and act like it’s a parade.” I got to see him in Las Vegas, shortly before he transitioned. He was masterful at making use of whatever life threw at him. Because he presented such a larger-than-life target, people were always throwing stuff. It didn’t matter to him at all. He’d use every bit of the notoriety, transmute it into fame, and use it for his benefit.

The world is in a period of great change, as is CSL Tucson, as are (likely) each of us. It isn’t as though we can actually say ‘Stop the world, I want to get off’, although there are ways we can sometimes lessen the effect of changes we experience. Not all of these techniques are useful in the long run. We can resist change, be in denial by pretending change isn’t happening, we can numb ourselves with any of our familiar, faithful and friendly addictions, or we can work with the change and turn it to our use, if not our benefit.

A few weeks ago, I listened to an audiobook by Thomas Friedman entitled Thank You For Being Late. In it, he described how the rate and intensity of technological change continues to increase ever more rapidly, and that changes that used to take decades or generations were now occurring within a few years. I know for me, I’m actively embracing some aspects of this technology change, and others I’m doing my best to drag my feet. Some changes, choices and options seem really cool, and some I really do struggle to see the merit or point.

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature,
to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
—Henri Bergson

In the case of moving the Office and Education Center, this wasn’t a change that we actively solicited. On one (status quo) level, we were hoping that the heirs of our previous landlord would never find a buyer for the East River Rd property and we could be left in peace to do our thing. It wasn’t the greatest workspace or classroom space ever, but it was familiar, and acceptably comfortable. Some people didn’t like the driveway or thought the old homestead was ugly. We really wouldn’t have been inspired to change anything on our own. Change is work! Change requires movement, action and decisions! And yet, once our office building had been sold, and we petitioned for extra time to get ourselves moved (we did get an extra week), we suddenly found ourselves motivated to discover & create beneficial change for ourselves. The unhappy rattlesnake under the trashcans was simply an encouragement. (No humans, snakes or trashcans were harmed in that encounter.) The outcome that is unfolding before our eyes is more magnificent that any one of us on your Board could ever have imagined, and I feel excited and enthused by our ‘greatest yet next to be.’

So if change happens whether we want it to or not, how can we make use of it? It sounds so noble to say ’embrace change’, and yet, that really is the best option when change seems mandated. Without this change that was ‘forced upon us’, we never would have even considered the possibility of purchasing and actually owning our Office and Education Center, and would have continued to pay rent to a landlord and be at their whim about raising the rent or selling the property out from under us. At the same time, I have this glimmer of awareness that we had shifted our collective consciousness enough that we were ready, as an organization, to become owners of our own Office and Educational Center, and start building equity for ourselves instead of for another. To me, that’s exciting growth for us as a spiritual community.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Enneagram

When I look back on my life, over the passing years and decades, I sometimes reflect on the things I’ve encountered that have helped transform me, to greater or lesser degrees. Movies. Plays. Books. Pieces of music. Art and poetry. Oh, I could certainly name a number of favorites (we all have them), but for me, the greatest tool I’ve ever encountered, when it comes to personal growth and transformation, is the Enneagram.

I was first introduced to the Enneagram a number of years ago one summer, courtesy of my mother. At the time, she was 71 years old, and in the mail one day came a copy of “The Big Blue Book” (as it is known and lovingly referred to): The Wisdom of the Enneagram, by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

I still have her note tucked inside my copy, and it starts off with these observations:

“This is an unusual book to give to someone (books like a textbook), but it is a book I wished I had had access to in my younger years. Although the theories presented here were developed a few thousand years ago, they are making a startling comeback. The seminar I attended a few months ago has made a profound difference in my life, from the inside — a place where few people see and where I (as well as others) attempt to hide and cover up.”

She goes on to describe herself (a Type 2 “Helper”) and my dad (a Type 5 “Investigator”), and talks about how the Enneagram opened her eyes to her “false self” — i.e., the persona that we all create as a survival mechanism growing up. She goes on to say, “Up to this point this shell or false self does not just melt away,” adding, “I have work to do, so I can become mature for myself and for others. I am excited about the possibilities for my future, but saddened for some of my behavior in the past.”

She then goes on to apologize for her own personal shortcomings while she was raising me, and my two older brothers, saying, “I am fully aware that this ‘doesn’t make everything alright.’ It’s just that I want to own up and work at what I need to become.”

And… at this point, I wished I could say that I dove right into the Big Blue Book that mom gave me, absorbed all of its content for the betterment of myself, and moved boldly forward into my newly discovered “authentic self.” But I didn’t. I thumbed through its pages, found some of the information fascinating and compelling, but over the passing months and years, it sat by my chair where I had morning coffee, gathering dust.

As we shall see in an upcoming series of video lectures delivered by renowned author Richard Rohr, as it turns out, the Enneagram is an ancient oral tradition, and in that regard, it’s typically best learned by hearing about it first — from someone else — just as my mother had done by attending a seminar.

It wasn’t until a decade later, visiting mom one summer on Bainbridge Island, that she had the idea to borrow Richard Rohr’s series of lectures from her church library. An entertaining and engaging speaker, I was quickly engrossed, taking extensive notes, which are tucked into the book next to my mom’s letter.

Not long after, my own personal copy of Richard Rohr’s lectures arrived one Christmas — again, courtesy of my mother. Since I know that she (as a ‘Helper’) would want me to share them with others, they’ve been on loan to one friend or another, pretty much continually (with occasional breaks for me to go over the material again as a refresher course).

As my mom discovered, learning about the Enneagram can be an eye-opening experience (“This book is wonderful but hard!” she exclaims halfway through her letter), and as I’ve often joked to others, the Enneagram can also be a short-cut to years and years of therapy. Simply because it has the power to cut through layers and layers of bullcrap that the false self has used to hide itself, expose our ego for what it is, and lay bare our inner motivations that have become our methods of coping and adapting as full-grown adults.

There is more to the Enneagram than just finding out what makes us tick, however. For those who attend the upcoming series of classes at CSL this summer, you’ll also find that the Enneagram is about growth and transformation — and how, by a nifty trick of grace — our greatest weakness flipped on its head, and rotated 180 degrees, becomes our greatest strength.

One of the most profound gifts my mom ever gave me was the power of the Enneagram, and the inherent wisdom it contains. By the time she died, in the fall of 2014, my mom had become that wise soul she wrote about in her letter — overcoming the core issue of her “false self” (pride), and fully integrating into her greatest gift — humility. And if she were here today, I think she would say that the Enneagram played a huge role in that.

So, come be transformed this summer, every Wednesday night in June and July, as we explore the wisdom and the power of the Enneagram. Together.

–Steve Franz, a Type 9 “Peacemaker”

Making The World A Better Place

No matter what our emotional storm, or what our objective situation, may be, there is always a something hidden in the inner being that has never been violated.  We may stumble, but always there is that Eternal Voice, forever whispering within our ear, that thing which causes the eternal quest, that thing which forever sings and sings.
— Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind, 33.3

I recently had the joy of reconnecting with my stepson, Mitch, who is the Prosecuting District Attorney of the big island of Hawaii.  We had not seen one another for many years, and I was curious if the nature of his job had changed him into a more negative-thinking man.  I was relieved to find him the same Mitch Roth, smart, funny, and optimistic.  He shared with me some of the policies and procedures he has put in place to help the people of his county.  His philosophy is, “If there is a problem, look behind it to see what is causing it. Create the solution there; do not rely on punishment to fix every situation.”

Several years ago there was a serious crime problem in the parking lots of popular tourist attractions in Hawaii.  Young people found opportunities to break into cars and steal valuables when they spotted tourists heading for hiking trails to view waterfalls, lava tubes, or rain forests. Mitch met with a group of older Hawaiian women who were weavers, creating beautiful birds, animals, baskets, and other items to sell to the eager tourists.  Mitch asked them to do their weaving in the parking lots where they could also they could monitor the tourists’ cars.  When the tourists returned, the women would warmly greet them and display their work. The grateful tourists thanked them, purchasing many of the items they had for sell.  Understandably, crime in those parking lots plummeted.

Noting an increase in juvenile delinquency in school-age students, Mitch visited a school that seemed to be a risk epicenter.  He asked the school’s administration to hang a picture of each student in the school.  He then asked the entire staff, teachers, janitors, support staff, and administrators, to put a star on the picture of any student with whom they had a positive connection, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.  Many of the students had many stars on their pictures; some had a few; and some had no stars at all.  Not surprisingly, the children without positive connections were the ones who had been most challenging.The staff made a huge effort to connect with the seemingly troubled students, and to no one’s surprise, the incidents of crime went down dramatically. Mitch told me, ”Those kids got no positive feedback anywhere in their lives.  When they started getting positive attention, they behaved in a more positive way.”

In May 2018, Kilauea Volcano erupted, burying villages, towns, farms, and roads with lava.  Mitch formed an interfaith group to aid the over 1700 evacuees on the island.  The group consists of a Jewish Rabbi, an Episcopalian Priest, a conservative Protestant minister, a Buddhist monk, a Muslim Imam, and Mitch.  They provided over 60,000 hot meals following the earliest days of the eruption, created a daycare for the displaced children, and helped create carpools to get people back and forth to work.  They provided necessities, including laundry facilities, for the people who had lost everything.  After the eruption crisis was over, the group decided to stay connected.  They meet monthly and to their surprise and delight, they have come to realize how similar their worldviews, and belief systems, are.  Instead of spreading discord from their differences, they have created cohesiveness through their discovery of how much they desire the same good.  What an example for the rest of us.

–Pat Masters

The Value of Contemplation in Modern Life

In 2000, I had the privilege of taking a two-week trip through the ancient sacred sites of Ireland as part of a tour group.  We had a tremendous guide named Mark who was well versed in the lore, fact and fiction of pre-historic religious sites as well as the early Christian sites.  One of the sites that caught my imagination was Skellig Michael, a medieval (6th and 8th centuries C.E.) monastery and hermitage. Legend has it that the sacred and secular literature of Europe was saved during the Dark Ages by the monks who collected, preserved and protected those writings which had been brought to them for preservation while Europe was in turmoil.  Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization expresses that point of view.  While some critics doubt the accuracy of his proposition, there probably is some merit in the idea that those individuals did indeed protect knowledge that could have been lost during the time when Europe was not valuing education and learning as much as they might have previously.

Typical functions of a monastic community include prayer, worship, service and contemplation.  So what is this thing called contemplation?  Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness meditation practice (in box to right) is a gentle and generous example of a contemplative practice that is centered in the body.  Father Richard Rohr makes it a larger practice when he says, “Everything you do is connected in loving union with the moment, with whatever is in front of you.  That’s contemplation.”   So, how can this translate in modern life?

In his poem “If” Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too.  If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”  His concluding couplet, “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”, has more to do with recognizing how much we each are responsible for our point of view in our world than it has to do with any specific gender reference.

One of the best ways we have to maintain our mental, emotional and spiritual autonomy “when all about you are losing their (heads)” is by remembering that we get to decide what to focus on, and how we choose to pay attention to our lives.  This is far from a simple challenge, simply because of the extremes present in the external world today.  Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”  When we repeatedly remember that we have control over our focus, we have an opportunity to see our world, not as a made-up, imaginary fantasyland, but from the point of view of the wholeness that it actually expresses.

Holmes, in The Science of Mind 200.4-201.1, wrote, “… is an experience operating through people, which does not belong to them at all.  Recognize that it is neither person, place, nor thing, that there is no spiritual law to support it, that it is discord fleeing before harmony, that there is nothing but the Truth.”  With Thich Nhat Hanh’s gentle encouragement we can breathe, “deep, slow, calm, ease, smile, release”, and, regardless of external conditions, have the opportunity to continuously practice the contemplative prayer of “present moment, wonderful moment.”  Breathing, smiling, and remembering the Truth, I move forward in my life.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Curate Your Life

One of the big ideas that arose in last week’s ongoing Wild Mind class was this notion of  “Curate Your Life”.  It’s an interesting idea, one that alternately teases and encourages us to identify, decide on and choose the kind of life experience we desire.  If we are totally delighted with all aspects our lives as is, no change is required. If we’re not, and we wish to step into fuller self-expressions in any area of our lives, this idea requires us to recognize that we may have to change how we think about our lives, and how we choose to live.

This notion can be problematic if we are resistant to change, or we believe we don’t have the power to make a change and have it stick.  Most of us have a lot of evidence (and a lot of experience) about how hard it is to change habits.  Sometimes it seems easy to feel that we are powerless over our own life choices and life experiences.  This is not the truth of who we are, and may very well be our entire awareness, based on our past experiences.

How do we move from living from what-we-have-always-known into a different future?  Willingness to step into a different life experience, and to adjust or modify our thinking and actions accordingly, are just the first steps.  The next step is to persistently reapply and re-implement this new decision as many times as it takes, until it becomes the new habit.  Challenging? Yes.  Impossible? No.  Persistence is key, and not shaming, blaming, or guilting ourselves when we fail.  What would it take to just keep getting back up and moving ahead?  This shift of mindset is probably the most difficult, because we have all been acculturated into believing that we have to discipline, or punish, ourselves when we fail, or that we are stuck with what we know.  What if neither of those things are true?

An additional thought from Dr David: “I’ve rediscovered the valuable distinction between change and transformation. Change gives me the liberty to revert back to what I changed from, i.e. change my mind, change my habits, or change my job. Change leaves me a window of opportunity to return to the old thought, habit or action. Transformation does not. Just like an oak tree cannot return to being an acorn, one who is a conscious transformationalist sheds labels, patterns and even identities to align with their inherent ever-expanding nature. Devotion to transformation doesn’t include comfort seeking. Its intentional prayer passes from our heart to our lips by saying, ‘Onward, along the path of my soul’s greatest expression.’ Personally, I feel that the time for such devotion is needed more than ever. I consciously shed limitations, excuses and loyalties to people and things that are not congruent with this universal beckoning.”

…………………..

As far as I know, the idea of ‘curate your life’ originated with Dr David Ault.  The image in this post is his.  Dr David, most recently Senior Minister at one of the three CSLs in Atlanta, recognized that his spiritual path, and the paths of those who work with him, was best served by him leaving that position.  He, and his ongoing work, can be followed at www.davidault.com. If you join up to receive his e-newsletter, you will also receive access to his free e-book/training program, How to Sand Your Rusted Thinking, A resource guide to learning tangible actions for increasing self-awareness and living the life you want.  Sounds like a great tool to use in learning how to Curate Your Life more fully, should you be interested in that.  Happy exploring!

–Rev Janis Farmer

Telling Our Stories

It’s only fitting that I write about the importance of “Telling Our Stories” since my entire involvement with CSL in Tucson stems from reading a book filled with the stories of a CSL Minister in Milwaukee. He had a small community to whom he ministered and his stories of his and their growth together was the prompt for me to research (i.e. google) Centers for Spiritual Living in Tucson. That was three years ago and now I have my own stories to share and friends’ stories to listen to and learn from.

But what exactly does it mean to tell-our-story? Humankind has always told stories to teach, to express emotion, to share our lives. We’ve used cave art, dances, music and words. And at times we use them as a way to make sense of the “not ordinary.”

We are blessed with Rev. Janis’ storytelling woven throughout the reminders we hear every Sunday. Her accounts of living, learning and loving shine light on the choices we have to make every day. Those choices and the results from them build our story. (Ahem…not the stories we create to cover-up, shift blame, or rationalize whatever.) Our real, true story about who we are and who we claim as our core self.

And most importantly, our stories give us, and whomever we choose to share with, the brilliant understanding that we can — and have — and will do more of what is bright beyond belief for ourselves. As much as we choose to claim for ourselves, our unique individual choices that create our story.

My story is the growing ability to shed the baggage that I had carefully collected and maintained to insure remembering every thing that didn’t work. Doing the work as prescribed by Dr. Holmes to journal, to meditate, to stay always with the focus of remembering the perfection within. To remember every day that I choose HOW I respond. Even when things go wobbly or worse, I am in charge of how it affects me. And that continued growth in CSL teachings brings me to that beautiful place in my life.

I still have some of the same crazies, the same drivers on the road, the unbelievable high price of gas this week, yet when I remember what I’ve learned, it changes my response and thereby changes my story. The story I choose to live and share. Because now, when I remember, I know that I am in charge of my life.

We learn best from each other. Changing our choices becomes more possible when we know that others have already done it, and that there are as many ways to change and grow as there are members of the
community.

So now we are asking who else in the community would like to share their stories of CSLT. The Board and Rev. Janis are available and ready to help. Pat has even offered to do a writing-your-story-workshop. The sharing need only be 300-500 words as it will become part of our Newsletter and website. (500 words is shorter than this essay, which is 620 words).

Each of us has our own reason or experience for participating in this community, what it’s brought us, what it’s taught us, how we’ve grown, recovered or become better in any way. Let’s share.

If you have a CSLT story to share, please contact Rev. Janis or one of the Board Members: me, Pat Masters, Renee’ (Mezzone) Mercer, Janie Hooper, Marya Wheeler, or Dick Laird.

–Peace, Mariann

P.S. The book of stories I read is in the CSLT Bookstore: SUBURBAN MYSTICISM: A Love Story by R. Scott de Snoo. And yes, his name is really spelled “SNOO”.

Helping Ourselves by Helping Others

…let us begin to accept today more good than we experienced yesterday, and to know that we shall reap a harvest of fulfilled desires.
      Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 39.5)

A recent article in Psychology Today listed the many benefits of altruism. According to the article, acting with altruism can do more than make us feel good about ourselves mentally; it can actually release endorphins which give us a “helpers’ high.” These endorphins also enhance our immune systems, making
us physically healthier.

Also discussed were the emotional or psychological benefits of helping others. These included feelings of gratitude for what one has compared to those being helped, distraction from one’s own problems, and reduction in feelings of stress about one’s own life.

Mariann Moery and I were in PineTop last weekend. I made arrangements to meet Karen, a friend whom I had not seen for a year. When I first saw her, I noticed that she had lost a great deal of weight (60 pounds), was sporting a new haircut, and appeared to be happier than I had ever seen her. As we were waiting for our dinner, she began telling us about the new love in her life.

A year ago, she began volunteering at an organization called Walking Down Ranch that provides housing for homeless veterans in the White Mountain communities of PineTop, Lakeside, and ShowLow. Although it is difficult to say exactly how many homeless veterans are trying to eke out an existence there, the best guess is 200-plus.

Seeing a old lodge with 18 empty cabins in the community of Lakeside, the founding members of Walking Down Ranch made an agreement with the East Mesa Fire Fighters to rent the empty lodge for $1.00 a year. Volunteers went in and repaired each of the cabins, making each of them habitable for the individual veterans, and in some cases, for veterans and their families.

In addition to the 18 cabins, there are two additional buildings that are used as offices for the organization, and a thrift store, which provides income to help defray the cost of the repairs and utilities. They have a computer lab, a food pantry, a laundry room, and an exercise facility. While these facilities are not state of the art, they are functional and being put to good use.

While Mariann and I toured the facility Saturday morning, we saw a hair stylist providing free haircuts to the veterans. We saw veterans who were helping by washing windows, accepting and organizing donations, and providing information to visitors.

Because Karen believes in the organization to which she gives so much of her time and talent, her life is richly enhanced. She is passionate about the work they are doing, because she sees a need, a solution in which “everyone wins” and happy, healthy results.

If you are looking for a way to enrich your own life, think of an organization about which you have interest, gratitude, or passion. Is there a place where you can get engaged there? If nothing immediately catches your imagination, CSLT is primarily a volunteer run organization too. In our own community, we seek lively and enthusiastic individuals to help with Hospitality, Compassionate Hearts, Altared States, Hosts, and Ushers and Greeters. The time commitment to participate on one of our service teams is about once a month. Serving our community is a fabulous way to meet new friends, to serve in a very real way, and to enhance our community and you individually. As Rev. Janis would say, “We invite you to come play with us.” Each of us receives benefit individually from the shared experience and our community prospers.

–Pat Masters

Sacred Service

It was Dick Laird’s turn to write the Board Member’s blogpost. Since he tends to be a man of very few words and a whole lot of valuable and valued engagement, he didn’t mind too much that I wrote it instead.

Something Dick recognized early on was that regular participation in the life of his Center or spiritual community was an important spiritual practice for him. It’s not something one might do if they needed to be recognized, honored or ‘show off’ in the spotlight, but it provides useful and necessary services to the community as a whole and to individual members of the congregation and it, metaphorically, ‘keeps the wheels on the bus’. Plus, there’s the added benefit of supporting and engaging with something valued.

One of the traditional paths of enlightenment in the yogic tradition is the path of service. This is called karma yoga. According to the Yoga Journal Online (citation at the end of this note), ‘being aware that all of our present efforts become a way to consciously create a future that frees us from being bound by negativity and selfishness. Karma is the path of self-transcending action. We practice karma yoga whenever we perform our work and live our lives in a selfless fashion and as a way to serve others. Volunteering to serve meals in a soup kitchen or signing up for a stint with the Peace Corps or Habitat for Humanity are prime examples of selfless service associated with the karma yoga path.’

Of course, this path of sacred service is not limited to participating at your Spiritual Center. Many of our congregants volunteer outside our Center for other non-profit groups and organizations, including public schools, hospitals, food banks, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens and in their own neighborhoods…

The path of sacred service also gives shy or introverted people an avenue to get involved and participate, and meet new people and feel connected to something larger than themselves, or their own human experience. Personally, I know of several individuals on the Hospitality Team, which seems like a hugely gregarious and extroverted bunch, who joined because it gave them a chance to get involved in a way that gave them some relatively simple, straight-forward tasks, once every couple months, and gave them a chance to be around people, feel useful, and not feel trapped or overwhelmed by the level of interaction. It also gave them access to a small group of people that they could work alongside of for a while and see if they might want to engage a little more socially. The same could easily be said about those who have worked behind the scenes, and behind the tables, to bring the Book Tables to Sunday Services, and those who provide assistance to the administrative functions of our Center.

So, look inside yourself and see if you have the appropriate amount of social engagement that suits your temperament and desires, and, if you find you would like a little more involvement in life and the idea of volunteerism works for you, reach out and touch a hand. There’s more than enough (joy, delight and potential connection) to go around.

https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/the-branches-of-yoga

–Rev Janis Farmer

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