Welcoming The Divine Feminine

The Valley Spirit never dies.
It is the woman, primal Mother,
Her gateway is the root of Heaven and Earth.
It is like a veil, barely seen,
Use it, it will never fail.
— Lao Tzu

I have been participating in a 21-day Meditation practice with Alicia Keys & Deepak Chopra that has made me aware of the Divine Feminine, which is a part of every being, and has often been pushed aside by a more Patriarchal view of many religions.

The Divine Feminine is grounded in spirituality and represents the connection to that part of our consciousness that is responsible for nurturing, intuition and empathy, regardless of our gender.

It is the aspect of ourselves that is associated with creation, community, and sensuality (in a experiential or felt sense rather than in a thinking sense) and collaboration.

The Sacred Feminine is the aspect of the Divine that brings the spark into being through the currents of love that reveal an ocean of Oneness into the multiplicity of all creation.

Through honoring the Sacred Feminine we can find a natural access to spiritual qualities like receptivity, patience, the ability to enter and to care for all of life.

I need to tap into this Divine aspect of my own being and am studying how to do it.

Isn’t it something that we all need to tap into in order to become more balanced and centered in this ongoing Pandemic?

I don’t know about you, but I need all of the above.

–Namaste, Janie

 

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

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!

Playfully Connected

Getting out of the car on my way into the gym, I see a lone stone on the curb that has been hand painted. It has the word “wish” with a design that reminds me of dandelions. I pick it up and take it with me and think about what I would wish for. It didn’t take me long to realize what I wished for was a closer relationship to God. I had always had a relationship to the creator, a force and essence outside of myself, many times walking by my side. We are playful on my walks. I will see something on the ground during my walks and I’ll say, “so, I’m suppose to pick that up.” Once I was walking near a school around Valentine’s day. I picked up a valentine, the to and from had no names, but on the other side said “You can do anything, Valentine. It is one of those cards that when you move it, the image changes. This card had a caterpillar that became a butterfly. I still have it on my desk.

             

 

One Saturday evening after picking up the stone, I was surfing the net and came upon Oprah talking about The Secret with Michael Beckwith. I decided to get the book. The next day at work a colleague of mine said, “I think you loaned me one of these books and I’d like to get it back to you.” Indeed, one of the books was one I had loaned her, the other was The Secret. And she let me borrow it.

I started listening to Michael Beckwith’s services, then looked for a group in Tucson, and listened to Rev. Janis’ reminders. I made the big step to come to a service two years ago. The two messages that stick in my head were, “Time is my ally” and the importance of engaging with life. It is my usual standard operating system that I be invisible, however, I made the commitment to talk to three people and I did. I remember wishing Rev. Janis a groovy week.

One day Donna showed me the affirmation cards. “Wait a minute” I pulled out my wallet to the little “I delight in my life” paper in my wallet that someone had given me at the Tucson Festival of books a few years ago. I took it out looked on the back and there was the CSLT logo.

And I keep coming back with a naturalness and ease. I’ve been taking classes that give a depth of conversation, connection and learning that I’ve longed for. It is great to have words for the way of being I’ve embraced.

Having New Eyes

Can a rebirth that comes from spiritual adversity and dis-ease cause us to become new creatures, and create a more conscious platform from which we can go forward in these difficult and unpredictable times? I think it can. I think this most unusual time may be the only thing that does move us out of our complacency into new awareness.

That, for me, is the question of the hour. How can I grow from this experience? I see it as an opportunity to increase my spiritual life and open my heart to ask the God of my understanding, how can I be of service this day? What is mine to do in order to make my own life, as well as those I love, a richer more meaningful experience, in spite of the current restrictions we all are living with?

I never dreamed I would be grateful for the Internet! It is the main way, through the tools of Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, emails and text that I can keep My connections with my beloved family, friends and Spiritual Community.

❤ One of the joys for me personally of using the Internet is that I get to do the Twelve Steps to the Compassionate Life bookstudy online with Keith and several others on Zoom. It is my second time in three years to do this class, and I can’t believe how intimate and close we have all become after just the first two weeks. I feel bonded as though we were actually together, using Gallery mode in Zoom, I can see everyone at once. What an unexpected
delight!

I am blessed in that I do not live alone, but have my daughter living with me. My heart goes out to those that live alone.

So, keep your eyes, ears and heart open to all the good possibilities that lie ahead, and as they say in AA, “ This too shall pass.”

 

–Namaste, Janie Hooper

Church Open, Building Closed

Last Tuesday, a reporter from the Arizona Daily Star sent an urgent e-mail request for an update on open/closed status of churches. Apparently they were queuing up to do a special report in Sunday’s paper. Since I wrote a piece for the Sunday “Keeping the Faith” section, which they published on April 19th, we got on their list of churches in Tucson. That’s very cool. When I got to the question about when the church/center was opening, I replied that our ‘church’ had never closed, just the building has closed. I firmly believe that.

Yes, we gather virtually on zoom. Presently, we gather for Sundays, for Wednesday night classes and for our daily morning practice. We’ve gotten better at the mechanics of doing Sunday services. We’re even up on YouTube with our own channel; other people have checked out our community and what we believe. Our stage band has been cranking out some amazing music. Most centers and churches default to canned music (YouTube videos and the like), because live music on zoom is just too hard. Our guys figured out how to do it. Leona Freeman even joined them, virtually, to sing the song she wrote, ‘Welcome to This Place’, which we have used for our opening song for the whole month of May. An old friend, Rev Lynne Heygster, guest spoke two Sundays ago from her living room in Justin Texas and in a couple weeks (June 14th) we are having a special musical guest, Bob Sima, from his home in Florida. The Music Team has wanted to bring Bob to town for years; it has not been possible, until now.

Our online meditation seminar has two participants in eastern Canada and one from Eloy AZ; we’ve had two guest facilitators, one from Las Vegas and one just left Tucson, and presently en route to Kentucky. The Prosperity Plus III mastermind group gathers twice a month. Keith Gorley’s men’s group meets virtually twice a month, and Keith starts a book study of Karen Armstrong’s 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life in less than two weeks. If you’ve never read this book, and can get a copy of it electronically, it will change your point of view about what it means to live compassionately. The Daily Practice group has been meeting steadily since the last week in March, every day except Sundays; attendance is growing. Additionally, there’s a survey further down in this newsletter soliciting interest in online classes over the summer. If you are curious, and potentially interested in participating in an upcoming class, please check out the very short survey and state your preferences.

No, it’s not the same as in person. It can’t be. We won’t be going back to the old model any time soon. The people who live far away are thrilled to hear that; that means they get to participate. There are those who, quite rightly, say that we are doing a better job of serving our community because we are more accessible to more people.

Your Board of Trustees met virtually this past week. We talked about what it would take for us to meet in person at the office next month. Given the constraints on meeting (10 people or less), we could theoretically meet in person, maintain safe distance (6′ between chairs), meet with facemasks on, & have the air handlers on high. The office would need to be wiped down, but it could be done. We could even have two guests at our board meeting, they would have to sit in an adjacent room, but they could still see and hear the discussion.

Last week the Board talked about how we identify congregants with some skill and interest in computers and videographic equipment, who also have time and interest in helping us get us set up for live-streaming when the time (finally) comes. Fortunately, there are a number of resources within CSLs around the country with expertise that are delighted to share what they have learned with us. Interested?

Yes, our center is open. If you haven’t been participating, we invite you to join us.

–Rev Janis

Consider Yourself Invited!

Nearly every year since (at least) 2008, CSLT’ers have chosen to gather together for a Friday evening and part of a Saturday to decide what our collective focus will be for the next 12-36 months. The results of previous envisioning weekends can be viewed on our newly improved website under “About” and then under “Organizational Documents”, as well as Board minutes for the past three years and Annual Reports (since 2009).

Together we decide what we have done well, what we could do better, and what we want to let go of. We also decide what we have will and stamina to bring into our world, and how we want to polish our collective light in Tucson and beyond. Everyone is welcome to bring their vision for CSLT forward, and attend as much or as little of this idea-planting activity as they have time and interest. We’ll build on the community visioning that occurred on Sunday, January 12. The collected notes from that visioning are presented below this document in this newsletter.

Our focus has shifted over time from very grand ideas (from 2008) like operating a K-12 New Thought school in Tucson and a self-contained ministerial program into more modest, readily-attainable goals. Our “What We Would Love” list from last year’s envisioning included:

  • Increased visibility in Tucson (Our new education center is much more visible, accessible & available)
  • Well-funded, well-attended & well-known (Our Sunday attendance has begun to grow again, and we have had the most (economically) positive year in well over a decade, not to mention the sale of the raw land on 22nd St, the purchase of the new education center and the establishment of the Opportunity Fund (which is to be used for sustainable marketing, among other long-term goals).
  • Expanded number of groups (Multiple book study groups, Men’s group, P+III group, Sacred Cinema, Lunch Bunch, Music Appreciation Group…)
  • Prosperity Fair, community bulletin board (yep, and the Annual Meeting Raffle of beautiful donated art objects, proceeds used in purchasing our new sign)
  • Vibrant Youth Program (Teachers gathered, trained & vetted, and first youth program initiated)
  • Communal expression of talents & treasures (Multiple teachers with multiple educational offerings, awesome music, recreation of the Winter Solstice ritual to a social event, drum circle…)
  • Have a home space/kitchen (‘home’ space, yep; kitchen, not exactly)
  • Location where people can drop in and use the lending library (yep)
  • Sharing our Services (Binder available on Information Table, not well utilized)
  • Increased Visibility for Service Teams (Recognized in ‘Gratitudes’ and Invitations to join)

We continue to move forward in “Telling Our Story”, populating our YouTube channel, and creating a gallery of photographs on our newly optimized website. The blog, populated by articles written by our leadership, and others, continues to gain readership. Our newsletter readership continues to grow, as does our Facebook presence.

What wants to be done by each, and all, of us in the next year or so?

How do you wish to participate in sharing of our divine expression and our expansion throughout more of Tucson, and beyond? Come join the conversation Friday night 6-9pm and/or Saturday 10a-4pm.

–Your CSLT Board of Trustees

Our Youth Program Begins!

January 5 was the official start of the CSLT Youth program. No youth attended service that day, so the 1st day sharing the Science of Mind with a youth was January 12. A young fellow spent time with Maria and Jay, two CSLT members, during the service and enjoyed himself. The time began with a short treatment, they discussed unity and the three spent time drawing their favorite animals, talking about how we’re all connected with everything including the animals, especially our favorite animals. The youth shared his experience with the congregation after the three returned to the service before the final song. Maria shared how we are all the same age on the inside and all have something to share with each other.

The process for me, of pulling this youth program together has been challenging because working with children has been such an unfamiliar experience for me. Even though I have three adult children (who made it to adulthood), my parenting style was more of the making sure they were fed, clothed and at soccer practice on time and less of the being present with them, or helping them to understand feelings and reassuring them that everything was going to be okay and each child was perfect, whole and complete just the way they are. Over the last 10 years and especially since my introduction to CSLT, I have talked to my kids about the emotional support they did not receive, but desired, and have found that I can supply that now. I feel that I’m a better parent to them now than I was in their youth.

Assembling the youth program has involved reviewing three weeks of the 52-week curriculum, which has 6 different lessons for Preschool-High School. The lessons are very long and involved and being able to follow them seemed overwhelming. Meeting with Pat Masters, we simplified the curriculum to a basic format of Spiritual Truth from the CSL curriculum, Readings from the CSL curriculum, asking a question and discussion followed by a Craft and Closing Prayer. The Volunteer teachers can use the supplied curriculum and suggested readings (we have them all) to prepare for the class. The curriculum provides a thorough discussion of a topic with a summary so we can talk about a topic easily with the kids.

It turns out that I am having fun putting together the lessons and preparing the crafts. We will be making turtle symbols on river rocks, dusting our auras with turkey vulture feathers and doing Tai Chi for Kids. And that is just the next few weeks! I look forward to spending time with the kids.

My initial thought was that I would miss out on not being in the service but meeting with the children will be another way of nurturing myself. I wish that I had been exposed to SOM when I was young and since, as Maria said, we’re all the same age, I will be exposing that young person in Marya to Science of Mind in a new way. Teachers will receive a copy of the service at no charge so we can hear the Sunday talk & the fantastic music.

The young person returned to the service, with his two teachers, before the last song so all were present for the Closing Song & the after-service dance party. Please speak with me if you’re interested in getting involved.

–Marya Wheeler

Put Your Own Mask On First

Ram Dass is reported to have said, “If you (mistakenly) think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family”. Those of us fortunate enough to still have family around, and visit them occasionally, get to be reminded of this great truth. Family dynamics are among the most soul challenging experiences any of us can have. This is especially true if we don’t see our family frequently. All of us change constantly; they still remember us as they knew us, or as they wish to remember us. Neuroscience tells us that what people experience of us is 10-20% what they perceive from the actual interaction, and 80-90% what they remember, or what they imagine. This is also true for each of us.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about expectations and disappointment and the scenarios we build in our minds about how things ‘should’ be. Especially around major holidays. And that thing Buddhists call attachment. Typically, we think of attachment to ‘stuff’, but it applies more to stories that people will behave a certain way, or respond to us like we want them to, or that things will be as they have always been, or that we can stop time, or that we can precisely control exact outcomes, or ….

All this backstory brings me to the statement made by flight attendants before every flight, and by self care gurus everywhere, reminding us that if we don’t “put our own (oxygen) masks on first…”, and take conscious note of our own needs, desires, intentions, stories, expectations, beliefs, boundaries, etc., we have stripped ourselves of our ability to respond to our life experiences, whatever they may be, in a supportive, affirming way. Any time we link our sense of wellbeing to our expectation that any other person will act a certain way, we have limited our ability to be present with what is actually happening and reduced our ability to decide how we choose to perceive and remember the events of our lives.

Then there are the predictably unexpected monkey wrenches. My sister had a serious medical emergency the weekend before I traveled to see family. During those last few pre-holiday days, she had planned to finish her last minute Christmas shopping and tie up loose ends. Instead she spent five days in a very good hospital, ultimately receiving three stents providing blood to her unhappy heart. The surgery was successful; she was home the afternoon of Christmas Eve. She was saddened that she wasn’t able to participate in the pre-holiday prep, buy presents for about half the family, or get any of her gifts wrapped. After she had handed out the few presents that she had acquired, she apologized to the rest of the family and said, “Well, I’m still here.” We all applauded and celebrated her presence.

Then there are the blended (and blended and blended) family issues, and the (control) games people do play. Without making anyone wrong, a challenge all by itself, there were opportunities to create some new and completely different rituals and practices over the holidaze. We decided not to let the grandstanding of a few individuals during the week spoil the quality of our appreciation of each other during the few days we had to spend together. That is not to say it was easy, but it was possible, since we kept our wits about us, mostly.

The practice of remembering that only we are in charge of our own experience, while unsettling or annoying at times, may be among our most powerful methods of sharpening our mental and spiritual tools in our toolkit of awakening. Putting our own oxygen masks on first, remembering what has actual importance for us and is in our control, remembering that everyone is doing the best they can all the time, given what they know and believe, including us, we can more easily remember that “We are just walking each other home.”

Blessings in this New Year.

–Rev Janis Farmer

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