What A Lovely Open House!

Saturday, August 7 from 10am to 2pm, the Board of Trustees hosted an Open House at the Education Center on south Craycroft. The Board showed up with plenty of individually wrapped, Covid-safe snacks. One of the Covid specific adjustments that was made were the name tags at the door with three different color markers. Green meant that hugging was welcome. Blue meant ask before hugging and Red meant I love you but prefer not to hug at this time.

For some period of time, it was just the Board but then we had our first visitor. I won’t reveal her name as I have not asked if I could share it in the newsletter but her name is lovely as she made it herself. She follows us primarily through the newsletter and had a long-time connection with one of the CSLs in San Diego as a practitioner! Affiliation with CSLT would be fabulous if she has interest, and it is even an option.

After 12 noon we had several more visitors. They were all regulars, and included our new practitioner who hadn’t yet experienced the in-person camaraderie of CSLT. We were able to pull up chairs to the table and all share in a fun conversation and in the numerous snacks. Marsha M had asked if I would eat a bag of chips for her, which I did. Eating Fritos for Marsha meant the calories did not count. Lucky for me, as I was also able to eat a bag of Doritos for Gregg as well. 

Seeing people in person was the goal of the Open House and we certainly accomplished that! There were many hugs all around and it was sweet to see people in person. A member was even brought to tears by the experience. For me, meeting in the Education Center felt like we’d never stopped meeting in person and that Covid hadn’t happened. I mean it felt totally normal although everyone started out with masks before they ate something.

I understand that Zoom does not work for some people. They don’t feel engaged by watching on a computer screen. I am lucky as I use my 24-inch computer monitor. I am also so grateful that, through my work, I regularly have several Zoom conversations almost every day. This has taught me to feel engaged through Zoom. One of my networking meetings has elected to stay on Zoom as it is so much more convenient. And our CSLT Board has also met on Zoom a number of times, after meeting in person once, because it is simpler.

Meeting in a Science of Mind group in person yesterday was great fun and felt good. Science of Mind is such a powerful way of life. I could relate to what Cerise Patron said in Sunday’s service focusing on Power, Connection, Oneness and Light. Her affirmation reflects my experience with our Open House and with being a part of CSLT. “Spirit within me, Spirit that is me, Breathe as me, Speak as me, Sing as me, Love as me, Live as me. Every wall that I have ever built to hold You back, I now tear down to set You free.”

Here’s to tearing down more walls, alone, on Zoom, and in person!

Marya Wheeler

Got Relief?

How do you spell relief? R-o-l-a-i-d-s? How you spell relief tells me a lot about you, without possibly even knowing you. For those of you too young to know, many years ago there was a commercial for Rolaids on TV. In the commercial the question was asked, “How do you spell relief?” The answer was R-o-l-a-i-d-s.

This past month I struggled with what to write about for this week’s newsletter. I kept thinking the words and thoughts would come to me, so I kept putting it off. I wanted the feeling of relief, knowing it was done. Last night as the deadline was drawing near, I received a lovely text from one of my dear friends who happens to be a member of CSLT. I blabbered on about the frustrations I was dealing with and then said, “Right now my mind is bogged down… I’m just feeling slightly overwhelmed… feeling a bit worn out….. but I know this too shall pass and tomorrow will be better.” She replied, “(Big breath in…then out…ahhh) I center and relax in the peace that all is well.” I felt immediate gratitude and joy for her companionship and guidance AND I felt immediate relief.

My morning meditation practice also gives me the feeling of relief. How fortunate I am to be able to rely on my morning meditation to feel relief. Morning meditation is my participation in our daily morning practice of meditation. Often during our discussion, I’ll write down what someone has said so that I can remember it later. Here are some thoughts that have come up during discussion and are held on my refrigerator by my CSLT nametag:

  • Live life on purpose
  • Who am I without my stuff?
  • Help me to understand
  • Divine ideas guide us to the best solution
  • If problems arise, get help
  • What is your greatest worry? Why do you tolerate it?
  • Lead me into situations I desire
  • Leaders don’t have to be vocal
  • Train your thoughts so that your outcome is always good

I feel relief just reading them.
So how do you spell relief? I spell it C-S-L-T.

Madeline Pallanes

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

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