Time again to reach out and share some thoughts that relate to Tucson CSL

I made it to the first meeting of the book study “Atlas of the Heart.”

The discussion was centered on the introduction and the first chapter. I realized that some of my problems following the line of thought had to do with my defense mechanism of avoidance.

At one point during the introduction the author was lamenting along with her siblings their intense disdain for having to move literally tons of accumulated stuff that the previous, now dead, generation had gathered and refused to let go of. I was a good student of said generation and I am a visual learner. I also depend heavily on physical prompts to jog my memories.

I have a real addiction to stuff.

I tend to avoid anything I see as unpleasant whatever it takes. And if emotional work is involved, I have a tendency to run away.

Okay, so the introduction was just how the book came about and some background information. My stories are different and that’s ok. Because as individuals we are different, the emotional response pattern is similar.

Chapter one touched on stress, overwhelm, anxiety, worry, avoidance, excitement, dread, fear and vulnerability. The author gives brief examples of stress, overwhelm, anxiety and worry.

I particularly related to avoidance. The author states: “Avoidance will make you feel less vulnerable in the short run, but it will never make you less afraid.” Also, I hadn’t considered the consequences of this coping mechanism and its effect on others.

“The premise of the book is that language has the power to define our experiences.” Anxiety and excitement are defined and contrasted to practical fears.

Then an analysis of vulnerability leading to the conclusion that vulnerability can also be an asset.

I have begun chapter two “Places We Go When We Compare” and feel like I am beginning to make some progress and finding more relatable material. I hope to attend this discussion for the next 12 weeks. The class is a drop in and not a certificated affair, so read along and feel free to participate as you are able.

–Chris Wheeler

Invoke. Who, Me?

The image “Invoke” is from Cheryl Richardson’s Grace Cards. The back of the card reads, “Ask for a blessing. There is an endless supply of Divine support awaiting your request.” As a hard-core Religious Scientist, I feel a little twitch with her imagery, and what’s implied by her words. It looks like she’s asking for a favor from a God ‘out there’. We know that’s not where the Divine lives. It lives in us, through us, as us, and also all around us. It’s clearly not a big daddy in the sky that gives us candy when we ask nicely.

Neither does that image convey the typical notion I have when I think of the word ‘invoke’. To me, invoke is more engaged than that, more like demanding, asserting and claiming. The magician creating a spell uses an invocation, and so does someone speaking affirmations that they actually believe. According to dictionary.com both the passive and active meanings of the word apply. Invoking is a tool we each have available to us, right now, that we can use to claim and receive our endless supply of good.

We are invoking a new creation this month. We’re returning to in-person services, but they won’t be the same as what we had before. We’re in a different place, and each one of us has experienced a different sort of life for these past 27 months. How will we show up differently for ourselves, for each other and for our spiritual community?

This isn’t something that I’m doing single-handedly, though I do have a part in it. Every Sunday this month I’m going to ‘dance’ with the text of the Hafiz poem, “The small man builds cages for everyone he knows. While the sage, who has to duck his head when the moon is low, keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful rowdy prisoners.” And it’s not something me, your board, our practitioners and our beloved music team are creating for the enjoyment, and the spiritual growth, emotional well-being and social enhancement of our community, though we trust those things will happen too.

For the remainder of the month of June, we, the community of CSL in Tucson that chooses to gather in person is going to begin to gather in person again. Are we invoking an endless supply of good? What does that good ‘look like, sound like, and feel like’ when we do that? What probable experiences are we creating, feeling and invoking together? What are we ready and willing to ask for, claim and receive? Back in January when we did the Community Envisioning practice for this year, one of the big-ticket items was to find more ways to experience joy together. (Hint: that’s not a top-down agenda.) How do WE invoke joy, peace and blessings (aka ‘good’) for ourselves, each other, and our community?

We’ll also be invoking a greater understanding and appreciation of our emotions, through reading/discussing Brene’ Brown’s Atlas of the Heart, so that we may speak more clearly and effectively in all aspects of our relationships and our lives. Having the emotional clarity in our word choices lets each of us speak clearly and accurately about our experiences, and those we desire to have. We’ll increase our recognition of good, and be able to see more clearly the good that arises from those things that don’t necessarily look like good at first.

I invite you to consider your answers to these questions. Is it just business as usual, the same-old-same-old, or are we invoking something new that has never been experienced by us before? We get to call it into being. What do we create?

If you choose to participate with us in person, or choose to remain online, I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning at 9:30am for our Sunday Celebration Services, and preceding that, at 9am for our in-person only Sunday morning meditation at our new Sunday location, Live Theater Workshop, 3322 E. Fort Lowell Rd.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Hollyhock Magic

Coming home from my walk I see a man in a black SUV parked in front of my house. I know exactly what he is doing. He has been called by the hollyhocks. I am surprised by his stopping because the flowers have not begun to bloom, but the leaves are a big beautiful green and there are a lot of them clustered together. Hollyhocks take two years to grow into plants that bloom. They are also independent, hearty plants that do not need to be covered when it frosts, nor do they need to be watered.

            Still curious about his stopping, I say, “You look in deep contemplation.”

“Are those squash plants? I’m putting a planter in my friend’s backyard and am looking for some vegetables to plant.” I tell him the plants are hollyhocks. We chat a bit, then he pulls out his phone and wants to show me pictures of the work he has done. We are still in the middle of the street. I suggest he puts his car in park, and he does. He shows me the photos and where he is working a street to the north. In the photos I notice beautiful iron work on the wall where he is putting in the planting beds. When he says they have similar ironwork on the wall around the front of their house, the one with the pontoon boat, I know exactly which house he is talking about. It’s a beautiful yard, with two big Mesquite trees with flowers around the base of the trees. We marvel about the trees together. I learn his name is Hector, and Joe is the friend he is helping out. “What’s his wife’s name?” I ask. He closes his eyes and thinks about it, then remembers “Judy. Joe and Judy.” In my daily walks around the neighborhood, I have greeted Joe, now I can do it with his name.

            Hector tells me of his arthritic hands, the cancer that is remission and about his kayaking and upcoming 77th birthday. But mostly he tells me about the importance of staying busy.

            I tell him he must come by when the hollyhocks are in bloom, he assures me he will.

            During the time we had our conversation in the middle of the street, no cars came by. It was a scared time of communion and grace.


The Merry Month of May

By the time you see this post, my month-long sabbatical will have started. According to my contract, this should have happened in 2020. We all know what happened in 2020, and I was committed to keeping CSLT on the air, and connected, during those challenging times. It wasn’t until I put myself in the hospital for the first time in almost 60 years, and then tweaked my back for the first time ever, that I really realized that I was doing a lousy job of ‘putting my own mask on first’.

When I was in ministerial school, one of the teachers said ‘You’ll get to live out your unhealed history in front of your entire community.” I didn’t know what she meant by that, though I’m beginning to understand. Years ago, a therapist encouraged me to buy, and read, Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More, and Jacqueline Castine’s Recovery from Rescuing. I didn’t get it. In my mind, I didn’t fit the pattern of needing to control people, situations or outcomes that I saw in these books. However, there is an aspect of ‘taking care of things so other people don’t have to’ that rang very true. It still does. I continue to let those old stories of ‘helicopter mom’, ‘hero’, ‘martyr’, ‘saint’ and ‘shepherd’ fade away.

Now you know what I’ll be doing during May. And I have a request for each of you. I’ve found five amazing speakers who will be giving the Sunday talks while I am away. These ordained ministers and exceptionally gifted ministerial students bring different energies and modes of expression that you won’t be able to experience any other way. None of them are local. One you’ve enjoyed twice before – Dr Karmen Smith. Two are Canadian. One emanates love, another is much more intellectual. One speaks joy, and one speaks power in most unexpected packaging. Some are younger, some are more seasoned. Experience these individuals sharing their gifts, and participate in your spiritual community over zoom. Additionally, Sharon Whealy’s class on Dr Edward Viljoen’s Bhagavad Gita starts May 4th at 6pm on our second zoom channel.

I know some of you have stayed away from zoom because you’ve decided it’s not possible to connect during online Sunday services (I wonder if you’re mistaken about that), or because we’re not holding in-person services yet. Our Sunday morning production team continues to work on creating a high-quality in-person and live-streamed experience. We’ve wanted to do this for years, but never had a great enough need to make ourselves do the heavy lifting. That’s happening now. We’ll be in person, and online, starting June 12th.

Reach out to your CSLT friends that you haven’t seen in a while, and re-connect with them. We are more than our Sunday service experience. We are a community of beloveds.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Some ‘Things’ I’ve Discovered at CSLT

We have this teaching. We can study it, ruminate on it, discuss it and practice it.
It seems to me that all aspects of this teaching are strengthened and become clearer when it is shared with others. Especially when those people are seeking to understand and practice what they have learned.

I am amazed at how my understanding changes and increases while participating in discussions.

I often participate in our morning online meditation. After the meditation we have a brief discussion of our thoughts, feelings and insights. I always come away from the discussion with food for thought.

Book studies are another avenue that I treasure. Very often I am overwhelmed with all of the information contained in so much of our literature. The discussions bring me perspectives I could otherwise miss. These ideas often are critical to my understanding.

Classes may fall into the category of community building activities but I consider them to be part of the community in a general sense. Again, it is the interaction with others that seems to nurture me on my path to better understanding.

I appreciate the support and the feeling of being heard.

I am grateful for this expanding community, looking to create the present and the future.

–Chris Wheeler

Valentine’s Day Cards

Many years ago, I came to regard Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday, a made-up occasion to buy and send a card, like Secretary’s Day or Grandparent’s Day. But, in practicing SOM principles, I’ve come to know God as Love and look for ways to express this Love. I changed my view of Valentine’s Day. Now I see it as a wonderful opportunity to share my love.

A few years ago, I began sending cards to family and close friends as reminders of my love for them. The first year I did this, I bought those cheesy cards kids exchange. Remember how special you felt getting a basketful of valentine’s from your grade school classmates? Remember the time and attention you spent choosing which classmates would get which cards from you?

As some of you know, my latest hobby is cardmaking. Now instead of buying cards to give, I make them, infusing them with love and creativity. I found that I had a kit to make 10 Valentine’s Day cards. I spent an afternoon assembling them, intending to send these out to family and friends.

I am following along with the “Science of Mind Textbook in One Year” handout. I decided to skip ahead to February 14 and read:

Love to the World
My Love goes out to everyone in the world;
I do not exclude anything, for I love all Nature and everything that is.
My Love warms and lightens everything that it touches, and it goes out into all places. The Love flowing through me is a Power to all who come into contact with it,
and all feel and know that I love.
Love within me is Complete and Perfect.
(SOM 547.M1)


This inspired me to expand my reach of card giving this Valentine’s Day. I will give those 10 cards to people in my world who won’t be expecting them, i.e., acupuncturist, house cleaners, etc. Inside each card will be a handwritten note including something it is about them that I love, a God quality I see in them.



Of course, I will still send cards to family and friends that will be looking for them. I feel like a
grade school kid again giving out so many cards! How will you share your Love with the world this Valentine’s Day?


–Janet Salese



It Takes a Community, to Build a Community

Thank you to the participants who came to some or all our community visioning earlier this month. The board shared that we are in the process of finalizing the location where we may meet in person in the near future. Exactly when, we are not sure. It has all the criteria that we need, space, parking, room for the band, place for meditation and children’s groups. We will be renting the space, and will need to follow their mask protocol. The watch parties that have been held at the office have been delightful, and it will be wonderful to meet in person again.

After the announcement we brainstormed what people wanted to experience in the upcoming year. The full notes are listed later in the newsletter. Some of the themes were to broaden our congregation, make the new space feel like home, and to have fun. After all joy is a Divine experience!

There are many ways people can participate in community activities, classes, daily meditation practice, full moon labyrinth walk, movie discussion group, Keith runs a men’s group. We are looking for more fun/social activities that can be done together, too. If you have some ideas and are willing to coordinate them, send an email to admin@tucsoncsl.org.

We thought about ways to use our powers of attraction to bring people into the fold. Some ideas are recreating CSLT informational cards which can be left in yoga studios, coffee shops and libraries, and having people make a short video on how CSLT has increased the quality of their life and put it on our YouTube channel and website. The best form of advertising is word of mouth. When you are out there in the world radiating your awesomeness and someone says, “I want what you are on!” Let them know about our community.

The credo for CSLT which was written a few years ago remains:

The Center for Spiritual Living Tucson inspires spiritual expression in community with all, and offers an accepting, loving, and peaceful way of living a joyful, healthier, and more abundant life.

Who wouldn’t want that?


Got “Same Auld Lang Syne”?

Sissy wishes you a Happy New Year

Auld Lang Syne was a poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. The poem
was set to the tune in 1799 and sung to bid farewell to the old year and bring in the new year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. ‘Same Old Lang Syne’ was written and sung by Dan Fogelberg in 1980. Both are favorite songs that bring me to tears.

Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “To start your new year right, I suggest finding a deeper spiritual life. Something happens deep within you and thereafter you are filled with joy and warmth and beauty. This may happen quickly and dramatically. It could happen today. On the other hand, it may be a developing experience, unfolding as a rose, beginning with a bud and ending with full flowering. But, however it happens, this is the greatest experience possible to a human being.”

As I think back over this past year, I know I have found a deeper spiritual life with CSLT. I know I am filled with joy, warmth and beauty. My heart is filled with gratitude for all I have learned through our teachings and practices, all the friendships I have gained, and all the love I have received from all of you. I’m ready to bid farewell to 2021 and bring in 2022. How about you?

To bring this year to an end, I hope you join us for Endings and Beginnings — Friday, December 31, 5:30 pm on the Sunday morning zoom link. Music by Michael Zimmerman.

2022 is offering us many fun opportunities to engage, learn and spiritually grow with each other! Consider joining us at our next “Watch Party”. We are also offering fun new classes to start off the new year with class. As I have said many times, “I’ve got class.” All the information can be found in our weekly electronic newsletter, and on our website.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, pleasantly abundant, blessed, deeper spiritual life. Happy New Year! Let’s bring in 2022 together as We Are All One.

–Love, Madeline & Sissy

Hi! I’m Chris (Wheeler)

My path to the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson started when my wife told me she had discovered an interesting group of people that gathered on Sundays. This automatically sent me into “This sounds like too much work” mode and… “People! I need to run and hide.”

Soon after my introduction to the idea, I was able to avoid gathering for many Sundays. I had gone to churches as a child. We joined the Unitarian Universalists to give our children exposure to a faith community. And to give our youngest child the opportunity to wear her shiny shoes once a week. That’s another story.

My first contact with CSL was by taking Mary Morrissey’s Prosperity Plus program at the office on River Road. Prosperity was a subject I could relate to. The approach to the subject was different than I expected. And the hints of the metaphysical approach gave me a feeling of some sort of connection and I really liked the other participants. So, I said I would go to the Gregory School and attend a service.

It was while in the prosperity class we were responding to a question about dreams and goals and I realized I wanted to become a working musician again and play drums professionally. (I think there is a connection here) It was suggested that I could be the backup drummer for Sunday service. Around the same time the drummer for CSLT decided he wanted other things. I auditioned with the music director, David Prouty, and started playing drums for the CSLT Orchestra on Sundays. Around the same time as this event a musician friend pointed out a bulletin board ad for a drummer at a music store. I auditioned for, and started a gig, that was every second Saturday downtown that continued for several years.

I have been getting involved in more and more classes ever since. The CSLT experience has really helped me broaden my spiritual life, and my life all around.

Thanks to the all-inclusive aspects of the Science of Mind teaching and the loving support of this community, I get to expand my life. Even to the point of serving as a board member! That in and of itself would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Yet here I am, and I am looking forward to the next 3 years.

–Chris Wheeler

Tucson’s All Souls Procession

If you are new to Tucson, you may be wondering what’s up with all the skulls and skeletons (many brightly decorated) still around town. Did people forget to take down their Halloween decorations? And why are so many still constructing skeletal costumes? The calaveras (sugar skulls) and calacas (skeletons) are traditional symbols of the Mexican celebration of Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. They represent loved ones who have passed on. They are also heavily represented in Tucson’s All Souls Procession.

Grieving the loss of her father, Susan Johnson sought a way to gather with others in a similar situation to “remember together”. In 1990, she and several of her artist friends got together and the first All Souls Procession made its way through downtown Tucson. Starting with a few hundred that first year, the celebration has drawn over 150,000 participants and spectators in years past.

I have been part of this crowd several times, particularly in years when I had lost a loved one. While I have not walked the parade route, I have painted my face and included symbols to represent those whose lives I was remembering. I have laughed and cried while watching the individuals and groups march down the street. It has been very moving and cathartic to know that I was certainly not alone in my process.

The most significant part of the procession each time I have participated has been the Burning of the Urn. A very large steel urn leads the procession. Throughout the parade, attendants will distribute and collect strips of paper on which you can write a prayer or message to your deceased loved one. At the finale, the urn is set on fire. Watching the energy of the messages turn into fuel for the fire has always brought a great sense of release for me.

This year’s procession will begin at 6pm on Sunday, November 7. Visit their website for more info All Souls Procession – Remembering together. If you are not able to attend in person, you can participate virtually through a livestream All Souls Procession 2021 Livestream – All Souls Procession. You can submit your message to be included in the urn through their website Restoration of Care and Burning of The Urn Ceremony – All Souls Procession. You can watch previous years’ processions Videos – All Souls Procession.

–Janet Salese

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