Connections

I drove home a new way on Sunday after services and noticed the bright blue sign of a Napa Auto Parts Store. It was the first one I actually remember seeing in Tucson. Part of me doubted that it could possibly be the only one, so I googled it to see how many there are in town. One. There’s only one. Huh.

The reason it caught my eye, I think, is because my mom worked in one for nearly a decade while my brother attended the lower grades of public school. She was of the generation who fiercely believed that moms needed to be home when their kids got home from school, so she wanted a part-time job where she could do that. I never could figure out how my mom worked in an auto parts store, since her interest in car parts was negligible.   Honestly, it was non-existent.

As I pondered this, driving across town, what came to me was an awareness of what her expertise actually was. She was the undeniably, unstoppably, irreplaceably queen of customer service. People mattered to her. After my brother was old enough to drive himself home from football practice, my mom got a job working full-time at the photo lab on the airbase near where they lived. She served as the film librarian; her primary job was to interact with the customers and make sure they got exactly the service or the product they needed. People would stop by her desk all the time for hugs, and to take a piece of candy out of the candy dish on the corner of her desk that was always full. She kept that job for the next 40+ years and was still happily working when she became terminally ill; she could not imagine not being there to take care of ‘her people’.

I retired from my technical career at 52. She and I would often talk about how odd it was that her daughter retired before she did. I kept telling her that it was really obvious to me when it was time for me to stop working (at that job) and that she would know when it was time, and to retire any sooner would be silly. That seemed to satisfy her, mostly. There were times that she wished she could be a retired grandma and do the craft activities, the outings, or the book studies, with the old, retired ladies. When it got right down to it, she didn’t believe that she would feel as vital and alive if she didn’t have to answer to an alarm clock 5 days a week. So she kept doing what she loved – connecting with people.

There’s something about pleasant human interactions that adds brightness and liveliness to our days. Social scientists say we need a certain number of hugs each day to be emotionally healthy – four at a minimum. When I was working on last Wednesday night’s class on Mysticism, I was reminded that the need to connect with others is a basic human survival need. On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it ranks just slightly above the need to feel safe, and just below the need to feel respected or esteemed.

“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.” — James Baldwin

When I first saw this quote by James Baldwin, I thought of it as a negative commentary, but the more that I pondered the lifestyle that my mom chose, this idea remained quite valid and uplifting. She was the undisputed queen of making people feel important, no matter who, and no matter what. Even on Sundays and with the youth ministry at church, she was the first of the women to be given a plaque that read, “Mother of Our Youth”. I always thought the plaque was a little disconcerting, but it recognized the identity she had created for herself, and how she wanted to be seen in her world.

It seems I picked up just a smidge of that connecting mindset myself. I’m OK with that.

— Rev Janis

Interconnected

Seldom am I truly surprised. That’s not quite true. I wasn’t truly surprised on Wednesday night with Victor Shamas’ class on Deep Creativity.   In fact, I was totally delighted and thrilled that he had come to the same understanding of the unity of all things, the Oneness of It All, from a completely different (academic!) perspective and point-of-view. As I was sitting in the back of the room, watching his presentation, I kept nodding and smiling at his conclusions. The words he used were different, but he was speaking Science of Mind without knowing it. That awareness thrills me, because it reinforces the idea that there is only one originator, or Source, a.k.a. Divine Mind, with billions of individualized expressions. In his language, there is only one aquifer and we each, whether we are fortunate enough to know it or not, are individual wells tapping into that great aquifer. I love that. I’ll probably use it one of these days.

I was talking with my acupuncturist late last week about something that she and her business partner had noticed with their acupuncture business. When she gets complacent about the business, it just trundles along like it is running on autopilot. It certainly doesn’t grow. It’s adequate, but not stunning, or stellar. But when she ‘wakes up’ (her words) and starts paying attention to the business, the phone starts ringing and people walk in off the streets wanting to see if acupuncture will help them. When she and her son are in the office together, and they are both attentive to the business, they can barely schedule in everyone who wants to come in for services. Her partner says he has noticed this pattern at least five times. At some intellectual level we know this is true, because this is the way the Law delivers on our intentions.

In The Science of Mind 37.2-3, Holmes wrote, “The Thing, then, works for us by working through us and is us, always. It cannot work for us in any other way. It spreads Itself over the whole universe and shouts at us from every angle, but It can become powerful to us ONLY WHEN WE RECOGNIZE IT AS POWER. (yes, he’s yelling). We cannot recognize that It is, while we are believing that It is not.”

When the Board spoke their personal covenant on November 26th, these were some of the things they affirmed:

  • I demonstrate my commitment through active involvement in the activities of the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson, and demonstrate, to the best of my ability, a spiritually principled lifestyle.
  • I regularly attend Center for Spiritual Living Tucson’s Sunday Celebrations, and its other activities and functions.
  • I warmly greet all who enter CSL Tucson’s doors.
  • I consistently and fully tithe my time, talent and treasure.
  • I attract new members to our congregation and encourage others to bring new people.
  • I regularly acknowledge the loving service of CSL Tucson’s staff and volunteers.
  • I actively engage in my own spiritual growth, take classes at CSL Tucson and do my spiritual practices.
  • I enthusiastically participate in, and encourage others in, voluntary service.

Since we are all connected at a level beyond our human understanding, what do you think would happen if everyone who chooses to be part of CSL Tucson decided to affirm even a few of these statements? This is not ‘my’ Center, nor is it your ‘Board’s’ Center, this Center belongs to every single individualized Divine Spark who chooses to walk through our doors and participate with us. Each of us is integral to the full functioning of this Center.   We’d hardly have enough space to accommodate the people clamoring to join with us each Sunday morning in the auditorium at The Gregory School, the Wednesday night classes would be overflowing, and the small groups would be buzzing with excitement and verve.

What shall we do with this All Power that lives as us, in and through us, All Together?   What should we do with this magnificent engine of All Good? I think we should do something wonderful, heart-expanding and amazing. How about we share this tremendous quality of life that we know as already ours?  You in?

— Rev Janis Farmer

Recycling, Eating Organic and New Thought

I remember when the concept of recycling was new. I remember when the idea of eating organic food was uncommon. It wasn’t so long ago really. In my lifetime I have watched as our culture embraced the values both of these concepts represent. Today both ideas are familiar and commonly practiced. It took just a few decades for the concept of recycling to become a common household practice. Likewise, today organic foods are found on the shelves in all major grocery stores. There was a time these ideas were “cutting edge”.

This for me is very fun to see.

I think that philosophy we embrace at CSLT is “cutting edge”. It is an idea whose time has come, an idea that makes good sense. More and more people daily embrace some aspect of New Thought philosophy. Witnessed by the work of well know TV celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra, and the myriad of other New Thought teachers, literature, CD’s, mp3s, workshops and tons of information available on the internet. The basic concepts that Dr Holmes proposed are being explored and lived by many, whether they are aware of the origin of those ideas or not.

Now in 2017 I am reminded of how it felt to be involved in getting the word out about recycling and eating organically. I remember the feeling of momentum building and awareness growing. Today I hear folks espouse the merits of eating a clean diet and I smile. There was a time when this was “cutting edge” thinking. Today it is commonplace.

When I apply this to New Thought I get goose bumps (the good kind), because I can see, very soon, a day when we’ll all know that we live in choice. A day when we all know that available to everyone, right now, are useful tools that work to help each of us stay centered in the Divine, tools that allow joy and contentment to define our lives. I feel the momentum building, as everyday more and more people become aware of, and choose to use these tools, and to play in this field of unlimited potential. I delight when I think of the kind of place our earth becomes.

Here is to the day when the awareness of New Thought principles is as common as a recycling bin in every home. It is just around the corner!

I feel thankful to know this truth,

Sheila Campbell

“When consciousness is changed, experience automatically changes”          — Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind 207.4

Growing And Grateful

“…the human is really Divine but will ever evolve into newer and better states of conscious being”. ~~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 410.1

So for a few minutes I got ticked off and wondered to myself, “How the *bleep* many times do I have to process this same stuff?  I’ve done ‘tons’ of ‘work’ on my ‘issues’ – in Alcoholics Anonymous, with therapists and in numerous classes at CSL Seattle and CSLT.  What does it take, anyway?”

Well gang, once again I am reminded that growth is an ongoing thing as it must be since Spirit is ever-evolving through and as me/you/us.  I will never get a doctorate in any of the ‘issues’ I thought I had nailed.  However, I choose to embrace growth and thereby, more life, more love, joy, and peace as a result of being willing to be honest with myself and do what needs to be done by me.  But growth is frequently preceded by pain, discomfort, angst and/or confusion.  I mean, who really needs to grow while lying next to the pool in the sun, listening to the birds sing?

But let me get to the causal factors behind this article.  Money, for one.  I thought I understood and totally had it down how the Law of Divine Circulation works and that I always embodied prosperity consciousness.  It was easy to think that way because I had enough money for everything (within reason) that I wanted, plus enough to share.  I tithed.  I actually would occasionally find ‘extra’ money in my checking account.  But then I joined a gym and hired a trainer, my kitty got sick, I took a couple trips and not only was the ‘extra’ money gone, but I realized I was a bit overextended.  Lack and limitation consciousness can be subtle, and just because one is aware of it doesn’t necessarily keep it at bay.  It crept in and I was dumbfounded to find myself sprawled out in the Ditch of Lack.

Enter humility.  Enter actually using the spiritual practice tools we have been instructed to use.  Enter the remembering that God is Source, and that my prosperity is not limited to the Social Security Administration and monthly withdrawals from my retirement fund.  Enter God as Creative Spirit and great ideas!  Seemingly out of the blue, I realized I had several pieces of jewelry that I no longer wear and that there is a great store in Tucson that might wish to sell these items on consignment; they agreed and so far, I have picked up checks for $795!  The community in which I live held a semi-annual yard sale and I sold a bunch of stuff l didn’t need or want to the tune of another $190.  I was reminded and reassured that God is always my source, no exceptions.  In my fear of not being able to manage things on my predictable income, I had forgotten where my good truly comes from.   I just need to remember and live in that certainty.  In The Science of Mind 402.1 Ernest Holmes shares this, “Let us be happy to begin right where we are and grow.”  Deal!

Another thing I thought I had nailed beyond question was boundaries and saying ‘no’ with love.  Alas, I manifested a situation that triggered numerous unpleasant feelings and in taking my own personal inventory as to my part in the breakdown of the relationship, I realized I had set sloppy boundaries and been out of integrity with myself.  I appreciate what Tama Kieves wrote in her book Inspired and Unstoppable, p. 292, “The difficulties are supposed to arise.  Challenges position you to evolve into more than you ever thought possible.”  …and from p. 281, “Wild success isn’t a destination but an awakening, and the evolution continues, as far as I can see.  Even as I know I will continue to face the unknown and unknowable, I feel more peaceful and grateful than ever before.  I know this way will take me all the way.” 

I overflow with gratitude that I am alive and aware of who I am, and that growth continues with every breath I take… I embrace growing pleasures as well as growing pains as I evolve more and more into the knowingness of God as me, as you, and as us.

by Renee’ Mezzone

Opulent Fruitfulness

Opulent Fruitfulness

Last Monday night in the 8-week Meditation class, the student-led meditation was a mantra meditation. The word that came to me to work with was ‘fruitfulness’. What an odd word. I haven’t really thought of that word since I read the Old Testament for Metaphysical Bible while I was in ministerial school. The phrase that came to my mind, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” (Genesis 1:28, KJV).

So what other ways am I, and are we, fruitful or full of fruits? Well, there’s the fruit of the spirit. (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, NIV)). Many of the students who completed the How of Happiness book study this past Wednesday night felt that their time and energy expenditure was fruitful, because they learned that they could increase their own personal experience of happiness and contentment within themselves by working from their strengths. Holmes talks about bearing much fruit when he writes (The Science of Mind 481.7), “When we express a greater livingness, then Life is more completely expressing Itself through us. A barren tree does not express the principle of abundance and production, so a life barren of good does not fully express the divine ideal.

This past weekend, I had this joy of traveling to East Phoenix CSL with our practitioner students so they could take their oral panels and become licensed Religious Science Practitioners (that’s what RScP stands for). Two of them are now authorized to wear the purple stole of service. We will recognize them next Sunday. The third gets to continue to grow in her skills and consciousness and has the opportunity to re-panel next year. It was a sweet, and bittersweet, experience for me, and I think for them. It is easy to remember those days of nervousness and assessment; that feeling of being questioned and challenged about those important and seemingly intangible qualities that set practitioners apart from the gifted and talented lay practicers of our philosophy. For the two who completed their licenses, their spiritual consciousness was recognized and celebrated by the paneling ministers and practitioners who vetted their qualifications and skills. For the one who gets to continue her own personal deep inquiry, she was immersed in love, recognition and appreciation, and encouraged to stay the course. Each of these women, and I, experienced that sweet, and bitter, moment of fruitfulness that can come with certain experiences. I feel blessed and uplifted by these three powerful, prayerful women.

This past Sunday, I spoke about how we often choose to constrain our own experience of freedom, which is a secret code word for fruitfulness, when we unthinkingly or unwittingly accept the directives of others, and do not choose our own life experiences. We got to look at hidden beliefs around the necessity of struggle for the experience of success and the ever present critic, who lives in our own head and decides whether we are good enough, or not.   Spoiler alert: The critic is mistaken. Societal pressures would prefer to keep us as compliant consumers, and that’s not what we are here for. (Lest you think, I am against consuming, that’s not what this is about. It is about you, and me, choosing intentionally and not being led by someone else’s ideas of who we need to be.) To quote Robert Heinlein, “Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite.”   You get to decide what freedom, and fruitfulness looks like for you, and also to change your mind when that particular path no longer works for you and you realize you have a new and better idea. (The audio of this past Sunday’s talk should be uploaded onto the website within the week. Check the link, here.)

In August we are going to start a community wide book-study using Edward Viljoen’s Ordinary Goodness. A limited number of books are available at the book table. You can also read along on your e-reader if that is more your style. Books are not required, but if you desire to follow along, or read ahead, they are available. We will explore how each of us can experience our own greater fruitfulness, in simple powerful ways, through expressing and experiencing goodness, kindness, compassion and faith.  Stay the course. Notice, experience, and enjoy your own fruitful life expression, as you.

Thank you for being part of our community.

By Rev Janis

Releasing the (Inner) Warrior

I am ever grateful for the philosophy and tools I have learned here at CSLT because they have changed my approach to living. During the last few weeks I faced some challenges that would have defeated my old self. But I learned way back in Foundations class that when the brown stuff starts to pile up that is the time to start getting out the spiritual tools like meditation and prayer. One of my lifeline quotes from Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind is on page 282.4. (I know it is important because it appears totally in caps):

TO DESERT THE TRUTH IN THE HOUR OF NEED IS TO PROVE THAT WE DO NOT KNOW THE TRUTH.  When things look the worst, that is the supreme moment to demonstrate, to ourselves, that there are no obstructions to the operation of truth.

Holmes is talking about keeping the faith in Good when everything seems grim. All around me everything sure felt negative. I had been personally attacked and undermined on my job. I saw a long- time coworker and friend involuntarily transferred out of my unit. A friend at the Center decided to steer her life away in a different direction. I had my faith denigrated by a person close to me as “fortune cookie nonsense.” I was left thinking “What the hell?” I felt angry, very angry, and I also experienced a sense of loss for the people no longer in my daily sphere.

I have a card on my altar with a quote by Ram Dass that says: Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation. Use it! That means everything that happens to me is ultimately for my good. I knew I had to start looking for that Good. I remembered Reverend Janis quoting Nelson Mandela as saying that if he continued to be bitter and angry at those who held him captive, it would be like keeping himself in prison. That told me I had to process my anger too, and that didn’t mean eating a box of chocolate to numb out. It meant a form of radical acceptance, just letting myself feel my emotions. I sat with my anger in meditation and let it tell me where it lived in my body and what it wanted me to know. I was aware that behind every emotion is a thought. As I sat I discovered the thoughts behind my feelings of anger and loss and the story I created about my reality.

My freedom of choice allows me to reframe the meaning of any experience, to rewrite my stories. I asked myself “is there a different way to look at this situation than as a victim?” That’s when I remembered that I had stated my desire to get in touch with that warrior woman archetype within me a few weeks ago. I had said I was attracted to the independence, decisiveness and strength of the warrior archetype and wanted to bring it into my personal life. Bingo! I had brought the perfect opportunities to myself to practice! When attacked on the job I strongly asserted myself and spoke my truth in a way I had never done before. When ridiculed for my beliefs, I accepted that I no longer needed others to accept me and approve what I do. When the two friends moved on, I realized I had not lost them but their daily absence from my life did spur me to remain independent in my work and growth. I indeed began to see all these events as catalysts for my transformation. I found God and saw the good in the events that had seemed so hurtful.

Like dough to make good bread, I sometimes need the leavening yeast of challenges, along with a good kneading, to make me rise and be strong. Once risen I know I can go out into the world and help others rise as well. In the New Testament, Luke 13:20–21, Jesus gives his shortest parable:

To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

I now know I can prove the Truth to myself. It only takes a few people living the Truth to help others so we may all rise together and create the Kingdom of God right here.

And So It Is!

By Leah Hamilton

Creating a Common Vision

Reverend Janis’ recent reminder of the faith of Genevieve Behrend to manifest study with Thomas Troward even though he was across the sea and she had no money to get there, inspired me to think how we in our Center can manifest the home of our desires.

We now own property on 22nd Street near Swan, a flat buildable five-acre parcel on a busy and visible thoroughfare.  What is our vision for the asset that we now own? Even when we do not yet know how the Universe will provide it, just as Reverend Janis suggested during her recent reminder, I propose we come up with a vision that we can share and envision together.  A common vision requires a picture that we can focus on individually and collectively as we imagine the reality of how the building that houses our sanctuary and education center looks like on the land we now own.

As Genevieve Behrend, we have some legwork to do to educate ourselves on the cost and processes so our vision has a point of direction. Genevieve knew how much money she needed to bring her dream to reality, she knew her mode of transportation and costs, she knew where she would stay when she arrived in England and she knew where to find Thomas Troward. She had done her research so she could direct her mental work to accurately envision herself counting the cash she needed from one hand to the other, cruising on the ship carrying her to England, residing in the room she would occupy, and once there, walking up to Troward’s house and knocking on the door.

With a collective vision, we can each picture the money we need already banked in the facility fund, the city granting permits, the electric and water being run into the property, the foundation being poured, the hustle and bustle of the building going up, the spades turning the earth and the gardens been planted, and the parking lot being paved.  We can each imagine ourselves in the light-filled sanctuary for Sunday celebration, hearing the music the stirs our hearts and animates our energy. We can each listen to the spiritual message of Reverend Janis’ inspired and challenging words of truth resounding in the warm and inviting new space.

We can each picture ourselves in the education center partaking of exciting classes, brimming with knowledge and tools to help us shape our lives, supported by the smiling faces of our loving Community. We can each smell the gardens growing on the land and mentally walk the meditation path or labyrinth to remind ourselves of Omnipotent Bounty. We can each envision the sign out front boldly declaring our new home to all those who pass by. We can see the paved parking filled with cars transporting those of us already participating at our center to our new digs, and those who are new to the center curiously coming in to find out what we offer.

With a common vision and a common purpose, we could each model the actions of Genevieve Behrend and do the mental work to put ourselves in the place we want to be and hold to that vision with absolute trust that it is already so because the abundant Universe knows how to deliver it even when we don’t.  Let’s make our vision a reality!  So It Is!

By Carla Hodge

Invisible Abundance

Since becoming a student in Prosperity Plus II, I have thought a lot about abundance and prosperity. In agreeing to tithe, I found myself contending against a fear of “not enough”. It has been a liberating experience working to conquer that fear and grow my faith in Divine Abundance. I have found, right outside my window, a perfect parable of infinite Substance.

A month ago, I noted that I spend many of my waking hours at my work desk where I am blessed to have a window looking out on a tree and a distant view of the mountains. Wanting to share an experience of nature, I purchased a bird feeder that consists of a holder for up to three different cakes of bird food. I hung the feeder in the Palo Verde tree outside my window and waited for the birds to come to enjoy the suet, nuts and seeds.

Days passed by without any visitors to my bird feeder. I was puzzled because the clerk at the Wild Bird store assured me the birds would go crazy for the different seeds and nuts, especially during this season of hungry baby birds. Every day I kept watch on the tree and more than four weeks passed with the feeder remaining untouched. It looked quite forlorn just hanging there offering food without any notice.

Then I took a week away from the office. When I returned, I was startled to see a mad flock of birds at the feeder with the seed and suet cakes nearly decimated. Sometime last week, the birds discovered the bounty of food in that tree. Tiny sparrows and red headed finches battled for access to the hanging feeder, pecking their competitors away from the food.

Seeing how quickly the food was disappearing, I went back to the store and purchased a second feeder with more cakes of varied bird food that included cranberries, mealworms and smaller seeds for the tiny birds to peck. The presence of the second feeder in the tree did nothing, however, to lessen the competition for spots at the feeder. Such is the way of nature.

It seems to me the bird food hanging unnoticed in the tree is like the infinite Substance of Spirit all around us. That invisible Substance is available to us with the ease of a thought, and can manifest anything we desire or choose. It is always there but unless we recognize it, the Goodness remains untouched. Once we become aware of how we can tap into Divine Abundance, we realize we do not have to struggle for our prosperity. As Jesus said, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” The birds do not know there is an invisible giver behind the reappearing seed cakes, or that they need not worry about sharing the abundance, but I now have a constant reminder, right outside my window, that Spirit is my Source and that I am eternally supported.

By Leah Hamilton

My Prancing Doe

When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure“– Unknown

Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality” – Emily Dickinson

Mother tiptoed away in the dark and drowsy wee hours of the morning when most are enveloped in slumber. Sleeping a rare sleep, one so deep and luxurious, I fought waking like a Grizzly Bear might fight to extend her winter’s hibernation.

What had began as a faint irritation far off in the distance; the ring tone of the phone gradually became louder and more insistent. Failing to reach the phone in time, I hit “redial” and was connected to Research Medical Center’s stroke unit in Kansas City. Mother was in Cardiac Arrest; the nightshift docs were giving CPR. They wanted to know my wishes, should they continue?

Fighting my desire to sink back into the depths of night and trying to kick start my thinking brain, the first words I could muster, with lots of pauses in between, were “Well … Hmmm … She has a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order)…” Their response: “Do you want us to stop the CPR then?” Me: “Hmmm …..well …., she has a DNR so ummm, … Yes, I guess you should stop.”

There was not even a full minute to mull over or think through the ramifications of this decision, not a second to grasp or to cling. A decision was needed that very moment; it could not be undone and would change everything. Mom had tiptoed away after a stroke four days earlier. She had been playing the piano.

The day after the funeral, I visited mom’s grave. As I started down the lane to the family plot, I noticed a young deer literally dancing, a young prancing doe dancing as if to a lovely melody.

Mind you, I know Mount Moriah cemetery. I’ve been there for funerals and each year to commemorate Memorial Day with mother; decorating the graves of family members on both sides from her stash of colorful plastic flowers. I had never seen a deer in all my years there.

I knew immediately this dancing playful deer was my mother’s spirit, now set free. Mother was showing me her spirit – joyful and boundless, free from her paralyzed by stroke and pain-filled body.

Another ‘sign’ from mom came once I had arrived back in Tucson and started back to work. Quite extraordinarily, in broad daylight, a mother javelina and her baby curled up and sleeping for hours with their noses pressed against my office window.

My mother’s death unfolded perfectly, for her and for me. Given the chance, I would not rewrite this memory. It’s a perfect memory of my mother’s perfect life song.

By Holly Baker

Copy Watches

More than 15 years ago, I worked for about a month as a technical consultant at a petrochemical plant in Singapore. I was filling in for a colleague who had been working there for over a year straight and he needed a little time off to take care of some family business. While I was there, I had a number of incredible and amazing experiences. One of the oddest, besides eating chicken feet, durian fruit and grilled stingray on a banana leaf ‘plate’, was learning about an entire subtext of ‘copy watches’. These weren’t knock-off watches that you could possibly mistake for the original; they were obvious fakes that bore the label of the high-end manufacturer. The watch I purchased, for about $20 US, might have approximated the quality of a Timex with a faux-leather band, but the logo on the watch face clearly said Rolex. The street-hawkers weren’t pretending that they were selling Rolex watches, they were very clear with their cries, “Copy Watch, Copy Watch, Copy Watch…”

So, why would anyone buy a knock-off that wasn’t even a believable knock-off? For me, it was a memory aide that connected me to this place that was on the one hand incredibly familiar, and on the other hand inconceivably foreign. For some, I imagine it was a way to thumb their noses at the economic aristocracy that felt compelled to flash their legitimate high-end watches and such. Singapore was such a cultural mixed bag. For me, my copy watch also served as a reminder of what is true, beautiful and powerful, and what is facade, imaginary, sheep-like behavior, or simply made up.

I was handed a book this week. Really, I was handed a book this week to pass on to someone else. It wasn’t meant for me. (Ha Ha!) That book, The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna, is a stunning, playful reminder that we continuously get to choose between following the crowd, doing what is respectable, or concurring with the ever-present shoulds and ought-tos, and actually acting on that deepest creative desire of our essential being. Even when we don’t choose, we choose by not choosing. I’ve always hated that part, because every time I try to shirk my responsibility for myself, it sticks like gum on the bottom of my sandals on a hot day.

Last night we began our 10-week foray into Mary Morrissey’s Prosperity Plus II materials. For those of you who have participated in this activity before, you know it isn’t actually about collecting money for the center, or the dreaded “T” word — tithing. I won’t lie and say that tithing is not a component of the class, because it is. From the very first video Mary talks about conducting your own experiment of tithing, just for the duration of the class, to find out if choosing to share of your financial abundance increases your general, and specific, experience of abundance in your life. For many participants, it does. It is not too late to join the class. Just call or e-mail the office and we can order class materials for you. The full set of materials, 10 CDs and workbook, is priced at $50. If you have taken the class before and simply want a blank workbook to use in retaking the class, we can order that for you for $15.

So what does this have to do with copy watches? We can attempt to be a copy of someone else, try to blend in with the crowd, pretend to be invisible or inconsequential, or we can recognize our own gifts, desires and talents and be seen as the unique and magnificent expressions that are known by our own names. Scary, I know, and yet, I believe it is a game worth playing.

To act is to modify the shape of the world — Jean-Paul Sartre

During the month of April, we continue to talk about discovery, creation and re-creation. With the energies of the holidays of Easter and Passover upon us, why not make use of this inherently creative time to break out from your own bondage into freedom, and enjoy your own resurrection?

by Rev Janis Farmer

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