Got Turkey?

“Appreciation, gratitude, and thanksgiving — the motive power which attracts and magnifies the hidden potentialities of life.” – Ernest Holmes The Science of Mind 637

I think in most homes the idea of the Thanksgiving revolves around being grateful and appreciative of the blessings we already have. The idea of dinner revolves around the meal being prepared by the matriarch of the home. In my home, this dinner consists of a feast that I have prepared and is enjoyed by my family and friends. Preparing for this feast can take quite a bit of planning to present the perfect meal.

I appreciate two of my dearest friends. At least a month ago they notified me that there is an apparent turkey shortage and that I’d better get my turkey now! They were sincerely concerned that I wasn’t aware of this shortage and what would I do if I didn’t have a turkey to serve? They were right. I wasn’t aware of the apparent shortage. However, I immediately thought — what are they talking about? Don’t they know we live in an abundant Universe and that Source is always providing for us?

Often at Thanksgiving my mom would tell this story. One year back in the early 60’s, my parents couldn’t afford to buy a turkey for dinner. They bought a 39-cent chicken, stuffed and roasted it. My brother thought it was the best dinner ever. They were grateful.

A thanksgiving memory I hold happened back in the mid 80’s. I had bought a turkey, my mom bought a turkey, and my grandmother won a turkey. We had 3 turkeys to cook that year. Thanksgiving morning, we all woke up and no one felt like cooking a turkey. My mom suggested we go out to dinner at a restaurant my grandmother used to own. They were open and serving a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. We were thankful. The next day we cooked turkeys.

“Thanksgiving is a grateful recognition of past benefits and the activator of blessings yet to come. Thankfulness stimulates a continuous flow of blessings. If, in your life, there is a paucity of blessings, it may be that your practice of thankfulness has grown weak and inactive. The attitude of gratitude is important in achieving wholeness in life. Only by enumerating the many blessings bestowed upon us can we fully appreciate the generous bounty of God.“

— Norman Vincent Peale

With appreciation & gratitude to you, Happy Thanksgiving.

Madeline Pallanes

Sometimes, Finding Gratitude Takes Work

I learned this week that another CSL minister friend has decided to retire. That makes five new thought ministers that I know of (and my universe of ministers is not that large) who have decided to retire, or just quit, in about the same number of months. The Great Resignation is alive and well among clergy, too. To be sure, most of their decisions are not entirely pandemic related. And… during these last 20 months of uncertainty and rising discontent, the job of being a minister has been even more challenging than usual.

It does seem harder to find gratitude when things don’t work out the way we want them to. I mean, after all, doesn’t the Science of Mind teach we can have what we want? No, actually, it doesn’t. It teaches we can experience what we are willing to become. There’s a big, and important, difference.

Holmes wrote in The 1926 Science of Mind 154-155, “Everyone automatically attracts to themselves just what they are, and you may set it down that, wherever you are, however intolerable the situation may be, it is just where you belong. There is no power in the Universe but yourself that can get you out of it. Someone may help you on the road to realization, but substantiality and permanence can come only through the consciousness of your own life and thought. Each must bring themselves to the point where there is no misfortune, no calamity, no accident, no trouble, no confusion; where there is nothing but plenty, peace, power, Life and Truth. They should definitely, daily, using their own name, declare the truth about themselves, realizing that as they reflect their statements into Consciousness, they will be operated upon by It.”

If I look out at the world in front of my eyes (some would call this the ‘real world’, I don’t), and see things I don’t like, what are my choices, really? I can criticize, demean, demand, distain, disrespect, destroy, etc … what I’m looking at, or I can decide that I must not see the whole picture, and I can choose to see the same situation with ‘God eyes’, remembering that, somehow, what I’m experiencing is for my continued awakening.

Freed Roman slave Epictetus was quoted as saying, “It is easy to praise providence for anything that may happen if you have two qualities: a complete view of what has actually happened in each instance, and a sense of gratitude. Without gratitude, what is the point of seeing, and without seeing, what is the object of gratitude?”

Do we ever have a ‘complete view of what has actually happened in each instance’, really?

What are the gifts that I perceive, and receive, from my friends who have decided that continuing to serve as ministers doesn’t support their continued wellbeing? How can I find gratitude for their decisions? First, I get to look at why their decisions unsettle or disturb me. Then I get to look at how their decisions inform and influence me.

I’ll look at the unsettling aspect first. These last 20 months have been the hardest, most unpleasant, work I’ve ever done, and we’re not yet done with this pandemic experience. I have felt the urge to just run away. A friend told me just this past week that if she were in my position, she’d already have been ‘outta here’. However, to quote Jack Kornfield, ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’ Leaving doesn’t actually solve the issue.

What’s the gift in the situation? Where’s the pony in the barn full of manure? How can I change my mind about these present circumstances and find gratitude? Holmes gives us clues in The Science of Mind 411.3, “We can sit in the shade, or move into the sunshine. Sitting in the shadow, we may not really believe that there is any sunshine. But the sun would be there all the time. All the time we are in bondage, real freedom exists. It is there, but we must awake to it. The Law of Mind as quickly creates one form as another for us, and we must allow the patterns of our thought to become molded from the highest sense of Reality we possess.”

I find gratitude when I remember what I’ve learned from my friends who have retired or quit, that I’ve chosen to do this work, and have decided that walking away right now doesn’t serve who I’ve come here to be. I discover a deeper level of gratitude when I realize I’m more guided, stronger and more resourceful than I ever knew I was. I also gratefully recognize that I’m continuously supported in so many ways, because the Divine lives and expresses in, as and through me, and in, as and through everyone I come into contact with.

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow… if you will keep digging.”

Where do you find gratitude for stuff that seems hard, unpleasant or distasteful in your life?

–Rev Janis Farmer

Looking Back and Looking Forward. Thanks for Everything!

Janie and I will both cycle off the board early next month and, so, this will be my last newsletter article for now. Writing articles for the newsletter has been a blessing. Rev. Janis might laugh to hear me say that because I often submitted my newsletter article right at the deadline. It is not something that I initially welcomed. The practice has given me moments to look inside and share my thoughts, challenges, and joys.

Writing articles for the newsletter has been like so many things in life seen through the Science of Mind lens. It wasn’t exactly fun at first and, even with this last one, includes an element of difficulty. But the experience of reaching inside and writing honestly about the way my life has been so improved by following the Science of Mind is a privilege.

I am sincerely so much happier because of what I’ve found at CSLT. Compared to how I was back in 2014 when I attended my first service, it’s amazing. It was during tax season in March. A friend told me about attending a CSL in San Francisco and praying with a practitioner. I googled Center for Spiritual Living and discovered CSLT. It’s changed my life. It’s changed my family’s life.

The first class I took was Prosperity Plus II. Mary Morrissey asked for tithing during the class. I just about threw up. I asked all the members of the class if they tithed. I had taken the class because it was the least expensive of the classes and I certainly did not have the funds to tithe. I brought my husband Chris to the class the next week and we dove in.

Science of Mind is a philosophy that I would have scoffed at when I was younger. I had so many resentments in which I lived. Feeling desperate and rageful, feeling like a victim was a more normal emotional state for me. Maybe I wasn’t ready.

We took the first Foundations class with Reverend Donald. I remember how difficult it was to read the Science of Mind. I just could not wrap my head around the readings, so confusing. I practically found it mind-numbing.

Not anymore, I can read the SOM books with understanding and love and receive the essence that the beautiful words impart.

During the Foundations course, Reverend Donald discussed the mantra meditation practice of which he was a devotee. I had been schooled in the same meditation practice in the mid-70s and picked it up again. After practicing it for four months, with a gentle nudge from Rev. Donald to practice it twice a day, I began a daily meditation practice in 2016. That practice has given me the strength to go forward with opening my own business. I have prospered financially.

My husband Chris has joined me in the Science of Mind practice for which I am so grateful. He has found great joy in participating and has been sharing his music with the Center regularly for over 5 years, I think. Serving on the board was a natural way for me to be able to apply the gratitude I feel. It is fun being on the Board.

During the first year I was on the Board, we had regular Board potluck/socials at a board member’s lovely house every month or two. Meeting with the Board is not a chore. I looked forward to meeting with my friends monthly to discuss the business of the Center and to engage in its continuing operations.

Although I will no longer be on the Board, I look forward to continuing participation in the daily meditation practice and to the PP3 Alumni and Intention Setting practice. And I will be leading the movie discussion groups after October. I will continue to be involved in the Youth program, which will resume at some point. I do this because I love CSLT and I love the members and Reverend Janis and the practices. It allows me to flourish and grow and feel so much better and to live with harmony, ease, love, liberation, order and even more God qualities every day.

PS – My favorite newsletter article and favorite project that I’ve done in a class was being able to share the video of the Sandhill cranes that I took when Chris and I woke up so early and made the trek to see them, going early on a Monday after missing them by 15 minutes the Saturday before. Thank you all for letting me share with you.

Love, Marya

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

Gratitude At All Times

This newsletter will be received on Wednesday. (This post was written on Monday evening.) The Tuesday election will be over. At this point, I am not sure if we will know who won the Presidency or not. I know who I prefer to win but I am willing to recognize that the All Good does not always appear to me as I would like.

And I am willing to, after an initial adjustment, accept the results without railing against what I perceive as wrong, if that occurs. I experience the gift of a noble friend (noble friend = someone who helps me push my buttons and shows me where I am not seeing clearly) when I find myself distressed around political events. Oftentimes, in the morning meditation, I discuss how to re- align my sense of myself and how to recognize, again, that my well-being is not based on events outside of myself but on my inner experience and that my energy manifests my reality. Falling into a sense of victimhood is such an easy experience, and such a bummer!

Being a victim does not service me anymore! I wholeheartedly believe in the Science of Mind philosophy and practice – I have experienced results in my life based on the energy and focus I have put out into the Law through Spiritual Mind Treatments and by maintaining my vision. Attending the Prosperity Plus classes, in 2015 for PP2 and again for PP3 in 2019 and 2020, I have followed the practice of tithing on my income. I joke that it is my retirement planning although I have other income sources for retirement. The Mastermind group that meets twice a month, provides continuing support by holding for each person a phrase or a realized healing that we then manifest. Mine for November 1 was “I claim the peace, joy, love & order within my reach. Including continuous positive cash flow”.

My experience of joy is an intense stab of feeling so the prospect of feeling joy on a daily basis does not fit. Reverend Janis’ addition of that which is “within reach” made all the difference. A Mastermind member yesterday talked about contentment being happy peacefulness. That is lovely and I can see it working for me!

I say that I welcome contentment into my life, but I still obsessively read my CNN app after my meditation this evening! I had put a 10-minute timer on the app (oh-the wonders of my watch!) and I bypassed it to add one more minute.

I am quite excited about the election – I regularly emit a vision of my candidate winning and I expect that I will experience some anxiety about it tomorrow.

But then I breathe deeply and remember that the kingdom of love is at hand. I read again today’s meditation from 365 Days of Richer Living, The Infinite Law of Good Brings Me Complete Satisfaction, and know that I live in All-Good, I manifest All-Good and Spirit expresses All-Good through me at all times, even when I forget. For this, I feel great gratitude.

–Marya Wheeler

Divine Inspiration

As a new board member, I was told that I needed to write an article for our newsletter every so often. And I wondered whatever should I write about? After some thought, I decided that given the current events of this year… covid, riots, politics, excessive heat, no monsoons, isolation, etc., I would share about what helps me get through my days and weeks with joy, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude toward life in general. It is Divine Inspiration.

I understand God, Spirit or whatever you call It, is a power that created me in eternal life and loves me very much. So, I look to God, who I know is everywhere present, as my constant companion throughout my day and as we walk hand in hand together and I look for Divine Inspiration everywhere. For me, this is not defined as the “Big Stuff”, that happens in my day, but rather all the little gifts I am given and recognize as I go about living my life. For example, a penny I spy in the parking lot and pick up, a beautiful cloud I notice in the sky, a soft breeze caressing my skin, a tender kitty kiss when I least expect it. So many little things that make me smile in joy and gratitude. I am always humbled by Spirit’s love and my given awareness.

What about the light that turns green right when I am ready to slow down at an intersection, or the piece of pie that falls off of my fork and lands on my wrist and not on my new blouse? The phone that rings when I am just thinking about that person and it is them, thinking about me! Even a task that I was dreading and as I am completing it, turns into something not so bad after all. God is always offering Divine Inspiration and I am always at choice, to see, acknowledge and build on it as a part of the All Good in my life. These are the little blessings that add so much meaning to everyday living.

“Big Stuff” happens. Some great, some maybe not so much. But recognizing beautiful miracles in the small things constantly through out the day create an attitude of gratitude that fills me with……you guessed it, Divine Inspiration. Pulling me up, leading me forward into a greater expression of Love and joy. It is seeing God in Life. Spirit, my constant companion.

Wendie Arison

Reflections

“Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light and return to the source of that light.
This is called practicing eternity.”
— Lao Tzu

I have known for some weeks that I have felt inspired to write about death, a topic most of us, including me, have been socially conditioned not to talk about. I have known seven people who have died in the last year and a half and it has caused me to contemplate the value of life, and my own demise. I fully realize I am closer to getting off the planet than I am to entering it. I will be 80 next month.

I have had the opportunity to be with those who are dying and it has been a privilege as well as a sadness to lose those I have so loved, one of them being my only sister. I have discovered that when I am afraid of something (like death), I need to come as close to it as I comfortably can, and just sit with it. I benefit from paying attention to my reactivity and resistance, seeing where my boundaries and limitations are, noting the quality of my fear, and eventually seeing it all as a process that comes from my own identification and conditioning, as well as a natural processes, and part of life as we understand it.

My losses of family and friends have been natural, inevitable, and sad, experiences. I can also say that being with the dying has been very tender, rich, and rewarding for my heart and soul. I hope I have grown more compassionate as a result. I am grateful for those who have passed through my life and those who still remain as my teachers.

I know that there will be other loving human beings who have significance to, and for, me because I realize we are all in this together, parallel souls on a parallel journey of finding the meaning of our own lives and eventually releasing that meaning in order to surrender to the One Eternal Life, which I now experience and will continue to experience. From my soul’s point of view, I have discovered in accepting death, I have been blessed and will continue to be blessed by the mystery of life and death, all part of the same magnificent continuing gift.

—Namaste, Janie

Thank You, Dick

Dear Dick,
We are so grateful for your many years of service to our Center. How can we even begin to express our gratitude for your steady, devoted service since 2014? Any task you accepted was always done with expertise and love. Your thoroughness and vigilance shined brightly in all things you did for CSLT. You have been a generous example of selfless service and trustworthiness these past six years. Your wisdom, counsel, steadfastness and servant’s heart will be hard to replace. You have been, and are, deeply appreciated and you are loved by all who have even been touched by even the edges of your big heart. You are already deeply missed. Our best love and wishes for health and happiness for both you and Rosalee.
–With great love, Rev Janis, Mariann, Marya & Janie

Sevain Sangha (in honor of Dick Laird and all others like him who practice selfless service)

First, two definitions:
Seva: Service. Working for the benefit of others.
Sangha: The community of followers and practitioners of the Buddha’s path and teaching. Sometimes used to refer specifically to Buddhist monastic communities. (Source: gaiahouse.co.uk/glossary/)

In writing to the early Christian church at Corinth, apostle Paul (his scribe, or his ghost-writer) wrote about the various gifts of the spirit that different members of their spiritual community embodied. Based on his words to the community at Corinth, I’m guessing he believed that some members of the community wanted to be more special, or that they valued some gifts more than they valued other gifts. He explained to him that everyone has gifts to contribute and no one’s gifts are inherently better than anybody else’s gifts.

I would step further out on a limb and say that I personally value competent plumbers, repair-persons, handy-persons and car mechanics much higher than I value some other individuals who are seen as more important in the world. If I look for the common theme shared by all those who I value, they all serve others or serve one or more groups, or ideals greater, larger, or more expansive than themselves.

True service often resembles altruism, the act of doing ‘good’ or serving another simply because the individual can. Philosophers have a field day with the concept of altruism because they argue that feeling good for ‘doing good’ is the reward and so it is not a selfless act. (Source: bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/does-altruism-exist-science-and-philosophy-weigh-in)

In the Buddhist tradition, one path to enlightenment is the sacred path of service, or seva. The path of the Bodhisattva is the path of the enlightened being who chooses to voluntarily disregard personal benefit and well being to relieve suffering in others. Part of the belief is that in helping and serving others, the individual’s personal suffering becomes diminished, though that is not the goal.It sounds like being called as a Bodhisattva would be a downer, and yet, if I consider the most enlightened beings that I know, they radiate joy.

In the Bhagavad Gita (commonly called The Gita), the best known and most famous of Hindu texts, Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna that he needs to do his duty and do battle with his family members, even if he doesn’t want to because it is his duty to do so. This message from The Gita is the call for selfless action and service to a greater good, which inspired many spiritual leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King.

Sikh communities regularly and routinely fed the fire management and control personnel as they worked to control the recent massive bushfires in Australia (and other places), as a spiritual practice of service.

Service is also a core value in Judaism. In The Preacher’s Homiletic Commentary on Joshua, F.G. Marchant wrote, “God has three sorts of servants in the world: Some are slaves and serve God from fear; others are hirelings and serve for wages; and the last are children, who serve because they love.”

In Islam, service to humankind is considered equivalent to service to God. (Source: www.islamicinsights.com/religion/service-to-mankind-is-service-to-god.html)

And so, the apostle Paul was not alone in his point of view (1 Corinthians 14:12 New International Version (NIV)) So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church. (Source: biblegateway.com)

And so today’s blogpost is a salute to the many quiet helpers in our community that build up our community with their unassuming service.

I feel grateful for each of you… for every single act of service, whether anyone has requested it, sees it, or acknowledges it. Our world is richer because of the many hands and hearts who lift us all up. Thank you.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Family Thanksgiving

I feel connected and complete. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I spent time with my aunt and two cousins whom I have not seen in over 40 years. And I saw my brother and sister. The occasion was attending the memorial for my uncle who transitioned in September. Uncle Proctor and Aunt Patsy lived in Wilmington, Ohio. This is roughly one hour north of Cincinnati which is on the border of Kentucky. The Cincinnati, CVG, airport is in Hebron, Kentucky.

Awakening at 1:30am on Thanksgiving morning to catch the 2:15am shuttle to Phoenix for the 6am flight was the start of my weekend adventure. When I made the reservations in October, I puzzled over the expensive airfare into CVG. I found cheaper flights on the Thursday before December 1, not realizing until two weeks later that it was Thanksgiving Day. The airports were not busy, and I had no problems with the flight, the car rental or the drive to the nursing home where I joined my cousins Sue and Nan, Aunt Patsy and Susan’s son, Matt, for a takeout Thanksgiving dinner. We ate in a small apartment that the nursing home provided for visiting family members. No microwave so the food was not hot, but it was yummy. I shared how my diet had changed after being vegan for 4½ years.

Sue, Nan and I shared primarily about our current life situations and what concerns we have regarding our adult children and aging mothers. Our mothers are both 88 and have dementia. Susan has been a widow for 17 years and is currently dealing with breast cancer which has metastasized to her bones although it is still breast cancer. She is on chemotherapy for two weeks and then off for one week. On the Wednesday before I traveled, I got my hair cut and my hairdresser gave me Shirley Temple ringlets. I was wearing my glasses on Thanksgiving and explained to everyone that this was not what I looked like. The next day when I wore my contacts and had fixed my hair and Susan spent time with me without her wig, we agreed that we were now our real selves.

Our mothers were best friends in high school. That is how my mom met my dad. Susan is 3 months older than me so they were pregnant at the same time with us. Aunt Patsy was especially close to my father, Jack. Their birth mother died when my dad was 6 and Aunt Patsy was 3. Sue and Nan gave us a set of old pictures which included pictures of our parents and Uncle Bill’s birth mother, Gertrude. She bares a striking resemblance to my older daughter, Nicole.

My brother, John flew in from Vermont on Saturday and within a short time we picked up our sister Maggie who flew in from Wisconsin. They both have children who are 12 and/or 13 and were relishing traveling solo. At dinner on Saturday night the cousins and Matt (sans Aunt Patsy) all shared about the relationships we had with our parents and about the times we remembered spending time together. My siblings and I shared about the pain we experienced as a result of our mother’s mental illness and her brutality. In the early 80’s our father came out to us as gay. His absence during our childhood had contributed to the sense of abandonment the three of us shared and dealt with us as adults. It was a bonding experience and I am grateful for it.

The next day was Sunday and the memorial. It was at Wilmington College, the Quaker college where my uncle taught Mathematics and MIS for many years. Music played and Sue, Matt and Nan shared about my uncle. He was one of five professors that were very good friends and whose families grew up together. Three children of these professors shared about growing up being a part of group and how welcome they had always felt at the Deans. People had come from out of town to attend the memorial including the adult children that shared. It was a lovely event. Aunt Patsy told Nan that she understood that the memorial was for Proctor and that she misses him. She told me that too and I agreed that I miss him and miss my father, Jack.

Spending time with Maggie and John was great fun. We shared a hotel room and lay in bed Saturday night laughing and talking about our children. We each have three and relate that to being one of three. Monday morning the adventure continued as I arose at 3:30am to travel back home to become immediately engulfed in my work life.

The surreal experience of re-establishing family ties comforted me at a basic level. I have texted with Matt and know that our connection will include more phone calls and visits. This feels especially important considering our aging parents and Susan’s illness. I appreciate the opportunity to process this through writing this newsletter article. Thank you, for allowing me to share this with you.

— Marya Wheeler

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