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

It’s Good To Be Queen

As part of my job I frequently visit kids in custody at the Juvenile Detention Center. To soften the impact of the stark institution, the administration lets kids paint murals on the walls and memorialize their educational achievements with painted handprints. There are also many inspirational quotes on the walls of those long hallways. One quote blazes in iridescent gold paint and I look at it on each visit. It says: Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is just passing time. Vision with action can change the world! Lately this quote reminds me that my choices, too, create my experience of life.
In Victoria Castle’s workshop, she described two ways people tend to deal with their problems. Some people jump into action and busily do, do, do things to address issues while others take a passive and reflective approach to their problems. So, as in the quote above, some people just pass time by inefficient action and others just live in their heads and daydream. I happen to be the type of person who defaults to dreaming away inside my head, not effectively handling things. Victoria taught us a technique that works for both types of people. We can effectively address problems by managing our “state”, our internal response to circumstances. We can be in our bodies, breathe and remember our purpose and choose to be unaffected by outside conditions. Our state is where our sovereignty lies.
Likewise, in her Sunday message last week, Reverend Janis pointed out the importance of conscious choices. She said it is our responsibility is to pick what we want to experience or risk getting the default result based on race tendency of the Collective Unconscious. So, for example, we are not at the mercy of inherited health tendencies. We decide. If we pick and do not like the result we are free to pick again. To consciously choose is to exercise freedom and sovereignty in our lives.
I recognize my challenge is to get out of my head, to stop being passive and to exercise my freedom by making conscious choices and manifesting my desires. I get to be the sovereign of my own life. As a former people-pleaser, I had to learn that being sovereign means acting on my values, beliefs and intuition without seeking permission or approval from the outside world. To be sovereign is to be Self-reliant. In his book, Spiritual Liberation, Michael Beckwith said: “We are, each of us, kings and queens sitting on the throne of consciousness ruling our lives.” As I exercise my faith in Spirit I no longer feel fear about making decisions and acting on them. There are no limits to what is possible in God, but Spirit can only act through me. I must couple my vision with action if I want to change my world, and then ‘the’ world.

by Leah Hamilton

Cows Don’t Give Milk

While living in Sonoma County California in the seventies, Clover Dairy billboards could be seen everywhere, even into Marin County to the south. One day, I saw my all-time favorite. It showed a Holstein cow sitting in full lotus with her eyes closed. The caption read, “I moo; therefore, I am.”

This is my last article for the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson newsletter, before I “ride off into the sunset” of retirement and my “next yet-to-be”. Therefore, it must include thoughts about frog-princes, farms, cows, love, and our relationship with Life and living. In specific, it focuses on cows and loving, and how they are connected, and that by looking at them together, one can capture a snapshot of reality, and if there is anything I want to leave with you, it’s another dose of reality, my favorite subject.

First: I must say, “The Science of Mind is a bunch of crap. This is true, if you think about the highest use of crap, and from this point of view, all philosophies are a bunch of crap.” Without crap, the garden of Life would not be nearly as rich; the plants would not have the basic nutrients and required elements to produce fertile crops. So whether it’s The Science of Mind or some other philosophy, the points of view they offer give us ways of understanding Life, and points of view about Life, so we can more readily experience Life and Its full bounty. All philosophies are crap, but they work for us, when we work with them.

Second: We are always in relationship. We’re never not in relationship, whether it’s with ourselves, another, our community, our planet, an idea, a philosophy or whatever. We’re always in relationship.

Third: Glamour and delusion change nothing, absolutely nothing, except our experiences in life. Smoke and mirrors do not change the world, or a person’s life. They only change appearances and set up expectations that always shatter peace of mind.

Many years ago, I edited and retold a story, which I called, “The Lady and The Frog.”

A woman had experienced difficulty in all of her relationships with men. She hadn’t succeeded with any. To add insult to injury this particular week, work had been exceptionally tough, so when she arrived home that fateful Friday evening, totally bent out, torqued and twisted about her whole life, she was thinking that life was too much of a struggle.

As she approached her front door step, the automatic sensor light came on, and when she put the key in the door, she heard “ribbet, ribbet.” She thought maybe one of her friends had gotten one of those noise-making guard frogs that croak “ribbet, ribbet”, when you walk in front of them. She looked around to find it, and sure enough, there in her little flower garden, next to the concrete slab porch, was a frog. But this was a real frog, and when the frog looked up at her, he puckered up his lips, air-kissed at her, and said, “ribbet, ribbet.”

She froze and thought, “My God! Am I freaking out? That frog just kissed at me and croaked ‘ribbet, ribbet!’” So she looked at the frog again, and when she looked at the frog, the frog looked at her, air-kissed her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet” again.

Since it already had been one heck of a week, this was the frosting on the cake, so she decided that she was up for a little bit of distraction and entertainment. She picked up the frog, walked into the kitchen and put the frog on the kitchen counter. Putting down the rest of her stuff, she poured herself a big glass of wine and couldn’t help noticing that every time she glanced at the frog, the frog would make eye contact, air-kiss at her and croak “ribbet, ribbet”. She poured a second glass of wine; followed by a third glass of wine, and then, all the fairy tales she had heard started becoming more real for her. That can happen after three glasses of wine. And it continued: Every time she looked at that frog, it air-kissed at her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet”.

Finally, she said to herself, “What the hell! I’ve got nothing to lose,” and she picked up that frog, held him under the faucet to clean him off a little bit, because you never want to take a dirty frog into your bedroom, and she put the frog on the bed. She went into the bathroom, took a shower and worked on looking good and smelling good. She was becoming more and more convinced that when she kissed that frog, it was going to turn into a gorgeous, beefcake of a Prince, and since frogs don’t wear clothes, neither would he, so she wanted to be ready. Throughout the process of her cleaning up, she kept looking to see if the frog was still there, and every time she made eye contact, it would look her straight in the eye, air-kiss at her and croak “ribbet, ribbet”.

Wow! She seriously started to get her hopes up here. It was looking like this could turn out to be a pretty good evening after all. She finally completed her cleanup process, walked into the bedroom; bent over and kissed the frog right on the lips, and sure enough, that frog transformed into a gorgeous, beefcake of a very naked Prince. She screamed, “My God! It worked!”, and as she looked into those deep, hazel-green eyes, he air-kissed at her and croaked “ribbet, ribbet.”

The moral of the story is, that no matter how much make-up and glamour and delusion you bring to a situation, a delusion is still a delusion, and no matter how much wine you drink, a frog is still a frog. You can dress them up and make them look like a Prince, but they always will be a frog.

Take out a piece of paper up and draw a vertical line down the middle. At the top and of the left-hand side of the paper, write the word Delusion. On the right-hand side write the word Reality. Now spend a few minutes listing situations and conditions in your life, under the column where they belong: Does that situation or condition belong in the Delusion or in the Reality column?

It has been said, “Pain is the difference between what is, and what I want it to be.”

The Delusion column is your, “What I want it to be.”

Life experience tells us: “If my ‘Want to be’ is different than ‘What is,’ that’s what causes the pain or chaos or confusion in my life.”

Tell yourself the truth now, and tell it fast. Write down at least three situations or conditions in each column, before continuing with your reading.

You have heard me say, “Love is a Verb.” In my mind, as a noun, Love falls horribly short sometimes. It makes a very crummy noun, unless you’re talking about the effects of Loving.

Looking at Love only as a noun can be problematic, and in fact, sometimes catastrophic, since our definitions shape our experience. This is how love and milk begin to relate.

If I want love (as a noun), without loving (as a verb), it may take a while, and it likely will not last very long. It’s hard to fill my love-bucket without putting in some energy.

As a verb, Love would be something we do. It’s active, it has impact, it moves, and there is an exchange of energy. Verbs support an exchange of energy.

At the same time, Love is part of our nature. It’s a function of the True Self. If it’s a function, then it’s a verb. It’s something the True Self does. It’s part of our “frogness”, as well as our “prince-ness” or “princess-ness”; it’s part of our essence. It’s natural. When we’re natural, we love. In fact, we have to stop ourselves from loving.

Love is a verb. It falls radically short of its true potential if it is considered only as a concept. Love needs to be actualized; it needs to be practiced and lived.

In Ernest Holmes’ and Willis Kinnear’s New Design for Living, we find, “The proof of any truth rests only in our practical use of it, and each individual must prove this theory for himself in his own life and experience.

Here is the story that became the title of this article:

I had a Great Uncle and Aunt, who lived on a little farm near Newcastle Texas. When I was four years old, I got my first pair of real cowboy boots for my birthday. In Texas you can get them early, and earlier, when I turned two, I had a pair, but they weren’t real cowboy boots. These four-year old versions had red leather and stitching up the shank; the whole bit. They were really cool looking, brand-spanking new boots, and I wore them proudly.

We went to visit my Great Uncle and Aunt’s little farm, and Uncle Richard was going to show me how to milk a cow. Most of my life, I have lived in a particular way. My Dad used to say that I “bogied right in,” which meant that if I wanted to do something or go somewhere, I just took off and went there, fearless to a fault sometimes. So I stepped right off that porch and started walking, hell bent for election toward the corral, determined that I’m gonna milk me a cow. Four years old. Sooner or later we learn things, and it musta’ been time for this one thing to be learned.

I stepped through the lower slat of the corral fence and stepped right into it. Yep, I stepped into some of that stuff that I called The Science of Mind and other philosophies. I stood there for a moment, looking down at the mess, and that’s when my Dad learned that I knew what it was. I called it what it’s called, but I said it as an expletive. He roared with a belly-jiggling laugh. He thought it was hilarious: What I had just stepped in, that I had stepped in it, and that I knew what it was and said so, for all the world to hear.

Well, I stepped right back out of that corral and started rethinking things a bit, as much as a four-year-old can rethink things. After a while of standing there, stomping for some time, to get that stuff off my brand-spanking new boots, Uncle Richard walked over to me. He had on those big, black, knee-high rubber boots. He had figured out how to do this thing, so he grabbed my hand and hauled me around the corral. He said gently, and not without a grin in his voice, “You don’t cut through the corral, Donald. You walk around the corral to get into the barn.”

When we arrived in the barn, there was old Bessy, or whatever her name was, and she was huge. Here I was, a little bitty shrimp in red cowboy boots, just about to milk my first cow. Uncle Richard showed me where the milking stool was, and he brought another stool over and sat next to me. He showed me where the bucket was; and this next part, I will never understand: That cow was just down-right dirty, and Uncle Richard made me wash my hands before milking her. Explain that one to me! Anyway, after washing my hands, I looked down under that cow, and I can tell you for sure, that was one utterly huge bag. I had never seen anything that big in my life. I was bottle fed, and my bottles didn’t look nothin’ like that udder.

Uncle Richard reached out and grabbed one of those puppies, and he started working on it. Right away, he got milk, but I noticed that the milk didn’t fall out on it’s own. He said to me, “This is what you’re supposed to do, Donald,” and he showed me the hand action, so I grabbed on, and I went for it. I started pulling, and kept pulling, and pulling, and pulling, and I thought, “I ain’t getting no milk.” It was the goofiest thing. So I looked at him like, “You’re tricking me. You’re playing a practical joke on me. This thing doesn’t work. It’s empty!”

And he said, “You’ve got to squeeze hard and like this.” Well those little four-year old hands could barely get around it all, but I worked and worked, and finally I got a couple of drops and began to feel pretty satisfied with getting even a couple of drops. I was ready to bag all this nonsense, because the longer I sat there and struggled, the more I noticed that it stunk in there. I just didn’t really enjoy the process much. Farms were dirty, and it seems like a whole lot of work to me.

On again and off again throughout my life, I have held to the romantic notion that living on a farm would be sweet and lovely and fun. Then I found out that my Great Uncle and Aunt get up before sunrise, go to bed after dark, and they work their tails off. It’s dirty. It’s messy. It stinks. They dealt with the realities of life like life and death every single day. Farm life is hard work! They had to eke out every drop from the cow, every head of lettuce and every single carrot they got from that land. They had to work for everything. Eggs were the easiest part, except for cleaning out the coop. And as I watched my Great Uncle and Aunt that day, they weren’t worn down by doing all of that work. They loved it. It was a true labor of love for them. It was their livelihood.

To complete the story, my aunt cooked a homegrown ham for dinner, and that was the sweetest piece of pork I have ever tasted. After eating that literally homegrown dinner, I could easily have called that farm their lovinghood, and I think that’s how Love is, as a verb. It doesn’t have to be struggle, and it yet it’s work. Energy gets exchanged, and when it does, it’s powerful and the most magical of activities. It’s as sweet as that ham.

I learned a great lesson that day. The lesson didn’t complete itself until many, many years later, but it finally finished percolating: Work doesn’t have to be a struggle. Work is nothing more than the exchange of energy. Metaphysics can be hard work, too, but it doesn’t have to be a struggle.

We don’t have to eke and pull out every single drop from this thing called Life, especially with Love as our nature. It’s just that we have been trained out of loving naturally. We have gotten trained into thinking that Love is a concept, an abstraction, a noun, a thing. But when we are at our best, most natural state, we simply love, and we naturally perceive and receive love. The flow of real love is a natural exchange of energy.

Loving is easy. It’s natural. It just takes practice. It takes practice to realize that loving is what we are, and when it’s natural, it’s what we do.

From The Jerusalem Bible: “Love is always patient and kind, it is never jealous, Love is never boastful, nor conceited, it is never rude nor selfish, it does not take offense, and it is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love gives naught but itself, it takes naught but from itself, Love possesses not, nor would it be possessed, for Love is sufficient unto itself.”

Cows don’t give milk. It is in their nature to provide it, but energy must be exchanged to express the milk. The same is true for love. The greatest souls are those who love.

Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself.”

Become the great soul that lives within. Become the love within you. Become the great Center; the Center that lives in you and awaits your discovery.

I trust that you continue to milk Life for all It’s worth, and It’s worth a lot of love!

I love you and have appreciated our time together, so with the Best of Blessings and with Love in Its Greatest Verbness, I leave you.

~ Rev Donald Graves

Holiday Past, Holiday Present

Now that there our days are getting longer…daylight that is, we are reminded by the passing of the Season of Light. The time of the Solstice has given us an opportunity to celebrate many holidays with family and friends, a time to “stand still” as the earth did on the 21st.

Now the daylight hours that are slowly extending beckon us to return to normality. As we move forward into 2017, we find new opportunities and challenges before us.

I’ve made a few changes in the Sunday evocation from New Year’s Day and offer these words to jumpstart your effort of getting back into your routine. I encourage you to bring the Light with you and radiate it to all you encounter.

Treatment adapted from the New Year’s Day Service:

I feel the light around me. I breathe in the light around me. I remain an integral part of that light, that energy called God, Universal Spirit, the One, the Higher Power. My awareness of this spirit augments and resides within me with every breath I take.

I feel great joy as the holiday ends knowing that I can bask in the afterglow of that God light just by breathing in the memory of that beautiful light that shone from every candle, every window, every holiday decoration, and each child’s joyful face.

I carry that light into the present. The Season of Light has given me a new comprehension, a new understanding. I bless all who shared it with me. I move forward to an exciting, healing and uplifting spiritual journey.

I feel great joy in this knowledge and with complete confidence turn these words over to Law. God Light lingers in this experience. I just stand here in Faith and witness the miracles. And So It Is

by Karen King, RScP

You Never Know

by Karen King

On July 15, 2014, I was stopped at a red light at the split in Camino Seco that is interrupted by Golf Links. My car was facing West and all of a sudden I was rear ended by a commercial truck barreling west on Golf Links at sixty miles per hour.  He hit me so hard it knocked the ABS system right out of my car. The Ford 350 driver got out of his vehicle and we exchanged insurance info and he said, “Gee, I forgot all about this light, I wasn’t looking anyway, I had my mind on something else.”

I felt fine at the time, no adrenaline shakes, just a slight stinging sensation running from my heels to the top of my head that didn’t seem to last very long. I thanked God for that and went on with my business. Within a few weeks, I began to develop symptoms and began asking the Master Physician for Guidance. “Who’s going to help us with this one?” With no obvious mechanical parts broken or fractured, no bruises or signs of physical trauma, where does one begin?

It’s been a journey and I had such wonderful healing help along the way: prayers of my fellow Practitioners and friends, a pain clinic, a physical therapist trained by a Brazilian Osteopath, my D.O, and since late summer, another physical therapist who had a whole body approach (neuro-muscular skeletal).

On Black Friday, I awakened realizing I had had a major breakthrough. The pain left my body. Oh, it flirted with me for a few more days, but it finally disappeared. I give all these healers credit for this accomplishment but I can’t help but wonder that this prayer on my refrigerator didn’t make a big difference; perhaps a big difference within me. I had been reading and experiencing these words for thirty days in a row while my morning oatmeal was cooking.

I wrote this affirmative prayer (treatment) for a Roots class and then rewrote it for Sunday invocation at CSL Tucson. (I write all my prayers/treatments while in meditation.) Many of the congregants asked for copies of it. I know that somehow, this prayer so appreciated by the congregants had its influence on me and in all places, next to the microwave where I cooked my daily oatmeal. So, here I stand, in the light of God and all those who were part of this healing and share it once more:

I set all other thoughts aside and silently breathe in the breath of God. There exists no other moment but this one occurring right now. With my deep breathing, I release the tension of the day on each exhalation. I spend some time in that space right now. I allow the God energy that I breathe in to extend to every inch of my body and feel the light energy of God penetrating every cell of my being.

I allow my deep breathing to return to normal; I relax into the private time with the one Source, the one Power, Universal Spirit, God the Good. I know that I manifest as a perfect creation of the living God…..spiritual, harmonious, fearless, and free. I reflect all that consists of the universe of Good.

From every direction, everywhere, come words of truth, making me know that I feel free, wise, and happy.  I appreciate the world in which I live. I show forth to the world health, wisdom, and peace.  I reveal to myself and those around me perfect health in every part of my being.

I feel fearless, free, strong, wise and able to do everything that belongs to me to do each day. God works through me to will and to do that which ought to be done by me. I function as a living demonstration of the power of Truth to set freedom into health and strength for living service to the world.

I acknowledge to myself, and to my internal being that I generate wealth and strength and a livingness through and through. God emanates life, health, strength, and support forever. I sense it in body, mind and spirit. I pronounce myself well and strong. As God saw the works of His hands Good, so I myself manifest as Good. All manifests as Good. And So It Is.

 Adapted from The Sixth Treatment of Emma Curtis Hopkins, modernized by Karen King RScP  p.261-262 of Scientific Christian Mental Practice

Heart of Gratitude

by Shelly Dunn

About six weeks ago I had a definite, unpleasant, sorrowful experience when I received my cat’s ashes back from the crematorium. I knew in my gut that his ashes belonged in California where my mother’s ashes had been spread four years ago. This was a definite order from my Universe that this was what wanted to be done, seriously, and soon.

As a school counselor, I have a publicly-funded position. There was talk at work that none of us were going to receive back pay because of a vote that happened last May. So after pondering a bit about all of this, my prayer partner did a spiritual mind treatment with me for money to cover a plane ticket to go back to San Francisco over the Christmas holidays. I had been really clear that I didn’t know how the Universe could possibly supply me with cash for an airplane ticket and spending money, and knew I needed help in changing my mind.

I absorbed the treatment given by my prayer partner, and felt it resonate in my heart. Because I allowed this possibility, I felt so open and accepting. Then the very next day I was slammed with a few unexpected bills that had to get paid. Crap. So yes, I did do argumentative work (i.e. deny the impact or effect of the unpleasant and unwanted experience and claim /allow/accept the desired experience) with myself, saying “no” to feeling worried or fretting, and started saying to myself “I choose to trust my Universe because my Universe is gracious and bountiful!”

My “busy monkey mind” would randomly start chattering on and on, trying to force me to slip into doubt. It occurred to me I could counteract, or minimize, that Negative-Nellie by doing a gratitude list of ten things that occurred during the day, every day, that were blessings. It didn’t matter how small or inconsequential these blessing were, they still counted. I did this every night for a week right before bed. Within the week of persistent gentle self-work through the argumentative conversations with myself, continuously reaffirming my belief in the possibility of a positive outcome and doing my nightly gratitude list, I had a lovely surprise — a friend blessed me with a free round-trip airplane ticket!!! I feel such humble gratitude for this teaching and the BIG heart of my friend! I also found out that there would be extra money I had previously earned in my next paycheck!

This definitely goes into my demonstration log just to prove that THIS STUFF WORKS!

Note: Practitioner students have been asked to keep a written record (or log) of when they have, or see, demonstrations of answered prayer treatments. This helps them remember, and build their faith muscle around, the knowing and affirming that prayers do yield the life-affirming results desired. This practice is not restricted to practitioners and practitioner students, but is available to anyone who desires to prove to themselves that they have access to all the potential Good of the Universe.     — Rev Donald & Rev Janis

A Miracle Healing

By 1995, I had become an avid reader of all the spiritual and mystical books I could find. I visited a nearby metaphysical store every week searching for more knowledge and inspiration. My relationship with my husband was not going well and I was having difficulty in my spiritual life because of my long-standing feelings of anger and frustration.

One morning, I woke up and when I opened my eyes, it felt like dozens of little pulsing needles were poking my eyes! I was intensely sensitive to any type of light. It was excruciating! I asked my husband to close the blinds and drapes and tack up blankets to completely block any light from coming in the windows. I spent all day lying on the couch with a dark towel over my eyes. That evening, I couldn’t stand to have a lamp or ceiling light on or to watch TV even with dark sunglasses on. I had to cover all LED lights on digital clocks with black paper.

For the next few days, all I could do was lie on the couch with a dark towel over my eyes. I had a “poor me pity party” and angrily ranted to God, “What have I done to deserve this? I’ve been reading every book I can find to learn how to be a more spiritually balanced person. Now THIS happens! I feel absolutely useless right now! Oh no, am I going blind? PLEASE don’t do that to me!”

This condition intensified as the days wore on, so I went to my doctor. He said my eyes looked normal but gave me some eye drops. I had an MRI, to rule out a brain tumor as a possible cause, but it was normal. Well, I wasn’t going blind; it was a condition known as Photophobia. It would eventually, probably, go away on its own.

For 3 weeks, I continued my miserable existence on the couch, eyes closed with a towel over my face! I begged, cried and ranted, but my condition wasn’t improving. Finally, one Saturday, I said, “OK God, I GIVE UP! I went out to my car and drove to my favorite meditation spot; a church with a large campus of separate buildings and desert landscape throughout. It was very peaceful there. I walked to the back of the property, went behind a classroom building where no one could see me and sat down on the concrete walkway. I rested my back against the building and in a calm voice, said “God, I do not understand why this is happening to me, so I am here for answers. What is the meaning behind my eye problem? There must be a message for me in this experience and, until I understand and am healed, I intend to remain here, for however long it takes.”

I started to close my eyes, but then, I heard a rustling sound beside me. I looked, and there was a little bird flopping around on the ground. One wing was bent and when it tried to fly, it fell over and rolled. No matter how hard it tried, flight was not an option. I told it, “Believe me! I know exactly how you’re feeling right now!” I felt such compassion for the little bird’s plight that I picked it up and set it in my hands forming a little round nest with my palms and loosely clasped fingers on my lap. It offered no resistance. I gently tucked both wings around its body and softly rubbed my thumb over its head until it went to sleep.

I closed my eyes again. All anger and impatience was gone and only a sense of peaceful surrender remained. I said, “God, there are two of us, here, waiting to be healed. We know you are our Creator, so we have no doubts that you can fix us. We will be patient and trusting. Then, just like a tape recorder started, I heard all the desperate pleas, angry thoughts and words I’d cried out to God in frustration, since the first day of my symptoms. However, I listened to them in a detached non-emotional state. What was obvious to me, immediately, was how many times I had screamed out to God with questions but then never listened for answers. I had been so focused on my physical suffering, that not once, did I ask “What is this about?”

I took a deep shaky involuntary breath and when I exhaled, I let my mind go completely blank. Then, I saw/felt myself as the bird being cradled in a loving hand. I felt like I was a child again, who had fallen down and was now being comforted in the loving arms of my parent who stroked my head and kissed away my tears, saying, “I know you’re hurting, but everything’s going to be OK; I promise.” My entire world of trouble melted away in that complete and unconditional loving moment. Every muscle in my body relaxed and a huge sense of relief came over me when I realized I didn’t have to figure this out; I only had to listen.

The Message: “You do not have to look outside yourself to find answers to your problems. The solution is always available when you go within. I am always with you. Books are a source of information, but I will always have you, specifically, in mind when you ask for help in any situation. Just be still and listen for that guidance – it’s always available.”

With that, I opened my eyes and looked at the desert landscape surrounding me and at the beautiful mountain that loomed in the distance. My eyes were OK, and I no longer needed to squint in the bright sunlight. I looked down at my little bird friend, and its eyes were open and looking around as well. I knew we were both healed!

I set the bird back down on the sandy ground beside me and watched as it hopped up on a nearby wire fence. I cheered it on, “Come on! You can do this! Just go for it!” It fluttered its wings a bit and then flew away as birds with healthy wings do. I felt like a proud mom!

My energy was boosted and I felt like I’d just had my battery charged! I stood up and jogged across the landscape to my car. When I got home, I walked through the door laughing and commenting on what a beautiful day it was. When my husband asked what happened to me, I simply said, “A miracle!” Then I pulled all the blankets off the windows, threw open the curtains and thanked God for my vision. I felt such joy!

This experience taught me that whenever I need assistance in my life – rather than read a book, get angry or struggle to figure things out on my own, I can sit quietly and trust that God will always tell me what I need to know. I’ve experienced several spontaneous healings that most people would consider to be miracles. I know it as God continuing to bless my life.

(I was prompted to write the above story because I recently watched an Oprah Winfrey interview with Dr. Michael Beckwith, of Agape International Spiritual Center. He talked about his book, Life Visioning. One thing he said really hit home for me, “When you struggle with a problem, focusing only on that problem, it will intensify. The only way you can overcome circumstances and situations that are pressing in upon you, is to go within. He said pain pushes until a larger vision pulls. When we ask disempowering questions like, “Why is this happening to me?” all we’ll get is a bevy of excuses. But when we ask empowering questions like, “What message is trying to emerge?” and put our full attention on possibilities of a higher purpose, the process of moving out of the darkness is speeded up. He said, “The good news is that our potential is infinite, and is always bigger than any problem that we face.”)

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

By Serina French

Grateful … For This?

An attitude of gratitude is most salutary, and bespeaks the realization that we are now in heaven. (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 497.2)

Wednesday night following the elections, we had a regularly scheduled Journey class. It was supposed to be about “The Hero’s Journey” and how archetypes color our lives. In a way it was. This election moved each of us through our own personal hero’s journey, or as I like to think of it, the agitation and spin cycles of a washing machine. Ultimately, we come out cleaner, clearer and more focused, and the process tends to be disorienting and generally unpleasant.

Obviously, we talked at length about the election results and our impressions of the particular candidates and our feelings and fears about them, recognizing that we each carry a biased caricature in our individual minds about who these two individuals are, and what they represent. By the end of the evening, most of the individuals present felt less at the effect of the election results, and recognized that this election calls each of us to shift from a sense of complacency into engagement and involvement in some fashion and at some level that is unique to each individual.

Each of us has had experiences, or have read about, or heard about experiences, that reinforce our viewpoint of the state of our country. I know it has been true for me; suddenly, random people seem more rude and pushy and arrogant and unkind. And we know, at least hypothetically, that we can only see what we believe. Is it time to pull out some elbow grease and scrub our pet points-of-view and see what we discover? When we remember, we know we are at liberty to think the kinds of thoughts we choose, and work towards the kind of world that we desire to live in.

No democracy, or organization, works long or well if participants willingly allow others to do all their thinking and deciding for them. Each one of us has to do our own heavy lifting. In this instantaneous information, misinformation and disinformation, age in which we find ourselves, sifting through the noise to find accurate, pertinent and meaningful input to allow conscious, intentional decisions can be challenging, and time-consuming. It’s not a whole lot of fun, unless you really enjoy detective work.

You have heard the quote, “Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.” It is attributed to Gene Fowler, a journalist, author and dramatist. I think it is fair to say that he was an observer of the human condition. Whether he is a cynic or a realist, I’ll leave that to your interpretation. He is also quoted as saying, “Everyone needs a warm personal enemy or two to keep him free from rust in the movable parts of his mind.”

So now, how do we move from disgust and distrust to that salutary (i.e. favorable, healthful, beneficial, wholesome) attitude of gratitude? How much personal work will it take so that we can find gratitude for the individuals who wake us up from our slumber, and move us back into our active, participative adulthood as members of our lives, and our society?

In The Hidden Power of the Bible, Ernest Holmes reframed the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden as the necessary waking up that humanity had to do once they collectively chose to experience a world view that contained duality – good and bad, light and dark – and in that choosing, realized that each was always at liberty to choose, and choose again. Maybe this election has created the necessary momentum for each of us to remember to choose the biggest, boldest, brightest life expression we can imagine, and to step on to a bigger stage than we ever imagined. And maybe it has served as a bold reminder that we are in charge of our life experience, and not be at the effect of something or someone outside of ourselves. I can find gratitude for that reminder, and step boldly into my life.

Best, Rev Janis Farmer

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