Report from our October 2 2022 Annual Meeting by Rev Janis

Apologies to the 6 folks, and any others, who tried to join on zoom. The sound was working when we tested it, so I don’t know what happened after that. Nothing changed, and apparently, something changed.

We had 14 people in the room. Maria ran the meeting. Each board member talked about their area of specific connection to our greater community. More on each group, team, and topic, are included in our Annual Report, which is linked elsewhere in this newsletter; specific details are shared in the monthly Board minutes. Board minutes are included in our weekly newsletter a couple weeks after each board meeting, and are made available on the website, under About Us, under Organizational Documents.

One question was raised about the number of major donors we have. Janet’s answer was a good one. We track that information by quarter, and report it to the Board, without attaching any names to the donation amounts. The information is also recorded and presented in the Board minutes. For the second quarter of 2022, we had 14 contributors who donated 80% of the monies that came in to our center. During the first quarter of the year, 80% of our donations came from 18 contributors. These are considered our ‘major donors’ and we especially celebrate them. We also acknowledge and celebrate all contributions of time, talent and/or treasure, in whatever form they occur. Generosity abounds. And as Rev Karen said last Sunday morning, “Money loves rhythm, … and flow.”

When I spoke about last January’s Community Envisioning, I mentioned that one of the desires of the community was to have more social activities. I reiterated that suggested social activities must arise from within our community. Board members can suggest activities, but they are not the only source of potential fun things we can do. These can be formal activities that take a bit of preparation and planning (see the next paragraph for how to do that), or more casual activities, such as going to Willcox to pick fruit, caravanning down to see the sandhill cranes, enjoying music and a meal at the lavender farms, or going for a hike or bike ride, or getting together to see a play at LTW, live music or a sporting event. Examples of other fun classes we have held in the past, tangentially related to learning, had to do with folding peace cranes, and coloring mandalas. Both of these are sneaky ways to expand each individual’s repertoire of meditation practices.

I didn’t mention it at the meeting, but we have an event proposal form on our website (under Organizational Documents). If someone were interested in proposing a big event, such as having a booth at the Tucson Pride Festival that happened this past weekend, this would be how they would do that. In the past, we’ve had a booth at the Tucson Festival of Books. There may be other events in town where we could have an identifiable presence. What are they?

In addition to the classes that I’ll be teaching, some of which will be certificated, Noreen Poli intends to offer an in-person, Wednesday afternoon book study on Emmett Fox’s Sermon on the Mount in January. You may remember when Noreen offered this book study four or five years ago when our office was still on E. River Rd. Also, Ethel Lee-Taylor intends to offer a book study on Brene’ Brown’s Braving the Wilderness in February. More book studies and assorted classes will arise, as other facilitators step up.

The last thing on the agenda was electing new board members. We had two seats available that had remained unfilled during the Covid years. No one rotated off the board this year. Linda Bullock expressed an interest in serving on the Board, meets the qualifications (as specified in our bylaws), and attended a board meeting to see what she was agreeing to. She spoke a few minutes to those assembled in the room, and was unanimously elected with cheers, and thanks.

We remain grateful to every single individual who participates with, and supports, this center. It is your active participation and engagement, as well as in the sharing of your time, talents and treasures that we become a more effective place of learning and growth, connection and community. We are grateful for you all.

Bells of Mindfulness

September’s Sacred Cinema movie is Walk With Me, a documentary about Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community. You are invited to attend the Sacred Cinema Zoom meeting this Sunday, September 18 at 3pm (contact office for Zoom link). Even if you don’t watch the movie, come discuss a favorite quote or teaching from the Master.

Watching the movie, there were two things that made a lasting impact on me. The first is Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice to a little girl whose dog recently died. You can watch the except
here: ‘Walk With Me’ Documentary film clip – Thich Nhat Hanh on dog dying.

The second was the “Bells of Mindfulness”. The movie shows that at Plum Village, every 15 minutes a bell will ring. Attendees stop whatever they are doing – talking, eating, walking, working – for a few breaths as a reminder to return to being mindful, mindful of what they are doing, saying, thinking, feeling. I wondered what that would be like. I wanted to experience this.

I was trying to figure out how to do this at home. That’s when I discovered a free app provided by Plum Village that includes the Bells of Meditation. You can get the app here: Mindfulness Apps | Plum Village

I had a free morning at home so I downloaded the app and enabled the bell. It starts you out with a 2-hour session with the bell ringing every 15 minutes. I started it and went about my day. Every 15 minutes when I heard the bell, I would stop what I was doing, take a long slow breath and check in with how I was feeling, what I was doing. Was I mindfully (or mindlessly) doing my tasks? Was I connected to my body? Was I aware of my surroundings? It did make me more aware of what I was doing, seeing, and feeling. But I actually found it distracting, taking me off task.

I decided to go another couple hours, but at a 30 minute interval. At this interval I found myself anticipating the bells. I would wait to start a task until the half hour was up or find a task, I thought would be completed in 30 minutes. I was being “mindful” in a way that didn’t serve me well.

The next day I decided to try again, but at a random 23 minutes. This way, I would not be sure when the bell would go off if I happened to look at a clock. This worked well for me. I was able to get things accomplished without being concerned about time or when the bell would ring. The bell at indiscriminate times brought me back to mindfulness, deciding if what I was doing at that time was what I should be doing.

When I find myself mindlessly going through my day, I now have another tool in my toolbox to bring me back to the present moment. “…we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.

–Janet Salese

To Playlist, or Not…

Let’s just say certain types of music are not and have never been on my playlists. There are exceptions, I get caught up in the melody or by an artist or songs. I like to hear stories etc…but a considerable amount of music contains messages that I do not want to involve myself with. If the music is exceptional I may listen to it in spite of any message but again they are exceptions.

Like most of us I was influenced by my parents and the world about how to think about things. One of those opinions influenced me to believe that country and western music was not something I should listen to. Over the years I have reinforced this conclusion and sought support from others. I held a belief that the country and western culture was a threat to my ideas.

I now understand that my thinking – my view of reality – and my happiness are connected. Holding thoughts of dissatisfaction regarding anything disrupts the ease and flow of my life.

I recently had the opportunity to accompany my wife to a business function in Nashville at one time known as the capital of the country and western music recording industry. During the preparations for the trip I made the decision to not succumb to my old thoughts and ideas.

Visit the Grand Ole Opry as planned and take things as they come.

This was my very first trip to Nashville Tennessee. I was able to experience the fluid nature of my thoughts and my ability to influence them. Whenever I find I am having thoughts that are causing some sort of resistance to my peace of mind. I do my best to consider them. In other words I avoid deciding to turn and swim upstream.

This approach proved to be optimum for my happiness because I had a remarkable time. Unburdened by the hardships that come with attitudes of various uninvited conclusions that have been a part of my thinking for a long time.

–Chris Wheeler

GOT FRIENDS

I have always had a wealth of friends and have always valued my friendships. As I am joyously approaching my 60th Birthday, I think back on my life and am overjoyed with all of my friendships. I know, I have attracted just about everyone of them to me. My friends have been with me through my hardest times and the best times of my life. I have always felt deep gratitude for the love and abundance of my friendships.

I started to think, who was my first friend that I could remember? That would be Andrew. Andrew is my only sibling and is five years older than me. Most might not consider a sibling a friend, but a friendship has developed over the last 60 years. My mom told the story that when I came home from the hospital, she was so excited and proud to show me to Andrew. Andrew ran up to the car, took one look at me and was disappointed. He said, “Oh darn! I wanted someone I could play ball with!” Off he ran to go play. Andrew may have been disappointed at the time, but he got over it.

When I was about 5, he informed me, that Santa wasn’t real. (a story for a another article maybe?) We grew up and I always felt that his presence protected me. He was my Big Brother. Once our parents passed away, (dad in 1985 and mom in 2002) we’ve both felt like orphans. We had that common bond feeling and our friendship developed deeper. I am proud to call my brother, my first friend.

Tommy Carter was the boy across the street I played with. I was about five and he was four. I came running in the house one day and when my dad asked me why, I said, “I don’t want to share my Slinky with Tommy.” I don’t remember the exact words, but I went back out and shared my Slinky with him. Gratitude to my dad, nearly 55 years ago, encouraging me to share.

Then there was Lady when I was eight. We often would sit on the front porch steps together side by side, my arm around her back. I could talk to her about anything. She would just sit there and listen. Sometimes she would come up to my bedroom and play. Sometimes she’d sleep with me, always happy to be by my side. She was my friend. She was my first St Bernard.

I continued to attract friends throughout my life. Long lasting true and enduring friends. I know I am a true extrovert and friendships fulfill something in me. The same is true for CSLT. The friendships I gained through CSLT are of true beauty. I am so grateful for you. Yes YOU!

I have always loved to be around people. One of my dearest best friends told me today, “In the middle of friendship is love and you exude love. If you’ve got love, you’ve got friends.”

• “The one who has learned to love all people will find plenty of people who will return that love.” Page 297 Science of Mind Ernest Holmes

• If you want to attract friends, I recommend reading the whole section on “Attracting Friends” Pages 297-299 Science of Mind Ernest Holmes

• “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

• If you are reading this, and don’t know me or are a stranger to me, I learned something many years ago. “A stranger is a friend you haven’t yet met.”

So, as I’m preparing for my 60th Birthday Celebration, I am thinking about the joyous feeling I will receive as many of my friends gather together with me. I want to just stand back, absorb all their energy, watch and hear the laughter amongst my friends, knowing I am the common thread that brings us all together. We are all One.

“You’ve Got a Friend” – James Taylor is the perfect ending to this newsletter article. Sing along with me as I turn 60.

–Madeline Pallanes

Looking and Seeing

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

This view of nearly 10,000 galaxies is called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The snapshot includes galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colors.

I have been patiently waiting for the first pictures from the James Webb Space Telescope. On July 11th it felt like Christmas eve when I was a child. Only now it was the anticipation of receiving views from the heavens.

The first photograph, or at least the oldest surviving photograph, was taken in 1826 or 1827 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. So, in the grand scheme of things we have only had
the ability to photograph people and events for a minuscule amount of time, never truly knowing what countless individuals of history’s most famous people looked like.

Around the turn of the last century Henrietta Leavitt, one of a group of women “computers” at Harvard University who pored over photographic plates capturing the night sky. In studying photographs of the Magellanic Clouds, which we now know are two small galaxies that orbit the Milky Way, Leavitt noticed that certain stars varied in brightness over time, some of them in a peculiar way. “It is worthy of notice,” she wrote in 1908, that “the brighter variables have the longer periods.” In other words, brighter stars twinkled more slowly.

Around the same time, astronomer Harlow Shapley of Mount Wilson Observatory in California began to prove that the Milky Way itself was inconceivably vast. Shapley built on work by Henrietta Leavitt.

The Great Debate of “Were there other galaxies?” was resolved by a young astronomer named Edwin Hubble. He also used Leavitt’s Cepheid variable technique to measure cosmic distances, this time by finding the variable stars in the spiral nebulae themselves.

Not only do the incomprehensible distances of the cosmos amaze me, so does the rate we as humans are compounding knowledge. I am extremely happy that there are so many ways to explore and things are moving right along. Today we are seeing the universe in unprecedented detail. Tomorrow even more. The preliminary pictures are just the beginning. The possibilities are endless.

Today here and now. I enjoy my place in the universe knowing that I recognize that I am already whole, perfect and complete in essence and that I have the capacity to be whole, perfect and complete in manifestation regardless of what may be appearing as a relative condition. And it doesn’t matter how serious the condition is. There is no big or small in the Divine Mind, be it a planet or a peanut. It is as easy to create a castle as a button. It’s just a matter of whether I’m focused on a castle or a button. Thoughts become things.

–Chris Wheeler

GOT RESENTMENT

Yeah, me too. I don’t like it. How about you?

In the Resilient book study class offered last year, I had mentioned that I often feel resentful and that I didn’t want to have those feelings in me. I didn’t like how I felt. Rev. Janis casually mentioned, ‘being resentful is a learned behavior.’ I almost didn’t hear what she said. Learned behavior? I thought who did I learn THAT from? Bam. I answered my own thought immediately. I can only begin to tell you the relief I felt just hearing those words, then. Knowing it was only a learned behavior, IT IS totally possible to UNLEARN that behavior! I felt instant relief.

Jump ahead to this year and I’m in the Atlas of the Heart book study class. We started to discuss the section on resentment, and I quickly announced, “I’m the Queen of resentment.” I said it as though it were a good thing! Ha! What? What am I thinking? Let me tell you, I’ve been thinking about this ever since I said that. Every thought we think and every word we speak, is creating our future (Louise Hay). I don’t want to be the Queen of resentment. I’m happy to let someone else wear that crown.

Why do we hang on to resentment? I don’t know but it’s obvious I do. Since I haven’t quite figured out how it serves me, I know it must, since I haven’t let it go. As I was walking past the 40′ shipping container on my property, the thought came to me that ‘hanging onto resentment is kind of like hoarding.’ The effects of one afflicted by it are basically the same since it is so difficult to let it go. I speak from experience in both areas.

Let me just clarify that a bit.

Resentment: a feeling of anger because you have been forced to accept something that you do not like. (Cambridge Dictionary)
Hoarding: a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. (Mayo Clinic)

Resentment is a thought; hoarding is an action. Both of which I don’t want. Neither serves me well.

What serves me well are thoughts and actions that bring me peace calm and order. That’s what I want to focus my attention on. Many years ago, I showed up at CSLT looking for a little bit of spiritual guidance. I got it, and a whole lot more than I ever bargained for. I love a good bargain. How about you?

Madeline Pallanes

Thoughts As My Sabbatical Ends

I’ve been physically away from you all for a month. I’ve done a bit of traveling and a lot of reading, writing, thinking and resting. I’ve had a doctor appointment — a follow-up from my hospital visit 3 months ago, a couple massages, and treatments for my back. I’ve finished one quilt top and started on another, planted some flowers, and done a tiny bit of work on my house.

I’ve watched the attendance numbers sag while I’ve been away, and the contributions are not keep up with what I know the basic monthly expenses are. I know it’s summer, our winter visitors have left for cooler climates, and more than a few folks have expressed displeasure with our continuing zoom services. I remember when Rev Donald took his sabbatical in summer 2016, our attendance dropped by 35%. Of course, that was also the summer the air conditioning was out at The Gregory (it was truly sweltering in that auditorium), so I’m sure that also had an impact. I’m grateful our Sunday attendance during May was only down 15%. Thank you to those who continued to participate in, and support, this spiritual community and those who chose to enjoy and support the speakers I deliberately picked for the Sundays I was elsewhere.

I devoured a bunch of books during the month I was away, both fiction and non-fiction, and I’ve thought a lot about what’s actually mine to do. Truthfully, the Visioning class I took in February jumpstarted the process for me. The final project for Visioning was to create a personal (life) vision statement. Mine: “I live as a lighthouse, a living sanctuary, involved and willing to be changed by the process. No matter what I do, I live as love.”

One of the books I’m still working my way through is Burnout, The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle (2019) by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. In the 2nd chapter, they wrote about reframing, and reconsidering the decisions we’ve made in the past, and how we might take another look at them. I’ll share my process with you, here.

The exercise is about redefining what success looks like for the reader, and it’s built around a goal that creates frustration instead of joy. I was stunned when I realized my answer to their question, which is what inspired me to share this with you all.

Frustrating Goal: Grow, support, and sustain CSLT, aka ‘Keep the wheels on the bus’. (I actually believed this was mine to do, and it’s not.)

Why is this frustrating? It’s not attainable for me to accomplish. I can’t make any of it happen.

What can I do instead? (Brainstorming, not all ideas captured are good ideas)

  • Share what I know, and continue to explore with individuals who engage
  • Speak, teach, facilitate, write
  • Support, encourage, guide (lighthouse)
  • Continue to explore my own spiritual (includes physical, mental, emotional) wellbeing, share what I learn
  • Encourage others to do the same
  • Fret over people who choose not to show up, or quit supporting this center (presumably because they feel it doesn’t support them the way they want to be supported.) Chase anybody, ever.
  • Express gratitude for those who do show up and participate.
  • Express gratitude for those continuing to connect with each other and this center.
  • Express gratitude for those engaging in their own spiritual (physical, mental, emotional) work.
  • Discover what self-care really looks like and do that.

Next, I get to choose a couple of these ideas and decide how to implement them most efficiently, keeping my vision for my life purpose firmly in mind. And remembering that if I’m not enjoying what I’m doing, I might want to think about that some more, and pick differently.

I look forward to being back with you soon. Big hugs. — Rev J

The Body Divine

That is the topic title of June’s Science of Mind magazine. Usually I “savor” the magazine, reading the Daily Guides each day and articles in my spare time throughout the month. After seeing Live Theater Workshop’s production of Body Awareness (playing through June 4th), hearing Joseph Gabrielson RScP speak about how his attitude towards his body changed while studying SOM principles, then seeing this month’s topic, I dove right in. If you don’t subscribe to the magazine, copies are available at the office.

Here are some of the highlights:

Pg. 11 – Dr. Edward Viljoen gives a simple exercise to come to love your body, or at least various parts of it.

Pg. 24 – At the end of Kelly Robbins’ article is a nice affirmation, “My body is the temple holding my soul. And it’s up to me to take care of it and love it as it is.”

Pg. 100 – Rev. Sally Robbins offers A Whole-Body Treatment.

Pg. 97 – Rev. Karen Russo eloquently states what I have come to realize: “We discover that choosing to build a robust, healthy physicality provides us with a more receptive, aware, capable vehicle for expressing our Spirit in this world.”

Pg. 26 – “Your Body Is Trying to Get Your Attention…Are You Listening?” by Dennis Merritt Jones spoke the most to me.

For many years, I did not listen to my body. I made it do what my mind thought it should regardless of any signals it was sending to the contrary. A cold wasn’t going to keep me from going to work. Feeling tired? Just push through it…and collapse later. And actually, that’s exactly what did happen. Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I went from working 16-hour days to sleeping 16 hours a day. My body took drastic measures to make me slow down and listen. I reluctantly made many lifestyle changes-work, diet, exercise, yoga and meditation, etc.-which eventually led me to New Thought teachings and CSLT.

Many I know view this diagnosis as a disability and burden. I came to appreciate it as a way of learning lessons I would never have otherwise learned. I learned to stop and smell the roses. I learned that, even though I couldn’t do everything, I found ways to do what I was meant to do. I learned ways of doing things that were right for me, not necessarily anyone else. I learned what it meant to be a human being rather than a human doing. I learned I have value and worth in just being. I learned that I’m not like everyone else and that’s ok, even marvelous.

As Jones puts it, “…your body-in its current condition-may be a teacher with a message for you, especially if that condition is one of illness, malady, or disability of some sort. What message does your teacher have for you?”

–Janet Salese

GOT SHADES

On a recommendation I went to see her through a Catholic charity. She may have been a nun although she wasn’t dressed as one. She was old, probably the age I am now. I was young, in my early 20’s. She peered at me over her eyeglasses, head tipped down, eyebrows raised, lips perched in a stern wrinkled face. She sat behind a big wooden desk; arms folded in front of her. She stared at me as I sat on the hard wooden chair facing her, although I was ready for a couch. There was no couch. This was low budget counseling. I thought what the heck, I may even get some spiritual guidance here.

I spilled my guts to her.

I was wrong.

In a real annoyed tone, as if I were wasting her time, she said, “Madeline, you see life through rose colored glasses!” I sat there bewildered and quiet. She went on and on about how I was viewing life wrong. When I finally spoke, I said, “You make that sound like that’s a bad thing?!” Honestly, I couldn’t see what was so wrong with seeing life through rose colored glasses. Nearly 40 years later, I still can’t see what’s so bad about it. For this article I asked Google to define seeing through rose colored glasses: “to see things in an overly optimistic, often unrealistic way.” Again, I still can’t see what’s so wrong with that considering the alternative.

Nowadays though, ‘the future’s so bright I got to wear shades!” Love shades. I now see life through the eyes of love. It’s so much easier. It’s so much more beneficial. There’s no longer a need for low budget counseling. I simply soak up all the teachings CSLT has to offer. As a bonus, I do get some spiritual guidance. This is priceless and for this I share my love and remain grateful.

“In an intelligent study of the teachings of the Science of Mind, we come to understand that all is Love and yet all is Law. Love rules through Law. Love is the Divine Givingness; Law is the Way.”

Ernest Holmes – Science of Mind – Page 43.1

–Madeline Pallanes

Visioning

Of the four spiritual practices used in Science of Mind (Affirmations, Spiritual Mind Treatment, Meditation, Visioning), Visioning was the one I had worked with and understood the least. I was delighted that enough people joined me in making this class, which recently concluded, happen.

I had in the past used visualization, such as making a vision board or seeing myself succeed at a task. Maybe even wanting this class to occur now, I helped to manifest it. This is different from Visioning. As the class’ student guide puts it, “It is the difference between directing Spirit to have our way (visualization) and allowing Spirit to have Its way (visioning).”

I had practiced visioning a little as part of a class or in a group visioning for the highest for CSLT. The practice has usually been to center in Oneness, then open to the vision by asking a series of questions: 1-What is your highest vision or ideal for ____? 2- What changes, evolves or becomes as this highest vision comes into existence?

3-Is there anything else which wants to be known, understood or realized? We write down any images, feelings, sounds, etc. that come to/through mind. The leader will then gather these from all the individuals and compile a list, which is then distributed back to the individuals. This has been where I have usually stopped with the practice.

This class taught and allowed me to practice the next step which is that, in identifying themes, you articulate the vision through spiritual discernment. It is fascinating to see what comes through during the visioning process, but what do all these seemingly random ideas mean? What could Spirit be trying to tell me through images of: Dogs barking happily, blue jeans, plaid shirt, playful winged insects, beach, chair on a cloud? Could it be, as one of my classmates suggested, to loosen up, dress down, be happy and relax?

The full title of the class was Visioning: A Way of Life! So, after we figured out what our visioning session was telling us, we were asked to develop a Vision Statement which we make a commitment to become. When you embody the vision, you attune to Spirit and allow Spirit to show you how it wants to express itself through you to bring forth your highest and best experience of life. Bring on the happy, relaxed, casual Life!

Now that I have finally taken this class, I look forward to joining the Vision Core which meets on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30pm on the Sunday Zoom channel. If you have taken the Visioning class, recently or before, you are welcomed to join in also.

–Janet Salese

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