Only One Life, My Life Now

I find the philosophy of Ernest Holmes invaluable in the ways it supports my growth. Each week Rev Janis’ Reminders provide insights into how I can be mindful of my own thoughts and beliefs and more fully embody my Good. Certainly, the theme of Creating Anew for April was perfect for me. My new life as a retiree has presented me with the necessity of creating my self and my lifestyle anew.

Between the Sunday Reminders and the study of Victor Shamas’ book, Deep Creativity, I was gifted with a wealth of tools for creation. One of the topics of the month concerned transcendence, which in my definition means restructuring my worldview and beliefs, escaping even my previous self-identity and acting outside of my comfort zone to create a reality of Oneness. Last week Rev Janis mentioned that creating anew often involves “doing different things and doing other things differently”. These concepts helped me reorient myself in my own lifestyle.

On the first Monday of my retirement, I did something very different from my old routine. I went out into the desert under the sun and sky and just meditated. I experienced a beautiful moment of connection and transcendence of my own little ego. I relished each day afterward with gratitude. But as days passed, it also became glaringly apparent to me how neglectful I had been of self-care while trying to maintain a professional career. I saw so many things in my life that I wanted to change I immediately created a lengthy ‘To Do’ list.

Then, near the end of April, I stopped waking up each morning feeling giddy and grateful and began to feel restless. I could not identify what was bothering me, so I sat and simply noticed my thoughts as they arose. Eventually, it became clear to me that, while I had acknowledged the opportunity for a new lifestyle, I had unwittingly dragged into it my old competitive, results-oriented mindset and self-judgments that made my ‘To Do’ list a contest. I was behaving as if I still needed to win, just as if I were still in the courtroom. I had fallen prey to default thinking and was doing new things in the same old way, bringing a toxic attitude to my wonderful new freedom.

This is where my study and practice of Science of Mind came to my aid because I paid attention to my default conditioned thinking.  I reminded myself of the Truth that there is Only One Life – perfect, whole and complete – and remembered my primary mission as a practitioner to “practice the Presence” and embody that Life by BEING. I reminded myself that I have nothing to fight and nothing to prove. Seeing the All in all meant there was nothing to win. I again fell in love with the sky, the sun, the circling hawks and knew the Oneness of all life.

Embodying Spirit, to me, means being love. Now I have every minute of every day to see the Beauty and Perfection of Life and to love it all, starting with myself. Each experience of transcendence transforms everything I ultimately do and I know myself blessed. And So It Is.

By Leah Hamilton, RScP

For The Love of Tulips

“The mold of acceptance is the measure of our experience.  The Infinite fills all molds and forever flows into new and greater ones.  Within us is the unborn possibility of limitless experience.  Ours is the privilege of giving birth to it!”

The Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes, p.161.4

 

The first place I ever owned was in Seattle, a very small (402 sq. ft.) sweet condominium.  There was a common entry, then an elevator to my floor and a dozen doors leading into private units.  I loved my little home with a view of the Ship Canal and fishing boats.

 

Down the hall lived a quirky, bubbly woman whom I had met in an AA meeting then realized we were neighbors.  She was a light-filled, funny, adorable lawyer who saw the world as being one big amazing and exciting place.  I can’t picture her without her big, toothy grin.  I was used to her oddities, but she did one thing that I could never understand… she bought herself a big bouquet of fresh flowers every week.  Every week!  This action made no sense to me; the colorful foliage would begin to sag in a few days and then just die.  Right there on her table.  I saw this as an illogical use of money.  Why would anyone do that?  Why not buy a new cassette tape (this was 1993) or put the money in savings?  Something that would last, would count?  I even asked her about it and she said the flowers simply made her happy.  I didn’t get it.

 

Then two days ago, I was at Costco and saw the loveliest tulips I had ever seen in my whole life.  Giddiness washed through me and I effervesced all over everyone around me as I chose my favorite bouquet.  I felt so happy, like I had just witnessed magic happen!  In holding onto those perfect, beautiful, unnecessary tulips, I felt like I had a sweet spirit inside of me, a ‘daughter’ who never got to enjoy being a child, and she wanted the pretty tulips.  She wanted me to have them for Mother’s Day.

 

As I bounced up to the cashier, tulips lovingly embraced and a big, toothy grin on my face, I realized this would be the first Mother’s Day where I wouldn’t sit around in self-loathing for not being the daughter I thought I should’ve been for my mother.  In writing this, I have tears in my eyes, because it has become clear to me that I have finally forgiven myself my past.  I have moved from self-hatred, shame and rejection of my good to self-acceptance, appreciation and self-love.  I was exactly who I was meant to be, then, as now.  Truth.

 

I have had a change in consciousness that now allows me to see beauty, to love freely, toletbeauty and love into my life and to allow the flow of God, of grace, of wonder, of all things magnificent come through me and to me.   My only job is to stay the heck out of my own way and keep saying, “yes!”  Yes, yes, yes!!

 

Oh!  I am so grateful, so happy…

 

“Expose yourself to the success of learning and growing.  Take a step forward right now, even if you don’t have the right shoes on.  Stop thinking about it and shrinking inside.  Your gifts are real.  Your love is real.  The wildflowers sing to you from the hillside.  Everything you do will strengthen you.  You cannot fail by moving forward.  You will get to where you need to go.”

Inspired and Unstoppable, Tama Kieves, p. 69

By Renee’ Mezzone

The Center

The other Sunday I was driving to Sunday Services and I passed a new building in a medical complex. The name of the building was “The Center”.  Then yesterday, I was driving down Pima in Tucson and saw another new sign on a building.  It also was called, simply, “The Center”.  Why am I seeing this now?

I was reminded of a story I’d heard about an idea that had been held by a Board President long before I came to CSL Tucson.  He thought we should rebrand ourselves as The Center, a clever triple play on words.  The Center where people learn about their own divine center (or nature), the central hub where people come together to experience the joy and aliveness of life in community, and the quote from Ernest Holmes describing the Infinite (The Science of Mind 330.2-3), “The Infinite is, therefore indivisible and consequently a Perfect Unit… That Whose Center is everywhere and Whose Circumference is nowhere.  All of It is present at any and every point within Itself.  It is not approaching a point, nor receding from it, but it is always at the point.  The whole of God is present at any and every point within God.  It was to this Indwelling Spirit that Jesus prayed, for God is within man as well as throughout all creation.”

This notion that each of us already is a center of divinity can sometimes feel like a tough pill to swallow, because we tend to think of ourselves as less than perfect expressions of the Divine.  But what if we are not “less than”?  What if we actually live, move and have our being as the perfect expression of Divinity Itself, as we understand it?  Our beliefs about ourselves, and how our world works, color our life experience to such an extent that we have to have a limited experience, because we have limiting beliefs.

The facilitators and I are working through the curriculum for the exciting upcoming home group book study of Eric Butterworth’s Spiritual Economics.  I forgot how splendidly lovely this material is, until I cracked the book open again and re-read it.  Butterworth is consistently very clear.  On p. 23 he wrote, “Claim your entitlement. I am a child of the Universe, richly endowed with the fullness of the All Good.”  He continues on the same page, “You are an expression of the infinite creative flow, entitled to as constant a support as the lilies of the field.   You see, the basis of entitlement is the startling assertion: The Universe owes you a living!  Yes, we are saying owes you a living.  Note: We are not saying the world owes you a living.  Actually, the world owes you nothing.  You are a creative expression of the Universe, with the responsibility to let your light shine.  Thus you owe the world a life.”

Oh, there’s the rub. We have all the support of the Universe standing with us, in us, and as us, and we have the responsibility to own that authority and act/live/move from that place.  So yes, we already are the center of our own wheel, the individualized hub of our own interactions and life expression, and we choose from our point of view.

And yet, I am encouraged by Butterworth’s words, because he gives us a roadmap that we can choose to use to guide us on this path.  On p. 19 he wrote, “A person who keeps conscious that the divine flow is ever centered (there’s that word again… centered) within one, has faith that limitless substance will find expression through him or her in the form of creative ideas, ingenuity, the will to work, and a security of work opportunities.  It could be said that when you realize your relationship to the dynamic Universe, you are forever in a field where you can drill for oil and bring in a gusher every time.”

Every time.  I totally like those odds.  Pick a host home location that works for you and join us in this awesome city-wide Spiritual Economics home group book study that starts next week, won’t you?

By Rev Janis Farmer

Happy isn’t just a song by Pharrell Williams

Yesterday I caught myself sabotaging my joy and declining the very happiness that has eluded me in the past.  The good news? – I caught myself and changed my mind.  Here’s how I busted myself:

Before church started yesterday morning, I was in the lobby and a woman who is very dear to me walked in.  She is in Tucson only four months out of the year and I hadn’t had a conversation with her all season, so we hugged, and she asked me if I was available for lunch after the service. I said I really shouldn’t as I had a newsletter article due and I didn’t even have a topic yet, so I needed to go home and write it.  What?  I couldn’t make time for lunch with this beautiful, kind, insightful, loving person whom I hadn’t seen in months?

Mind you, I am in Foundations (for the third time) to go deeper.  When old ways of thinking and doing have become so ingrained that I don’t seem to be able to find my way out, I do something about it – eventually.  My presence in Foundations class is the result of becoming sick and tired of feeling periodically depressed, going into isolation and despair, and never feeling truly happy.  When class began, we were asked to set a goal, something that we saw no way of attaining, and to begin spiritual mind treatment for it.   I boldly declared, “I want to experience happiness.”

So, after I said ‘no’ to my friend, I sat down to listen to the warmth and wisdom of Rev. Janis.  From Ernest Holmes book, It’s Up to Youshe shared a list of ten points for living life.  One of these made me gasp: ‘Learn to forgive myself and others for real’.  I had a huge ‘aha’ moment, realizing how much I let guilt and shame from my past sabotage my happiness, because though I have forgiven others, I had not yet forgiven myself.  I also realized how much I operate on the system of punishment and reward; i.e., I can’t have fun with my friend because I haven’t written my paper.  Seriously?  I wasn’t even disciplined as a child, so why have I become so hard on myself as an adult?  The answer is guilt, shame, and lack of self-forgiveness.

Ernest Holmes defines freedom thus: “To live in a space without guilt, shame and blame.”  If I truly want to be happy, it is time to forgive myself for real.  I thought I had, and to some degree, I’m sure that’s true.  But my life doesn’t look like I want it to, and for that, ONLY I am responsible.  And I know of only one way to change it – change my consciousness, because that’s where Cause lives.  My task is to be willing to change, and this isn’t something that just happens to me because I want it to.  It is mine to show up, remain teachable, tell the truth to, about and on myself, and be willing to give my attention to faith rather than to fear.

“Just keep right on knocking on the door of your consciousness until every ‘no’ becomes a ‘yes’, every negation an affirmation, every fear a faith.  You cannot fail if you remain steadfast.”

… and

“The only thing that can hinder you is yourself.  The only thing that can help you is yourself. Because it is you who reflects the image in the mirror.” — Ernest Holmes from This Thing Called You, pg. 45 and 46

Freedom lives in my consciousness, and I call freedom Heaven.  So I’m going to keep on knocking on Heaven’s door…

by Renee’ Mezzone

Life Lessons

My personal aphorism goes like this: The road to perdition is based on incorrect assumptions.

My most recent experience of that personal truth happened one night around 10 o’clock as I was on my way home from a meeting in downtown Tucson.

I stopped at my local gas station to fill up and saw an older man – obviously homeless. He was dirty, long tangled hair and scraggly beard. He was push/pulling a roller chair holding the plastic bags of his belongings.

He started across the station drive and honestly my first thought, was oh no – I don’t really want to deal with this tonight. And, I looked away.

When I looked back he had fallen and with extreme difficulty, was trying to get back on his feet.

Before I could do anything – enter two young men: baseball caps on backwards, dressed for shenanigans with the 12-pack on the pick-up seat, etc. etc. They went over, gently picked him up, talking quietly to ease him. They asked if they could take his stuff off the seat of the roller-chair so he could sit. They made sure he knew where his stuff was at all times. Then while one of them moved him toward the office, the other went in to have the manager call for assistance. Then the three of them got him settled and the manager stayed with him while waiting for help.

The guys, after saying good-bye and reassuring him other help was coming, got in their well-traveled pick-up and went on their way.

I just sat there and watched the great goodness happen. A great goodness that I was not a part of.

I had assumed the homeless man was going to ask me for something. I also assumed the two guys parked over to the side with their 12-pack were other than what they truly were: actual good Samaritans.

My lessons from that night were downright painful to accept, but amazingly good for my soul.

…God makes no mistakes. All mistakes rest in the experience of man. “There is no sin, but a mistake, and no punishment but a consequence.” We must declare that no mistakes have been made, none are being made, and none are going to be made. If mistakes have been made we must neutralize their effect by the direct declaration that they no longer have power over us.

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 612.6

It certainly felt like I made mistake. Yet, the homeless man was in better physical hands with the two guys then any attempt I might have made to help him.

BUT, did I miss a chance to live/love the whole experience of knowing that we are all one in Spirit? Oh, you bet.

Am I working deeper and trying harder to master that lesson? That’s an even bigger you bet.

Travel well on your path and mind the lessons as they appear.

— Mariann Moery

Remembering to Be Love

When I started ruminating about this article, I knew I wanted to follow our Theme for the Month of February: Love.

In doing our community prayer, Rev. Janis will often remind us that we swim in the Cosmic Soup of Divine Love. We access all of the Love that we can by our knowing the Truth of who and where we are. Sometimes we make a conscious decision to tap into this power; other times we tap into it on a subconscious level. Other times it filters into us by osmosis. In whatever manner we choose to access it, it always says, “Yes” to us.

I think of my own life as a continuing series of love events as I swim within the Big Ocean of Love. Some of them are fabulous, some of them are so-so, and a few, now and then, are downright hideous.

When I was younger, I could get very angry because someone had done something to me. Or I could get very insecure because I thought I was not enough and deserved whatever negative stuff was showing up for me. I had not yet learned that most of the “stuff” was a product of my own thinking.

As I grew older, I changed my mind about what might be happening to me. When anyone in my life showed up as someone I labeled as mean, snarky, rude, thoughtless, or insincere, I would climb up on my horse of Self Righteousness and ride by them with my Sword of Better-Than-Youness (new word). When I climbed down from my saddle of Superiority, I could see the truth of who they truly were: a perfect person, ACTING in an unloving way. What a relief to realize that “Being” and “Acting” are not the same. I can always love you, even while I am not happy with the way you are acting. Wow.

Many decades ago, I was standing in an early-morning line at the airport in Hilo, Hawaii. Standing behind me was a young mother whose whining, crying toddler was tugging on her skirt, demanding to be picked up and soothed. An older, much wiser, friend of mind looked down at the crying child and said, “He is exhausted. When children act the worst is when they need the most.” WHAM. That one sentence, delivered so casually, became one of the best life lessons I ever learned. Not only children, but all of us, do not act our best when we are tired, scared, or worried.

When I see someone acting in their not-so-best manner, and I am in my Right Mind (The Divine shows up as me, too), I ask myself what they might need. Then I can love them unconditionally, even if I do not always love their actions or attitudes. I don’t know about you, but there are times that I am afraid if I give up my own need to be right, I might “lose” — lose face, lose position, or lose respect. After a round of self-talk, I come into the knowledge that I do not always act in perfect way (GASP!) And that is very ok, too.

But I am Perfect, because I was designed so. I am almost always able to swim in my Attitude of Gratitude for the loving world in which I find myself. I remember and bless my own experience and expression of the Spirit of Love.

— Pat Masters

Connections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Rev Janis

Birth of the Light

Today I had the experience of awakening suddenly to the faint light of predawn in my room. My alarm had not rung but I was wide awake. Panic set in. What day was it? What time was it? Why didn’t the alarm ring? What was I supposed to be doing? Going to work? Attending Saturday court? Taking up Board or practitioner duties at CSLT? Just then the alarm rang, and I finally tumbled to the conclusion that it was Sunday and I was going to CSLT. My new day, however, was already marred by anxiety over things I needed to accomplish.

This is the season of the winter solstice, the rebirth of the sun. I considered the anxiety my forebears felt during the long winter nights wondering if they had preserved enough food, so the elders and children would survive until spring. The return of the sun at solstice was, for them, a literal celebration of life. In my life I may not depend literally upon the sun for my survival, but I asked whether I was celebrating my life day by day. Was I living from my core or was I simply “doing”?

With divine synchronicity, Rev. Janis’ reminder talk addressed this very topic. She spoke about how we can accept our own magnificence, acknowledge our light and find our own unique way of shining that light. Thinking back to my experience of the morning, I realized that I spend a lot of time stressing about things I should be doing and not a lot about just being present for my life. The things I stress about are not even necessarily things I chose for myself. Many times they are “shoulds” I inherited from other people and from that nasty bullying voice in my head that is always ready to berate me.

In her talk, Rev Janis asked, “how do we become self-aware?” How do we find our unique light and expression apart from the “shoulds”? She said the answer would be different for everyone. As I sat with the idea I realized the answer, for me, was self-love. I am very skilled at bullying myself about what I should be doing. I hide the ball from myself about what I want. I build defenses. In so doing, I shutter my own light. In a moment of radical acceptance, I broke open to my own lack of self-love. I saw a way to live more authentically.

My authentic Self wants to express It’s unique light. With a self-loving intention, I can be my own friend, be on my own side and tell the bullying voice in my head to shut up. Being there for myself I can discover who I am at my core and exercise sovereignty in my own life. I can be honest about what I want.

As a Practitioner, I already see the light in others with love. For these last long nights of winter, I am doing the same for myself. I hold my own hand, drop my barriers and defenses and walk open and unafraid into the light, my own and the light of the reborn sun.

— Leah Hamilton, RScP

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

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

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