THE YEAR WAS 1969…

“You are an eternal being now on the pathway of endless unfoldment, never less but always more yourself.” This Thing Called You, Ernest Holmes, pg. 108

Later this month I will be flying to Everett, WA for my 50-year high school reunion, and I feel way different than I did for the other decadal gatherings. Mostly, it seems like another lifetime. Everything has changed. And for the first time, I feel like I can join my class as the woman I’ve become, not as the troubled girl I was.

My school years were not the carefree social or educational times that many other kids experienced. My school years were filled with the looming death of my mother, the death of my true-love boyfriend when I was a senior, too many drug-fueled parties and way too much alcohol. I missed 37% of my senior year, and was allowed to graduate with my class only because of the compassionate understanding of my teachers. I graduated in June, left town and never looked back. I hadn’t one single good memory from the years I spent in Everett.

I now know that for every other reunion I’ve attended, I was always looking back to the girl I was there, as I’d been in school, not caring to see or share who I’d been becoming. I still felt insecure, invisible, and unimportant. In order to feel safe at school, I’d needed to keep my world small and walled, so I didn’t remember most of the kids who remembered me. (This and the fact that I was frequently under the influence of mind-altering substances, notoriously bad for the memory.) It blew my mind, when at my 40th reunion, one of the popular boys who had married one of the popular girls told me he’d wondered if he’d see me there. What? Rick S. knew who I was? I had not an ounce of self-esteem.

I feel different this time. I’m actually really looking forward to seeing all the ‘kids’ I went to school with, whether or not I remember them, and I have no fear. Rather than just being excited about reuniting with the small band of boys I ran around with, I want to see the girls, too… the girls I felt I wasn’t good enough to be friends with. The girls who had both parents, lived in nice houses, had enough money for prom dresses, and were in social or service clubs and went to each other’s parties. I am Facebook friends with some of these girls now — they requested my friendship, not the other way around. There is still a wee bit of the insecure young girl inside me who couldn’t quite yet risk asking them to be my friend, even if only on social media.

So, I choose to leave my history, sob stories and ghosts behind, and show up as the strong, loving, worthwhile woman I am. My history does not define me, nor do I regret one iota of it. No longer do I view my school days as pitiful and sad; I needed all of those days and those experiences to become who I am. On August 24th, I will walk joyfully, confidently, and expectantly into a room full of my classmates from 1969 and it will be good.

My gratitude for the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Centers for Spiritual Living is immeasurable, because my ongoing transformation began and continues thanks to ‘their’ two Big Books, the people who study and teach them, and the tools they taught me to use.

“I am co-creating with a Universe that does not ever have self-esteem issues or a lack of horsepower or compassion. I am discovering unknown power within myself as I walk into the unknown.”
A Year Without Fear, Tama Kieves, pg. May 21

— Renee’ Mercer

Killing the Kudzu – Metaphorically Speaking

Part of the pea family kudzu is also called Japanese arrowroot: Pueraria-Fabaceae-Faboideae.

If you’ve lived in the Southeast, you’re aware of Kudzu: an Asian species invited to US lawns as a quick-growing land cover and erosion deterrent. So pretty, so green, such beautiful flowers and so quick to grow. It can be used for Oriental teas and tinctures, it fixes nitrogen in the soil, it transfers minerals from deep soil to topsoil. It also can be used to make clothes, baskets or for animal feed.

What could possibly go wrong? It spreads by runner and by seed. [It] climbs over trees or shrubs and grows so rapidly that it kills them by heavy shading. Which is to say it replaces native plants as well as expensive landscaping, and pretty much anything else in its way. (Thank you, Wikipedia)

And, you might reasonably ask: that has what to do with what?

I’ve been spending this summer identifying the “Kudzu” I’ve invited into my mind and mental space. Those thoughts that are so pretty, so very easy to let take over. So, I am looking under the kudzu flowers for their roots and working to replace the “kudzu in my head” with productive, long-term healthy, helpful thoughts. Which has meant reading, journaling, meditating and talking with people smarter than me about this.

You plant only those seeds that will grow into what you want in your garden.
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 51. 1

What’s that mean in living well every day? If all we had to do was plant the right ideas, there would be no kudzu in our lives. Unfortunately, more is required of us if we are to create the garden we want. Because;

In the spiritual realm, Universal Subjective Mind as Law is the soil. [It] functions just as naturally as the soil in the garden. It takes whatever you chose to plant in It, and It produces accordingly.
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 51. 4 (emphasis added by Mariann)

…, the subjective-mind soil must be in the right condition all the time. You are always planting and you cannot afford to have the good seeds dropped into soil which contains a mass of weeds. …. thoughts of negations, worries, fears, angers, hates, resentments. [These] will grow just as rapidly as the good seeds and bring forth a crop just as sure and abundant. —Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 53.1

Here’s the tricky part:

…. the soil of the garden has no power nor inclination to reject bad seeds while accepting good ones…. the creative medium of Law, also is entirely impersonal and will just as readily take your negations and produce a crop of illness, poverty, hardship, difficulty or inharmony.”
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 53.1

You must learn to rule your own life!
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 56 4

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Proverbs 16:32 (KJV)

“Remember, you are always planting!”
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 56.6

Wishing you peace and plenty in your garden-

–Mariann

The Value of Contemplation in Modern Life

In 2000, I had the privilege of taking a two-week trip through the ancient sacred sites of Ireland as part of a tour group.  We had a tremendous guide named Mark who was well versed in the lore, fact and fiction of pre-historic religious sites as well as the early Christian sites.  One of the sites that caught my imagination was Skellig Michael, a medieval (6th and 8th centuries C.E.) monastery and hermitage. Legend has it that the sacred and secular literature of Europe was saved during the Dark Ages by the monks who collected, preserved and protected those writings which had been brought to them for preservation while Europe was in turmoil.  Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization expresses that point of view.  While some critics doubt the accuracy of his proposition, there probably is some merit in the idea that those individuals did indeed protect knowledge that could have been lost during the time when Europe was not valuing education and learning as much as they might have previously.

Typical functions of a monastic community include prayer, worship, service and contemplation.  So what is this thing called contemplation?  Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness meditation practice (in box to right) is a gentle and generous example of a contemplative practice that is centered in the body.  Father Richard Rohr makes it a larger practice when he says, “Everything you do is connected in loving union with the moment, with whatever is in front of you.  That’s contemplation.”   So, how can this translate in modern life?

In his poem “If” Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too.  If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”  His concluding couplet, “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”, has more to do with recognizing how much we each are responsible for our point of view in our world than it has to do with any specific gender reference.

One of the best ways we have to maintain our mental, emotional and spiritual autonomy “when all about you are losing their (heads)” is by remembering that we get to decide what to focus on, and how we choose to pay attention to our lives.  This is far from a simple challenge, simply because of the extremes present in the external world today.  Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”  When we repeatedly remember that we have control over our focus, we have an opportunity to see our world, not as a made-up, imaginary fantasyland, but from the point of view of the wholeness that it actually expresses.

Holmes, in The Science of Mind 200.4-201.1, wrote, “… is an experience operating through people, which does not belong to them at all.  Recognize that it is neither person, place, nor thing, that there is no spiritual law to support it, that it is discord fleeing before harmony, that there is nothing but the Truth.”  With Thich Nhat Hanh’s gentle encouragement we can breathe, “deep, slow, calm, ease, smile, release”, and, regardless of external conditions, have the opportunity to continuously practice the contemplative prayer of “present moment, wonderful moment.”  Breathing, smiling, and remembering the Truth, I move forward in my life.

–Rev Janis Farmer

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