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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Rev Janis Farmer

Our Prospective Charities for 2020 + 1

During December we’re hear from three charitable organizations that you recommended during our congregational solicitation in November. On January 5, during Sunday Services, those present will vote for the charity we will support with a percentage of our Sunday offerings in 2020.

December 8 – Youth On Their Own strives to eliminate barriers to education and empower Arizona’s homeless youth to stay in school. For over 30 years, YOTO provides continuing support in support of high school graduation for persons in this unique demographic by providing financial assistance, basic human needs, and one-on-one guidance. With the help of supporters nationwide, YOTO has empowered over 16,000 homeless youth to remain in school and pursue opportunities for self-sufficiency. For more information, visit: yoto.org

December 15 – Sister Jose Women’s Center is dedicated to the care and nurturance of homeless women within our community. They provide respite and basic needs as well as assistance with housing, social services, health advocacy and pre-employment readiness. Women reach out to women with dignity, respect and compassion. For more information, visit: srjosewomensshelter.org

December 22 – Old Pueblo Community Services offers a full continuum of services from Outreach to Supportive Housing. ‘Housing First’ places people, regardless of their history, in safe housing first. By removing the chaos of living on the streets or in shelters, vulnerable individuals engage in services and go on to live stable independent lives. This promotes individuals’ re-entry into the community as viable contributors. For more information, visit: helptucson.org

Attend each Sunday in December to learn about these three valuable charities and discover a bigger world-experience for yourself. Be sure to attend January 5 to vote on the charity you prefer that we support in 2020.

There was a fourth charity recommended, and is noteworthy for the good work they do for a very limited community, but we couldn’t include them because they didn’t meet our requirement for encouraging self-determined living, which implies that recipients would eventually be able to move from needing to be supported and specifically cared for. That is not the intention of this charity. Still, we wanted to highlight the good work they do. Miracle Square is a local non-profit which provides housing and support for low-income elderly and disabled residents in 22 casitas in a protected, gated, insular community environment. They offer individual advocacy to help residents secure services and manage conflict, provide light housekeeping, and provide pendant alarms for emergencies. Residents are encouraged to interact with each other daily. Residents routinely receive support from the larger community including personal care items, household goods, furnishings and even free admission to community events. A small food pantry is available, stocked by donations. Miracle Square residents also participate in planned, voluntary on-site social events, educational forums and craft activities. They are provided with transportation on accessible van to grocery stores, banks, pharmacies and medical appointments. Wellness care is provided by U of A Nursing Students, who engage the residents on a regular basis and help them develop and refine their independent living skills.

—Dick Laird

Reflections

In 2009, I began my transition from an exciting but longish career as an engineering technician to that of professional teacher with an initial mixture of nobility and naivete’. Thanks to Texas Instruments and Pima County, I sailed through Pima Community College’s “Post Baccalaureate” teacher training and ensuing board exams. I then began plowing through a rough trail of real experience, beginning with an aborted internship, on into an extended, eclectic series of experiences with charter schools in Tucson and Prescott.

By 2017, after a series of Fall-Spring gigs, it had become clear that I was a round peg in a square hole as a rote classroom teacher. Driving up and down the Black Canyon Freeway, into Prescott, and the Desert Highlands on holiday sojourns, I found that the look and feel of the land, and of free time, welcomed and called to me.

● In the driver’s seat of my car: Why do I feel as a pauper in the desert heat?
● In the confines of my classrooms: I know the math. But how do students learn?
● In my recesses of my mind: Who I am and What Am I Doing Here?

These questions lead me to the alchemy that extracts my mind’s enigmas into conscious thought. In the vocabulary of our Science of Mind, it is the clarifying methodology and psychological practice that we have come to know as Spiritual Mind Treatment. At this juncture, my inner quest is thus illumined as spiritual questions: Am I turning within to Spirit, tuning into Truth, diving deeper into Love but want more? Am I prepared to manifest a meaningful, fulfilling, prosperous, joyful life?

If so, I must:

● Align with Universal Principles and activate awareness of the Divine Presence within
● Apply positive, practical, spiritual tools, including meditation and mindfulness, affirmations,neuroscience, and self-awareness in your daily life
● Discover a profound spiritual technology called Spiritual Mind Treatment
● Go within…deeper than you have before…and experience Truth
● Uncover and discard hidden beliefs, set yourself free
● Enter a safe, sacred container for true transformation

(From Foundations of the Science of Mind, CSL Dallas)

With consultation, prayer, and encouragement galore: I logged onto my job-search engine with “Math Work Prescott.” Voila, one job: A small Waldorf-inspired middle school, a walkable half-mile from decades-old friends house right there in Prescott, where I would room for that school year. Another dash up the Black Canyon Freeway, an entire afternoon with the headmaster, and I’m committed to a school year. I believe our teaching calls this manifestation or demonstration.

Two years in, evolving into a spiritually-oriented, Steiner-inspired teacher of both spectrum and gifted adolescents. And dipping into the deeper well: the psychology of learning for adolescents. Book studies, faculty collaboration and shared experience are in the treasure chest at the end of the rainbow. Here, the Waldorf-inspired “developmentally centered” teaching methodology: especially in the middle grades, where the teacher must see that emerging students are academically mature; thus solid with the concepts in concrete terms, before guiding them further into the abstractions: the hallmark of higher learning.

And now, further into the challenges of students’ learning in a troubled world. Cultural and psychological pressures on our children precipitate a plethora of learning and developmental difficulties. These distorting forces show up as hormonal and behavioral breakouts, precluding traditional classroom learning environments. Again, a more spiritual question: what’s this got to do with me?

Apparently, it’s time I begin teaching effectively, and continuing to learn myself, in a behaviorally challenged classroom. Thus, this next chapter comes with a real salary, more college in behavioral and psychological studies, and “more-better” encounters with forgiveness and learning, stemming from my own reflections on a disruptive adolescence, and war-torn early adulthood.

In Love’s Gift of Radical Forgiveness, Colin Tipping writes, “Radical Forgiveness challenges us to fundamentally shift our perception of the world and our interpretation of what happens to us so we can stop being victims.”

Teaching leads to more advanced questions, leading into deeper understandings of healing, forgiveness, and teaching. We learn to love ourselves and the culture in which we live, practicing and modeling:

● Self-control – with constructive thought and considerate behaviors with others
● Self-care – with nutrition, rest, and reflection
● Service toward the greater good.

In It’s Up to You, Ernest Holmes shows how to move from a life of “no” to a life of “yes.” We teach students that they, too, will be able to choose their future, because what we experience tomorrow depends on what we think and do today.

“It’s up to you,” Holmes writes.

It’s up to me. My Guide tells me “Keep up the Good Work,” and “Remember to stay tight with your teachers, (and Me)”

With Love — Robert

The Road I Traveled

“The Sage does not hoard and thereby bestows, the more he lives for others the greater his life, the more he gives to others, the greater his abundance” — Tao Te Ching

Wow, does this quote ever speak to me. When I was much younger, I had expectations that the world was here to give me whatever I desired. Boy, did I ever have some lessons to learn about the life ahead of me.

I recall expecting to receive an automobile for Christmas the year I turned 15, only because another girl in my class had gotten one for her birthday. My Grandmother, who was raising me, could no more afford that, than she could fly to the moon. It has taken me many years of experiences to learn that my youthful expectations were both unrealistic and childish.

I rarely gave much thought to serving others in any way, until I went away to boarding school run by the Sisters of Saint Mary. That was my first exposure to a group of women who lived and worked, basically to serve others. It still took me a long time to realize that my own happiness was tied to minimizing my expectations of others doing for me, knowing that I had a relationship with a loving God that only wanted the best of life for me, and that Sacred Service was a path of belonging and participation that really worked for me.

When I became a young Mother, I believe, was the first time that I ever put another human being’s needs and wants before my own. My first child has brought me great happiness. I would have done anything I could to help her in her early years, and still will.

The first few times I was asked to volunteer I thought, “Not me. What could I possibly have to offer?” I was so wrong. It has only been later in my life that I have finally figured out how important my connections with others, and my service to and for, others has enriched my life more than I can express.

I have always received so much more than I have given in any service activity or volunteering work I have ever been involved in. My first opportunity as a volunteer was when I made the coffee at the place where I eventually got sober. Fresh hot coffee was always welcomed, and welcoming, at those AA Meetings a long time ago.

The reason I am sharing this is really a thank you to everyone who serves in any capacity at CSLT and an encouraging invitation to anyone who might want to serve. We are so fortunate that so many do, yet there are still opportunities to engage, and lots more things we could accomplish with more individuals participating in this way.

I know for sure that my life is happier, richer and fuller than I ever expected it could be as a result of stepping up on, and giving of myself in, the path of service.

–Namaste, Janie Hooper

It’s a Wrap!

For the third time, I am completing my term as a sitting Board member for CSLT, and this is my last newsletter article as such.  I must admit, it’s frequently been a challenge writing these columns, but I’ve also grown a whole lot through doing so, so it’s definitely been worth it.  What to write about this time?  Being on the Board, of course!

Since I’ve been on the Board three times but none of those times has been a full term, Rev. Janis dubbed me a “pinch hitter,” (I like it!)  For one reason or another, three different board members were unable to fulfill their terms, so I was asked to step in and finish their duties until the next election.  I recall the first time, when out of the blue, Pat Masters asked me if I would consider being on the Board. I was stunned.  Surely, she had me mixed up with someone else, i.e., a competent, courageous, experienced person.  But nope, she meant me.  So, I braved my fears and insecurities, and stepped up to the plate, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

There was a learning curve involved and it took some time to build up confidence that I had anything at all to contribute to the meetings and my spiritual center.  But I kept showing up and giving it my best shot, doing what was asked of me and sometimes even volunteering for an extra something I felt comfortable taking on.

Being on the Board is so much more than the monthly meetings and newsletter articles.  The only other time I’ve ever felt a real ‘part of’ anything was at AA meetings, but being a CSLT Board member has provided me with a sense of community and belonging I never knew was possible to have.  I’ve witnessed integrity at a very deep level, learned how to have respectful conversations involving differing viewpoints, and been a participant in supporting the Highest Good of the Center being the primary objective.  I’ve watched us ebb and flow; I’ve seen new people come, others leave, old-timers return, and I’ve had an opportunity to not make anyone wrong for their choices.  Everyone is welcome to walk through our doors, and I love that about us.

Over the years I’ve been on various teams around the Center (still am) and have taken numerous classes, but nothing has given me the clarity of who I am, who we are, and what we have to offer as much as being on the Board.

If you have completed Foundations and have been a member for a minimum of six months, you meet the minimum requirements to be a CSLT Board member. Is this yours to do?  I promise you growth, a sense of belonging to something incredibly special, and joy beyond my ability to express.  Elections for new Board members is immediately after First Sunday Potluck on October 6th – might you consider taking your turn as a contributing member at the most amazing level?  If you don’t like it, don’t worry – I’ll pinch hit for you, LOL!

“If we search for it, happiness usually eludes us.  Absorption is the key, but absorption with something outside ourselves:  a craft, service, creation – these functions allow us to become enthralled and lovingly involved with what we do, take us out of our mind’s preoccupation with our own interests, and lead us to a fruitful state of being.”

Elegant Choices, Healing Choices by Marsha Sinetar, p. 77

–Renée Mercer, September 25, 2019

Thinking It Through

I had a call this evening with a prayer partner. I admitted how I felt after this morning’s Sunday Service. Sunday evenings are not an ideal for me to ponder my life. Holliwell wrote about “singing praises in the face of adversity.” Tonight that idea challenged me. The lead post for the next newsletter needed to be done, and it was mine to do. The topic on my heart is problematic.

Leona, Abbie and the Orchestra were completely fabulous, as always, and I gave an acceptable talk. 41 adults were present today. A mentor of mine reminds me that I shouldn’t pay any attention to Sunday attendance numbers. I give the talk that I have received guidance on, and prepared, and it is enough. The number of people who attend has nothing to do with me. And yet, I wonder.

Late Saturday, a minister from back east had asked for prayer treatment from the larger ministers’ email group for their Center. She asked us to know for their Center that a higher level of engagement, and support (in all ways), arose in participants of their Center. They had a town hall after services on Sunday in which the local Center leadership team agreed to explore the possibility of ‘doing church’ a new way, because it had become clear the old way wasn’t working for them. I feel fortunate to be part of a larger organization that supports each other, and their communities in this way, and one willing to consider alternative ways of being. I wrote, asking if they had any specifics yet. “No, not yet”, was her reply.

Last Friday night, at our Board planning meeting, Mariann asked the Board members to ponder what community meant to them, what they need from this spiritual community, and what they were willing to do in support of that community’s existence. We will revisit the question during this week’s Board of Trustees meeting. I am grateful we have leadership willing to discuss hard questions.

We have our annual meeting coming up in less than three weeks. This is the Board’s report to the congregation about what we have collectively accomplished this past year, and what our leadership team envisions for the year ahead. When I look back at what we’ve done, I’m amazed and delighted. Common hour thinking would say we have had miracle on top of miracle. We know it as the Law of Mind in Action. We also experienced timing that no one could have dreamed up (again, Mind in Action) … in the space of just a few months — the sale of the raw land on 22nd Street at a very good price, being displaced out of 4200 E River Road with 25 days’ notice and having 911 S Craycroft suddenly materialize move-in-ready, us being able to occupy it almost two months before we even formally qualified for a loan, and get a mortgage on the property that is 1/3 less than what we previously paid in rent. You can’t make a story that good up, and yet we did it, without so much as a ruffled feather, and no co-signer or guarantor required. A rather important factor in us being able to get the mortgage was three years of consistent positive cash flow.

Why were we able to have three years of positive cash flow? It wasn’t due to increases in attendance or contributions. Our attendance is has diminished over the last 2½ years. The bulk of our donations come from less than 20% of our contributors each month, and always has. To those of you who have kept us whole, thank you. To those of you who have managed to do very good work with what we have, thank you. Your Board and I refused to spend money we didn’t have. That tenacious point-of-view served us well to get us into our education center which can serve as a home base for us, and we can use it to create a real physical, tangible presence for Science of Mind in Tucson, if we choose. We haven’t had a visible location (with a sign!) since the Board of the old Religious Science Church on Mountain Avenue sold the building out from under the congregation to give the retiring minister a pension. (Our bylaws have been changed so that something like that cannot occur now.) I also wonder if our frugality has hampered us, by limiting our thought processes. I don’t think so, but I don’t actually know.

In case you are interested, this chart tracks attendance and contributions to CSLT from January 2017 to present. The upper (blue) line represents contributions/person-Sunday, and the lower (pink) line tracks attendance. The straight grey line that runs through each of the squiggly lines represents the trendline, or average track, the line has. Averaged contributions per person continue to increase slightly and averaged attendance had dropped from around 80 to around 50. It is not unusual for a congregation to have 40-50% of their attendees leave when a minister retires, or leaves. Perhaps that’s all this is.

This philosophy that I talk about and work at using all the time, and that we claim is true for us (when we remember to stay in our right minds) tells us that the cause of any event or experience must be invisible. Everything we can see, touch, taste or experience is an effect, a consequence, and … readily changeable. Our deeply-held, conscious and unconscious, beliefs are what really create our world. Raymond Holliwell (from Chapter 1 of Working With The Law) wrote, “A fatalistic belief is contagious, and when humanity submits to its influence, believing that the circumstances around them are stronger than the power within them, they are defeated before the race is run.”

I admit that I struggle with the idea that CSLT wants to be a real and vital force for good in Tucson. Maybe it’s my unbelief. I don’t know. I do know I bite my tongue when I hear someone say we aren’t growing or thriving because… (fill in the blank with your favorite way we aren’t “doing it right”). Every iota of that is an effect, an experience, something that comes as an after-thought, and not a cause.

When we remember that each of us has our own (mental) hands on the “steering wheel” of the most powerful creative and causative force known to humanity, our own thoughts, I just take a breath, and focus on what I can do, and get back to working on myself, because that’s what’s mine to do.

My request is that you think through what CSLT means to you, why you participate, or choose not to, and be clear and congruent within yourself. Know that your thoughts matter, make them work for you, and for the good of all.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Update on the Move to 911 S. Craycroft Rd

We have completed our move from 4200 E. River Rd into our new Office and Education Center at 911 S Craycroft. There are so many people who helped with our move, and so many more who volunteered to help, but for a variety of reasons were not able to participate in the experience itself. I don’t want to start naming names, but I don’t want to leave out anyone who helped. There were dozens of people who helped in various ways. I also want to thank those who contributed financially to our move.

I especially want to thank those who came out to move the irregular items and unsealed boxes, artwork and fragile items that we moved before the hired help came on Saturday the 22nd to move file cabinets, book cases, lawn furniture, tables, desks and boxes of books.

I want to thank those who uninstalled the bookshelves at 4200, and those who re-installed them at 911, those who took apart desks, and those who patched the drywall where we had taken things down. I want to thank those who hauled off the extra trash when the trashcans were full. I want to thank those who boxed up the kitchen, and those who figured out how to make best use of our new breakroom and snack area. I want to thank those who packed the boxes of books, and those who unpacked them. I want to thank the clean-up crew at both locations. I want to thank everyone who hauled items to other non-profits in town for re-distribution of items that we no longer needed, wanted or had a place for.

We aren’t completely settled yet at 911, but we have continued all the normal Center operations, both administration and education, as we continue settling in to our new space. There are always kinks to be worked out, and we are handling them as they come up, one step at a time.

–Dick Laird

Getting Excited about Our Upcoming Youth Program!

FREE TO BE ME – Expressing the Love Within and Make Today Great. Keep reading to see the themes for weeks 1 & 2 of the curriculum for our Youth program that will roll out this fall.

The Spiritual Truth for Expressing the Love Within is “Love”. Love is one way to prove the Law of Circulation. It is in the giving of it, that it is returned abundantly. The easiest love to circulate is the kind of love that God is – the unconditional kind.

The Spiritual Truth for Make Today Great is “Enthusiasm”. Enthusiasm means “Filled with The Divine”. It is being filled with Spirit. And isn’t that the truth of what and who we are, Spirit incarnate? Enthusiasm is contagious. It is God’s way of encouraging us to put our attention on the good all around us.

“All people are individual expressions of the one God. Our consciousness creates our own reality. The goal of life is freedom from all discord of any kind and this goal is sure to be attained by all” is the Science of Mind Declaration of Principles that is the overarching theme for the month.

What a blessing – to be guided by these loving words, and to be allowed to share them with children from preschool – grade 5. The activities include reading, singing, charades, Duck-Duck-Goose and arts and crafts.

Don’t we all wish we’d learned the Science of Mind when we were children? What a gift for us to be able to share the Science of Mind philosophy with kids. And what a gift to be able to welcome families with children.

The requirements be a teacher are:
• You must have completed the Foundations class
• You must pass a background check
• You must pass a fingerprint check
• Be available to teach 2 Sundays per month and to attend a once monthly Team meeting.

To provide continuity for the children (and their parents), each person will volunteer 2 weeks in a row, serving one week as the helper and a second week as the teacher. For 4 teachers, the rotation will be 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-1. For 5 Sunday months, we’ll ask for a trained volunteer to serve that extra Sunday.

Curricula are available for Preschool through grade 5. We will start our Youth Program with 4 teachers and 2 subs. Our goal is to have 6 children attending by Christmas and to be conducting 2 sessions – preschool – Grade 1 and Grades 2-5. The teachers will be supplied with the curricula for the classes, the supplies for the arts and crafts projects as well as the books to read aloud and music to play. There will be monthly team meetings to receive curriculum, supplies and to review how the classes are progressing.

Banners at the top of the curriculums illustrate the expanding change in focus as the children attend the classes.

Preschool – One Life, As Me
Kinder-Gr 1 – One Life, As Me, Creates
Grades 2&3 – One Life, As Me, Creates, Celebrates
Grades 4&5 – One Life, As Me, Creates, Celebrates, One Life

As our Center grows, I am excited to be involved in offering resources to families with children and I am also pleased for the opportunity to teach these loving words. Reading the curriculum is soothing and I believe helping to support and teaching these lessons will address each teacher’s inner child, allowing us to receive as much, or even more, support from the classes as the students.

If you are interested in participating in our Youth Program, please call me at (520) 270-1279.

— Marya Wheeler

Making The World A Better Place

No matter what our emotional storm, or what our objective situation, may be, there is always a something hidden in the inner being that has never been violated.  We may stumble, but always there is that Eternal Voice, forever whispering within our ear, that thing which causes the eternal quest, that thing which forever sings and sings.
— Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind, 33.3

I recently had the joy of reconnecting with my stepson, Mitch, who is the Prosecuting District Attorney of the big island of Hawaii.  We had not seen one another for many years, and I was curious if the nature of his job had changed him into a more negative-thinking man.  I was relieved to find him the same Mitch Roth, smart, funny, and optimistic.  He shared with me some of the policies and procedures he has put in place to help the people of his county.  His philosophy is, “If there is a problem, look behind it to see what is causing it. Create the solution there; do not rely on punishment to fix every situation.”

Several years ago there was a serious crime problem in the parking lots of popular tourist attractions in Hawaii.  Young people found opportunities to break into cars and steal valuables when they spotted tourists heading for hiking trails to view waterfalls, lava tubes, or rain forests. Mitch met with a group of older Hawaiian women who were weavers, creating beautiful birds, animals, baskets, and other items to sell to the eager tourists.  Mitch asked them to do their weaving in the parking lots where they could also they could monitor the tourists’ cars.  When the tourists returned, the women would warmly greet them and display their work. The grateful tourists thanked them, purchasing many of the items they had for sell.  Understandably, crime in those parking lots plummeted.

Noting an increase in juvenile delinquency in school-age students, Mitch visited a school that seemed to be a risk epicenter.  He asked the school’s administration to hang a picture of each student in the school.  He then asked the entire staff, teachers, janitors, support staff, and administrators, to put a star on the picture of any student with whom they had a positive connection, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.  Many of the students had many stars on their pictures; some had a few; and some had no stars at all.  Not surprisingly, the children without positive connections were the ones who had been most challenging.The staff made a huge effort to connect with the seemingly troubled students, and to no one’s surprise, the incidents of crime went down dramatically. Mitch told me, ”Those kids got no positive feedback anywhere in their lives.  When they started getting positive attention, they behaved in a more positive way.”

In May 2018, Kilauea Volcano erupted, burying villages, towns, farms, and roads with lava.  Mitch formed an interfaith group to aid the over 1700 evacuees on the island.  The group consists of a Jewish Rabbi, an Episcopalian Priest, a conservative Protestant minister, a Buddhist monk, a Muslim Imam, and Mitch.  They provided over 60,000 hot meals following the earliest days of the eruption, created a daycare for the displaced children, and helped create carpools to get people back and forth to work.  They provided necessities, including laundry facilities, for the people who had lost everything.  After the eruption crisis was over, the group decided to stay connected.  They meet monthly and to their surprise and delight, they have come to realize how similar their worldviews, and belief systems, are.  Instead of spreading discord from their differences, they have created cohesiveness through their discovery of how much they desire the same good.  What an example for the rest of us.

–Pat Masters

Helping Ourselves by Helping Others

…let us begin to accept today more good than we experienced yesterday, and to know that we shall reap a harvest of fulfilled desires.
      Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 39.5)

A recent article in Psychology Today listed the many benefits of altruism. According to the article, acting with altruism can do more than make us feel good about ourselves mentally; it can actually release endorphins which give us a “helpers’ high.” These endorphins also enhance our immune systems, making
us physically healthier.

Also discussed were the emotional or psychological benefits of helping others. These included feelings of gratitude for what one has compared to those being helped, distraction from one’s own problems, and reduction in feelings of stress about one’s own life.

Mariann Moery and I were in PineTop last weekend. I made arrangements to meet Karen, a friend whom I had not seen for a year. When I first saw her, I noticed that she had lost a great deal of weight (60 pounds), was sporting a new haircut, and appeared to be happier than I had ever seen her. As we were waiting for our dinner, she began telling us about the new love in her life.

A year ago, she began volunteering at an organization called Walking Down Ranch that provides housing for homeless veterans in the White Mountain communities of PineTop, Lakeside, and ShowLow. Although it is difficult to say exactly how many homeless veterans are trying to eke out an existence there, the best guess is 200-plus.

Seeing a old lodge with 18 empty cabins in the community of Lakeside, the founding members of Walking Down Ranch made an agreement with the East Mesa Fire Fighters to rent the empty lodge for $1.00 a year. Volunteers went in and repaired each of the cabins, making each of them habitable for the individual veterans, and in some cases, for veterans and their families.

In addition to the 18 cabins, there are two additional buildings that are used as offices for the organization, and a thrift store, which provides income to help defray the cost of the repairs and utilities. They have a computer lab, a food pantry, a laundry room, and an exercise facility. While these facilities are not state of the art, they are functional and being put to good use.

While Mariann and I toured the facility Saturday morning, we saw a hair stylist providing free haircuts to the veterans. We saw veterans who were helping by washing windows, accepting and organizing donations, and providing information to visitors.

Because Karen believes in the organization to which she gives so much of her time and talent, her life is richly enhanced. She is passionate about the work they are doing, because she sees a need, a solution in which “everyone wins” and happy, healthy results.

If you are looking for a way to enrich your own life, think of an organization about which you have interest, gratitude, or passion. Is there a place where you can get engaged there? If nothing immediately catches your imagination, CSLT is primarily a volunteer run organization too. In our own community, we seek lively and enthusiastic individuals to help with Hospitality, Compassionate Hearts, Altared States, Hosts, and Ushers and Greeters. The time commitment to participate on one of our service teams is about once a month. Serving our community is a fabulous way to meet new friends, to serve in a very real way, and to enhance our community and you individually. As Rev. Janis would say, “We invite you to come play with us.” Each of us receives benefit individually from the shared experience and our community prospers.

–Pat Masters

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