Entering the Eye of the Storm and Embracing the “I” of the Storm

By Anna Mello

Recently I sang a song called “Eye of the Storm” by singer/song writer Jen Hajj, who was a guest musician at our center a couple of months ago. I mentioned that this song had a profound effect on me, and I said that I would share this experience in writing. Although there are many musical selections that touch my soul deeply, the timing of this song literally brought me to my knees and evoked overwhelming emotions.

Some people know this about me, but there are many who still don’t. Although I have become a regular volunteer singer at CSLT over the last couple of years, the fact is, that for many years I did not join a choir or sing in front of large groups of people, even though I loved to sing, knew I could sing and wanted to sing. For some reason I didn’t feel like I was a good enough singer to be in a simple high school or church choir, and even when I finally did, it took me awhile to really allow myself to fully share what was inside at that time.

Around 2002, I was involved in a spiritual book study group through Unity, and it was revealed to me that I was supposed to solo. I was so nervous, but I shared this with the facilitator and the group. The facilitator, who was an Arizona State legislator at the time and involved with Toastmasters, firmly, yet lovingly told me to get up and sing for them right then, and she didn’t care how long it took me, or if I had to stop for tears or whatever, but she assured me that I was going to finish! Well the tears did come, and I did finish; however the tears that flowed did not only represent my fears, but was a sense of release or the birth of something that was supposed to come out and express. The next step for me was to sing by myself for the whole congregation. I was extremely anxious, more so than most people ever fully knew. In fact, I started to realize and notice that I would try to avoid the anxiety by sabotaging myself and physically getting sick. When I started to honestly take a look at this, I had to admit to myself that I had done this before, in other areas of my life and with things that I said I wanted to do, but didn’t because having an excuse for not doing them was more comfortable than facing my fears of being vulnerable.

After talking through this with a few trusted people, I decided I was going to solo for my birthday and it was going to be the gift to myself from myself! Well of course, all of the physical obstacles came up, but I committed to this challenge and told myself I was going to do it, no matter what! As I worked through my own habits of resistance and mind chatter, an original song “Come Within” emerged with the starting lines being, “Oh my child, say the WORD and you are healed. Come within and know that we are ONE.” I continued moving through my physical and emotional healing and finished writing the song and actually did fine on my first solo, despite the nervous ticks, wobbly legs, and the need to remind myself to breathe. I continued to solo at least once a year on my birthday at Unity, and started to take on challenges in other areas of my life as well, and began reaching some of my big goals that I set out to accomplish. Since I’ve been here at CSLT for almost four years now, I continue to grow in many areas, but I honestly feel like I am on WARP speed in allowing some new changes to emerge from within, and I feel like I am at an increased level of awareness with everything and everyone around me. In addition to our Sunday services, I undoubtedly, know that this is a result of taking the offered classes, and making a commitment to use the spiritual tools that are taught in this philosophy. All of the classes I’ve taken have been very meaningful for me, but Foundations and Visioning have been my favorite so far, and have opened me up so much! I know this is a result of stepping into the practices whole heartedly, and loving myself enough to allow my full potential to continually unfold and express. In doing this I am finding that sometimes that means having to pick up my oars and point my boat right towards the “storm”, AKA “the scary stuff” or the excuses I make up to keep myself small and comfortable. The problem with playing small is that it keeps me from getting to the “eye” and “I” of what is truly desired in my heart.

Jen Hajj’s song was so profound for me, and literally had me on my knees in tears when I heard it the first time, because a couple of weeks prior to her being our guest musician, one of the symbols and messages that I received during a visioning class was a tornado and the words “eye of the storm”. At the time, I just allowed the vision to be what it was and didn’t analyze or try to figure it out, since the process of visioning is to surrender to Divine Mind and trust that what needs to come forth will reveal itself naturally. When Jen Hajj showed up the following Sunday, it was the first time I had met her and heard any of her music. Afterwards, I introduced myself and bought a CD, but didn’t really take time to even look at it because I had another commitment to rush off to. I put it in my binder and forgot about it. The next week, I was needing to make some final choices on some significant job changes and was getting uncomfortable with taking the leap that I knew I needed to take. I decided to take a break and work on choir music, and when I took out my binder, I saw the CD that I had forgotten about. On the front cover, the name of the CD read “I of the storm”, and one of the songs on the CD was “Eye of the Storm”. At that moment, I recalled my visioning and I played the song. The words were EXACTLY what I was feeling and needed to hear, and while I was so grateful for recognizing the synchronicity with my visioning, it was also extremely overpowering for me, and stirred up those anxious feelings once again. I was excited AND nervous because I knew I had to face some more of my fears and expand from “the box” that had become familiar, knowing I had outgrown it and didn’t want to be in it anymore. I reached out to one of our practitioner’s Lynne Heygster, who was teaching the class, to help me get grounded in spiritual truth and we shared a spiritual mind treatment together. I even made an appointment right afterwards with our own Zach Saber from Wellness First, to help me release some of the physical pain that had shown up as well. So now I have at least made peace with getting into “the boat”, and I’ve started rowing once again towards another “storm”, committed to facing my doubts and fears as I row into the “eye” to get to the “I” of this new storm. The “I” is my authentic Divine self, the self that shines as bright as it can, without the need to receive 100% approval from everyone and without worrying that allowing myself to shine might be taking away from another’s light. In this moment, I know and live from the truth that Divine light is inherent to everyone, and expresses in each one’s own unique way, and I encourage others to shine their light BRIGHT and bless us ALL! I am continually inspired by witnessing people around me step out of their comfort zones and allowing their lights to shine brighter and brighter. It is my sincere hope that we can lovingly honor and truly support those in our spiritual community and all around us, who are taking chances and moving outside of their familiar places to discover their Divine potential and passions. It may not always appear “perfect and polished” on the outside to everyone, especially at first, but I hope instead of criticizing, we can appreciate the bigger accomplishments that are springing forth and interact with loving kindness to one another. And, as we step out, when we do come across those critical experiences in our lives, may we remember that we can choose to lovingly look at what we can learn from them and then remember the sacred “I AM”! Can you imagine what we would each look like, what our Center for Spiritual Living Tucson would look like, what Tucson and the world would look like, if we all rowed into the “I” of our own made up storms and allowed our authentic light to shine as bright as it can and then share it and encourage others to do the same?! WOW!!…… Let’s get out our sunglasses!!!!

If you’re interested in the artist and song mentioned, you can check her out at http://www.jenhajj.com/i-of-the-storm.html

Self Determination – It was up to me and it’s up to you too

Have you ever had people want you to share information about another person; information which was that other person’s story to tell? Recently, I had the opportunity to be reminded of the power of love, and the marvelous way God works through us. I find whatever experiences I’ve gone through in life, it’s been well worth those experiences to have and feel AH-HA moments.

Recently, I watched a woman friend go from sheer fear in her eyes to being relaxed, calm and ready for whatever would happen next. I saw her change her mind from thinking it was time to leave us – to being prepared to return home and live more.

Some people tried to ‘pressure’ me (as though it was up to me) to share information about my friend, or to give them permission to go see my friend, or to tell others about her condition based on what I knew. I didn’t give into the pressure. I stood my ground by remembering I was supporting her. I helped her to stand her ground by doing as she had asked. I insisted that others understand it was not within my right or theirs to alter her experience to influence her right of self-determination. What was happening was hers and hers alone. It was my responsibility to honor the word I had given to her; and to help her honor her wishes for herself. It wasn’t a personal decision against anyone; it was the right decision for me and for my friend.

Priorities were messed up. What I saw were some putting their “but we must show our concern” in front of “but we need to be respectful of that persons request.” There seemed to be an underlying belief there was an obligation to “do for” others, rather than to allow them ‘to do’ for themselves, especially when they ask for that freedom. I wondered why some seemed to think they knew more or better than the individual. Honestly, I think sometimes we forget it’s not our obligation at all to replace our judgment for another’s.

Our obligation, in my opinion, is that we assist others in finding their own voice, in feeling respected for the choices made even when we don’t understand them and by remembering; it’s not ours it’s theirs. Self-determination can be challenging to bump up against when individually, we have a different opinion of the actions an individual chooses.

I am grateful for my extended family at CSL Tucson. I believe that as my extended family, I choose to be available to assist when I am able; when I am asked. I choose to extend my love and compassion to each of you and to do what I am called to do, when asked, in a way that assists you, but which does not decide for you. I trust others to appreciate that as well.

Zach Saber

The Snowden Dilemma

The Snowden dilemma is not about Snowden but rather about us. It is about us because we may or may not have opinions about his disclosure that our government spies on us. Our response says more about us than it says about him. Here’s what I mean by this statement. If I choose to put Snowden in the “traitor” box, then I am saying to myself that I do not identify with the God Qualities that our philosophy claims is necessary for our being one with Spirit, an identification that leads to a vital, prosperous, healthy and happy life.

Hopefully, you know that some of the God qualities are Love, Light, Wholeness and Spirit.

I contend that these qualities are descriptive of the KINGDOM THAT IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. It is stated this way so that those of us who grew up in the Christian tradition would know where this is coming from. The greatest light bearer to date was rejected and nailed to a cross. Copernicus and Galileo were marginalized and threatened. Then there has Ellsberg, Assange and many others. Kingdoms of this world, both religious and political have persecuted them all.

On the other hand, if I choose to put Snowden in the “Light” box, then I am identifying with the God Qualities and not identifying with the appearance, body, form and conditions of the KINGDOMS OF EARTH. Snowden’s actions then indeed conform to the injunction that one is to let one’s light shine before men … and glorify the father which is in heaven. To glorify is the to identify with the qualities of the Father Which Is In Heaven. (Matt 5:16). What is the point? It is this. Who do you answer to? Or in contemporary verbiage, Who is your daddy? Bluntly stated, if you are identified with your patriotism, you are not identified with the God Qualities. Yes, this is where we get to choose between God and State, as they are not one and the same.

Since Light illumnates darkness, I must allow the Light to illuminate the darkness where ever it appears. Who are you choosing to glorify? Is it the kingoms of this world, with all of its appointed rulers, who are intent on keeping the people in darkness, or the kingdom of Light, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light (Mattt 11:30).

Isn’t living in choice fun?

Keith A. Gorley

A Tribute to my Dad

By Serena French

It didn’t matter whether you were in a suit and tie in your fancy office or in old clothes and BBQ apron grilling steaks in the backyard, you were my Superman.

You always encouraged me, no matter the task, to make the effort to do my best even if no one noticed because it would build character. So, whenever you told me you were proud of the way I conducted myself or handled a situation, it was like taking in a deep breath of fresh fragrant air. So sweet; I couldn’t get enough.

Whether I was in a school music concert or competing with my horse, I would always search for your face in the crowd and watch for your wink and nod. With that I committed myself to doing my best and, win or lose, in your eyes – I knew I couldn’t fail. It meant so much to me to have you there in my rooting section.

You taught me that some people haven’t had the same advantages, so to never forget that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. And I learned from you to be grateful for ALL the good that came my way. From your humble beginnings you became a self-made man with a dream of being a good husband, father and successful provider for your family. Even though no one helped you get to where you were, you never missed an opportunity to encourage others and do whatever you could to help them up the ladder or through hard times.

People loved being near you, to work for you or to be your friend, not because you were a “rock star”, but because you knew how to put people at ease. You were confident, but not arrogant. If you got something wrong, you were the first to laugh at yourself.

You said when I made mistakes, to admit it, take responsibility and do my best to make things right. Whether it was an apology, a do-over, or a negotiated compromise, you’d coach me on how to do that and said honesty was always the best policy. You told me to stand up for myself when I felt I’d been misunderstood, but to keep my cool and be respectful. Over the years, that advice has been the key for me in turning negative situations into more positive outcomes.

When I was a young adult, you also taught me when plans fell through and dreams got shattered, to remember I’d overcome and see a brighter day on the horizon. Yes, I’ve been literally and figuratively thrown from a horse and gotten right back on again, proving to myself I was not to be counted out – which created a little more confidence for the next crisis.

As a single parent, I often heard myself passing on your pearls of wisdom. Now, I’m a grandparent, and your words are still current and appropriate and being said by my daughter to her children. So, if you ever wonder if the world’s a better place because you were here; it absolutely is! And I will never let anyone forget what a wonderful man you were.

I really miss you Dad

Pray Unceasingly

By Jeanne Griffith

Last fall I realized that I was dissatisfied with my life – physical ailments and economic constraints while living in a small park model mobile home made me feel trapped. I started attending the learning circles on abundance and got the idea to sell the park model and go back to full time RV’ing. Economically that would free me for easier traveling and maybe allow me to save for a small retirement home when I eventually became “rooted.”

As time passed and the holidays arrived, my enthusiasm for change dampened. I was comfortable, and the real estate market for the Voyager RV resort where I was living was slow.

There were 96 models for sale! The very few that sold were going for peanuts. Did I really want to uproot my life?

I re-examined my situation and found that I had a good goal but fear and anxiety were undermining it. Trust and faith in the spiritual mind treatment and my Higher Power were called for. So I affirmed I would move forward. I would do those things I had control of and leave the rest to God. I painted, cleaned, organized and put the park model up for sale! It was old but lovingly maintained and “showed” well. The entire month of February I had only a few showings. I faithfully did my readings and meditations.

By mid March, I was getting uneasy. My affirmation had been to sell, but my time frame was just wishy-washy. I kept thinking I don’t have to sell. It’s ok if it doesn’t sell now. I sought guidance from Rev Donald who helped me focus my attention and offered support. One of the most helpful suggestions was: When I had doubts, and it looked like it wasn’t going to sell, to know that it was.

During this time friends and family kept asking, “Have you sold it yet?” “Have you had a showing?” I finally started answering, “I have a buyer. I just don’t know who it is yet.” Then I started doing things I would need to do once it sold, i.e. had maintenance performed on my RV, started collecting boxes for packing, found a storage facility explored options for mail forwarding, etc.

By the end of March I was getting nervous. Why had I changed my affirmed time frame for the 1st week in April? When such doubts crept in, I reaffirmed, repeating and
repeating until that was all that I could think. (Now I understand what it means to pray unceasingly).

On April 2 some relatives of my neighbors made an offer for my full asking price which I delightedly accepted! I must admit I was in a state of shock. Spiritual Mind Treatment and affirmation worked! It seemed miraculous. I had sold my park model but felt Spirit’s power and influence at the base. I felt so in awe and humbled. It made me feel incredibly grateful, and I reveled in this connection with God.

I have since closed on the park model and moved into my RV. I’m back on the road and
enjoying this new life and adventure.

What a great personal learning experience: God and I as a team, attaining my choices.

Contradicting Yourself

To contradict yourself is to grow.

In science, it is easy to change opinions because once you have new data you can throw out the old assumptions proven false. Where the opinion is tied to a judgement however, changing opinion is deemed wrong because there appears an unspoken assumption that your power of judgement may be poor if you have to go back on the choices you’ve previously made. That is, of course, nonsense, for to change your opinion based on new information or better understanding is to be honest with yourself and others, and it is the only way to grow.

If you never contradict yourself it is because you are either very wise and never make mistakes, or, more likely, that what you do say is not very important or is not precise enough to be of much value, perhaps partly due to the fear of having to retract your words at a later date should you dare to commit yourself to a strong opinion1. But clinging to a judgement for no better reason than the fear of appearing foolish or attracting the barks of critics is to paralyze yourself and degrade your active mind to a statement of beliefs carved in stone, never to be changed again.


1. It need not be said that the opposite of this, that is to always contradict oneself, is a sign that one either doesn’t value what they are saying or is a hypocrite who uses words to achieve selfish ends. This is not the sort of contradiction I’m talking about here.