If you missed this weeks Celebration Service, you missed wonderful, special music by Janie Womack! Check her out online at http://www.WomackandLowery.com.
A young woman was driving through the Florida Everglades while on vacation. She wanted to take home a pair of genuine alligator shoes in the worst way, but was very reluctant to pay the high prices the local vendors were asking.
After becoming very frustrated with the attitude of one of the shopkeepers, the young woman declared, “Well then, maybe I’ll just go out and catch my own alligator and get a pair of shoes for free!”
The shopkeeper said with a sly smile, “Well little lady, why don’t you go on and give it a try?”
The woman headed off to the swamp, determined to catch an alligator. Later in the day, as the shopkeeper was driving home, he spotted the same young woman standing waist deep in the murky water, shotgun in hand.
As he brought his car to a stop, he saw a huge 9-foot gator swimming rapidly toward her. With lightning reflexes, the woman took aim, shot the creature and hauled it up onto the slippery bank.
Nearby were 7 more dead gators, all lying belly up. The shopkeeper stood on the bank, watching in silent amazement. The woman struggled mightily and managed to flip the gator onto its back.
Rolling her eyes heavenward, she screamed in frustration, “OH NO! THIS ONE’S BAREFOOT, TOO!”
I apologize to all the alligators!
Starting with yes
We deny any power outside our being
We affirm we are the Divine in manifestation.
What do we do after we do our denials and affirmations?
Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question, whether or not we are in touch with it, gives us pause to take an accounting of just how we do live our lives.”
Living in the flow, on the surface, can be filled with excitement and with drama. Our habits often cause us to live on the surface of life. And sometimes our habits aren’t necessarily the most positive parts of ourselves.
Living in the deeper part of life’s current, where the steady, even flow takes us gently through whatever experiences come along, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Merely to abstain from wrong thinking is not enough; there must be active right thinking.
What does that mean?
Let’s go back to those habits…are they habits that move us along in the direction our journey is taking? Are we doing what we believe in, or are we settling for what we are doing?
Familiar patterns of thinking, like favorite old shoes, are comfortable and easy to slip into. Yet if they no longer fit, they need to be released. Going with the flow sometimes is taking the easy way out. We often do this thinking what we know is better than what we don’t know.
Saying Yes to change offers us the possibility of growing beyond our perceived limitations to the fullness of our divine potential.
Here’s an example of just going with the flow, settling on what we are doing; on UnityFM one day, Rev. Dr. Tom Shephard told a story from when he was in the Army as a Chaplin. He was visiting a base and went to lunch at the mess hall. Arriving there he was astounded by the condition of the meal; it was tasteless; there were no forks or knives, only spoons to eat with; in general; a very un-enjoyable and practically indigestible meal was being offered.
So, he went to see the cook and stated how surprised he was by the meal being offered. The cook offered, that yes, wasn’t it great. This mess was number one again of all the mess halls. His crew provided all the meals within the prescribed time allotted, serving the prescribed amount of the different meal components, and cleaned up in the prescribed amount of time, meeting all cleanliness standards.
Of course Rev. Tom was quite surprised at the pride the cook was showing, missing the point completely, that yes, all those ‘rules’ were followed, but the meal was almost uneatable due to the state of the food and the lack of utensils.
Rev. Tom was not judging the situation, tho he probably didn’t eat at that mess hall again. He was giving an example of doing only what was required. Nothing more. Is this the way we should be going through life? Doing only what is expected; what ‘regulations’ state must be done.
I think it’s something else, I think it boils down to making our yes, yes and our no, no as stated in Matthew 5:37. Simply put, when we say yes, mean it and when we say no, mean it.
And, as a reminder, “No in this instance, is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation.”
So, the question becomes, what do we mean when we say yes and when we say no? The cook in the story said YES to rules and regulations but NO to service in his integrity to his fellow soldiers. He looked at serving the ‘law’ instead of the ‘meaning of the law,’ similar to Jesus in Matthew 5:17, “I come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it,” meaning, not the ‘letter’ of the law but the meaning behind it.
To serve with meaning, we want to put our belief behind our actions. And, to know what our beliefs are, we must look within, of course.
In the book by Don Miguel Ruiz “The Fifth Agreement,” the concept defining the fifth agreement was to be skeptical, to question everything, but learn to listen.
Isn’t this a bit like asking ourselves what is truly our TRUTH? And how do we learn that? Well, of course, we listen to the still small voice from within, we pray and meditate.
But we also have to question what our beliefs are to realize if they are true for us. Many of us came from stories as we grew up that do not seem true to us today. Most often, we grew up learning the stories of our parents, family, school and religious cultures. In fact, that these stories felt untrue is probably one of the reasons we are sitting here at UNITY of Rehoboth Beach today.
Once we feel the untruth of the belief, we have to listen not only to the still small voice, but to the lessons being presented to us in a variety of ways. Maybe here, each Sunday. Maybe in classes, reading a book or article. Listening to music. Walking in nature. Everything we see, hear, touch, taste, smell, or sense in any way is an aspect of the Divine. And messages come through all aspects of the Divine, we just need eyes that see and ears that hear; and an open heart.
Only after we learn what our TRUTH is, only then can we say yes, or no. Before that, we don’t know what we believe. Before that, we are living the stories of others.
When we know what we believe, we can put our beliefs behind our actions. The true power of a word lies in its union with action. People can only see what’s in your heart by your actions. We are developing our integrity. And that action is living our integrity. When we live our integrity, we are saying YES to our beliefs.
If we look with wonder at the world around us, we can choose to wake up each morning with a positive outlook and an expectant attitude. We can choose to see the beauty in every face, every aspect of nature, every goal and dream. As we sense and nurture the wonder in each thought and action, we transform our lives.
That’s a YES! YES!
I mentioned in a prior Sunday lesson that there is another way to look at the Golden Rule—Think onto others as you would have them think onto you.
We can help to transform others and as well as transform ourselves.
That’s a Yes! Yes!
And here’s a bumper sticker that has it down pat, THINK GOOD THOUGHTS…Words become actions; actions become habits, habits become character, character becomes destiny.
Another Yes! YES!
As we are skeptical, questioning all our beliefs, we are learning who we are on all levels and with that, we are either in growth or decline at all times.
Growth as we remain open to the messages that are presented to us.
Decline because sometimes we will choose to not look forward, we may not be ready for tackling a certain ‘project’, a certain aspect of our selves.
It took me many years to work on the many ‘stories’ I was brought up with. Still working on some.
Gandhi said. “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there will be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
When I was teaching, several years I taught 8th grade health. Part of our curricula was safety and first aid…and with that, the then Heimlich Maneuver to aid someone who was choking. Later that year, one of my students helped his younger brother release a stuck piece of food using that maneuver. We never know when the fruit of our labor will present itself.
So we do the right thing, always. We say yes to our highest good.
What are you saying yes to? If you’re going to do something make it matter.
And what are you saying NO to? Often we say yes when we really wish to say NO. It is appropriate to say NO when we truly do not wish to participate in the pending activity, no matter what the activity is. We have that responsibility to ourselves. It is appropriate to say NO to something that is hurtful to us or offends us; to something that is not in our integrity. It is better to say NO than to regret saying YES.
And what about when ‘No’ is ‘Yes’
A number of years ago, as I was anxiously waiting for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that would dramatically change the course of my life, a friend offered me an important assurance. ‘From the perspective of God,’ he reminded me, ‘the answer is always ‘yes’.’
I heard in this affirmation what I needed to hear at the time – and have needed to remember many times since. Even if the answer was ‘no’ on the physical plane of existence, even if I were denied that which I thought I wanted, I could be absolutely sure that there was a loving ‘yes’ behind the equally loving ‘no.’
Yes, I AM unconditionally loved; no, this person who seems to represent that possibility in the material world at the moment cannot be the channel through which that love expresses.
Yes, I AM living a life of joy and abundance; no, this particular job is not the appropriate channel for that abundance.
It is, of course, an important truth that the Power of God is always eager to express as all of the highest good I AM willing to accept. My limited human mind may not always recognize that highest good – and the path that will lead me to it. But my spiritual Beingness always does.
Steven Covey said, “We have to choose what our highest priorities are and have the courage to say “NO” to other things. And the way we do that is by having a bigger “YES” burning inside.”
SO, Today I AM open to God’s great, eternal ‘Yes!’ seeking to express in my life, and I lovingly dissolve any obstacles in my mind that may be impeding the loving and affirmative Beingness of my own I AM.