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Reel-to-Reel Christmas “A Christmas Carol”
I certainly hope you have been enjoying our Reel-to-Reel Christmas Series. Today we conclude with the film, “A Christmas Carol.”
Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol was published in England in 1843, & had both an immediate and lasting impact on the Christmas holiday. It is credited with reviving interest in Christmas at a time when its traditions were falling out of fashion. The novella’s lessons of charity, family, and a shared humanity spoke directly to a Victorian society that, in Dickens’s view, oppressed the poor and the working class in the name of industry. The work’s impact has endured far beyond the nineteenth century, and its message has reached audiences far beyond Great Britain.
The main character is a surly old geezer who lives a miserly existence in far too many ways. He sees nothing to be gained by helping the poor or even paying a living wage to his own employee. As the story says, his soul never walked beyond his counting house.
In Dickens’ story, Scrooge clutches to his money and financial wealth, wholeheartedly despises the thought of parting with any of it and, even worse, he withholds not just money but also love, kindness, warmth, friendship and empathy from every other human being, including his only living relative. All that is humbug in Scrooge’s eyes. Then one night, he has a profound epiphany, courtesy of three Christmas spirits and the ghost of his long-dead business partner.
Sadly, the lessons taught to us by A Christmas Carol seem to be lost on a surprising number of Americans in this day and age.
We all know what the word “Scrooge” means to most today, as well as ‘humbug!’ Let’s see what else can we learn from this story?
The story’s message is one to which every person, everywhere can relate: Relentless pursuit of wealth comes at a great price. Dickens shows the descent into greed is a slippery slope; the more we worship the “golden idol,” the easier it is to forget the genuine value of having money which is the ability to improve the quality of life for others and, in doing so, to enrich our own lives in truly meaningful ways.
Beyond its exploration of greed, A Christmas Carol emphasizes the impossibility of isolation in a shared world. We are more and more aware of that today.
We walk through life as “fellow passengers to the grave,” as Scrooge’s nephew Fred points out. When fellow passengers are left ignorant and needy, as the ghost of Christmas Present showed us, they are not the only ones who suffer; society itself suffers.
I love the dramatic start – Marley was dead! Seven years to the day. The number 7, in some circles, is about death and rebirth. Not so much literally, but in its tendency to throw away material success when it perceives it as a threat to its spiritual growth.
Interesting that Marley came to give Scrooge a chance for spiritual growth after being dead 7 years.
The stage is set with a glimpse of what kind of a man Scrooge is and what contract he has between himself and his nephew and Bob Crachit. He lets everyone know how he feels about money and everyone minding their own business so he can mind his.
The gloom of the evening, fog and all, tells us that the story is set for something otherworldly. It starts with the door knocker. First it’s a knocker and then its Marley’s face and then a knocker again. All our perception.
Ever have an evening like that?
I think it’s a precursor for a spiritual 2 x 4.
But Scrooge wasn’t open to any change, was he?
When Marley tells him of the pending visit by three spirits he says he’s rather not accept them – and then asks if they could all come in one night instead of three (the original script has them coming in three successive nights).
In general, Ebenezer Scrooge learned that he needed to turn his life around and be a happier, more caring person than he was at the beginning of the story. Each spirit taught him a different part of that lesson.
The first spirit, using the “Light of Truth,” showed the past to Scrooge.
In his past, Scrooge used to be a much happier person. This shows him that it is possible for him to be that way again. This spirit also shows him through Fezziwig, how important it is to be kind because of the impacts that has on others.
“Come and Know me better!” I love that greeting from Christmas Present. The ghost shows Scrooge that he is now something of a tyrant and that his behavior makes problems for other people. It also shows him that people can be happy without having as much money as Scrooge wants to have.
The third spirit shows him what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. It shows him that his current behavior makes it so that no one loves him or even cares about him.
Between them, the three teach Scrooge that it is important to act more kindly and humanely towards other people (and even towards himself).
How would a visit from these three ghosts impact you & your life?
Jeff Skolnick M.D., P.h.D says there is a bit of Scrooge in all of us.
“Not me,” you say? “People like me.” Yet, there’s a quality to everyone’s life that is self-centered and disconnected from others. You might see Scrooge in your competitiveness—like when you race to speed up to prevent another driver from getting ahead of you or you resent other people’s success or needing to win in an argument.
Or when you feel victimized by life and blame others and life circumstances for your unhappiness. What does that get you? It makes you irritable, disappointed and sad. Yup, good ole Ebenezer comes up constantly. He’s there any time we look outside ourselves for happiness—like “retail therapy” shopping, wishing for that perfect relationship, needing a chemical to relax.
Scrooge had an Awakening to a new way of seeing the world and a new way of being. This can happen in two ways. Abruptly, in the case of Scrooge, or gradually.
In either case, you let go of old habits that are controlling you—whether you realize it or not—in favor of new perspectives and ways of doing things. So, it’s a skill of letting go into the moment. Witnessing in silence your own attitudes, beliefs, stress, compulsive habit or habits. You go from unknowingly “self-centered” to that inner, silent part of you that gets little attention—but when tapped, brings forth the Christmas spirit.
With no competitiveness to catch you up, with habits actively released, you are free to enjoy the miracle of the moment; To see the miracle in your very existence. And in others’ existence—especially the Tiny Tim’s of the world. Compassion is released like a logjam splitting apart.
The story of hope in “A Christmas Carol” is that just as someone as “lost” as Scrooge can be saved from a future worse than hell, so can we.
Like Scrooge, we can make changes in our own life; a ghost from our past or even a frightening look into our future. We can make needed changes in our life and thus help change the world for the betterment of every Tiny Tim, including those we don’t even know. We can become a better person.
That’s the positive message of Dickens’ classic, just as it is the message of Christmas itself. The gift of the little baby born in a manger is the gift from God of not only a second chance, but a third, fourth, fifth or however many chances we need to make a meaningful change in our life.
And isn’t that what God seeks in us all?
Here are 10 lessons we can learn from A Christmas Carol:
- Learning begins with listening.
Initially, Scrooge wants nothing to do with the three spirits who endeavor to show him the errors of his ways. But once he realizes they have his best interest at heart, he willingly lets them lead. “Spirit,” he tells the Ghost of Christmas Present, “conduct me where you will.”
When we listen, we learn. When we learn, we have the potential to grow and change in ways that will not only help us, but also those around us. Says Proverbs 18:13, “To answer before listening — that is folly and shame.”
- Humility enhances vision.
When some famous athlete or person is caught in some sort of transgression and, at the press conference, says, “That’s not who I am.” That may not be all of who you are, but at least for now, it’s part of who you are. And you’ll never get the issue resolved until you admit that.
Scrooge does this. He feels sorrow at his past memories. He feels remorse for having treated people badly. In short, he humbles himself. And when we see our shadow self, we are able to allow God to help us.
How cool is it that Scrooge cries out to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, “I am not the man I once was!”
- Regret leads to renewal.
This is related to our previous lesson, but points out an important part of the process: letting that humility morph into regret, but not letting it shackle us to regret. Humility and regret are always means to a greater end. Regret is the boost that allows humility to grow.
- Bitterness will poison you.
Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, is a wise man. It is Fred who points out, that it’s Scrooge who loses when he refuses the invitation to Christmas dinner. It’s been said that bitterness is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. The victim of bitterness is ourselves.
- There’s joy in starting over.
Scrooge gets a bad rap. Too much attention is paid to his mean-spiritedness and not enough to the all-new Ebenezer. We see the sullen, bitter, biting Scrooge, but not enough of the laughing, giving, joyful Scrooge. On Christmas morning, however, he reminds us that starting over washes us in newness.
“I’m quite a baby,” he says. “Never mind, I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby.” People get in ruts and forget that they needn’t stay there. Scrooge’s turn-around reminds us there’s hope for us all, if we’re willing to begin anew.
- We must be present to win.
On Christmas morn, one of the first things Scrooge does after realizing he’s been given a second chance at life is to fling open his window. He moves from self to the world at large. He notices life around him instead of only himself. To notice is to see. To see is to feel. To feel is to build connections with those around us. And to build connections is to bring love to the world.
When Scrooge asks a young lad to deliver a turkey Bob Cratchit, it reminds us; the former taker is now a giver, which begins with noticing the needs of others.
- Seeking forgiveness is a strength, not a weakness.
Actions often say we’re sorry more than words. For example, on Christmas morning, the born-again Scrooge makes a financial pledge to one of the two solicitors for the poor whom Ebenezer all but threw out of his office the previous day. The amount of money is so much that the solicitor says, “My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious?”
Scrooge was saying, in essence: I am sorry for being so stingy my entire life. That wasn’t easy. But it affirmed that Scrooge’s turnaround is real stuff.
- We need to live with the end in mind.
“Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on that stone,” says Scrooge when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows him the headstone with Ebenezer’s name on it.
The catalyst for Scrooge finally realizing he’s wasted his life on money and power is seeing that there’s an end to that life — and it’s a rather depressing end. To live with the end in mind is to be inspired to change now.
- Redemption is about changed hearts.
We try so hard to change people’s minds, but what needs changing isn’t views on presidential candidates or social issues. What needs changing is people’s hearts — ours and others. Something we have been working on in Unity and other ways in our society.
What’s fascinating about Scrooge’s journey to renewal is that when he arrived at Christmas morning his circumstances were utterly unchanged. What had changed was his heart. Says Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- It’s never too late to change.
Nobody would have bet a pound on Scrooge turning his life around. But that’s the power of God’s grace: nobody is beyond the reach of God’s love for us. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you,” says Matthew 7:7
“It’s too late for me,” some may lament. But this is wrong. As someone once said, the best time to plant a tree was 50 years ago, but the second best time is now. It’s a lesson that Ebenezer Scrooge teaches us well every Christmas.
Here are a few final thoughts:
“If you sacrifice everything for money that’s what you end up with.”
“Money is worthless if you do nothing with it.”
“Lack of a safety net, even for the rich has horrible repercussions.”
“Investing in the common welfare of others does not mean you can’t be rich.”
“God Bless us, everyone.”
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Our third film in the Reel-to-Reel Christmas Series is “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” This Christmas classic has a bit of history to it.
Rudolph was the creation of Bob May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward. In August of 1939 May wrote a Christmas story to cheer up his daughter. When he shared the story at his company’s Christmas party, everyone asked him to use it to attract shoppers to store.
As he wrote the story, May’s first choice for the reindeer’s name was “Rollo” but he was told it was too carefree. He picked “Reginald” next but that was considered too royal.
Prior to the Clement Moore “Twas the Night Before Christmas, in 1823, Santa’s sleigh pulled by only one anonymous reindeer.
Montgomery Ward sold 2.5 million copies of the Rudolph story in 1939. It was reissued in 1946 and sold over 3.5 million copies. In 1949 Johnny Marks, May’s brother-in-law, wrote a song called Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Originally, Rudolph was sung by cowboy Gene Autry. His song has sold more than 12 million copies, second only to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”
And a little science to the story…
Nathaniel Dominy, an anthropology professor at Dartmouth College published a scholarly paper on Rudolph’s red nose in the journal Frontiers for Young Minds in 2015. In the paper, Dominy noted that reindeer eyes can perceive shorter wavelengths of light than humans, allowing them to see ultraviolet light; ultraviolet light, however, is much more easily scattered in fog, which would blind reindeer. Thus, Rudolph’s red nose, emitting longer-wavelength red light, would penetrate the fog more easily.
Maybe there’s some truth to the story….
If we are open to look, see and hear, we can find many lessons in the story of Rudolph. Stories like Rudolph’s capture our imagination. They resonate with ‘something’ deep within us. That’s what makes them so powerful and well-loved all over the world. On a subconscious level and on a superconscious level they connect with our Spirit.
This passage from Life and Teachings of the Masters by Baird Spalding help us justify to be open to a metaphysical approach to Rudolph. Baird was on a spiritual pilgrimage in India and asked his guide Emil what he thought of the street performers in the square. His wise old guide said:
“These performers are called fakirs, and they are all the name implies. But underneath it all is a deeper spiritual meaning that few discern, and good will come of their antics someday. Their street magic is but the shadow of the thing from which it springs. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear can see the truth beneath it all.”
So, armed with the blessings of a Hindu mystic let’s look at this classic metaphysically:
The 8 reindeer each have characteristics that make the nocturnal flight possible:
- Dasher: represents out-of-the-box thinking
- Dancer: represents innate wisdom
- Prancer (Dancer’s twin) represents authentic integrity
- Vixen: represents a giving consciousness
- Comet: represents an internal locus of control
- Cupid: represents love
- Donner: represents inner strength
- Blitzen: represents an optimistic spirit
These reindeer represent qualities within us: out-of-the-box thinking, innate wisdom, love, and so on. They could also represent the Eightfold Path of Buddhism: Right understanding, right thoughts, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
The number eight also stands for balance and adjustment; magical alignments; the clearing away of obstacles and barriers; and karmic conformity, to name a few.
And laying sideways, the infinity symbol.
The Rudolph of us is that part of us that doesn’t fully comprehend that we are spiritual beings in human form, that we are divine beings having a human experience.
Santa is the Authentic Us, the Extraordinary Us, that encourages us to let our light shine, to use our unique gifts to bring peace and healing to the world.
The room where Santa finds Rudolph represents our ‘going into the Silence.’ It is there that our inner light, the truth of us, shines. It is there that we become one with our Christ nature.
The sleigh stands for our positive, giving state of consciousness which is our vehicle for unlimited prosperity and abundance.
Santa gave Rudolph a choice. He invited Rudolph to lead his sleigh. Rudolph could have refused, and we would have had quite a different story. Choirs would sing – Rudolph the Red-Faced Reindeer –because he would have missed the opportunity of a lifetime.
Rudolph could have kept his light hidden under a bushel. Instead he listened to that ‘Still Small Voice’ that says “will you guide my sleigh tonight? Will you let your light shine?”
That’s a great message for all of us: Let your light shine. Share your gifts with the world. Answer the call to express your divinity.
The original story is expanded into the film we were asked to watch this past week. The movie still has some of this original ideas and messages, but is expanded into more story.
The other cast of characters find it almost disturbing or disconcerting to see someone who is different than they are. Rudolph was ridiculed by the other reindeer and even his father was disappointed.
We find another outcast in Hermy, who wanted to be a dentist. The outcasts travel to the Island of Misfit toys where mismatched toys are just waiting to be loved and accepted.
The hero’s journey is clearly shown to us as Rudolph matures. When he goes back to find his family missing, he goes to rescue them from the Abominable Snow Monster. And even the Snow Monster learns a lesson…everyone can change.
It is not until Christmas Eve, the most important time of night for delivering of gifts, that Santa has an epiphany and realizes Rudolph is a gift to help him through the foggy world. Then, and only then, do the other reindeer accept him as their own. The lesson…maybe not judging others at first impression?
And Santa takes ALL the so called ‘misfit toys’ and again shows us that everyone belongs someplace.
So, this story has three elements: discrimination, epiphany, and redemption.
Discrimination regarding Rudolph because he is different looking; Hermy because he doesn’t fit into the ‘family’ business; the misfit toys because they are not what others expect; and even the Snow Monster because no one took the time to understand him.
And did you notice the Yucon Cornelous DIDN’T discriminate regarding sled dogs – he even had a poodle helping to pull the sled!
Epiphany for Rudolph’s Father as he realizes he was projecting his ideas of success on his son; Santa when he realizes Rudolph’s gift is exactly what he needs; Yukon Cornelius when he realizes he really wasn’t prospecting for gold or silver, but peppermint…because that is what was there! And Rudolph is reminded by the King of Misfit Island that we cannot run from our problems, “A living creature cannot hide itself.”
Redemption is found with Clarise because she stood by Rudolph even though the other reindeer made fun of him and she reminds us that there is always a tomorrow; and Rudolph is redeemed when he finds himself and doesn’t forget his promises to the other toys; and of course, Rudolph’s Mother…Mothers stand by their kids, most often, no matter what.
What did you find it the film?
What Reindeer games do we sometimes play?
Do you ever find yourself on the Island of Misfit toys?
What Would Jesus Say to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
Whatever Jesus would say to Rudolph would be the same message communicated to the Rudolph within each of us. See how the message resonates with you.
First of all, from a blog by Unity Minister Rev Bill Holton, Jesus might say something like this:
“You know, Rudolph, sometimes we don’t recognize our greatest, most valuable gifts. Sometimes, they may even look like problems and embarrassments. But if we hold the faith, believe me, those problems will transform into the greatest gifts that the world needs.”
So, we need to look deep within ourselves, and acknowledge the issues that create the biggest problems for us. It may be a physical characteristic, an emotional issue, a quirky style preference, something that is ours to own, and we can’t understand why we got “stuck” with it. We can transform the thing into a great gift, with a powerful message to give the world. We must embrace it, love it, and be open enough – and wise enough – to see how our attitude about it transforms us.
Secondly, Jesus might say,
“And here’s a real keeper for you, Rudolph. Quite often in this world, your special gifts may be misunderstood. That happened with me, you know! The more I developed my Christ Consciousness, the more I became consciously one with God, and the more I was misunderstood by those who chose not to “get it.” So don’t worry, buddy, if people make fun of your nose, and judge you based on appearance, because you are a little different from others. Make it okay, and be kind to them. Love them, and see the Christ light in them. They really don’t know what they are doing.”
So we invite you to realize that others may misunderstand you as you begin using your gifts. As you strengthen your spirituality, and become consciously one with your divine nature, you may run into people who judge you, or make fun of you. Make it okay, and behold the Christ in them.
Finally, Jesus would probably sum it all up by saying,
“Here’s the deal, Rudolph! Regardless of what anyone tells you, no matter what … let your light shine!”
Great Morning Beloved!
Today we light the second advent candle, the candle for Peace. The first Advent candle was for Faith.
We sing the Peace song every Sunday, are we taking it to heart. We have said time and again that peace begins with each of us. It begins when we learn to trust in the peace that is the Christ Presence within each of us.
Let us welcome the peace of the Christ this Christmas Season
Reel-to-Reel Christmas “It’s a Wonderful Life”
I hope you are enjoying our little adventure into some of the Seasons favorite movies. If you pay attention to many of the lasting movies, you may find that, they are lasting because of the messages and lesson they provide to us.
Last week we discussed a few lessons from “The Miracle on 34th Street.” And there were many examples of the Advent theme, Faith, in that movie.
This week we look at “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This movie is one of my very favorites of ALL movies. And no matter how many times I’ve seen it, I shed tears at the end if not before.
I hope you took the time to watch the film this past week. There is just too much we could discuss from the film to put in one Lesson. It’s been called an Hour & half long teachable moment.
There’s a bank that requires its employees to watch a series of scenes from the movie and law students watch certain scenes for the ethics lessons. I am sure there are many other examples of the importance of the lessons in the film.
Many of the iconic moments of the movie have become cultural touchstones. Do you think of an angel getting its wings every time you hear a bell ring? Do you yell “Merry Christmas, movie house!” every time you pass your local theatre? Do you have someone for whom you would lasso the moon? You have “It’s a Wonderful Life” to thank.
The story of George Bailey’s life is one that touches so many in his small town of Bedford Falls. We get to see his life from a child to present through the eyes of celestial beings…“oh that’s right I forgot, until you get your wings you can’t see without my help but once you get your wings you’ll be able to see clearly on your own.”
Our first lesson, once we wake up we see clearly on our own and yet until that time we are encouraged to call upon our friends and our teachers to help us see more clearly. Great start and we haven’t even gotten to earth yet.
Through these celestial eyes we see how George saved his brother, Harry’s life from the not-so-frozen pond. And how that affected his life because of the loss of hearing in one ear.
We next see how he saved the life of a child from the error in a prescription by Mr. Gower. And that one action saved Mr. Gower too.
He sacrificed his education for his brother’s, kept the family-run savings and loan afloat, protecting the town from the greedy Mr. Potter
We see how George’s father and then he, himself, strive to stand up to Mr. Potter and keep at least some of the town out of his grip.
And, we see how both George and his father put up with Uncle Billy and his incompetency’s, almost to their detriment.
From the very beginning we’re seeing that George has had an impact on many peoples’ lives. But he doesn’t get to follow his dreams… More than anything else George wants to travel. He wants to get out of Bedford Falls and travel. As he says at one point in the movie he wants to “Shake the dust of this crummy little town off his feet.”
At one point his father mentions that he would like him to take care of the Bailey building and loan and George says “I couldn’t face being cooped up for the rest of my life in a shabby little office, I’d go crazy, I want to do something big, something important”
George’s dad thinks they are doing a big thing. He says; “It’s deep in the race for a man to want his own roof, walls and fire place and we’re helping him get those things in our shabby little office.”
When George comes to his crisis point, he fails to see all the good he has done, so it takes Angel 2nd class Clarence Odbody to show him his worth and, at the same time, earn his wings.
Clarence does this by giving George the opportunity to see what it would have been like if he was never born.
With no one to keep Potter in check, Bedford Falls becomes Pottersville and all that that implies. Even Mary is casts as an ‘old maid’ (horrors!) and working in the library. No family. No kids. No Bailey Park with all it’s nice little homes.
All the sailor and soldiers would have dies without Harry, who owes his life to George.
Clarence tells George, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?
What would it be like to see what life would have been like with no YOU to fill the place in our tapestry of life? George gets to see just that.
At the end of the film, Clarence has the almost last word: “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence.”
What can we learn from George? First, you don’t have to leave home to go on an amazing journey. George Bailey’s life was an amazing journey and he did it right in his crummy little town. So often we think we must build something big or go somewhere grand to have an impact, for our journey to mean something. What if the real journey is how much we love and how loved we are? That’s one thing George learned. George built lives, not skyscrapers. Skyscrapers can fall down. What George built, lasts.
I think we can also learn from George that we should never underestimate the impact we can have. We’ve all heard of the butterfly effect, that if a butterfly flaps it’s wings in Tokyo it can cause a tornado in Texas. We never know what a kind word will do, we never know whose day we can turn around, just by being who we are, just by sharing our gifts like George did. We never know the impact that we’re going to have.
And, I think, we all need to be willing to accept a little help now and then. We all have angels. In this realm, in other realms, we all have help that’s available to us if we’re just willing to be open to it.
And what George really learned by the end of the movie is that he was a blessing to the people in his life. He never saw himself that way. He saw himself as just a regular guy plugging away in his life. But he was a blessing to the people in his world just by doing what he did.
The big thing that he built was a town and a life and relationships. As Clarence said to him at one point, “George you’ve really had a wonderful life.”
Here are some more lessons from Matt Lewis’s “7 enduring Lesson from “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Our life has a purpose and we have no idea the significance of our life.
Keeping up with the Jones is for saps Georges ambition to be more than he is causes much unhappiness and frustration. We must learn to appreciate what we have. A good question to ask is, how are we defining our worth these days?
Bad guys don’t always get punished…we unfortunately know that. What we can do about it is be in our integrity ourselves and know that each person carries their own burdens and pays for their own errors.
Don’t always hire relatives obvious
Appreciate how blessed you truly are and see the real importance in life—family, friends, faith.
Know how to give a good toast “A toast to the richest man in town.” That richness is not about money, but about the people in our lives. And earlier at the house blessing…” Bread that this house may never go hunger, salt, that life may always have flavour, and wine, that joy & prosperity may reign forever.”
Marry the right person “someone who will help you find your answers”
If you want even more lesson from this film, look for the book, 52 little lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life” by Bob Welsh
It has wonderful chapters like; “There’s no impact without contact,” “When criticized, consider the source,” & “ Life’s greatest adventure are people not places or things.”
This film Inspires us to live better lives, to recognize what really matters, and to be people of honour & integrity.
What did you find from the movie?
Great Morning Beloved!
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent, from Latin meaning ‘coming.’ We in Unity look at Advent as preparing metaphysically for experiencing the awareness of the Christ presence in each of us.
The first candle is the candle of Hope or Faith. Charles Fillmore said hope is the parent of faith.
Hope is the ability to hear the melody of the future. Faith is the courage to dance to it today & every day.
Miracle on 34th Street
Welcome to our Christmas Reel to Real Series! For the next four weeks, we’ll be looking at four beloved, classic Christmas movies… and learning their very important lessons about faith, hope, love and joy …. the very essence of Christmas Spirit.
We’re beginning with Miracle on 34th Street. Here’s a quick synopsis:
At the Macy’s Department Store Thanksgiving Day parade, a whiskered old man (who looks suspiciously like Santa Claus) discovers that the actor playing Santa in the parade is drunk. (“He’s a disgrace to the meaning of Christmas.”) Doris Walker, the no nonsense special events director for Macy’s, persuades the old man to take his place. The old man proves to be a sensation and is quickly recruited to be the Santa at the Macy’s store.
While he is successful, Ms. Walker learns that he calls himself Kris Kringle and he claims to be the actual Santa Claus. (“I’m older than my teeth and younger than my tongue.”) Despite reassurances by Kringle’s doctor that he is harmless, Doris still has misgivings, especially since she has cynically trained herself, and her daughter, Susan, to reject all notions of belief and fantasy.
And yet, people, especially Susan, notice there is something special about Kris and his determination to advance the true spirit of Christmas amidst the rampant commercialism around him and succeeding in improbable ways. Here are several examples of Kris’ Christmas spirit:
- He sends a mother to another store to get a gift for her son that Macy’s doesn’t stock.
- When a little girl from Holland sits on his lap, he spontaneously starts speaking Dutch to her. (Remember, this was after WWII….)
When an argument with the store’s incompetent psychologist erupts, Kris finds himself held at Bellevue where, in despair, he deliberately fails a mental examination to ensure his commitment. (Doris didn’t want to tell Kris about the test at Bellevue, is she running away from her problems still?)
All seems lost until Doris’ friend and neighbor, Fred Gaily, reassures Kris of his worth and agrees to represent him in the fight to get him released. To achieve that, Fred arranges a formal hearing in which he argues that Kris is sane because he is in fact Santa Claus. What ensues is a bizarre hearing in which people’s beliefs are reexamined and put to the test. (interesting what we call a logical argument can prove!)
We have so much to learn from the characters in this wonderful movie.
From Mr. Sawyer, the psychologist who diagnoses everyone in his path, but refuses to look at his own frustration and unhappiness. (“The log in our own eye….”) Have you looked lately at your log?
From Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimbel, who rediscover the true meaning of Christmas – the true joy of giving – transcending the commercialism they had succumbed to. (there’s a lot of ‘ism’s’ going around, and commercialism is the worst!)
But at the heart of the story are the relationships between Doris, Susan, Fred and Kris.
First, we learn from Doris:
Hurt by a bitter divorce, she has become cynical and lost her faith in love and hope. And she’s passed her cynicism on to her young daughter
Doris to Fred regarding children: “We shouldn’t have them believing in a lot of legends and myths like Santa Claus for example. When we fill their lives with fairy tales, they grow up considering life a fantasy instead of a reality.”
Susan to Kris: “I’ve known for a long time that Santa Claus isn’t real. Whatever I want, my mother will get me, if it’s sensible and doesn’t cost too much, of course.”
Doris has confused her resignation and cynicism with the “truth. She has allowed her hurt to blind her to the joy around her, to blind her to the real meaning of Christmas. She’s also confused “fantasy” with faith…. faith in things not seen.
We learn from Fred:
He says to Kris in Bellevue about Doris: “She hasn’t really believed in anything for years.”
Doris says to Fred after he quits his job to start his own firm: “You go on an idealistic binge; you give up your job and throw away all your security… and you expect me to be happy about it.”
Fred: “Look Doris, someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.” (he’s talking about faith, hope, love, lovely intangibles.)
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
This quote from Helen Keller relates a lot to this story: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”
And finally, we learn from Kris:
To Susan he says: “The imagination is a wonderful place, a nation all its own.” (Imagination – one of the 12 Powers!)
To Doris: “Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind…. If I can wake you up, there’s still hope.”
Kris: “If you can’t accept anything based on faith, then you’re doomed to a life dominated by doubt.”
Susan: “If you’re really Santa Claus, you’ll get it for me.”
Kris: “Just because every child doesn’t get their wish, doesn’t mean there isn’t a Santa Claus.”
How often have we prayed and then doubted when our prayer didn’t come “true”? Instead of trusting and believing that all things work together for good??
Interestingly, one of the lessons in the movie is that even Santa Claus needs help sometimes…Kris needs Fred to remind him of who he is, when he’s become discouraged.
To Fred: “Sawyer (the psychologist) is vicious and he’s called normal and I’m not.”
Just as we need each other to remind us of who we are.
And I like Kris and the bubble gum… it shows his childlike curiosity. Or as E.B. White puts it, “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”
AND, Kris faces the consequence of his choice when the bubble breaks!
Ask for other insights….
1947 version: At the trial: Fred uses the U.S. post office for proof.
In a remake that came out in 1994…it’s Doris who presents the judge with a one dollar bill:
“By presenting me with this bill, she reminded me of the fact that it’s issued by the Treasury of the United States of America and its backed by the government and people of the United States of America. Upon inspection of the article, you will see the words ‘In God We Trust.’ Now we’re not here to prove that God exists, but we are here to prove that a being just as invisible and yet just as present exists.
The federal government puts its trust in God. It does so on faith and faith alone. It’s the will of the people that guides the government and it is and was their collective faith in a greater Being that gave and gives cause to the inscription on this bill. Now if the government of the United States can issue its currency bearing a declaration of trust in God without demanding physical evidence of the existence or the non-existence of a greater Being, then the state of NY by a similar demonstration of the collective faith of its people can accept and acknowledge that Santa Claus does exist and he exists in the person of Kris Kringle!”
What are we willing to believe in without demanding physical evidence? What do we have faith in? Are we willing to believe in the innate goodness of one another? In a loving God? In a benevolent Universe?
Are we willing to let go of the past, to forgive… to love again?
Doris to Susan: “I was wrong when I told you that Susie. You must believe in Mr. Kringle and keep on believing. Just because things don’t turn out the way you want them to the first time… you still have to believe in people.”
Rev. Kelly Isola, Unity minister: “The purpose of faith is to remind us of the current that is always flowing, even when we can’t see it, or feel it. We practice our faith by falling and getting up again. Faith is always unfolding; it is never static; nor is it ‘done.’ It is the humbling events in life which return us to our knees over and over, bringing us closer to God, to the faith of our being,”
“I am not what happened to me ~ I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung
At a certain point, we forgive because we decide to forgive. Healing occurs in the present, not the past. We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.”
The Knight in Rusty Armor
You’ve all heard about the Hero’s Journey. And probably many of you have made that journey, maybe even a few times. It’s a journey of self-discovery; of over-coming. Some call it coming of age when we are younger. By any name, it is a soul journey.
According to the writer’s journey.com, The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization….or oneself.
Campbell divides the Hero’s Journey into two worlds; We have the ‘ordinary world’ where the hero is introduced or, where we find ourselves prior to our ‘adventure.’ In a story, the stage is set here for the journey to begin.
In ‘real life the ‘ordinary world’ is our seeming reality. Think about your journey and how the stage was set, or is being set.
Once the journey gets under way, we enter the ‘Special World’ where the real battle takes place but also where our inner growth and discovery is found. This is where we have soul growth or discovery.
Now what does your “Special World” consist of?
Quite a few years ago, someone gave me a book, “The Knight in Shining Armor,” by Robert Fisher. She told me she read it often because of the lessons found in the pages of the story, there are many and all are relevant.
And she was right. The story is filled with metaphors we can relate to with regards to our lives, and that very journey we mentioned. This book captivates the imagination much like Jonathan Livingston Seagull. In fact, it is more than a book. It’s an experience that will expand your mind, touch your heart, and nourish your soul.
There is so much to experience in this book, it would make a great class. I will touch on a few items of wisdom as we explore together. Maybe some of you will wish to read it for yourself.
Friday’s Daily Word reminded us of Divine Messages. Messages come to us in many ways, often during times when we least expect it.
These last few weeks, I have noticed the messages or maybe it would be better to say reminders that are found in the stories of dragons and warriors and magic, my escape before sleep.
This book is even better because it is filled to the gills with guidance and reminders…gifts to us all.
This is a story of a Knight who does what knights do…slay dragons, rescue damsels, sometimes whether they are in distress or not and goes on quests. In other words, he was a good, kind, and loving knight. AT least he thought so.
He had everything a knight could want: a beautiful wife, a golden-haired son, a grand castle, and a sterling reputation as a fearsome warrior. He was also famous for his brilliantly shining armor. In fact, he was so proud of his shining armor that he started wearing it all the time, even to dinner and bed.
Of course, this caused distress in the family dynamics…his wife had to feed him through the visor and his son forgot what he looked like! Eventually he saw it was not such a good thing so he started to take the armor off…. only he couldn’t, it was stuck. No matter how hard he tried it would not budge.
He went to everyone he could think of to attempt to remove it, but no luck.
Subsequently he sets off on a quest to remove his armor.
He is told to find Merlin the Magician, who could help him. Yes, THAT Merlin. The Knight is told, “Past, present, and future are all one when you are connected to the Source.”
It took him a long time to find Merlin
“I’ve been looking for you,” he said to the magician. “I’ve been lost for months.”….”All your life,” corrected Merlin, biting off a piece of carrot and sharing it with the nearest rabbit…. The knight stiffened. “I didn’t come all this way to be insulted.”….”Perhaps you have always taken the truth to be an insult,” said Merlin.
This is the kind of banter that is prevalent through-out the book, humorous but with a hint of truth.
Here’s another example: Merlin gave the knight a drink he could sip through a reed ‘straw’ to help him recover from not having any food.
The first sips seemed bitter, the later ones more pleasant, and the last swallows quite delicious. Grateful, the knight handed the cup back to Merlin. “You should put that stuff on the market. You could sell flagons of it.
Merlin just smiled. “What is it?” asked the knight.
“Life,” Merlin replied.
“Yes,” said the wise magician. “Did it not first seem bitter, then as you tasted more of it, was it not pleasant?” The knight nodded. “Yes, and the last swallows were quite delicious.”
“That was when you began to accept what you were drinking.”
“Are you saying that life is good when you accept it?” asked the knight.”
What do you think?
Merlin the Magician is very wise and helps the knight see the errors of his ways. He answers most of the knight’s questions with another question, which the knight finds infuriating. For example, the knight is always bragging about how good, kind and loving he is; Merlin says to him, “If you really were good, kind, and loving, why did you have to prove it?”
And when the knight asks is it not his job to take care of his family, Merlin asks him, “How can you take care of them when you cannot even take care of yourself?”
Merlin introduces the knight to a pigeon named Rebecca and a squirrel named “Squirrel”, which accompany the knight on his journey along the Path of Truth. Rebecca and Squirrel’s jobs are to keep the knight on the Path, keep him from being scared and lonely, and to find him food. The knight soon discovers Rebecca and Squirrel are very wise. Not only do they take care of feeding him, but they teach him to be more accepting of others by learning about Rebecca and Squirrel’s differences and abilities.
The Path of Truth, includes detours through three castles; the Castle of Silence, the Castle of Knowledge, and the Castle of Will and Daring. As the knight learns his many lessons along the Path of Truth, his armor starts to drop off, kind of like breaking down our walls.
In the Castle of Silence, the knight discovers that he is afraid to be alone (and has always been afraid to be alone), because he does not know himself. Seems his fear was the real reason he put the armor on in the first place…have you checked your armor lately?
Our knight has always talked and bragged to others to fill the silence, and because of this, he could never truly enjoy what was happening at “the moment”. And because he was never quiet, he had never gotten to truly know another person or honestly listen to them. Since he had never really known another person, he had never known true love.
It takes him quite a while to learn to sit in silence and when he does, he discovers his inner self. He even names his inner self Sam. He cannot find the door out of the Castle of Silence until he learns the lesson of SILENCE. When he finally leaves the castle, more of his armor falls off.
Are you getting the idea? The more we know about ourselves, the less we need our false self….
Our next castle, the Castle of Knowledge is much larger than the Castle of Silence and it has a gold door. Kind of a hint of the importance of knowledge. But this is self-knowledge. Our Knight finds an inscription inside the Castle, ‘Silence is for one; knowledge is for all’, a possible reason for the larger Castle.
He also soon finds this inscription….’Knowledge is the light by which you shall find your way.’
Here the knight learns that he had always mistaken need for love. He had needed other people to look up to him and to love him because he didn’t love himself. That is why his image (“good, kind, and loving”) was so important for him.
He learned that his need of others stood in the way of loving others. Have you mistaken need for love? He is reminded, “You can love others only to the extent that you love yourself.”
As our Knight gets closer to the door, Merlin tells him, “There is nothing more beautiful than the light of self-knowledge.”
AS they leave the second Castle, they enter a courtyard where a magnificent apple tree stands in the center. Here the gang learn some tree wisdom regarding ambition –
“only ambition that comes from the heart can bring happiness.”….”What’s ambition from the heart?” questioned the knight….”Ambition from the heart is pure. It competes with no one and harms no one. In fact, it serves one in such a way that it serves others at the same time.”
In the Castle of Will and Daring, the knight faces the meanest dragon of them all: The Dragon of Fear and Doubt. He learns that self-knowledge is “truth” and truth is “mightier than the sword”. He also learns that he didn’t have to always try to prove himself to be good, kind and loving, because he was born that way. And most of all, he learned that fear and doubt was only an illusion.
He is told, self-knowledge can kill the Dragon of Fear and Doubt. Self-knowledge is truth, and you know what they say: Truth is mightier than the sword.”
Merlin tells him, “if you face the dragon, there’s a chance that it will destroy you, but if you don’t face the dragon, it will surely destroy you.” The knight realizes that the dragon was only an illusion and walks past.
What does that statement mean to you?
After the three castles, the last stop on the Path of Truth is the “Summit of Truth” where the knight finds he is literally hanging from a boulder that is blocking him from the top.
On the boulder is an inscription, “Though this universe I own, I possess not a thing, for I cannot know the unknown, if to the known I cling.”
Think about it….
When he realizes, he has no choice but to trust the unknown, he lets go of the boulder. He sees his life clearly for the very first time, “without judgment and without excuses”. By letting go of everything he previously knew and believed (and feared) such as his identity, his beliefs, his judgments, he was free and able to take responsibility for himself.
Look at the metaphors in the story, and there are many more than the ones I included here.
What ‘armor’ are you and I wearing? Our masks protect us but they also prevent others and especially ourselves from seeing the real us.
What ‘image’ do we cling to? Do we truly know our real self? What ‘truths’ do we cling to?
You can’t get different results from doing the same thing over and over.
Have you faced your dragons?
In this story, the knight shows us some lessons in the reality of life, which led him on a path to find his authentic self.
And finally, at the end of the book, instead of saying “The End”, it says “The Beginning”.
Let’s take these thoughts into meditation….
Lower Your Anxiety Shield
There’s a story about Star Trek’s Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, traveling through a tunnel, searching for some of the crew. They come to a point in the tunnel where Mr. Spock continues but Captain Kirk could not.
Of course, Spock has the answer, it’s an anxiety shield, meant to keep you out if you have anxiety. Of course, Kirk has anxiety…his crew is being tortured but he cannot get to them because of the shield.
The answer, the antidote is to lower your anxiety shield. Of course, Spock does not have anxiety. Kirk steps back and centers himself and gets the anxiety within to release, and the shield lowers allowing them to go and rescue the crew.
Anxiety is defined as distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.
Have you experienced anxiety, worry, lately?
Have you lowered your anxiety shield yet? I must say, I had a very good practice this week, as I lost almost all my files on Thursday. Even this message which was well on its way to completion. So, starting Thursday afternoon, after trying desperately to find the lost files, I started over, from scratch.
Luckily, I found the joke!
Anxiety is misusing our inner power; actually magnifying a personal problem into a bigger one. The more attention we give something by worrying about it, the more we bring it into our lives.
We have often heard the saying, ‘Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind.’ Well, this is what we are talking about.
And when a person says that he or she is worried sick, this can be literally true. We have been reminded ourselves for some time now to watch our thoughts and words.
Worry is one of the most destructive emotions to affect the mind and body. Biologically we are not constructed to withstand long periods of time the mental processes and bodily chemical reactions created by the results of worry.
Yet, believe it or not, there is a human tendency to actually search for things to worry about. And, there is also a hesitancy to give up our worries. A psychiatrist once said that if a place were provided where people could leave their worries, they would slip back under a cover of darkness and reclaim them one by one!
SO if we leave a worry or anxiety in the jar out in the lobby before Service, we would go back and take it out of the jar after Service!
We need to change our concept about worry. We need to see worry as a potential source of good and as evidence that we love life and want to make more out of life.
If we would have faith that we are under the constant care of God, we would not be anxious. Anxiety is, in itself, a desertion of trust in God. If we keep our minds occupied with positive, constructive thoughts, we cannot be afraid.
Sometimes, easier said than done, right? We have all experienced times of worry and anxiety. How do we turn those thoughts around to something positive and useful?
Think about this….No one needs to tell healthy children to play. They run and scamper; they play make-believe; they enter into and create games. This is their nature and that is all there is to it. Children just naturally cannot refrain from playing. When they do not want to play, the adults around them know that there is something wrong with them.
And this – No one instructs the beaver how to build a dam or the bees how to swarm. A universal law of life directs the organism and indwelling intelligence to do naturally and easily that which is in their nature to do. This natural, orderly, inescapable action occurs without thought! The organism and intelligence just behave in this way. That is all there is to it, and the result is inescapable.
Jesus shows us the way. His instruction is simple and sound. You are to “take no thought” (Mt. 6:25 KJV) with regards to work, sustenance, or anything that worries you. Keep yourself centered in God, and you will naturally thrive without worry or anxiety.
In other words, seek the kingdom of God.
This means we are to give our attention to God and to making ourselves the kind of people who naturally, easily, and happily express the goodness of God. The resources of the inner kingdom include love, faith, gratitude, peace, and joy.
With this awareness, we can understand the simple, yet direct promise from Jesus: “All these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 6:33). As we keep our attention on the kingdom within, we will receive the desirable values of life much more readily than if we pursue them directly. In fact, direct pursuit of material things loads the heart with many unnecessary burdens, which may result in our failure to attain our good desires. And maybe heart issues!
People whose inner natures exemplify the character of the kingdom do not need to worry about what they will do. Because they are human, their spiritual qualities are expressed in the elements of human living. As the child plays without giving any thought to a decision to play, so the child of the kingdom lives happily without giving anxious thought to the kingdoms’ way of life.
There is of course a difference between worry and concern. It is natural to be concerned about the peace of the world, the economic condition of the country, or the health of a loved one. These concerns are very human and understandable.
The start to aid others begins with the concern of people. God can only do for us that which God can do through us. Thus, there must be an awareness of a need—not a sense of lack that implies a belief in limitation—an awareness of a need and the concern for its fulfillment. Jesus was aware of the needs of those around Him and was concerned about remedying them.
The concern we may have over someone we love or about conditions in general is a step in the right direction. But we cannot stop with concern alone, or else we settle into the dead-end street of worry and despair. We have camped in the valley of the Shadow. The next logical step is faith in and awareness of the kingdom of God and the principles it holds for us. First comes the concern or the awareness of the need, then the healing of the concern or the awareness of God’s all-sufficiency in all things.
We step through the Valley into the Light.
The solving of a problem, the resolving of a conflict, or the removal of an obstacle is not something we must or can do by ourselves. God within us is doing the work through us.
Sometimes it may appear that there is little you can do to help a friend or loved one. On the other hand, you may see all sorts of material things you could do, and you may wonder what and how much you should do. A child of the kingdom will remember that the most helpful thing to do for others, regardless of the need, is to think positive thoughts. Anything that you may do in an outer way is but the expression of a thought. It is more important that we realize the nature of that thought.
Positive thinking might actually be a synonym for prayer. We may define prayer in many ways, but essentially it is the act of changing our thought from the limited to the limitless. “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom. 12:2). This must be the starting point of all prayer. Have you heard the phrase, “Every thought is a prayer?”
Prayer is not an effort toward manipulating divine law or changing God’s will. True prayer calls forth from within you the sense of God-power. You can turn the full force of this power, like a searchlight, on whatever may concern you. Let your light shine. (We are Lighthouses, right!)
You may think that you are praying only when you assume the manner and employ the words generally associated with prayer. But no matter what you call it, your concentrated thought about any subject is a form of prayer. When you think deeply about anything or anyone, even in worry and anxiety, you are focusing your energy on that thing or person. Worrisome thoughts and thoughts of anxious concern add confusion and doubt to any situation. Every day you affect your body, your business, your loved ones, and the world as a whole by the kinds of thoughts you think.
For this reason, when you are concerned about situations that affect others, first heal your own concern. When you want to help someone else, the starting point of that help must be within yourself.
The purpose of prayer is to behold the presence of God in that which concerns you. Know that God is not sick; God is not poor; God cannot be confused or out of place. Your prayer is an activity of your mind, and you must put God first in your thought. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (In. 7:24). This “right judgment” changes the image you hold in your mind. Much as you want to help someone or something in time of crisis, the first step, and often the only step needed, is to change your thought of concern.
The words from Jesus, “do not worry” in Matthew are a command. Wee not to worry.
Complete trust in God is as much a step forward as is the loss of fear and worry. If we can develop the former, we can accomplish the latter.
A person who trusts God works with God’s harmonious plan. But a person who uses his or her thought power to worry works with the world’s confusion.
Matthew 6:33 tells us; “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”
Rev. Ed Townley explains it this way, “Seeking first the kingdom” means that our purpose as spiritual beings sharing this human experience is to create—choice by choice—the higher spiritual consciousness that Jesus describes as “the kingdom of heaven.” Human challenges and distractions are of secondary importance. So long as our focus remains on achieving our spiritual purpose, our human needs will be met, abundantly and joyfully. Too often we feel we must solve our human problems first in order to make time and space and means to deal with the spiritual. This causes us to live from an energy of fear and anxiety. In fact, according to spiritual law, the opposite is always true. It’s only by committing to the spiritual—to making choices out of love—that we can fully experience and enjoy our human experience.”
In Sirach 30:21-25,
“Do not give yourself over to sorrow, and do not afflict yourself deliberately. Gladness of heart is the life of man, and the rejoicing of a man is length of days. Delight your soul and comfort your heart, and remove sorrow far from you, for sorrow has destroyed many and there is no profit in it. Jealousy and anger shorten life, and anxiety brings on old age too soon. A man of cheerful and good heart will give heed to the food he eats”
This powerful passage is a metaphysical reminder that, contrary to some beliefs, we are not here in this human experience to suffer, hoping for redemption sometime in the future. “Gladness of heart” is the essential attitude that will allow us to make the choices that bring a new dimension of consciousness into manifestation through us. Certainly, it is not suggested that we will not experience challenges—sometimes severe. Pain and sadness are an essential part of our spiritual journey. But ‘sorrow’ is more than sadness. It’s a lingering on sadness. “A man of cheerful and good heart” will face challenges, and feel sadness, without believing in those negative energies as real, and seeing them as something to be endured. A good-hearted man (or woman, of course) feels the pain and sadness and then looks for the guidance that will allow him/her to make the choices that will lead out of the negative and into the positive.
And lastly, in the powerful words of Charles Schulz, through Charlie Brown and Linus, “Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening, it just stops you from enjoying the good.”
“We realize you have a choice. We thank you for the one you made.” Unity of Rehoboth Beach – October 23, 2016
“We realize you have a choice. We thank you for the one you made.”
I saw this back in Pennsylvania, on the doctor’s office wall as I was visiting for some check-up or other. I thought it a very interesting quote. And a telling one too.
What is your first thought when you heard it?
We make all kinds of choices through-out our day. Just think about that for a moment…. what choices have you made so far today? Maybe to get up! What to wear? Breakfast items? To attend today?
The option to choose Unity as your Spiritual path isn’t always an easy one. Oh, it seems very easy in the beginning, it feels soooooo right when you first walk into a Unity Church or Center. Spiritual seekers often say that finding Unity is like coming home. Many people cry tears of happiness, and some tears of relief for FINALLY finding where they belong.
Is that how you felt the first time? Do you feel that again as you walk in the door here at Unity of Rehoboth Beach?
I often do, but I admit, sometimes I don’t feel that special feeling right away. Sometimes it takes the gathering of you folks and seeing you work together to make this happen. Then it feels right. That’s when I feel that this is where it is happening, for me and, for many, if not all of you.
Only you can answer that.
SO, I found a while back that this was RIGHT for me. I had searched for years for my Spiritual Home.
But Right isn’t always easy.
With finding that RIGHT Spiritual home, came responsibility. Personal responsibility. Unity’s 5th Principle—putting what we know into action.
The Unity movement was founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1889 as a healing ministry based on the power of prayer and the power of our thoughts to create our own reality. The Fillmores regarded Jesus as the great example rather than the great exception; Charles interpreted the Bible metaphysically instead of literally; and they taught that God is present within all of us, in everything.
Charles Fillmore sought to make his spiritual and metaphysical ideas coherent with scientific theory. In philosophy, metaphysics attempts to describe the first, universal or most general principles of the universe, not just of the physical but also of consciousness. The existence of God is not a physics question, but a metaphysics question. The nature of the physical universe is a physics question; what that nature says about the Source of the universe is a metaphysics or theology question.
The “fundamental truth” for Charles was God the good as Primal Cause of all. From that premise, Fillmore sought to reason and, in that way of thinking, found healing and other “goods.” This deductive reasoning is the basis of affirmations. “God is omnipresent good, therefore good is present in my mind, body and affairs.” “God is omnipotent good, therefore all good is possible.” “God is the source of all, therefore I am an offspring of God and heir to all good.” “I am a child of God, therefore I do not inherit sickness.” And so forth.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore both relied upon intuition, meditation, reason and experience to seek spiritual Truth.
A VERY different philosophy from what was taught and believed at the time by most Christian churches. But the Fillmores found a following and the movement grew to a worldwide presence of centers and churches and study groups.
In part, it grew because Unity is an open-minded, accepting spiritual community that honors all paths to God and helps people discover and live their spiritual potential and purpose. Does that still feel right for you?
A positive alternative to negative religion, Unity seeks to apply the teachings of Jesus as well as other spiritual masters. Unity affirms the power of prayer and helps people experience a stronger connection with God every day. Does it still resonate?
Unity emphasizes the practical, everyday application of spiritual principles to help people live more abundant and meaningful lives.
Although personal and spiritual growth come from within, most people appreciate learning, friendships, support and companionship along the way. Unity is committed to helping you find your way to your own understanding—and experience—of God.
Think about that…how has Unity and the philosophy behind it aided you along your way? Is it still working for you?
Look around you. We have started with a small group of people and grown to over 60 and now gone back some. I know numbers are not important in the important sense of helping people find a better way, but they are important in keeping Unity of Rehoboth Beach strong and present.
Unity is still a strong and vibrant part of my life. Is it still strong in yours? Let’s talk about that….
Are you a Unitic or a wanabe one?
Are you committed to growing as a follower of the 5 Principles?
Do you see Unity as a Shining Light here in this area? In your Life? What are you doing to help us make and keep Unity as a Shining Light so it can be a Shining Light for you?
Take the Mission/Vision/Values card. What is YOURS to do?
See that’s is responsibility. That is taking ownership of URB.
In Isaiah 42:9, it says: “See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”
Whatever happened in the past is done. What we place into manifestation by our imagination and then fruition, is what is coming.
What do you see as Unity’s future? Let’s meditate on that for a bit.
Now….what did you see?
Take another few moments and lets place in prayer that the perfect future space comes to us easily and in the perfect time. Or as Carol placed earlier this week and is an excellent prayer:
In the beautiful space of Your world, our ideal meeting place manifests, one where we can be at home with one another & the God of our being. We walk from what no longer serves us into a fountain of blessings as all our needs are met to perfection. And so it is! Thank you, Mother/Father God!
Edgar White Burrill said, “We walk into new life under our own power. No one else can carry us.”
We have to open the door, and walk through it too, not just look inside. I have walked through the door of committing to Unity of Rehoboth Beach. But we all must step through if we want it’s presence to continue.
The 10 Commitments
Most of us know about the 10 Commandments. And actually, there is discussion as to if 10 is really the correct number, but that discussion can be put off until another day.
Today we want to look at the 10 Commitments.
What is the difference between commandments and commitments?
Well, look at the definitions: commandment means “an important rule given by God that tells people how to behave,” the act or power of commanding.
A Commitment is a promise to do or give something, a promise to be loyal to someone or something, the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something an agreement or pledge to do something in the future.
So, with a commitment, we are pledging to honor something. And it’s within our integrity to honor that pledge. If we wouldn’t honor it, it would be against our integrity. And THAT would have us questioning that very integrity.
Can you think of instances in your life where you had a commandment to follow and where you had a commitment? And can you feel the difference?
Let’s take a look at these 10 Commitments and see what they could mean for us. You have a sheet in your bulletin so you can follow along. I invite you to make a note where you feel you could make a commitment and what it might look like.
- I make a commitment to Love. Love has many meanings to all of us. If we look at the 12 Powers, it is the ability to attract, unify and desire. “faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
And also in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. “
Notice, commit to love…as in a verb. I believe we are to be loving and that will express what we truly are—LOVE. Because God is Love and we are of God, so we are LOVE also
This is unconditional Love. The love we all strive for. For ourselves and for others. And we are given the how in I Corinthians….
- I make commitment to Wholeness. Wholeness means entire, total: containing all the elements, complete, undivided. On a spiritual sense, we think of wholeness as mind, body and spirit. So we would commit to taking care of all aspects of our being…. seems a healthy thing to do. But do we do it?
There’s a lot of information out there about wholeness. We each must discern what it entails for each of us.
- I make a commitment to Positive Expression. This is easy…to define anyway…think positively, speak positively, act positively.
Easier said than done though, right? Can you at least start to watch your thoughts and words and deeds? The more we become aware of our thoughts, the easier it becomes. Soon we catch ourselves before the thought completes itself, and eventually we stop the thought before it starts. Before you know it the thought never occurs.
- I make a commitment to Let Go. Perfect for fall…the trees give us the perfect example of letting go, except for the oak leaves, they hang on until spring, but they still let go, in their own time.
I know sometimes we need to process things before letting them go. But we have talked before about not camping in the Valley of the Shadow…grieve, fume, have your rant about whomever or whatever, if you must. But let it go as you walk through the Valley so you can be at peace and grow from the experience, whatever it was.
And you can move on.
Here’s an exercise from Richard. Rohr to help: Imagine you are sitting on the bank of a river. Boats and ships—thoughts, feelings, and sensations—are sailing past. While the stream flows by your inner eye, name each of these vessels. For example, one of the boats could be called “my anxiety about tomorrow.” Or along comes the ship “objections to my husband” or the boat “I don’t do that well.” Every judgment that you pass is one of those boats. Take the time to give each one of them a name, and then let them move on down the river.
This can be a difficult exercise because you’re used to jumping aboard the boats—your thoughts—immediately. As soon as you own a boat and identify with it, it picks up energy. This is a practice in un-possessing, detaching, letting go. With every idea, with every image that comes into your head, say, “No, I’m not that; I don’t need that; that’s not me.”
Sometimes, a boat turns around and heads back upstream to demand your attention again. Habitual thoughts are hard to not be hooked by. Sometimes you feel the need to torpedo your boats. But don’t attack them. Don’t hate them or condemn them. This is also an exercise in nonviolence. The point is to recognize your thoughts, which are not you, and to say, “That’s not necessary; I don’t need that.” But do it very amiably. If you learn to handle your own soul tenderly and lovingly, you’ll be able to carry this same loving wisdom out into the world.
- I make a commitment to Thinking and Feeling. This too, can sometimes be painful. If we think things through we can come to the root of disagreements. Byron Katie has a great process called The Work. And it is work, but it helps us see what is true. If we keep in mind that the only moment we have is the current one, then many things that happened are no longer true and we can let them go.
The ‘feeling’ part comes along as we work through the thoughts and events that happened and we find ‘our Truth’ to them and can learn from them and then let them go.
It also can be a part of our everyday life. If we do not allow ourselves to ‘feel’ we become robots, unfeeling, not responding to the beauty and love surrounding us, but instead armored against feeling hurt and then losing the joy of love, fellowship, of experience.
- I make a commitment to Life. Life is the ability to energize, vitalize, animate and invigorate. It goes with what we discussed in the previous Commitment…to FEEL. Emotions are what makes living, living. We must LIVE our lives to grow, to appreciate what we have, to have no regrets at the end of this life. Dance! Don’t sit on the sidelines. Engage in life, in whatever way you have chosen as your point of interest. Family. Art. Sport. Crafts. Reading. Get to know your fellow travelers. Life offers so much…. go out swinging!
- I commit myself to Integrity. Do you know what makes up your integrity? If not, maybe it’s time to ask yourself that question. It is so easy to live one’s life if they have made peace with their integrity, choices are easily made. When a question is placed before you, and your integrity is well defined, an answer to the choice is easily seen and then made. Often times the choice never presents itself because it is not where you are at this time in your life.
One knows when one goes against their integrity…they know it very well.
- I make a commitment to Consciousness. Consciousness…that’s what we are all working towards, right? The more conscious we are, the more in each moment we are, the better able to connect with our inner Christ. So, yes, we are committed to more consciousness, moment by moment. To awaken from the sleep that we entered when we started becoming DOMESTICATED.
- I make a commitment to Honesty. This is part of one’s integrity. Honesty toward others may be easier that honesty toward one self. But that honesty is important for the inner growth and the transformation we all are looking toward. All these Commitments, if you have taken notice, are helping you toward knowing who you are, to transformation.
- I make a commitment to Appreciation. Gratitude. Simple. The answer to many things. It starts with being grateful for all your gifts…even those that do not look like gifts at the moment. They will in the end. So, be grateful for what comes into your life, look at it from all perspectives. See the whole gift.
And speak, show that gratitude daily, in as many ways as you are able. A simple THANK YOU works wonders. Treat others as you would like to be treated. THINK of others as you would like to be thought of…thoughts are energy. Thoughts create. SO think good thoughts – always.
SO, how did you do? DO you have some things to work on? Some items to do, to make a part of who you wish to become?
Anyone wish to share a bit?
Minister Fred Craddock told this strange story. He said: “I was visiting in the home of a former student of mine, and after a great dinner, the hosts excused themselves in order to put the children to bed.
They left me alone in the living room with the family pet, a large, friendly greyhound. With the family out of the room, I knelt down and started petting the dog. I said, ‘You’re a good doggie, a beautiful doggie…how are you doing, Mr. Greyhound?’”
Fred says, “I swear it’s true, that greyhound turned and looked up at me and said, ‘I’m doing great; thank you very much. Thanks for asking.’”
The preacher was taken aback. He had heard of miracles, but never a talking dog!
So he asks, “Are you a talking dog?”
The old dog barked and said, “Yes, I’m a talking dog. Rather amazing, don’t you think?”
The preacher said, “That is amazing! I understand that you used to be a racing greyhound.”
The dog said, “Yes, I was. But I quit.”
Fred said, “You quit? Why in the world did you quit? Did you quit because they didn’t treat you well?”
The dog said, “Oh, no, they treated me wonderfully. They gave me the best care. They brushed me every day. They fed me the best food. It was great. But I quit.”
“Did you quit because you didn’t like racing?” asked the preacher.
“Oh no,” said the greyhound. “I loved the feel of the wind in my face.”
“Well, why did you quit?” asked the preacher. “Was it because you never won a race?”
“Oh no,” said the greyhound. “I won race after race. I won lots of trophies and lots of money for my owner.”
“Well, then, why did you quit?” asked the preacher.
The dog said, “If you really want to know…one day I was running as fast as I could. I was running faster than I had ever run in my life and I caught up with the rabbit and I discovered that it wasn’t even a real rabbit! All of my life I had been running round and round in circles, trying to catch something that wasn’t even real.
Think about it. Does it ring a bell with any of you?
What have you been chasing for a part of your life? The perfect job? Maybe the perfect home? Often our biggie – the perfect partner or spouse?
Saving the good china for …..when?
If we believe and understand quantum physics, nothing is real…all this is an illusion.
But we all understand that we are living a human experience despite the illusion of form and substance.
So we must do what we are able to do to move forward in this physical form. And that means being Present in the moment…whatever moment it is, for as many moments as we are able to be present. And the more moments we are present, the happier we are, the more compassionate we are, the more at peace we are.
Let’s look at our greyhound friend from the beginning of the Lesson. He, or she, was focused on the end of the race, the rabbit. The dog didn’t appreciate the race at all. The only time appreciating the race was mentioned was the feeling of the wind on its face, and at an average of over 39 mph, that would feel a bit breezy.
What’s at the end of your race? Is it a job? A certain amount of money to retire? Just TO retire!
SO, then what are you missing? One thing for sure is THE PRESENT MOMENT.
It’s all about connecting with the inner Christ so you are able to feel the peace that passes all understanding.
Our poor racing dog was even taken out of it’s normal instinct by those controlling the race. And no reward when the race was won! What does a dog care about trophies?
What do we care about trophies? Are we looking at the end product or are we enjoying the ride?
Too often not even enjoying the ride. AS we look at our journey so far in life, we too often put off until, whenever, to look within. It happens later in life to many, when they finally think it’s time. Or maybe a Spiritual 2×4 hit them…maybe more than once!
Our Tuesday Discussion Group is discussing “A New Earth” by Ekhart Tolle. We have had some wonderful discussions regarding it. We are just starting the last chapter and it is filled so with interesting wisdom, I told the class that we may have to read it word for word to get it all.
One of the interesting tidbits from Tolle is the “Three Modalities of Awakened Doing.” We have been talking about consciousness and awakening throughout the book, and that Tolle thinks awakening or consciousness is our most important purpose, for many reasons.
Awakened Doing is just what it says….you are ‘awakened or conscious’ while you do whatever it is you are doing. That brings meaning to your work, whatever the work. There is no dislike or stress, everything just flows. Ever have days like that?
So, here are the 3 modalities to awakened doing:
Acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. They each have a certain vibrational frequency of consciousness. If you are vigilant, you can make sure that you are experiencing one of these whenever you are engaged in anything.
Briefly, acceptance – if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, if you can’t change it…then accept it…for this moment, this is what this situation requires and do it willing. That takes the stress off immediately. Breath in acceptance and breath out stress about the situation.
The second modality is enjoyment. When you accept what it is that you are to do, a sense of aliveness from that surrender turns into enjoyment. Enjoyment will replace wanting as a motivating power behind people’s actions. If you are enjoying what you are doing, ego is no longer an issue.
The third modality is enthusiasm, the deep enjoyment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or vision.
Think of some vision you may have held. When you set a goal, the enthusiasm level jumped.
When Darla and O’Neal and I sat on their deck over a decade ago and said that the energy was here for a Unity, we set a goal. As we journeyed along, the vision became clearer and the enthusiasm gained momentum as we drew others into our vision.
Our retire greyhound didn’t enjoy its work…racing. SO there was no enthusiasm. And since he or she could not accept that work any longer, he quit!
Now he enjoys a different a different ‘job’ and probably does so enthusiastically.
We’ve all heard this before, it’s the journey, not the destination.
|When we begin to believe that there is greater joy in working with and for others, rather than just for ourselves, then our society will truly become a place of celebration.|
Prosperity from my point of view
I wanted to talk about Prosperity from a different aspect today. I admit I was having difficulty writing anything down. But I also reminded myself that Spirit will come….so, I waited, and listened. And this is what came forth.
We’ll have a conversation…I’ll help, but you are asked to participate.
The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.
Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready.
As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, the aide provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.
“Oh, I just love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait,” the aide said
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged…it’s how I arrange my mind. And I’ve already decided to love it …”
“I make decisions like that every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away . . . just for this time in my life.” (NTST May 2010 Talk 1)
What comes to mind from this story? What are the important points? What’s the message?
Attitude is Everything
Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I’d be twins!”
Jerry was a manager in the restaurant business, and a unique thing often happened with him. He had waiters follow him around from restaurant to restaurant. Why? Because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”
Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ‘Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”
“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.
“Yes it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”
Soon after than conversation, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. Jerry and I lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of just reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never, never supposed to do: he left the back door of the restaurant open one morning. As a result, three armed robbers held him up at gunpoint. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. One of the robbers panicked and shot him.
Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?”
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” he replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor bleeding, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”
“Weren’t you scared?” I asked.
Jerry continued, “Not at first. The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room, and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, then I got scared. In their eyes, I read, ‘He’s a dead man.’ I knew I needed to take action.”
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes,’ I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything. Choice is all there is. (by Francie Baltazar-Schwartz)
What did we learn from Jerry?
The new insight in Truth is that consciousness is the key to all things that happen to us. The starting point in changing your life to an experience of abundance is the realization that you can change your life by altering your thoughts. You begin by taking responsibility for your own life
Life is fundamentally a matter of growing, a growth experience. That’s what we say we ARE in our Vision…Unity of Rehoboth Beach is a vibrant and inclusive spiritual community, dedicated to growth and transformation through the exploration of universal Truth.
We may have set backs along the way, as a Spiritual Community and as individuals. Sometimes we miss the mark. But that is part of the process. When we miss the mark, in any situation, we learn from the missing and adjust our aim to the target.
The word prosperity comes from the Latin root which literally translates: ‘according to hope’ or ‘to go forward hopefully.’ Thus it is not so much a condition in life as it is an attitude toward life, as we learned from Jerry and our petite, 92 year old lady.
There is something magnetic about our attitudes that attracts us to circumstances in keeping with the nature of those attitudes.
The atmosphere with which we surround ourselves becomes in a measure the magnet of our destiny.
There is none else but God, in me and my world. Therefore, there is only good, only wisdom, only life and health, only abundance, only safety, peace, and joy, in me and my world.
There is none else but God in my home. Therefore, there is only beauty, peace, warmth, opulence, and love in my home.
There is none else but God in my dear ones. Therefore, there is only beauty, only health and strength, only intelligence and wisdom, only joy and peace in my dear ones.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”