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….