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The Hope & Faith found in Spring 

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

The Hope & Faith found in Spring 

The first Sunday of Advent…can you believe it? Already Advent! Amazing how time flies by.

Advent refers to Latin ‘adventus’ meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’. Traditionally, this means the ‘second coming of Christ’, the physical ‘nativity’, and the reception of Christ in the heart of the believer.

Of course, the New Thought understanding is what Unity professes, which is with the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus is our birth or rebirth, if you will, of our Christ understanding within our being. It is a reminder that we believe in the Christ of our Being and are reminded of that connection we all have within us and all around us. We are One with Spirit and One with ALL.

As we prepare for this birthday celebration, we might (avoiding oughts & shoulds here) want to consider additional time in prayer and meditation. This is a joyful season of preparation for the coming of the Christ essence. We would benefit from this extra time of anticipation with quiet time for ourselves. And it would help us keep Christ in Christmas.

Today, we will ‘light’ our first Advent candle, a purple one which represents repentance and royalty.

Rev. Richard Mekdeci wrote in the Unity Christmas Booklet, “A Christmas to remember”, “In Unity, we often celebrate both hope and faith in the first week of Advent. Is there a difference?”

Unity cofounder, Charles Fillmore wrote in “The Revealing Word”, ‘Hope is a quality…of sense mind because it is subject to time. Faith is the certain knowledge that our good is ours right now, it is of God; it goes beyond time and space.”

Jesus never told us to hope. He said in John 7:38, “Have faith in me.” He said to pray believing we will receive. Yet, Jesus was a great symbol of hope.

During this first week of Advent, we can think of hope as a gift that has been given to us through the birth of the Christ in us and the life of the man Jesus. When hope is inspired within us, we can nurture that hope through possibility, to expectation, and then to faith.

Each week we will light the corresponding candle for Peace, Love & Joy.

This year, I was looking for a different way to present the Advent Lessons.  During some ZOOM workshops I was involved with, I got the idea to link the seasons to each week. I believe you know that each Advent week is associated with a theme. This week, I believe the theme of Hope & Faith goes well with the season of Spring. My title is The Hope & Faith found in spring.

Imagine looking out your windows and seeing how much the snow has melted. The sun is out and it’s getting warmer each day. As you walk your neighborhood or maybe one of the trails around here, you notice crocus and snowbells blooming and maybe even daffodils breaking through the ground.

Some trees are starting to bud, and it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful spring.

This is hope. This is life waking up from winters nap.

This is divine order.

We don’t have to make winter to end and push spring into being. It’s not our business. Its Gods business.


We can hope all we want to make spring come early, but our only resource is having faith that winter will ends its cold hold on us and spring will arrive when it’s time. No matter what Punxsutawney Phil says.

Everything comes alive in spring. It’s a time when we think of fresh starts, of rebirth. And rebirth fits during Advent. We are recalling our rebirth, our reminder that we are of the Christ Child. We are remembering the reason for the season.

So, our hope for the coming spring is like our hope for the coming Holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa; and the faith that when they arrive, we will be filled with anticipation, excited to experience the joy and love shared by family and friends.

Remember what else springs reminds us of…clearing out what no longer serves, spring cleaning. Yes, spring cleaning is everyone favorite spring activity, right???!!!

Maybe not, but very necessary. More important is the cleaning out of negative thoughts, words, and actions. And this is part of our preparation process as we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child and our renewal of our Christ Consciousness.

You may say this is so much to do, how can I complete the tasks, how am I worthy to receive The Christ?

Faith, my friends. Faith makes us worthy. It is our faith that takes over and brings us to the manger, surrounded by shepherds, sheep, donkeys, and wise men. It is our faith that allows us to realize that we are worthy to stand with Mary and Joseph as the Child is worshiped and praised.

We, you and I, are worthy because we have faith to see, even when we can’t see the next step forward.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

We just close our eyes and silence our minds and go within to that secret place, our Higher Self, our Christ Self. We all have this special, silent place. This place to go to in times of pain, and discord, and peace, and praise.

This is the place my mom went to as she prayed daily to her Jesus; she’d look at the picture on her bureau and hold her Crucifix and pray.

We don’t need a picture or a Crucifix. We just need an open heart and a willing mind.

So, as you prepare for your holiday, take, no MAKE some time for hope, and faith and connect to your Authentic Self. And then listen to that still small voice, the answer to your hope and faith.

“Through spiritual practice, hope evolves into its fuller expression, faith.” Rev. Karen Shephard

“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Celebration by Rev. Karen Laughman

During our calendar year, we have many holidays that we recognize and celebrate. Celebrations have always been a part of the many cultures and religious traditions throughout the world. It seems to be in our DNA as human and spiritual beings that we find ways to celebrate. As I have been thinking of this topic, I believe we have three major reasons we create occasions to celebrate. First, it is our nature to have fun and to be happy, and celebrations are one way to have fun and celebrate joy. Celebrating joy is a primary spiritual practice in Unity. Our uplifting messages, Greg’s music and our time together enhances our sense of joy. When we feel joy, we feel connected to our Spirit, to the beauty of life and to one another.Secondly, celebrations connect us to others and help build community. We celebrate occasions with family and friends and within organizations we belong to. Celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are significant and give meaning to our lives.

And, celebrations are often a recognition of history as we honor individuals, groups of people and events that have made a positive impact in our lives and our world community.

As I highlight the celebrations of this season, I am going to talk about some of the history of the holiday celebrations, which I hope you will find interesting. I learned some new things from my research. And, I invite us to explore how we might find more spiritual meaning in the ways we celebrate and also celebrate with a consciousness of service to the people we care about and to the benefit of our wider community…our Fifth Unity Principle. 

I am going to start with Halloween. Why Halloween? Because Halloween is truly fun! Halloween was and is my son’s favorite holiday. Growing up, Halloween gave him the opportunity to use his creative mind. There wasn’t anything that he enjoyed more than creating his own costume. We lived in a neighborhood where people decorated the outside of their homes and served cider or witches brew on their front porches. So, Halloween was a way to feel connected in our community. My son still loves Halloween and is delighted to celebrate with his wife and two children as they create costumes and have fun playing with new identities. He still receives awards for his costumes, as he did when he was a boy.

Although Halloween is a secular holiday in the United States, it has spiritual roots. In many countries, All Saints Eve also called All Hollows’ Eve became Halloween. All Hollos’ Eve is celebrated on Oct 31, remembering those who have passed, including saints. The word hollow is a synonym for saint. Celebrants attend church and light candles on the graves of their loved ones or create altars to honor their memory, closely related to the Day of the Dead celebrated in Hispanic cultures. Historically, Samhain (sow-in), a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season also begins celebration on Oct 31. Samhain is and was widely observed throughout Ireland and Scotland, and it is believed that the Scottish and Irish brought Halloween customs to America in the 19th century, and the holiday evolved from there as a celebration for many, although there are some religions that do not celebrate Halloween here in our country. I would like to share that at one time in the communities I have lived in, Trick or Treaters carried UNICEF donation boxes so they could collect money for children supported by UNICEF, the UN organization that helps disadvantaged children all over the world. This was and could be a way for our young people to make a difference for other children while also having fun.

Our tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving of course begins with the story of the Plymouth colonists called Pilgrims from the Mayflower who reportedly shared a meal with Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621 as a way of celebrating the autumn harvest after surviving a previous harsh winter. This is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. It also needs to be acknowledged that this narrative is not told from the Native Americans perspective and many take issue with how the Thanksgiving story is presented to the American public, and especially stereotypically to schoolchildren. We need to be mindful of our history and be respectful in how we view the gifts of our Native American brothers and sisters. Historians have noted that many cultures from ancient times have commemorated the fall harvest with feasting and celebrations including Native Americans long before Europeans set foot on America’s shores. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot, which is still celebrated in some Jewish communities.

In many ways, as we become less of an agricultural nation, we have lost our connection with the earth, but there is certainly value in finding ways to connect with our earth and connect with thankfulness for the bounty of our blessings.

 As we gather with family and friends for this season, we eat foods that are indigenous to the Americas namely turkey, potatoes, green beans, corn, squash, cranberries and pumpkin pie and this tradition is always something to look forward to.

 Of course, we can practice gratitude everyday as a spiritual practice. When we are consciously grateful for our blessings, we attract good to ourselves and others, and that energy of Thanksgiving can transform our world. On Thanksgiving, when we are with loved ones, we can truly be present with them and share out loud how we feel blessed by their presence in our lives and for all our abundant blessings. Taking a deep, mindful breath in the midst of all the preparation, praying together and expressing true gratitude from our hearts. This intention of being present in our gratitude with ourselves and those we are with, I believe, is how we experience the spiritual meaning of Thanksgiving.

Presidents Washington, Lincoln and Grant all proclaimed a day to celebrate Thanksgiving. You know the history of these men, but have you ever heard of Sarah Hale? A little known fact is Sarah Hale was once called the Mother of Thanksgiving. She was a prolific American writer, activist, and influential editor in the 1800’s. Interestingly, she wrote Mary Had a Little Lamb in a collection of poems for children, but that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. She is most well known for her campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians, advocating for a National Day of Thanksgiving. When she died, she was living in Philadelphia and a blue historical marker with her name and story, I learned, exists on Spruce St in Philadelphia. It took until 1941 for Franklin D Roosevelt to sign legislation creating Thanksgiving as a national holiday on the fourth Thursday of every November in the United States.

In addition to blessing our family and friends and perhaps inviting others who may not have a place to celebrate Thanksgiving, there are numerous ways we can be of service to others in this Thanksgiving season. We can contribute to the Food Bank for food insecure families and donate non-perishable foods as we are doing here at our Unity Center. We can donate our time at places where people are served a Thanksgiving meal such as Salvation Army. We can make a donation on this Giving Tuesday, this next Tuesday, as charitable giving to an organization that helps individuals and families have quality of life. These are some of the ways we can be of service in the Thanksgiving season. As we express thankfulness for our blessings, we can be a blessing.

I want to give a highlight to the Jewish holiday, Hanukah, which begins at sundown on November 28, a week from today. The Jewish calendar for commemorations and holidays is a lunar calendar with each month beginning on the new moon so the date of the Hanukah holiday can shift from year to year. It often falls on a date in December. Hanukah is an eight-day “Festival of Lights,” celebrated with a nightly Menorah lighting combined with recited prayers of blessings and songs. The Menorah is a nine branched candle holder. Eight of the candles are lit as the week progresses to symbolize the eight nights of the holiday. The historical significance is a commemoration of the time in the second century BCE when a small band of Jews were able to defeat a Greek mighty army and reclaim their land and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicate it to God. When they sought to light the Temple’s Menorah which was then 7 branches, they found only a small amount of oil. They lit the Menorah with enough oil for a day, but miraculously the oil lasted eight days. And, this is the religious symbolism of the eight days of celebration. Traditional Hanukah foods are served, and traditional games are played. Gifts are often exchanged, and children are given Hanukah gelt which can be is a gift of money or chocolate gold coins. It is a tradition in the Hanukah season to give to charity with a donation, and children and adults are encouraged to a good deed in some way.

Christmas is celebrated every year on December 25th. Numerous cultures have long celebrated the winter season with festivals. The winter solstice is celebrated in December throughout the world as the days become longer and the return of light is celebrated. In the times of Roman rule, a popular festival called the Saturnalia was celebrated in mid-December honoring the agricultural god, Saturn. In the time of the early Christians, the birth of Jesus was not celebrated until the fourth century when Pope Julius the First chose December 25th for the church to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. This celebration was first called the Feast of the Nativity. Choosing the date at the same time as the fun- filled winter festivities, church leaders anticipated Christmas would be popularly embraced by the pagan culture. Many of the traditions of ancient winter festivals are the source of many of the traditions we now associate with Christmas. What we know as Christmas spread to most of the world by the end of the sixth century. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas as we now know it. Christmas has been a national holiday in the United States since 1870 when Grant was the 18th President.

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural celebration, observed with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. On Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth born 2,00 years ago. The profound healing and spiritual teachings of Jesus formed the core of Christianity. Jesus taught and exemplified love, forgiveness, inclusion and acceptance of one another. In Unity, we revere Jesus as our Way Shower. On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the rebirth of the Christ light within each of us. During the advent Sundays, we celebrate the divine gifts of faith and hope, peace, love, and joy. I love the Unity Christmas ritual that our spiritual leader, Sandy, leads every Christmas season here at our Unity Center as we light a successive Advent candle each Sunday to represent the spiritual gifts of hope, peace, love and joy. We can look forward to Sandy’s services in December when she will present a series on nature and the Advent season. I personally enjoy the Christmas spirit of beauty, generosity and excitement that I feel in the Christmas season.

We know the popular customs of Christmas include exchanging gifts, decorating with lights and evergreens which symbolize eternal life including Christmas trees, attending church services, singing Christmas carols, making Christmas cookies, sending holiday cards, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus, otherwise known as Saint Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a most well- loved saint in Europe because of his magnanimous generosity. In 1882, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister wrote a poem to his daughters named a visit from St Nicholas which is now popularly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  Moore’s poem became our modern image of Santa, although I am pretty sure that was not his intention. In the 19th century, images of jolly Santa were widely used for America’s businesses to advertise during the Christmas holidays….the beginning of the consumerism of Christmas.

I believe Christmas is a time to be generous with others who have less than we do. There are many organizations we can donate to help families in need. Dan and I buy gifts for our grandchildren, but are conscious that just as we celebrate birthdays with people we love, love and attention is the most treasured gift, and a gift that lasts forever. My favorite gift to give family and friends is a subscription of the Unity Daily Word, a gift that gives and gives all year long everyday. The gift we can give ourselves is to slow down in the bustle and busyness of the holiday season and go inward to be with our spiritual essence and Christ consciousness….to be intentional in setting times for meditation, contemplation and renewal of our divine light and spirit.

Finally, before I finish the topic of Celebration in this holiday season, I want to give some attention to Kwanzaa, an African American holiday that affirms African and African American, and is celebrated in addition to Christmas by many African Americans. It is celebrated from December 26 to January 1. Kwanzaa was created and encouraged in 1966 by a professor of Africana studies at California State University. It began in the United States and has come to be celebrated in other countries where there are large descendants of Africans. Each day is dedicated to one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. On each day, families and communities light one of the seven candles of red, green and black and discuss the principle for that day, red representing the struggle, black the people and green for the future. The holiday concludes with a feast on the last day with African inspired foods, and festivities can include music, drumming, dancing and sharing of writings and poetry. My son is bi-racial African American. When he was growing up, we didn’t celebrate Kwanzaa specifically, but we found ways to honor the value and strengths of his ancestry which celebrates spirit.

Finally, in a few sentences I want to touch on New Year’s which is celebrated throughout the world to look back over the last year and look forward to the New Year with new possibilities. At Unity, we have a tradition which Sandy leads on the first Sunday of the New Year with the burning bowl ceremony, writing and burning what we want to let go of and the next Sunday meditating and writing what we want to strive for in the New Year on our spiritual journey. They both are meaningful ceremonies that we can look forward to.

So, I hope you enjoyed the journey that you took with me this morning of the holidays that are celebrated this time of the year. I wish you and yours many blessings. And, may we be a blessing!

Is your YES, yes, and your NO, no?

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

Is your yes, YES and your no, NO?

Great to see you this morning. And welcome to those of you who are watching & listening at home. We appreciate it and would love to see who you are, so, just take a moment and say Hi to us. We will say hi back.

Yesterday’s Daily Word started with this statement: “There is no situation the power of peace cannot transform. What a wonderful way to start a day! Of course, today’s affirmation, “Prosperity fills my life,” is a good affirmation too. If you’re not reading Daily Word, you are missing  uplifting start for you day.

Before we start, just a huge thank you to all our veterans for the work you have done, often with many sacrifices, to keep our Nation, all of us, safe. If you are a veteran, please stand and let us thank you…and bless you

          We love you

          We Bless you

          We behold the Christ in you.

So, this morning I wanted to chat a bit about choices. You all most likely know that our choice, our free will, is one of the biggest, most precious gifts we have been given as humans on this 5 senses journey in this physical plane.

There have been times, I’m sure, when we all have had a moment or more when we weren’t very happy with our lives. And why was that?

Most likely, it was because of a choice we made.

Remember our 3rd Principle; We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.

So, for the most part, our choices brought us to the different situations in our lives.

Every time you say YES to something, you are saying NO to something else

If we could look back with eyes & ears wide open, and look with an open heart, maybe we could truly ‘SEE’ what really happened in any situation. What was that choice we made that got us into the situation in the first place?


Be truthful. Sometimes it’s something we didn’t even realize would end in the situation it did. But it was a choice we made, somewhere along the path that turned the circumstances to the conclusion we were wrestling with.

There’s always a consequence. There’s always a reaction to our action. Newton’s Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Everything you think with energy behind it is put out into the Universe. That energy you are sending into the Universe will have a response to it.

As Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselback, metaphysics wizard says, watch your words…and I add no matter if they are thought or actual spoken, they are powerful.

Matthew 5:37 reminds us: “… let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

The evil one? What could our ancient writers mean with this statement? Well, in ancient times people did believe in an evil force. But we do not give power to some outside ‘devil’. Unity truth followers believe evil means:

That which is not of God; unreality; error thought; a product of the fallen human consciousness; negation.

There probably have been times in our past when we did believe in a ‘devil’, but that was before we followed this path of spiritual information, we were seekers until we unveiled this knowledge hidden within all of us; that we are all One, we are all Divine, made in the image and likeness.

“Your ‘yes’ to God requires your ‘no’ to all injustice, to all evil, to all lies to all oppression and violation of the weak and poor…” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So, one of the more important ‘yes’s’ is the yes to the God of our understanding. We have all been seekers some time in our lives. For most of us, that seeking has brought us to Unity. Many others have come to our door and many other Unity churches & Centers, only to step away because Unity wasn’t their fit, not yet. It takes many steps on the path to be ready for the philosophy & Principles that are the backbone of Unity.

This is not saying anything, or anyone is better than or lower than, but that Unity takes a different look at things, and some cannot comprehend the science of metaphysics.

But back to yes and no.

Remember,

Every time you say YES to something, you are saying NO to something else

Have you ever thought of it that way?

A perfect example from last weeks’ Message, Are you for peace or against war? One is positive and the other negative. We said yes to peace and therefore, we are saying no to war.

And our everyday choices bring about responses that may be what we thought would happen, or maybe we didn’t think before we ate that donut, or had a second, or third, or fourth (!) drink.

Action + reaction = consequence.  My Father was drinking with his golfing buddy and choose to get a ride with him = action, they had an accident = reaction, and my father’s death.

There are always consequences to our actions.

And they can be good. Action, me taking Unity classes, reaction, a better, more conscious, awaken me, further response, moving to Delaware and, with several friends, starting Unity.

This morning, those of you in attendance said yes to Unity in person, and no to staying home and watching online.

But let’s step away from God and Unity for now. Let’s talk in general terms.

How often do you find yourself saying yes to something when you really want to say no? Or maybe vice versa?

How often have you said yes to a friend or family member to aid in, say, moving them to another house? Or taking the kids for the day? Or, driving them to the airport? Or a number of other ‘favors’ people ask of others?

If we say YES or NO when we really mean it, it would be so much more meaningful to both persons.

We are all responsible and accountable for the choices we make. This makes for a more meaningful life.

This hits at the heart of what each of us controls—ourselves. No one else.                  

Or as Byron Katie would say, who’s business is it, mine, yours or Gods?

I’ve mentioned this before, several times actually, this is one of the reasons I love Unity Principles and expression so much…personal responsibility.

The way we choose to think, feel and act directly comes from one of two places—our egos or our higher self. If ego or personality is at the root of our thinking, feeling and acting, our choices may be based on lack, survival, or fear. None of these would come from our higher self. Rather, our higher self shows up as possibility thinking, gratitude and inquisitiveness.

From “Say Yes to What Really Matters in Your Life” By Martha Lynn

“When we listen to our higher self, choices, decisions, thoughts, feelings and actions take on a whole new realm of possibility. Our perceptions are more objective, our thoughts are more compassionate, our feelings are more loving, and our actions are in integrity.”

As an example, steeped in choice, intention and right action: Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
 

Of course, and yet we often unconsciously say no to choice, because we rely on that automatic pilot—our domestication, our habits, our ego-self—that we have relied on for many years.

Unconsciousness to our own light and power could be due to many things: our lack of awareness of who we really are, our lack of discipline, our lack of a plan, our willingness to play small.

Have you done that? Lower the light in your heart to not antagonize another?  “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:14) 

We just need to clearly remember and recognize who we are at the core of our being and act from that place of love and strength.

The Process according to “Say Yes to What Really Matters in Your Life” By Martha Lynn

  1. Identify your intention. Maria Nemeth, author of Mastering Life’s Energies and owner of the Academy of Coaching Excellence, trains coaches and shares her work through classes and writing. Maria teaches her students to start each day by asking: “Who am I willing to be in order to produce an extraordinary result out of this day?”

2. Become a self-observer.
We have to be able to observe our thoughts and the stories we are telling ourselves about our encounters. A great storyteller and meaning-making machine person can listen to a few words in a team meeting, phone call or dialogue with another and create an entire three-act play. Ego loves drama, fear and power, and many stories are great tragedies.

It’s important to quickly observe the stories and stresses we are experiencing … and to be able to redirect the reactions in ways that will be helpful to ourselves and others.

  • Take authentic action.
    “Authentic” in this context means to act from our higher source—our intention—not from the ego, but from that spark of divinity that is in all of us. When we act from that place, we know we are being true to ourselves. We are expressing energy that is coming from our soul. We are spirit in action.
  • Choice is Freedom
    Choice is the only freedom we really have. Remember to say yes to what really matters in our life; to say yes to choose; to take time to pause, reflect and choose our intentions carefully; to self-observe our thoughts and feelings; and to act authentically from that sacred place of love and strength.

We may want to ask ourselves what miraculous moments had I missed by being casually dismissive, letting my ego make my choice, thinking the practical path was best? 

Sometimes we let guilt be the determining factor in our choice points. We have all heard statement about Catholic guilt. It’s not just the Catholics! It’s part of our domestication.

And many of us may have heard our mother remind us how she stayed in an unhappy marriage ‘because of us kids’ so we can feel guilty about that. That was not our fault.

The interesting thing about guilt is that it only works when we let it.

Be aware exactly what you feel guilty for and more importantly who that guilt is linked to.

Often, we say no first up but then people keep badgering us until we say yes. This whole situation is no fun at all. It’s exhausting and draining to have to keep saying the same thing over and over again.

If someone is badgering you to do something you definitely don’t want to do, you need to realize that they are not respecting you.

Set some boundaries! Whether it’s one person or a group, hold people up on their behavior and stand up for yourself.

That group or person you are trying so hard to impress might not even be part of your life a year from now.

You get to choose who you want to be and who you want to spend your time with.

Choose wisely.

If people are trying to pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do (particularly if they are harmful, dangerous or just plain stupid) these people are not the ones to have in your corner and they are definitely not the ones to feel pressured by.

It’s easier said than done but remember you get to choose. It has to be your choice; what is right for you. AS we say, ‘doing what is ours to do’.

What is the right thing for you is not necessarily right for another. They get to choose too,

No oughts and shoulds, either

How Often Do You Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda?

When you are trying to help people, whether it be friends, family or co-workers you can end up doing things that you don’t want to do.

However, trying to help can become a problem when the person you are trying to help does nothing to help themselves. (tough love)

Helping people is a wonderful thing and we don’t want to give up on people who need our help, but people have to be willing to take some responsibility for their own lives as well.

Keep in mind, no is an option. We don’t need to over explain or justify our ‘no’

No is an answer all by itself. Stop explaining and justifying your choices. Say no politely and firmly. Don’t lie – this might come back to bite you later.

It’s time to stop saying yes when you want to say no. Continue to help people but take into consideration your own needs as well.

A yes is nothing without the no that gives it boundaries and form. Learn to say yes, a little more slowly — ask more questions before committing, no matter what side of the question you’re on.

Remember, every time you say YES to something, you are saying NO to something else.

It could be time for yourself or your family or friends. And those things are just as, if not more important to you.

Time for a Discussion

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

It’s great to be with you today. I see who has remembered to change their clocks.

So, today’s topic – did you wonder what I had in mind? Connie & I conspired and didn’t give you any hints. I would love to know what came to mind for you!

Time for a Discussion…

So much has happened in these last few years…politically, of course, economically, that follows, the environment…when will we get it right? And don’t forget a pandemic that some people are having a hard time figuring what the correct way is to eradicate it.

For me, I follow the science.

And let’s not get started on our religious or spiritual lives? Unity Spiritual Center is not any different than so many others, asking what to do to bless our folks, to be in touch with them, to serve them and our community.

Have you been responding to your Connection Person…you know, the one who keeps bugging you about “how are you doing?”. “Do you need anything?”. “Can we aid you in any way?”, “Do you need prayer?”

It’s all in an effort to keep in touch, to be of Service to you. Remember, it’s a circle, we give, and we receive. Please keep giving to us too. We all could use that virtual hug….

So, let’s ask a great question, and you know I love a Great Question—What would Jesus do? Would He be welcomed in the churches and Synagogues, and Mosques of today? Could he walk the halls of Congress? How about the streets of Philly or any other big city? Would he be in the small towns and farm country?

How about the Buddha? Hari Krishna? Would ANY of our so-called Spiritual Leaders be welcomed in our church and Centers today?

I ask this question for many of our Spiritual Leaders because they all essentially say the same thing, just in different ways:

What we call the Golden Rule:

Islam – No one of you is a believer until you desire for your neighbor that which you desire for yourself.

Buddhism – Treat all creatures as you would like to be treated.

Hinduism – This is the essence of morality: Do not do to others which if done to you would cause you pain.

Christianity – Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Sikhism – Do as you desire goodness for yourself as you cannot expect tasty fruits if you sow thorny trees.

Judaism – What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor – that is the basic law, all the rest is community.

Baha’i Faith – If your eyes be turned towards justice choose for your neighbor that which you would choose for yourself.

I ask because we, our society, is and has been for some time now, falling away from the very doctrine that is supposed to be our founding Principle….Look at our Bill of Rights:

  Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press; The Right to Bear Arms; The Housing of Soldiers; Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures; Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property; Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases; Rights in Civil Cases; Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden; Other Rights Kept by the People; Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People.

THE PEOPLE.

And that’s as political as I will be for today.

Have we lived up to these principles from a Spiritual standpoint? This is what I wish to discuss today.

When we look at our Unity Principles, they should easily come before the 10 listed above.

  1. God is absolute good, everywhere present. There is only one Power, one Presence, God. God is good without opposite. There is no other power. God is omnipotence- all power.
  • Human beings have a spark of divinity within them, the Christ spirit within. Their very essence is of God, and therefore they are also inherently good.
  • Human beings create their experiences by the activity of their thinking. Everything in the manifest realm has its beginning in thought.
  • Prayer is creative thinking that heightens the connection with God-Mind and therefore brings forth wisdom, healing, prosperity and everything good.
  • Knowing and understanding the laws of life, also called Truth, are not enough. A person must also live the Truth that he or she knows. …

And, saying that, it would be easy to follow the 10 because our belief that we are ALL One, we are ALL of God, our Creator, all good, we can honor the 10.

So, the issues facing our country and the world are not political issues, they are Spiritual issues, or lack of Spiritual issues.

Luke 4:18-19 tells us: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus called us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, to turn the other cheek, not to consider ourselves better than others, but to live in peace with all people, to model an engaging faith, to bind up the wounded, rescue the perishing and bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

And WHAT does that mean?

It means we can’t risk walking around with a negative, resentful, gossipy, critical mind, because then we won’t be our true selves. We won’t be usable instruments for our Creator to use for good. That’s why Jesus commanded us to love. It’s that urgent. It’s that crucial.

A command to love.

Fr. Richard Rohr wrote: “Jesus tells us not to harbor hateful anger or call people names in our hearts like ‘fool’ or ‘worthless person’ (Matthew 5:22). If we’re walking around all day thinking, ‘What idiots!’ we’re living out of death, not life. If that’s what we think and feel, that’s what we will be—death energy instead of life force. We cannot afford even inner disconnection from love. How we live in our hearts is our real and deepest truth.”

What we say & think is creative…it’s magic because of the energy surrounding those words.  We forget the power we have in the thoughts and words we wield.

I’ve said this before, what Prof. Albus Dumbledore said in Harry Potter, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

Our thoughts can have that same magic if we are thinking the same negative things with strong emotions behind it.

Fr. Rohr continues: True religion is radical. It moves us beyond our “private I” and into the full reality of ‘us’. Jesus seems to be saying in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that our inner attitudes and states are the real sources of our problems. We need to root out the problems at that deepest interior level.

Jesus says not only that we must not kill, but that we must not even harbor hateful anger. He clearly begins with our need for a “pure heart” (Matthew 5:8) and knows that the outer behavior will follow. Too often we force the outward response, while the inward intent remains like a cancer.

If we walk around with hatred all day, morally we’re just as much killers as the one who pulls the trigger. We can’t live that way and not be destroyed from within.

Do you recall what President Jimmy Carter said he had “looked on a lot of women with lust” and had “committed adultery in my heart many times”.

This is what I am talking about.

Yet, for some reason, many who call themselves Christians have thought it acceptable to think and feel hatred, negativity, and fear. The evil and genocide of both World War I and World War II were the result of decades of negative, resentful, and paranoid thinking and feeling among even supposedly good Christian people.

Unfortunately, more wars and conflicts have followed from the same causes.

In Matthew 5:44, Jesus insists that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Once we recognize that whatever we do in conscious, loving union with our inner Christ is prayer, we can better understand what Paul means when he says, “Pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If prayer is merely words or recitations, such constant prayer is impossible in any practical sense.

But prayer is not only words or recitations…it is our thoughts…it is our actions. It’s what we mean when we say, put feet to your prayers.

So, when we speak of the issues of the day, it is not political, it is SPIRITUAL. It is our responsibility as caretakers of this earth to care for the environment; to honor the lives of all life including the lives of those animals that feed us and labor for us and are companions to us.

It’s our Spiritual duty to care for all humanity and do ‘what is ours to do’ to aid any who are in need. When we recite our Opening Affirmation and state: “When we do that which is ours to do…” The next step is to DO IT!

I’m not saying to take on every issue and cause. Ask your heart what is yours to do.

In Unity, we don’t speak forcefully when it comes to politics, though we are finally speaking on the issues, especially regarding the environment, and social issues.

Unfortunately, we are living in an increasingly polarized society. ‘Red or blue, ‘left’ or ‘right’, our stances on politics and issues are becoming more inflexible. Our social fabric is being ripped asunder while we breathlessly assign blame to “those idiots on the other side”.

it takes more than an open ear to communicate effectively, especially if the other person in the conversation holds an opposing view. An essential element in this conversation must be to understand the opposing view, not just hear it.

The point is not to change anyone’s mind but to illuminate how those opinions were formed and why they are maintained. It is not about determining who’s “right” or “wrong” but about gaining insight into the other’s perspective, so communication becomes more effective and constructive solutions more accessible.

I’m hoping today, we can start right here. That we can be open to listen to opposing views, and yes, I’m sure we have some here in this room and listening in. That we can then, start the healing process and let our light and love shine to the larger Community and the world. So, we can do better…

Wayne Dyer said, “You don’t need to be better than anyone else. You just need to be better than you used to be.”

Here are some suggestions for improving ourselves:

7 ways to be better than you were yesterday from The Road to Character, by David Brooks

  1. Nourish your soul daily. At least once each day, we need to break away from our work or home routine and take a little time to feed our soul. This may involve a walk out in nature, reading a spiritual text, taking a yoga class or spending 15 minutes in quiet contemplation. You choose what works for you….and DO it!
  2. Be gratefulFind something to be thankful for each day, even if it’s just to give thanks for the food in your refrigerator or the roof over your head or the fact you lived to see another day. Say a prayer or affirmation of gratitude each morning, giving thanks for family and friends, for life and all blessings.
  3. Be humble. “Humility reminds you that you are not the center of the universe, but you serve a larger order.” This also means keeping your ego and pride in check. “Because of pride we try to prove we are better than those around us. It makes us more certain and close-minded than we should be.” Be willing to hear out others. Be open-minded.
  4. Don’t be led astray. This means: Stay away from temptation. Be brave when the situation calls for it. Don’t look down on others. Try not to overindulge in food or drink.
  5. Trust in a force greater than yourselfThe world can be a tough place and we need all the help we can get. Whether you believe in the God of the Bible,  THE FORCE or a set of moral principles, we all need a guiding force.
  6. Know how to quiet the inner self “Only by quieting the self can you be open to the external sources of strengths you will need. Only by muting the sound of your own ego can you see the world clearly.” That means engaging in a regular practice of meditation, contemplation or centering prayer.
  7. Determine what life is asking of youWe spend much of life focused on what we want—but we also need to discover what the world wants from us, what is your gift. That means finding it and then sharing it, in some way. This can be a hard one, but a question you should ponder often, if you have not found your gift.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change jobs or move to Delaware like I did. Maybe what you do IS what is yours to do. Whether in your work or in your volunteer time. We love our volunteers and that is a great way to help our community and the world.

Dalai Lama reminds us –   love & compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

Maybe what we see in our world today is evidence of what the Dalai Lama means.

Let’s be FOR something…for love, for peace, for compassion…not against anything.

If we have an issue with that,

Johannes Tauler tells us, “In prayerful silence you must look into your own heart.  No one can tell you better than yourself what comes between you and (your) God.  Ask yourself.  Then listen! —

The 4th invitation is “Find a place of rest in the middle of things.”

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!


There was a wonderful Daily Word on Friday…did you see it?

Friendship

I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY FRIENDS.

I give thanks today for my friends. My friendships are among the great gifts of my life, sources of fun during my easiest times and support during my toughest.

Friends accept me just as I am, and their understanding gives me room to grow and change. Friends are the family I choose, and the ties that bind us help give life meaning—a history with memories I can treasure and a future I know will be full of love.

I let my friends know what they mean to me by responding in kind. I am supportive when friends are struggling and share their sorrows when they’re hurting. I delight in their joys and love to celebrate their blessings. Throughout all the seasons of life, I am as dependable, present, and accepting as a good friend can be.

Friends are so important to our wellbeing. I am so grateful for my friends, both here and in other places.

Anyway— it’s always wonderful to see you. I am very grateful for you all, both here in person, and those who take the time to join us on FB live and later on FB and our web page.

We are working our way through Frank Ostaseski’s book, “The Five Invitations-Discovering what death can teach us about living fully.” Today, we take a rest…the 4th invitation is “Find a place of rest in the middle of things.”

This is something we all have an issue with, right? Finding peace in our day? How often do you say to yourself, ‘today I’m going to start that book I’ve been wanting to read, or maybe get back into meditation or contemplation? Maybe you’d like to spend more time with the kids or grandkids, or take a walk on the beach?

But what do we do instead?  Yea, you fill in the blank!

Frank reminds us, ‘we often think of rest as something that will come to us when everything else in our lives is complete: at the end of the day, when we take a bath, once we go on holiday or get through all our to-do-lists. We imagine that we can only find rest by changing our circumstances.’

The 4th Invitation teaches us that we can find a place of rest within us, without having to alter the conditions of our lives.

This place of rest is always available to us. We need only turn toward it. It is experienced when we bring our full attention, without distractions, to this moment, to this activity. With sincere practice, we can come to know this spaciousness as a regular part of our lives. It manifests as an aspect of us that is never sick, is not born, and does not die.”

Here’s an example, see if you get it…there is a Zen story of a monk who is vigorously sweeping the temple grounds. Another monk walks by and snips, “Too busy.”

The first monk replied, “You should know there is one who is not too busy.”

What’s the moral here? Outwardly, he appears ‘too busy,’ but inwardly, he has recognized the quietness of his state of mind.

Just like Brother Lawrence and washing the pots and pans. The most effective way Brother Lawrence had for communicating with God was to simply do his ordinary work. He believed it was a serious mistake to think of our prayer time as being different from any other. Our actions should unite us with God when we are involved in our daily activities.

Can you do that? Be busy on the outside and calm on the inside?

Most of us think we are too busy. Probably we are, but also the way we think about the topic matters.

We get caught up in the time-driven, scarcity mentality or move unconsciously from one moment to the next, we are a prisoner of our thoughts.

Finding a place of rest is about choice – it’s a choice to be alert, to bring your attention to the present moment. Multitasking is an exhausting myth.  We can only live one moment at a time.

But this seems boring, frustrating. Some exclaim; “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”  

So, we become addicted to busy. We confuse rest with non-productivity and laziness.

We imagine we are accomplishing more, when in reality we are living less.

Computers were supposed to free us up, provide more leisure time and greater human connectivity.

Do you fear rest? Many doctors and nurses often speak of exhaustion. Yet they continue to push themselves at work. Why?

See if this fits you… “They fear that if they were to stop racing around, the enormous suffering that have witnessed would crash through their defenses. Tears would flow, and they would be unable to stop crying.”

You don’t have to be a nurse or doctor to experience these feelings.

We build armor around our hearts to block the pain but that also prevents tenderness from entering. We are afraid we will be forgotten, and the loneliness and emptiness we fear will surface.

Ask yourself this question—”what’s right about being exhausted?” Do you think….

          People believe I am hard working.

          I get credit for being dedicated.

          Being overworked and worn out means I matter.

          People feel sorry for me, and that makes me feel loved.

Rest is found when we are present instead of letting our minds wander aimlessly through the hallways of fear, worry, and anxiousness. Rest comes when we become more by doing less, when we don’t allow the urgent to crowd out the important. It is the result of a decluttering of the mind and decoupling from fixed views.

We have a perfect example right outside our windows…Follow nature. It knows.  We are entering the seasons of rest, so follow nature as it goes into rest.

Angeles Arrien: “Nature’s rhythm is medium to slow. Many of us live out of nature’s rhythm. There are two things we can never do in the fast lane; we can neither deepen our experience nor integrate it.”

“Living out of touch with the primal rhythms of life takes a toll on us.” “When we lose touch with the rhythms of nature, we become unbalanced with the land around us.”

Maybe this is part of our environmental ‘learning opportunity’?


Have you heard someone say, “I’m trying to rest,”? 

Our writer tells us; “Trying to rest is not resting; it’s just more trying.” It’s just like Yoda, Jedi Master said, “Do or do not, there is not try.”


We can’t seek the deepest rest through striving to change the way things are. We can only relax the activity that obstructs our contact with the rest.

Frank tells us: “This is the real paradox of the spiritual life: that which can save us also can drive us mad. Seeking has a place in this world. It isn’t all bad. In order to begin our spiritual journeys, we must be motivated by seeking a better life—deeper connections with ourselves and others; explanations for our existential questions; relief from our pain and suffering. Yet too often our quests for peace and fulfillment get entangled with striving. We read books, seek out teachers, and go looking for our tribes. We accumulate practices, beliefs, and strategies as we seek solutions. We continuously search for answers outside of ourselves.”

He suggests that we “become ‘wholesome desire’ seekers, that is the desire to be free, to know what is true and to be completely ourselves.”

What a nice place to be.

When our awareness comes to rest in the peaceful depths of our essential nature, our seeking just ends.

A truly open mind is deep in restfulness, attained by accepting and understanding our desires.

Try this…Pause at the threshold of a room to break the momentum of habit. It gives us a choice. A choice to be open or closed. Open to what is unfolding or selective in our allowing of it.

Being a seeker is an inevitable step on the spiritual path. Ponder these questions to help you seek your truth.

What does death have to teach us? Begin to look at endings. The end of an exhale, the end of a day, the end of a meal, the end of a sentence.

Our author asks these questions: how do you meet endings in life?

Do you go unconscious around them?

Do you leave, either emotionally or mentally, before an event is over?

Or are you the last one in the parking lot, watching as the final participants depart?

Do you feel sad and get teary-eyed about endings? Or anxious?

Or are you indifferent, isolating yourself and withdrawing into a protective cocoon?

Do you stop talking to others before the end arrives?

When leaving work for the evening, do you say farewell to colleagues and clients?

Do you wait for other to acknowledge the end, or do you jump the gun?

Do you visit friends who are dying? Do you think it doesn’t matter if you don’t say good-bye?

All things change…what story do you put to the change? Sad? Disappointed? Depressed? Or content? Happy?

The way we end one experience shapes the way the next one arises. Clinging to the old makes it difficult for something new to emerge.

“Our Breath offers us an opportunity to study our relationship with endings in an intimate way. Breathing is a living process, constantly changing and moving in cycles – inhale, pause, exhale, pause. Every breath has a beginning, middle, and end. Every breath goes from a beginning, middle and end. Every breath goes through a process of birth, growth and death. Breathing is a microcosm of life itself.”

Breath animates human life and sustains it. It comes before thought and words.

Breathing only happens in real time. Life can only be lived in the present, not the past or future. And this present moment is the only place where we can rest.

Frank ends this section of the book discussing fear.

“The willingness to sit with fear is an act of courage.”

Fear doesn’t require a basis in reality in order to have an impact on us. No matter what its cause, the fear still feels real. That said, it’s best not to treat fear as the absolute truth.

Living from a place of fear can narrow our vision, shrinking our lives down to what is comfortable and familiar. We easily become consumed with safety precautions and the dread of uncertainty, constantly looking over our shoulders.  It is reasonable to want to protect ourselves and those we love. But being driven by fear alone, we stop using our common sense and make unwise choices. We grow less willing to take risks and face conflict or disapproval…

Unaddressed fear is a self-imposed exile, a prison of our own making. The goal is not to get rid of all fear. Rather it is to free ourselves from fear’s choke hold around our lives, to learn to face our fear with courageous presence.

Taking fear as our teacher and learning to work skillfully with it can lead us to some degree of inner freedom.  We quickly see that operating from a place of fear means we have little trust in reality. We are separated from others, from the possibility of unity. This is our default position. In Buddhist circles, the small, cut-off sense of self is sometimes called ‘the body of fear.’ It takes physical form as a shell of tension around us, a stiffening of our bodies, a thickening of our defenses against the fear. Then the mind becomes rigid and confused. The heart closes.

A separation does need to occur, but not the one we might have imagined. In coping with fear, it is helpful to distinguish our emotional states from the object of which we are afraid. When we obsess about the objects we fear, we avoid contact with the emotion itself. Like the monster in the closet, the thing we fear may not even exist, but all of our attention to it turns the illusion into reality.

When we discern the difference between the emotion and the object, we can see the part we play in the process. Then we can begin to unhook ourselves from the overwhelm. We relax and temporarily hold the fear in the container of the body, supported by steady breathing, so that we can examine the mind’s operations—the beliefs, assumptions, memories, and stories that underpin the fear. In this way, we can begin to reduce our reactivity.

“The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.” We are on Invitation #3 – “Bring your whole self to the experience.”

We’re back! Special greetings to you all. We continue our discussion of the book by Frank Ostaseski, “The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.” We are on Invitation #3 – “Bring your whole self to the experience.”

I highly recommend this book, there is much, much more in the chapters than I am including in these 5 weeks. I’m merely hitting SOME highlights…if it is interesting to you, get a copy or borrow mine. You will be glad you did.

Frank starts out this invitation with an interesting idea…suppose you could take a photo of yourself and print it on thick, stiff cardboard that included your whole body, including a multi-dimensional of your whole being including your personality.

Now, you take a laser-cutting die and make a jigsaw puzzle.

Spread the 1000 or so pieces out and begin to put yourself back together.

As you progress passed the easy edges, you might come across a part you didn’t like…maybe your fear of something, or your lust for something and you think that fear isn’t something you wish you had, or you recall lust wasn’t a good thing to have if we are spiritual folks. So, you don’t include these pieces.

As you continue, ‘deeming certain aspects of yourself acceptable and others not. After a while, your puzzle wouldn’t be recognizable because it’s so fragmented, holes everywhere.

You wouldn’t be able to see the whole picture.

We all want to look good, projecting an image of confidence, sensitive, spiritual, strong, intelligent and certainly well adjusted. We don’t want to be known for anger, fear, helplessness.

However, our experiences give us the ability, the compassion to connect with others as they may be experiencing these same traits. If the cancer this body experienced or abuse experienced as a child can help another, then that aspect is part of ‘what is mine to do’ during this lifetime.

Because after “what is mine to do” continues “and then do it.”

Frank tells us: “it is the wisdom gained from our own suffering, vulnerability, and healing that enables us to be of real assistance to others. It is the exploration of our inner lives that facilitates us in forming an empathetic bridge from our experience to others.

To be whole, we need to include, accept, and connect all parts of our selves. We need acceptance of our conflicting qualities and the seeming incongruity of our inner and outer worlds.

Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means no part left out.

So, lets imagine for a few minutes yourself as a jigsaw puzzle, and what parts would you want to leave out? How much of the puzzle would be left after you removed the unwanted parts of yourself? Something to consider this week…

This chapter also talks about our roles, some of which you may have left out of your jigsaw puzzle…those things we fall back on when we are in fear, for example. We are vulnerable and courageous at the same time as we hold the space for those who are reaching out to us, often as they are waiting for that moment when they transition from this plane to the next.

My role as oldest daughter, closest friend to my Mother as she lay in the hospital bed, just wanting no pain was established long before that moment. I walked into the hospital ‘room’ with family around the bed. The bedside chair was made available as I walked in and the words, ‘she’s been asking for you’, made my role now as caretaker even more established.

It was on me for choices to be made on her comfort, getting answers from the doctors about hospice care, but, no it’s too late for that, just a ‘real room’ for comfort, quiet and privacy.

I got to my Mother’s room Sunday afternoon after rushing out of our Service, just giving my Message.  Monday evening she transitioned.

Then more roles as what to do next.

“We are social animals and have a multitude of roles as we travel through our lives.

‘Roles are neither good nor bad. They are primarily functional and provide for some needed predictability in our lives, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships.”

Developmentally, our roles change as we move through life.

For me, I didn’t have much opportunity to be a kid, for many reasons, but soon I became big sister, babysitter, teacher, cook, cleaner, housekeeper, because I had to.

Finally, I got to be friend because a part of my role as school student was added, I met others. Girlfriend, worker, driver, college student, spiritual explorer….many roles.

I have often asked the Tuesday Group about their roles, often they do not go very far back as they shared.  Sometimes that is hard, painful to do. Survivor was added to my roles several times, as a baby when the house blew up from gas, and abuse, from auto accidents, from cancer and other surgeries…

These are all roles. We really need a long sheet of paper to add them all.

Each role comes complete with its own expected set of behaviors, functions, and responsibilities.

But our roles are a choice. I chose to be the caretaker for my Mother. I chose to work with her to help her past her victim belief and hope she could learn to see what a wonderful, intelligent, strong woman she was.

Sometimes my role as daughter on my spiritual journey conflicted with her victim mentality. She wanted to continually fall back on that place of confronting hers and my abuse. That was easy for her, it was familiar. Sometimes it’s hard to move forward.

So, I had to carefully allow her opportunities to open her eyes and heart to see and HEAR me as I tried to come to terms with my experiences. Her role as victim was tested until she could see that her role as Mother was so much more important.

This is how roles can and do change as we go through life. They do. They will if we allow it.

It is important that we don’t over-identify with our roles. You may know of someone who, after retiring from a job held for many years, was so attached to their role, that they fell into despair and maybe even finally died because of that attachment.

We are not what we do, what we think, what we feel, what we say, or what we have.

Ram Dass: “Don’t be a role; be a soul.”

We are not our roles or conditions. Recall Myrtle Fillmore, “I am a child of God and therefore do not inherit disease.”

Frank tells us: “We are first and foremost human beings, with all the complexity, fragility, and wonder that life encompasses. When we only look through the lens of a role, it narrows our vision of the world. We don’t see things and people as they actually are, but rather project our story onto them. This frequently causes us to attribute a particular significance to an experience and miss the true meaning that is trying to emerge.”

“Naomi Remen, MD, “Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of ego, and service the work of the soul.”

To be in service Frank suggests we sit with another person without a solution to their problem, without playing a role. No analyzing, no fixing, no meddling. Listen. Be a listening presence.

Our roles are not enough…we need the courage to be authentically whole. Its saying what is so when it is so. Its showing up, doing what we say we will do, remembering our commitments, and honoring our agreements.

While service is natural for most of us, it isn’t always easy. Sometimes we get caught up in a role. We become drained. We have to remember what called our souls to serve in the first place. Discover what we love and do it. Find new life in our path. Rediscover that zeal and be born again in it.

WE must learn early, I wish, that we can’t please our inner critic. It has something to say, usually very negative, about everything. Nothing you do is good enough.

This inner voice says, “It’s my way or the highway!” Using weapons of fear, shame, and guilt in order to get you to do what it wants.

This inner critic comes from our pursuit of perfection, which is learned early on. To bring our whole self to the experience, we must address the often unconscious, voice of the inner critic.

Without removing this obstacle, we are blocked from discovering our self-acceptance, blocked from our power, and keeps us from connecting and empathizing with others.

Embracing wholeness is a loving act of reclamation, a “both/and” way of meeting life, replacing “either/or” mentality.

The critic says, “Trust me. I know you so well. I’ve been through this before.” Wisdom says, “Relax into your experience. You can trust yourself to know what to do.”

Wisdom teaches us how to discover what is really true.

Trust your inner Higher Self, connected always to the Source, all Wisdom, Always.

“The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.” We are on Invitation #2, Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing.

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

It’s wonderful to be with you again. Seeing masked people, I can’t tell what they are thinking…is there a smile behind the mask or a frown? Maybe even a snarl of anger! Hopefully not, but it’s possible and I would hope you would speak with me if that happened.

And the folks at home? No idea about them. Every once and again we get a message or thought. I long for responses from you all, that is my ‘Love Language,’ if you recall the book we explored a while back; conversation, discussion, that’s what I crave.

Try writing me a note in the Comment section after the Sunday Message and let me know what your thoughts are.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”- Carl Rogers

I just couldn’t not share the quote that led into our next invitation, Profound, don’t you think?

So, today we continue our discussion of the book by Frank Ostaseski, “The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.” We are on Invitation #2, Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing.

Frank starts out saying, “We are like the familiar; we like certainty. We love to have our preferences met. In fact, most of us have been taught that getting what we want and avoiding what we don’t is the way to assure our happiness. Inevitably, there are unexpected experiences in our lives – an unanticipated move, a job loss, a family member’s illness, the death of a beloved pet-that we want to push away with all our might. When faced with the uncertain, our first reaction is often resistance. We attempt to evict these difficult parts of our lives as if they were unwanted houseguests.  In such moments, welcoming seems impossible or even unwise.

Remember, what we resist, persists!

When I say that we should be receptive to whatever presents itself to us, do I mean that we should let life walk all over us?

Not at all.

When we are open and receptive, we have options. We are free to discover, to investigate, and to learn how to respond skillfully to anything we encounter. We can’t be free if we are rejecting any part of our lives. With welcoming comes the ability to meet and work with both pleasant and unpleasant circumstances. Gradually, with practice, we discover that our well-being is not solely dependent on what’s happening to our external reality; it comes from within.

We’ve mentioned several times here during Service about being ‘prayed up.’ What does that mean?

If you are practicing daily prayer, meditation, contemplation, etc. you are better able to handle these unexpected circumstances.

In order to experience true freedom, we need to be able to welcome everything just as it is. At the deepest level, this invitation, like life itself, asks us to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity. Welcome everything, push away nothing cannot be done solely as an act of will. To welcome everything is an act of love. “

What perfect timing. Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, and what are we doing? Accepting or rejecting? Welcoming with love or pushing away?

“Welcoming everything and pushing away nothing is first and foremost an invitation to openness. In the Buddhist way of thinking, openness is one of the key characteristics of an awake and curious mind. It does not determine reality, it discovers it.

I absolutely LOVE that!

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist teacher spoke of the heart Buddhist practice as that of ‘complete openness.’ He describes this openness as ‘a willingness to look into whatever arises, to work with it, and to relate to it as part of the overall process … It is a larger way of thinking, a greater way of viewing things, as opposed to being petty, finicky.’

Openness doesn’t reject or get attached to a particular experience or view. It is a spacious, undefended, non-biased allowing. A total acceptance. Openness is the nature of awareness itself, and that nature allows experience to unfold.

This openness welcomes paradox and contradiction. It permits whatever emerges to emerge. Openness means keeping our minds and hearts available to new information, experiences, and opportunities for growth. It means having tolerance for the unknown. It means welcoming the bad times and the good times as equally valid experiences.”

“Welcome everything, push away nothing is the opposite of rejecting. Denial breeds ignorance and fear. We cannot be free if we are rejecting any part of our experience.”

I our Tuesday Group, we recently completed Debbie Ford’s “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.” In the book we discussed a lot of the good and maybe uncomfortable reasons to explore our shadows, our dark side, because there are always lessons and the shadow is a part of us whether we like it, accept it or not.

Back to Frank:

“Until we know it and see through it, (our shadow side), it always will be the bane of our existence. It always will be a cause of our suffering. We must let go of our opposition to the experiences we are trying to avoid, whatever they may be-thoughts, feelings, and events included.”

What are you pushing away at this moment in your life? What are you not allowing in? What nightmare are you trying to avoid?

Welcoming what is, as it is, we move toward reality. When we argue with reality, we lose every time. We waste our energy and exhaust ourselves with the insistence that life be otherwise.

We have a great deal of choice about how we relate to and learn from the cards life has dealt to us.

Acceptance is not resignation; it is opening to possibility.

To be open is to allow things to be known, to be free of concealment, not to keep secrets from ourselves, to be all that we are and can become.

It’s about accepting life ‘as is.’ Accepting ourselves, others, our circumstances ‘as is,’ with all the beauty, imperfections, and challenges (growth opportunities) that make up this very human life of ours.

Welcome everything, push away nothing is neither a foolish nor an idealistic invitation.  On the contrary, it is eminently practical. Accepting life as is means that we make peace with things as they are rather than trying to force them to be the way we want them to be. Instead of spinning a story that we then try to live into, we open to the way things are and accept that we are completely human.

One of the Tuesday Group would always say, “It is what it is.”

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To be human is much more than being born, getting an education, finding the right partner, and getting a pretty good house on a nice street, just so you can sleep, wake, work, go to bed, and do it all over again.

The way we’ve always done things doesn’t work anymore. Just look at how we are experiencing Sunday Service, not to mention everyday life. But that’s a bit simplistic.

We have expanded our opportunities for the new, for real transformation, for opportunities for growth.

What have you learned through this long pause, and it is still a pause, until we are free of the virus and all its variants?

This is an invitation to feel everything, to come into direct contact with the strange, beautiful, horrible, and often perfectly ordinary thing we call life.

Love is the very human quality that allows us to welcome everything, not just what we prefer most. Love is the motivation that enables us to move toward fear—not in order to conquer it, but in order to include it so that we might learn from it.

In love, there is no separation. Caring for all things is therefore a natural action of love. Nothing remains isolated from its care.

Why is love the quality that allows us to welcome everything? When we view reality from the vantage point of our personalities—from a small, separate self—we are constantly looking for what distinguishes us from one another.

But when we live from the vantage point of boundless love, we begin to see all the points of connection that join us together.

Love breeds love.

It is an opportunity to be conscious of the fact that some of us will make love while others will make war.

This is not simple warrior’s vs lovers. We are all warriors at one time just as we are lovers. Just think about your own life.

Now is the time to lean more toward lover and away from warrior. If you need assistance into telling which is which for yourself, ask in prayer or meditation, ask me or someone you trust to sit and figure it out. I think you know….

nnow check this out

“The Five Invitations, Discovering what death can teach us about living fully.”

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

It’s great to be back. I am saddened that we lost one of our folks, one of my guys, Jay Busche. Please keep masked, be careful who you are around, keep your distance if you don’t know if they are vaccinated or not. Keep safe. That means here at the Center also. WE are requiring masks and no hugs without a green light on both sides please. Let’s stay safe and keep everyone safe.

Now, Today, we begin a series based upon the book by Frank Ostaseski titled, “The Five Invitations, Discovering what death can teach us about living fully.”

Now why, you may ask, would we want to discuss a book about death. But look a bit further on…it’s about living fully.

But I also think it is appropriate to discuss it because of the ‘pause’ we have been in these many, many months. Whether we wish to admit it to ourselves or not, death has been knocking on many a door lately. And not the death, or transition, we like to refer it, as a normal thing…not at the end of a long and wonderful life, necessarily.

The COVID virus has taken many lives that were not necessarily expected. No long illness. No expected end. No, COVID has been a surprise to us all, and an awakening, even more so as it struck so close to our home and hearts.…so what do you think about death?

The book, “The Five Invitations; Discovering what death can teach us about living fully,” is divided into 5 invitations: the first, ‘Don’t Wait,’

next ‘Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing,’

third, ‘Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience,’

next, ‘Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things,’

and 5th, ‘Cultivate Don’t Know Mind.’

So, this morning the first invitation, “Don’t Wait.”

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When you hear that short sentence, what do you think about? Probably the saying we hear often, don’t wait to use the good china, or to wear the fancy clothes, or even take the imagined vacation.

And that is part of it.

We forget that this world, this life is one of impermanence, of change. We really do not know what is around the next corner, what the next day will bring,

Now, where did your mind go just now…where you thinking of negative things?

WHY?

That statement didn’t mention anything negative, and yet that is where we so often go.

Knowing that we have not mastered the long life that Charles Fillmore and many others envisioned…that our cells would revitalize and restore our bodies to long, long lives, we then know that at some time, our bodies would stop beating and breathing and our soul would go on…to whatever you believe.

In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” the 7th book, toward the end, after Harry and Lord Voldamort meet and he tries to kill Harry, Harry meets the supposedly dead Dumbledore in a very clean and ethereal Kings Cross train station. Harry asks if he is dead and what could happen next. Dumbledore, as usual, in his not complete answer way says he could step on a train and ‘go on’.

We don’t know what we will face when the time comes when we ‘go on’, which makes this book even more important.

The 1st invitation –Don’t Wait!

Don’t wait to live. Don’t wait to enjoy your life, your kids, your hobbies, your loves, your life.


Embrace the impermanence of our physicality. We have had so many examples of this here in this country, not to mention our world. Let’s start with Covid and so many who have lost their life so suddenly. And then there are the wildfires, and the flash floods. The extreme weather.

What are you waiting for????

Spend time with those you care for and love. Take time for a cup of tea and just chat. Offer a hug to someone you know needs it. Visit someone in the hospital or senior home. Offer a meal to an elderly member of your community.

Reach out in whatever way you are able. Give hope where there is little or none.

Use “The 5 Second Rule – The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or your brain will stop you.” ― Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage

What does this do…it gets you moving. If you remember that new outfit you haven’t wore yet, within 5 seconds, get it out of the closet and wear it for your evening out.

If you see someone that looks interesting in a gathering, in 5 seconds, start walking toward them.

If you think of a person you haven’t seen for a while, contact them.

It’s making your choice within 5 seconds, no time for talking yourself out of getting out of bed when the alarm goes off.

Try it.

And that can lead us right into Forgiveness. Yes, that word again.

If you are holding onto something that needs attention…. attend to it now. Don’t wait.

When the thought comes into you mind, make a commitment to do something…get on the phone, get in the car, sit down and write your heartfelt thoughts about the forgiveness you have for that person.

And why would you want to. Why carry around that extra weight when it feels so nice to lighten up. Forgive, too, because we don’t know what is around the corner.

I didn’t know I would be in an accident that would lay me up for months and delay the start of Unity here in DE. Would I have been in a good place spiritually if it would have been worse and I would have died? Did I have any forgiveness work yet to do? I certainly asked that question as I recovered.

Don’t wait. Reach out to that person and forgive them, and while you’re at it…forgive yourself for holding on to whatever that word or action you thought was there. Most likely, it probably wasn’t as you are remembering it now. And Byron Katie would say, “Is it true now?” No…it’s in the past and we are not living there, we are living in the NOW, today, this moment.

Carol Hyman tells us, “We can’t step into the same river twice.”

Think about it…. that means it changes, the water flows, and maybe that’s the best lesson, be in the flow of life.

Each day we become a different person, just like that river. Are we good with that? Apply the 5 second rule to that…are you thinking of something that you’d change? Take that step! Within 5 seconds.

Be happy NOW!

What are the opportunities found in impermanence? Is there such a thing as permanence in our lives? Everything is changing.

When we embrace our own impermanence, we travel on a journey. The self is not a separate thing but a process…when we realize this, we see that there is always an opportunity to respond to a situation creatively.

Stop waiting for perfection. It’s not there. Don’t look for it, don’t expect it. Do not attach to it. That only brings suffering.

Be vulnerable to what’s happing now.

And Frank discusses Hope in this book. What is hope? Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation or desire for a certain thing, a feeling of trust.

What happens when what we hope for doesn’t happen? We are sad, unhappy, maybe frustrated.

What is Expectation “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.”

Should we hope for something or have an expectation for something?

I’ve always told my Tuesday Group that having expectations leaves us open for disappointments.

With hope, we have a feeling, we place that desire with feeling into the ethers and then let it go. We say, “this or something better”.

Believe in the blessing, that it will reveal itself. And then live your life without expectation.

Keys to the Kingdom,,,#6 & #7

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

We’ve had quite a journey so far, as we have used David Owen Ritz’s “Keys to the Kingdom” to guide us, and sometimes, cajole us, forward on our journey.

The Keys have taken us on this journey of discovery right from the beginning. Just as in any journey we choose to take, we must make the choice to start – that would be Key #1 – Make the Commitment. I know, I know…commitment is hard. We WANT to change, but that can be difficult.

We are ALL very capable of making the changes we want. It just takes some work. And commitment means responsibility. Yes, responsibility. One of the great things about Unity Principles is we need to do it…because no one else can do it for us.

So, we have put our big person pants on and commit to move forward!

And once we have made that choice to start, we envision what the journey would be like – Key #2 – Hold the Vision. We have committed to a new adventure. We are ready for a new ‘me’ or in your case, you.

How’s that vision coming along? Know what it is you desire? Know what you need to do to get it? Cool.

Key #3 – Build a New Awareness guides us to new frontiers. With that vision, we saw new ideas, a new way to look at things in our lives. We see what we can become when we open up to those new ideas.

But to be a part of the new, we had to review where we are now and see what we are holding onto because of fear, lack of self-esteem, and such. So, Key #4 –Make Room for the New means to clean out those closets and drawers. Go through the garage and basement too, and release anything no longer serving you.

Make room for the new…in every way.

And wouldn’t you know it, but we have to clean out the mental and emotional closets too. Yes, Key #5 Let go of the Past was last weeks’ Key to work on. THAT may have been the hardest. Forgiving not only others but yourself too.

Remember: Our past will be our future unless we release it!

We must be WILLING at the very least, to start the forgiveness process.

And maybe even “agreeing with your adversary” from the start, thus avoiding any situations that would result in having to forgive. Remember, ‘agreeing with your adversary’ means seeing the situation with new eyes, with love and acceptance. The ‘adversary’ is our own adverse thoughts about the person or situation.

  1. How have you noticed the past repeating itself in your own life?
    1. How would you define forgiveness?
    1. What aspect of your past or area of your life seems most difficult to release?
    1. How do you feel about the statement, “Money goes where it is loved?”
    1. Do you find forgiving yourself difficult? If so, how can you begin to forgive yourself?
    1. What conscious choices make you feel good about yourself?
    1. Which of the four stages of forgiveness is most difficult for you? Why?

So, now we are at Key #6 – Count Your Blessings.

The Law of Attraction states: Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind. So, if you wish to have good in your life, think good thoughts. That’s what gratitude is all about. Thinking good begets good. But you don’t think good to get good just for getting good…you think good to get good to share good too.

Got that?

Good.

Gratitude is more than just an emotion. Gratitude is a lot more than just a feeling that we may – or may not – have in “reaction” to the Good we see in our life. Gratitude is part of HOW we “create” the Good we see in our life – not just a “reaction” TO it!

GRATITUDE – Is one of the most powerful – strongest – most positive energies you can bring to your life. It’s creative energy. And when you bring THAT kind of powerful, celebratory energy of Gratitude to your life – you’re really focusing your “creative” energy!

Gratitude is an action word!

Emelie Caddy says, “Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of those around you.”

In a series of studies with hundreds of participants, those who had been randomly assigned to the gratitude section reported more happiness and joy, experienced fewer symptoms of physical illness, spent more time exercising, were more optimistic and satisfied with their lives, reported increased positive affect and decreased negative affect, were more likely to offer emotional support to others, felt an increased sense of connection with others, and even slept more hours and with a better quality of sleep each night.

WOW!

According to Jane Powell, one of the simplest ways to change your mood or mental outlook is to remind yourself of all the good things in your life.

Reflecting on how far you have come, what you have already accomplished, and what you have learned, can be very encouraging. Appreciating your dearest friends, your closest family members, your favorite possessions and of course, yourself can bring a smile to your face.

If you need a lift or an attitude adjustment, try to appreciate and reflect on the good things. Count your blessings. It can be done anytime and anyplace.

Writer, Melody Beattie, has a great quote summing it all up: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.

David Owen Ritz breaks it down to a very simple principle: “That which you focus and

dwell upon – with a feeling of love and gratitude – you will tend to multiply and attract.”

The things you focus your attention on … when you do that with the powerful feelings of Love and Gratitude … you will multiply and attract THAT kind of good into your life. That’s how we consciously use this power of Gratitude to “shape” our experience of life!

One of Charles Fillmore’s famous quotes is, “God’s greatest gift to man is the power of thoughts, through which he can incorporate into his consciousness the mind of God.”

The Divine wants only good for us, but we have to do our part…think good thoughts!

“What we often don’t recognize is that the failure to celebrate the abundance of life by giving thanks for it actually limits the abundance available to us. You don’t attract more good into your life by ignoring or complaining about what you already have. You attract more by focusing your creative energy on the good through the feeling and expression of gratitude.”

It’s simple – Everything responds to attention. We don’t attract GOOD into our life by

complaining! We attract it by focusing our creative energy through Gratitude! And not a

passive feeling of Gratitude, but a “dynamic” state of being in which we LIVE … a

“dynamic” energy that we bring to everything.

Think about the greatest manifester I know of; Jesus! He gave thanks BEFORE he did any of his works…the healing, the multiplying of loaves and fishes, the fishing nets over-flowing with fish! Praise and thanksgiving came BEFORE the act.

So how can we have a more gratitude filled life? David has 4 suggestions to what he calls Proactive Gratitude, or not being grateful but DOING grateful:

  1. BECOME CONSCIOUS OF THE GOOD IN YOUR LIFE … Instead of looking at the 90-95% of our lives that are just great, we focus on the 5-10% that maybe isn’t the best. If that small percentage is where we focus our attention, then THAT is where all the action is too!

What about all the good stuff that is going on? We want to become more conscious of the 90% that’s working for us.

That which you focus on with feeling of love and gratitude, will tend to multiply and attract.

So, when you go home, get 5 pieces of paper and go through the 5 areas of your life: Health – Finances – Relationships – Career & Creative Expression – and Personal & Spiritual Growth. List ALL the GOOD that you overlook. Write it down – look at it – notice it.

2. PRAISE THE GOOD IN YOUR LIFE … Praise that 90% in front of you. We often don’t ‘see’ what it right before us. Celebrate that Good. Praise is “active” appreciation and recognition. When you praise something – you lift it up – shine the light on it. Look at every little thing and say, “Wow! Life is Good!” Praise your good with your thoughts, words and deeds. Say, “Thank you God!” when good comes your way, no matter what! Your favorite shoes are on sale…thank you Divine Universe! In my case, the dogs let me sleep through the night…thank you God! And remember, Love is a verb, so show that special person in your life how much you appreciate them on every day in some way. Gratitude in action.

  1. The kids called, surprise! thank you!
  2. Got a good parking place…Thank you Spirit!
  3. Coupon for favorite pizza!…thank You Divine Universe!

Don’t be afraid to tell people how Good your life is! When someone asks, “How are you?’ how do you respond? Maybe here is where you can say how you REALLY are! Believe IT – celebrate your good life.

Change the way you think and talk about your life – to others and to yourself.

Here’s a little trick to use in your Finances – when you write a check for a bill do an affirmation to celebrate the fact that you have the money to pay that bill: “I give thanks for the abundance that is mine to share!” is a good affirmation to write in the memo part of the check. Or you can simply write down TYG! – Thank You God! It makes you consciously celebrate that Good! Find ways to Praise and Celebrate your Good!

3) SHARE YOUR GOOD WITH OTHERS … When you find yourself with this incredible abundance – what’s your natural reaction? To share it with everyone – to give it away. Express your gratitude by helping others. Don’t pass up an opportunity to give – don’t pass up an opportunity to serve – don’t pass up an opportunity to prosper other people! And when you give – serve – prosper other people, that’s a statement about YOUR prosperity!

David Own Ritz says: “If you help people get what they want out of life, you’ll get what you want. That’s the way spiritual law works.” Give it away, share it … for in giving it away, you get more!

4) LOOK FOR THE GOOD IN EVERY THING … Remember that 10% that we talked about earlier? In every growth opportunity in your life there are undiscovered gifts hidden within, a hidden potential for you. And the bigger the growth opportunity – the bigger the gift is! Don’t look at something that seems negative as something to hold you down or back, but rather as something that has within it the wisdom and the growth necessary to become even more abundant – more prosperous – moving you into your greatest Possibility!

When you name the negative GOOD, even though it may not look that way, you’re calling forth that greater Possibility – you’re opening your mind & heart to accept the Good that’s there!

I like to say, and I have no idea if I read or saw this somewhere – but we have a choice to ask WHAT in place of WHY when something happens. What can I do to make this better in place of why did this happen?

EMMA CURTIS HOPKINS, one of the early New Thought teachers of the late 1800’s – had a wonderful affirmation. She said when you’re going through life and there in your path there’s a big blob of “negativity” … don’t steer away – don’t look the other way – don’t pretend it’s not there – don’t complain about it. LOOK it in the eye and you say this: “This too is Good. This too is God. This too is for me. I demand to see the blessing in it!”

“This too is Good” – means it may not look like Good, but I know there’s Good in there

somewhere …” I know there’s a pony in here someplace.”

“This too is God” – this came from the same Creative Power as everything else … it’s up to me to make good from it.

“This too is for me” – means I know it’s there to serve me ultimately so I’m not going to turn it away …

“I demand to see the blessing in it” – means I’m going to call forth that Good!

This is a perfect example of PROACTIVE GRATITUDE! – It is not just being grateful – it’s DOING Gratitude.

You might want to start practicing Proactive Gratitude by making a “Gratitude List.” Or my practice is ending my day by listing what I am grateful for from the day.

We have added a Gratitude Jar to our information table. There are slips of paper available for you to write down things, persons, happenings that you are grateful for and place them in the jar.

Sometime in the future…. we will look at them and share the gratitude again. So, spend time examining your life closely and write down the things you notice and appreciate. Place them in the gratitude jar with love and feelings of gratefulness.

We will ALL benefit from your blessings.

This week we are concluding this series, so we’ll also discuss Key #7, “Live in the FLOW”.

David Owen Ritz has given us 6 keys that if we follow the first 6, the 7th kay will be realized.

Our goal has been a greater awareness of the Kingdom of Heaven. I have said, and firmly believe that the path to a greater awareness of this goal is by knowing ourselves. It is in knowing who we truly are that we discover the inner Christ consciousness.

David believes any one of the 7 keys can have a profound effect on us but taken together-they have the potential to transform each of us and change the way we live our very lives.

When we started this series, we mentioned the word commitment, do you recall what came to mind then? Did you really feel what it means to commit? We’re way past trying now. This is Master Yoda reminding us, “It’s either do or not do…there is no trying.”

Commitment is total and absolute. “The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved, the pig is committed.” Martina Navratilova

You have made an inner choice to realize the Presence of the Divine in your life. Have you tried to go back?

You can’t. Once we made this start on our journey, you can’t forget what you have discovered.

Remember what we learned from Emma Curtis Hopkins…when you’re going through life and there in your path is a big blob of ‘negativity’, don’t steer away-don’t look the other way-don’t pretend it’s not there-don’t complain about it. LOOK it in the eye and say: “This too is Good’ This too is God.”

This too is Good – means it may not look like good but I know there’s good in there somewhere.

This too is God – this came from the same Creative Power as everything else…it’s up to me to make good from it.  And THAT is the key.

This too is for me – means I know it’s there to serve me ultimately so I’m not going to turn away.

I demand to see the blessing in it means I’m going to call forth that good!

Remember your vision. The Kingdom holds a field of infinite possibilities. You choose what and how much of those possibilities to allow in your life.

You will not rise higher than your vision…don’t shortchange yourself.

Charles Fillmore: “Some persons are like fish in the sea, saying; ‘Where is the water?’ in the presence of spiritual abundance…plenty is here, all around, and when you have opened the eyes of Spirit in yourself, you will see it and rejoice.”

“Know the Truth and it will set you free.” John 8:32

And as we learn the Truth of who and what we are, we discover that giving is what keeps us in the flow, the Omnipresent Source. Those who are givers have learned to allow God to work through them.

The Spiritual Law of Circulation works – what you give out comes back to you in kind. You do not know how or when or by whom, but it comes back. Spirit responds to the vacuum you create through your unconditional giving.”

The word, the feeling, unconditional, comes into play with forgiveness too, we have discovered that we cannot come into the full realization of the presence of God in our daily lives if the unhealed pain and resentment of the past color our perception. And so, we must release the energy of the past, we just let it go. And thus, we open our awareness of the rich abundance available to us through Divine Spirit.

With all these Keys we enter the higher state of being that we have all been searching for. That connection within is behind the longing that caused us to search for places kike Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware,

When you are in the flow you become part of the natural order of creation. David says it this way, “You are made in the image and likeness of God. Its Spirit is your Spirit. Its Life is your Life. The abundant nature of God is also your abundant nature.”

This is true prosperity consciousness! Can you say, I AM ABUNDANT!

Be conscious of the words you are placing behind the words, I AM; because you are claiming that quality as a part of God, as a part of you.

SO, who do you want to claim to be?

 This weeks’ questions:

  1. How have you noticed your sense of freedom, abundance, and personal empowerment changing over the last few weeks?
    1. Have you been feeling a deeper sense of gratitude before now?
    1. In which area of your life do you most often overlook the good? Why do you think you do this?
    1. How can you actively praise the good things in your life in a way that is meaningful for you?
    1. How do you feel about sharing your good? Do you sometimes have a fear of not having enough?
    1. What is the biggest problem or challenge facing you right now? How can you call forth the good hidden in this challenge?
    1. Can you see how your past problems and challenges may have affected your life in a positive way?

Meditation   

“Keys to the Kingdom – Let Go of the Past”

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

“Keys to the Kingdom – an advanced course in prosperity consciousness building”

Are you ready for Key #5? The first 4 have been relatively easy. Well, maybe not the Commitment one…but visioning and clearing out for the new? Piece of cake, right?

Visioning may seem easy, until we ask that all important question—What do I REALLY want?

And clearing out may seem a piece of cake, until we hold one or two items or people in our minds and hearts, and ask; Are we REALLY ready to let that go?

Remember, The Law of Circulation responds when you clear out the old energy and make room for the new.

I KNOW you ALL are doing well with your Keys…all in good time, RIGHT?

Keep in mind: The reality is that, noticed or not, every conscious act that gives witness to new possibilities and greater awareness contributes to the transformation of the whole.

There is no insignificant thought, word, or action. Each act of courage and strength shifts the energy and increases the potential for others to become aware, too.

No matter what we do, we are always affecting the energy around us, in either a negative or positive way.

Why should we not then become aware of our power and choose consciously rather than unconsciously how we will shape our world?

But before we more on, let’s review last weeks’ questions…

  1. How does this understanding of impersonal spiritual law feel to you?
  2. What evidence have you seen of spiritual law operating in your life before now?
  3. How would you define the Law of Circulation in your own words?
  4. Do you find yourself holding on to things you no longer need? If so, what feelings or beliefs do you think lie behind this behavior?
  5. Are you comfortable and confident in your handling and management of your money? If not, what feelings or beliefs do you think lie behind this behavior?
  6. Have you ever written down a foal before? If so, how did it work for you?

OK. Let’s move on to the next Key… We get into the biggie…. FORGIVENESS. Yep. The 5th Key, Let Go of the Past might just be the hardest for many of us.

And why is that? You tell me…why do you hold onto hurts, regrets, guilt, and resentments from, most often, years ago?

Dr. Phil would say we are getting something back. Wonder what it could be that would have us hold on to hurt, resentment, regrets, or guilt for years?

When you release something, let it go… you create increased FLOW in your life by doing that! Release the negative energy that’s blocking the flow.

When you forgive you release the energy of the past – you move the old negative energy out of the way and make room for a greater possibility. It’s like cleaning out your closets. Well, you have an “emotional” closet too, filled with stuff that no longer serves your good.

David Owen Ritz says: “For many people, the past is not completely in the past. Perhaps the actual experiences of earlier months or years have long been left behind. However, the energy of the past is still quite active in our lives as regret, judgment, guilt, and resentment. Just as false beliefs formed in the past create present circumstances and conditions, so does this energy from the past help to shape present experiences.”

Our past will be our future unless we release it!

A Course in Miracles says we need to “Realize that what you thought happened, never really happened.”

Byron Katie, in “The Works” asks, “Is it true?” Is whatever happened still true today? No…whatever happened, happened in the past. Why bring it up again and again?

We are the only animal that does that, by the way, reliving the past again and again, holding onto hurts. We can learn a lot from nature!

We must realize and accept that we are not all-knowing. Sorry to break it to you all. But often what we thought happened didn’t really happen. So, release it.

Research tells us we are wired for revenge and forgiveness, and we have the capacity to choose either response. And we have free will…why choose revenge?

It’s like the Native American story about the two wolves inside us, which one we feed determines which one wins. It’s always about choice.

Researchers are specific about how they define forgiveness when studying its effects on our well-being and happiness. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky calls forgiveness “a shift in thinking” toward someone who has harmed you. It has nothing to do with reconciliation, forgetting, excusing or justice. When you are ready, forgiveness is a powerful choice you can make that can lead to greater well-being and relationships. This choice carries with it an intention to heal yourself.

Emilie Cady, Unity author, defines forgiveness in Lessons in Truth this way: “To forgive does not simply mean to arrive at a place of indifference to those who do personal injury to us; it means far more than this. To forgive is to give for—to give some actual, definite good in return for (perceived wrong- doing).”

Our inner Buddha/Christ/Goddess/Higher Being wants to be whole.   So, eventually, we come to the choice point where something has to give. Either we work on forgiveness, or we get the Spiritual 2x 4.

As long as we hold on to “victim thinking,” we are giving away our power to the kinds of people and things that bind us to our painful yesterdays.

Having trouble getting to forgiveness?

Our minds instantly form opinions and characterizations about other people. But our hearts have a different way of knowing. Can we forgive from our hearts even if our minds don’t want us to?

Maria Nemeth believes so. Her book, ‘The Energy of Money’, includes a powerful forgiveness exercise. We move toward forgiveness by being willing. Being willing to be led by our hearts and not the chatter from our minds is a powerful way to release our negative assessments of others. Being willing to give good to others, no matter what, is a powerful practice and a skill that will transform anger into something more productive. Who doesn’t have opinions about the way they were raised? Or how their children act? Or why lovers leave them? Let’s be here now, in this moment, creating a better story for a future filled with hope and promise. Being willing is a start that we all can do.

Lewis Smedes says, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to realize that prisoner is you.” He also says, “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of the past into a hope for the future.”

WHAT EXACTLY IS FORGIVENESS? – It’s “Letting Go.” Letting go of that which no longer serves you – that which is no longer useful to where you are today in your life. You choose to put it behind you – release it – let it go so you can move on.

1) Forgiveness is NOT forgetting … Forgetting is the END result of forgiveness and is possible only after we have first let go!

2) Forgiveness is NOT denying what happened – or your feelings about it … Have the feelings – but don’t get stuck there! Remember – no camping in the valley!

3) Forgiveness is NOT excusing the other person or his or her actions … Inappropriate and hurtful behavior – is always inappropriate and hurtful behavior. . .Forgiveness is saying, “I choose to leave this behind and move on!”

4) Forgiveness is NOT reconciliation … It might be the result of forgiveness, but it is not necessary for forgiveness!

FORGIVENESS IS –

1) Unconditional … It needs to be freely given as a “gift” – not an “exchange.”

2) Something You Do for Yourself … You forgive because YOU don’t want to carry that energy around with you anymore; you don’t want to re-live the pain; or have that energy affect your life today and shape your tomorrow.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO FORGIVE? – Look everywhere, but here are the five places we most commonly hold energy around according to David. . .Examine the energy you hold around:

1) Your parents and your childhood … Do you hold resentment – wishing things could have been different? Are you holding pain that hasn’t been healed? Do you really want that creating today’s experience – and tomorrows?

2) Your family and/or children … Do you judge or have trouble accepting things about them? Have you forgiven mistakes made in the past? Ask: “Would my relationship be different with them today if I let that energy go?”

3) Your mate or your ex-spouse … Do you have unresolved hurt or resentment or judgments that you’re holding on to? Do you really want that energy in your life today?

4) Your own past behavior and choices … Do you have guilt over mistakes you made? We did the best we could at the time. Stop judging yourself!

5) Your job and your life circumstances … Do you wish your life had been different?

Let that go and maybe you’d be more empowered to create the kind of life you DO want!

David Owen Ritz tells us: “The person who most needs your forgiveness is YOU! You must love yourself and forgive yourself in order to step into that place of “Living in the Flow.”

It is difficult to forgive others when we are filled with self-condemnation and guilt.

To forgive our past is to view our lives from a different perspective, from the perspective of love. When we look at ourselves through the eyes of love, we see that every experience, every person has been a part of our souls’ unfoldment.

The way we reacted to life yesterday is perhaps not the way we would choose to act today. However, each new day, each new moment is an opportunity to choose again.

If we had a friend who had made some mistakes in the past but was today living a good life, would we constantly be reminding that friend of his or her past behavior? Of course, we wouldn’t, so why do we do this to ourselves? Guilt binds, confines, and keeps us from a creative future.

Forgiveness is a process – It takes time – David has it in four distinct stages:

1) DISCOVERY … Before you can forgive anything, you must become AWARE of what happened – and the pain it caused you.

2) DECISION … Forgiveness begins when you choose, “I no longer want this in my life!

It’s time to let it go; to put it behind me; to forgive; and move on with my life.” When you make that choice, the work of forgiveness starts.

3) CHANGING YOUR MIND … The work of forgiveness is in “changing” how you “think” about the matter and the people involved. . .This is about seeing it differently, from a higher perspective. Then we can see the hidden truth of the matter.

4) MOVING ON … In every hurt there’s a hidden gift of growth – of greater Possibility. Every painful and seeming limiting circumstance in life is really an opportunity for greater awareness, a growth opportunity. And when we see it – we can MOVE ON!

Invite your inner self to show you the energy of the past that’s still with you. When you’re AWARE of it – write it down, you are WILLING to forgive. Let the act of writing it down be that 2nd step – the CHOICE to let it go, the willingness – to let LOVE FLOW. Then begin to reframe it – CHANGE YOUR MIND about it: “I AM ready to Let Go of the past. . .I AM ready to Forgive. . .I AM ready to Free myself. . .I AM READY TO LOVE and to MOVE ON!” Thank you, Divine Spirit!

It is only through forgiveness that we can find freedom and wholeness.

When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Mt. 18:21-22 RSV).

Forgive yourself as often as you would others.

And here is another thought – How much better to bless things and people as the situations occur, rather than wait to act as a last resort. This is why Jesus advised us to quickly agree with our adversary. This is often misunderstood as a sign of weakness. But you see, to agree as Jesus used the term does not mean to give in even if it goes against your best interest or highest ideals. In Jesus’ usage the word adversary refers not to a person but to your adverse thought about a person. Thus, to “agree with” means to “settle with,” to deal creatively with the situation—to bless it and let it go…

He says that if you come to the altar to pray and you remember that you have something against your sister or brother, you should first go and make up with them and then come with your gift. In other words, if you are blocking the flow by your resentment or bitterness, not even God can break through with the good you desire.

In “The Lord’s Prayer” Jesus says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt. 6:12). This does not imply bargaining with God. God makes no deals. It means that we must give way to receive. We must let go of indignation and offense if we want to loosen the restrictions in our lives. Something’s got to give. There is a great probability that in the case of physical or mental or financial problems in our life, there is some kind of rancor or bitterness or memory of wrong in our consciousness. Something’s got to give.

There’s that spiritual 2×4 again!

Imelda Shanklin, one of Unity’s great teachers, gives an important prayer test. She says, in effect, “Father forgive me for expecting in the human that which is found only in the divine.”

Our Divine self is perfect…our human self is working on it. Perhaps forgiveness is something we can put forth to work on as we move away from the pandemic ‘pause’.

Here are this weeks’ questions:

  1. How have you noticed the past repeating itself in your own life?
    1. How would you define forgiveness?
    1. What aspect of your past or area of your life seems most difficult to release?
    1. How do you feel about the statement, “Money goes where it is loved?”
    1. Do you find forgiving yourself difficult? If so, how can you begin to forgive yourself?
    1. What conscious choices make you feel good about yourself?
    1. Which of the four stages of forgiveness is most difficult for you? Why?