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Monthly Archives: December 2021

Burning Bowl Ceremony


It’s so good to see you this morning. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Whether it was with family or friends, or our furry angels in disguise, I pray it was just what you wanted and needed this year.

Today is an important Ceremony for us, as we leave the past year behind us and prepare for the new year to come. I hope you have been searching your heart for what needs to be released today. As we release what no longer serves our growth or our soul’s growth, we enjoy freedom. Freedom from attachments and from suffering over things in the past that are no longer true. Remember, there is only the NOW. Living in the Now is all we have. It is there we find freedom. Freedom from the heavy weight of not forgiving ourselves and others.

‘Attachment is the source of all suffering.’ Buddha

We all yearn for that freedom. Our yearning is the Divine within us all, waiting for us to open to the light and grace that is ours to behold.

Burning Bowl

The Burning Bowl Ceremony is all about releasing; meaning to set free. Anytime you want to clear out unwanted memories and conditions from your life, a burning bowl ritual offers a sacred and powerful way to release negativity.

The goal of the burning bowl ritual is to make space for new beginnings. It can be done at any place, at home alone or in a gathering like this, with others.

For centuries, indigenous groups used smoke as a symbol of their thoughts and prayers rising to the Great Spirit. Even engaged couples have also released the past in a burning bowl before taking their vows.

Whatever the circumstances, the purpose of the ceremony is to shift consciousness. It’s about becoming still, naming what you want to release, and letting it go.

When we let go and let God, we experience freedom. Letting go opens us to the power of inspiration, insight, wisdom, and love.

AS you bring to mind what it is you need to release, Let the feelings come to you

Lao Tsu, wrote in the Tao Te Ching: “In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired. In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.”

It is your conscious awareness that begins the activation of the release of problems, thoughts, and things from your life.

Describe the events as much or as little as you want. It can be as simple as a name or word, or more in-depth. Let your heart open to the flow as it releases old wounds, negativity, or unhealthy thought patterns. 

 Fire is the symbol of transformation. The use of a Burning Bowl Ceremony can be a transformative ritual. to release old wounds, disappointments, unfulfilled expectations or mistakes that might be holding us back.

For those of you at home, if fire is not safe for where you are, use water, it has cleansing attributes too.

Many of us (if not all of us) have things that seem to cling to us and hold us back. Attachments.  It could be something that someone has said to us, or unfortunate events that we’ve experienced, inappropriate reactions, uninspiring thoughts, outdated ideas that have served their purpose in the past, but which now serve no useful purpose, or it could be the negativity we hold, etc. All these seem to cling to us, and other things, too, and can hold us back from being who we are meant to be.

Our reactions to life events, if we’re not careful, can become something like a weight that clings to us, that weighs us down, but it is so subtle sometimes, or we’re so used to the same actions and reactions, that we are hardly conscious of it.

“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

It’s a celebration of the end of all that is holding us back, and the release into something new.

I hope you share with me the new you that you are sensing, seeing, as it comes into fruition.

Then, when you are ready, on a piece of paper, write down your release. Letting go begins the moment you put pen to paper.

As you watch the paper burn, visualize your unwanted thoughts rising up in the smoke, being released from you.

Allow yourself to experience whatever you are feeling: fear, anxiety, sadness, loss, gratitude. Let the feelings lift as the fire consumes your paper.


 As the smoke travels up, say words of letting go such as:

“Easily, gracefully, I release the past so that I am free in this moment.”

Please, only one person at the Bowl at a time for safety. Give the person ahead of you space for their release.

We sit in quiet contemplation as we wait for the folks to complete their release.

Once you have completed the ritual, now is a good time to consider the future.  to visualize what you want to take the place of what has been released. What do you want to experience in life now? How do you want it to take shape?

Write your intentions  for the new year.

As we write, be aware of your words.

we can let go of those words that have kept us back from our full potential. Words like can’t and try. We know that Yoda loves to say: “Do or don’t do, there is no try.”

“Trying” prevents us from ever achieving our goal. “Try” is a word that signals commitment avoidance, lack of confidence, and it undermines our success.

Another word to release: “need”, as in “I need to do X.” Use “choose” instead, because “choose” takes the activity from the realm of mandatory into the realm of choice, where it belongs.

”Want” is another word to release. Remember in the book, “Conversations with God,” it is made clear that we cannot have what we “want”, as long as we want, we acknowledge lack. So, instead of saying “I want X,” say “I choose X.”

Maybe you have a habit of saying “It’s always something” or other phrases that we say without thinking…. “This is just like pulling teeth”, “I don’t believe it”, “It’s too good to be true.”

It’s time to think before we say things out of habit.

Eliminate the words “ought,” & “should.” Use ‘choose’ in their place.

Remember; “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi

That works for all our good. That is whet we did with the fire and now we write our intentions to do our part to manifest our future.

When you have completed your letter, place it in an envelope, address it to yourself and we will mail it to you next June. If at home, place the letter some place out of the way and make a note on your calendar to read it on a day of your choosing, but at least 3-4 months away. I like June because it gives us plenty of time to do what is ours to do.


Joy in Autumn


Welcome to our 4th Sunday of Advent, Joy.  Now all our candles are lit. Hope/Faith, Peace, Love and now, Joy.

I hope as we have brought each candle to life, you too, were feeling that emotion? And maybe, sharing that feeling with a season, it made it even more memorial.

Let’s get to the Joy in Autumn.

We all have experienced ‘growth opportunities’ with this pandemic and all that it has brought to us. I say growth opportunities because if we look back, we are bound to have learned a lesson or two, maybe more, that will aid us in our future.

We certainly learned a lot here at the Spiritual Center… how to do Services virtually and all the different ways we could reach out to our people and the greater community.

And, spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes, physically, we’ve learned a lot too. Many of us are still working through some of those issues. Please reach out to me, or the prayer chaplains, if you could use a helping hand.

When we light the Advent candle for joy, we remind ourselves of the spiritual truth of this season: “Unto us a child is born.”

In telling the Christmas story, the Gospel writers remind us that when things seem darkest, joy can come in unexpected places and small packages.

Children are great reminders to us of the joy of playing, giving, learning, and loving. In the presence of such joy, our inner child can awaken our Christ nature and then we are reborn in the teachings of our brother and way-shower, Jesus.

Joy is almost contagious. If you feel joy spreading out from your friends and family, it’s very difficult to fight it. It spreads from within, soon to fill you with feeling joyful along with them.

Christmas is not an event that happens only in December or 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. Christmas happens as we open to the possibility of hope, when we live in the understanding of peace, and when we give and receive love.

The joy that is Christmas—the birth of the Christ, happens all the time, every minute of every day. It happens when we smile as we pass our neighbors, as we let a driver in the flow of traffic, when we open the door for a stranger, when we buy a cup of coffee for the next person in line, when we hold a pet close to our hearts. It happens in so many ways when we open our hearts, as they naturally spread love to our world.

As the days get shorter and darkness seems to close in, we light the candle for joy to remind ourselves of the power and presence within us. Then we celebrate the season with newfound glee. Keeping our hearts open, keeping connected to our higher power within, this is Christmas.

Joy to the world, the Savior is here and has been here all along, the Christ within us all. We are our saviors, each individual one of us as we open our hearts to the Divine within us. We are made in the image & likeness of the Creator. When we get connected and keep connected, we save ourselves by being One with all.

I truly believe Happiness can fade, but joy does not. Joy comes from a deeper, more profound place of connection with the Divine in all its expressions.

Most of us want more joy and happiness and, in our humanness, we are often deluded into looking for it from things and people outside of us. But joy is within, and it’s always there. There is no ‘more joy’ it’s just us, letting it shine through.

In The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama explains how to cultivate joy.

“Joy is the reward, really, of seeking to give joy to others. When you show compassion, when you show caring, when you show love to others, do things for others, in a wonderful way you have a deep joy that you can get in no other way. You can’t buy it with money. You can be the richest person on Earth, but if you care only about yourself, I can bet my bottom dollar you will not be happy and joyful. But when you are caring, compassionate, more concerned about the welfare of others than about your own, wonderfully, wonderfully, you suddenly feel a warm glow in your heart, because you have, in fact, wiped the tears from the eyes of another.” 

Joy can be felt in a connection with other people, with nature, and with other beings. It is the wonder, the delight, the welling up of loving energy—so that we feel our connection with God in all its forms—that brings forth the light of the soul as joy. It can be the joy of the first snowfall, the first signs of spring, the birth of a child, the stars at night. It is seeing the miracle of life and celebrating it.

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

And since God is everywhere present, that joy can be brought forth just by noticing, and appreciating what is all around you.

And that is how we can associate autumn with joy.

Close your eyes for a moment. Now connect with your inner child and recall the joy you felt as you walked through the leaves that have fallen, going out of your way to kick them up in the air. I actually do this when I walk the dogs, there one area when the road is filled with the leave from the nearby trees. I try not to kick the leaves too much, don’t want the leaves too far out on the road, they can be dangerous for bikers.

Or recall jumping into the big pile that was just raked together by Mom or Dad or big brother or sister. The laughter following you as you sink into the center, maybe your dog joining you barking and running over and over again.

Maybe you even did this as a young adult too. Not so much now for me, but many of you can still replay that scene and be able to get up again!

That is joy.

Autumn is also a teacher of change. School and work resume, and soon the year begins to wind down. Following the harvest, the growing season ends, and we enter a period of slowing down. The autumnal equinox is a perfect time to meditate on balance.

Autumn invites you to reflect on your priorities. It’s an opportunity for metamorphosis, a chance to liberate yourself from outdated beliefs, resentments, or relationships. Ask yourself, “What are my burdens? How can I release them?” Autumn offers a deeper experience of your own transformation and spirituality.

As the leaves flutter from the branches, we too can let go of those people, places, things, events that no longer serve us. And when we finally let go of that pain, that thought, that scene locked in our mind, we will feel joy bubbling from within because you have taken a step toward freedom from your past. A step to wholeness on this physical plane.

We’ll prepare for the Burning Bowl in a couple of weeks. Keep in mind what you wish to release.

SO yes, Autumn is a season of change. And if we use it as an example, we can note how easy it is to change. It’s letting go and letting God. The seasons are governed by the laws of our planet’s tilt with regards to the sun.

If we would go with the flow, so to speak, as our seasons do, we would BE the spiritual person filled with love that we truly are. Easy, right? Unfortunately, & fortunately, we have choice, free will. That can mess us up and our spiritual journey thrown off course just as it provides us with opportunities to grow.

When we notice nature, as we have through this Advent Season, we can see that following the flow of natural law would be a great way to keep us on the spiriual path through all seasons, no matter the ‘growth opportunity’.

We have seen an example of transformation with each season, with each Advent …..

Autumn, one of learning to let go when it’s right, winter; a time to go within and allow transformation to take its place in our being, spring; a time for planting our new seeds of being who we want to be, summer; growth but also fun, leisure time, warmth.

The Peace of Winter, December 5, 2021


The Peace of Winter

Welcome back to our Sunday Celebration, anticipating the coming Birth & rebirth of The Christ, the Child, and the essence of that Child within each and everyone.

This morning, we light the second candle of Advent, this one representing Peace.

“Peace isn’t something you have to search for or create. It is always present. Available the very instant we stop fighting and accept what is.” Rev. Michael Gott

Rev. Teresa Burton says, in the booklet, “A Christmas to Remember”: “Peace is presence. Peace is attention. Peace is not getting rattled over things that don’t really matter.”

And in Job 22:21; “Agree with God and be at peace; in this way goodwill will come to you.”

Those statements follow a story Rev. Burton talks about trying to do everything and be everything during the time leading up to Christmas. Isn’t that what we so often do? Buy the presents, wrap the presents, bake the cookies, make the special dinners.

In my family, with a strong Italian heritage on my mother’s side, we would often spend so much time baking and cooking, little time was left for the fun things…getting together with family on both parents’ sides. Traditionally, Christmas eve was spent with my Grandparents on my mother’s side.  We would travel to their house in the next town and as soon as you opened the door, that wonderful aroma would fill us with anticipation.  The long table was filled with all things Italian and the small home with many, many relatives.

After my grandparents passed, my mother did a smaller version of that Italian celebration. So many things to make and bake and cook, not to mention the shopping. Special sausage from the cousin’s store. Special mincemeat from another.

And of course, the gift shopping…and wrapping.

Christmas day was spent with family on my father’s side. Not as much special preparation, but still time consuming with the cooking and visiting.

And of course, it all had to be perfect. I don’t know about my grandmother, but my mother placed a lot of pressure on herself for everything to be as ‘right’ as possible. I guess she compared herself to her mother as many of us do to our own…is the pie crust good, my sauce was never as good as hers, she liked her sand tarts thin while like a little more cookie!

One thing she did do, as the years went by, she adjusted what needed to be on the Christmas Eve table, so she could handle it and she finally allowed us to help. My grandmother would never have settled for that!

Still, Where’s the time to truly prepare for the coming of the Christ Child? How do we fit in the preparation of our hearts and minds for this important reminder that we are of God, that all-encompassing Spirit of power, and truth, and knowing?

Now think about winter.

Not about the cold winds, and wet, blowing rain. No. Think of the quiet, peaceful presence of perfect white snow, lying everywhere you look. Step outside and just listen. No cars, no snowblowers yet. Just the peaceful presence of a noiseless moment in time. If you’re lucky, it will be more than a few moments.

Just stillness, and peace.

Take a deep breath. It’s almost like the air is cleaner during this part of winter.

WINTER is a going Inward time, a time for sensing our Truth.

From “Folklore, Customs, Legends and Mythology.The winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this is a period of descent and rest, of going within our homes, within ourselves and taking in all that we have been through, all that has passed in this full year which is coming to a close… like nature and the animal kingdom around us, this time of hibernation is so necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds.

Our modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, comfort food and consumerism.

And yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing is strong and the weather so bitter that people are left feeling that winter is hard, because for those of us without burning fires and big festive families, it can be lonely and isolating. Whereas in actual fact winter is kind, she points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards this annual time of peace and reflection, embracing the darkness and forgiving, accepting and loving embracing goodbye the past year.

“Winter takes away the distractions, the buzz, and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire & light to our hearth”.

.. and then, just around the corner the new year will begin again, and like a seed planted deep in the earth, we will all rise with renewed energy once again to dance in the sunlight

Winter welcomes you to quiet your mind, be still, and listen. It is associated with the element water and its properties of conserving energy and tranquility. Sounds about right.

During the dark of winter, icy winds blow. Trees become dormant. Bears and other animals hibernate. Did you know chipmunks hibernate?

Sometimes we feel like hibernating! And many do, in a sense. We tend to stay home more, snuggle up with a blanket and a good book, maybe a cup of hot tea or chocolate…don’t forget the tiny marshmallows!

We dress in colorful sweaters, layering up with the thought of layering down when necessary. We even dress up our dogs in sweaters to keep them warm when it is really cold outside. pic

What other things are on your favorites list?

Winter is exciting because it takes you to your depths. You reflect on your progress and areas that need growth.

We have the Burning Bowl in a few weeks, a time of reflecting on what no longer serves us. An opportunity to leave behind us people, situations, experiences that we have resolved with our inner work and can now release and move forward.

And after that we look to our future with the White Stone Ceremony, listening for our word or phrase that will be our strength and guidance for the new year.

The letter we then write, going into some detail about what we are looking to accomplish in the new year is the next activity as we look to what might be in this new year. It might be associated to the word or phrase you received for your White Stone, or something altogether different. Maybe your goals for the new year.

Still, it’s something to look forward to, when our letters arrive in June, or if you are at home, something you will bring out and read on the date noted on your calendar.

Inspiration can and most often does, come from the dark days of winter. As a former gardener, one of the things I loved to do, and most avid gardeners did also, was ordering the gardening catalogs and planning our gardens. The BURPEE catalog was my favorite. It is always filled with wonderful photos of the new and favorite flowers and plants. They even include some designs to inspire our imagination. I might just order one again and dream a little….

In every process of change, there is a season of winter in which hidden progress is taking place as our prayers are answered in their right time and way. It is up to us to nourish the work we are working on with quiet time, introspective time, prayer, meditation & contemplation time.

As I suggested last week, we all may want to make time for prayer, meditation, contemplation during advent as we anticipate the Birth of the Christ Child and our own rebirth, acknowledging our true selves…of God, in God…all One.

Let’s make a point to prioritize our preparation for the coming renewal, for the coming of the Christ Child, our own rebirth.

Summer and love


Welcome back to our Sunday Service. We are on the third week of Advent. We have lit the candles for Hope & Faith, for Peace, and now we light the candle for Love. Notice, it’s a different color than the others.

Why do you think that is?


This week we are looking at summer through the eyes, experience, thoughts of love.

Summer has always been considered the most romantic of the four seasons. The clear skies, the blazing sun, the gentle summer breeze, and the lazy afternoons flavor the season with passion and warm love.

So our Advent message: Summer and love

All the time I have been thinking about Love and summer, my mind goes to GREASE…’summer loving…you don’t want to hear me sing it! But Grease is one of my favorite movies. Are you singing that song in your head?? I’ve been all week!

So much of our teen years were wrapped up in the wonder of a summer romance. Dances at outdoor venues, beach or pool antics. Walks in the park. In my area, going to Hershey Park for all the rides and entertainment.

And all that is fun to reminisce about. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately, reliving some fun times.

But love and summer don’t just mean walking hand and hand with a person your heart is interested in.

Think about all the places, people and things we love about summer. Here’s an easy start, the beach…nothing like walking along the beach, cool breeze keeping us from the heat of the day.

My family would vacation at the beach with sometimes 4 other families from my father’s side. We’d rent a big house just a few blocks from the beach and share the meals and responsibilities. Our place to go was North Wildwood. So much fun. Pack a lunch and all the chairs and towels, walk the couple blocks and someone would be there by 10 to stake out our spot.

As the morning went on, everyone would end up there for the day. Playing in the waves, waiting for the ice cream man to come around, spending time with cousins and aunts and uncles. These were some of my favorite memories, when we spent time together.

When I was young, I liked the heat. Not so much now, too many heat waves…climate has changed and continues to do so.

Still. Lots to be loving in summer. Look at the abundance in the fields. Love walking through the Farmers Markets, looking for that perfect tomato, or more plants for your garden.

And flowers…who doesn’t love flowers, whether inside making the house smell wonderful. Or outside, beautiful flowers for sight and smell and for the food and habitat of the animals and insects.

Summer is the season with the most ‘light’ and is often symbolized by the sun and the fire element. Summer offers you the special gift of playfulness. It invites you to lighten up. It’s vacation time; school is out. You can laugh more and worry less.

DO you do that? Lighten up? Worry less?

But, if I wander through my favorite Holiday movies that would embody love, I would have to think of when Rudolph leads Santa and his reindeer to the Island of Misfit Toys because what I’m really witnessing is love in action. I feel happy when Ebenezer Scrooge meets Christmas morning with outpourings of generosity to those he had spurned just the day before. Christmas Present – “Come and know me better…” And I feel the same when George Bailey’s friends rush to his aid, and Harry raises his glass and says, “A toast: To my big brother, George, the richest man in town,” because I’m witnessing the transformational power of love, just like Rev. Theresa Burton tells us in the Unity booklet, “A Christmas to Remember.”

She continues, “We have in common the love that elevates us beyond personality and self-centered concern, allowing us to be the vessels through which divine love expresses. To see someone through the eyes of love—to finally see ourselves that way—truly is a Christmas miracle.”

We often forget that love is a verb. Oh yes, most of us think of love as a noun, a thing. Or a feeling, I love you.

But we must put action behind those statements. Rudolph is putting action to his love of the misfit toys, understanding their plight because he experienced it too. He makes sure they get a home with a child. Action.

And Ebenezer Scrooge puts action immediately, not only dancing around in his night clothes, but putting the passing boy to the job and purchasing the prize turkey for the Cratchet family and then swallowing his pride, his ego; and going to his nephew Fred’s house for dinner. Steps of action.

And finally, George Bailey tried everything to find the missing $5000, even swallowing his pride and going to Mr. Potter. Those were all actions of love, taking responsibility for his family. And his family returned that love in the end, helping to gather the town to aid him and everyone dropped what they were doing to help him. I cry every time. This is one of the movies I watch every year…I have a list!

We have an opportunity to put love in action so often. We sometimes miss the chance. Simple things to do for friends, family, neighbors, community. It may look like just opening the door for the person next, but it is love in action.

“When we finally grow weary of making life so hard, of doing battle within and without, we have a way out and a way up. We can choose love.”