GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
It’s great to see you again this morning.
I wanted to revisit a topic we discussed several years ago. Don’t worry, I’ve updated it some.
It’s about Leadership.
What is a leader? Do you know?
Think on this…
When Benjamin Franklin wanted to introduce street lighting to the people of colonial Philadelphia, he did not lobby politicians, he did not publish editorials, he did not argue with those who disagreed with him.
Instead, …he simply hung a brilliant lantern on a long bracket in front of his own house.
Every evening, as dusk approached, …. he faithfully lit the wick.
People out in the dark night could see Franklin’s streetlight from blocks away and were grateful to walk in its friendly glow.
Soon Franklin’s neighbors started putting lanterns on brackets in front of their own homes, and it wasn’t long before the entire city was illuminated each night with streetlamps.
Of course, we all know Ben Franklin was and is considered a leader, agreed?
A minister was standing at the back of the Church greeting people as they were leaving one morning.
“Good morning” she said to a little boy who was waiting in line to see her.
“I’ve been waiting to tell you something that happened to me,” he said.
“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a bunny rabbit. I always wished I were furry and free to hop and run all over. I wished and I wished but I finally gave up
because I saw that I was never going to get my wish and become a rabbit.
Then, last week a miracle happened.”
“Really,” she chuckled imagining that he had received a special pet rabbit.
“Yes,” he said with his eyes wide in wonder. “After all this time of wishing, ….one night I had a dream, and in my dream, ……I was a bunny rabbit and I felt what it was like to be furry and free …… and run and hop and play.
I had a wonderful time, and I got my wish.”
“That’s wonderful,” she agreed.
“But that’s not all,” he said excitedly. “During my dream, …. God showed me how wonderful it is to be a bunny rabbit and when I woke up I realized that the feelings that I wanted to feel in being a bunny rabbit are already inside me.
SO, I’VE BEEN CARRYING WHAT I WANTED WITH ME ALL ALONG.”
His eyes were wide with recognition and hers were filled with tears of appreciation at his newly found inner splendor.
“Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with me,” she managed to get out.
“I just thought you’d like to know,” he said as he smiled and walked off with his mom into the crowd.
Is this little boy a leader?
A man and his son were taking a walk in the forest.
Suddenly his son triped and feeling a sharp pain he screams, “Ahhhh!”
Surprised, he hears a voice coming from the mountain, “Ahhhhh!”
Filled with curiosity, he screams, “Who are you?
But the only answer he receives is “Who are you?”
This makes him angry, so he screamed, “You are a coward!” and the voice answers, “You are a coward!”
He looks at his father, asking, “Dad, what is going on?”
“Son”, ……. the man replied, ……. “Pay attention!”
Then he screams, …… “I admire you!
The voice answers… “I admire you!”
The father shouts…. “You are wonderful!”
And the voice answers…. “You are wonderful!”
The boy is surprised, but still can’t understand what is going on.
Then the father explains,
“People call this an ‘echo’ but truly it is ‘life!’
It gives you back that which you CHOOSE to put in it.
It is simply a reflection of who we are.”
Is this father a leader?
Are you a leader?
Sure, you are…… You’ve probably taken on leadership roles in your life that you didn’t realize at the time. We all are at one time or another, a leader.
Everyone can be a leader. There is no single answer to “What is leadership?” because it isn’t something you’re either born with or without, but a powerful skill that can be developed over time.
Don’t you know that if you have seen leadership qualities in another, then those qualities are in you also.
Leadership is the ability to inspire a team to achieve a certain goal.
A general definition of leadership is to influence, inspire and help others become their best selves, building their skills and achieving goals along the way.
It’s a skill and a tool you can continually cultivate and use to create lasting change. Leadership is also not something you’re born with or without – it’s a creative muscle you can strengthen and develop over time.
What have you done with that leadership ability?
That is the question.
The word “leadership” can bring to mind a variety of images as we just have shown.
Here are a few more:
A political leader…. pursuing a passionate, personal cause.
An explorer…cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his group to follow.
An executive …developing her company’s strategy to beat the competition.
Our own Leroy & Dan who started the Men’s group.
LaLa, Michael & Jeanne stepping into the role of Prayer Chaplains.
Dan, Sharon, Laurie, Carolyn & Kevin stepping into our Board and leading our way into the future.
These are just a few examples of leaders.
Leaders help themselves………. and others………. to do the right things.
They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to achieve your goals as a team or an organization.
When one person harnesses their powers to lead, it strengthens the leadership opportunities of others, rather than diminishing them. That’s because the ultimate definition of leadership is empowering others to become effective leaders as well. As one person begins to embrace their role as a leader, they inevitably connect with others who have already mastered the art of leadership.
We are using our leadership abilities to grow ourselves and aid each other on our Spiritual Journey.
Great leadership – quality leadership – is servant leadership. Servant leadership refers to someone who wants to influence others to serve the greater good. They don’t just want to get from Point A to Point B, and they’re not searching for an outcome that only benefits themselves; a great leader always has the big picture in mind. They’re searching for ways to not just help themselves, but to help other people and the community at large. They’re figuring out ways to influence their community and culture in such a way that everyone who’s part of it benefits. Serving the greater good is their driving force, also known as their purpose.
The purpose of spiritual leadership is to tap into the fundamental needs of both leaders and followers for spiritual well-being through conveying that life has meaning and makes a difference and through membership (belonging); to create vision and value across the congregation; ultimately, to foster higher levels of well-being, commitment, and social responsibility.
This is why we have reached out in many ways to support this community as we travel through the pandemic. We’ve tried several ways to stay connected with you, our immediate community.
This is why we have put in place our safeguards to keep everyone safe who enters the Center. We wanted our space to be welcoming to others, and to help our community spread the word about Unity.
While spiritual leadership involves many of the same principles as general leadership, spiritual leadership has certain distinctive qualities that must be understood and practiced if spiritual leaders are to be successful.
Leaders share their gift of leadership by sharing courageous ideas in compelling and inspiring ways.
They demonstrate integrity…. intelligence…… creativity……enthusiasm…… and humility, among other characteristics.
That is why I ask what are you doing when you walk out the door each Sunday? What are you thinking and saying and doing? Are you putting the Unity Principles into practice?
This is why I ask, are you sharing your gifts? Everyone has gifts but if they are not shared, they are wasted.
Sharing your gifts, being the light why you leave here each Sunday helps to promote your leadership ability.
So, you can see that your participation in the leadership of this Community, in whatever way………is important.
Everyone has the responsibility of leadership.
Our Members and Congregants are asked to further the work of Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware through active interest, love and support, including but not limited to regular attendance at services and programs, financial support and ongoing volunteer services.
Jesus is our example of spiritual leadership. He led the 12, teaching them through lessons and parables, and his example. And gave us a perfect guide for our lives. He showed us that we journey better when we journey with others.
It’s much more difficult to achieve connection to God if we try to do it alone. When we come together—as we in Unity do each Sunday, as well as other times in meditation, classes and fun times—we find it easier to see the Christ expressing as each other than it is to see it in ourselves. And seeing it in each other becomes an easier path to recognizing it in ourselves.
We help ourselves and each other by sharing our gifts and experiences, by service to Unity and the larger community.
It was Jane Goodell who reminded us,
“You cannot get through a single day …. without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
We develop our leadership by letting our inner light shine and letting it ripple out into the world.
This is our first step in leading a change……. a change in ourselves as leaders.
Use your God-given gifts ……. and lead where they take you.
I hope to see even more of you stepping into your leadership places inside this Center and out.
God has something wonderful to say through you, which God can only say as you. The cosmos can never be quite complete without you.” — Eric Butterworth
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
And Happy New Year. May it be blessed with all that you require for a wonderous year of love, peace, and compassion for all.
We begin the new year with the White Stone Ceremony. It logically follows the Burning Bowl Ceremony. These two Ceremonies are meant to open, to clear out all that is holding us back, to let go of anything that we are prepared to release, and then to be open to receive a name or word for our intention for the new year.
Last week we participated in a sacred fire ceremony of clearing…clearing out those thoughts, habits, situations and even people that no longer serve us.
We affirm “I release the past and bless this past year with love. I am grateful for all I have experienced and learned. Now begins a new adventure and I look forward to it eagerly!”
We look to set an intention for this new year that we have begun. Intentions are a favorite of mine. They help us set the tone for each day and year as well as for our lives. Try it each morning, set an intention and see how it guides your day.
“Our words have the power to shape and mold the invisible substance of the Universe.” From non-form to form, our thoughts create our world and our experience. The law is always at work whether we acknowledge it or not. Change your mind, change your words, change your world. It all starts with the words that follow “I Am….”
Jesus spoke often and taught the importance of hearing in a new way. And in the quote, it is clear that we are listening for Spirit. It is a voice of Spirit arising from within us, not coming to us from outside us.
Learning to discern between the chatter of monkey mind or ego mind and the truth of our divine self is part of our journey. We must practice getting the clutter out of the way so this divine self could inform our subconscious and conscious mind with new patterns of thought which we had EARS TO HEAR. This new hearing invites us into the silence to hear more clearly. And it requires us to trust what we hear.
And that brings us to this week’s White Stone Ceremony.
This time of year, where one ends and another begins, is a special time. It’s a time of endings and beginnings.
Why would this be something important for us? These last two years have been an interesting learning experience, wouldn’t you say, filled with growth opportunities for us all. It is important that we release those people, places, things, thoughts, the energy that no longer serves our higher being.
And after that, we look to the Universe to fill that void where those things and ideas, those feelings and that energy are held in our consciousness and subconsciousness.
If you haven’t done so, choose your White Stone from the basket being passed. Please go through the ceremony with me before writing anything down. Give the energy surrounding us, and each of you individually, time and respect for the process. We want to give that word or name time to come to you from the ethers.
Those of you at home, please honor this also. And if you do not have a white stone, just jot down what comes to you, and you can pick up a stone next time you are at the Center.
What is the history of the White Stone Ceremony? It comes from the writing in the book of Revelation, which was written around 95 CE.
In Revelation 2:17: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers (who overcomes) I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
This Biblical verse is stating many things…. first: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying…”
In other words, we must have our outer and inner ear willing and open to the
messages coming to us. If we are not willing, we will not hear the word or words, the new name that our Higher Self, our Christ Presence is giving us.
The great theologian Paul Tillich said that listening is the first law of love. So, if that is true, look what happens when we apply the word “listen” to the great commandments … the greatest thing we can do is to listen to God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength, and to listen to others as we listen to ourselves.
Interesting take on those words from scripture.
We develop this inner listening quality by getting out of our intellect and into our hearts, through meditation. In meditation, we stop our daily busy-ness and listen to the Divine Voice of Love. We open our minds and hearts to a deep intuitive “knowing.”
Then the verse from Revelations states, ‘To everyone who conquers’ (who overcomes)
What are we overcoming…? What do you think?
What are your thoughts and responses? If you are watching at home, write your thoughts in the comment sections.
The conquering is not an outer war, but an inner one. To everyone who takes the time to listen to the still, small voice; to everyone who practices release and affirms inner spiritual qualities…. We realize it requires surrendering personal will to Divine Will, and the paradox is that in that surrender of the egoic self is Victory. It is a birthing of the Essential Self just as Jesus taught and demonstrated.
We are overcoming – unnecessary fears, anxieties, the strains, and stresses of the physical plane.
And that is everyone, maybe not all day, every day, but we ALL overcome the trials of living a spiritual life in a physical body. And the more we listen, the more we are willing, the more we will overcome.
To everyone who takes the time to listen to the still, small voice; to everyone who makes the effort to deny outer appearance and affirm inner spirituality; you will realize it requires surrendering personal will to Divine Will, and the paradox is that in that surrender of the egoic self is victory. It is a birthing of the Essential Self, just as Jesus taught and demonstrated.
In this passage there are also 3 Promises:
“To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
The first promise is “Hidden Manna.”
When we are in “the wilderness” of our spiritual searching, and if we surrender to the I AM, we receive “hidden manna,” not visible to the world. We are given an entirely new source of energy and nourishment. We are given peace that passes all understanding.
This hidden manna is derived from the higher level of being within us. It nourishes the soul first and then, the body. It benefits the whole being. Jesus alludes to this when he says to his disciples in John 4:32, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
In the Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore says manna is“The bread of life, the Word of God. [Manna] represents the realization that the divine substance is everywhere present, in every part of the consciousness.”
Think about how you felt when you realized a spiritual Truth. What was the energy behind an epiphany you had? If you were like me, you were so excited and couldn’t wait to share your news with someone close or special.
That energy comes from Source. It fills you up and just the memory of it can make your day.
I recall my first time at Unity Village for a week of classes. What a wonderful experience. When I got back and was at my home Unity church, many people expressed the peace that still shone on my face. I can still recall some of that feeling from so long ago.
THAT is the hidden manna.
The 2nd promise is a White Stone
The white stone is an ancient ritual. Back in ancient times, when someone served time in prison or in bondage of any kind, they were given a white stone when they were released. It served as a symbol that they had done their time and they had been given passage to live with all the rights of a free person. Each of us comes from the bondage of past nonsense – false limitations, old beliefs, error thinking that have been a prison to us. With surrender of the belief in separation and bondage comes a sense of worthiness: we are beloved, one with the Divine, free, and unlimited.
Hold your stone in your hand. Feel the energy there. Remember, everything is made of energy. If you quiet yourself, and close off any outside noise, maybe you will be able to feel it.
The 3rd promise is a New Name
In Biblical times, a name was a very sacred thing. Every name represented a quality that was in the person who carries the name. Parents didn’t choose a name for their child just because they liked the name. They chose it for whatever essence they saw in the child.
Abram, meant ‘high father, & as he grew in spiritual awareness, he became Abraham, ‘father of many’. Sarai, his wife went from ‘my princess’ to Sarah, ‘noble woman’. Simon, ‘to hear’ was named Peter (Faith).
The meaning of Sandy is “Defender of mankind,” or “she is brave”. The name comes from the Greek, Alexandra.
So, when we surrender to the inner Spirit, we take on a new identity, a new name so to speak. This refers to the new, higher realization of the I AM, a new awareness of our God Self, our higher self. And this is where the Ceremony called White Stone” comes in. In the passage, we are told that “I will give a white stone and on the white stone is written a new name that no knows except the one who receives it.”
So, I invite you to meditate on what you’re being called to in the new year and claim that as your new name.
In our oneness with God, we surrender our human identity to recognize our full potential. We let go of unnecessary baggage. Picking up a white stone is a symbol of receiving our “hidden manna” to feed us and is our white stone of freedom.
Hold the white stone in your hands and open your mind to “hearing” your new name. At any time in the next few minutes as I am speaking, if the new name comes to your awareness, hold it your heart. Don’t be hasty. Let it resonate with you.
If nothing comes to you during this ceremony, continue to ask. Be open to an answer to your asking.
Allow yourself to ask a question: Who or what am I called to be in this coming year? As I let go of my old habits, those I released during the burning bowl ceremony, what is it that I am called to be known as?
Let your awareness drop from your head down into your heart: from your intellect and into your deep inner knowing; to an awareness of Divine Love and Wisdom. Listen for a moment to your still small voice.
Open your imagination, allow Wisdom to speak, give your ego a few minutes off and let that divine holy Voice in you come through. Perhaps there is a new career, a new title, or a new quality that Spirit is pressing out through you.
Charles Fillmore says this new name is your concept of yourself.
The White Stone is your sign of a clean slate. Whatever has gone on in the past, let it go. Give yourself permission to know that as you release that which no longer serves your highest good, you can claim a new quality, a new name.
This word can be an overall intention…a way of being in the world…something to grow into…something that allows a deeper Truth to express more fully through you.
As you hold the white stone in your hand, hear the Christ Self that is you saying, “Behold, I make all things new.”
This is a sign of your ability in this moment to live in this new beginning. This is a moment in which you know you are free, free from all that has bound you.
And so, as you are guided by Spirit, I invite you to trust in this now moment, ….as Spirit gives to you in this sacred place…in this moment of Truth…an insight into your divine purpose…an insight into your holy essence, and so in that secret place of the most-high, I invite you to allow yourself to hear the new name that is speaking within you.
And, as that name becomes clear, just allow yourself to write it on your stone…If a name has come to you, remain quiet and allow yourself to ask for a deeper understanding, to ask if there are any steps to take.
In this moment allow yourself to simply open to Spirit, to say, “God in me reveals my true essence. God in me reveals my next step. God as me, lives a joyous, peaceful, fulfilling life.”
Pause – silence-
Anytime you look at your white stone realize that you have the gift of choice; the gift to live differently, to live a more fulfilling life, to begin again, to connect with God and create with God.
Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you this kingdom. “Accept this consciousness of ever increasing good in your life. I invite you to carry this white stone or card as a reminder of that promise.
Your greatest power is the power to be:
To be more loving
To be more courageous
To be more joyous
To be more friendly
To be more sensitive
To be more aware
To be more forgiving
To be more forgiving
To be more tolerant
To be more humble
To be more patient
To be more helpful
To be a greater human being
A prayer for the New Year from Howard Thurman …
Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.
There will be much to test me and make weak my strength before the year ends.
In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true and do the thing of which I am ashamed.
There will be errors in the mind and great inaccuracies of judgment…
In seeking the light, I shall again and again find myself walking in the darkness.
I shall mistake my light for Your light and I shall drink from the responsibility of the choice I make.
Nevertheless, grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.
May I never give the approval of my heart to error, to falseness, to vanity, to sin.
Though my days be marked with failures, stumblings, fallings, let my spirit be free so that You may take it and redeem my moments in all the ways my needs reveal.
Give me the quiet assurance of Your Love and Presence.
Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.
T.S. Eliot – “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language; and next year’s words await another voice.”
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
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.
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.
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
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.
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
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.
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
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.”
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
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!
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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!
- Be grateful. Find 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Trust in a force greater than yourself. The 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.
- 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.
- Determine what life is asking of you. We 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! —