Wednesday, December 2, 2009

LOVE IN ACTION

All faith tradtions espouse the concept of giving to others, of helping others, of serving others.

We often hear amazing stories about the actions of Mother Therese or the Dalai Lama or other world renowned people who have been beacons of this concept of Love in Action and we might think to ourselves – if only I could be like that, if only I had that faith or courage – or, that’s fine for them, but I am not Mother Theresa.

The truth is that we are practicing Love in Action all the time. It is going on around us all the time – but we miss it because we are looking for the AMAZING story, the one that is in the newspaper or in inspirational articles.

Thank God we are not dependent on a handful of enlightened souls to give love in this world.

I was waiting for someone in the area of a big department store between the outside door and the inside door – for about a half an hour. Hundreds of people went in and out while I was standing there, and you would be surprised how many people were practicing Love in Action. And it was all in the simple act of holding the door for another. Young people and old people, men and women, most of them took that little moment to glance and see if someone was coming in or out behind them, and held the door for them. Stop sometime and notice the Love that is being given all the time around us.

Small actions like this are going all around us, and we don’t recognize them for what they are.

“Everybody can be great, because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree, you don’t have to make your subject and verb agree. You only need a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Every one of us is doing service or giving in some way almost all the time. Are we doing it in a consciousness of Love? Are we doing it as an expression of the divine?

How does Love translate into action? Last winter I facilitated a retreat on Divine Love and one of the exercises we did was conjure up the Faces of Love. What does Love look like? What does it look like to be loving?

Faces of Love: respect, joy, compassion, kindness, gentleness, listening, sincerity, mercy – like the many faces on one of those mirror balls you see in dance halls. As the ball turns it illuminates and touches all parts of the room.

Compassion
The Dalai Lama was talking to a monk who had escaped from Tibet after being imprisoned and tortured for many months. The monk said “I started to become afraid”. The Dalai Lama said – for your life? And the monk replied “I was afraid I would lose my compassion”.

Kindness
Mother Theresa gives us simple instruction – not give up your life and go to the other side of the world and live with the poor. She does not say that – she says “Spread love everywhere you go. Be a living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. Kindness in you warm greeting”. That is something we can all do.

“God has no hands or feet or voice except ours and through these he works.” Theresa of Avila

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians 5:13 he says: use your freedom to serve one another.

If we only get our perspective of the world by what we see on TV or the news – it could look bleak. We could think – what is the point? There is so much hatred and war and negativity.

Someone who was working with the Youth Gangs responded when an observer said – you know what you are doing isn’t enough – there is so much poverty and ignorance. And she said – “just because it is impossible, doesn’t mean you don’t do it”.

Every act of love, of kindness, of compassion, of service changes not only us but the world around us. We are always reaping what others before us have sowed. Thank those who have gone before us, whose small gifts to this world, make it a better place now. They did not know how or when ……the seed never sees the flower. Everything we do does make a difference!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Celebrate the Harvest

This is the last of our series – tilling the spiritual soil. We talked about clearing our minds and hearts of the rocks and weeds that can get in our way of living a totally fulfilling life. And to prepare the soil – gently and lovingly – as we start to make changes in our lives. Then we talked about what to do during the waiting time – when it looks like there is nothing happening – the time between when we plant the seed – and when we see the first bit of green appearing. That time was spent – resting in the knowing that Spirit is at work in our lives and the universe all the time – and that the perfect outworking is taking place. Maybe not our idea of the right time – but trusting in divine timing.

And then we do start to see the results of our work.

Here’s an example: Perhaps we were feeling too busy – pulled in many directions and wanted to ‘grow’ time. We cleared our mind of the thoughts and feelings that were standing in the way. Things like: there’s too much to do. There are not enough hours in the day. I never have time for myself. Those are the weeds and rocks. So we released these thoughts whenever they popped up - gently and lovingly. We planted truth ideas – in our actions, in our words and in our thoughts. There is always enough time for what I need to do. I am aligned with divine timing and all is well. I release those things that are not mine to do. These allows our minds to turn to what and how we want to live. Not on what we don’t want to experience.

And what is so great is that we start to notice when our minds start wandering into the ‘old territory’ of lack and limitation. We notice it more quickly and we bring it back to our new way of being – gently, like leading a child.

I remember when my son was quite young, he would wander away and get lost – just like that! We would be in the grocery store, he would be right next to me and the next moment I would hear an announcement: Would the mother of David xxx please come to the Customer Service desk? Our minds can be like that – one minute we know what are thoughts are doing and the next minute they are lost down some path we really do not want to be on.

When we know and are conscious of what we are wanting – we see what is not – faster. We notice when our words are replaying old tapes and we stop. We are aware of where our thoughts tend to drift – into the old way of thinking – and we gently bring ourselves back to what it is we are wanting to experience.

So we work with these ideas – take care of them – nurture them – surround them with faith and love and then we start seeing the results.

We have a harvest!

Now what? What do we do with all this?
Two things come to mind: the first is celebration. This is something I feel there is way too little of. I am learning to celebrate more and more - for the truth is we are so incredibly blessed and there is always cause for celebration.

We often forget to celebrate even the simplest things. Finishing a project, preparing a family dinner, buying a piece of furniture – or emptying out a closet and taking things to a thrift shop. Every one of these is cause for a moment of appreciation and acknowledgment. I think often we are too busy rushing into the next project, the next appointment, fixing the next problem – that we forget to pause and give thanks for what we already have.

There is someone who I admire and love, partly because his life is a profound reminder to celebrate and give thanks. His name is Mattie Stepanak. He wanted to be remembered: as "Poet, Peacemaker, and Philosopher Who Played". He wrote poems and essays about his dream for world peace, about how free and large his spirit was, about how better we can treat each other, about the pain of loss. He shared his thoughts, his dreams, his hopes and his fears. He published five books containing hundreds of poems, essays and drawings. He lived only13 years.

Mattie knew for as long as he could remember, that he would not live long. His brothers and sister before him had already died from this same terrible disease - a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

He says I have a tube that goes through my neck, a ventilator that breaths for me, lots of extra oxygen, a tube that goes into the top of my heart for medicines and IV fluids, I have weekly blood transfusions, IV at night to stabilize my blood pressure, and a power wheelchair.

But this is not how he sees himself. I actually had to look long and hard to find some description of his situation. This information is hard to find because it was not important to him. This is not what he wanted to talk about. What was important for him was to use his very brief time on this planet to write his poetry and to be a spokesperson for peace.

Here is one of my favorites, he wrote when he was 11 years old.

Grasp of Truth
If you have enough breath
To complain about anything,
You have more than enough reason
To give thanks about something.

He celebrated every breath – every morning when he woke up he was in awe that he had survived another night.

What we are experiencing now is the harvest of what we planted in the past. Celebrate the harvest in all its forms!

And so when we are surrounded by our harvest – by the abundant results of our work – we celebrate and, secondly – we share. We take from the abundance we are enjoying and we share it – give it away.

This is so very important. We live in an abundant world. It is circulating – flowing – all around us.

There is a divine flow in life – that is always moving. We want to cooperate with it, not block it. it is not healthy to stop the flow of abundance – to take in and not give out.

Like our breath. Take a breath – breath deeper, deeper, deeper. What happens when you do not breathe out? It doesn’t feel good – we need both – breathing in and breathing out.

We should always be asking ourselves – what can I give? How can I share?

We have some great examples around us – and that is young children. They are wonderful examples of generosity – instantaneously, giving with no thought of receiving.

When my daughter was about six or seven she had saved up a handful of coins and it was our day to go spend it. She had a little purse and there were maybe 15 – 20 coins inside and every once in a while she would shake her purse and hear the sound of those coins. We went to our little market place – this was on Quadra Island – and went to the grocery store first. At the checkout stand there was a small poster with pictures of children – and she asked me to tell her what it was. I explained that the poster said that it was about helping children who had problems with their eyes and that for 12 cents, a child could get an eye exam or that for $1. they would receive a pair of glasses. You have probably seen these displays with a little box to drop in some coins. My daughter asked if she could put money in the box – and I said – sure, that would be great. How much do you want to give? And she looked at me, a little perplexed, and said “all of it”.

She knew how to give – no rules, no shoulds about how much and to what – she gave happily and generously – with no thought of herself.

We want to share with the same generosity and joy. What we know is that the thoughts we are holding now are already growing into what we will experience in the weeks and years to come. It is impossible to stop that natural impulse for growth that surrounds us. As we continue to turn our thoughts toward the Light – toward what is whole – holy – we have already set the wheels in motion to bring in that harvest in the future.

So give what you have now. We always have something we can give. If what you have to share is time – give your time – give it away – then you are living in the divine flow of gratitude and abundance.

If you have skills that can be helpful to someone – share them. Volunteer somewhere. Volunteer here!

If we have money that we can give – give it away. Support organizations that support you and your ideals.

We are moving through ALL the stages of creation all the time. In some areas of our lives we are planting, in some nurturing and protecting and in some - we are harvesting.

So let’s make sure we don’t forget to celebrate the harvest and share it with those around us.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Divine Wait

The last few times I talked we were looking at the idea of Tilling the Spiritual Soil. We talked about how lasting change happens from the inside out – not by changing our outer circumstances – but by making a shift in here.

We talked about preparing the soil – our minds – for change and growth. Gently removing rocks and weeds – those unwanted beliefs in our minds and hearts that are getting in the way of our growth and fulfillment.

We talked about going within – to God – for connection with the divine as we move ahead in our lives. Choosing the seeds that we want to grow. Remember Myrtle Fillmore’s quote – “When you talk “hard times”, you are sowing “hard times” seed. By the natural law of growth and yield, what kind of harvest will you reap?”

So we plant the seeds. The new thoughts related to what we want to change in our life experience. Perhaps seeds of prosperity, hope, harmony, peace, good health.

And then we wait, we wait for something to happen, something to change. We wait – expectantly…and sometimes we end up in that place where - NOTHING IS HAPPENING!

Anybody been there? Decide to make a change – do the work and then – how come nothing is happening? What happenstehn ? We may begin to doubt ourselves. We start to question. Do we wait – do we push ahead? How long does it take to see some result of my prayers? Is there something else I need to do? Did I do it wrong? Did I forget something?

Just like planting a seed…… we plant the seed and then there comes a time of ______________? Waiting. Can’t see if anything is happening. Don’t know if it is growing or not. May even be tempted to dig up a little around the seed and see if it is starting to ‘do something’.

It’s one thing to wait when we know when something is going to happen and what it will be. As a child, or perhaps even as adults, we might be looking forward to Christmas or a birthday. Well, we can look at the calendar and know how long it is going to be before that day arrives. We can tick off each day – or in the case of Christmas, open the little doors on the Advent calendar and then – the day arrives. No more waiting.

But what about when we are waiting for something that we don’t know when it will show up and often we do not even know in what form it will show up.

There are a couple of things that we can consider while we are in this ‘waiting period.’ of the creative process. Because that is what we are doing – creating something. A new way of being, a new way of living, a new way of looking at life, a new perspective.

One of the things that this time calls for us is to be more human beings, and less human doings.

For those of us who tend to get active when we want something to happen, this can be quite a challenge. We wait and watch, we watch, we wait.

If it was really a seed, we would be in that time of waiting for that first little bit of green to break through the surface. Some evidence, some outward sign that something is going on. I suspect some of us are better at this than others.

There are ways we can approach this time that are helpful and empowering – and there are ways that are not so enjoyable. Since we have probably experienced the not so great ones: impatience, frustration, doubt, worry – let’s talk about the alternatives.

In Unity we talk about our Twelve Powers and there are two that really come to my mind when I think about this ‘waiting’ period. The first is the power of Faith.

We all have faith. Faith is one of the 12 Powers we were born with. You cannot have more faith than you have right now. The question is: how are you using your power of faith? Do we see the news about the environment, the conflict, the crime and put our faith in those things? Do we think about them, add our emotion power to them, roll them over and over in our minds?……………then that is where we are putting our power of faith.

So as we spend time in the ‘waiting’ be aware how you are using your divine power of Faith. Pay attention to what thoughts you are surrounding your new idea with. Thoughts of expectancy, of joy… or thoughts of doubt and worry. Remember WE direct our faith.

Faith is multi=directional – like a flashlight. It will shine wherever we point it. And what we point it to will become more real and stronger in our life experience. Be mindful about where you are pointing your faith. It is unlimited. Invest it wisely.

And the other power that I think really comes into play during these time of waiting is Divine Order.

Divine Order, another one of our 12 Powers, means the perfect outworking of any situation. It does not mean Vicki’s idea of the perfect outworking of the situation. It is the perfect outworking of Spirit, of God, of the highest good for EVERYONE involved.

The activity of the divine, of God, is so powerful. It works for our highest good even without our being able to observe it. It is working away in the seed underground and it is working in us in ways we can observe and in ways we cannot. Divine Order is always at work in our lives.

Divine Order is putting me in the right and perfect place. Trusting that Divine Order is at work in us and in our world ALL the time. Even when we think it should be different.

Sometimes we think “God, could you work a little faster please?” We can see exactly what we want – why isn’t it coming now?

Picture this: in the middle of a deep cold winter day you see a moth at the window, desperately trying to get outside. It is very clear to the moth that outside is where it wants to be! But what do we know—as we stand aside and watch the scene. We know that if the moth were to have its desire and get outside— it would perish immediately.

I suspect Divine Order is working in our lives in the same way. Protecting us until the time is right—even as we beat our wings against an inexplicable invisible barrier.

Every few years I plant avocado pits. In the past I have had huge trees that cover a whole corner of the dining room. One year I put the toothpicks in and put it in a glass of water and left it, knowing it would take e its time to send up a sprout and some roots. Several months later I noticed something. I had placed the pit in upside down and in a most determined way, the root that had come out of the top was making its way down to the water and the poor shoot that had sprouted under water was making its way up to the light.

Within the avocado is an inner intelligence that directs the roots and the shoots and they know which way to go - even when everything around them would tell them otherwise.

There is a divine intelligence working within us that is more wise and powerful than we can even imagine.

So in this waiting period – we can direct our power of faith to divine order and its perfect outworking in our lives. We don’t need to see it – we KNOW it!

And there is one last thing we can do while we ‘wait’.

Give thanks… in advance. Give thanks that everything is unfolding as it should - for the highest good of all.

When a gardener plants seeds they know what to expect and when. And I am quite sure they use that time of waiting – not in doubt and turmoil, but in the anticipation of the new crop. Of the sweet apples, the flowers, the lettuce. They picture it, feel it, taste it and see it.

I realize that when we are planting a new seed – a new idea – it is not so straight forward. Things, people and ideas need time to grow. However I do know that if we can spend this time with the same feelings of anticipation, expectancy, seeing the good, feeling it, tasting it – the results will be influenced by this powerful way of being.

This simple prayer says it well:

Dear God
I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards,
I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better,
I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry,
I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears,
I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves,
I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet,
I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job,
I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life,
I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier,
I am thanking you right now.

REMEMBER: direct your Faith wisely, know that Divine Order is at work in our life even when we can’t see it and always give thanks in advance!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TILLING THE SPIRITUAL SOIL

I choose the analogy of planting and growing a garden because there are some great parallels between cultivating our gardens and cultivating our minds. There is not that much difference in preparing land for seed and preparing our minds or consciousness for a new idea.

What do you see when you look at a seed? Not much, it’s small, sometimes really small. Can you see what will grow by looking at it? No. the mystery is inside where we can’t see it. Have you ever come across some seeds and they have lost their packaging and we’re sitting there with them in our hand with a big question mark on our faces. What are they?

What do we think of when we see a seed? New life. Possibilities. Potential. Seeds hold all the information needed to reproduce itself. Amazing in such small form. However, a seed sitting in a package….is only a seed sitting in a package. It may be able to grow into a tomato or a lilac bush or even a great cedar, but that’s not going to happen unless someone plants it. That’s the first step. Planting it – but not just anywhere - if we want it to grow we will choose and create the best environment we can for it to take root and flourish.

For the most success they need to be put in an environment that will provide the maximum opportunity for growth. Soil, sunshine, rain, temperature, tending etc.

We play an active role in the planting, growth and development of a new plant.

A man passes a farmer on the road and looking at the man’s fields of plenty says, “Its wonderful what God has done”. The farmer looks at his fields and responds, “You should have seen what it looked like when only God was looking after it.”

Now for us, as growing spiritual brings, we are hopefully always planting new seeds in our minds. New ideas, new ways of being.

But how do we create or support the best environment we can for this seed to take roots and grow? The right environment is what we are interested in today.

We start with the Land. The land represents our consciousness. In the Bible when we read about the land or problems on the land or conquering new land – what we are really looking at is what is going on up here – in our consciousness. Problems, invaders, turmoil, harvest, drought, floods are all phases that we go through as we grow in our consciousness.

How do we prepare our minds and hearts – our land - for a new idea to take root and flourish? What can we do and what might we wish to refrain from doing?

The first step is preparing the soil.

If we were gardeners and were looking at starting a new garden bed – what do we do first? We have a look at what is already there. If the land has been neglected or dormant we may find rocks and weeds. And these are the two essential pieces that we are going to look at today. Rocks and weeds.

First the rocks. If we look at the analogy of the land being our mind or hearts – what do you think rocks might represent? Hard places. Solidified stuff. Places of protection. It might be time to pick up those rocks and have a close look. See if they are still serving a purpose in our lives.

For instance – I’ll use myself as an example. When I was in grade school I had a terrible time with the game of baseball. I could not hit a ball to save my life. After about three games I gave up on developing any skill around that, I avoided baseball all my life. So that might be one of the rocks in my garden. “I do not play baseball”. Now if I felt like that rock was interfering with my enjoyment of life – I might consider removing it from my garden.

When we recognize a hard place in us, something that we want to move – how can we approach it? Listen to the words of Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity: “Stumbling blocks at first may seem to be in the physical environment, but closer discernment reveals that they are primarily in the mind. Therefore, we should not put any additional weight into the already existing obstacles by filling them with the thoughtstuff of condemnation.”

You may have noticed rock or stone walls surrounding plots of land or gardens. They are serving a purpose there. Rocks are not bad – we just don’t want them in our growing space. We want to leave that space free for something else to grow. So when we come across a rock – something that is not helping us – we gently move it aside. Put it with the others, give it a new purpose.

Without condemnation. So, so important. Whenever we are making changes in our outlook, in our perception, in our attitudes – do it gently! Lovingly.

We don’t expect children to walk the first time they try – we support them as they stumble and we encourage them to keep trying. Be that kind and gentle to yourself! Loving and kind.

Next we have weeds. Weeds can be quite amazing really. Rocks don’t grow back where we have moved them from, but plants are different. They are often incredibly strong and hardy. Plants have an amazing capacity to recover and a very strong life force. Perhaps you have seen them growing in the cracks in pavement or on rocks with no soil.

When we bought a home in Victoria we were looking in the backyard and one of the things I noticed was this huge lump of green. Four feet wide, three feet high, about 12 feet long. Just green. When I looked closer I saw that it was bind weed or morning glories just heaped over and over but there was something underneath that was giving some shape to this mound. I dug in through and discovered – raspberries! This was a row of raspberries completely taken over by bind weed. Well I am a true lover of raspberries and I was so happy to have these in the yard. I got ready to go out and clean out the bed – and what happened is this. I would grab a piece and pull and pull and pull and then it would get caught up and I would pull and snap! Out comes the bind weed – with the raspberry cane. This happened a few times and I realized that if I kept up – I would have no bindweed and – I would have no raspberries! So the only way to extricate the bindweed without harming the raspberries was to gently and easily and slowly ease off or unwind every single strand. This took constant, careful monitoring for years.

So when we identify something in our minds, in our consciousness, that we see is not serving us any longer, we need to remove it. If we pull it out roughly – what happens – it breaks off. Or it leaves the roots – and you know what happens when the root stays – it grow again!

So again – we want to be gentle, loving, and careful as we wiggle those weeds out.

So if this weed – this behavior or attitude that has been a part of your life for a long time, may be quite strong and hardy. Its not going to let go without some time and attention.

Remove with consistency and love. With forgiveness and charity towards ourselves.

We have an inner intelligence, an inner knowing that gently and easily directs us in the right way. Trust that there is a divine power at work in your life, a partner in your garden that is helping you see what you want to change and what is worthy and producing good results in your life.

But when we remove something – what is the next step? Put something different in its place! We need to plant something in its place, otherwise – what happens? more weeds!

So as we prepare our minds for new ideas we want to remember to identify the rocks and weeds. And remove or move them gently and with care.

Look for the next lesson: Planting. How do we choose what to replace in our minds? If we have let go of some thought or belief that is not working for us – how do we make sure we don’t leave room for it to grow back?

Remember that we are co-creating with Divine Power. And as we align ourselves with God, with the good, with the best, that inner intelligence and guidance will help us make decisions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Activate the Good

Connect with the Source

Not long ago I was preparing for a Sunday service and also a potluck following the service. In my attempt to be efficient, I decided to make a dish in a crock-pot and leave it at home to cook while I was at church. And so before I left for church I prepared the food, put it in the crock-pot, turned it on and left for church. After church I came home – opened the door expecting to be greeted by the smell of some great food cooking. Nothing. Oh-oh. I went to the pot and felt it – cold. Nothing happening there. I looked at the knob – it was turned on. What was going on? And then I noticed. The cord was just sitting on the counter – not plugged in.

And isn’t that just like us sometimes? We have all the great ideas about what we want to do or create – and we forget to plug in……to the Source. We are so busy doing that we forget about the great power that will support all our efforts to bring to us even greater results.

That Source, God, is everywhere present. But - God does not force itself upon us. We are not puppets in God’s hands. We can choose to plug in – or not. We do have the ability to act and think and choose all by ourselves. And that is sometime where we get tripped up. We rely solely upon our own efforts. We forget that we are CO-creators with God. That we do not have to do everything ourselves – and sometimes it is not actually the best course to pursue. But I think sometimes we can keep the 2 year old phrase, “me do it!” we want to do it, we don’t want help, and – I speak for myself – I struggle and work harder and try more………..and on and on.

Myrtle Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, has some very wise words for us in this regard. In the late 1800s when Unity was in its infancy, most of the work done by Myrtle was in correspondence with those who wrote and asked for her thoughts or advice. We are fortunate to have copies of her responses and they are in books such as this one “Healing Letters”. Now we only hear her response, we do not know what the question was, but it is often easy to guess what the writer was saying. Here is one of her responses to someone -

“When you give yourself to God to do His work, and then assume a lot of personal responsibility and think you have to plan and provide, can you not see that you are serving two masters?”

We say “I want to co-create with you God” but our actions illuminate our true feelings we want to do it all. Or - I think I know the best way to proceed. Or we ignore the inner guidance that is trying to get us to see another way. We say we want to co-create with God and then we try to do it all ourselves.

Myrtle also says to someone: “Do not do too much; leave something for God to do.” Remember we are co-creators.

Turning your activities over to God, does not mean that we will sit back and God will do it all. God only works through us. We still have a very active role to play. Remember the hokey-pokey – we put our whole selves in! Not serving two masters as Myrtle reminds us.

So, like trying to cook a meal in a crock-pot, we want to make sure we are connected to the Power Source, with God, with Spirit, with Universal Abundance.

How do we do that? How do we connect? Prayer is definitely one of the ways to re-member our connection with the divine. We really want to be careful with our words – make sure they are aligned with our principles. We do not say – I want to reconnect with God, because the Truth is - we cannot be separated from God, right? We may feel like we are, we may think we are. But what is our First Unity Principle? There is only one God, good – everywhere present. Right here, right now, in you and in me. So what we are wanting to do is remember our connection to the divine.

“Stop trying so hard …..It is when you are thinking of self that you struggle….No one, not even God, can change you or your circumstances so long as you insist upon looking at and thinking of and worrying yourself and your problems.” Myrtle Fillmore

The first step in activating our good is to go within. To connect with Infinite Spirit. To remember that we are one with the source of all good. To acknowledge where our good comes from.

And what is the next step? After we Reach in then we Reach Out. Why is reaching out so important? Why is it important that we connect with like-minded people?

Let me tell you about a fascinating glimpse into how and when we, as human beings, started communicating/connecting with each other.

Some archeologists were doing some investigation into the resting spots of the very early humans. Thy found remnants of where they gathered - fire pits and the evidence of their spear making efforts. As they uncovered ground they got a glimpse of life with these prehistoric human beings through thousands of years. One thing they noticed was that arrowhead-making stayed the same for thousands of years. It was easy to see where one person sat, chipping away at rock to make a point. Sometimes the rock was too brittle, sometimes too soft. It was like the person picked up whatever rock was close by and picked up something else that was close by that was harder and over time worked a point from the piece. Each area where someone sat was the same, the results were mixed, and the design of the tool to make the arrowheads was crude, even over thousands of years their methods did not improve. That was not what the scientists were expecting. They expected to see that over time, methods improved, better rock from surrounding areas would be used, and tools would get more and more sophisticated. And then they realized why this was not the case. The only reason things would stay them same and not progress is that there was no communication between the individuals. Each time a young person got old enough to start making a spear, they would look around, find what they could and start chipping away. In one person’s lifetime only so much progress could be made and since no one spoke to each other, no learning was passed on – each person only worked with what they could see and figure out themselves.

The scientists could actually pinpoint the point in time when humans started communicating with each other. At a certain point in time they noticed a change. They found evidence that tool-making was progressing. And they knew that one person could not have moved through this much sophistication in one lifetime. They must be sharing information. Showing each other what worked for them. Showing each the good place where they had discovered better rock for tools or for the spearheads.

It is only when they started sharing information with each other – that there was real progress. Their methods were refined, the points sharper, everyone started using the best rock for the spearhead. Everyone’s spears were shaper, faster, stronger – everyone benefitted.

This is so important. What happens when we talk to each other? We find perhaps that our difficulties are shared by others. We are not the only one. We are not alone. We don’t have to figure it all out ourselves.

It is so important to find with and connect with people who share your beliefs, your principles. To talk to each other, spend time with each other. Because it is in the every day activities of our lives that we can sometime forget our spiritual nature.

Creating a spiritual network is so important.

What are the gifts of a spiritual friendship? Trust, acceptance and love.

Trust is knowing that you are safe with this person, that you can trust them to listen to you.

Acceptance gives you the freedom to feel your feelings, say what’s on your mind without being judged or criticized. Because sometime we just have a bad day or a time in our lives that is really challenging. When we are not feeling cheerful or upbeat. And with a friendship based on acceptance we don’t have to pretend to be who we are not.

And unconditional love – who wouldn’t want to know that someone recognizes your inner beauty and joy and wisdom and will love you and appreciate you even when you are not feeling worthy of it.

These are the gifts of a spiritual friendship.

So how do we activate our Good? Reach in and Reach Out. Go within and remember that we are one with the Source, with God, with Good – and then – reach out, connect with others that can hold that Truth for you. this is the path of spiritual transformation.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What is Spiritual Community?

About 5 years ago I was finishing nine years of classes to become a LUT. When the classes are completed you have to go through something called SDS. Skills Demonstration Seminar. It is an intensive week of lengthy exams, giving talks and meditations in front of a panel of Unity ministers, doing lots of inner spiritual work. In 2001 there was an opportunity for me to finish my last week of classes, stay over the weekend and do my SDS the following week. So to save the airfare of having to go to Unity Village again, I decided to do that. I discovered there were a few us that had also decided the same thing and we had an amazing experience over that weekend. We studied and tested each other with Bible questions, (where is the first place people are called Christians? what do the 7 days of creation represent? What year did Silent Unity begin? and on and on……….we roomed in the same set of cottages and we spent day and night, reviewing our talks, using flash cards and study guides, reading the Bible and praying.

In that period of time we formed a little community. It was a community based on need and circumstance. We happened to be going through the same experience at the same time. That is one kind of community.

A community can also be based on common experiences or interests. You may get together with people who have been raised in the same kind of culture, - my daughter went to the Ukrainian centre and learned the dancing and we ate lots of good Ukrainian food and met wonderful people that had formed a community based on their common culture and language. or it could be a Bridge Club or a hiking club.

And then there is something quite different called a spiritual community, which calls the relationship to an entirely different level because it is not based on needs or common experiences or shared interest. It is based on spiritual principles and when we are willing to be together in that way – incredible things happen. People who seem to have nothing in common can form a powerful spiritual community. Because holding the principles as a guiding light is more powerful than any interest or experience.

Often, those drawn together in spiritual community are people who under different circumstances would not necessarily spend time with each other. But that is the beauty of the spiritual community - it is based in Spirit. Not in our human-ness, not in our individualities, but in the principle that each one of us shares our spiritual nature – the nature of God. Each one of us is a unique creation of the divine. And when we see each other in that Light, and support each other in Truth, miracles happen.

Many of us can do things alone – but doing them in community really calls us to a higher level of commitment and intention. Community acts as a cauldron – a form where miracles happen – like alchemy………..things that are ordinary come together and become something greater than ever anticipated.

Some of the values that this community holds are: love, caring, growth, renewal. Unconditional love that allows us to be who we are without judgment. It is knowing that others will love you and appreciate you even when you are not feeling worthy of it. Through the good days and the times when we are struggling. Growth – that allow us to experiment and try new things in the supportive environment of love and caring. Renewal – a beautiful word that encompasses the cycles of outer energy and inner rest.

These are the gifts of a spiritual community. Can most of us say that we would love to experience those? love, acceptance, caring, growth and renewal.

What I have just described is what we RECEIVE from a spiritual community. How do we get it? How do we receive it? BY GIVING IT.

When I first realised this - suddenly I am thinking – I am not sure I can do that. I try to be loving but sometimes this person is so ____________ fill in the blank. I am accepting – most of the time…….

Guess what? We are learning how to do it all the time. That’s why it is called a spiritual practice. Perhaps in some areas we have had a lot of experience and we can act out of our spiritual principles most of the time. And there may be other areas, where we have not yet even tried. Be willing to do it imperfectly. Am I the only one who feels like they need to do it right – the first time – every time? Can you see what an unrealistic burden that places on us? We would not expect a child to jump on a bicycle and take off and ride perfectly. No – they are going to practice and probably have a few spills.

It’s a spiritual practice – be loving with yourself and be loving with others as they are also learning these skills. Spiritual community is where we get to practice these – because it is a place of love – acceptance – growth.

One of the greatest gifts you will receive is finding a place where people are going to support you in your spiritual practices.

So we have the intention to follow our spiritual principles and then………someone does something so – so unspiritual !

What do we do? What do we say when we see this?

There are some great examples of this in the Bible – and if you have done some reading in the Bible you will know that it is not all about love and grace. There are some pretty nasty stories about some pretty ugly deeds. In Unity we look at it all with the idea that there is always something to learn from everything that happens – the good, bad and ugly.

When I was thinking about how to describe how we support and love each other through our growing – I thought of a great example of how NOT to do it – so we are going to the story of Job - the place where we can read about all the strengths and the weaknesses of people just like you and me.

Some background: Job has been a good man all his life. He has a wife, children, herds of cattle and sheep- a prosperous man in every way. Then everything is taken away from him – his family, his possessions and even his health. He is sitting in the dirt – wondering – how did this all happen – to me – a good man! Perhaps you can relate ….

The part of the story that we are going to explore right now is Job’s friends. The ones that come to comfort him and be with him in this disastrous time of his life.

Eliphaz – God is doing this to you for a reason. It is not yours to question. When God is good and ready, He will turn everything around – you need to be patient and wait.

Job – show me how your words are of comfort.

Bildad – You must have done something! Perhaps your children were sinful, maybe you have been too proud. You have forgotten God. You have brought this upon yourself. “God will not reject a blameless person” You must have done something. As soon as you get right with God – God will get right with you. Here in Unity we might use words like – there must be something in your consciousness that attracted this to you.

Job – your words are full of the east wind – blowing hot and scorching. Read Job 19:1-4 “How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words? Even if it true that I have erred, my error remains with me” You do not need to remind me of what I know.

Zophar – things are so much more than you can imagine – you have no idea how great God is, or what is in the mind of God. You are obstinate and proud. No wonder God turns his face from you. It would take a miracle to change your life. “But a stupid person will get understanding when a wild ass is born a person” Repent and everything will be OK.

Job – “But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know such things as these?” “If only you would be silent – that would be your wisdom” “Your maxims are proverbs of ashes” Do you think I do not know these things – I am not an idiot. Tell me something I don’t know. READ Job 16:1-5

Can you see where Job’s friends have totally missed the spiritual practice of love? They have been critical - you did this to yourself. they have been condescending – just be patient, you are experiencing this for a reason, its for your own good. They have been stand-offish – it would take a miracle to fix this mess – good luck.

In Unity we have a name for this: metaphysical malpractice.

This is metaphysical malpractice and we all need to aware how easy it is to fall into this trap – in the guise of being a good friend, we use spirituality as a weapon. Has anything that has been said been helpful or comforting or accepting or loving?

When your friend is in pain – this is not a time to argue theology. One of my very first Unity teachers said: mind your own spiritual business.

In the end the prophet Elihu appears and says – “Let us choose what is right, let us determine among ourselves what is good” (Job 34:4) And I think these are beautiful words – words of comfort and empowerment. Let us (together) choose what is right.

Honour the connection your friend has with God. Hold the place for healing – even without words. St Francis said “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

There is incredible potential in the form called spiritual community. There is unlimited possibility for growing – growing in love, growing in Spirit. Honour this community you have created and always look for ways to nurture and support each other.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sacred Space

Sacred space is an interesting thought because – well, we are surrounded by space. Since you woke up this morning you have been in several spaces – your home, your car or bus, this place. How do we know what is sacred and what is not? What makes a place sacred?

Joseph and I have lived about 8 months in India (between our 2 trips) and when we were there we saw and experienced many many sacred places. Some of them we knew about beforehand and travelled to see them – but most of them we discovered when we were there.

Every time we came to an area and met and talked to people, they would inevitably tell us what was so special about that area.

The Hindu religion is imbedded in the land. So everywhere we went – there was a holy place, a sacred mountain, holy river, special valley. People would share with us their knowledge - This is where Krishna started his journey, this is where Hanuman fought the demons, this is where Buddha attained enlightened etc etc. It got to be a bit of a joke – we would see how long we were in one place before someone asked – if we had been to the sacred______. How special it was – what had happened there. How blessed they were to live so close to this sacred spot.

We visited many many of these places. Large and small. Magnificent structures, incredible temples, temple complexes, natural features – mountain peaks, rocks …..and rivers. In Hinduism it is believed that all rivers come from heaven – so they are a direct line from the spiritual world to the earthly world. And touching them is like touching heaven.

A day after we flew into Delhi last fall we hopped on a train and headed north to rishikesh to see the Ganges River. Going to the Ganges river is very special. It is the dream of every Hindu to bathe in the Ganges or die close by so their ashes could be put into the river. And we wanted to experience it.

It was hard to choose which spot to view and visit the Ganges because every few miles – is a sacred spot. Where we went, Rishikesh, is where the Ganges river first meets the plains of India. The first place it hits the ground after it comes tumbling out of the mountains and the valleys. A very sacred spot. 15 miles downriver is where two other rivers join the Ganges and guess what? It is also considered a sacred spot.

When we were there we walked amongst thousands of pilgrims that had journeyed form all over India to be there. We walked on the beautiful sand and among the huge boulders that had come tumbling down the river valley. You could hear Ma Ganga at night when we slept. There are hundreds of temples and shrines up and down the river and all day and all night you could hear the temple bells ringing as people entered and left them. We joined hundreds of people who gather each night at dusk to chant by the riverside and place little lighted floating candles on the river. We took water from the Ganga in little bottles and as we travelled, gave it to our Hindu friends.

We visited the river every day. It is clean, fresh, cold and beautiful – straight from the Himalaya mountains.

The river is called Ma Ganga. Mother Ganga.

"She is the distilled essence of compassion in liquid form." No one is denied her blessing.

As we travelled we stayed in ashrams, chanted, prayed and meditated in incredible places. We received blessings from a woman who is considered a saint in India. We saw incredible relief work being done by ashrams – even still resulting from the aftermath of the tsunami.

Even on our visa application – one of the choices – was ‘pilgrimage’.

We didn’t have to look very hard to find the sacred. What became very evident was that in India there is no separation between religion and life. Between the mundane and the sacred. They are one and the same.

Every person starts their day in prayer and acknowledging God. If you enter a shopkeeper’s tiny space you will see a little space on a shelf, between the soap and rice where there is a small carving or picture, a small offering and the smell of incense in the air – he did not open his shop until these things were done.

There was a neighbourhood temple across from our homestay and every morning before dawn we could hear the temple bells chiming and if we looked out our window we would see everyone from that neighbourhood going to the temple to say their prayers, make an offering and go about their day. Children on their way to school, businessmen with their briefcases, everyone.

You cannot walk 100 feet without encountering some type of small shrines. They have a picture or statute of an aspect of god – say Lord Shiva, with some flowers, candles and incense. People stop to pay their respects and make an offering. Imagine our surprise when as we were walking one day, saw a shrine and stopped to acknowledge it – peeped in and saw – Mary and baby Jesus! Same shape of opening, candles, flowers.

A part of each day is spent remembering and reconnecting with the sacred. Everywhere you look – you can see it.

But what makes it a place holy, sacred?

We have a great example of holy ground in Exodus. When Moses approached the burning bush in the desert the first thing that happens is he hears the voice of God: “Come no further, remove your sandals for the ground on which you stand is holy”. Do you think God meant that spot only was holy and that if Moses walked a few steps away – that ground would not be holy? No – no matter where we are, the ground on which we stand – is holy.

If we see it that way. And that is the challenge isn’t it? To see the sacred in everyday life. In every place we are. To take off our sandals – meaning – remove anything that stands between you and God.

Elizabeth Browning
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off their shoes
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Millions of people travel to sacred spots around the planet. You can read about their stories – of miracles, of healing, of amazing insights.

Lourdes, Ayers Rock in Australia, Stonehenge, Machu Picchu – these places are called sacred or holy. What makes them so?

We do.

Our being there. Our intention – the way we think about them – the way we feel about them. How we show up – open and receptive to the divine. Perhaps when we are in these places – we ‘take off our shoes’ – we open our eyes to the sacred that is around us, and we allow the mystery to become visible.

Buddha said: wherever you live is your temple – if you treat it like one.

Wherever we live………….

In the New Testament Jesus spends a lot of time talking about the ‘kingdom of heaven’. He tells parables and stories and more stories – each one trying to get those around him to look at the kingdom of heaven as not something up there – far away – separate from us, but wherever we are.

In Luke 17: The Pharisees demanded of Jesus to tell them when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, “The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Look here it is! or, there it is! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The kingdom of God – the sacred – is not here or there. It is not something we can see – through our observation – through our eyes. It is, as Jesus says, within you. God is everywhere present. And the thing that is sometimes the hardest to remember is that also means – where? Right here – inside us.

And that is why – wherever we are is sacred ground. Because we are.

My challenge is to remember that. To act as if I really believed that. To treat every place as sacred.

I invite you to enter into your week and your world – with eyes that see the sacred. With the intention to create the sacred – everywhere you are.

We are a walking, talking, living, breathing – sacred space!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sacred Play

Just hearing those two words together – sacred – play – doesn’t really seems like they fit. Sacred denotes solemn, earnestness, serious – sounds more like work! How could a word like sacred team up with a word like ‘play’?

Where does it show up in religion, in spirituality?

Looking at world religions – if we look – we see that there are the elements of play in every single one.

Zen Masters, Hasidic storytellers, Muslim Mystics – are full of stories that are playful, humorous and valuable and respected. Why is play useful to the spiritual seeker? Because the playfulness lowers our analytical instincts, brings down our ‘life is serious’ radar screen. Play opens us up….and when the story ending is unexpected – when it is humourous and not serious - it stops our mind. We see that there is something profound. What we thought was silly – is actually incredibly wise.

The word "silly" derives from the Greek "selig" meaning "blessed." There is something sacred in being able to be silly.

There is something special that happens when we play – because we are not using our logical or analytical brain – we are doing something – but for no purpose. Most of the time it is non-productive. Doesn’t make anything.

While we are engaged in play – what is happening to the rest of our being – while we are focused on fun and silliness? the rest of our being has a chance to rest, revive itself, take a break from the seriousness of life.

Play is Natural – people everywhere play – in all cultures, in all part of the world. Archeologists have discovered games that were used thousands of years ago. Games are something everyone can do – you don’t need anything. Even a child with nothing, will find a string, or a rock or a branch and in no time have created a play world.


Play begs us to use our imagination – it invokes our curiosity. Things/qualities that we don’t often use in every day life.

Play encourages us not to take ourselves too seriously. Play is the exuberant expression of our being. It is at the heart of our creativity and our most carefree moments of devotion. It helps us live with paradox and mystery. It feeds our joy and wonder. Play helps us in our search for meaning.

Play often elicits laughter and joy. Pure and simple. And we know the benefits and healing aspects of laughter. Laughter heals body, mind, and soul.

In rare moments of deep play, we can lay aside our sense of self, shed time's continuum, ignore pain, and sit quietly in the absolute present, watching the world's ordinary miracles. No analyzing or explaining. No questing for logic. No promises. No goals. No relationships. No worry. One is completely open to what may unfold. — Diane Ackerman in Deep Play

When we play, we sense no limitations. In fact, when we are playing, we are usually unaware of ourselves. Self-observation goes out the window. We forget all those past lessons of life, forget our potential foolishness, forget ourselves. When we immerse ourselves in the act of play we become free.

Play is for the moment; it is not hurried, even when the pace is fast and timing seems important. Play is a vital part of a spiritually enriching life. it has an important role in the spiritual life.

Of course seriousness and earnestness and work have a place in our lives. If you take just a moment to review – even the last week – you can probably easily see that most of the time you were not playing.

Most of us don't play enough. We're either too "busy,” or we're too serious, mistaking earnestness for accomplishment. We equate free-spiritedness with irresponsibility. The best treatment for these conditions is play. We need to lighten up.

As human beings, as spiritual beings, we need to be part of a healthy rhythm. Like breathing – in and out. This is part of what keeps us alive. And an easy rhythm of work and play is also what keeps us alive and healthy.

This natural rhythm is established even in the beginning of our spiritual heritage – in the creation story in Genesis. If we look at the story of creation it says: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth….And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it." Genesis 1:1; 2:2, 3.

That is what we call the Sabbath. A day of rest, recreation, play. A time for renewal.

You might say our week is spent in creation – our work, our homes, our relationships – are all under construction in one way or another. The Sabbath is a day to cease our creating; to rest and appreciate what we have done.

Keeping the Sabbath separates our doing from our being. The work from the play. Sabbath is not one particular day of the week. It is any time we take a rest from our usual activites. Every day we can do this - even for a few minutes.

Our play time is sacred. It is part of the Divine Order of the universe. Keeping time with the rhythm of creation. a time of bringing us back to wholeness.

Practice play by doing things on the spur of the moment.

Take time out to experiment.

Laugh heartily at jokes, situations, and yourself. Laughter is a holy thing. It is as sacred as music and silence and solemnity, maybe more sacred. Laughter is like a prayer, like a bridge over which creatures tiptoe to meet each other. Laughter is like mercy; it heals. When you can laugh at yourself, you are free. (from website)

From the book Spiritual Literacy: Playing around is a good and holy thing. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. It enables us to express ourselves, to use our intuition and imagination, to savor pleasure and the lightness of being, and to make our humble contribution to the unfinished masterpiece of the world.

*************************************************


A student went to see his meditation teacher and said, “My situation is horrible! I feel so distracted most of the time, or my legs ache, or I’m repeatedly falling asleep. It’s terrible.” Said the teacher matter-of-factly, “It will pass.”
A week later, the student returned to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive!” “It will pass,” replied the teacher.


Dear God, Are You really invisible or is it just a trick? Lucy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Abundant Life is Ours

Create What We Can, With What We Have, In the Vision that God Inspires.

Remembering this has really helped me through many situations where I felt stuck or did not know how to proceed.

So - Create What We Can, With What We Have …..what do we have? Look around……………you all got here this morning. That means you have ability to move about, a way to get here - whether by car, bus, your own feet,….it looks like everyone here is dressed - has clothing… probably if we wanted to - we had something to eat this morning…………even if we stop here - we already have much.

And what often happens is that we stop there. We see what we have through our physical senses and think - that is all we have. And often that does not feel like enough. We notice what we don’t have. What others have that we don’t. all the places that are lacking in our lives.

The outer things are only part of the picture. And often that is our focus and where we put our effort and attention.

But there is another very important aspect of our lives and that we are also spiritual beings. And as spiritual beings we have within us a whole lot more. As spiritual beings we are creations of the divine - of God. The same wisdom that God is - we have. The same strength that is God - is within us. There is no separation. it is closer than our breath. It is our pattern for perfection - it is our inheritance.

So what happens when we forget that Truth - when we are asleep to that reality?

We limit ourselves tremendously. Because our human strength and energy will only get us so far - and then what happens? If we don’t get the results we want what do we do? We work harder and do more - in the outer things.

if I work a little harder, if I can do this better, if they would do that differently…………we are totally caught up in our human “doing”.

How many times do we look for a higher answer - a better way - only when we are down on our knees? When we have exhausted all possibilities and we do not know what to do next. And only then - do we - hopefully - turn to our higher power, to God, to divine energy.

Some of you may remember from the last time I was in India about the harrowing bus ride from Delhi up into the Himalayas where I volunteered with the Tibetans. The bus ride is 14 hours overnight in a bus that is barely holding together and in some very narrow and steep roads. The worst part of the journey is the last few hours when the driver is - must be - getting tired and the roads are more hazardous. About 4 am I started to get anxious. I started with Prayer of Protection - noticed driver was Hindu - went to Hindi prayers, then thoughts of all the Tibetan Buddhists in the bus and thought I will add my prayers to theirs - and continued to 8 am when we arrived - in one piece - in MacLeod Ganj.

Isn’t this what we do – we don’t think of connecting with Divine Power until we are scared silly.

Can anyone relate to this? Even the disciples do this same thing and there is a great story that illustrates this - and give us the answer to this very human predicament.

Remember, in Unity we look at the stories and characters in the Bible as a vehicle to discovery. Discovery about ourselves - how we act - what we do - what we fail to do. Each person represents a part of us - we share the human experience with the people in these stories. So as you listen to this - reflect on how we do the same thing as the disciples.

Mark 4:35

Jesus is asleep in the stern. A storm blows up - they row an fight the storm as best they can and when it looks like they will be swamped - they cry out to Jesus - help - save us. Jesus awakes and says simply - peace be still. And the sea is calm.

Anyone been in a situation like this? Scared? Have done everything you can think of - and nothing is changing? Desperate? Here the disciples are feeling like the boat is going down - they have run out of ideas and they turn in desperation - help - do something - they call out to Jesus.

Now Jesus represents the Christ Presence - the perfection of God within us - our highest inner knowing.

So - notice - in this story. Jesus is in the boat. He is there all the time - quietly sleeping. Until he is called for - then he responds with those beautiful powerful words: peace be still.

We only need to ‘wake it up’. It is not going to throw itself on us - it is not going to control our lives - we are not puppets. It is waiting in potential - for us to activate it - to wake it up.

“Create what we can with what we have…” This Christ Presence, our divinity, is part of ‘what we have’. And we don’t have to wait until we are drowning to activate it. we don’t have to wait until we feel like we are out of options, when we are desperate - to wake it up.

A story is told that, early in his ministry, a group of seekers came to the Buddha, to sit at his feet and to receive his words of wisdom. They were very impressed and one of them finally asked,

“Who are you, anyway? Are you a GOD?”

“No,” the Buddha replied

“Are you a SAINT?” asked another.

“No,” he said.

“Are you a PROPHET?”

“No, not a prophet.”

“Well, then, who are you?”

And very calmly the Buddha replied: “I am awake.”

That’s what we want to be - Awake. Awake to the knowing that we already have an incredible reservoir of strength, wisdom, peace……within us right now.

There is a wealth of opportunities and resources available to us - right now. Let’s wake up!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fulfilling Your Divine Purpose

Years ago when I first heard the words – you have a divine purpose – it was not inspiring or exciting or something I couldn’t wait to start doing. On the contrary – it felt like a burden, a BIG responsibility. Does that mean I have to be nice all the time? Does that mean I have to be perfect? Does that mean – worst of all – it going to be work and that is the end of having lots of fun? These are the thoughts that ran through my mind. And as you can imagine – it did not inspire me to jump right in and start living my divine purpose – if anything – I thought – well maybe someday – when I get older or wiser or have more time.

Or this burning question………..what if my purpose is something I don’t want to do – what if it is too hard or too much work?

Basically these thoughts kept me away from the idea of discovering or even thinking about what my divine purpose might be. If I didn’t think about it then I wouldn’t have to DO it and it didn’t really sound like much fun so that was o.k. with me!

I definitely had a few misunderstandings and since then I have learned a few things about divine purpose. And so now – every day – I wake up recommitting myself to my divine purpose and it brings me joy and I look forward with anticipation to how the day will provide opportunities for me to express it.

So how did I make that switch? How did I move from dread to anticipation? I learned a few things about Divine Purpose.

First of all - divine purpose is not about ‘doing’ anything. What a relief! That eliminates all the questions about: what if I don’t do it right, what if it’s not fun, what if I goof it up, what if it doesn’t leave me time to do the things I really want to do …… divine purpose is not about ‘doing’ anything.

secondly: a divine purpose is not a goal. Goals are finite, they have an ending. You may have goals that are an outlet for your divine purpose, but they are NOT your divine purpose. They can be completed whereas your divine purpose is never finished.

I can’t quite remember this quote but it goes something like this: How do you know your purpose on earth is finished? If you are still here – it is not.

There is a reason why you are here right now – and it is not about what you are supposed to DO, it is about your BEINGNESS. It is about WHO you are rather than what you do. Your divine purpose is about living with integrity and alignment with Spirit – with the divine. It is a way of living. It is a way of BEING.

This is what Edwene Gaines says about divine purpose:
Achieving your higher purpose does not require a job title or a license to do certain things. You only need to be who you are: the embodiment of love in all forms. By being who you are, you live your divine purpose in every moment through every situation you encounter. You become a living purpose, and every experience offers the opportunity for you to become more authentically you.

So this is the good news is this – our purpose is simple, it is easy to remember. Our purpose is “to be the presence of God.” easy to remember. “to be the presence of God, of Spirit, of the divine”.

There are times when this can be pretty easy – when we are with those who agree with us, when life goes the way we want it to, when there are no unpleasant surprises – but what about the rest of the time?

You go outside to get into your car to go to work and discover someone has broken into your car overnight. There is a multitude of ways we can respond and there are some things that we need TO DO. AND we can still stay on purpose and ask ourselves: “How can I be an expression of God right here and now. What God-like qualities can I bring to this situation?

Your sibling calls and tells you your parent has been taken to the hospital. As you go through all the things you need to do, remember to connect with your divine purpose and ask yourself – How can I be an expression of the divine, right here and right now?

Can you see that your purpose is not about doing anything, but about WHO you are? And the WHO you are guides the WHAT you DO.

Many years ago a study was done in the US to determine the worst job in the country – the one that nobody would want to do, and based on pay, conditions, and other factors, and they came up with this: the person who travels along the roads of Texas and replaces the cat’s-eyes in the center line. Someone went out to interview him and found him in the 100 + heat, by himself with his pickup truck full of cat’s-eyes, slowly making his way down the road, looking for the missing cat’s-eyes and pounding new ones in the empty spots. They told him – hey, did you know you have the worst job in the country. He looked astonished and said he loves his job; it’s the best job in the world, because every day he knows he is saving lives. He is living the divine qualities of: life and service to others.

What aspect of the divine is trying to express through you? Here are three SIMPLE ways that may help you be more aware of your divine purpose.

FIRST: Pay attention to the things you notice. Your purpose already lies within you and chances are you are already expressing it and living it – just didn’t think about it in those terms. What is it that you notice around you – in a day’s worth of activities –what are the ones that catch your attention? Listen to yourself for the clues. When someone asks you how was your day or what did you do today – pay attention to what comes up for you, what it is that you choose to talk about. it would be impossible to re-iterate all the day’s activities or conversations, but you will be selecting the ones you feel have importance or are worthy.

Did you notice how many people held open the doors for you as you went about your day? Did you catch someone’s glance and detect the hopelessness in their eyes? Did an article in the paper about an animal rescue program catch your attention? Do you love to hear about how people are designing zero impact homes – take nothing from the environment? These are the clues that draw you closer to what your heart and soul longs to do.

When I heard about the Tibetan refugees in India 20 years ago, it grabbed me, and I had a desire that never left me and took me 20 years to fulfill – that I would go to India and help somehow. Being a channel of God’s compassion is one of my ways of BEING. It propels me and energized me – it is never work. I don’t try to be compassionate; now that would be work! Rather I allow God’s infinite love and compassion to flow through me. And when I look back to the choices I made in my work place – I could see that they were all avenues where I could be an expression of compassion and hope.

SECOND: Listen to what people say to you about you. So often we brush off compliments and don’t hear them. Be aware of your strengths, your gifts - the things that come easily to us. Sometimes we do not acknowledge them or give ourselves credit for them because they come easily to us. Someone gives you a compliment - and you slough it off -- thinking “I don’t really deserve any credit for that because it was not hard to do, it took no effort” LISTEN when someone says this - this is one of your unique gifts, it comes easily and you express it easily - this is could be your divine purpose expressing. NOTICE THIS.

THIRD: pay attention to what does not feel right. You will know when you are off track if you are paying attention. Sometimes it takes going off track to notice and be more sure of what is right and true for you.

I was only in Unity for a few years when I attended a religious service at a local church. At some point in the service everyone was speaking a statement of beliefs in unison. Out of respect and really without thinking I was joining along. And I suddenly realized what I was saying and stopped – I realized that I did not believe what I was repeating and I couldn’t continue to say the words, so I respectfully stopped speaking. Even though the situation was a little uncomfortable, I realized two things. The first was that I acted on my beliefs – two, I actually HAD beliefs! That I could articulate or at least know what wasn’t true for me. This was a huge ah-ha. By embracing and starting to live my beliefs, I had a way of measuring or holding up to the mirror, what I held as true and what I did not.

We are all manifestations of the divine – and guess what – that means we can each express it in a unique way. A way of being that no one else on the planet can. The possibilities of how you can express your divine purpose are endless – infinite.

St Francis: “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

Friday, April 24, 2009

Release or Relinquish?

Things are on the move—both in my physical world and in learning some valuable spiritual truths. Since January I have been running through three moving projects simultaneously. Two trips to California have been dedicated to assisting my mother in leaving our family home and moving to a retirement centre. A half a dozen trips to White Rock have moved a portion of our belongings to that “second” home. And in Victoria I am moving from the very spacious two floors upstairs to a one bedroom suite in the basement.

I have sorted through box after box, closet after closet, basement hide-outs, back porches and attics. From baby clothes (mine in California and my children’s here in Victoria), to magazines and books with beautiful art in them, treasures from my travels, long lost and neglected sewing and knitting projects and even programs from concerts of long ago.

However, there is nothing like doing something over and over again, that gives us the opportunity to hone our skills! And this is what I have learned…..

As we use the power of discernment, it sharpens and strengthens, the result being heretofore unknown clarity allowing us to see things in a new way. Its OK to reminisce and spend some time remembering and honouring the people or places that were meaningful to us in the past. I spent many hours sifting through a box and just letting the memories flood back.

However I did stop using the word “release” and instead starting using the word “relinquish”. Release almost implied that if I opened my hand, the object would, (metaphorically) disappear with hardly any effort. What I discovered was that it was also necessary to consciously and persistently untangle and relinquish the emotional hold these things had on me. I discovered that with time, it became easier and easier to recirculate items. And, my ability to trust and place my faith in the Infinite Source played a key role.

My son witnessed me reluctantly letting go of some old calendars with breathtaking photos, and reminded me how I always find beautiful art work and that there is more to come and enjoy, without having to hold on to these old ones.

There is so much good waiting to come to us. When we relinquish our hold on the past and make room - there is much more good to come than we can imagine!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Freedom of Forgiveness

My daughter works in a shipyard and every year boats come in for repair and maintenance. Over the last 7 years she sees many of the same boats - owners knowing the value of regular maintenance. And then she sees a boat every once in awhile that she knows has not been in for a long long time. The bottom is covered in barnacles, the wood is starting to rot, the boat is sometimes even in danger of sinking. What has happened is that little by little the barnacles have attached themselves, and over time the integrity of the boat is in jeopardy.

There is something in our lives that works in a similar way – and that is holding onto the hurts, grudges and resentments of the past. And that past can be a very long time. Because it starts with our earliest memories.

Gary Simmons, a Unity minister and creator of Peacemaking Ministry, says that if we were raised by human beings then we were raised imperfectly. So starting from a very early age, we can start collecting these hurts and over time, they will have the same affect as barnacles on a boat. We begin to sink – or for sure, the weight slows us down and compromises our health and wholeness.

As children we are vulnerable and open – it is easy for us to absorb and believe everything around us. As we grow and are in contact with more people, chances are we had things say to us that hurt our feelings, we felt were unfair, that need to be corrected or made right.

And we carry all this stuff with us. I bet if we spent a few moments here, right now, we could easily come up with a few things that we still remember – unkind words, hurtful actions. Perhaps we even have this mental list of past wrongdoings that we could easily list off the top of our head.

And as adults when we think about these incidents we might tell ourselves – it doesn’t matter, it wasn’t that bad, it was a long time ago. But the truth is – if we can bring them to our mind – we haven’t believed any of that. It has been an intellectual exercise – but deep in our hearts, we are holding on to those hurt wounded places.

Yes things may have happened in our pasts that were traumatic and painful. And now these very things are directing our choices in life. They have affected how we trust people, how we interact with others. How much we take risks.

And those unresolved feelings stay with us and build up over time, like barnacles on a hull. Now the good news is: unlike a boat we don’t need anyone else to do the work for us – well, that’s kind of the good news and the bad news. we can do it ourselves and we don’t need anyone else.

Because even though these past hurts involved other people, WE are the ones that need to do the work to be free of them -it is about US not THEM.

And that’s where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness is a way of releasing those feelings, of letting go of the past. We can only act in the now – we cannot, as hard as we may want – to create a different past. The only thing we can do now is take steps that create a different future.

I think it was Wayne Dyer/Gerald Jampolsky who said, “forgiveness is letting go of wanting a different childhood.”

Before we talk about what forgiveness IS, let’s take a minute to remember what forgiveness is NOT.

Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting. As we do our forgiveness work, we may in time, forget – but the forgiveness – the letting go – comes first.

Forgiveness does not mean it didn’t happen. It is coming to your own terms with what happened and making a decision to release it – to free yourself from the past.

Forgiveness is not reconciliation. We don’t need the other person. This may be someone we never want to be in the presence of again. It may not be physically or emotionally safe to be around this person. This person may not be in physical form anymore – perhaps they have passed on. Forgiveness does not require the presence or participation of another.

Have you ever had the chance to go back or WISH you could get them to see what they did was wrong and say they are sorry?

When I moved to Victoria I got a job at a school as an administrator. The Board, headed by a particular woman, brought me to a meeting and told me what an awful job I was doing, the office was being mismanaged, I was wasting their money. It hurt me deeply to be accused like that. This was 20 years ago and until recently I could still remember the pain and anguish that woman caused me.

Last year I got a call from a young couple to marry them. They had been to this school as young children and it was my joy to do their wedding. The mother of the bride was – guess who - the Board president who had chewed me out so badly and I must admit I was not sure how I would handle meeting her again. At the dress rehearsal I was introduced to her – and she looked at me politely and said hello. Then she said – you look familiar – do I know you from somewhere? She didn’t remember the incident, she didn’t remember me, it was all past history – out of her mind.

You’ve heard the expression – unforgiveness is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. All these years I had been holding on to that pain, thinking – I want her to acknowledge how badly she hurt me and apologize. Who was I hurting – only myself! She was merrily living her life – unencumbered by any memories or misgivings about the incident.

Some of the people that are involved in our forgiveness process may not even be alive - this does not mean we cannot forgive and free ourselves - we don’t need them to do this.

Forgiveness does not mean it was OK, It is not about letting the other person off the hook – it is about letting ourselves off the hook. it means that we are no longer going to let this event affect who we are and how we live our lives.

But when we make the choice to forgive we are saying: what you have done to me is not going to run my life. What you said to me has no power over me any longer. I am in charge of my life.

Forgiveness is attending to our own health and wholeness. It is taking care of ourselves and allowing us to live the fullest life possible, not slow and encumbered by the weight of the past.

We have the power to scrape off those barnacles. We don’t have to wait for anyone else because forgiveness is our work. Only ours.

Forgiveness is a way of releasing energy from the past that you may still be holding on to. When you forgive you move that energy out of the way and make room for greater possibilities.

p.249 The Quest: Harboring unforgiveness and resentment in our hearts does not hurt others. It only hurts us. It eats away at the soul, filling it with bitterness and blocking the free flow of God’s love, which is the essence of our true nature.

Holding grudges and unforgiveness is self-destructive.

Holding on to the past is limiting your life expression now. Grudges, resentments, disappointments all weigh us down. Unforgiveness is one of the things that creates barriers between us and the flow of God’s good. When we are holding onto the unforgiveness and we can’t open our hands to the good that is coming to us.

matt 18:21 If a member of the church sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven time? Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but seventy seven times.”

Forgiveness happens over time. We often find we need to do it over and over as we discover or uncover more woundedness within us. It is like uncluttering our hearts – as we get rid of some stuff, we find out there is more. It is a natural healing process – so it can take time.

What is the first step? Willingness. Look into your heart and see if you are truly willing to let go of the hurt. Sometimes we are not. We have been comfortable with it. Just remember – we are the ones who are keeping ourselves stuck.

So – are we willing to let go? And ask ourselves……..
does it matter if the other person acknowledges their wrong – no
does it matter if we ever see the other person – no
does it matter that they never said they were sorry – no

We are doing it for ourselves. When we can let go of the past resentments and hurts, we are truly free. We have the power to cut the cord that binds us to this other person, the cord that is choking us. We choose the time for this to happen. No one else can set us free. How about sooner than later?

Give the gift of forgiveness – to yourself - and start now!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spiritual Friendship

Once upon a time there was a baby hippo that got separated from his pod, washed out to sea and was all alone. Many many people gathered to help him to safety, but since he had lost his mother and his family he didn’t eat and he was VERY unhappy. Then he discovered a 130 year old tortoise and he followed that tortoise around. Every time the tortoise moved away, the baby hippo followed him. Now the tortoise was a solitary animal and was used to being alone. He did not wish such close company. But after some time he accepted the baby hippo. When he ate, the baby hippo ate. When he found a cool place to sleep, the hippo slept right beside him. They have been together now for 3 years and this is a true story.

What is friendship? Friendship can be based on needs – perhaps these two animals formed a “friendship” on how they fulfilled each others needs. Friendships can also be based on common interests. And often that is what draws us to certain people. Perhaps you have a friends that loves to go to the art gallery or visit art shows. You share this interest and a wonderful friendship can be based on this. Or perhaps you form a friendship with someone because you share common experiences. You may have been raised in the same kind of culture, or had similar experiences as a child, or went through adolescence together at the same school. This can form a great friendship.

And then there is something called spiritual friendship, which calls the relationship to an entirely different level because it is not based on needs or common experiences or shared interest. It is based on spiritual principles and when we open ourselves to those possibilities we can experience some unlikely friendships – kind of like the tortoise and the baby hippo. Two people who seem to have nothing in common can form a powerful spiritual friendship. I have seen many friendships blossom and flourish here at Unity Church of Victoria and some of them are as unusual or unlikely as the relationship between the baby hippo and the tortoise.

We have several Transformative Prayer groups meeting within the church – and part of the mystery and wonder about this kind of friendship comes from the fact that often these people initially have nothing in common. They are not people who are naturally drawn together or who under different circumstances would necessarily spend time with each other. But that is the beauty of the friendship- it is based in Spirit. Not in our human-ness, but in the principle that each one of us is an expression of God. Each one of us is a unique creation of the divine. And when we see each other in that Light, and support each other in Truth, miracles happen.

The gifts of a spiritual friendship are trust, acceptance and love. Who would not want to experience these - trust, acceptance and unconditional love. Trust is knowing that you are safe with this person, that you do not need to place distance or armour when you are around them. That you can trust them to listen to you. Acceptance gives you the freedom to feel your feelings, say what’s on your mind without being judged or criticized. Because sometime we just have a bad day or a bad spell. When we are not feeling cheerful or upbeat. And with a friendship based on acceptance we don’t have to pretend to be who we are not. There are no masks. A friend will listen and be with us, never forgetting that we are really so much more than what is showing at this moment. And unconditional love – who wouldn’t want to know that someone recognizes the inner beauty and joy and wisdom and will love you and appreciate you even when you are not feeling worthy of it.

These are the gifts of a spiritual friendship. Can most of us say that we would love to have that kind of relationship. We could probably agree that that would be great and yes – let’s have it.

What I have just described is what we RECEIVE from a spiritual friendship. How do we get it? How do we receive it? BY GIVING IT.

When I first heard this - suddenly I am thinking – I am not sure I could be that good of a friend. I try to be loving but sometimes this person is so ____________ fill in the blank. I am accepting – most of the time…….

Now we come into the practice of spiritual friendship – because it is a spiritual practice. One that we can all learn and certainly one that we can always improve on. And one of the greatest gifts you will receive is finding someone who is willing to form a relationship based on spiritual practices. You wonder – are there any people around like that? Look around - you are probably surrounded by a few right now.

How do we learn to be a good friend? Pets are great teachers of some of the attributes of spiritual friendship. You come home and your dog runs up to you – absolutely delighted to see you and so happy to be in your company. You say – do you want something to eat? the dog wags its tail – yes! you ask the dog – would you like to go for a walk? the dog immediately responds – yes! you say to the dog – I don’t feel like walking – how about sitting on the couch with me – and the dog says yes! You say – I’m tired right now we’ll go for a walk later – yes! I didn’t buy you the best food, this was all I could afford and the dog says yes! you’re the greatest – whatever you do is great! They love and accept you every moment.

So we have some great examples of unconditional love around us. We would like to think we are accepting, trustworthy and loving. And then our friend does something so ______________. And then we think – well, with that kind of negative thinking – what do they expect to happen? If they would only pray more, or meditate every day – everything would turn around.

There is a name for this: metaphysical malpractice.

And there is a great example of this = guess where? the Bible – the place where we can read about all the strengths and the weaknesses of people just like you and me.

The story is Job. He has been a good man all his life. He has a wife, children, herds of cattle and sheep- a prosperous man in every way. Then everything is taken away from him – his family, his possessions and even his health. He is sitting in the dirt – wondering – how did this all happen – to me – a good man! Perhaps you can relate – but that is a different story.

The part of the story that we are going to explore right now is Job’s friends. The ones that come to comfort him and be with him in this disastrous time of his life.

Eliphaz – God is doing this to you for a reason. It is not yours to question. When God is good and ready, He will turn everything around – you need to be patient and wait. Just be patient.

Job – show me how your words are of comfort.

Bildad – You must have done something! Perhaps your children were sinful, maybe you have been too proud. You have forgotten God. You have brought this upon yourself. “God will not reject a blameless person” (job 8:20) You must have done something. As soon as you get right with God – God will get right with you. Here in Unity we use spiritual words like – there must be something in your consciousness that attracted this to you.

Job – your words are full of the east wind – blowing hot and scorching. “How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words? Even if it true that I have erred, my error remains with me” (Job 19:1-4) You do not need to remind me of what I know.

Zophar – things are so much more than you can imagine – you have no idea how great God is, or what is in the mind of God. You are obstinate and proud. No wonder God turns his face from you. It would take a miracle to change your life. “But a stupid person will get understanding when a wild ass is born a person” When hell freezes over……..repent and everything will be OK.

Job – “But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know such things as these?” (Job 12:3) “If only you would be silent – that would be your wisdom” (Job 13:5) “Your maxims are proverbs of ashes” (Job 13:12) do you think I do not know these things – I am not an idiot. Tell me something I don’t know. Job 16:1-5 – it easy to say in your shoes………..

Can you see where Job’s friends have totally missed the spiritual practice of friendship? They have been critical - you did this to yourself. they have been condescending – just be patient, you are experiencing this for a reason, its for your own good. They have been stand-offish – it would take a miracle to fix this mess – good luck.

I am going to add another trap we might fall into: the same thing happened to me….. Remember this is not your experience, so just stop.

This is metaphysical malpractice and we all need to aware how easy it is to fall into this trap – in the guise of being a good friend, we use spirituality as a weapon. Has anything that has been said been helpful or comforting or accepting or loving? When your friend is in pain – this is not a time to argue theology. One of my very first Unity teachers said: mind your own spiritual business.

In the end the prophet Elihu appears and says – “Let us choose what is right, let us determine among ourselves what is good” (Job 34:4) And I think these are beautiful words – words of comfort and empowerment. Let us (together) choose what is right.

Honour the connection your friend has with God. Hold the place for healing – even without words. Can you just BE with your friend? Listening, being a silent witness to their experience. St Francis said “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Just BE – it is a most precious gift to give and to receive.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Love Your Enemies

We have been talking about Creating Wholeness in Relationships and using the book “I of the Storm” by Gary Simmons which uses the analogy of a hurricane. Even if we have never experienced an actual hurricane we have seen clips and photos of the damage they cause.

As a child we used to go camping on the coast of North Carolina during Easter break. And sometime that coincided with hurricane season. We had this fabulously designed tent that could be withstand phenomenal wind and rain. It was bright red and white canvas and often after a storm we would unzip the zipper and step out into the calm aftermath and as we look all around the campsite, see that ours was the only tent standing. Although we had a lot of faith in that tent, I remember as a child I would often be scared - maybe terrified is a better word - while the winds were whipping around us.

The hurricane of course is a physical image relating to storms, but we also experience storms in our minds, hearts and bodies. In our relationships, our workplace, our families.

And we can relate to the feelings: things feel out of control or scary. We are being swept around by a situation or person. The feeling of helplessness or hopelessness.

Last week we had a few images of hurricanes as seen from space and what we saw was that at the center of every hurricane is what is called the ‘eye’. The place where there is no wind, no storm. If you happen to be in the ‘eye’ as it passes over, you would see blue sky, sunshine, perfect calm.

This is where we want to live our lives. Where we are calm, at peace and connected to God. Only when we are here, can we be a presence of peace and love. Only when we are here can we be a force for healing.

The purpose of being in the eye of the storm is not to make the storm go away. Storms are not going to disappear. Being in the eye of the storm is holding a space for the power of love to do its work.

When we are in the center of the storm we know that there is nothing against us but every situation and person is here for us.

Sometimes it feels like there is something against us - ever in a hurry and it seems like EVERY light turns red just as we get to the intersection? Or if we have experienced disease or divorce or being fired.

Our enemy is our belief that there is something against us.


We know we are viewing an enemy when:
we feel the need to control
we have the need to be right
we need to make to other person wrong
we are avoiding or resisting

Given that I would say most of us have at least one ‘enemy’. One person we are avoiding, one situation we want to control. So what do we do with this ‘enemy’. How do we move forward - how do we proceed? How do we not get caught up in the storm?

In Matthew 5 we find an answer……….

1st step: Look into the mirror (person/situation) and love. When a situation arises that looks as though it is against you, be willing to see it as an agent of good.

2nd step: Bless the situation or person. To bless means to endow a person or situation with the capacity to be a source of good in your life. When we bless something, we dismantle the belief that anything can come between our good and us.

3rd step: Do the right thing, instead of needing to be right. How can I be the avenue for God’s Love right now? How can I demonstrate wholeness?

4th step: Pray. Pray does not mean “God, get this out of my life”. Prayer allows us to shift our attention to our center. When we pray, we lift ourselves and the situation into the peace and serenity of God.

Now here is where we put this formula to the test. I would like you all to bring to mind one person or situation that feels like an ‘enemy”. Anything you want to control over, you want to avoid, you are resisting or we feel the need to be right. And we are going to practice this four step formula.

Meditation: Let’s take this formula: Love, Bless, Do Right and Pray - as we go into prayer. Breathe into your heart and as you do, feel the love within you begin to expand. With each breath, feelings of love and appreciation grow and radiate until your heart is filled with the healing power of love. Continue to breathe into the heart and let the love fill your body as we use this Four Step Formula.

Love Your Enemies: Are you willing to begin this journey? That is the first step - willingness - to accept and embrace this situation or person. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to embrace this person or situation? Am I willing to see this differently? Am I wiling to use this challenge for MY healing?” If the answer is yes, then silently say yes.

Bless those that curse you:
Breathe into your heart. This is a journey of the heart and the heart understands this wisdom. So stay focused in the loving energy of your heart. Ask you heart how this can be a blessing. How can I see that this is FOR me, not against me? Am I wiling to see this as a blessing instead of a curse? What is this mirroring for me that I need to see in order to transform myself and my world? Breathe into your heart. Let’s move forward to step three.

Do Good Those Who Hate You:
This makes perfect sense to your heart, since the heart knows that no one and nothing is against you. How can I make the difference? What authentic action can I take that will change this situation, that will bring about healing, what is the loving thing to do? How can I be in harmony with the universe and be an expression of God? Am I wiling to be the instrument for change? To be the one who makes a difference? When the answer is yes, we are ready to go forward.

Pray for those who persecute you:
Keep the person or situation in your heart now and breathe that loving energy into them. In your heart is all the strength you need to heal this and change an enemy into a friend. Let’s enter the Silence together as we continue breathing into the heart and feel love and appreciation filling us. SILENCE. Feel the freedom and lightness within you as you change your world. You have the power to turn any enemy into a blessing through the Presence of Spirit.