Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

– Luke15: 11 – 32 We know that Jesus taught through parables and that he was a good teacher. He innately knew that people learn in a variety of ways and he was able to incorporate all these into his life… and provide us with a wealth of wisdom to draw from. The teaching we are focusing on today is love and forgiveness. Jesus exemplified this teaching in many ways but one of the most profound is the story of the prodigal son. We have seen how the story looks as it is told in Luke –Now what is the message for us? Today? We can probably relate to one or perhaps even both of the sons. We have one son who obeys his father, who follows all the rules, who does what is expected of him and works hard. Anyone relate to that son? And then we have the son who wants his freedom and independence and to make his own way. Who cannot bear to be living under his father’s roof and wants to experience and make a life for himself. Anyone relate to that son? These represent human situations that perhaps we have experienced ourselves. But is there is much more to this story – let’s have a look. The Father represents God – Creator – Source (whatever name you are comfortable with). And the household is the place where we are consciously connected with God. And probably each and every one of us has left that home at some time or another. We have forgotten that we are Spirit in expression, we have forgotten that we are abundantly provided for – we have forgotten that we are One with Infinite Spirit. We may have done this in our families, within our professions, in relationship to our finances – any number of ways. We have drifted away through inattention or we may have even broken away like the younger son and said “I don’t need anybody, I can do this on my own”. And what happens – perhaps not so dramatically as in this story, but inevitably - we lose ourselves, hopelessness, at the bottom – alone. And then there are those powerful lines in the story when the younger son was in this place of despair…. “and he came to himself” – he remembered who he really was – the perfect child of a loving creator. And he knew he had to return home. He found himself. In these situations we may have experienced this - “what am I doing!?” “How did I end up here?” And then what do we see in this story – the father sees the son coming from a far distance. What does this imply? That the father has been watching for him. The father has not given up on him. The father is expecting his return. The father has not forgotten him. It does not matter what we have done, where we have been. When we come to our senses and come home – everything is there waiting for us – always. And the father rejoices with the return of the younger son and when the dutiful son questions his being so happy for the son that lost the family fortune, the father speaks these profound word of love and forgiveness…….. “My son, you are with me always, everything I have is yours.” We are one with God always – even when we forget, even when we are not aware. And everything that God is – is ours – already – right now. We are one with God - pure Spirit – Infinite Abundance. Our good in whatever form it comes in – cannot be withheld from us. We may walk away from it – but it is never taken away from us. It is the father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. Let’s accept it…. and use what we have been given for the good of all.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Shall Plant a Garden

These thoughts are based on the following: “I Shall Plant a Garden” By Michele D Martin I shall plant a garden where once I let a jungle grow heavy with seeds of careless thoughts. Its vines were heavy with ignorance and twisted in confusion, leaving shadows blind to the knowing warmth of the sun. And in the flowerbox of my memory, where the weeds once grew wild and harsh with nettles, I shall plant purple flowers of forgiveness, graceful with pliant stems of compassion and gentle blooms of understanding. I shall lie among them on weary days and drink deeply of the comfort and strength of their fragrance. I shall plant a garden with loving furrows of commitment. I shall cultivate and weed carefully among the produce of my purpose, the sweet fruit of my inspiration begging to be served, so that it may blossom and grow again. And here, in the fertile ground of my heart, with roots grow deep to drink the sacred water of my soul, I shall plant flowers – buds eternally blooming with the whisper of love grown to a song when my vision falls upon them – petals of the softest caress, profuse with the gentle care lavished upon them. I shall plant a garden. In the rich and fertile fields of my mind, in the holy soil of my heart, fed from the spring of my soul, I shall plant a garden of beauty, fertilized with love and cultivated with commitment. I shall plant a garden under the knowing warmth of Spirit. **************************************************************************** I shall plant a garden where once I let a jungle grow heavy with seeds of careless thoughts. As human beings we all grow up with so many influences. Children absorb everything that is spoken and unspoken around them. From their families, siblings, neighbours, teachers – everyone. We form protective layers – this jungle. We see ourselves on a purely physical basis and the limitations that extend from that limited thinking. It happens innocently – it happens to everyone In this jungle….Its vines were heavy with ignorance and twisted in confusion, leaving shadows blind to the knowing warmth of the sun. We may have been confused and experiencing the shadows and we know that there are no shadows without the sun. The sun that is always present even when we can’t see it or feel its warmth. This knowing is the key to everything. That thread of hope that there is something bigger than what we see in any one moment at work, in our lives and in the entire universe. This is the starting place – our first Unity principle. There is one presence and one power. From that place we access the strength that gets us through the tough times, we access the inspiration and the ideas that propel us forward. We are supplied with the peace. And in the flowerbox of my memory, where the weeds once grew wild and harsh with nettles, I shall plant purple flowers of forgiveness, graceful with pliant stems of compassion and gentle blooms of understanding. We can choose to plant something else. And we can do this with compassion and understanding. We an do it without blaming ourselves or others. We can do it with forgiveness – what a gift we can give ourselves. Forgiveness is not saying it was OK, not saying it wasn’t bad, not saying to forget. Not waiting for the other person to say they are sorry. Forgiveness is the letting go that frees us – we are not dependent on anyone else to move through the hurts of the past and plant a new life. I shall lie among them on weary days and drink deeply of the comfort and strength of their fragrance. We do have days that feel weary and heavy. We never know what is going on in the lives of those around us. What’s on their minds and hearts, we don’t need to know the details if we can just keep in mind that everyone is or has been at some time heavy hearted. I shall plant a garden with loving furrows of commitment. I shall cultivate and weed carefully among the produce of my purpose, the sweet fruit of my inspiration begging to be served, so that it may blossom and grow again. There are 2 key words: Commitment and Service. Commitment to taking the steps to do our own spiritual work. To let go of what is keeping us stuck, to have a spiritual practice of meditation or study. And to use our spiritual gifts in the service to others. And here, in the fertile ground of my heart, with roots grow deep to drink the sacred water of my soul, I shall plant flowers – buds eternally blooming with the whisper of love grown to a song when my vision falls upon them – petals of the softest caress, profuse with the gentle care lavished upon them. What is we want to plant in our garden? What is it we want to experience in our lives? Peace? Inspiration? Joy? Start planting it now in your mind and heart, in your words and actions. I shall plant a garden. In the rich and fertile fields of my mind, in the holy soil of my heart, fed from the spring of my soul, I shall plant a garden of beauty, fertilized with love and cultivated with commitment. I shall plant a garden under the knowing warmth of Spirit.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Celebrate Every Step

As human ‘doings’ we can often race from one appointment to another, one task to the next, always adding more things to the ‘to do’ list. As we do make progress and things get ticked off the ‘to do’ list we sometimes forget a very important step. Celebration! We forget to stop and say hey, I did a pretty good job there!” Or whew – that was a big step. We don’t stop and appreciate what we have accomplished. We tick one thing off the list and add two more – the list never ends – we just go on and on and on. We often don’t celebrate, sometimes we don’t even pause! This pause and celebrate - has been one of my biggest learnings. To stop and reflect for a moment on what I have just done. For instance, Sunday services take hours of preparation and thought. Many people find them enriching and meaningful. When I get home – instead of checking my email and looking at the next thing on my list…I sit down with a cup of tea and savoured the time. Just gave myself a moment to soak up the feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction. It is important no matter how large or small the project – that we take time to do this. Here is a little fun way that reminds me to celebrate or at least acknowledge that I have completed a step. I have a pottery bowl with glass stones/blobs you can find at a craft shop. I have a beautiful glass vase. Every time I accomplish something, for instance, answered all my emails, I take a stone from the pot and drop it into the glass. Finished my report to the Board – drop a stone. Prepare a Sunday lesson – maybe that one is worth 4 stones! Doing this makes me stop and consciously appreciate what I have just done. I don’t end up at the end of the day wondering: where did it go? What did I do? I know…. its right here in front of me! When the glass is full I treat myself to something that I find personally rewarding. There is another aspect of celebration I would like to explore. As we go through our daily lives we sometimes encounter ‘bumps’. Some experiences or people that seem to hinder us moving forward. Something that trips us up. Something unexpected that happens. It could be a situation like building a bookshelf. We order special brackets, we go to pick them up, they are the wrong ones. Or taking a trip – the first plane is late and we miss our connection to the next one. We want to cook a special meal, we go to the store and they are out of a key ingredient. These things – large or small happen all the time. Or it could be a person: perhaps we join a group for fun and one person there talks too much or is always late. We go out to enjoy a walk and we see someone did not pick up after their dog. These things also happen all the time. What is there to celebrate in that? In reaction we might say – I’ll never do that again (fly, join a group, build a bookshelf). Or we might re-arrange our lives so that we don’t have to encounter that person or situation again. When we do that we are missing a huge opportunity for growth. Every person and situation is an opportunity for us to learn something – if we don’t shy away or run away. Some of the most annoying people in my life have been my greatest teachers – as soon as I was willing to see them that way. I began to ask myself: How is this person being a teacher for me? What can I learn from this person? And the best part is: I didn’t have to sign up for a course or attend a seminar. I didn’t have to pay big bucks to learn this amazing life-transforming lesson. I got my teacher – for free! No book to read, no studying – it was in front of me all the time. We are surrounded by our teachers – look around at the people and situations in your life. And celebrate that!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Snap-Crackle-Pop

I have a question for you. Do you consider yourself a creative person? When I ask that question to a group of people, some will nod their heads and say – yes I am pretty creative. Others will shake their heads and say nope – not a creative bone in my body. We can all look around us and see the results of the creativity of others – incredible art work, music, sewing, knitting, weaving, architecture, gardening and have lots of admiration for people who are so creative. I appreciate the arts but …. I don’t give myself any time to learn or improve my artistic endeavours. I am more like – jump in and see what happens. Every year we do Ukrainian Easter eggs with our family and friends. When we first started, we would invite some of my children’s friends over so they could learn how to do it. I would always take time to re-iterate that each person’s egg would look different and that it takes some practice to get the results you are looking for because I could see them admiring the eggs we collected over the years in the big glass bowl on the table. Every person at the table had a different approach. The first thing my daughter did was spend a few minutes, examining each egg, seeing the shapes and sizes until she found one that she wanted. Then she would sit quietly looking at the egg, in the silence and I could see that she is in the process of imaging what she was going to create. Her results are always beautiful, imaginative, colourful - it takes her hours to do one egg. When we visit art galleries, art shows, look at craft magazines, peruse hardware stores we can see and appreciate the incredible things people create. And we can decide we are not the creative type and we put it aside. The truth is, true creativity is not something we can put aside. It’s not like saying I’m not good at bike riding so I am not going to ride a bike. Or that I’m not good at baking bread so I won’t do it. The fact is that we are ALL creative beings. We cannot give up or put aside our creativity. It’s part of our divine nature. We are all creating all the time. Every moment of the day. And the scary part is, most of the time we are unaware that we are doing this. So our creations are unconscious, haphazard and often happen by default. Right now, in this moment, and each day, we are living – experiencing - the results of the creations of our pasts. Because we create not only with our hands and bodies – we create with our thoughts. The power of our thought cannot be overestimated. It is through our thoughts that we create the experience of our world. Thoughts and feelings linked with the power of the word is a mighty tool to change our experience of the world and to manifest what we want. We affect our environment all the time with our thoughts. In science, it’s been proven that someone observing an experiment has an effect on it, the results are different when it is unobserved. So don’t you think it would be a good thing to recognize this? That we are creating all the time and to be more conscious of what we are doing, certainly more careful with the power that we wield every moment of the day. This creative power can be used consciously or unconsciously. When we drive a car we are careful and paying close attention to our decisions and movements. Think of what would happen if we drove without that attention – disaster. We want to use our creative power consciously and constructively, not absent mindedly or carelessly. There are no limits to our creativity. A hundred years ago it was impossible to predict or imagine what was possible in the future and it still is – why is that? Because there is no limit on what a human being can think about and bring into reality. There is no limit because our minds are linked with Infinite Mind. Yes, infinite! God Mind is Infinite and we are not just connected to it – which implies we could be disconnected from it – but more like fully integrated with that Mind. When we say Divine Mind – it is Head and Heart, not intellect only. Divine Mind encompasses all our wisdom which includes our heart wisdom. How do things come into manifestation? How is it that there is nothing and then there is something? Sometimes things seem so complex and intricate, that we forget that everything that comes into being – whether it is a dog house or a garden bed or a new kind of software – follows a creative process. We can do it on our own – by the seat of our pants. And what I have noticed when I do that is that my “creations” fall apart, or don’t last long or don’t produce what I was looking for. That’s the ‘human doing’ way to create. And then there is the divine process of creation that is laid out for us. I call it snap, crackle, pop. The first step in creation is consciously connecting with the divine – with God – with infinite Spirit – whatever name you want to give it. It is the “Let there be Light” step. Light represents – a flash of illumination – Snap! Whether it is to discover a cure for arthritis or dig a new garden bed, we start with Infinite Source – with God. After we have tapped into Divine Mind then the ‘crackle’ begins – that’s our part. Everything that comes into being comes through us – we are God’s eyes, ears, feet and hands. It is our job to take this divine idea and “see” it, visualize it – this is what my daughter was doing when she was looking at the egg – before she picked up any tools – she was planting the image of it in her mind. When we can see it – then we know what to do next. And again – this can be for creating a flower arrangement, a floor plan for a new home, a new relationship – everything. Then we take the next step and start the ‘doing’. Pop. Bringing it into manifestation. Now the idea has form that we can experience. We can see it. What started in divine mind has worked through us and out into our world. Let’s be conscious about our creative power. Let’s pay attention to what we are bringing into manifestation. Right now we are creating our future – let’s “take care” that we follow a Spirit Led, Spirit Fed creation process.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Gratitude Before and After

When I started taking classes to become a Licensed Unity Teacher, I was ‘forced’ to take biblical studies. I did so unwillingly. Why did I have to study these stories that had nothing to do with me, that happened thousands of years ago, to people on the other side of the world. We started with the Old Testament stories and one thing I noticed was that some of the most amazing and well known stories were about people – just regular people – like me. They didn’t start off wanting to accomplish great tasks or go down in history. Most of them, when they heard the ‘voice’ of God did not say – sure OK God – I’ll get right to it. God actually had to come and yank them by the collar to get their attention. And I think this same thing happens to us too. We too are called – how is God trying to get our attention? It might not be a burning bush - it could be that still small voice. It could be a storm in your life. It could be through serendipitous circumstances that you cannot ignore. But over the years I have learned to listen – to pay attention – to say ‘yes’. Like Noah …… not really sure why ……… I can’t see the whole picture. But the message is unmistakable. Noah is a great example of listening and following the instructions despite criticism by those around him. And because he listened to God we now have this profound wisdom that I would like to share. 10 Lessons from Noah's Ark One: Don't miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you're stressed, float a while. Ten: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting. At the end of all these stories of success and accomplishment there is always great celebration & expression of gratitude. And we all know how important the expression of gratitude is. Giving thanks & expressing gratitude shifts our perspective….. on our lives, on the world, on everything! And then there is the spiritual practice of giving thanks in advance which requires faith. In Hebrews 11:1 we read: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Jesus did not say – thank you for making this bread enough to feed 5,000 people - he just said thank you. Before Jesus went into Lazarus’ tomb he did not say – thank you for bringing Lazarus back to life. He said thank you Father that you have heard me. Are we willing to step out in faith and give thanks for what we have not yet seen? What happens when we do that? Saying thank you takes us out of worry. We cannot say thank you & be anxious at the same time. Giving thanks before we see the gift puts us in a position of receptivity. We are open to the good……..to possibilities.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What's Next?

Today is the culmination of the 40 day season of Lent. This was also around the same time as the Lunar New Year. A gift was brought for everyone –a little red envelope with fava beans inside. Some people went right home and planted them. Some grew so quickly that they are already in the garden. What an amazing symbol of LIFE. Within that little seed is the POWER and the LIFE force that can create something so remarkable. Not only can this one seed produce food for us – it will also create…………..more seeds! A few days ago we had a Good Friday service but the story doesn’t stop there. We do not stay – remain - in Good Friday - the symbol of fear and suffering. We move ahead to Easter – symbolising resurrection, new life, freedom. Easter IS an eternal perpetual experience – not limited by time or form. Listen to what two Unity writers say about ‘resurrection”: Martha Smock was one of the earlier editors of the Daily Word in the 1940s. As well as the books she wrote she also contributed articles to the Daily Word. I found an article she wrote about Easter in the Unity archives – and the title caught my eye: You Are Unfettered, Unbound, Triumphant, Glorious, Free. And this is what she says: The beginning of your freedom lies in your own mind. The freedom to be, to be all that God created you to be, is yours, not someday but now. Do not put off your freedom. You have the power through the Spirit of God in you, to be all that you have longed to be. You have freedom to grow, to unfold, to express the God-qualities within you. Emmet Fox says: “The resurrection is a practical step for you and me to take today. It is not just a theological belief. It is a fact of nature. It is the Truth of Being. It means a perfect and integrated soul. It means reunion with God in thought, understanding and realization.” How can we embody the resurrection experience: Unfettered, Unbound, Triumphant, Glorious? Perfect & Integrated? Remember the fava beans? Mine have remained in their packet, unplanted. Yes they have potential….. but what happens if I do not plant them? Nothing. In the same way – we each have potential within us for greatness. And yet, it requires some movement on our part – it does not happened by itself. If we leave our potential untouched – for whatever reason: ignorance, fear, - nothing happens – it lies dormant like the seed. How we will ever experience the fullness of life – the kingdom of heaven – if we never plant the seed? How could we possibly enjoy the fruit? Or in this case – the vegetable? Rumi said: If you want to witness the resurrection, then be it. For this is the condition for witnessing anything. So how do we ‘be it’? And this is where some of our Unity teachings are valuable and practice. We have many tools to help us and support us in growing into the fullness of life. Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, felt there was deep significance in the 12 disciples. He researched their actions, what they said, where they fell short and where they expressed the fullness of their spiritual nature. He attributed a power to each one and also a colour. The three colours that are associated with Easter are: pink, yellow and purple. Let’s start with pink. This colour is associated with the disciple John and the power is DIVINE LOVE. Charles Fillmore says that in Spirit, “love is the pure essence of Being that binds together the whole human family.” And this power of Divine Love is closely linked with the power of DIVINE WISDOM. What we know is that love without wisdom is blind, foolish, easily mislead. It can easily lead us into difficulty without its brother power wisdom - represented by the colour yellow. Divine Wisdom is our intuitive knowing, not reasoning or intellect, but light the brilliant flash of illumination. It is the ability to look beyond appearances, to see the higher way. It shines its light on all situations so we can see them rightly. And then there is PURPLE, matched with the power of….. DIVINE POWER. The power we are talking about is not the power over others. It is not the power that controls, forces. We are talking about the Power over ourselves. Our ability to monitor and reflect on our actions. Our ability to make changes in our thoughts and words. Our ability to receive and use God energy. The integration of these divine three powers – love, wisdom and power - into our everyday lives is a way to begin living the life of unfettered freedom and creation. Even though we celebrate Easter one Sunday of the year – it is important to remember that this one day symbolizes – is an example of - what is possible EVERY day. When we miss the mark & then bring ourselves back to center, we have experienced a resurrection. When we release a belief that has held us back from experiencing the fullness of life, we have made a resurrection. Do not minimize these small resurrections. Use your divine powers of love, wisdom and power to transform your life. How do we learn to master a craft or an art? By practicing daily, by little steps. MEDITATION Meditate on the idea that there is a Spirit in you that is unfettered, unbound, triumphant, splendid, glorious, free. You cannot help but respond to this transcendent vision. You will feel an inner freedom that has nothing to do with circumstances, with conditions, past or present, with what you have thought of yourself, or what others have thought of you. You gain dominion over your thoughts, over your feelings, over the circumstances and conditions of your life as you hold to the realization that there is a Spirit in you that transcends all things. The inner freedom you feel will sustain and uphold you as you go about the activities of daily living. You will feel free; you will be free, for you are Spirit: unbound, unlimited, unaffected by circumstances, all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful. You are not bound by anything, any person, any situation. You are freer than you think. Let go the thoughts and beliefs that have kept you in bondage, that have made you fearful of trying. If you long to be free, think about the idea of having freedom to be. What do you want to be? What do you want to express? What do you envision for yourself and your life? You have freedom to be. "Perfect love casts out fear." God is with you as perfect love. You cannot be afraid in the presence of God; you cannot be doubtful or anxious; you cannot be bound by what you have been in the past; you cannot be limited by what you have thought of yourself or what others have thought of you. Here in this present moment you are free; you are a child of God; you are standing on holy ground. Lift your thoughts above the limitations of your life. Let them transcend, for the moment at least, all that has seemed to bind you, to stand in your way, all that has frustrated you or made you unhappy. When you let go limiting and binding thoughts, you find that conditions, persons, or circumstances no longer have power over you.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Good Happens

Looking for Good News? It’s out there! There is a lot of talk of how bad things are in the world, in our country, everywhere we look. And if we watch or listen to the news this is often the message we receive. Bad weather, accidents, global warming, polluted oceans, war…….. So I decided to look and see if there was any good news. Is there anything going ‘right’ in the world? And what I discovered is there is A LOT ‘going right’ in the world. That people all over the planet – and in this community - are energetically working to address the issues that we are facing. There are people of principle, intelligence and drive who deeply feel the needs of our times and are responding - using their imaginations and energy to create a better world. But these ideas and people rarely make the news. You need to look for it! Our local newspapers report lots of great news in our community with people helping each other and our environment. You can also look in magazines and - our library! What a great resource. I am an enthusiastic supporter of our public libraries. We walk there one evening a week and spend time in the magazine section and read really amazing stuff on all kinds of topics and fields. Listen to what research says: one of the most important contributors to our health and happiness comes from sharing good news with one another. The research has shown that talking about a positive experience makes it feel ‘more real’ and that we gain extra satisfaction in making another person happy through our good news. Also from this report: “If you seek happiness, it can become very elusive, whereas if you naturally share the good things in your life, happiness will follow. The problem is that we tend to share what’s going on badly in our lives, not capitalising on sharing the positive.” Where to find “good news” Positive News.org/uk “Focusing on solutions, it reports on people and initiatives that are creating a sustainable, just and fulfilling world. Positive News aims to inform, inspire and empower its readers, while helping create a more balanced, constructive and responsible media.” GoodnewsAgency.org “The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing.” happynews.com “We believe virtue, goodwill and heroism are hot news. That's why we bring you up-to-the-minute news, geared to lift spirits and inspire lives. “ DailyGood.org is a portal that shares inspiring quotes and news stories that focus on the "good" we can find in our world daily along with a simple action to continue that goodness.” More Good News Martyn Lewis, former BBC news presenter said constantly covering bad news was lazy journalism and ignored good things happening around us on a regular basis. “I have been misunderstood in the past, with people believing I just want more good news at the expense of covering real news. This is not the case, I want a more balanced news agenda, which treats good newsworthy stories in the same way as negative stories.” I Am One with Infinite Source. As a radiating center of Divine Love I stand in the fullness of true abundance. My mind and heart are open to the power of Divine Energy healing my body, harmonizing my emotions and renewing my mind. I easily release and let go of all beliefs and habits that stand in the way of my being a loving and powerful conduit of peace and prosperity. Truly, peace begins with me. I affirm that all life is created with sacred worth. Through my thoughts, words and deeds I joyously participate in a world that creates possibilities for all.