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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Why Christmas?

In a recent meeting at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, a member shared that after attending services and classes at Unity for a while and learning of our perspective on Jesus and the Christ, she speculated about what Christmas would be like for us, questioning whether we would even celebrate Christmas. She shared that she was surprised to find that not only do we celebrate Christmas, but that we display a nativity scene on our platform, and we hold a Christmas Eve candle lighting service.

I completely relate. When I began studying New Thought philosophy and teachings, I also wondered why we celebrate Christmas. Moreover, I was deeply troubled that we sang the same Christmas carols I learned and sang in the Baptist church. Because we do not teach a doctrine of “sin” or salvation through the blood sacrifice of Jesus, I did not understand why we would sing about Jesus as “savior,” “lord,” and “messiah.” Perhaps others have pondered this as well.

In Unity, we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, not because of how or why he died, but because of how he lived. We honor Jesus as our example, teacher and guide. He showed us what is possible for all of us. He fully awakened to oneness. He realized his unity with God and proudly proclaimed it when he said things such as, “The Father and I are one;” “Those who have seen me have seen the Father;” and “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” He invited us to do the same.

Image credit: Body and Blood (detail), Janet McKenzie,
In what we know today as the “sermon on the mount” as presented to us in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5 – 7, Jesus outlines his instructions for attaining oneness consciousness and living it. Here we find his teaching on the “beatitudes,” attitudes of being that open us to embodying Christ consciousness; as well as instruction on how to pray, love our neighbors, forgive, give, and seek the kingdom of God. When we understand these teachings from a metaphysical perspective and apply them as practical tools for our lives, we can truly follow Jesus as our teacher and guide. For additional information on the metaphysical interpretation, I suggest reading The Sermon on the Mount by Emmet Fox and/or Discover the Power Within You by Eric Butterworth.

We honor Jesus as “Lord” not because we see him as ruling over us, but because he exampled for us one who obtained dominion over, thus became the “Lord” of his consciousness. In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore says,

In the Old Testament ‘Jehovah,’ in the New Testament ‘Christ,’ is referred to as Lord. Jehovah and Christ both represent spiritual man. Lord then is another name for spiritual man.

As Lord spiritual man is ruler of himself, of his faculties, and of the world. The Lord consciousness is one of dominion. When we enter into our lordship we rule. We rule over ourselves, our thoughts, our body, our environment, and all the creatures and creations of the earth.

We may refer to Jesus as “savior,” not because he died for our sins, but because he overcame ‘sin,’ which we understand as thoughts and actions which stem from a consciousness of separation.

Through the conscious recognition of his relation to the Father, and the inherent divine force dwelling within him, [Jesus] was able to redeem himself from all possibility of sin¹ and taught by his life that what he could do, everyone could do, and in this way was the Savior of the world, and inasmuch as we help a brother to see the Life, the Truth, the Way, do we become Saviors as also. – Unity Magazine, December 1905

We call Jesus “Messiah,” not because we see him as the one and only “Son of God” sent to redeem the world, rather because he realized and embodied the power of the indwelling Spirit to accomplish his mission on Earth. In this way, he is our way-shower. Charles Fillmore explains,

There is quite a bit of misunderstanding on the part of both Christians and non-Christians with regard to the meaning of the words Christ and Jesus, and their use as applied to Jesus of Nazareth. Christ, meaning "messiah" or "anointed," designates one who had received a spiritual quickening from God, while Jesus is the name of the personality. – Jesus Christ Heals

Even though some Christmas songs may stimulate outdated theology still embedded in my consciousness from earlier times, I proudly celebrate Christmas as the birth of our elder brother and way shower Jesus of Nazareth who showed us the way to a life empowered by the Spirit of the Christ, our indwelling expression of the Divine. In Unity, we also celebrate Christmas because it is a reminder that the same Christ born as Jesus is also born as each of us. Every moment of every day is our opportunity to remember and embrace this Truth. Finally, we celebrate Christmas as a time of remembering and for recommitting ourselves to following Jesus on the path of living the Christ in the world.

¹ ‘sin’ - Metaphysical Bible Dictionary

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Being Advent

Advent, which begins on Sunday, December 2, is a season observed in many Christians as a time to celebrate the coming of the Christ into the world through Jesus. Further, it is a time of expectant anticipation of the second coming of the Christ. In Unity, we believe that the second coming of the Christ occurs through us. Even though we have not yet fully realized it, we are already the Christ. Every moment is an opportunity for us to align ourselves with the truth of our being and allow the Christ to be born through us into the world. We are the potential for the second coming of the Christ upon the Earth.

The first definition for ‘advent’ in is “a coming into place, view, or being; arrival.” I encourage us to allow this season of Advent to be the time when we cease waiting with eager anticipation for the coming of the Christ, and choose to realize that the True Light that enlightens everyone has come. It has come into the world and is each of us. Now is the time and this is the moment for us to embrace and live into our true divine nature.

Knowing this as our potential is a beginning; a powerful beginning. For many who were taught that Jesus was the one and only son of God, it is a monumental leap to accept that we, too, are sons and daughter of God endowed with the same potential as Jesus. The recognition of that can, of itself, bring a new sense of freedom. The search for a savior outside of self ends with the recognition that the only savior needed lies within. Unfortunately, many never move beyond this initial recognition.

The true promise of the freedom is not accomplished simply through an intellectual recognition of truth. The true promise of salvation afforded by the indwelling Christ is attained in the realization of the truth. Realization, according to Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore in The Revealing Word, is more than an intellectual understanding of truth. He says,

[Realization is] the deep inner conviction and assurance of the fulfillment of an ideal. It means at-one-ment, completion, perfection, wholeness, repose, resting in God. It is the dawning of Truth in the consciousness. When realization takes place, one abides in the light of God-Mind.

Realization occurs in our hearts – the center most point of our awareness. It is more than a thought or an idea. It is knowing, and knowing that you know. It is the experience of knowing beyond a doubt. It is coming into a visceral experience of being the Christ in its fullness.

Again, once we have the euphoric experience of realization, we are often tempted to be satisfied with knowing who we are in truth. This is a vital next step. This is second phase of the coming of the Christ into the world, but it is not the advent. If we use the definition of ‘advent’ it is a “coming into being, an arrival.”

Advent is more than knowing about the indwelling Christ. It is more than realizing the indwelling Christ. Advent is about BEING the Christ in the world. It is embodying the Christ in our everyday lives. It is about revealing the Christ through our thoughts, words and actions.

Jesus was the embodiment of the Christ because he accepted his “at-one-ment” with what he called “the Father” and what we might refer to as Source, Spirit, Love, or God. He experienced his unity in God. And, he lived a life of one who knew his unity with all humanity and all creation. Jesus was the great example, not the great exception. He never said “worship me.” He said “follow me.” We follow him when we commit ourselves to being the embodiment of the second coming of the Christ in the world.

During the Advent and Christmas seasons, we celebrate the coming of the Christ through Jesus of Nazareth. Through his recognition, realization and revelation of the Christ, he taught that we too are here to be the Light of the World, and he showed us the way. We also celebrate the coming of the Christ as each of us. Let us allow this season of Advent to be the fulfillment of the promise of the second coming of the Christ upon the Earth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

God As Everything; Everything As God

Have you ever had one of those moments, sometimes referred to as mystical moments, when even if only for a split-second you knew that you are not separate from the Allness that is; not separate from God, or from anything, or anyone?

My guess is that if you are reading this, you have had one or more such experiences. Perhaps it occurred during a time of prayer or meditation, or while spending time in nature, or just looking at the stars.

Playwright Eugene O’Neill, in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, describes it this way.

“For a moment I lost myself – actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or the life of Man, to Life itself! To God, if you want to put it that way.”

I have a vivid memory of one such moment which happened the first time I visited the redwood forest in Northern California. The early morning mist was lingering just above the ground as I entered a grove of trees. I was immediately overcome by a deep sense of belonging, love and nurture as I smelled the earth and heard the soft sounds of birds singing in the trees amidst what was otherwise a glorious silence. Walking along the path, I looked ahead and noticed rays of sunlight streaming down through the trees. As the sunlight encountered the mist they joined to create the most beautiful spectrum of light I had ever seen. It seemed as though I was being invited to step into another dimension.

In that moment, time stopped. I lost all cognitive recognition of where I was. And, for what seemed to be minutes, but what turned out to be only seconds, I also lost touch with the conditioned mind that believed in a separate self. I became the light, the birds, the earth, the trees and the mist. Of course, I know now that I did not “become” anything that I was not already. I was simply enjoying a moment of knowing the truth that there is only one, and I am that.

There are no words that can fully capture the feeling that arises. In fact, it is only in the seconds following the experience that conscious awareness of feeling is evident. In the moment, there is no reference for ‘feeling’; there is simply the knower knowing Self as all that can be known.

This, I believe, is the experience of what Benedictine monk, David Steindl-Rast refers to as “Grate-Full-Ness.” He says that in these moments, “You fully accept the whole of this given universe, as you are fully one with the whole.”

During such experiences the veil between our usual waking consciousness and our natural awakened consciousness seems to lift, and we know we are known. Some have described such moments as euphoric experiences with a resulting feeling of ecstasy. defines ‘ecstasy’ as “rapturous delight.”  That was my experience as well.

As ecstasy began to subside, it was replaced by an overwhelming sense of gratitude; not gratitude like one might express to someone for giving them a gift, but gratitude that arises from the core of being as the natural expression of knowing you are the gift presenting as both the giver and the receiver. According to Bro. David, this is the first aspect of “Grate-Full-Ness.”

Further, Bro. David posits that the second aspect of “Grate-Full-Ness” is thanksgiving. In those moments, when gratitude is so keenly experienced and felt, giving thanks is the natural outer expression.

When I consider giving thanks as an expression of “Grate-Full-Ness” it takes on an expanded dimension. It becomes a statement of recognition of the God in and as all. Moreover, it is a conscious expression of appreciation for the contribution the other has made to my awakening to that realization. Theologian, philosopher and mystic, Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘Thank You’ it will be enough.” ‘Thank You’ as an expression of “Grate-Full-Ness” is more than a thoughtful response; it is a simple yet profound statement of God in me reflecting appreciation to God in another and in all things.

To know this and to experience this awareness of “heaven on earth” in varying degrees is not, as many believe, a promise of the afterlife, but an assurance of what is possible in every moment. It is our choice to open ourselves to this realization of Oneness. We do that when we are willing to look upon everything and everyone in our experience and say to ourselves, “I Am That” and allow the truth of that statement to reveal itself to us. As this truth is revealed, we can feel it and live from that knowing with every thought, word and action.

When we see God in all as All; when we know the Truth of our Oneness, we are free. We are free to live ecstatic lives. In rapturous delight we express gratitude in every moment of every day knowing that everything and everyone is a gift we are giving to ourselves.

Bro. David said,

“Could it be that the mystic gratefulness in the depth of every human heart sings with “a still, small voice,” and is easily drowned out by the noise we endure and the noise we make?”

In this season of gratitude and giving thanks, I encourage us to give ourselves permission to create spaciousness and quiet in our lives so we can listen for and hear the “still, small voice” calling us to the experience of “Grate-Full-Ness,” allowing our hearts to feel gratitude and overflow with thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hymns - Prayers in Song

I am thrilled to announce that my latest music project is nearing completion and will be released soon. I am envisioning that the finished product will available no later than December 15, 2018. Please join me in holding that vision.

The project is entitled Coming Home. It is primarily a collection of standard hymns arranged by Martha Yordy, the music director at Unity Spiritual Center Denver. It also features two of Martha’s original compositions. Coming Home is the flowering of a shared vision inspired by our roots deeply grounded in traditional Christianity. The seed for this project was planted in my mind many years ago, but it took some time and just the right ground and nurturing for it to take root, sprout and blossom into form. Martha and I began talking about it two years ago; however, for various reasons, we only began working on it in April. Amazingly, with the help and support of many people, it has become a reality in just a few short months.

Recently, when I shared about the project with a friend, she asked, why I would want to record hymns. Her concerns is that they are filled with ideas about an external God that are not in alignment with Unity philosophy. She was curious about why I as a Unity minister would encourage that theology. Others may have similar wonderings, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts.

I chose to entitle this project Coming Home because the title captures so much of what it means to me. For many years, after being rejected by traditional Christianity because of my sexual orientation, I disavowed everything related to my Christian heritage. I wanted to get as far away from it as possible. I wanted nothing to do with a capricious, condemning God in “his” heaven.

After entering a spiritual recovery program and finding Unity and New Thought philosophy, I discovered a God of love and acceptance. Still, I was not comfortable using the word ‘God’ or talking about Jesus or the Bible. After many years of contemplation, meditation and several mystical experiences, I have come full circle in a sense. My understanding of God, Jesus and the Bible has changed dramatically. As a result, I can now embrace and celebrate my Christian heritage and the foundation it provided. It took time for me, and I know that not everyone shares my perspective.

So, I understand why my friend might be concerned about me recording hymns that seem to express more conventional views of God and our relationship with God. However, for me it is Coming Home. Phrases, images and melodies that were etched in my brain at an early age and that I suppressed far into the subconscious for many years often come floating back to my conscious awareness as I sit in quiet contemplation.

These melodies and lyrics embody the essence of our shared humanity and our common desire to know and to connect with that which is greater than we comprehend ourselves to be. They express our longing to know the Divine, celebrate the Divine, and to experience the Divine in ourselves, others and all creation. Yes, some of the terminology is archaic, not gender neutral, and not necessarily New Thought. I lovingly invite those who are bothered by it to listen from a deep heart connection and experience the energy alive in the ones who composed the melodies and lyrics. Listen beyond the words for the longing, joy, and even pain being expressed through them.

This collection of hymns is reflective of all those that have begun to sing themselves through me during my times of meditation and contemplation. I know that they are my soul’s way of calling out from the depth of its knowing to that which seeks recognition.

I have altered some of the lyrics to better express where I am in my own understanding and spiritual evolution. It is my desire that these hymns, whether well-known to you or not, will speak to a place within your soul that knows and is eager to be remembered.

Please watch the video below to learn more about this project. Three songs are featured in the video. Martha’s original, Heavenly Light, is beautifully sung by Lauren Shealy. She is featured with lead and harmony vocals on several of the other tracks, as well. 

Love One Another, which Martha introduced me to, was written by a Germaine Habjan formerly a Catholic nun. Her lyrics are reminiscent of Jesus’ commandment that we love each other as we love ourselves. They also remind me of Ram Dass’s quote, “We’re all just walking each other home.” This song is a prayer. These are words spoken not to God, but from the consciousness of the indwelling Divine calling us to remember that we are here to be love in the world.

Breathe on Me Breath of God and Breathe on Me are masterfully interwoven by Martha in a medley. When I sang it recently at a Sunday service, someone suggested that instead of singing “breathe on me” that I should sing “breathe as me.” Again, I understand that this lyric may evoke images of an external God which is not in total alignment with Unity teaching. However, when I think about the “Breath of God,” I imagine the very Life Force that animates all. It is that which breathes us. It is every breath we take. Yet, we are often not awake to It. From time-to-time we lose conscious connection with it. 

As I sing this, I imagine my awareness of the Divine as the flame of a fire beginning to diminish in intensity. I am calling upon the Life Force that lives Itself as me to breathe new life into me, to help me release any limiting thoughts and to fan the flames of my innate desire to truly know and live the life of passion, warmth, light and purity that is the eternal flame of God.

Our hope, mine and Martha’s, is that these songs will speak from our hearts to your hearts. We invite you to join us in this journey of Coming Home to who you truly are.

If you like more information, or if you would like to pre-order a copy, please visit my website – Thank you for your support!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Unleash Your Wild Heart

This week at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, we will wrap up our fall small group study of BrenĂ© Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness – The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Over the course of the study, I have based my Sunday lessons on the concepts presented in the book. Because I do my best to live the lessons I present each week, this book has proven to be greatly impactful for me. The final chapter which I will explore this Sunday is no exception.

In the final chapter entitled Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart Dr. Brown shares the following practice that she says has changed her life.

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made it your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.”

I had read or listened to this chapter several times, but when I read it again yesterday, I was deeply moved by the richness of truth revealed in those 8 simple sentences.

In Unity we teach that life is consciousness. It follows that when we seek evidence for our conclusions that we don’t belong or that we are not enough, we find it. I recommend that not only should we stop seeking evidence for our limiting assumptions, but that we also begin seeking evidence to confirm that we do belong and that we are enough. Better yet, stop seeking evidence of your worth in anything external to you. Instead, seek the kingdom, the consciousness of unity within. When you find that, you will know that you truly belong to yourself, to God and to all creation. Seek, and you shall find (Matthew 7:7).

“The truth about who we are lives in our hearts.” Our spiritual essence, which we have come here to embody and bring forth into manifestation, abides at the center of our being-ness. While that center is often called the “heart,” it is not necessarily a reference to the physical heart. Rather, it is the deeper spiritual heart. It is known by many as the “seat of the soul.”

I love that she calls it a “wild heart.” Unless we allow it to be tamed by constant evaluation from others or ourselves, or we suppress it so that we can be accepted and fit in, our wild heart is free and eager to have expression in the world. It is Spirit’s unique expression as each of us. We are called to protect it. When we are free to be who we truly are, we bring our most authentic selves to the world, and we empower others to do the same.

Begin today to Unleash Your Wild Heart.

Join us on Sunday at 10:00 for our service as we explore more about how to give our wild hearts expression with authenticity, integrity, strength, courage and vulnerability. Remember, “No one belongs here more than you.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Bond of Love

In her book, Braving the Wilderness – The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, which we are using for our fall small group book study at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, researcher and author Brene Brown, Ph.D. explores the power of what researchers Shira Gabriel, Jennifer Valenti, Kristin Naragon-Gainey and Ariana Young have termed collective assembly experiences. These are experiences of joy and pain shared by people who don’t know each other, but who connect through joyous or painful life experiences. She cites examples of shared joy, such as a sporting event, movie or concert. Her examples of shared pain include the shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings. These are times when the entire nation came together in shared pain and mourning. The 9/11 terrorist attacks are a potent example of this as well.

Dr. Brown says that these experiences of shared humanity strengthen our awareness of our inextricable connection to that which is greater than we are and to each other. Further, that these experiences contribute to our overall mental, emotional and physical well-being. Studies show that human connection and bonding improve physical health even more than quitting smoking, a healthy diet or taking beta-blocking drugs.

I propose that these collective assembly experiences of shared joy and pain are so powerful because they provide us with opportunities to connect with our essential spiritual nature and that of others. Joy as an aspect of our spiritual nature does not require an external experience, yet when we gather with other spiritual beings whose joy is ignited by their enthusiasm for a sports team or performer, it elicits the same within us. In those experiences, we are reminded of our connection with the divine joy that lives as us, and that connects us with each other. Our conscious connection with it is heightened as we share it with another. It is contagious.

While it may not be immediately apparent, our shared pain also connects with our essential nature. The pain to which Dr. Brown refers is born of love. Love is who and what we are as expressions of Divine Love. We experience that kind of pain because we love. Because we love, we grieve and mourn when we experience personal loss or a tear in the fabric of our human bond, such as we experienced in the wake of the tragedies mentioned above. We share the bond of love because we are one spirit, one life and one love. We feel the pain, even though we don’t personally know those directly affected by these events. We are all indirectly affected by them. The response to the recent shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh confirms this.

Dr. Brown asserts that as profoundly as these collective experiences affect us, not all of them serve to reconnect us. She says,

When a collective comes together at the expense of others - for example, to bond over the devaluation or debasing of another person or group of people, or to bond despite this – it does not heal the spiritual crisis of disconnection. In fact, it does quite the opposite by feeding it. It is not true collective joy if it is at the expense of others, and it is not true pain if it causes others pain.

These experiences do not truly connect us because they are based in fear, which is not an aspect of our divine nature. When we denigrate another so that we can experience pseudo connection with those who share our fear-based perspective, we are only contributing to the polarization and divisiveness we are currently witnessing. We cannot foster true connection when we are out of alignment with our spiritual truth – which is Love.

It is saddening that so much of what we hear from our elected officials and those who are seeking elected office is based in fear. The rhetoric of many political campaigns is based in what is “dangerous” about the opposing candidate. Rather than focusing on what they stand for, candidates often speak more about why we should not vote for their opponent. This tactic results from fear and is intended to insight fear in voters.

All too often today, we hear talk about how the media is the enemy of the people, Republicans are going to take away your Social Security and Medicare, Democrats are coming for your guns, or the “migrant caravan” is going to invade our country. Again, this is mostly rhetoric that is intended to stimulate fear and motivate voters to stand against something, rather than to stand for that which is in alignment with our spiritual and ethical values.

Unfortunately, church services which are intended to support us in having personal and shared experiences of the Divine, often become platforms for spouting political opinions, and endorsing candidates who purportedly support “family values.”  Of course, there are also church services that primarily focus on combating “right wing” political agendas. While touting God’s love, they often reflect what Dr. Brown refers to as “common enemy intimacy.” When groups join together motivated by the assertion that they are “right” or “good” and others are “bad” or “wrong” they are engaging in “common enemy intimacy” which is also based in fear and does not serve sincere and lasting connection.

Through all of this, we are called to “brave the wilderness” by courageously practicing vulnerability and authenticity. Our opportunity is to firmly ground ourselves in our spiritual Truth, to connect with our divine nature and to stand for all that aligns with who we know ourselves to be as expressions of divine love.

As Jesus taught us, ours is to “seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) which in our understanding means to see only the kin-dom of God everywhere and in all things, to know our unity in God and with all creation, and to think, speak and act in ways that reflect oneness consciousness.

We need not succumb to the energy of fear which is so prevalent today. Remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

I encourage us to cultivate and participate in collective assembly experiences of true joy every chance we get. Attend and participate in the Drum Circle every first Sunday of the month at 2:00 pm. Join in the devotional chanting at the Kirtan on Friday, November 9 and again on December 14. Join with others in experiences of shared pain, such as the event held this week at Temple Emanuel and others around the country in honor of those killed at the Tree of Life synagogue and in support of the Jewish community.¹ If at all possible, attend and be present for funerals of loved ones, and your friend’s loved ones.

These experiences connect us through our common humanity with our shared spirituality. They remind us of our inextricable connection to our Source and to each other. We are all healed by the power of love through our shared experiences of joy and pain.

Join us on Sunday at 10:00 for our service as we explore this idea further.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Masks We Wear

Halloween is considered by many to have its origins in the Celtic festival of Samhain which was sometimes regarded as the Celtic New Year, a celebration of the end of the “lighter half” of the year and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year. The ancient Celts believed that the veil between the physical and the non-physical realms was thinnest at this time allowing spirits, both good and evil, to pass through. They wore costumes and masks as a means of protection. Disguised as evil spirits they could “blend in” and avoid being recognized as human.

The tradition of observing Halloween or Hallowe’en, a contraction of the original “All Hallows’ Evening,” was also influenced in the west by the Christian church. It is observed as the evening before All Saints Day, a time for honoring all the saints and praying for those recently departed souls who are in purgatory and have not yet reached Heaven. The custom of wearing costumes has been linked to All Saints Day by Prince Sorie Conteh, senior minister at Carleton United Church, St. Catharines, Ontario Canada and multi-faith chaplain at Niagara College, who wrote:

"It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognized by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities.”

In both traditions there is a common theme – there are souls wandering around somewhere between the realms of Heaven and Hell, a.k.a. “light and dark” or “good and evil.” In the Christian tradition this realm is knows as purgatory. Purgatory is understood to be a condition of purification or temporary punishment that prepares souls for Heaven.

In Unity, we believe that both ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ are states of consciousness. Heaven is a state of consciousness often referred to as Christ consciousness, which each of us may attain. It is the consciousness of knowing Oneness with the Divine. Hell, on the other hand, is the consciousness of duality in which one experiences the suffering created by a mind that believes in separation. We are constantly at a point of choice: we can choose heaven or hell in any moment. However, many, if not most of us, walk around in state of “purgatory,” not quite in hell, but not yet enjoying heaven. We seem to believe, perhaps not consciously, that we do not yet deserve heaven, that we must be punished, tested or tried in order to demonstrate our worthiness. We condemn ourselves to living in a perpetual state of purgatory, testing and “purifying” ourselves. We are those souls who are seeking the light, attempting to reach heaven.

As with the tradition of Halloween in which we wear masks and costumes to protect us from evil spirits, we, as a daily ritual, don masks and costumes disguising ourselves as the roles we play as human beings, often times believing that we are the masks we wear, not trying to fool the disembodied spirits of the dead, but in an attempt to hide our Truth from ourselves and others. While this allows us to “blend in” and to avoid standing out from the crowd, it prevents us from coming into the full recognition of our true selves and embracing the Christ consciousness, our ultimate potential.

In order to come into the recognition of our Truth, we must be willing to acknowledge the masks we wear and investigate them to determine for ourselves if we are allowing them to hide our Light. Until we are willing to remove the masks and see ourselves as we truly are, we will continue to believe that we are unworthy. When we recognize our Truth, we will know that no suffering is needed, and we will release ourselves from purgatory and enter fully into the consciousness of “heaven.”

I encourage us all to observe this Halloween as an opportunity to free ourselves from the limitations of our masks and costumes, and as we awaken to know that we are not souls living in purgatory, but saints who have arisen in Christ consciousness to celebrate Heaven.

Happy Halloween! 
Glorious All Saints Day!