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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Coming Home, Again

Several years ago I returned to Georgia to attend the seventy-fifth birthday of the woman who became a mother figure in my life after my mother died. I wrote about her in an earlier post which you can read here.  It was the first trip to the home of my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood in many years. While I appreciated reconnecting with many of those I saw, I was provided with ample opportunities to question the truth of the often repeated adage and title of the famous novel by Thomas Wolfe, “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

While many of my interactions with friends and family members were familiar, I cannot honestly say that they were all comfortable. I found that I was not able or willing to enter into some of the known patterns of familial behavior. Choosing a new way of being with family does not always foster a feeling of “home.” As we grow and change, so do our relationships. We often discover that the relationships which at one time felt supportive and nurturing, no longer do.

As a boy, I spent many hours of fun on my “Granmomma” Howard’s farm. Running through the hay barn, chasing the chickens and splashing in the creek are wonderful memories. Those were the care-free days of youth. My recent visit was not the same. The barn no longer stores hay, and is on the verge of collapse; there are no chickens; and the creek is all but dried up. While enjoyable, this last experience was a much more sedate experience on the farm. It was somewhat sobering.

I was not even able to return to the “home” of the Evans’ Knights, my high school alma mater. When I drove by the site on which the school once stood, I discovered that it had been razed and a Home Depot erected. I was amused by the metaphor considering that a depot is a place to store things, much like the human mind. My mind was filled with memories of what were, in many ways, more care-free days - memories I had hoped to revisit while at my old high school. Alas, it was not to be.

Through it all, I surmised that it must be true that one cannot go home again, because what we think of as “home” is never the same when we attempt to reclaim it. We are all constantly changing and growing as we experience life.

Recently, as J and I were driving to the Denver International Airport, which we have done many times since moving here, I suddenly became aware of how familiar things seemed. I turned to J and asked him if Denver now feels like home. While I was curious about his perspective, I think I was honestly asking the question of myself, particularly since we have only lived here for a year and a half. What does it mean to me to feel at “home?”

Since becoming an adult, I have moved quite frequently. I lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for 29 years, and during that time I lived in 14 different places. That is an average of just over 2 years per “home!” The longest duration in any one home was just short of 5 years. As I reflect on those statistics, it seem clear that establishing a physical location as a “home” is not high on my list of priorities. Still, I truly value and am grateful for the place I call “home.” It provides me with a place to feel safe, secure and nurtured. My home is the place I go to be fed - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

My assumption is that most who are reading this post enjoy having a home to retreat to at the end of the day where you can rest, relax and rejuvenate. I am also keenly aware of the millions of people around the world, including many in our own city, who do not enjoy such an advantage. That is one reason I am so thrilled that Unity Spiritual Center Denver is partnering with Family Promise of Greater Denver to provide temporary housing for families who are currently without a place to call home. Please read more about this ministry in our newsletter from last week.

While a physical space to call home supports our well-being, it is not the ultimate source of our comfort, or even our safety or security. It is vitally important for us to get the support we need by establishing a spiritual home. Although we often refer to it as that, I am not referring to a church or spiritual center, even though they are often places we find comfort and growth. The spiritual home I speak of is not dependent upon a building or a particular location. Our spiritual home is a place in consciousness where each of us can go at any time to feel refreshed and renewed in Spirit. 

We all need a place where we can retreat from the constant activity of the world, a world that often requires as much energy as we can muster just to stay fully present and available for life. Our spiritual home is such a place. It exists in the awareness of the One Life that is the source and imbues all life. It is at the foundation of essential nature, the ground of all Being.

We must build and strengthen our awareness of our spiritual home through prayer, meditation, contemplation and mindfulness practices. This is a place we can come home to through our intention and willingness. It is, to quote Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “nearer than breathing and closer than hands and feet.”¹ As we devote time, energy and focus, our ever present spiritual home becomes a space of sanctuary, rest and rejuvenation within.

I believe it’s true that we can’t go home again if we think of ‘home’ as a relationship, place or even an experience, because all of those are constantly changing. Life, in all of its manifestations, is never stagnant. However, we can come home again. We come home to that space within that is not disturbed by the world around us. In that space is our true nature that abides at the depth of Being.

Denver is the place in the world I now call “home.” I feel supported and nurtured in the place I reside as well as by the people in our loving community. As I travel, I am always happy to come back home. It feels safe and secure.

Likewise, I feel empowered when I remember that no matter where I may be in the world, I can come home at any time by bringing my focus to my center, breathing into that space of knowing that I am always supported by the One Life that lives as me. That is where I ultimately find rest, relaxation and renewal.

While it may be true that we are not able to go home again, I know we can always come home - again and again.

Join us on Sunday for our 10:00 service as we explore further the ways we can strengthen our abilities to come home, again, any time.

¹From The Higher Pantheism by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Feeling Confused?

Following my lessons the past two Sundays, I have received inquiries concerning my recent encouragement to “lean into” our human experiences, including our grief. In my lessons I have talked about allowing ourselves to be fully present with our feelings, while also maintaining conscious awareness of our spiritual nature. I hold that the true freedom we all seek lies in our willingness and ability to be fully present for whatever life presents us with in any moment, even those things that stimulate feelings we identify as “negative.” My lessons, while comforting and affirming for some, seem to have been confusing for others. I would like to offer additional thoughts here in hopes of bringing clarity.

I believe the questions I received stem from the New Thought teaching that the Absolute nature of God as Good is the only reality and that to acknowledge anything other than that limits our realization and manifestation of our Absolute Good. A common affirmation of faith in Unity is “There is One Power and One Presence active in the Universe and in my life – God the Good, Omnipotent” which aligns with Unity’s first of five basic principles listed (here).

The second principle states that each of us is an expression of the power affirmed by the first principle. Therefore, our essential nature is of God, thus divine. Further, the third principle states that human beings experience life according to our way of thinking and feeling, thereby confirming our humanity and our authority over our life experiences.

Therefore, the question arises, if we allow ourselves to be fully present with our feelings and acknowledge our fearful thinking while feeling our painful feelings, aren’t we just going to create and experience more of the same?


I struggled with this conundrum for a time myself. My thought was that feeling the pain, fear, grief, and the like only served to give energy and validity to the illusion of the experience I was not enjoying. I questioned why I would ever want to do that, believing that by doing so I would likely attract more of the same into my life.

I completely understand that confusion can arise when attempting to understand New Thought philosophy and metaphysics. Trying to comprehend how the Absolute realm relates to our relative experience as human beings can be confounding. Through my own questioning and exploration, I continue to have new insights and make discoveries as I endeavor to embrace it all. What follows are some of my current perspectives.

God is Absolute Good

If, as we teach, God is Omnipresence, Omniscience, and Omnipotence, then it is nonsensical for us to assert that there is anything that exists outside of God, including our thoughts and feelings, even the ones we judge as “bad” or “negative.” How could it be possible that only thoughts and feelings which we determine to be “good” or “positive” are part of God? Believing that we can be aware of, not to mention give power to something that is outside of God is not only arrogant; it is ludicrous. We attempt to create God in our own image by deciding what is and is not God. Thus, we limit our experience of the Allness that is God.

Unity principle states that God is Absolute Good with a capital ‘G’. That does not mean that we believe that only the thoughts, feelings and demonstrations that we, from our limited human perspective deem to be “good” as opposed to “bad” are God. The meaning of ‘Good’ in the Absolute is difficult, if not impossible to verbalize because any terminology is limited and therefore limiting. However, the best we can offer is that Absolute Good refers to Divine Ideals, such as Harmony, Order, Perfection, and the like. These ideals exist in the Absolute and may be manifested in our human experience. The Absolute Good that God is underlies everything, even though we may not perceive the “good” in it.¹

We Decide “Good” or “Bad” in the Relative

We are meaning-making beings. We begin learning the already agreed upon meaning of most things in our environment from the time we are born. And, we continue to make meaning of everything and everyone we encounter. That is human nature. Because we are often not consciously aware of this fact, our unexamined thoughts and meanings form our worldview, and we experience our lives based upon them. In this way, we experience life according to our way of thinking.

We decide what is “good” or “bad” according to the meaning we assign it. When we decide something is “good” we experience the effects of our assessment. The same is true for the events we deem as “bad.”

In truth, all events are neutral. As William Shakespeare once wrote, “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Life is Consciousness

We create our life through our thoughts, feelings, words and actions which reflect our perception. And, our perception is determined by our perspective – the consciousness from which we perceive the event. As Emmet Fox so famously stated, “Life is consciousness.” As Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore stated “Consciousness is the sense of awareness, of knowing. The knowledge of any idea, object or condition.”²

Our power as spiritual beings having a human experience³ is to claim the power of our awareness and to consciously choose where we focus it. The power of awareness lies in choosing what we will allow to abide in our consciousness.

Thoughts and feelings abide in our consciousness, mostly beyond our awareness, unless and until we decide to make them conscious, meet them directly, and allow them to transform.

Thoughts and Feelings are Energy

Thoughts and feelings that we ignore or suppress do not dissipate; they remain in our consciousness as energy that will continue to increase in intensity. They will continue to require additional effort from us, whether conscious or subconscious, to keep them “under control.” These unacknowledged and unexpressed feelings will eventually eat away at our life energy. They can create disturbances in our physical and emotional well-being.

Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore shared her experience of this in How To Let God Help You. She shared that in her healing process she asked Spirit within what was keeping her body from getting well. It was revealed to her that while she was taught and believed that not expressing feelings was virtuous, that in fact, denying her feelings was contributing to her continued physical dis-ease. She said, “I determined to handle all that came to me, rather than swallow it, and allow it to irritate, cut and weaken my nerves and organs.”⁴ Her body began to be restored to health as a result. A modern day depiction of this same realization is portrayed beautifully by Anita Moorjani in Dying To Be Me.

We Are Not Defined by Thoughts or Feelings

I wish to be clear that I am not in any way encouraging that we allow painful feelings or emotions to consume us, or that we should identify with them. On the contrary, I am suggesting that by acknowledging them and allowing ourselves to feel them, we free ourselves from being controlled by them. We are not our thoughts or feelings. We are not the events that happen in our lives. However, when we ignore or suppress them, we give them the power to define our lives.

Thinking and Feeling are Gifts

Our thinking and feeling natures are gifts of the Love, Power and Intelligence from which we are created. They are beautiful expressions of our Life Energy. Allowing ourselves to fully experience, feel, and connect with our individual Life energy helps make us fully alive, fully whole spiritual beings having a human experience.

You Are Not Alone

Please know that I am here to support you, to the best of my ability, in whatever life event you are walking through. You do not need to face your feelings alone. As author Mark Nepo says in his book, The Endless Practice,

“As if by design, life is demanding enough that no one can make it alone. This ensures interdependence. It seems a requirement of experience: to receive Life in its Wholeness, we need to hold each other up, and open.”

If you are looking for a place to explore your questions and a home for spiritual growth, please join us for classes and Sunday messages at Unity Spiritual Center of Denver.

¹ Heart Centered Metaphysics, A Deeper Look at Unity Teachings by Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselbeck
² The Revealing Word by Charles Fillmore
³ Pierre Teihard de Chardin

How To Let God Help You by Myrtle Fillmore

Thursday, January 14, 2016


For the past few days Jami Lula’s song, “Something’s Calling Me,” has been running through my head. 

Something’s calling me
A little bit deeper than I’ve
Ever been before

Spirit gently wakes me from my sleep

Could it be that something is calling me? Could it be that something is calling you? Could it be the same “something” calling us? Yes. It is our true nature calling us to a place of remembrance. It is the voice of the Divine at the center of our hearts calling us to let go of limited concepts of ourselves and accept who we truly are. It is saying, “Wake up. Wake up. Wake Up!” 

I am convinced that whether or not we are conscious of it, our deepest desire is to awaken to our true nature; to know ourselves as the Divine; to live in conscious awareness of the One Power and One Presence expressing in, through and as us. 

Some Eastern spiritual traditions place a great deal of emphasis on what is commonly known as “awakening” or “enlightenment.” In the traditional Christian tradition “salvation” is the focus.

Growing up in the Baptist tradition, I believed that “salvation” was an event, a conscious decision born of an internal conviction of our sinful nature and our need to accept Jesus as a personal savior. I learned the “once saved always saved” doctrine. This means that once you accept Jesus you are “saved.” Although, of course, you can “backslide” and revert to your sinful ways. The moniker “born again Christian” is used to identify one who has made a “decision for Christ.”

I have spent some time pondering the ideas of “salvation” and “enlightenment” this week. Specifically, I have contemplated the words of Jesuit priest and teacher, Anthony de Mello, who said,

“Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable…and the only thing that is inevitable is what is happening in the moment.”

I interpret that to mean that enlightenment is not necessarily a state of consciousness one attains and then maintains. Rather, it is a conscious choice to be present with whatever life presents in any moment. “Absolute cooperation” is a state of allowing everything to be just as it is and experiencing it fully without resistance or attachment. Enlightenment happens moment-by-moment as we make a conscious decision to be fully awake and present in the moment. I hold that Spirit is constantly “calling” us to be awake and present so that we are able to be the presence of Love in every situation.

Salvation, like enlightenment, also happens one moment at a time. It is not, as I was taught, something that happens once or as a condition of good behavior. We are “saved” from our limiting, and often damning concepts of ourselves, others and the world, each time we awaken to our Christ nature and make the choice to see all as the Christ in expression.

We are “born again” in each moment that we awaken to the fullness of Life expressing in and as all that we encounter. We are “born again” when we are willing to see ourselves, others and the world around us through the eyes of Spirit as perfect, whole and complete.

The master teacher Jesus said,

“The kingdom of Heaven is spread upon the Earth, yet men do not see it.” – Gospel of Thomas, Saying 113¹

 “The kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:2

In the moment we accept that the kingdom of heaven is here and now present, and choose to see it reflected to us in all that we perceive, we are truly “saved” from the illusion of separation. We are “born again” to a new way of greeting the world.

We can choose to greet every moment from an “enlightened” consciousness of “absolute cooperation.”

I encourage us all to listen to Spirit calling us to a deeper, broader and more complete understanding and acceptance of the truth of who we are. When we truly know that truth, we are awakened and we are set free. In that way each of us can receive “salvation” and be “born again.”

Come have your own experience of “salvation.”Join us on Sunday for our 10:00 service as we welcome special guest artist Gary Lynn Floyd.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Living Whole-ness

Over the past month I have been reading; no, I have been devouring Mark Nepo’s book, The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born To Be. In it, he quotes the following poem by William Stafford.

There is a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread. – The Way It Is

Nepo’s book and Stafford’s poem remind me of the value of bringing our presence to every moment, living it fully, while consistently remaining mindful of the thread of life that connects us to something greater than ourselves. This something greater is the Source that imbues all life. It is what Thomas Merton referred to as “a Hidden Whole-ness.” Merton said,

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden whole-ness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in word-less gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator's Thought and Art within me…”

It is this Whole-ness that we know at the depth of being, that we can sense in our heart of hearts, yet we cannot see or touch. It is this Whole-ness that sustains us through the many and varied experiences in the continuing unfolding of life’s journey. Each of us faces loss, disappointment, death and pain in life. These are all aspects of the human experience. Holding to the thread of life that ever connects us to the hidden Whole-ness within helps us not only to survive all that life brings our way, but also to move through it and thrive once again.
Nepo says,

“Since we’re each a living part in a living Whole, one challenging art in being human is to live out our particular life while comprehending the Whole. One aspect of the endless practice is to feel both the depth of our feeling and, at the same time, to stand on the ground of all being which exists independent of what happens to us.”

Life is not about avoiding the pain or denying our feelings. Life is about leaning into whatever presents itself; not getting lost in it, but allowing life to awaken within us the awareness of our inner Whole-ness.

Throughout life’s journey we are constantly and consistently held within the Whole-ness of Life itself. And, we hold within us the Whole-ness of Life as our true nature. Our opportunity is to experience life in its wholeness, with all its joy and pain, while knowing that we are forever held within the Whole-ness of the unfolding Universe, and while holding to the thread that connects us to the hidden Whole-ness within us.

When experiencing a loss, perhaps the death of a loved one, rather than avoiding the pain, lean into it. Allow the experience of your humanity. Enter the depth of the experience. All the while holding to the thread that connects your awareness to the eternal stream of Whole-ness at your core. Immerse yourself in the ebb and flow as you dive into the pain and sink into the comfort of knowing you are held within the Whole-ness of the Universe. Engaging with the whole of Life restores us to our innate Whole-ness as we practice the integration of body, mind and Spirit.

We are holy, holy, holy whole. We are perfectly human and perfectly divine. The truth of both are held within Whole-ness in which we live, move and have being. Let us reclaim our Whole-ness and live it wholly.

Please join me for our service at 10:00 on Sunday as we explore together how we can live a life of Whole-ness.