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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Political Visionary

I am taking a little break from writing, so I looked back on some of my previous posts to see if there was one I thought would be appropriate to share this week. Fortunately, I found one that I think is timely.

Until now I have remained silent on the political climate we are currently facing in this country. Of course, I have my opinions, but I believe that is not within the purview of my role as Spiritual Leader to engage in political rhetoric, at least not in this forum. It is not my purpose or my role here to attempt to persuade anyone to vote for a particular candidate or to share my political views.

However, I do see it as my role as Spiritual Leader to hold the consciousness of our spiritual principles and to encourage us all to continue to be mindful of and, to the best of our ability, practice those principles. Therefore, I am reposting a piece I wrote during the 2012 election cycle. As I reviewed this piece, I was amazed to discover that things have changed very little. It saddens me that we have not progressed, and have possibly digressed in our consciousness, over the past four years.

I am dismayed. It seems that we do not hold civility, mutual respect and honor for all people as values from which we strive to live. I hope and pray that especially during this time when fear seems to be the prevailing motivator that we will choose to center ourselves in the Love of God, know our unity, and live the Truth we know.

My article from 2012 follows.

In large part due to social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, I have, during this election cycle, learned more about the political positions of my friends, family and acquaintances than at any time in the past. Some of them have surprised me with their impassioned posts. That most of the posts are derogatory, some vitriolic, against one candidate or the other is what I find most surprising; in fact, I have been a bit dismayed by them.

Interestingly, many of my “friends” on Facebook, some of whom are the very same ones who posted these comments, are keenly aware of the concepts of the “law of attraction,” “law of mind action,” and “mental equivalents.”  It amazes me that when it comes to politics even those of us who believe that “what we think about comes about” and that “what we resist persists” still focus on what we do not want, rather than on what we do want. Most of the conversations, emails, and social media posts I have seen focus, not on what they like and value about the candidate they favor, but on what they dislike most about the opposing candidate.

We know that we are powerful creators, and that we attract ourselves to people, places and situations according to our thoughts and feelings. When two or more come together to focus on something, whether it is what is wanted or what is not wanted, the creative energy is magnified. When millions of people come together to focus on what is not wanted, the possibility of creating what is not wanted increases exponentially. Our government is us: those who hold elected positions reflect our consciousness. If we want something different in Washington D.C., we must first individually become something different wherever we are.

We must ask ourselves whether we want to manifest a governing body in America that reflects the energy of resistance and opposition, fear and anger; or, whether we want a government that reflects the energy of our heartfelt desire for good.

Instead of focusing on what is not working and what we do not like, I suggest that we each become a ‘”Political Visionary.”

I would like to encourage us to take a few moments to engage in the following practice on a daily basis:
  • Instead of concentrating on the “evils” of the opposing party or candidates, focus on the principles you value, such as freedom, safety, security, prosperity, and self-reliance. Imagine that you are now experiencing all of those qualities in abundance. How do you feel?  Now, extend that feeling energy out into all areas of our country, and then out to the entire world. Know that feeling for all humanity.
  • Next, use your power of imagination to envision our governmental leaders embodying those qualities and holding them as sacred values. Experience gratitude for those who are willing to lead our country with those values deeply realized. Thank them for their willingness to lead.
  • Relax, knowing that the Universe responds to your energetic focus. Trust that all is well, and that those elected to lead the United States of America embody those ideals.
  • And, so it is.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Eternal Life

On Sunday I received an email from John, a man I do not know, saying that he had questions about our church. I responded telling him that I would gladly answer his questions to the best of my ability if he would reply with specifics. I have received similar emails and phone messages in the past from people interested in learning more about Unity and our teaching, mostly from those considering attending a service. I am always happy to provide any information I can. I soon learned through subsequent emails, however, that John was not at all interested in attending our church. He was, in essence, questioning how we could say that we are Christian and believe in the Bible, yet we do not teach that “Jesus Christ is the ONLY WAY to salvation.” He cited several Scripture verses to support his assertion.

In my reply I provided him with some resources he could access online to learn more about how we view the Bible, Jesus, sin, salvation, heaven and hell. I expressed to him that it was not my intention to attempt to convince him or anyone else that our interpretations are correct. I assured him that I respect his right to believe as he chooses. I also requested that he afford us the same courtesies and respect. In his reply, John indicated that we are free to believe what we want to believe as long as we know that we are in danger of Hell. He stressed that we are sinners and must accept that Jesus died on the cross to save us and was resurrected by God to prove his love for us.

Boy! That brought back some memories; most of them painful.

I have chosen, at this time, not to continue our correspondence. I don’t know that anything worthwhile would come from volleying emails with John. Having said that, I don’t see him as an adversary. I am choosing, instead, to believe that from his perspective he is reaching out in love and compassion to help us find what he believes is the path to salvation. He is concerned about our very souls. He is obviously passionate about his beliefs and his call to be a missionary for Christ in this way. There are times I wish I and others in Unity were as passionate about our positive spiritual message and our desire to share it with others.

John is obviously not alone in believing that we in Unity are not really Christian because we do not teach salvation through the blood sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. John and those who share his beliefs are dismayed, at best, that we do not teach the doctrine of sin and salvation.

This was a timely exchange, and probably not coincidental, considering that this is Holy Week when we observe the events in the final week of Jesus’ physical life culminating in his crucifixion and resurrection. It makes sense to me that those who hold traditional Christian beliefs would question why we in Unity even bother to observe Easter. After all, Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m sure they question why we celebrate the resurrection if we don’t believe in Jesus as “the ONLY WAY to salvation.”

I admit there was a time I wondered that as well. However, I have come to understand what I believe is the message of Easter from a Unity perspective. I am certainly not purporting to have THE right interpretation. As our cofounder, Charles Fillmore, so famously stated after expressing to a questioner what Unity believes, “I reserve the right to change my mind.” What follows is my current understanding.

We celebrate the resurrection because we believe that through the resurrection Jesus dramatically demonstrated the central message of Easter – Life is Eternal. Through the resurrection Jesus proved to his followers, all of us, that death is not real. Only Life is real and eternal. And, the Life that is real is the animating, vitalizing, energetic Essence that imbues all creation.

That which we call death is a name we assign to an experience that occurs at a particular point in time and space at which a transition takes place. In a person, this transition is a shift in the awareness of the individuated God-Essence from focus through a body back to a constant awareness of unity in God.

In Spirit, the concept of death is meaningless. Life, another name for ‘God’ does not die. It is constantly moving, expanding and evolving. What we think of as the body is a temporary vessel through which a specific individuated essence of Life/God expresses for a period of time. The essence of Life/God is never contained within a human body or any physical form. Life animates a body, but is never defined by it.

When we awaken to the reality of Eternal Life, the essential message of Easter, we are “saved.” We are saved from the “hell” that we create in our own minds because of the fear of death. We are free when we surrender to the Eternal Life that expresses in its fullness in every moment and trust that even though it may appear to us that something has died, that in truth it is only in a state of transition, whether it is the body, a relationship, a job, a hope or a dream.

Eternal Life expresses in its complete essence in every moment. The “Now” is the only moment in which Life can exist. If we are bound, in our minds, to the dream of a past or the hope of a future, we open ourselves to the suffering stimulated by our belief that something is absent from our lives now. This longing for a different past or attachment to a future dream is what the Buddha called “dukkha” and what we call “hell.” Both represent states of mind created by attachment to the things of the world. When we release our attachment we set ourselves free, thus we are “saved.”

Having been raised with a similar religious ideology as John's, the man who contacted me, I understand why he interprets Scripture to say that Jesus died and resurrected to save us from the eternal fires of hell. It is, after all, the message of traditional Christianity. But, we in Unity believe that Jesus’ true message was “follow me” not “worship me.”

We follow Jesus in the way of the crucifixion and resurrection every time we are willing to let go of pain and resentment of the past and our longing for a specific future, and instead surrender to the Eternal Life that is present in each moment. Each time we accept and allow the Life that is moving in us, through us, as us, and all creation in each and every moment, we are “saved,” and we are resurrected in the awareness of new life. That is the “salvation” promised by the crucifixion and the resurrection of our way shower Jesus.

I encourage us to allow today to be a day of “salvation” for us all. Let today be the day we free ourselves from the “hell” of our own making by surrendering to the Life that is the only enduring truth. Let us allow the pain and resentments from the past and attachments to a future to “die” away and welcome transformation.

On Sunday, as we observe Easter, let it be a day of celebration, not just in gratitude for our master teacher Jesus and his demonstrations, but for ourselves as well. Let us rise in the conscious awareness of Eternal Life as our very life. Accept the power of that Life expressing in and as every moment. Honor each moment as an opportunity to embrace our own resurrection and boldly declare, “Christ is risen. The awareness of Christ is risen indeed in my heart and mind. I am free.”

Please join us for our Easter celebration on Sunday at 10:00. It will be a celebrate with music from our own choir, Lauren Shealy, and a special solo from Rebecca Hyde. You won't want to miss it. My lesson is entitled "Rising in Love."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Surrendering in Love

For the past several weeks I have been reading and re-reading Richard Rohr’s book, Immortal Diamond – The Search for our True Self. It was the inspiration for my Lenten series, Loving the Self, and it continues to offer me new perspectives on some archaic Christian teachings and open my mind to new spiritual concepts. Most recently, Father Rohr has given me new insight on the concept of “God’s Will.”

Father Rohr states, “I do not believe the will of God is a theory, an argued moral theology, or an abstraction in any form; it is seeking the truth of each situation in that situation as best as we can figure it out. What else could God ask of humanity…?” 

I had not heard that interpretation of the will of God before reading this book. While my understanding may not be precisely the meaning that Father Rohr intended, my clarity around his statement is that the will of God is that each of us realize the activity of God, which I define as Divine Love – in every situation to the best of our ability.

It says to me that the will of God is not a plan that some God-being has devised to which we must surrender, rather the will of God is that we choose to see the Truth in every person and situation. The expression of Divine Love is the Truth of each situation and person, beyond any outer appearance.  And, the activity of Divine Love is always for the highest good for all concerned. It is helpful for us to understand that the highest good for all may or may not be in agreement with what you or I evaluate as “good.”  This is evidenced in the story of the arrest, passion and crucifixion of our way shower Jesus Christ.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week during which we reflect on the final week of Jesus’ physical life. My lesson title for this week is Surrendering in Love. As I ponder Palm Sunday and the idea of “surrendering,” the Biblical account of Jesus praying “not my will, but thy will be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane comes to mind.

From a Unity perspective, Jesus’ prayer does not indicate, as many Christians assert, that he was surrendering to God’s edict that he be crucified in order to save us from our sins. He was, instead surrendering his ideas of how he, from a personality perspective, would have preferred this scenario to unfold. I feel certain that he did not initially see his situation as “good.” However, instead of lamenting his plight or seeing himself as a victim, Jesus made a conscious choice to let go of his “will” and witness the activity of God – Divine Love – moving and acting in the situation. Thus, according to Rohr’s interpretation, Jesus was embracing and embodying the will of God.

Unity minister and author, Reverend Linda Martella-Whisett, in her book Divine Audacity, explains this interpretation eloquently. She restates Jesus’ prayer as an affirmation and expounds on that idea as follows:

“’May I envision and live out the unifying power of divine love at the heart of all that is.’ Nowhere in this interpretation is it presumed that a supernatural being wills or demands a particular course of action from any human. No condition or circumstance is sent to us by the will of any superior sentient being. In other words, God cannot require us to do anything, and God cannot be a doer of anything, because God is not like a person. God, the One Mind and Power throughout the cosmos, is eternal life, infinite love, ever-present wisdom, and all spiritual power. Therefore, “your will” is the fulfillment of life, love, and wisdom – all spiritual power.”

When we view the final week of Jesus’ life through the lens of “surrendering in love,” we can see that from his ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, to turning over the tables in the temple, celebrating the Eucharist with his disciples, praying in the garden, his arrest, trial, persecution, and finally crucifixion that at each juncture he was faced with the choice to surrender to the Truth – the activity of Divine Love – which he chose in every situation. Through his life and death, he exampled for us what it means to surrender in love and embody the will of God.

I invite us, as we move into the observance of Holy Week, to examine our own lives. Where are we determined to persist in our ideas of the way things should be even though doing so may stimulate pain and suffering for ourselves and others? Where are we seeing ourselves as a victim by holding on to past hurt? Are there situations in our lives in which we are unwilling or unable to see the truth of God expressing? Is there someone in your life in whom you are challenged to see the truth of God expressing?

Are we willing to stand with our master teacher, Jesus Christ, and say “not my will, but thy will be done?” As he demonstrated, let us take time to go into the garden of our own hearts, into the secret place of the most high, and consciously connect with Divine Love at the center of our being. Surrender our thoughts of lack and limitation and invite the Mind of God to be our mind. Surrender the feelings of resentment and guilt and welcome the peace and love of God as our experience. Surrender the judgment of self and others, and embrace the Christ within ourselves and all others. In doing this, we embody the will of God, as Jesus did. We are then able to see the truth of Divine Love in and through all situations and all people.

Please join us on Sunday at 10:00 as we delve deeper into the practice and experience of “Surrendering in Love.”

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Resting in Love

I hesitate to use anthropomorphic language when referring to God for concern that I will reinforce an image of God as a being with human characteristics. This perspective of God as personage was imparted to us from traditional Christian theology, and many of us, including me, have worked to overcome it. I have long ago rejected the concept of God as personality. Further, I usually go to great lengths not to refer to God as ‘he’ or ‘she’ and often cringe when I hear others do so.

However, in an effort to further my Lenten lesson series, “Loving the Self,” and explore this week’s topic, “Resting in Love,” I will use such metaphorical terminology in this post. I do so because it captures a more relatable image of God, one that we can experience rather than one of which we can only have an intellectual comprehension. The master teacher Jesus made use of similar metaphorical language when speaking of God as “Father.” Jesus knew God as Being itself, yet he experienced an intimate connection with God as reflected in his use of the affectionate “Abba”¹ when referring to God. He also knew that in order to convey his message about God to his listeners he needed to use language and imagery to which they could relate.

As I indicated, I have developed a comfort zone around the concept of God as Principle rather than thinking of God as having human traits. However, through the conscious practice of living with and contemplating the idea of “Loving the Self” during Lent, I have enjoyed a more personal experience of the Divine. Therefore, I have chosen to use terminology that reflects a more intimate, personal experience of God in order to provide a more apt depiction of the connection I feel while “Resting in Love.”

H. Emilie Cady in her book, Lessons in Truth, assures us that while God is Principle, eternal and unchanging, that

            “[God] does become transformed into infinite love, which is Father-Mother, with all the warmth and tender helpfulness that this word implies, when it becomes focalized, so to speak, within the human body…Every metaphysician either has reached, or must in the future reach, this place – the place where God as cold principle alone will not suffice any more than in the past God as personality alone could wholly satisfy.
            The whole business of your Lord (the Father in you) is to care for you, to love you with an everlasting love, to note your slightest cry, and to rescue you.
            God (Father-Mother) is a present help in time of need; but there must be a recognition of His presence, a turning away from human efforts, and an acknowledgment of God only (a single eye) before He becomes manifest.”

As I contemplate the idea of “Resting in Love” the image that comes to me is one of being held in the embrace of another where I feel safe and at peace. I have experienced, as I am sure most of you have, the sweet embrace of a loved one. Oh how good it feels to be held by another human being whom you trust, someone you know will be there with you and for you even in the most painful or frightening moments. For some of us that person might be a spouse or lover; for others a parent or a friend. That warm loving embrace can come from various people at different times in our lives.

While being held by another person is often nurturing and healing, being held in the everlasting love of God is the sweetest embrace I can imagine. As I have spent time using my power of imagination to envision being held by God, I have witnessed a flow of love that appeared as waves of energy completely enveloping me, similar to arms enfolding me. I have felt the synchronous pulsing of my heart within the sacred heart of God. I have heard the voice of God speaking to me, “You are as I created you, and I love you with a love that is beyond your understanding.”  In the arms of God, I know what it means to truly experience “Resting in Love.” God, the one who created me, loves me just as I am. God does not demand anything of me. God invites me to rest in his loving embrace without condition.

Resting in Love, I am inspired to accept, embrace and love myself for who I am. In the arms of God there is no need to struggle. I do not need to find love or try to be loved: I am loved. I know Love. I am Love. Resting in Love I am open to a new perspective. Not only do I see myself through the eyes of Love, I am able to see others from that perspective as well. From my transformed perspective, I am able and willing to extend love to myself and all creation.

I invite you to spend some time resting in love. I offer the following as guidance.
  • Breathe into your heart space, located to the right and just behind the physical heart.
  • Focus your awareness on your heartbeat.
  • Allow yourself to imagine that your heart is beating within the Heart of God.
  • Surrender to the breath and imagine that God is breathing you. You are the very breath of the Divine.
  • Envision the energy of Love filling your heart space. You may see it as pink, or possibly red.
  • With every breath see the energy of Love extending beyond the heart space to fill your entire body.
  • Continue to extend this energy until you feel it completely surrounding you as if the arms of God are wrapping around you and holding you close.
  • Rest in Love as you surrender to the everlasting Love that is the life of God in which “you live and move and have your being.”²
  • Stay in that space for at least ten minutes and feel into it.
  • Feel the ecstasy of being held in the embrace of unconditional love.
  • When you feel complete, bring your awareness back to the breath and then to the heartbeat.
  • Take a deep breath and ground your renewed awareness right where you are.
  • Gradually bring your awareness back to the body by focusing on your physical senses or gently moving your body.
  • Speak or gesture your expression of great-fullness for your experience.

Through engaging in this spiritual practice you open to the awareness of God focalized as you, as Emilie Cady taught. Further, in alignment with her teaching, God as Principle is transformed into Infinite Love that meets your every need. God is not a person, but through our conscious recognition of God as our very life, God becomes personal to us.

Practice “Resting in Love,” and please join us for our service on Sunday at 10:00 as we explore this concept in greater depth.

¹ Mark 14:36

² Acts 17:28

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Seeing the Self

For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part;  but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” –
I Corinthians 13: 9 -10 & 12

During my meditation today, the scripture above from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth came to mind. So, I chose to contemplate upon it. What I share below is the message that came to me. It was powerfully meaningful to me. I hope it holds some meaning for you as well.

I gaze into a mirror and I see the reflection of my mind. I see through the haze of the myths, messages and beliefs I have accepted as truth about myself. I see who I believe myself to be. I do not see who I am: I see who I am not. I perceive a distorted image of myself.

I also see the world through the filters of my mind. When I misperceive myself, I misperceive the world and all in it. I see only in part. I do not see the whole, the complete truth.

But, as Paul promises, in the moments when conscious awareness of my True Self is revealed, I see clearly. I see as though I am looking through the eyes of the Christ, and I see the face of Christ reflected back to me. I know myself as I am known in the Mind of God as Itself in expression. I see my Self complete, as the perfect Son of God that I Am.

When I see my Self clearly, I see the world and all therein clearly as well. “When the complete comes” – when the truth of the Christ awakens in my consciousness – I see clearly. Then, I know even as I Am known.

Knowing myself as I Am known is the promise of Easter. It is the resurrection of the True Self in my conscious awareness. While my True Self eternally abides in its complete nature at the center of my being, it is resurrected in my conscious awareness only as I open to allow it. In order to see clearly, I must be willing to question all the assumptions I have accepted about myself and the world. I must be willing to have my perception transformed as I invite and welcome the renewing of my mind. This happens through conscious connection with the Christ within.

I consciously participate in this transformation through my spiritual practices. I merge my mind with the One Mind in prayer. In meditation, I quiet my mind in order to allow the truth to be impressed upon it by the One Mind. And, through contemplation on the Christ of my being, the True Self is revealed as me.

It does not happen magically or without my participation. I must enter into the process willingly with conscious intention. It is a process of growing in the awareness of the True Self so that the former self passes away and the True Self is resurrected. This is the path to Easter and the purpose of Lent.

Through my Lenten series, “Loving the Self,” I am encouraging us all to spend time in daily prayer, meditation and contemplation so that we may meet, fall in love, grow in love, live in love, rest in love, surrender in love and rise in love with our True Self, the Christ of our being. I invite us all to accept the promise of Easter and use the next few weeks to claim it for ourselves

Please join us on Sunday mornings at 10:00 for our services. You may watch videos of past lessons on the Unity Spiritual Center Denver YouTube channel. Or, you may listen to them on our website