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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Stay Awake!

The time for any of us to be returned to ourselves is now. The ground beneath our feet is the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land…It’s here, it’s now, and it’s at hand and within our reach. And this moment is the only one available to us.

In Advent time, we are reminded over and over again; “Stay awake.” This is a not a warning that death is coming but a reminder that life is happening now. Now…is the day of salvation. We see as God sees: with amplitude, wideness, and mercy. The only moment left to us to participate in this larger love, this limitless, all-accepting love, is the present moment.

Can you hear it? The voice of the Beloved. – Fr. Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship

When I read these words of Jesuit Priest, Father Gregory Boyle, I was awakened to a renewed awareness and appreciation for Advent, which officially begins this Sunday, December 3. Before reading Fr. Boyles words, I had never before considered that Advent is a time when we are reminded to “Stay awake.”

Advent is traditionally observed as a time of preparation for Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I now see that the season also offers us the opportunity to stay alert for the Second Coming of Christ. In Unity, we believe that the Second Coming happens in each of us as we awaken to the Christ - our Divine Nature - that indwells us all.

As Fr. Boyle says, “The time for any of us to be returned to ourselves is now.” Advent can be for us a time to “Stay awake” to the Spirit moving in, through and as each of us. This moment, every moment, is an opportunity to come into the conscious awareness of the Christ seeking to be reborn in us.

In the biblical Christmas narrative, Mary represents the state of consciousness that is awake and ready to receive the message of the indwelling Christ. Her messenger, the angel Gabriel, told her that she would give birth to the Christ. Metaphysically, angels represent thoughts that come from our higher knowing and can appear to us as divine intelligence, understanding or intuition.¹ Mary was awake to the moment and was willing and able to, as Fr. Boyle says, “participate in this larger love, this limitless, all-accepting love” as she said, “Let it be done unto me.”

Looking at the Christmas story through this lens, I can now see that many of the elements of the narrative are such reminders. For example, the three kings, or magi, who came from a distant land to acknowledge Jesus’ birth, followed the star. The star, metaphysically, represents our inner conviction of our Christ nature.² These men were awake to the star’s message and followed where it lead, ultimately to their own realization of the birth of the Christ.

The ground beneath our feet is the Kingdom of God” as Fr. Boyle says, and every moment is our opportunity to awaken to it. The master teacher and way-shower, Jesus, said, “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). It is right here, right now. We only need to “Stay awake,” listen for the call and stay alert to the signs of the indwelling Christ waiting to be reborn in our conscious awareness. “Now…is the day of salvation,” and the Christ within is the source.

The word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin advenire which most closely translates into English as “to come.” I encourage us to welcome this Advent season as a time of inviting the consciousness awareness of the Christ to come, to be reborn in our hearts and minds.

Each morning, set a conscious intention to welcome the awakening of the Christ within. Say silently or aloud,

My heart is pure and willing to be the birthplace of Christ.
My mind is still and ready to receive the message of Christ.
My eyes are open to see the image of Christ.
My ears are attuned to the song of Christ.
I am now awake and alert to Christ.

Make time and take time each day to sit in the silence to sense, hear, and see all the ways the Christ makes itself known to you. You may, indeed, hear the voice of angels, or see light. You may not. Don’t be attached to mystical experiences. Know and trust that in speaking the word, you have attuned yourself to the Christ frequency. In doing that, you have asked, and you will receive. Stay open and receptive. Stay awake!

Join us on Sunday for our 10:00 service. We will explore how the spiritual attribute of Faith helps us to “Stay Awake” during this Advent season.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a day we designate to give thanks for all the good we enjoy. We appreciate and spend time with our friends and families. We share food, and give thanks for the bounty that we have. We celebrate the freedom, safety and security we are so blessed to experience in this country. Traditionally, it is a day of gratitude and appreciation for the myriad ways that God (Good) manifests in our lives.

I encourage you to feel and express appreciation for all the Good that you enjoy. I suggest, too, that you allow yourself to appreciate all the Good that you are. Let this Thanksgiving be a celebration, not just for what you have, but also for what you are – a unique and wondrous expression of the Divine.

Feel appreciation for God (Good) expressing as your life, not just in your life, and then from that feeling place give from of all the Good that you are.

Unity principles teach that (1) God is Good; (2) You are that Good; (3) You manifest Good by focusing on that Good; (4) You become conscious of that Good through prayer (also appreciation);  and (5) You live that Good by sharing it with the world.

As singer-songwriter, Jana Stanfield, says, “I cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do.” The world needs all the Good (God) that you are. And, you can only share it when you claim it, appreciate it, and allow it to flow freely as you in all that you do.

Appreciate you. Experience a feeling of “Thanks” in your heart. Give to yourself and from your Self to bless the world.

Have a Joy-full Thanks-Giving! 



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wake Up!

This past Sunday at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, I shared a lesson entitled “Grace and Gratitude.” You may listen to it here. Since this lesson came to me as what I call a “download” from Spirit, I chose to share it here in this forum as well.

Meet my friend. My friend’s name is Grace. Grace doesn’t really have a gender, but I think of Grace as a feminine energy, so I call Grace ‘her.’ Grace is my constant friend and companion. She is with me wherever I go. 

People might get the wrong idea. Of course, this is a physical representation of Grace. I don’t carry her around like this everywhere I go. But, Grace is a part of my beingness. I carry her around in my heart and my mind. She is also a part of your beingness. You may not be consistently aware of it, but you too carry her around with you, always.

Grace has only one message, and it is a short one. Her message is “WAKE UP.”

Sometimes she says it in a quiet voice. Other times, she yells it quite loudly.

Sometimes I pay attention.

Sometimes I don’t.

But, she never ceases to keep calling to me to “wake up” from the dream.

What is the dream?

The dream is that we are separate and alone. The dream is the dream of duality. It is a dream in which we are somehow separate from God and from each other.

The beginning of the dream is beautifully represented metaphorically in the creation story in Genesis.

We are created in the image-likeness of God. We are pre-wired and programmed for peace, love, joy, happiness and wholeness. That is who we are. We are created to be in constant communion, conscious awareness of our Unity – our Oneness with God.

This is depicted in the story of Adam and Eve walking with God in the Garden of Eden, where everything was provided. That is, until they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Metaphorically this represents humanity appropriating an idea of separation. In our minds, we created an image of ourselves unlike who we truly are. We began to think of ourselves as separate, and feel shame and fear. We even began to fear God. As a result of the shame and fear, we separated ourselves from the Garden, the consciousness of Unity, wholeness and perfection.

We continue to dream a dream of a self that is separate from God, a dream of a self who is alone in the world and often scared. But, because we are created in the image-likeness of God in Essence, there is an abiding presence within us that is constantly calling us home, calling us to “Wake Up” from the dream and return to the Garden.

That presence is Grace.

Grace is the voice of Truth calling from the core of our being, not just at the core of some of us, but of all of us.

And, each of is always free to listen and follow, or not. You and I are always at the point of choice to stay in the dream of separation and experience the fear which can manifest in many ways that are commonly called fight, flight or freeze. Or, we can call upon Grace to remind us to wake up from the dream and remember that she ever abides within us just as we ever abide in the Garden.

It is our opportunity in every moment to bring our awareness to the activity of Grace calling us into the remembrance of who and what we are. If we are listening to Grace and connected to Grace, no matter what happens in the world of form, we can return to the Garden and know our Truth.

Again, sometimes Grace speaks in a soft whisper.

When I am out in nature, walking on the beach, hugging a tree or a boulder, she softly whispers “Wake Up,” and I experience my unity with God expressing through the trees, rock, birds, and ocean. In those moments, I am filled with the awareness of the presence of God in all, and I experience Great-Fullness. In those moments, gratitude and thanksgiving come naturally.

I can easily feel gratitude and appreciation for God as nature.

At other times, however, it’s not so easy. When I witness or hear about painful or violent things happening in the world, it’s tempting to feel fear. In fact, I often do feel fear, initially.

At those times, Grace speaks a little more firmly, “Wake Up.” She reminds me not to react from fear, but to come home to the Garden, to commune with God in my mind and heart, to remember my Truth, and to respond from my center.

Then there are those times when it is often even more difficult for me to hear Grace because something painful happens in my direct experience or in the life of someone close to me. I can feel fear, anger, and sadness, leading me to think that I am alone. I want to run, hide, fight back or just go to bed, pull up the covers, and stay there.

That’s when Grace gets even louder – “WAKE UP”!

Even then, it often takes a while before I am willing or able to hear. Fear can block our ability to hear clearly. That’s why it is so important to continually condition my mind with prayer, meditation and affirmations of the Amazing Grace that is constantly active in me, as me.

Once I am able and willing to listen, I can stop, breathe, and know that no matter what happens in my world or in the world around me, that I - the Essence of who and what I Am - abides eternally in the Garden. I can choose to look for and find the blessing, the action of Good in it. I can eventually come to a place of Great-Fullness, and experience gratitude and appreciation.

I may not understand it all in the moment, or ever, but I can always choose to wake up from my dream of separation and connection with my Essential Nature which is of God.

I am sure that most, if not all of us, have had life experiences that at the time they happened were devastating. We felt the pain, fear, or sadness. And, once we moved through the feelings and came to a clearing, we were able to look back and see that Grace was present through it all. We were able to look for and find the blessing, even in some of life’s most challenging experiences.

In one of his letters to the church as Thessalonica, the apostle Paul said, “In everything give thanks.” He did not say, for everything give thanks, but in everything.

It may take some time to walk through the process, but knowing that Grace is always active and abiding, constantly leading us back home to the Garden and to a place of communion with God, and then choosing to hear Grace, helps me find gratitude in all things.

Everything can be an opportunity for me to “WAKE UP.”

In his letter to the church as Ephesus, Paul said,

“For by grace you have been saved – through Faith – this not of yourselves, but it is a gift from God.”

Grace calling us home to the Garden, when we listen, saves us, sets us free, wakes us up from the dream of separation, and thus frees us from our fear and isolation.

Faith is our power to believe and have conviction in the unseen power of Grace.

Grace is the gift of God, the voice within that beckons us home and calls us to “WAKE UP.”

In our awakened state of Oneness, we are filled with the awareness of God. We experience Great-Fullness. From that Great-Fullness, we live gratitude and thanksgiving.

Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Grace and Gratitude

I recently heard it said, when referring to someone experiencing homelessness, “There but by the grace of God go I.” I hadn’t heard it in a while, but I recall that when I was younger I would often hear my parents and others say those words. I trust that I have said it myself. I don’t believe that it was ever spoken in judgment so much as from compassion or sympathy. Nor do I think it was judgment coming from the person who I heard it from recently. Still, I felt a twinge of pain.

The phrase, “There but by the grace of God go I” seems to imply that grace is something that is extended to some, but not to others, or at least is something that is given in measured amounts according to the determination of a capricious God.

It seems to be an implication by the one speaking the phrase that the one being observed is having an unenviable experience, and that because the one speaking is not sharing that experience that he or she enjoys grace in greater measure than does the other. It speaks to the concept that grace is something we do not deserve, yet by some twist of fate, some are blessed with it while others are not. Or worse, that some enjoy the “favor” of God while others do not and specifically that the person being observed is not experiencing grace. Which, is of course, impossible.

While this popular phrase may have reflected my concept of grace at one time in the past, it no longer resonates with my understanding of God or my definition of grace. Either we all live in a constant state of grace or no one does. Either the grace of God is extended equally to all, or there is no grace.

The following are three different perspectives of grace. Each of them speaks more closely to how I perceive grace today.

Unity minster and author, Eric Butterworth, in his book The Universe is Calling says,

Living in a state of grace can mean nothing more or less than living in a disciplined awareness of the divine flow. God’s flow is constant. Our experience of it changes with our consciousness…Grace is simply a wonderful facet of the activity of God in you. It is not something you must work for or develop. It simply is.

Franciscan priest and author, Richard Rohr, in his book, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, says,

Basically, grace is God’s first name, and probably last too. Grace is what God does to keep all things he has made in love and alive – forever. Grace is God’s official job description. Grace is not something God gives; grace is who God is. If we are to believe the primary witnesses, an unexplainable goodness is at work in the universe. (Some of us call this phenomenon God, but that word is not necessary. In fact, sometimes it gets in the way of the experience, because too many have named God something other than Grace.)

American-born Zen Buddhist author and teacher, Adyashanti, in his book, Falling Into Grace, says,

In essence, grace is anything that helps us truly open – our minds, our bodies, our emotions, our hearts. Sometimes grace is soft and beautiful. It appears as insight. It comes as a sudden understanding, or maybe just a blossoming of our hearts, the breaking open of our emotional bodies so that we can feel more deeply and connect with what is and with each other in a deeper way. Grace may also be quite fierce. There are times in life that are very, very trying. At the time, grace might be hard to recognize, but as we think back to these powerful times in our lives, we can start to see the great gift that was received.

Knowing and trusting that I live in the constant state of grace awakens me in mind, body and spirit to the awareness of the eternal flow of Life in me, through me, as me. And, it elicits an experience of Great-fullness that overflows from me as gratitude and thanksgiving for everything I experience and for everyone who comes into my life.

Knowing and trusting that I live in a constant state of grace, I see everything and everyone as my teachers who show up at the perfect times and places to help me awaken to the Truth of who I am.

Knowing and trusting that I live in the constant state of grace, I feel more peaceful. I can move forward knowing that I can choose the perspective that everything happens for my ultimate good, even if I am unable to see it in the moment. It encourages me to look for the good.

Perhaps this is what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “In every thing give thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18 KJV). He did not say to give thanks for everything, but in everything. When we know that we live in the constant state of grace, we can live with an attitude of gratitude and be open to witnessing the potential for a blessing in all things.

I invite you to join me in saying the following affirmation daily, and continually throughout the day:

I live in a constant state of grace.

Use these words to remind yourself that no matter what happens, whether you evaluate it as “good” or “bad,” that you live in a constant state of grace. You are a state of grace. Allow whatever happens in your life to open you to a greater connection with your divinity and the divine life expressing as all that you see. Let that awareness bring you to the experience of Great-fullness and let it overflow as expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving.

Join us on Sunday for our 10:00 service as we explore further the connection between Grace and Gratitude.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Should We or Shouldn't We?

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas last Sunday which followed closely on the heels of the mass shooting in Las Vegas last month, and which are only the latest incidents of this type of violence in our country, the issue of gun control is once again a hot topic.

On a Unity minister’s discussion Facebook page on which I participate, a minister posted the question, “So, are we in Unity yet ready to stand in opposition to legal access to assault rifles?” The post has generated a great deal of activity. The responses range from simple “NO” or “YES” to more lengthy dissertations on why we should or should not take such a stand.

Some people believe that we in Unity should not take a stand on any issue that even hints of being “political.” They say that it is not the role of the church. Further, some worry that getting involved in “political issues” might threaten our federal non-profit status.

Others assert that it is not a “political” issue, but a moral one and that the church not only has the right, but an obligation to speak out in favor of laws that limit access by private citizens to assault weapons.

Many who know me might assume that I would come down solidly on the side of those who say, “Yes, Unity should absolutely take a stand for gun control.” However, I find that it is a more complex question.

Personally, I cannot understand why any civilian should need or have ready access to an assault weapon. It is unfathomable to me that anyone would desire to own one, especially since killing is their only purpose. Yes, I personally favor limiting legal access to assault weapons. Ultimately, I wish it were not necessary for us to legislate weapons, drugs, or behaviors that endanger life, but it seems we must, at least for now.

While this is my personal perspective, I do not assert that Unity, as an organization, should take such a stand. Unity is a spiritual movement comprised of people from diverse backgrounds, races, nationalities and beliefs. Freedom to choose is paramount for us. We believe in our God-given right to think and speak for ourselves and to stand for what we believe. It is not the purview of the leaders of the Unity movement to speak for the whole when it comes to these issues.

Additionally, affecting public policy it is not the stated mission of Unity. While many religious organizations spend millions to support candidates for political office and public policy that reflect their biased views and prejudices, to do so is not in alignment with who we say we are and what we profess to be about.

It is our mission in Unity to inspire spiritual awakening and personal transformation. If we work diligently to live our mission, we will do more toward ending the cause of violence than could any law enacted to address the symptoms.

I repeat: It is our mission in Unity to inspire spiritual awakening and personal transformation. If we work diligently to live our mission, we will do more toward ending the cause of violence than could any law enacted to address the symptoms.

None of the foregoing means that I do not fully support individuals within Unity, or groups that form from their associations in Unity, who choose to take a stand for gun control or any other issue they feel is important. I encourage us all to seek Spirit’s guidance and to follow the direction given. My prayer is that whatever action any of us chooses it will be spiritually motivated, and that we will do so with love, zeal and courage.

I will do what is mine to do toward helping to create a world that works for all people, one in which every life matters and where we come together in mutual respect, love and equanimity.

I will do so, not as a Unity minister or as a member of the Unity movement, but as a member of the human race who cares about the welfare and safety of my fellow human beings.

I invite you to search your heart and follow where it leads.

Please join us on Sunday, November 12, for our 10:00 service. Gun control will NOT be the topic of my lesson. This is simply what I was inspired to share in this forum.

My lesson will be entitled, “Gratitude on the Journey.” I will be sharing some thoughts about the power of connecting with gratitude in every moment. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A New Thought

I am currently participating in a webinar series called “Awaken – A 12-week Journey to Unearthing Your Authentic Essence” facilitated by Unity minister, Rev. Aliza Bloom Robinson. This week, our homework was to explore one limiting belief and choose a new empowering belief.

It never ceases to amaze me, even after all these years of doing this kind of spiritual work, that when we invite conscious awareness and become open to it, we unfailingly awaken to what we need.

This week, I became consciously aware of my poverty consciousness around time. After allowing myself to stop, breathe and self-connect, I realized that I was holding a great deal of tension around the thought that I do not have enough time to do all the things I need to do.

Only when I became conscious of that belief was I able to question it and choose something different. Until then, I had allowed that thought to take over my thinking and feeling. When I stopped long enough to connect, I noticed that my breathing was shallow and my chest and abdomen were tight. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

From time to time, it helps to be reminded of some Unity basic teachings. One of which is that we have the power to change our thinking and change our experience. Another is that we are endowed with what Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore delineated as The Twelve Powers which include the powers of ‘Renunciation’ and ‘Dominion’. When we ignite the power of ‘Renunciation’ we employ our ability to release and let go of thoughts and beliefs that we can allow to limit our experience. Using our power of ‘Dominion’ we can choose thoughts that expand consciousness, and open us up to greater and more fulfilling life experiences.

Thankfully, during our weekly call, my prayer partner reminded me of these truths. I was then able and willing to renounce the power of the thought that I do not have enough time, and claim dominion over my thinking with the following:

The thought that I do not have enough time is not true and no longer has any power in my life. I release it and let it go.

I know that I am divinely inspired in every moment and endowed with all I need in order to accomplish what is mine to do. I move through every moment, minute, hour and day with confidence, grace and ease knowing that all is unfolding in its perfect time.

I immediately felt my chest and abdomen relax; my breathing deepened and my mind opened to seeing all of the things on my “to do” list as possibilities and opportunities to be explored, rather than as duties and obligations to be tackled. I used my innate “powers” to change my thinking and change my experience.

I invite you to stop, breathe, go within and connect with at least one thought or belief that you are allowing to limit your divine expression. Pay attention to how your body is responding. Identify it and be specific. What feelings are coming up? Make note of each one, even if it is a mental list. Do not hurry through this process. Allow each physical, mental and emotional presence to be recognized.

Now, activate your power of ‘Renunciation’ and deny the truth of that limiting thought. Notice what happens in your body as you release the energy and open up to new possibilities. Then, choose a new thought, write it down and repeat it until you feel that you have aligned your thinking and feeling with it. Notice what happens in your body. My guess is that you will feel more energized and inspired to move forward in the next right step. Know and trust that you are in the flow of Divine Good.

We do, indeed, have the powers to choose a new thought and change our experience.

As always, I invite you to join us at Unity Spiritual Center on Sunday, November 5, as we welcome our special guest speaker and workshop facilitator, Rev. Sheila Gautreaux. She will share a lesson entitled, The Power of Forgiveness, at the 10:00 a.m. service. Sheila will also offer The Radical Forgiveness Ceremony from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. We’ll see you there, and as always, there is great love for you here.