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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.”