The Minister's Weekly Message

Rev. Mary is available for

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Rev. Mary Wood's Weekly Messages

Please note that Rev. Mary generally updates her message on Wednesday afternoons.  You can use the arrows to move back to previous months to explore more of her blog.

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Date Posted Post
2021-12-18 THE JOURNEY OF LOVE

Welcome to the third week of Advent – an advent-ure that brings us home to the awareness of the Christ within.   “The real celebration of Christmas is always an inner experience that happens in you and I as Christ is reborn in our consciousness.”  Revealing Word, our metaphysical dictionary, defines love as “the pure essence of being that binds together the whole human family.  Of all the attributes of God, love is undoubtedly the most beautiful.  Love is the power that joins and binds the universe and everything in it. 

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We can think love is an emotional attachment – we need someone or something to love.  Somewhere I read that an emotional attachment is the cause of all suffering.  Thank you God for Unity because we see love as a feeling, not an emotion – Love is expressed through our feeling nature, but at the same time, it is actually beyond our feelings.  And when we try to define it, we can limit it by the words we use.   Love is always available for us because it is who we are.  But our journey to Love, to being who we truly are, can take us to many places. 

Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet/diplomat, wrote: "Playing in the lot behind the house one day when I was still a little boy, I discovered a hole in a fence board. I looked through the hole and saw a landscape, uncared for, and wild. I moved back a few steps, because I sensed vaguely that something was about to happen. All of a sudden a hand appeared---a tiny hand of a boy about my own age. By the time I came close again, the hand was gone, and in its place there was a marvellous white toy sheep.

"The sheep's wool was faded. Its wheels had escaped. All of this only made it more authentic. I had never seen such a wonderful sheep. I looked back through the hole but the boy had disappeared. I went in the house and brought out a measure of my own: a pine cone, opened, full of odor and resin, which I adored. I set it down in the same spot and went off with the sheep.

"I never saw either the hand or the boy again. And I have never seen a sheep like that either. The toy I lost finally in a fire. But even now...whenever I pass a toyshop, I look furtively into the window. It's no use. They don't make sheep like that anymore."

Neruda associates the exchange with his poetry. "I have been a lucky man. To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvellous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that come from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses---that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.

 "That exchange brought home to me for the first time a precious idea: that all humanity is somehow together.  This is the great lesson I learned in my childhood, in the backyard of a lonely house. Maybe it was nothing but a game two boys played who didn't know each other and wanted to pass to the other some good things of life. Yet maybe this small and mysterious exchange of gifts remained inside me also, deep and indestructible, giving my poetry light."

Love is our purpose here on earth, to be aware of this, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

"Our neighbors are those we happen to be with at the moment. Life is for service. We human beings are meant to be helpers. In fact, the greatest thing we can do in life is to help our neighbors come to know that they are lovable and capable of loving."  -  - Fred Rogers

During the past two weeks, we’ve journeyed with Mary and Joseph as they were told they were to be the parents of the Son of God.  We went with them from Nazareth to Bethlehem where they were registered for taxes.  Then, finding no room at the inn, the Christ child is born in the manger. 

Scripture:  Luke 8:2-11

This week, let’s go to Bethlehem and imagine it’s full to bursting with people, and the fields around the city are quiet and empty except for a few shepherds tending their flocks, making sure that the sheep don’t stray off.  It was a cold and lonely job.  They had only the flames from the campfire to keep them warm.  And this night, all was calm, all was still.  Suddenly the night sky blazed with great light.  The shepherds didn’t know what was happening.  Looking up, shielding their eyes, an angel appeared saying,  “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good tidings of great joy!” 

What a message to bring to these lowly shepherds.  “For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.”  The Messiah that the prophets had talked about was born for them.  God had chosen them to bring the good news.  So, let’s look at the metaphysics in this story – the lessons that are beyond the physical, the words written on the page. 

The shepherds are common folk who are watching over their flocks in the fields by night.  Metaphysically, the shepherd is the humble, trustworthy, often simple type of thought that watches and tends with loving care the flock of feelings that are under its charge…. A thought of gratitude or joy or compassion.  The shepherd was often the hero in the Bible - Moses was a shepherd before becoming a leader to free the Hebrew nation from slavery.  David was a shepherd before becoming king - so we can establish this quality of kind and peaceful and strong leadership in our own mind.  

Sheep metaphysically represents pure and innocent thoughts that flows into our consciousness from God. We can then use our minds to gently guide and take care of these thoughts.  When we’re calm and still just like the shepherds were, then we’re open to divine inspiration from the angels.

WHAT ARE ANGELS ANYWAY?  Metaphysically, Angels represent messages from God, divine inspiration and guidance that bring “good news of a great joy.”

Have you ever felt guided into a new area of life that makes you uncomfortable, even turns your world upside-down? Or has change ever hit you like a 2 x 4 — maybe a major change in job, finances, relationship or health?  It’s easy to argue with the warning not to be afraid.  “Are you kidding? Do you know what’s going on down here?

We  might argue with someone who chirps, “It’s all good!”  But here’s the thing . . . change is required if we want more good in our lives. Something has to shift and make room for it; something new has to lead us to it.  We might not believe the good tidings at first.  No wonder every conversation with an angel begins with, “Do not be afraid.” They often have to convince us change can be good.

Of course, most of us don’t have angels show up to tell us what’s next in our lives, and we might freak out if they did.  Instead, a few people get instant downloads of intuition, and the rest of us gradually feel nudges, see signs or have ideas that won’t go away. Often we’re not sure whether the inner voice is coming from true wisdom, or whether it’s ego or past programming.  But if you are being guided into new territory, if you are entering a different chapter of life, chosen or not, then remember your good shows up as change.  And you have the angels to tell you, Fear not.

Now I’d like to share these words entitled Love is for Everyone by Jerry Jampolsky, author of  Love is Letting Go of Fear.   "Each of us can make a difference when we teach love and not fear, when we put an end to indifference, when we let go of selfish needs, when we spend each day showing each other the way.  When we commit ourselves to have a heart that beats only with compassion, when caring for another becomes our only passion. 

Each of us can make a difference when giving, kindness, patience, gratitude and tenderness are the way we pray.  When love and forgiveness and what we think say and do are our gifts of love to everyone.  When we commit our lives to service, each of us can make a difference when we demonstrate in every possible way that Love is for everyone."

As we journey into the last week of advent, I invite you to spend a minute, an hour, a day aware of the love that you are, unconditionally loving yourself and others, open to this journey of love that we are all on.  I invite you to see only Love in every person, in every situation.  And as we come to accept and love what is, then you and I will indeed know that Love is all there really is.

 

 

 
2021-12-09 JOURNEY OF PEACE

Welcome to the second week of Advent – it’s our sacred journey to the awareness and acceptance of our true Christ nature.  It’s a journey of peace.  The peace that passes all human understanding, the peace that is forever present within every one of us, the peace that allows us to Perceive Everyone as Christ Everywhere.

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Every Sunday we sing Let There Be Peace on Earth written by Jill Jackson-Miller (1913-1995).  Jackson was born in Independence, Missouri, just a few miles away from Unity Village.  She became an orphan as a young girl, and had a difficult journey through foster care.  After she attempted suicide in 1944, she wrote the song when she discovered what she called the "life-saving joy of God's peace and unconditional love."   She wrote, “In that moment I was not allowed to die, and something happened to me, which is very difficult to explain. I had an eternal moment of truth, in which I knew I was loved, and I knew I was here for a purpose.”

For years, she explored her spiritual nature and her relationship with God. Jackson discovered her love for writing, and began writing songs with Sy Miller after they married in 1949.  
In 1955, she wrote the lyrics for “Let There Be Peace on Earth” while her husband wrote the melody.  Sy Miller wrote:: “One summer evening in 1955, a group of 180 teenagers of all races and religions, meeting at a workshop high in the California mountains locked arms, formed a circle and sang this song of peace. They felt that singing the song helped to create a climate for world peace and understanding.
“When they came down from the mountain, these inspired young people brought the song with them and started sharing it. And, as though on wings, ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth’ began an amazing journey around the globe.”    First, it traveled with the young campers back to their homes and schools, churches and clubs.  Now it is sung all over the world by people of all faiths from all backgrounds.”

Now I’d like to share these words from Byron Katie’s book A Thousand Names for Joy based on the words from the Tao de Ching.  They also relate to our lesson today.  “An open mind is the only way to peace.  As long as you think you know what should and shouldn’t happen, you’re trying to manipulate God.  This is a recipe for unhappiness.  Any thought that causes stress is an argument with reality.  All such thoughts are variations on a theme:  Thoughts should be different than they are.  I want, I need.  She shouldn’t.  It always hurts when we argue with what is.” 

 

God is always present; peace is always present.  It is in the “I” of the storm.  When we’re open to peace, we realize we have everything we need to be happy and content because we have chosen love, not fear.  We know the world does not happen to us, but by us.  Reminds me of a sign that hung above my desk at the Conservation Authority –For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.  Here are a couple of thoughts that help me along the journey of peace.  There are no criticisms, there are only observations.  When I know this and someone “criticizes” me, I can respond in love instead of reacting in fear.  I come to know what they are saying has nothing to do with who I am. 

The theme of Gary Simmon’s book I of the Storm is “No one and no thing is against me.”  Gary says  There is no judgment that is truly about us.  So when someone says “NO”, disagrees with you, it opens the possibility for new ways to look at something, the possibility for new opportunities.  An open mind is the only way to peace. I thank God that Unity teachings bring good news – God is always present, therefore peace is always present, even when it’s not apparent.  Peace is in the “I” of the storm. 

Once Buddha was walking from one town to another town with a few of his followers.  While they were traveling, they passed a lake. They stopped there and Buddha said to one of his disciples, I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake.  When the disciple reached the lake, he noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a cart started crossing through the lake making the water very muddy. So the disciple came back and told Buddha, "I don’t think the water is fit to drink."

After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. This time the disciple found that the lake water was absolutely clear. The mud had settled down so he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.  Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, "See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be ... and the mud settled down on its own. Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless."

What did Buddha emphasize here? He said, "Having 'peace of mind' is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process. When there is peace inside you, that peace permeates to the outside. It spreads around you and in the environment, such that people around start feeling that peace and grace."

Paul wrote to the Philippians in chapter 4.  “Let your gentleness be known to everyone.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And now, let us continue our Advent journey as we read from Luke 2:1-7.

We learned last week that Mary and Joseph represent the divine relationship – a balance of the intuition and intellect – the heart and the head.

Can you imagine, in your wildest dreams, making the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Eight to ten days travelling, almost 9 months pregnant.  Stories tell us that Mary was riding on a donkey, but nowhere in scriptures is a donkey mentioned.  Research also tells us they might have been travelling in a caravan with others.  Now that sounds a tad more comfortable.

Metaphysically, when Mary and Joseph, our mind and heart are together, then the Christ is in expression, no matter how long or where we are in our journey – even when we might be riding a donkey.  The census they had to do refers to a time of our internal introspection when we look at our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.  A journey that we can do daily, never mind only at Christmas.

And so, off Mary and Joseph go to take care of what needs to be done.  The trip to Bethlehem they took will be taken by each one of us, sooner or later.  This road needs to be travelled slowly and lovingly, the same way Mary and Joseph travelled.  Their journey also tells us our transformation process continues even when we’re doing whatever we need to do.

Bethlehem means “house of bread, the house of food,” the place of our spiritual nourishment and good opportunities.  It signifies divine substance, the living energy out of which everything is made.  The living energy that is present everywhere,that pervades all things.  We take the journey to Bethlehem to become conscious of this divine substance. Bethlehem was also a city of “common folk” and had no walls.  Metaphysically this implies that anyone can enter this consciousness of always-present substance.  It’s for every one. 

So, after 7 or 8 or 10 days on the road, they get to Bethlehem, and there’s no room at the inn!  Do they turn around and go back home?  No – they have faith that another way will show up.  A good lesson for us to be open to other possibilities when the way we think something that should happen doesn’t happen.

The story goes that the innkeeper takes them to the stable and gives them shelter….  Even though there’s no mention of the innkeeper in the biblical story.  And Jesus is born in a manger, a crib for feeding the animals.  Just like he was born to feed us through his words, his actions, and his love.

We might also ask ourselves – is there room in the inn of my mind for the Christ child?  Is there room for a new birth, or are my thoughts and feelings crowding out my intuition and understanding that’s needed for an awareness of the Christ within.  Let us make room for peaceful thoughts and feelings that bless us and move us from confusion and busyness to the quietness of the stable.

When we take time for meditation, away from the hustle and bustle of life, we allow the awareness of the presence of God to come alive.  When the Christ child was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes to protect his little body from the cold or injury.  When we give birth to a new awareness and understanding, let’s also be gentle with ourselves and love ourselves. 

This sacred journey we’re on begins as a glimmer of light in the heart and the mind.  I invite you during these days of advent to take time to allow this light to grow brighter.  Then we know the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that heals illness and wounds, the peace that brings all people together.  The peace that allows you and me to perceive everyone as Christ everywhere.

 

 

 
2021-12-01 JOURNEY OF FAITH

Today is the first day of Advent.  It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, and continues for four Sundays.  Just as Mary and Joseph took a journey that culminated in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, so we’re invited to take a journey within to a greater awareness of the Christ that lives within each one of us. The word Advent is from the Latin meaning “the coming.”  Originally, it was a time when converts to Christianity readied themselves for baptism.

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The advent wreath originated in northern Europe in the deep of winter where people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen as a sign of hope for the warm and longer days of spring.  It wasn’t until the 1900’s that German immigrants brought the tradition to America.  The circle of the wreath symbolizes ongoing eternal life, the presence of God that has no beginning or no end.  The purple candles represent faith, peace and love.  The pink candle, the last one lit, represents joy.  And the Christ candle in the middle will be lit at the candlelighting service on Christmas eve.

And now, we light the candle of faith.

The journey of faith is a spiritual awareness that’s based on eternal Truth.  Faith is our ability to believe in something that’s not yet demonstrated.  It is trusting in God’s will – that is always for good.  Hebrews 11:1 reads, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Revealing Word, our metaphysical dictionary defines faith as a deep inner knowing that what is sought is already ours for the taking.I love Ghandi’s definition of faith:  Faith is nothing but a living, wide-awake consciousness of God.

Faith story: 

After twenty years of driving school buses for the county transit system, John thought he’d seen everything. But one cold December day changed all of that.  He was worrying about how he was going to pay his bills, buy Christmas presents.  It was about ten degrees and was trying to snow. Every time John opened the bus door, a blast of cold air slapped him in the face. 


He stopped at a private boys’ high school, and the students pushing and shoving, stumbled to the back of the bus.   A few stops later, John pulled up in front of the Milwaukee County Medical Complex grounds where a woman was waiting in the bus shelter. She looked to be about forty years old and pregnant, her dingy gray coat tattered from collar to hem. When she pulled herself up the steps of the bus, John noticed she was wearing only socks, no shoes.  “Good Lord, woman, where are your shoes?” he blurted out without thinking. “Get on in here and off that cold sidewalk!”  The high school kids in the back started in. “Hey, lady, nice coat!”  “That a Saks Fifth Avenue special?”  John felt like strangling them.  The woman sat up straight in her seat and smoothed the wrinkles in her coat. “Sure is. I got eight kids. Had enough money this year to buy shoes for every one of ’em, but that was it. I got some slippers at home, but I didn’t want to get ’em all wet in case it snowed.” 

John kept the conversation going. “Yep. It ain’t easy with Christmas and all. Money’s scarce.  And the woman replied, “Mister, you just be glad you got a place to live and a job.  I’ve got faith the good Lord will take care of you. Always has for me.”  John couldn’t believe that a woman who didn’t have any shoes was telling him to stop worrying.  Before long, the bus was at the end of the line, time for the kids to get off to go to their comfortable homes.  As the boys filed off, Frank, a freshman who had been sitting just a few seats behind the woman in the gray tattered coat, stopped in front of her and handed her his new leather sport shoes, saying, “Here, lady, you take these. You need ’em more than I do.”

And with that, he, walked off the bus and into the ten degree evening in his stocking feet.  As the woman tried on the shoes she let out a whoop and a holler. “Why, they fit perfect!. Bless the Lord. 
Mister, I told you not to worry ‘bout nothin’. Don’t you see? The Lord always provides. Always.”  On a bus heading west, John’s faith in God and in mankind was completely restored by a woman wearing a tattered coat and a very expensive pair of sport shoes.

And now in faith, let’s start our advent journey and hear the events that led up to the birth of the Christ child.In Unity, we look at the Christmas story metaphysically – beyond the physical.  What is beyond the words written on the page?  What does it mean to me in my life?  Rev. Ed Townley shared these interesting thoughts.  “Some say the story metaphysically is about the birth of the Christ, but that’s not possible.  The Christ is the Light and Love of God that’s present in each of us. 

It is our spiritual identity, the creative power of God seeking to express through us.  It is as eternal as God – it cannot be born.  What can be born is our awareness of our true Christ nature.  And what can be, and is, reborn every Christmas is our personal surrender.  It’s about allowing more of the Christ to begin to express through us.  Metaphysically, what we celebrate each Christmas is the birth of Christ awareness.

Now, let us hear the words from Luke 1:26-35.

Mary was just a young teenager in this little town called Nazareth, in the hills of Galilee. She came from a poor but honorable family. They tell us her parents Joachim and Anne, were old and childless.  At the age of 3, Mary was dedicated to God at the temple and stayed there until she was 12.. 

In those days, a girl was betrothed when she reached her teens, and was usually married within a year.   Mary came out of the temple, and next thing she knew, she was engaged to be married.  Mary was betrothed to Joseph, a hard-working carpenter.  Every Jewish girl prayed to be the mother of this Messiah. But Mary was just a poor girl from a humble family; she sure didn’t have any great expectations that her life was going to be any different from her mother's or the other women in her town.

Metaphysically, the Mary in each of us is a soul that’s pure, highly intuitive, and open to inspiration.  The part of us that’s ready for spiritual growth and has an open heart.  Mary also represents divine love within each one of us.  The angel Gabriel came to her and said, “Greetings favoured one!  The Lord is with you.  Do not be afraid, Mary.”   But she was confused and scared. 

What did the angel mean by this?  We can understand her confusion because aren’t we often afraid of the unknown.  We want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and the next day.  We want it all planned out.  This feels safe to us.  So I invite you to remember what Mary symbolizes in each of us – a soul that’s open to inspiration, that is intuitive, that listens to the messages within.  That rests in the openness of not having to know.

Mary also represents divine love within each one of us.  The love that reaches beyond all the obstacles we think we might see.  I invite you to be aware where you’re seeing obstacles in your life.  Mary represents the love that is open to the possibility of good that’s in every situation.  This love is gentle – from this divine love comes a deep faith and understanding of who we truly are.  We are able to say – I am a child of God.

The virgin birth can have metaphysical meaning for us.  Mary represents this pure consciousness necessary for us to become aware of our Christ nature. The virgin birth is the dawning of Truth in our individual consciousness..

And let’s not forget Joseph.  Even though his words aren’t recorded, he had an important role to play.  Matthew 1:20 reads:  “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”  Can you even begin to imagine how much faith that must have taken to believe that….

Joseph symbolizes all aspects of the thinking nature.  Metaphysically, Joseph is the part of us that needs to understand everything intellectually, yet once understood can make wise decisions.  This also protects and supports our spiritual growth process. And because he hears and responds to the angel’s messages, he also symbolizes wisdom. 

The Joseph of you and me brings the strength and wisdom that guides God’s divine love that’s seeking expression through us, as us.  Sometimes others tell us this spiritual path we’re on isn’t the right one.  But deep within, we know it is right for us.  Trust the Joseph in you to nourish, comfort, protect and guide you.

Mary and Joseph represent love and wisdom – what an awesome combination! And as Mary and Joseph had faith in God and the blessing they were about to receive, let us put our faith in the blessings that are here for us right now – the blessings of faith, peace, love and joy.  Have faith in God and yourself as we begin this sacred Advent journey to the rebirth of the awareness of the Christ within.
 

 

 

 
2021-11-24 DEMONSTRATION

Welcome to our last week learning from Rev. Eric Butterworth’s insightful messages in a book Practical Metaphysics.  For me, these lessons have been thought changing, life changing.  The chapter starts with these words:  “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”, a basic principle in what we’ve been calling practical metaphysics, a key to scientific prayer.

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What we experience will always depend on where we are in thought, consciousness, feeling, self-awareness.  So….  If our focus is on the negative, the experience will focus on limitation and lack.  This is what we attract into our lives.  We don’t want to be responsible for this….  And very often, we look out here for why it’s happening…..we don’t want to look in here because we don’t know what we’ll find.  For me, this is easy to say “yes, this is how I live my life,” but…  there are opportunities for awareness and growth in this area many times.

Jesus said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.”  Or.. “I didn’t come to love you into complacency, to tell you how wonderful everything is, but to help you understand the Truth, know the Truth and find release through it.”  We know that we change our life and experience by altering our thoughts.  That’s the law that’s always working if we know it or not, if we remember it or not, and if we want to accept it or not, if we going to give up our stories or not. 

Practical metaphysics can be seen as the science of problem-solving.  What we need to understand is that the Truth is not simply techniques to solve problems.  The Truth is a fundamental key to abundant life.  

Consciousness work is fundamental.  .Our greatest need is to recognize that we are in tune with the divine creative flow.   “Seek first the kingdom within.”  So to demonstrate or to bring forth, we seek the awareness of the divine activity, then all things will be added.  When we want to demonstrate a job, it is not magically producing a job, but it’s unfolding our consciousness that causes the job to come easily.  If we’re really going to make any progress demonstrating the Truth, we’ve got to work from the inside out.  What you and I desire is already within us, but there’s something we have to be and do to release it, so demonstrating it deals with us, not with things that are happening to us.

The wilderness story when Jesus was tempted by the devil demonstrates that:   He’d been praying for 40 days, it says without food, weak with hunger when Satan came to him.  This is our story too – at times, we come face to face with a problem, when we’re scared, we’re coming from a place of fear rather than love.  And Jesus’ inner thoughts of fears and limitations  represent the human consciousness we all know so well.  Jesus came to grips with this by deeply knowing his oneness with the Divine and was able to say “Get thee behind me Satan.”  Or get thee behind me worry, and fear, and anger. 

One of the great secrets of the ages is in Colossians 1:37:  Christ in you, your hope of glory.  Butterworth calls this “a dynamic realization.”  The key to Jesus’ demonstration power was knowing that the Christ was within him, his hope of glory.  The secret of demonstration for us is the Christ in us, and then releasing our own uniqueness, our own Christ within that is our hope of glory.

Let’s remember that God doesn’t work for you and I.  God works through you and I – through our own participation.  Allow the Allness of life to demonstrate itself through you so then you’re not really trying to make a demonstration, but you’re letting the demonstration of life make you.

There’s a subheading in the book:  Desire from our human consciousness versus spiritual oneness.  We can imagine ourselves surrounded by those things we see in a magazine, a new car, a trip, a job, a relationship, etc. And Butterworth says, “While it is possible to demonstrate from this sense - our human consciouness, we do not recommend it”   Hmmm….  Let’s hear more about this.  It’s important to know that if we have a desire, if we go within and listen to what the desire really is, this releases from within the process needed to bring the desire about

 “Seek first the kingdom and all these things shall be added unto you.”  This is the way demonstration works when we deal with it in spiritual consciousness.

Here’s the story of my Ford Fusion again:  Decided I wanted a Ford Fusion, checked out several dealers on line, which I had never done before.  Then one day I just had the feeling, something inside was telling me I should go to Eastgate Ford.  The salesman checked on line and found my car – it has just come in that day.  2 years old – half the original price – and only 11,000 klms.  Today I realized it is there to provide me with reliable transportation to travel in Canada and the U.S. to learn, to grow and to share.  The spiritual consciousness behind this.

Butterworth gives us The Master Formula for Demonstration:  C plus B equals A.  What you can Conceive in mind and Believe to be a reality, you can Achieve or manifest.  So….  What is it that you desire?  This is the starting point – it’s also where you are in your consciousness.  It might be a job, more money, a physical problem…

 You might be asking “God, I want to know what this desire means.”  Just turn away from it, let it go and turn within.  … sit with this, be patient,  and the desire, the answer will come to you.  This is revealing or conceiving.  If our human desire is to overcome pain, then let that go, relax, be still  and listen.  What is the pain really saying?  This reminds me to ask.  What are the migraine’s really telling me?  Notice that I didn’t say “my migraines, because I really don’t want to own them.

 “The secret of demonstration is releasing that divine pattern within you instead of holding on to the desire as a goal.”

B” – the Believing power of the mind.  Faith does not make God do special things for us.  Faith is the special state of awareness that accepts what God is and what we have always been and always are.  Faith is an insight that sees beyond darkness to light, an insight that sees beyond illness to Allness.

Story…..    After my husband died suddenly from a heart attack, I was alone with my six children aged 10, 9, 8, 6, 3 and 18 months.  I was overwhelmed with earning a living, caring for the children.  I was fortunate to find a wonderful housekeeper to card for the kids during the week, but from Friday might to Monday morning, we were alone.  A lot of the time I was scared.

One Friday night I came home from work to find a big beautiful German shepherd on our doorstep.  He gave every indication he intended to enter the house and make it his home.  But where did this dog come from?  Was it safe to let the children play with him.   The children begged me, and he slept in the basement until the next day.  That night I slept peacefully for the first time in months.  We checked lost and found ads but with no results.  On Sunday evening  he was still with us.  We decided to call him German.

On Monday morning, I let him out for a run while the kids got ready for school, but he didn’t come back.  We were convinced that we’d never see him again.  But we were wrong.  The next Friday evening, German was back on our doorstep and stayed until Monday morning.  This pattern repeated itself for almost 10 months.  I was growing stronger and braver.  Then one Monday morning, we patted his head and let him out for what turned out to be the last time.  He never came back.  He came when I needed him the most and stayed until I was strong enough to go on alone.  I believe German was sent because he was needed, and because no matter how abandoned and alone we feel, somehow, someone knows and cares.  We are never really alone.  

Faith needs to be the “I am positive, I can” attitude.  This releases the power and skill that enables us to achieve or accomplish.  Achieving:  When we really believe we can do something, the how-to-do-it naturally unfolds.  Think “I can” and all the reasons why you can and how you can enfold.  And….  If we’re in the I can’t consciousness, there are valid reason why we can’t because we’re dealing with it on the human level.  Believing means saying “yes” from this place within. 

When you conceive your inner vision to be for the greater good for you and all people, the next step is to be about your business and do what comes naturally…  and it will come naturally.  As the Quakers say, “move your feet.”  Because it’s the activity of God in us that has revealed the goal and given us the faith in the goal.  It all comes out of the divine process.  Let God be God in me…

The great secret of demonstration is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Christ in you is your own divine pattern and nature, the divine resource that is always within you and I.  The need is not to try and make it happen, but to let it happen.  Not to make the Truth work, but to let the Truth do its perfect work through you and your life, knowing it will express in ways beyond anything that our human ego could ever desire.  To be a minister is beyond anything that I ever thought, dreamt, or desired. 

“Praise God for the Truth that makes us free.  Praise God for the consciousness that perceives the Truth as the very wealth of the kingdom that is within us.  And we let that kingdom come and allow that creative will be done in earth as it is in heaven."  AMEN!!

 
2021-11-17 METAPHYSICAL PRAYER

Welcome to learning from Eric Butterworth’s consciousness-changing book Practical Metaphysics.  This lesson focuses on a metaphysical and scientific perspective on prayer.  Our lessons have outlined that metaphysics is a way of thinking.  And metaphysics is also a way of praying so let’s understand what is implied by the word “prayer.”

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First of all, we need to get away from the thought of God somewhere, separate from us, and think of God as present, active within us, expressing as us.  We let go of the tendency to pray TO God, to reach for God, to plead for help from God, and get to the realization that God is present as the Allness in which I exist and you exist as an eachness.  Prayer is not conditioning God with our needs, begging for handouts from heaven. 

A little story......When I was 20, I prayed for a million dollars.  When I was 30, I prayed for a million dollars.  When I was forth, I prayed for a million dollars.  Now I’m fifty and I’ve come to two conclusions:  Either I’m praying for the wrong thing.. or God isn’t picking up his messages.

Prayer is conditioning our life with the activity of God, causing a change in our consciousness, and our awareness so we can acknowledge what already is. 

Jesus clearly says, “The Father knows what things you have need of even before you ask.” (Matthew 6:8).  There is no need to tell God your problems, to beg and plead for help.  Butterworth, “ I jokingly say there’s no point in asking God to do something for you because God has already done everything that he can ever do, period.  We are without end because God created you in the beginning in his image and likeness.”  So….  “Where does God come in, then?”  God doesn’t come in – God never went out.  God is Spirit, present in its entirety at every point in space at the same time.  God is the answer, and God is present so the answer is present. 

Whatever we’re seeking to understand, whatever guidance we need, whatever thing we feel needs to be experienced, it is present, total complete, or it doesn’t exist at all.  There’s no point asking for something that’s outside of our present awareness and relationship in the divine flow.  We need to get into the consciousness of oneness with God.  Consciousness is the key.  We live in Divine Mind; it’s impossible to have a mind apart from Divine Mind. The key to healing and overcoming is changing consciousness.  This is what prayer is all about.

Prayer is not something we learn to do – when to stand and sit, when to speak.  It can feel like a systematic scientific way to do something; it is the very science of being – that’s an important distinction.  Otherwise, the emphasis is placed on speaking the words, going through the outward experience of what we’ve learned to do.  

The only time prayer can be effective is when we think oneness.  “So instead of thinking of God, I think Allness” – I’m still considering this one.  And personally, Allness takes me out of thinking of God up there.  If there’s Allness, the whole is present, all life, all wisdom, all substance, all love is present.  We live and move and have our being in this Allness, which is always present, never absent.

Prayer isn’t trying to get more life, more love from God, but to know our oneness.  When we’re out of the awareness of the Allness of life, we experience separation and deterioration. The need isn’t for God to give us more life, but for us to be more aware of the Allness of life that’s present in how we live and move and have our being. The kingdom is the oak tree that is present even in the seed.

The ultimate reality is, God is praying for you.  “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  The Allness has but one intent as far as we’re concerned:  to perfect and express itself in and as you and I.  Life is seeking to fulfill itself in you and I, in the renewing process of our body.  Love is constantly renewing itself in you and I.

Don’t pray to God – pray from the consciousness of God.  Be still and know that I AM.  We don’t have to reach a transcendent God, we have to reach ourselves; we have to wake up.  Stop thinking in terms of separation and absence and saying prayers and doing all sorts of magical things you think are going to cause something out here to come into you.

 Be still and know our oneness.   When we know that, we’re relaxed and receptive, and allow the infinite process to do its perfect work to express itself totally and completely in you and I.  Butterworth writes, “It has no other intent as far as I’m concerned except to hear me, to guide me, to direct me.”

A little boy got separated from his scout pack hiking through the woods.  They searched for him for hours, eventually calling the police.  After he had spent the night in the woods alone, they found him sitting under a tree, calmly whittling with his scout knife.  “Weren’t you afraid out here all night.”  “Naw, I wasn’t afraid.  God is here,” he said.  “But how do you know God is here?”  they asked.  And he answered, “Because I am here.”

Why then would Jesus indicate we should ask God for help?  “All things you pray and desire and ask for, you shall receive he said ((Mark 11:24).  This little three-letter word “ask” has created a lot of confusion.  If we look up “ask” in the Hebrew Bible, the strongest meaning is to claim or demand.  Not to beg, but to claim.  This is a vital realization of Truth. 

We don’t have to beg God to hear us because God is the healing principle that is ever present, the perfect life and health within you and I, and can never be absent, except in our own consciousness.  As we come to believe we are one with divine life, we claim it, we accept it.

We claim divine help by getting to a positive “yes” consciousness.  That’s why we say, “You can change your life by altering your thoughts.”  When we alter our thoughts, we don’t change God’s will toward us because God’s will toward us is fixed and final.  To perfect himself in what he has created – health, guidance, life, love, to be substance in you and for you and through you.  When we change our thoughts and get into a “yes” consciousness, we are in harmony with the divine flow and create the condition that makes the result inevitable.

Romans 12:2 – Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.  This is what prayer is -  a systematic, scientific way of changing our thoughts and getting ourselves in tune with the divine flow.  There is no way that God can answer our prayer without something happening to change our consciousness.  God can only do for you what he can do through you.  

There is no way that we can change our life without being involved in the changing process.  The marvelous part is the responsibility is on you and I, but so is the privilege. True scientific prayer is getting into the “yes” consciousness.  In the study of metaphysics  we can get too involved in affirmations and trying to treat a problem.  We get the problem at the center of our consciousness.  At times, we claim the problem.  When I worked at the Conservation Authority, I was talking with a friend about “MY stuttering.”  She asked me if I wanted to own it.  Now I refer to it as “The stuttering.”

Basically, we need to let go and let God.  True prayer is not in words at all.  The words can help us get into a consciousness of prayer, but we can pray without any words.  Jesus warns, “Use not vain repetitions, but enter into the inner chamber and close the door.: (Matthew 6:6-7).  Enter into the inner consciousness of wordless silence….  And silence can be difficult for us.  But in the silence, there is no pressure to achieve anything.

This first step of the silence – Be Still and Know That I Am - is the missing link in metaphysical treatment or the affirmation process. “Be still, and know that I AM.”  Then in that knowingness and stillness, listen.  Something within you is seeking, even if sometimes unsuccessfully, to communicate itself to you.  Even a headache is trying to say something to you if you’ll listen.  That's an invitation for me to look at the migraines that show up.

Every problem is life trying to communicate something to us.  If we just start saying affirmations, we miss the beat.  Instead say, “Be still, and know that I AM.”  In that Silence, something dynamic is at work within us, we experience it, and we project it.  Articulate the word.  Whisper the word and let it go, and the word goes forth.  “The word is not my word, but the word of him who sends me.”  

Get the feeling that the universe is already working through you;  the whole universe is pouring into you tremendous power, love, substance and intelligence.  Always take this time of oneness before you pray. 

When we’re still, as the Chinese say, “The heavenly heart reveals itself.”  We feel the light within, a transforming healing process, and we find ourselves saying “Amen.” And thinking “I can’t remember what I was going to pray about.”  That’s true answered prayer because it’s dissolved, it’s done, it’s finished.  Be still and know oneness, wholeness.  And let it happen.

 
2021-10-19 FAITH

Welcome to our 4th week focusing on Rev. Eric Butterworth’s words in the book Practical Metaphysics.  He writes, "The word Faith has a tendency to be confusing and misleading.  We often talk about it in a limiting way. "

So, let’s hear what Eric has to say about faith.  The dynamic key is not faith in God, but faith from God.  Faith in God is trying to direct our attention consciously to something outside ourselves.  Faith from God begins with the basic premise that we live and move and have our being in God.  We center ourselves in that consciousness and then as we believe from that consciousness that enables us to be in tune with the process.

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To really practice faith, we center ourselves in the consciousness of Oneness, knowing that the whole universe is pouring itself into us, through us, and as us.  Then from that consciousness, we do the things we need to do in a believing attitude.  We project the faith we have in ourselves, in experiences, and in a divine law that is forever working so that things work together for good.

Everyone has faith but Butterworth asks us if we use this faith well.  Faith is always present.  It is just as natural as seeing, hearing, tasting.  Faith is the free gift of God that all people have.  The whole universe is centered at the point of you and I, and there’s no way we can change it. 

God is no more centered in any great mind or great consciousness than in you and I.  And we can’t stop there because there’s no denying that a person may express various levels of consciousness.  Jesus was more centered in God.  And how about you and I?  Are we centered for the most part in things, people, and the circumference of life.  And at times in limitation, in negative words and experiences.

Basically, positive faith is centering our consciousness in God, not God out there, but God in whom we live and have our being.  Substance, guidance, direction, and love are  always present.  There’s never an absence because God is never absent.  It’s up to us to practice the presence instead of practicing the absence.

During the Holocaust, in France a Jewish family were hidden by some concerned French nationals in the basement of their house. The Jewish family waited and waited for their deliverance. At the end of the war these words were found scribbled on the wall of that basement:

“I believe in the sun even when it does not shine.
I believe in love even when it is not given.
I believe in God even when he is silent.”

Faith is not a miracle but a principle.  God doesn’t do things for us in some special way because of our faith.    We need to be present in God, alive and conscious of it.  This is what consciousness really is!  It doesn’t make any difference to God if WE believe or not, but it makes a lot of difference to you and I.  God is the omnipresent force of life and intelligence, and it MUST act.  It can’t help itself when we create the conditions that make the results inevitable.  

Have we ever thought “If I had that kind of faith, I’d be able to do anything?”  We always have faith, but how are we using it?  Emmet Fox says, “don’t think about the problem – think about God.”  This is what he called the Golden Key.    When we focus on the positive, there’s a tremendous, faith-thinking power that flows through us and enables us to do creative things.

Faith doesn’t change you and I.  It changes what you think you are.   You and I are more than we appear to be….  Always.  Positive faith relates to the “more” of who we truly are.  When we understand that, we know that wherever we are, whatever we’re experience, there’s always MORE in you and I.

About 1490 two young friends, Albrecht Durer and Franz Knigstein were struggling young artists, working to support themselves while they studied art.  Work took so much of their time, and their art careers were advancing slowly, so they decided one would work to support them while the other would study art.  They drew lots to decide this.  Albrecht won and went off to Europe to study and found out he had not only talent but genius. 

When he attained success, he went back to keep his bargain with Franz, but found that as Franz had worked so hard at manual labour to support his friend, his fingers had become stiff and twisted, His slender hands had been ruined for life, and although his artistic dreams could never be realized, he was not embittered but rather rejoiced in his friend’s success.

One day Albrecht found his friend kneeling with his gnarled hands intertwined in prayer.  Albert Durer, the great genius, hurriedly sketched the folded hands of his faithful friend and completed a great masterpiece known as “The Praying Hands.” 

Few of us ever use more than a small part of the God Power within us when we misjudge ourselves, put ourselves down, typecast ourselves.  We accept all sorts of standards based on past history and experience.  “I know I can’t do that because I never could.”

Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb,  and every time he knew the failure simply evidenced he was closer to the potential of doing it perfectly.  Don’t think of limitations; think of limitlessness.  No need ever comes into your life with built-in limitations.  There are only limiting attitudes about it.  What do you think?  What’s your belief?  Are you going to believe in impossibilities or possibilities?  Where is your faith?

In a rural community in Kansas, there was a year-long drought.  The crops were dying.  In desperation, Larry Gates, the pastor of the Methodist Church announced the community would assemble at the edge of one of the fields and pray for rain.  A large crowd gathered, and Pastor Gates climbed on a tractor and surveyed the flock. 

He shouted “Brothers and sisters!  We have come here to pray for rain!”  “Amen!” responded the crowd.  “Well, said the minister, “do you have sufficient faith?”  “Amen! Amen!” shouted the crowd.  “all right, all right,” said the minister, “but I have one question to ask you!”  The crowd stood silent, puzzled, expectant.  “Brothers and sisters!” shouted the minister.  “Where are your umbrellas?”

Let’s be realistic about the power of believing.  When Jesus said “All things are possible to them that believe” (Mark 9:23) he wasn’t saying that a dog could become a cat, a nonmusical person could become a concert pianist.  He didn’t mean we could do something that isn’t a part of our innate potentiality.  Only you can be you….  And through positive faith, you can release more of you than you’ve ever done. Knowing your own potential, releasing your own imprisoned splendor. 

Faith is not a magical means of working miracles.  You are the great miracle, and faith is the key to the kingdom of your own potentiality.  As Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom and its righteousness, and all the things shall be added.”  (Matthew 6:33.)  Not all things, but all the things that come easily out of your own divine flow and potential.  Listen to your own potential, know yourself.  Jesus did not say “Make your light shine.”  He said, “Let your light shine.”

Faith doesn’t make the light by some magic process.  Faith makes the contact with the Presence and turns on the switch.  The power is there, the process is there, the whole conduit is there.  The whole activity of the intended process is always present.  Faith simply makes the contact.

Positive faith is the key to the kingdom.  You don’t have to become something different to release your imprisoned splendor.  Our need is to get our consciousness centered in God, centered in the realization the whole universe believes in you.  The whole universe is flowing into and through you.  Our need is to accept it, let it happen, and let ourselves be directed from that consciousness in a faith-believing attitude.  You do the things that need to be accomplished easily and from the flow of your own consciousness of the divine process that’s working in you.

 
2021-10-13 THE ART OF THINKING

Welcome to the third week focusing on Eric Butterworth’s words Practical Metaphysics.  The Art of Thinking…..  And I am thinking this is where my journey began.  On January 21, 1989 I went to a Bob Proctor seminar “Born Rich” where I heard the words “The mind controls the body. What you think about you bring about.”  And from those words, something deep inside knew I didn’t have to stutter any more.  I was 52 years old and had been stuttering since I was 2 years old.  Little did I know at the time how these words would change my life.

I am so grateful for Unity’s basic principles, and every time I study them and hear them again, it takes me to a deeper place of knowing, peace and acceptance. 

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Metaphysics does not deal with changing the world.  It’s not the world we’re concerned about, but our thoughts about the world.  “Metaphysics is a technique in right seeing, and as Ralph Waldo Emerson would say “from the highest possible point of view.    We can think that the mind collects facts and then hands out words.  Things happen and we react in our thoughts…. We become worried, concerned, anxious, or, on the other hand, happy and inspired.  We assume the thoughts we think come from the circumstances we experience.  Life can be a continuous reaction to what’s happening outside.  (one of my favourites = omg, I lost my phone again.)

But, contrary to all this, experiences do not cause thoughts.  We think what we want to think or we think what we have habitually thought -  those pesky habit patterns.  When was the last time you said, “You make me mad” or “that really tees me off.”  I can relate to this just a couple of days ago.   Our thoughts are always our reaction to the incident, but the incident did not make the thought.  No one ever makes you and I mad or hurt or upset. 

Butterworth writes, “As I often say, you’re upset because you’re upsetable.”  The anger is within so we react according to our consciousness.  And it’s not necessarily relating to the incident.  What’s fundament in this study of Truth is that we realize it is our mind.  And we can ask ourselves “Why do I allow people or experiences to determine how I’m going to think or feel or act?”  You and I can do something about this.

The first step in the process of the art of thinking is to know we always have a choice.   We don’t have to be angry, unhappy, worried, or scared.  We can become the master instead of the slave, but it’s not easy.  It  takes discipline and commitment because we’ve been thinking the other way so long.  Compassion for yourself.

A woman was sitting commiserating about all the problems she had.  She was talking about them, almost counting them one by one like rosary beads.  A friend tried to console her…  “O Come now, things are not that bad.  After all, you should try to be positive.”  “I don’t see it that way,” she said/  “It seems to me when the Lord sends me tribulations, I should tribulate.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their mind to be.”  This is the key to determining we are in charge and can think the kinds of thoughts we want to think.  Making the commitment we’re not going to allow people, conditions or circumstances to decide how we’re going to think or feel.  You and I are a thinking center within the infinite Mind of God.  We are in this mind – all of it – all the time.  There’s no way we can ever get into Divine Mind because there’s no way we can ever get out of it. 

And….  We’re creatures of habit, thinking the same thoughts we’ve always had.  We might not be able to change our conditions right away – we don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last -  but we can change how we think about it, how we react to it. 

So I invite you and I to look for situations that tend to repeat themselves in our finances, our relationships, our health.  When I worked at the Conservation Authority, my boss expected to get a cold every July….  And that’s what happened!!  Migraines used to be my expectation….  a change in the weather, red wine, or chocolate.  They still show up now and then, but I’m not expecting them.  And they certainly aren’t as severe or last as long as they have in the past.  By changing the attitudes I hold about them, I can change the whole experience.

Reminds me of a book “Change Your Mind, Change Your Life” by Jerry Jampolsky.

We have the capacity to decide how we’re going to think and react.  We can’t change people, the world, but we can change what we think about them, and that, my friends, changes our lives by changing our thoughts.  There are books that tell us “You are what you think”  Butterworth disagrees!  You are not what you think.  You are thinking what you think, and you have the capacity to think whatever you decide to think.    We are a unique, wonderful identity with an Infinite Mind, and we have the power to think what we want to think and react as we have trained ourselves to react. 

Positive thinking is not sitting on the couch holding positive thoughts and images.  Positive thought is tuning ourselves into the infinite creative process that always flows within us.  We are the creative expression of infinite Mind.  I am the creative expression of Infinite Mind.  Positive thinking does not change God or the condition, but makes us more aware of the power that is and can never change. 

Butterworth asks us not to think of our mind as a fact collector.  Maybe if I read this book I’ll be prosperous.  The book is not putting thoughts in your mind, but can be the little spark that ignites within you the awareness of what you already believe.  We can underline something in the book because we want to try to remember it.  But why do you underline it?    Because you remember it.  It’s not about filling up, but waking up.  (hmmmm)

Being a positive person doesn’t mean that you never have negative thoughts.  Even Jesus had negative thoughts that he related to frankly and openly.  When he was in the wilderness, spending 40 days of fasting, the experience of Satan in the wilderness tempted Jesus through his own negative thoughts.  Heck, I get cranky if I miss my lunch…  But Jesus recognized something had to be done and said, “Get thee behind me Satan.”  In other words, he said, “No.”    I’m not interested.  A tremendous lesson for us.

A woman said in a letter to the editor, “I think what’s on television is awful, and me and my family have to sit and watch it every night.”  The editor responded in a little cryptic note, “What about the off switch?”  We can say “No” to the thought patterns in our mind ‘cause we’re in charge.  Turn to another channel.

A little girl’s sitting on the curb after she fell off her bike, rubbing her knee.  A man comes up and asks her if she’s OK.  “Yeah, I’m all right.”  Doesn’t it hurt, he asks.  Yeah, it hurts.  Why don’t you cry?  I just say to myself Stop That, and make myself mind me. 

We have the discipline to make ourselves mind ourselves.  It is our mind and we have the power to think what we want to think.  And this needs commitment, discipline, and at least as much attention as we give to what we eat or what we wear.  So, as we begin our day, are we ready to face the world with a positive mind, at peace and in tune with the divine flow, or do we say, “Well, I wonder what’s going to happen today?”

Sounds like the story of the airline pilot who grooms himself for the flight.  Know all the instruments, makes sure they’re all carefully working, and then taxis the plane down the runway.  He gets it up into the air, lets go of the controls, turns to the copilot and says, “Well I wonder where the plane’s going to take us today?”

It’s more important to prepare ourselves mentally for the day than it is physically.  We are in charge and have the responsibility and opportunity and the privilege of altering our thoughts – thus changing our whole life.  I’m not what I think.  I’m thinking what I think.”

Robert Frost was asked “How can you always be so positive and optimistic?”  I’ve decided whenever I face the day, after I wake up, before I go down and listen to the radio or read the newspaper, see my wife or go out into the world, I do two things:  First, I make up my bed, and second, I make up my mind As I get the wrinkles out of the sheets, I’m getting the wrinkles out of my mind.  I’m beginning to think the thoughts I want to think.  I make up my bed, then make up my mind, then go and face the world, secure that no matter what happens, I can be on top of it.

This is your exercise for this week.  If someone else makes the bed, tell them you will make it this week.  Even that might bring some new and different energy and thoughts into your mind, their mind, and the relationship….

We live in Divine Mind and we can shape and mold it any way we wish.  And as we do this simple little exercise, we’ll find we become ready to meet the day and what it brings with positive, creative power.

 
2021-10-08 THE DIVINITY OF MAN/WOMAN

Let’s begin with ourselves and our senses.  It’s easy to have reams of definitions, intellectual plans, affirmations, and yet we’re on the outside looking in, trying to relate to something that’s beautiful and infinite, and yet thinking it’s still out there somewhere.  It’s important to “Know thyself.”

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Know thyself so that you can affirm simply and easily:  I exist.  I’m here.  I think, I feel, I perceive, I am.  That’s a starting point.  Thinking about the physical body for instance:  I do not live as a body.  My body is not me.  I have a body.  And the “I” that has the body is far greater than the body, but the body is a very important part of self expression.  Unless we begin realizing that we exist, we’re here, we sense and feel, our surroundings become separate from us, and we feel there’s nothing we can do about them.  But we can change our environment because everything that happens out here happens in here, and we can change what happens in here.  Thus, we can change what happens out here.  We’ll talk more about that in the next lesson. 

In Colossians 1:27, Paul writes “Christ in you, your hope of glory.”  Our hope of healing, our hope of growing and doing the greater things Jesus promised we can do.  It’s a depth of us, ; this Christ in us.  It’s not something that can be added on, or something we get just by believing in Jesus.  It’s who you are from the beginning.  

Genesis 1:26,27 says, “God created man in his image, and after his likeness.  Butterworth writes, “ This may be the most majestic statement in the Bible.  Within you and I is the unborn possibility of limitless life.  This is the image, and ours is the privilege of giving birth to it.  This is the likeness.  This is something that is our responsibility.”  The I AM-age is the divine potential, the divine depth within you and I that’s always present, no matter where we are in consciousness or experience. 

The difference between you and I and Jesus is that he was aware of that potential.  And what he taught over and over again was our divinity.  He discovered his own divine image, and then lived fully and completely from that place. “Nothing shall be impossible unto you” he said.  John 14:12 says there’s a divine possibility within every person.  Jesus discovered it.  And then went on to demonstrate it.

Our study of Truth can begin because we want to be more, we want to be better.  We might say “I want to become spiritual.”  But….  There’s no way that you can ever become more spiritual than you already are because spiritual is your nature.  You ARE spiritual. You can never be anything less.  Our journey is to wake up to our spirituality.  We have the privilege to work at it today, here a little, there a little.  It all begins with how we see ourselves and what we think about ourselves. 

You and I are a potential Christ.  We can only understand ourselves or, “know thyself” when we see that the divine of us is the Christ of us.  Wherever we are in our journey, no matter what problems or challenges we face, there’s always more in you and I.  The Christ of you and I is our potential for healing, for overcoming, for demonstrating prosperity and success.  There is no limit!!  As Robert Browning says, “Release your imprisoned splendor.” 

We can never be separated from this in any way.  Butterworth writes, “You can only become what you already are.  You can only learn what you already know.”  In 1989, I went to my first Bob Proctor seminar “Born Rich.”  I thought it was about the money honey.   As I sat and listened as he explained how the mind functions, I just knew that I already knew what he was talking about even though I thought I had never heard it before.  I didn’t understand why I knew this at the time, but I do now.  You can only become what you already are. You can only learn what you already know.  Learning is what’s left when you’ve forgotten all that you’ve heard.

We know, we acknowledge, we awaken, and we recognize what we’ve always known because we are an individualized expression of Infinite Mind.  We have nothing really to do except to awaken.  Learning is realizing our potential, realizing what we have been from the very beginning of time.  Our potential is a reality even before we begin to work at it.  Here’s a few examples of this.

An expert said of Vince Lombardi, coach of the Green Bay Packers in the NFL:  “He possesses minimal football knowledge.  Lacks motivation.”

The parents of Enrico Caruso, the famous opera singer, wanted him to be an engineer.  His teacher said he had no voice at all.

Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was 4 and didn’t read until he was 7.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything.

Our thought “I’d like to do that” comes from an intuitive awareness of the possibility of inner growth that’s always within us.  All we have to do is get involved in an environment that encourages, releases and nurtures it.  That little seed is always you.  It’s a reality even before you work for it.  It’s the whole of you that, right now, you’re expressing only in part.  When I was attending Unity Hamilton, Jane Simmons, my minister, kept saying she thought I was on the ministerial path.  I had just retired from the Conservation Authority when we were out for dinner one night and she asked this question that changed my life:  “And what are you going to do with the rest of your life?” 

  • There is always something in you that is whole.  That’s why the fundamental key to spiritual healing is that there’s a wholeness, an Allness even within your illness.  Paul challenges us to “Stir up the gift of God within.”  Awaken this gift at any time, and find power, or healing, or guidance to meet any need.

An article in Time magazine a number of years ago.  A woman in Florida, convalescing after a long, serious illness, was sitting in her wheelchair.  She had hardly the strength to handle herself.  She was home alone, and her young son was working in the front yard on his old car.  He had the wheels off, and had it up on blocks, working underneath it doing something.  Suddenly, the mother watched, shocked, as the car lurched and fell, crushing the son.  He was screaming for help.  There was no way to get any help – nothing here but her.  She leaped to her feet, ran to the car, braced herself, picked up the car by holding on to the bumper, lifted the car off the boy, and he got out.  She collapsed.  The doctor was called and gave her a thorough examination, and other than some strained muscles, she was unharmed.   

Usually we chalk something like this up as a miracle or something, or the intervention of God.   But God doesn’t intervene. God is the whole potential always present.  We either suppress it or release it. God can do no more for you than he can do through you, through your consciousness, through your faith, through your understanding.  Author Elbert Hubbard said, “Man’s not what he thinks he is, but what he thinks, he is.”

Life is forever asking you and me, “Who do you think you are?”  We can fall short in our reply – but I’m only human.  What do you think I am – perfect?  The important thing is – who do I think I am?  Perfection is a potential within me – not that I’m perfect in manifestation.  I’m perfect in potential, but I’m not perfected – this is an opportunity of growth!  When I say, “I am the God Self expressing as me, and I can do what I need to do,”  I begin to release the potential that has never been expressed before, and the work just does itself.  When I get out of the way, the potential is always present. 

This is true of any relationship.  When somebody takes your seat on the bus, or cuts you off in the traffic, or does anything you don’t like, life itself is asking you, “Who do you think you are?”  What is your answer?  We often come up short.  We’re too busy talking about that so and so….  Blaming them for how we feel.  But who do you think you are?  “I AM the Christ, the son of the living God.  I have the power, the capacity to be nonresistant, to do what needs to be done to brush myself off, be blessed by it, and move on.  I AM the Christ, the son of the living God.”

And Butterworth gives us homework.  The Mirror feedback technique.  Stand before the mirror, look at yourself, beyond your appearance, and ask seriously “Who do you think you are?”  And after a few seconds say  “  I AM an individualized expression of the divine potential that is limitless.  I AM the Christ, the son of the living God.”  This can be a healing treatment and also redirect our whole attitude toward ourselves, toward others and toward life. 

And I invite you to join us next week for “The Art of Thinking.”

 
2021-09-02 A BEGINNER'S MIND

Welcome to our last week learning from Wayne Muller’s book Sabbath, Finding Rest and Delight.  Sabbath is an incubator for wisdom.  When we allow the rush and pressure of our days to fall away, even for a little while, we’re more able to perceive the essential of what lies before us.  Jesus said, “If the eye is simple and clear, the body will be full of light.  When we meditate, pray and are still, we refine our vision and sharpen our hearing.

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Sabbath is closing our eyes to our responsibility and busyness of life.  Sabbath is listening more carefully to the story that’s beneath the usual words and actions that flood our days so that we don’t miss the simple, quiet opportunities for shifting the pattern, for changing the story. 

When I stuttered, my speech was very choppy at times.  I would get to a word I didn’t think I could say, stop for a nano second searching for a word I knew I could say, and then I would continue.  Then I got the idea to read out loud on my own – I didn’t stutter when no one else was there – 20 minutes every day for about 6 months I did this - and the choppy speech pattern that had been there for so long began to change.  The pattern was shifting and my story was changing. 

There is a Taoist saying:  “To the mind that is still, the world surrenders.”  A day of rest, a moment of prayer or meditation, disrupts the pattern of fear and anxiety that infects our thinking, and allows us to be able to see the healing that is already present in the problem.  Then when we act, we do so with unshakable knowing that the Sabbath principle is at work even in this:  It is good.  Because even in suffering, there is grace, strength and wisdom.

Tao Te Ching:  Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?  Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”

Jesus’ most poignant prayer when he knew he was soon to die was simply this:  “Thy will be done.”  This is not defeat or resignation, but astonishing faith that there are spiritual forces that will bear him up, regardless of the outcome.  Often when we are striving for a particular outcome, we are not willing to be surprised by a healing of spirit, mind or body that we cannot imagine.

Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, spoke at Wayne’s ordination.  He said that the spiritual life was one of downward mobility.  Wayne writes,  “I was fresh out of seminary and had great feats to accomplish.  I was prepared to dedicate myself to the service of others.  Surely the honour and recognition to come would only be natural.”  But Henri had another picture for me.  Jesus insisted we do our work quietly, in secret.  “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”  Do not seek glory for yourself; the quiet reward is sweet.  Henri sold hundreds of thousands of books and often wrote about himself in his books.  But it was never to show his strengths, but rather to confess his weaknesses.  It made him human and accessible to those who worked quietly and tirelessly for their churches and communities. 

Jesus did not seek power or influence, but spent his time with unknown and disliked people.  As Mother Teresa reminded us, we do not do great things, only small things with great love.  Sabbath time reminds us it is not by our hand but by earth and spirit and grace that all things are done.  During Sabbath, we let things unfold without influence, see how the earth feeds us, and remember we are creator and recipient of creation through the grace of God. 

 “Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can fill us up.” – Mother Teresa

Being empty is not so much about what we do or say.  It’s about being a place where nothing of my own can get in another’s way when they are sharing their stories and their experiences.  How many times when someone has shared a story with us, even before they are finished we are telling them a story of our own.  Being empty is about listening.  I can always remember spending time with a young woman after service at Unity in Hamilton, just listening to her story.  Then her thanking me for the advice I had given her.   “The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand.  We listen to reply.”

At our best, we become Sabbath for one another.  We are the emptiness, the day of rest.  We become space so that our loved ones may find rest in us.  Not fixing, not harming, not acting.  Quietly empty, we become Sabbath where the sorrows of the world are safely poured and gently dissolve into the unfathomable immensity of rest and silence.”

“”This is not about me, not about them.  It is life making itself known in the silent Sabbath of things, yet unknown taking birth.”  It is not having to know what the future holds.  I don’t need to know ‘cause God knows.

An old Hasidic rabbi crosses the village square every morning on his way to the temple to pray.  One morning, a large Cossack soldier who happened to be in a vile mood, accosted him saying, “Hey, Rebby, where are you going?”  The rabbi said, “I don’t know.”  “What do you mean you don’t know?  Every morning for 15 years you’ve crossed the village square and gone to the temple to pray.  Who are you, telling me you don’t know?”  He grabbed the old rabbi by the coat and dragged him off to jail.  Just as he was about to push him into the cell, the rabbi turned to him saying:  “You see, I didn’t know.” 

Roshi calls this not knowing “beginner’s mind.” – “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities.  In the expert’s mind, there are few.”  Because often when we do not know the outcome, all things become possible.  Our best laid plans and goals can make us feel more confident or in control, but very often this is an illusion that is shattered by an unpredictable happening or experience.  Knowledge is power, they say…. but when we do not know, we feel powerless and afraid.

The truth emerges in the quiet.  I do not know where I am going.  I am on this highway with no end in sight.  “The wind blows where it will, and we hear the sound of it, but we cannot tell from whence it comes or whether it goes.  Such is the way of the spirit.  Sabbath invites endless beginnings.  We begin each day, each week, a beginner again and again.  Sabbath honours the quality of not knowing.  We let go of knowing what will happen next, and find the courage to wait for the teaching that has not yet emerged. 

"Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea." - Shunryu Suzuki 

The presumption of the Sabbath is that it is good, and the wisdom, courage and clarity we need are already embedded in creation.  The solution is already alive in the problem.

Sabbath time is set apart for remembering the holiness of life.  Our wealth arises from our capacity to bless and be blessed. We are not blessed because we are wealthy; we are wealthy because we take the time to bless.  Sabbath is for remembering the holiness of life.

When the people of Israel wandered in exile, hungry in the wilderness, God fed them with manna from heaven, but told them through Moses “to gather of it, each one of you, as much as you can eat.”  No one was to leave any of it till morning.  If anyone took more than they needed and kept it overnight, by morning it would breed worms.  This was to remind them that each day whatever was given would be enough.

Lynne Twist who has dedicated her life to eliminating world hunger says that the instant we know we have enough, dissatisfaction and desire melt away.  In the Hebrew tradition, prayers of pleading and asking are discouraged during Sabbath time.  They are to focus their heart not on what they need, but on what they have, because when we are trapped in seeking, nothing is enough.  We see only what is missing.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”

A woman shared how she had devoted her whole life to spiritual seeking.  It had been fruitful in some ways, but she was getting older and wondered how much stamina she had left to continue her search.  “You have been a seeker for so long.  Why not become a finder?” Wayne said.  And suddenly, a laugh exploded from deep within her.  A finder!!  What a delight!!  She had always been so focused on the search, she had never taken to rejoice in the gift of finding. 

During our time focusing on this book, I hope that you have found a way to spend time in the Sabbath through rest and renewal in whatever way works for you, in the silence of meditation and prayer, sharing a meal with friends, a walk in the park.  For Sabbath is the presence of something that arises when we consecrate a period of time to listen to what is most deeply beautiful, nourishing, or true.   Let it be a time consecrated with our attention, our mindfulness, honoring those quiet forces of grace or spirit that sustain and heal us.”   Let it refresh our bodies and minds, restore our creativity, and regain our birthright of inner happiness.

 
2021-08-18 A NEW BEGINNING

Welcome to our first lesson from a book entitled “Sabbath” by Wayne Mueller.  Restoring the sacred rhythm of rest and delight.   Here’s his personal story from the book.

I had been living a normal life, seeing patients in psychotherapy, running Bread for the Journey that finds people with vision, passionate about improving their community, lecturing and teaching. Finishing a book, trying my best to be a good husband and father.  Then a month later, I was in the hospital, close to death, with streptococcal pneumonia,  A team of dedicated doctors and nurses skillfully treated my pheumonia, and through blessing and grace, I survived this most intimate conversation with my mortality.  

But curiously, my most reliable feeling during this difficult period was an inward sense of peace.  It became clear my family and I had to leave the high New Mexico desert, for the coast of northern California.  Now, every day I walk along the ocean, watching wave after wave climb up and then recede.  I see and feel the rhythm.  And I realized when I am too busy, I do not rest, and I miss this rhythm. 

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All life requires a rhythm of rest and silence – day dissolves into night, spring and summer is quieted by the dormancy of fall and winter.  There is a tidal rhythm.  But our culture supposes that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing because of our desire to succeed and to meet our ever-growing expectations.  We can be seduced by subtle promises of more:  more money, more satisfaction, more love, more information (I have to read this book), more security.  (I like to feel safe).  The busier we are, the more important we seem to be to ourselves and, we imagine, to others.

More and more, we hear of violent acts in all parts of the world.  Sabbath time – effortless, nourishing rest – can invite a healing of this violence.  When we consecrate a time to listen to the still, small voices, we remember from where we are most deeply nourished, and see more clearly the people and experiences before us.:  We can respond rather than react.

Scripture tells us to Remember the Sabbath and this means taking time to remember who we are.  Our #2 Basic Principle - We are made in the image and likeness of God.  We are the light of the Christ.   Sabbath commands us to stop, to pause – and to do this, we don’t need to leave home, change jobs, go on retreat, change clothes, purchase any expensive spiritual equipment.  (We only need to remember who we are. 

The Sabbath is not only for ourselves because when we are rested and refreshed, we more generously serve all those who come into our lives.  Brother David Steindl-Rast said:  Life is like the breath:  we must be able to live in an easy rhythm between give and take.  If we cannot learn to live and breathe in this rhythm, we will place ourselves in grave danger.” 

For Jesus, rest was comfort for the heavy heart.   He did not offer “seven secret coping strategies” to get work done faster or “nine spiritual stress management techniques” to enhance our effectiveness.  Instead he offered the simple practice of rest as a natural, nourishing and essential partner to our work.   He would send people away, or disappear without warning, and retreat to a place of rest.  He didn’t ask permission to go, nor did he leave anyone behind “on call” or even let his disciples know where he was going.  He would stop, retire to a quiet place and pray.  "May one not take muddy water and make it clear by keeping still," asks Lao tzu.  

A little history about the Sabbath –Sunday Sabbath first received official recognition in 321 C.E. when emperor Constantine, newly converted to Christianity, declared it a day of rest throughout the Roman Empire.  Church attendance became mandatory.  I think my Mother must have heard of this because my brother and I could not go out to play on a Sunday.  There was Sunday School and then usually a trip to visit Grandma and Grandad.  The God who made the Sabbath isn’t a cranky school-master, always forbidding, coercing obedience, and watching to see if we obey those laws about the Sabbath made hundreds of years ago. 

Remembering the Sabbath is remembering to rest, any day of the week, any time during the day.  Remember to play and bless, eat with those you love, and take comfort in this gift of sacred rest.Sabbath time in the Genesis creation story begins with emptiness, a great void out of which emerges all life.  

The Salt Doll story:  A salt doll journeyed for thousands of miles over land until it finally came to the sea.  It was fascinated by this strange moving mass, quite unlike anything it had ever seen before.  “Who are you?” said the salt doll to the sea.  The sea smilingly replied, “Come in and see.”  So the doll waded in.  The farther it walked into the sea, the more it dissolved until there was only very little of it left.  Before that last bit dissolved, the doll exclaimed in wonder, “Now I know what I am!”  

In the Buddhist community of Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh periodically rings a Mindfulness Bell when everyone stops, and takes three silent, mindful breaths.  Then they continue their work, awakened ever so slightly by the Sabbath pause of mindfulness.  Our willingness to rest depends on what we believe we’ll find there. If we believe life is good, then rest brings us a taste of that goodness.  If we believe life is bad or flawed, we can be afraid of what we might find in the silence – the grief, the anger, the fear - so we keep ourselves busy, to avoid what we think might be in the emptiness. While our busyness may seem to keep us safe, it also prevents us from tasting those things that truly make us safe – prayer, touch, kindness.

Feeling safe is one of my “things.”  I drove to Chicago a couple of years ago for an NSA convention.   I got lost for over an hour looking for the hotel in downtown Chicago.  And some of my prayers weren’t exactly ministerial as I seemed to go round and round in circles.  But in the midst of it all, I’m remembering a hug from a security guard in a gas station – I stopped and asked for directions – and a police officer who went out of his way to show me the way to the hotel.  “Follow me” he said….

Sabbath rest invites us to step away from the fear, and see that life is good.  And if we look deeply within all that is hurtful, we will eventually see that we are the light of the world, reaffirming our hidden wholeness.  Scripture tells us, “Do not worry about tomorrow.  I have come that you might have life abundantly.”

On May 30, 1996, a fire ravaged Lama Mountain, home to families and the Lama Foundation, a spiritual retreat center.  Most of the buildings at the retreat center were destroyed..  Three weeks later, Wayne and a friend were walking the land and there in the midst of the burnt embers were small oak seedlings that blanketed the forest floor.  Without any human effort to clear or seed, the earth was pushing out life.  Creation creates life at every revolution.  It is incapable of doing otherwise. 

 In Sabbath time, let us allow God and the earth to care for what is needed.  Let us spend time resting, sharing a meal with family and friends, walking, lighting a candle, reading a book or listening to music that feeds our soul,  turning off our phones, meditating.  For in this time of rest, we are reborn, aware once again of who we are, aware of the many ways in which we are blessed. 

There is always a deeper timing and rhythm at work, and when we live without listening and being aware of this timing, it’s like we are ready for battle.  There are greater rhythms that govern how life grows.  And we are part of that creation story, subject to its laws and rhythms. 

Scripture tells us to “Remember the Sabbath,” reminding us of a law that is embedded in nature, a reminder of how things really are, the rhythmic dance to which we belong.

Arnold Patent:  “If you ever feel that you should do something, lie down until the feeling passes. 

There’s a story of a South American tribe that went on a long march, day after day, when all of a sudden they would stop walking, sit down to rest for a while, then make camp for a couple of days before going any farther.  They explained they needed the time of rest so that their souls could catch up with them.   

We are blessed with inner rhythms that tell us where we are, and where we are going.  And as we turn to rest, our natural state reasserts itself.  Our natural wisdom and balance come to our aid, and we can find our way to what is good, necessary and true.   You’re invited to join us next Sunday for our lesson entitled “Inner Music.”

 

 

 

Unity Halton Peel (formerly Unity of Mississauga) currently operates as a virtual church with Sunday Services on Facebook at 10:30am. During Covid we have been meeting virtually through ZOOM and invite you to join us by signing up for our newsletter.
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