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One Heart Retreats

Rev. Sharri's Blog

An ongoing series of inspirational musings

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Thanksgiving prayer

November 28, 2022

Last Thursday, I spent Thanksgiving with family – for the first time since 2016. As a result, I am STILL feeling the Thanksgiving vibe, so Here is the blog I posted at Thanksgiving in 2020, updated just a hair:


Meister Eckhart said that if the only prayer you ever said was, "Thank You," it would have been enough. That has always been my favorite prayer, and it is the beginning of my prayer practice every morning and every night. Recently, however, I have discovered that there are a million ways to say it, to pray it, to experience it.


This morning, as I looked out the window above my prayer altar, just before dawn, I saw a thick pearly fog, glowing in the pre-dawn dark. My heart swelled up, my mouth spread into a huge grin, and I whispered, "WOW!" That's the same prayer. Sitting in my rocker, reading a Mitch Albom book, with a puppy in my lap and a 14-year old dog across my feet, I noticed the comfort and warmth, the absolute peace of that moment. My lips turned up, my shoulders dropped down, my soul danced. That's the same prayer. Sitting at breakfast with my prayer partner, who is visiting from out of state, I realized I was not hurrying to finish. Instead I was relaxed and happy. She smiled and said, "Mmmmm!" as she tasted her French toast made with raisin bread and brown eggs. That is the same prayer. I think "Thank you!" is what we feel when our heart is hugged, and I am delighted to see, in these "interesting times", how often my heart is hugged and how often I can see another heart being hugged - usually on television or over the internet because of COVID - spontaneously and joyfully, and independent of age, color, creed, or political philosophy.


So, in this Thanksgiving season of 2022, I invite you all to let your heart be hugged, let it hug other hearts, let it be filled to overflowing with the feeling of "Thank You". We are still all in this together ('this' being LIFE), and we are up to our eyes in blessings. Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to yours!

A fun way to spend the day . . .

November 21, 2022

This morning at breakfast I read an article about how hard it is to be grateful on demand. The author was writing mostly in spoof, I think. I remember when I discovered the power of an Attitude of Gratitude, but I also remember my grandmother’s admonition to be grateful that I had the means to pay for something I never wanted in the first place – because I needed it. Unfortunately for me, the first event was NOT the discovery of power, so I understand all too well the resistance many folks feel when “ordered” to be grateful. I want to encourage EVERYONE to muscle through that resistance and give gratitude a chance – it really can change your life.


The irony of the day for me is that many years ago I heard a sermon about gratitude that included the idea of a gratitude journal, and it piqued my curiosity. I quickly realized that keeping it at bedtime did NOT work for me, so I added it to my morning practice. When my husband came along and joined the practice, he added a new perspective that really expanded my appreciation: when you express gratitude for something desired, it very often appears! I’m sure you recognize the Biblical reference, but it still hit me like a meteor strike, and this was before Rhonda Byrne’s ground-breaker, The Secret was released. Do not confuse this addition to a gratitude journal with the annual Christmas list you made as a child. We are not begging for blessings, but planting seeds and creating space in our hearts and lives for the blessings we KNOW already exist.


So where does the fun come into the equation? Well, at least a couple of decades ago, when I discovered Meister Eckhart’s advice about prayer, “If the only prayer you ever say is, “’Thank you,’ it will have been enough,” I just sort of adopted that as my mantra – shortened to just a simple, “Thank you”. What I realized in short order was that the more I said “Thank you”, the more opportunities I had to say it. It became a game between me and Spirit – which were in greater number at the end of a day, thanks or blessings? I doubt that this game will ever become an Olympic event, but it really IS a very fun way to spend your day!

Lesson from a Dragon Rug

November 7, 2022

About 20 years ago, a friend, who knew how much I love dragons, found a dragon-patterned area rug at a garage sale and bought it for me. It has lived in my prayer room(s) ever since. This morning, thanks to the “fall-back” of autumn time, I got a good look at it when I walked in for my prayer time. I discovered a cluster of little, copper-colored speckles where my little Penny had laid to chew up a lipstick I had left unattended on my desk (with my desk chair waaaay too close!).


I grumbled about the damage to my dragon rug, fetched the Resolve spray and a little scrub brush, and sat myself down on the floor to clean up the mess. Oddly enough, I didn’t continue to grumble. Instead, I spent about five minutes remembering all of wonderful garage sales my friend and I had visited, and all of the marvelous places that rug had lived with me. I thought about how it had made the house of a newly-widowed minister feel like it was still home and how it made this new prayer room instantly comfortable, familiar and homey.


Of course, there is a metaphysical upside of this discovery – it turns out, sometimes, that a mess is really just a mess-age from the Universe to remind us that nothing is ever a wasted moment or a completely negative event. There really IS a blessin’ in every lesson. So I invite you to keep that third eye open and focused today on the re-mind- er mess-ages in your path – the result could be a new kind of awareness or a fond appreciation that you might have missed if my puppy didn’t love to chew on lipsticks!

The Wooden Bridge

October 24, 2022

Have you ever walked across a bridge made of wooden planks and rope? Did you hold your breath just a little bit? Me, too! It doesn’t matter if the bridge is a foot off the ground, or off the water, or if it’s hundreds of feet above the surface – that bridge wobbles and sways, and my minor in Physics gives me no comfort at all. I KNOW it’s absolutely safe, but it scares me silly.


Sometimes my life is like that, too. It’s like the lights are off and the rain is pouring, and my discernment is just not working. A small bump in the road, once in a while, is no problem – I can handle it. A series of “unfortunate events”, or one REALLY big one, on the other hand really tests my faith/confidence/consciousness level. About a week ago, I had one of those wobbly bridge experiences – I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst case of vertigo I had ever experienced, and the first one in a very long time. I couldn’t open my eyes because everything was spinning. I knew I needed to get to the bathroom quickly, but I had to wall-walk with my eyes closed, because I fell down whenever I opened them. It went downhill from there. It took four days to completely recover, and those were four very looong days! Oddly enough, even though I felt absolutely awful, I was not afraid. I knew what was happening, and I knew it would eventually end - all I had to do was keep my eyes closed. Isn’t it ironic that a person who spends her whole life telling people to keep their eyes open could only heal an illness by keeping hers shut?


I think this experience is a pretty good metaphor for faith: sometimes, we have to keep our eyes closed to the conditions that surround us in order to move through them to the truth we know is there. I really did think about this metaphor while I was recovering – but not while I was in the experience. Maybe that’s what is meant by “everyone has 20/20 hindsight”?

What do you do?

October 10, 2022

The first information folks in our society share, after our name, is our profession. I suppose, since we spend a huge proportion of our adult life doing whatever our profession requires, that makes sense. I spent 35 years as a college educator before entering ministry, so for the past 40+ years, my answer to “What do you do for a living?” has been, “I talk.”


There was a time when that “for a living” thing really bothered me. I was so much more interested in what people did for a life, and that’s what I wanted them to know about me, too. Then, as so often happens, Spirit gave me a whack with that 2 x 4 and things got a bit clearer. Turns out that when one is conscious of their profession, not just committed to it, but consciously engaged in it, that profession becomes an essential component of that person’s life. Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean to imply that a person is defined by their profession, only that when it is a conscious activity, it cannot HELP but affect everything about that person, no matter who the person is or what the profession might be!


In my case, when I announced to my Nurture Group (a spiritual support small group) that I was going into ministry, their immediate question was, “How can you give up teaching?!?” They knew as well as I did, that education, like ministry (or any other heart-led endeavor) is a calling, not a job. Luckily for me, I was conscious enough in my path that I realized I would NEVER be asked to stop teaching in order to serve as a minister. I knew Spirit was calling me, and I knew that I had already been answering Spirit’s call. It was just time for the path to change. I still talk for a living – sometimes on a platform, sometimes in a studio, and sometimes on a keyboard. I never know what the topic will be, but willingness to be led has always taken me wherever I was needed most, and as a long-ago mentor pointed out, “Teachers are born, not made,” so I just keep listening for the next topic.

From Supplication to Application

October 3, 2022

I have been reading Neale Donald Walsch’s God’s Message to the World: You’ve Got Me All Wrong with my breakfast lately, and this is an idea that has made me slap my forehead! Not that we’ve misidentified the Divine, but that we can change the trajectory of our species by shifting that perception not very much at all. We, the human race, have for millennia held on with both hands, both feet, and all of our teeth to the idea of a punishing, capricious Deity that, no, WHO requires our obedience and sacrifice – a Deity who both created us and condemns us for having used the free will with which we are endowed in an other-than-PERFECT way.


When I was 12 years old, I realized this just doesn’t make sense! How could free will be misused and still be defined as FREE will? How could a God of Love (which is the one aspect of the Deity on which all traditions agree) condemn any creation for expressing the nature with which it was endowed by that God? Yes, I was a weird 12-year-old and yes, I really did wonder about these ideas as I walked in the mountains with my dog. What I didn’t consider, and what Walsch’s book brought to the very front of my mind, is the relationship of prayer to these ideas. Good little Catholic girl that I was, I learned to ask, no to BEG God for whatever I wanted or needed – as though God were a) denying it to me and b) capable of refusing me anything.


Here’s what I learned, in the simplest terms I can manage:   before anything else existed, God existed. God was an old, white super human with a long beard and a white gown, who got lonely. Being an omnipotent God, he (catch that pronoun?) created the universe and populated it with living beings, some of them in His own image and likeness. Here’s where I always got in trouble: if God was all there was (a nearly universal belief on this planet) then the only thing from which God could create was His own substance.


The male pronouns are irking me, so I will switch to the more realistic (for an infinite and eternal Being) use of “It”. So, God created everything that exists out of Its own substance, which just about all religions say is LOVE. Not only that, but the Love is unconditional and eternal. Where in that do you see judgmental and punishing? Those attributes were added to give the clergy power to control the rest of the populace. That’s why most pray-ers beg, plead, apologize, and promise to do better, IF their prayers are answered. This is the supplication part of the title of this blog.


Seems to me, and zillions of other New Thought folks, that a God of LOVE could only create and experience perfection, and that those creations would share the creative power from which they were born. Why is this important? Because it means the only prayer we need is “Thank You, God!”, since we can express and experience anything we desire by simply applying the God-given creativity that is our nature. This is the application part of the title of this blog. That means no lack, no fear, no conflict, no shame, no punishment – I could go on for a long time with this list, but I think you get the idea. Hope plus supplication (another word for most affirmations) focus the attention, and therefore the experience, on lack, on what is perceived to be missing, so it stays missing. Faith plus confirmation (another way to say “knowing the Truth”) focus the attention on acceptance and gratitude, so the manifestation is loud and clear in our experience. WOW! I have made my last affirmation; from now on, I will confirm the truth I wish to experience and leave begging in the past. Think about it, you might want to join me.

The Metaphysics of Puberty

September 26, 2022

Puberty is not a pleasant subject. In fact, it’s not generally a pleasant experience. It is painful in many ways: acne, mood swings, shyness/embarrassment, sudden weight changes, vocal uncertainty, etc. However, it is also NOT an option. Every human being goes through this experience, and I have never met anyone who enjoyed it. The upside is that it is a finite experience and when we get through it, we find ourselves possessed of a LOT of new information about ourselves, about who we are and what we want our lives to be. This often shows up as confidence, the ability to connect with others, and a new compassion.


Are you wondering where the metaphysics comes into it? Well, I see puberty as an excellent metaphor for the upheaval we, especially here in the US, are experiencing right now with respect to diversity. This is happening in every area – religious diversity, ethnic diversity, sexual diversity, body type diversity, diversity of physical and mental capacity, financial diversity, cultural diversity. Diversity is becoming an important issue in every aspect of our daily individual and collective lives. It is messy, it is inconvenient, it is confusing, and it is often painful, because, like puberty, it is an unavoidable, non-optional part of the evolution of the human race. Just what you wanted to hear, right? But there is good news: like puberty, this upheaval is a finite experience, and like puberty, we will get through it, and like puberty, when it is over we will find ourselves possessed of a wealth of new information about ourselves, about who we are and what we want our lives to be. Instead of deeper voices, we will have clearer ones. Instead of individual confidence, we will uncover the innate oneness that connects us in the One Mind, instead of surface connections, we will discover the solidarity and security of the Oneness of all Life, and instead of personal compassion, we will realize the fullness and comfort of the One Love that created and expresses as all of us.

Morning Meds

September 19, 2022

Part of my evening routine is a quick preview of the next day’s schedule – yes, I am one of THOSE left-brain, organized people – and last evening, I realized that there were a couple of significant omissions, and they go by the same name: morning meds. They weren’t on the list because they have become as much a part of my consciousness as breathing. Like most folks who have lived as many years as I have, a selection of medications (one for high cholesterol and one for reflux) and supplements (vitamins, calcium, joint support, etc.) are the first thing I swallow at the breakfast table. My AHA last night was that another morning med that is taken BEFORE I reach the breakfast table has also become a part of my nature: morning meditation. Prayer altar, candles, and timer provide my first activity of the day (MY first, but Penny’s first, a walk to tend to nature, does come before it), and they really set the tone for my mental approach, regardless of the density of my scheduled activities or my mood upon awakening.


I generally wake up smiling, which is a direct result of the cat and dog who purr and kiss my face every morning, but sometimes events occur between the purring /kissing and actually landing in my prayer rocker that shift my mood just a tad. Somehow, lighting the candles and setting the timer are inevitably followed by a sigh – both physical and mental – and a letting go of all stress, strain, irritation, and time pressure. The remarkable thing about this med is that, while it does appear to be addictive, it has absolutely no ill effects at all. The beneficial side effects, however, are numerous and long-lasting: peaceful physical and emotional balance, stress reduction, a sense of unquestioned and easy well-being, calmness, expanded tolerance (patience), and smiles. What’s more, there is no cost for this med, either financial, psychological, physical, or spiritual! I can’t help but wonder, with delight and joy, what kind of world this would be if everyone took this morning med – you could even try it at lunch or bedtime with the same benefits – that’s a med program I could promote forever and for everyone!

Penny For Your Thoughts?

September 12, 2022

Penny For Your Thoughts? Remember this phrase from the previous century? I have discovered new expression of this concept! It is a delight to my heart to have an actual prayer room/chapel in my home. It has a couple of prayer altars, a lot of “sacred art”, many candles, a bookcase of devotional readings, a rocking chair, and a large, brightly colored floor pillow beside the rocking chair. I also have a 13-pound miniature whippet named Penny (for her copper color), who has developed an amazing affinity for my prayer room. If I can’t find her, I know to check the prayer room – she will either be in the rocker or on her floor pillow. 


 Penny has always operated under the theory that if I have a lap, she should be in it, which used make meditating a challenge. Penny, like my ever-active mind, has a hard time with stillness. At least, that used to be the case. Once we got settled in this new home and she discovered the energy of a prayer room, her behavior started to shift. First, she insisted on sitting in my lap while I meditated, getting down only when I reached for the books on the shelf. Then she decided that she just needed to make sure I was settled in the rocker and then it would be time to settle herself on the pillow. The chime that signals the end of my meditation period only made her jump once or twice, and then it became as much part of her routine as mine.


This is remarkable, to anyone who has met Penny, because she is the most active, constantly jumping up and down, friendly, loving little critter you ever saw – so I don’t think anyone who hasn’t seen her meditate could imagine it as a possibility! I see it as an answered prayer – since I believed for many years that I could not experience the stillness of spirit that defines meditation for me. Once again, I am reminded that “dog” is “God” backwards, and dogs are often God’s favorite facilitators of spiritual teaching. One of the jobs of this Penny for my thoughts, sent by God, seems to be to remind me that stillness is ALWAYS possible, if the energy/intention is right.

The Dive

September 5, 2022

When I was a child, my father used to repeat a sentiment that completely baffled me: I disagree with his opinion, but I will defend to the death his right to hold it. It sounded counterintuitive, at best. As I learned some history, both old world and new world, I thought I had come to understand, but I was mistaken. I thought he was expressing tolerance, perhaps even respect for the ideas of others, as expressed in the First Amendment to our Constitution. Oddly enough, I think that’s what he thought, too.


In my young adult years, when I discovered New Thought, I realized that our concept of Oneness and the golden thread of Truth that runs through all faith traditions, I came to believe that this concept was the "conscious” version of my father’s sentiment. I loved that we respect and honor all paths to enlightenment. I loved recognizing that golden thread – which I always found, because I knew it was there. Still, there was this niggling little voice in the back of my mind (the private part of the One Mind) that couldn’t quite accept, much less genuinely respect or honor, the teachings that produced exclusion and otherness. 


 Yesterday, I discovered, without a great deal of surprise, that I am not the only one who hears that voice. The Sunday talk at my center was about finding a balance between honoring Oneness and honoring all paths. The take-away was that I don’t have to be silent when I hear something expressed as truth that is in conflict with Truth. What’s more, I have a responsibility, as a spiritual being living a human experience, to address that issue, with respect and courtesy, yes, but also with conviction and commitment. Whether what I say changes that person or situation is beside the point, because what I say WILL change human consciousness and when enough of us speak Truth to untruth, the balance will be restored and maintained.


This is something of a challenge for me, since I have been assured for many years that I am tact-challenged, but I am accepting the challenge. Interfaith cooperation and respect are the only path to peace, inner and outer, so I am determined to dive into that stream of consciousness and find the right words to bring Truth to the surface: There is only ONE Life; that Life is God Life; that Life is my life; that Life is all life NOW. C’mon in – the water’s great!

18 inches, with Luck

August 29, 2022

Have you ever noticed that when you learn a new word you suddenly hear/see it everywhere you go? Of course, the word was already there, but you were unconscious of it because it had no relevance to you. I think that spiritual truths work the same way – with a twist. Here’s what I mean: suppose you have a surface awareness of a Truth, for instance, MY VALUE IS UNLIMITED BY MY PERFORMANCE OF ANY ACTIVITY. I can almost see y’all nodding your heads and thinking, “Of course, who doesn’t know that?” A week ago, I would have been right there with you, nodding away.

This past weekend, though, I had an experience that knocked me right on my tush, metaphysically speaking: I tried to do something that I really wanted to do well, and it did NOT turn out at all as I expected. I beat myself up pretty severely, said things about myself I would NEVER say about anyone else, and spent a few hours feeling lower than the proverbial snake’s belly. Then (thank Heaven), my inner Guide spoke up and said, “So what? You, like Edison, have just determined a way that does not work! Look for a different method.” I did a mental forehead-slap, adjusted the parameters of my plan, and felt a whole lot better.

At that point, I started thinking about how I had been thinking about the experience, and how I could have applied spiritual practice to shift my feelings about the event and ended up with a spiritual forehead-slap (not really, but you know what I mean) with a smile. I realized that the Truth given above had been sitting in my mind without ever connecting with my MIND or my heart. This reminded me of a teacher I had decades ago who always told us that (mind to MIND/heart) was the toughest 18-inch journey we would ever make – and if we were lucky, we would make it often. That reminded me of what my late husband used to say when I told him that I did not believe in luck: you are defining it incorrectly then, LUCK is simply Laboring Under Correct Knowledge. By that definition, we are only going to make that 18-inch journey, whether once or often, with LUCK.

My Shadow

August 22, 2022

One week ago today, I lost my shadow. Shadow was a 15-year-old half Cocker Spaniel/half Yorkie (we called him a Corkie), and he lived up to his name in every respect. My little sister gave him to me when he was only six weeks old, and he has endeavored to stay where he could see, if not touch me, every minute since then. Shadow was named for his coloring – he was all black with Cocker Spaniel ears, feet and tail with a Yorkshire Terrier body. The best part of the package was his personality, though. Nobody ever met Shadow and didn’t love him. He adopted people almost the instant they appeared in front of him, and everyone became his family. 


 Shadow moved with me from Missouri to Kansas to Nebraska and back to Missouri again. He loved to travel, and it was amazing how high he could jump whenever I said, “Ride in the car?” In fact, my late husband and I learned to spell R-I-D-E when we weren’t going to a canine-friendly destination. Shadow taught two little sisters (Dusty and Penny) how to walk on a leash, play with a ball, and potty outside. Shadow knew how to read human emotion and how to hug anyone who needed a little love. He mourned my husband’s passing for himself and for our family. By the time Shadow left this plane, his whiskers and his bushy eyebrows were snow-white, but he was active and playful until the last 36 hours in his body.


I stayed with him until he left his body and when the Veterinarian asked if I wanted to keep his ashes, I declined, saying, ” Shadow isn’t in his ashes, he is in my heart.” When I finished crying, I realized that Shadow is once again dissolved in Oneness, without the distractions of physicality, just pure love. I won’t ever stop missing him, yet I know I will also never stop feeling his presence. Just like Peter Pan, my Shadow is securely and permanently connected to me.

Retreat

August 15, 2022

I spent this past weekend volunteering at an interfaith retreat, so naturally that word was rattling around in my head. Like most words in human languages, it can have either a positive connotation or a negative one, depending on the context in which it is used. Militarily, socially, commercially, it is usually negative – stepping back, giving up, preparing to consider surrender. Philosophically and spiritually, the idea is definitely positive – taking time away from normal pursuits to focus on inner expansion, healing, or investigation.


Why this diametrically opposite meaning? It seems to be directly related to the amount of ego involved in the situation. In the first case, ego is definitely driving the bus – resulting in hurt feelings, a sense of emotional, political or financial loss, and regret that it was necessary (or perceived to be so). In the second case, instead of turning away from the Spirit withing (Easing God Out), we are actually running towards it with open arms – seeking a deeper understanding of our own consciousness, our own needs, our own spirituality, our own Truth.


I wonder what it would take to shift the governments and military folk from the fear of retreat that is so often expressed as attack to the joy of retreat that feeds the soul – both individually and collectively? Perhaps this is the focus of a new grass-roots movement – every day we retreat, as individuals, for a few moments of inner peace and renewal – might that not shift the definition of retreat in the collective consciousness away from ego and towards oneness? I see scads of ways to do this too – meditation, chanting, dance, contemplation, art, music, crafts, reading, journaling, etc., etc. take your pick! The bonus of this movement is that it not only moves us toward World Peace, but also FEELS wonderful, creative, expansive and fun. I think I will just try a new (to me) method every week until I can see the results in my own peaceful center and spiraling out into my world. I invite you to consider the options, too – you might surprise yourself!

Inter-

August 8, 2022

The Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, uses a term I love – interbeing. When I first read that word, it made me wonder about the origin of the word and the metaphysical meaning it carries. Word origins have always fascinated me, at least since my high school Latin teacher introduced me to Greek and Latin roots for English words. Inter as a prefix generally means shared or connected. That made me look for other relevant “inter-“ words: interaction, intercession, interdependence, interfaith, intergalactic, interpersonal – I could go on, but I think that’s a long enough list to make my point. 


 Are you wondering what that point might be? Well, here it is: all of these words involve, illustrate, or explain the concept of ONENESS. In each case, two or more people are connected, united, combined in focus, effort or result. So why do I love interbeing? Because that one word says it all: There is only one life, that Life is God’s life, that life is my life, that life is all life now. WOW, imagine the culture we would have if we taught our children about human interbeings instead of just human beings. Imagine the world we would have if we learned to thing of ourselves as human interbeings. My response to racism, or any other form of “othering” has always been, “There is only one race, and it is human,” and I think INTERBEING means exactly that. From now on, my intention is to INTERBE as fully as I possibly can – how about you?

It’s ALL connected

August 1, 2022

Did you ever find yourself in mid-grumble, suddenly giggling with God about an answered prayer? That’s what happened to me this morning. Actually, it happens a lot (both the grumbling – I have never claimed to be patient – and the answered prayers), but this morning I noticed! I was listening intently to the silence that precedes inspiration (intently, but NOT patiently) when BAM! That cosmic two by four hit me right upside the head. I usually start asking for inspiration for my blog on Sunday afternoon or evening, but this was a very unusual Sunday.


As most of you know, I am a Focus Minister and most of my ministry is online – classes, workshops, retreats, and guest speaking, in addition to my blogs and meditations. This weekend, however, I was holding an open house to celebrate the Grand Opening of the One Heart Metaphysical Research Library, which involved preparing invitations, handouts, and of course, food. I am a very organized person, so I had much of this already completed when “a series of unfortunate events” occurred. 


 It started with a heavy rainstorm on Monday that downed a large crabapple tree in my next-door neighbor’s front yard. It made walking my dogs a bit of a challenge, but we got around it with minor effort. On Friday, a crew finally showed up to remove the damaged tree. They left little green crabapples all over the yards and the sidewalk. They ALSO ran over the internet access hub in the courtyard on the other side of the sidewalk. Nobody noticed this fact – not even me, and I walk my dogs past it four or five times a day! This mishap resulted in the loss of internet access for the whole block for about three hours. Fortunately for most of my neighbors, their cables were unbroken, and service was reestablished in a few hours. Unfortunately for me, my fiber cable was not unbroken, and I lost access for a much longer period, until 7:00 pm on Sunday.


The open house came off without a hitch: 

 Access to One Heart Metaphysical Research Library, an interfaith library, available at no cost to all ministers, Practitioners, and students is by appointment only, throughout the week, except on Thursdays. Our current holdings include texts on Philosophy, Theology, World Religions, Spirituality, Quantum Physics, prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices. We also have a selection of courses on CD, as well as spiritual and meditative music CDs. This is not a lending library, but our availability is very flexible (in days and in hours), and we can accommodate small groups (2-6 people). In addition, we have a small selection of books for sale on a love offering basis, and a large collection of back issues of Science of Mind magazine that are available to take without cost. One Heart accepts donations of books, pamphlets, and CDs as well as monetary donations. Our purpose is to provide access to a wide variety of subjects, authors and formats to enhance spiritual students and seekers. We are affiliated with the Centers for Spiritual Living (home office in Golden, CO) and are a 501c(3) non-profit, so any donations are tax-deductible.


Someday I will laugh about the experience – it was practically a slapstick routine: I called the ISP to report the outage, and they assured me that someone would be here Saturday. What they failed to mention was that the dispatcher would not send the repair crew until the dispatcher had spoken to me, personally, on the phone. Challenging? Oh, yes! You see my cell phone carrier sends anyone who is not in my contact list straight to voicemail, and dispatchers use 800 numbers that change with every call, so they go straight to voicemail. Normally, I have folks call my business phone, which does not have that feature – BUT my business phone is a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) line, so it wasn’t working, either. The eventual solution was to have my next-door neighbor bring her cell phone to my house so that the dispatcher could call it and speak to me. So, storm --> downed tree --> truck --> downed internet  --> no VOIP --> neighbor --> ZOOM!


It really IS all connected. Butterfly wings and tree-trimming trucks both have far-reaching impacts. Perhaps that someday laugh is not so far away?

A Dog’s Life

July 18, 2022

In our culture, dogs have a pretty great life. Even the service dogs (military, police, personal) are showered with love and affection, are provided food, water, and treats, get lots of exercise, and sleep indoors. Service dogs notwithstanding, dogs don’t have to work for their keep. We even put “Please save the dogs!” stickers on our windows to protect them if there’s a fire and no people are home.


Why do you suppose dogs have this much-blessed life? I believe it’s because they teach us, by demonstration, unconditional love. Dogs have the most convenient memory – they only remember the good stuff, having learned how to avoid the “bad” stuff. That means they are always glad to see us. Most dogs love not only unconditionally, but also indiscriminately. No matter what we look like or smell like, who we love or vote for, where we work or went to school, if we smile at a dog the response is generally positive. Dogs get excited over the tiniest things – a pat on the head, a thrown stick, a bacon treat, or a tummy rub (who doesn’t love that?). I think that demonstrates the positive outlook dogs teach to puppies and to people.


This should not come as a surprise, since DOG is GOD backwards, but then, we often don’t recognize or appreciate the God things that happen in our lives every day, either. I choose to think of it as DOG is the reflection of GOD and having a dog’s life is living in a state of awareness of that divinity that is at the heart of every creature, every creation. Even though I do have a job (and don’t plan ever not to have one), I still am living a grace-filled, exciting dog’s life. That’s my wish for each of you, too – that you live a joyful, exciting dog’s life!



Acronyms & Anagrams

July 11, 2022

The English language has always fascinated me. It is clearly the most ambiguous language on Earth (pun intended). At the same time, it has some truly delightful idiosyncrasies. Two of my favorites are anagrams and acronyms.


Acronyms were a popular form of public shorthand long before the Internet and social media arrived in our culture. I can remember 60 years ago, when cigarette commercials were still allowed (no loss at all!) knowing that LSMFT stood for “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco”, and there were all kinds of contests to come up with acronyms for new products. Just a few years ago, there was a contest at Mile Hi Church in Colorado to come up with the best anti-anagram for FEAR, and Faith Evokes Awesome Results won. My favorite personal anagram is Forging Ahead In Trusting Heart-full-ness, which is FAITH.

Anagrams are a sort of metaphor for connection, relativity, and pattern-recognition. Anagrams require at least two words, each with the same set of letters, such as Listen and Silent. The connection and relationship between the two is pretty easy to see – one must be silent to truly listen. I have used this one before many times, because it IS so clear.


Recently, I found another set of anagrams and a corresponding pair of anti-acronyms that connect them: the anagrams are Reaction and Creation and just a small rearrangement of the first four letters shifts us from what might be a negative mindset to one that is absolutely positive. Here are the acronyms: Reply Exactly As Culture Teaches In One Norm (REACTION) and Claim Reality Expressing At The Impulse Of Newness (CREATION). Once again, the connection and relationship are pretty clear – reaction is stuck in current “stuff”, but creation finds a different outlook every time!



Interdependence Day!

July 4, 2022

As I sit here in my July 4th finery – heart-shaped flag earrings, red/white/blue star necklace, flag scarf belt – I find myself feeling somewhat off-kilter, because of the current social and political challenges in the US. Somehow, after 246 years, I would have expected us to have evolved further, beyond bigotry, violence and tyranny. Then it hit me – our society is a collection of independent individuals, up to their eyeballs in ego. We need to move from you and you and you and me to US, WE – and not just the United States, not even just North America, but the whole, blinkin’ planet! 


How can we even pretend that any action can affect a single person, let alone a single country or a single continent? We are, as Dr. Holmes, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and every other spiritual giant throughout history has reminded us, connected – intimately, infinitely, permanently connected at the consciousness level, and that leaks over into the physical, emotional, political, and global levels. More and more individuals are making this realization every day, and since evolution only moves in one direction (upward/outward), the consciousness of the human race is inevitably moving toward the cohesion and compassion of interdependence, that is, toward peace.


 This peace is already present inside every heart, latent in the seed of Divinity that is our very nature. I have learned to look for it, which guarantees that I find it (even if I have to squint a little sometimes), so I know the human race is becoming aware of its interdependence. As we recognize and realize this Truth, while we will probably continue to shoot fireworks on the 4th of July (or the 14th, or May 1st, or whichever date is significant locally), I can envision a world where every person, every heart, every soul celebrates Interdependence Day, and I am ready to build a float for THAT parade!

PERSISTANCE

June 27, 2022

I was a young single mom when Roe v. Wade became law. I celebrated the wisdom of the Supreme Court and felt real pride that my country was moving out of the dark ages. Today I am a great-grandmother, and I feel disappointment and, if I am honest, shame, for the giant step backward that the reversal of Roe v. Wade represents. There are all kinds of fears associated with this event – more women with die from botched, back-room abortions; more children will be born with terminal birth defects; more families will be trapped in the cycle of poverty, hunger, and ignorance, etc. The thing that seems so obvious to me, and so completely hidden to the lawmakers and politicians in this country, is that when we step backwards, we cannot see where we are going, so there’s a much higher likelihood of tripping and falling over obstacles we have already met once!


This decision WILL NOT STAND, because we women, and the men who love and respect us, will not stand for it. The reasons have not changed: no two women are the same, physically, emotionally, or situationally; no two pregnancies are the same; nobody has the right to decide for another person whether or not she will be required/allowed to bear a child; here’s one of my deeply-held concepts: pro-choice IS pro-life; freedom is not freedom unless it applies to EVERY individual; government -mandated restriction of reproductive rights is TYRANNY. Of course, none of this is news, but all of it is TRUTH, and the TRUTH will always become the fact, that’s the nature of the Universe. I can’t suggest the best path back to reproductive freedom, but I know, however challenging it is, it is also inevitable. 


 We have a responsibility as human beings to lift, not only our own individual consciousness, but also the consciousness of the entire human race. The good news is that consciousness only moves in one direction – upward /outward, so every positive thought, every intention of truth, liberty, freedom and equity moves us closer to the end of tyranny and the birth of true freedom. So, as my favorite t-shirt reminds us, still she persists! WE PERSIST!

T.H.I.N.K. . .

June 20, 2022

One of the most frequently offered pieces of advice – in my life, at least – is Think before you speak! The challenge comes when we realize that this advice is hardest to implement when it is most needed. When we find ourselves in a moment of passionate opinion – good or bad – it is not human nature to stop and consider the potential effect of the words we are about to speak. This has certainly gotten me into trouble more times than I can count. It doesn’t happen as often nowadays, but then, I spend a lot of my time alone these days.


I recently had the joyous opportunity to officiate at my first wedding. It’s been two weeks, but I am still glowing with the joy of that event. It was, however, a time when thinking first became vitally important, not just to me, but to my wedding couple and to their guests. I am really grateful for the practice of asking for guidance and then LISTENING to hear it. I was reminded of one of the mottoes of the Rotary Club: T.H.I.N.K? before you speak. This expands into asking five questions:

                                               Is it true?

                                               Is it helpful?

                                               Is it inspiring?

                                               Is it necessary?

                                               Is it kind?


Only when the answers are ALL “yes” should you speak. I will admit that, although the questions are vitally important, the time it takes to ask and answer them is probably equally important, because if requires one to slow down, breathe, and pay attention. When you do that, how can you go wrong?


The wedding came off without a hitch (no pun intended), and I got this blog as a bonus. Enjoy!

The metaphysics of slipcovers . . .

June 13, 2022

I have an 18-pound, absolutely beautiful black cat, named Bandit. Bandit is all cat, complete with claws and the indiscriminate use thereof. I love Bandit. I also really love my living room chairs. Unfortunately for me and the chairs, Bandit loves them, too. They are a very pale beige, and apparently, exactly the right height for sharpening Bandit’s aforementioned claws. So far, only one chair has received his attention, but the effect has been dramatic enough to send me searching for a solution/preventive measure.


It turns out I am not alone in this endeavor, and one can actually buy specially made, cat-claw-proof covers for furniture! WOW and WHEW! In the aftermath of this discovery and its accompanying relief, I naturally started to think about the spiritual side of the situation. Here’s a challenge for you: name three people you know who are completely happy with themselves – their appearance, their health, their emotional and mental outlooks, their finances, everything. That seems just about impossible, right? So let’s narrow the field. Just think about the one person whose equanimity you can best assess – of course, it’s yourself. Now consider the “onion theory” of personalities – we are all made up of layer after layer after layer of ideas, aspects, characteristics, opinions, preferences, etc. Each of us has been adding layers since the day we were born!


So where do the slipcovers come into the picture? They appear when we a) become aware of the layers, b) realize we have a choice in the matter, and c) decide to start determining which layers to release, which to keep, and (here’s the big one) how to select the one currently on the outside of the onion. Just like my chairs, we can have a chosen layer (slipcover, because it IS removable) that offers us protection, comfort, security, and self-esteem (who would choose an ugly slipcover?). Also like my chairs, the slipcover can be self-made, purchased, or improvised. 


 This is another of my “try it for yourself – what do you have to lose?” offers, and I really hope you will take a look at whatever is the current cat claw in your life and get creative!

The Dream

May 23, 2022

Last night I had the most wonderful dream! I knew I was dreaming, but I knew what I was dreaming was true – in the Mind of God, and in the realm of possibility. I dreamt I was invited to address the United Nations, and not just the Security Council, but the full, everyone in attendance, all Present, United Nations. I have no idea how that happened, but it felt completely natural and right. The amazing thing was that there were no interpreters, and yet every single person not only heard every word I spoke in their own language but understood everything exactly as I meant it to be understood. Here’s what I told them:


There are three things I think you really need to HEAR (that’s the first 80% of HEART, so listen with your whole heart, please):


  • First, WAR IS OBSOLETE! Nobody EVER won a war, one side just lost slightly less than the other.
  • Second, Earth is NOT an inexhaustible resource, and it does NOT belong to any country, political entity, or culture. We humans are here to nurture and protect the planet, not to use and abuse it – we are NOT separate from it, but intimately and integrally connected with it, and with each other.
  • Finally, diversity is not a catch phrase or a marketing ploy – it is the key to Peace, Abundance, and Evolution. EVERYONE is valuable. In fact, EVERYONE is necessary to the health and harmony of planet Earth and all of her inhabitants.

That’s all, but if you really get it, we will all live happier, healthier, more expansive lives!


Then I woke up - it was still dark, but I was smiling . . .

Hacked!

May 16, 2022

When I was much younger (in the previous century), there was a popular column in the daily paper called, “Hints from Heloise”. Folks would write in to the paper asking for help with everyday household challenges - tough stains, organization needs, decorating issues, etc. Heloise always came up with a solution, usually one that was inexpensive and could be assembled from whatever was at hand. Nowadays, nobody reads the daily newspaper, at least not in its hardcopy format. Instead, we have social media where you find both ads for “miracle cures” and tips and tricks for handling household upsets, which, like Heloise’s, can usually be implemented with whatever is under the sink. What’s the difference? Well, today’s solutions are called “Hacks”, which is funny, because NOBODY wants to get hacked! I know, it’s just the way slang terms develop – first something becomes common, like computer hackers who steal your identity, your work, and your money – then someone notices that there could be a flip side to the concept, like hacking the indelible ring around your toilet, or your high blood pressure, or your thinning hair. Some of these hacks are effective and some are not, but most of them are at least harmless.


So far, I am just talking about the way language evolves, but now I want to (surprise!) shift into the metaphysical side of the topic. WHAT?!? There are metaphysical hacks?!? Yup. Since there are metaphysical challenges in daily life, that is where the hacks need to be found. There are three hacks I want to mention today: prayer (DUH!), meditation, and mindfulness. “Prayer,” you say, “How is that a hack? “Prayer is the hack that empowers us to release fear and embrace divine order. That is, prayer helps us let go of the facts by focusing on the Truth of oneness, faith, and unconditional love. Next up is meditation. I could talk about this one for days – it’s my most daunting challenge, and having found the key, my most trusted comfort. Meditation is the hack that lets me shift from effects to cause, and that often eliminates the effect! The best metaphysical hack I know, though, is mindfulness, which is another name for Presence. No matter what the challenge is, mindfulness takes me out of reaction mode and into response mode. That is, it turns my attention away from whatever challenge is raising my hackles and towards that amazing well of stillness and peace that is ALWAYS at the center of human consciousness – if we give it a chance to rise to the surface.


My invitation to you is to pick three challenges in your present life and apply one of these hacks to each of them – the minimum result will be increased self-awareness, and the maximum result is unlimited! What do you have to lose – worry, dread, lack?

Freckles

May 2, 2022

When I was a little girl, I heard an adult say, “Enough freckles, working together, can make a suntan!” I thought it was a clever line, but I also thought the likelihood of freckles cooperating was exceedingly remote.  Even as a child I knew freckles couldn't think!


Lately, I have been, like most conscious adults, many teens, and even a few preteen children in our society, giving a lot of thought to the increased violence in our world – not just in the US, but around the globe. I have wondered, and I suspect this is a very common quandary, “What can I do that matters, that changes the violence level in the world?!?” A major blessing for me is that I know there is a definite answer – there really is something I can do that can influence this situation. In fact, my purpose today is to remind all of my readers, and through them, all of the folks around them, that there is always something we can do that matters. It might not provide a solution, but it will reduce the impact of the problem being addressed.


Are you thinking, “She’s going to ask us to pray,”? Well, of course, that is always appropriate and beneficial, but I am actually thinking in terms of concrete, practical action right now. Let’s start with children – they can make a conscious effort to be peacemakers, on the playground and in the home. Teens, have a wider reach – they can actually create projects to promote peace (and many of them are already doing this!), and those projects are not confined to our borders. Adults, well, we are (at least nominally) in charge of things, so we have the most power for change. That power is usually felt most when we vote – with our dollars, supporting peaceful organizations, with our voices writing and speaking to groups who can increase the scope of any peace movement, and with our political power at the polls – voting really is both a sacred right and an immense responsibility. We make a difference when we choose where to buy groceries and clothing, when we choose what to watch on TV or at the movies, when we choose what to follow and how to comment on social media. We also vote when we choose not to give our consciousness to finding solutions, because that is a choice to support violence.


And yes, prayer does have an impact, even when the one praying cannot feel or see it, so definitely keep praying. I have chosen to spend 15 minutes of my morning prayer time focusing on Vladimir Putin. I encourage each person reading this to pick a person somewhere in the world who is participating in violence and pray for the awakening of that person to our innate Oneness. My commitment is for one year, at the end of that time, I fully expect to be able to see the impact of my prayers (I might have to squint a little, but I know it will be there). Consider jumping on this focused prayer train with me - become a spiritual freckle – just think of the peace tan we can make!

Peace Proposition

April 25, 2022

In The Sun My Heart, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “In our times, all war affects all countries.” Clearly, this is being demonstrated by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Like many of my colleagues, as well as the people we serve, this situation has caused many emotions for me: fear (it exists, whether I like it or not), compassion, anger, resistance, anguish, and others I don’t know how to name. Even though it is more than half a world away, this situation feels loud in my heart and in my consciousness, and it feels personal. Ernest Holmes reminded us more than once that there is only one Life, and we are ALL it, so I feel compelled to DO SOMETHING about the challenge of Russia invading Ukraine. Needless to say, I am not going to pack up and fly there – money, time, lack of skill, and a not-quite ended pandemic all block that avenue. So what is my proposition?


I attended a virtual retreat last Friday that included a discussion of Ho’oponopono, which I have mentioned in earlier blogs. This time, hearing somebody else mention it and then reading my daily dose of Thich Nhat Hanh, I received a serious download. Oddly enough, it came in the form of a suggested experiment for spiritual/consciousness/

anthropology researchers. Here’s how it would work: teams of volunteers on every continent (it might be a little challenging to find volunteers on the Arctic and Antarctic continents, but I don’t argue with Inspired ideas) would be recruited to devote 15 minutes every morning to doing the Ho’oponopono exercise FOR a specific world leader or would-be world leader – all of them, even the ones we like. I, personally, started doing 15 minutes of Ho’oponopono each day for Vladimir Putin about a week ago. I suspect the folks running the experiment would make a list of target-leaders and assign one to each group of meditators. They would need to provide a photo of the leader, but no other information would be needed. The meditators would then visualize their target as they chanted, silently or aloud, the Ho’oponopono affirmations, from the heart, without judgment or fear:

 Please forgive me. I’m sorry. I love you. Thank you.


The goal, of course, is to lift the consciousness of those leaders in order to eliminate aggression and evolve peace. We often think about “negative” situations wondering what one person, half a world away can do to make a difference. Imagine small teams (8-10 people) scattered over every continent doing this exercise – how could it NOT make a difference? What do we have to lose by trying it? 


I invite you to consider beginning such a group wherever you are.  If nothing else, it will make you feel less helpless. Remember, a bucket of muddy water can be cleansed with an eye dropper and a dedicated person!

HOME

April 18, 2022

Home:  an acronym for the Heaven Of My Experience. I have been thinking a lot about how wonderful it feels to be home again – surrounded by people who love me and close enough to visit in person any time I feel like it. Spending four and a half years alone in a rural – make that VERY rural – setting, it was difficult to remember that home is not a place, it’s a conscious awareness of the presence of love. My daughter, who will be 48 years old in June, was born three months early and spent those three months, plus an extra week, in the NICU of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. On the day she came home, this poem flowed out of me:


Sissy’s Song


Home, contrary to popular belief,

Is where you hang your heart,

And not your hat.

Hats are more often welcome,

And easier to wear when crushed.

Sometimes I wish I had two hats,

Instead of one of each.

Then, again, sometimes

I would gladly have two hearts!


I always knew, in my isolation, that I carried home in my heart, but sometimes it was very challenging to actually allow myself to feel at home. COVID caused many people to recognize the difference between a living space and a home, and now that we are beginning to feel the end of the pandemic arriving, I invite you all to come home to your hearts and let yourselves feel the comfort and peace that are always waiting there.

Settle?

April 11, 2022

Now that I have completed the residential move from North Central Arkansas to Northwest Missouri, my settling in has begun. Settle is an interesting word – its noun definition is rarely used, except in antique stores, where it describes a wooden bench with a high back arms (and sometimes a box built under the seat) – and it has a ton of verb meanings, most commonly involving the resolution of a situation or a debt. As an essential part of making this move, I did need to settle my personal and ministerial debts/obligations – and it gave me great joy to do so!


In another common usage, we find a very negative connotation, because it means to accept less than the desired result in order to avoid effort, cost, or conflict. Compromise is a valuable tool, but “settling for ______” (fill in the blank) is not compromise, it is failure or surrender, and it never leads to a happy outcome. It also rarely provides a long-term, much less permanent, solution. I recommend against using this verb as a practice.


Today, however, I use it as a verb meaning to become relaxed and comfortable in a location; I am home! Everything is unpacked and the furniture, dishes, office and prayer room are all arranged exactly as I want them to be. My new home is, in every room, a clear reflection of who I am and what I love. 


 Now my new adventure begins:   I will not settle for the comfort of being settled here; instead, I will settle into this new opportunity to expand my conscious awareness of the peace, beauty, and presence that bless this place – and my place in it. I will take advantage of the absence of distractions to find the fullest expression of my ministry, my consciousness, and my purpose, and I will use that expression to serve Life, Love and Presence. 


 You are invited to settle into your highest vision and purpose, too. Are you up for it? Isn’t it exciting?

Is this still me?

March 21, 2022

As you know, I am getting ready for an interstate move. The library is completely packed, except for the computer monitor and I am scheduled to pack one room per day for this whole week. I have done a ton of releasing, using the three-pile method to prepare for packing:


• One pile to keep

• One pile to give away

• One pile to pitch


Now I am dealing with the ‘keep’ pile, the things I actually need to pack. I have decided, given that this really is the beginning of a whole new life for me (my ministry is the only thing not changing, and it will grow, too!), I need to evaluate each item before I pack it. This is a slightly different evaluation process, since there won’t be a “pitch” pile. For each item, be it clothing, artwork, kitchenware, or whatever, I will ask the same question: is this still me? Does it still feel like an integral part of my nature and identity? If not, is there a strong emotional tie? If so, I will take it with me and then find someone who really wants that item and gift it to that person. If not, it goes to the thrift store before I leave here. This results in less packing/unpacking, fewer “where can I put this?” issues, and greater peace of mind.


Soooo, let’s look at that question again: is this still me? Wouldn’t this be a great way to treat self-examination, especially with regard to opinions, intentions, attitudes and reactions? We all have mental knee-jerks, and we tend to just accept or ignore them. What if we chose, instead, to treat them to this question as a sort of ongoing mental/emotional/spiritual housekeeping tool? Imagine how much lighter it would feel to no longer snarl every time you notice a certain behavior, and chose to release the person who expressed it or address it in a loving and aware-of-our-innate-oneness kind of way? What if you did that using a mirror? WOW, what a shine that would make!

SPRIIING!

March 7, 2022

I finally figured out why this season is called SPRIIING – it’s because it goes around and around as it rises up! The high temperature for yesterday was 72 degrees (Fahrenheit). The high for today is predicted to be 47 degrees. One week ago today I got really sweaty – clearing a 2-inch layer of ice (formerly sleet) from the wheelchair ramp to my administration building, without a jacket, because it was 70 degrees outside. The ice was from a WINTER STORM the week before. This past Friday, in 75-degree sunshine, I bought groceries and brought them home to find two large patches of daffodils blooming under my kitchen window. This Thursday, according to the weather app on my phone, I will need to leave the water running in all of the faucets of my house to prevent the pipes from freezing when the temperature drops to 18 degrees. In this season, the weather pattern looks a lot like a Slinky! The silly part of this discussion is that I am, and I suspect most of us are, surprised by this pattern – every blinking year! That’s why I have two closets, one for days when the weather matches my expectations, and one for the other half of the time.


So what’s my metaphysical take on all of this roller coaster weather? Well, it’s pretty much a solid metaphor for an unconscious life, isn’t it? I mean we have that lifestyle/philosophy/outlook that just sort of rolls along with day-to-day events, and then we have crisis mode, and we can go from one to the other in a HEARTBEAT! I have had days when so many “up” events and “down” events got intermingled that I was positively dizzy. I have also had days when I was so absolutely in the flow of Divine Guidance that my face hurt from smiling so much. I am delighted to report that, as my inner exploration expands, the flow days far outnumber the dizzy days. I used to think I was following guidance when I was really treating it like a “possible option”, pretty much ignoring it when it didn’t match my ego’s plan. Then one day, I finally decided to give Spirit a try. I just buckled my seatbelt and let God drive the bus – WOW, what a ride! I wish I could tell you that I never went back to the ego-driven life, but that would not be true. I have found myself climbing on the God bus with a lot more regularity lately, though – the scenery is great, and I don’t get cramps in my hands from clamping them onto the steering wheel. I recommend the practice.

Healing the Heart

February 28, 2022

My first CSL minister, Rev. Dr. Chris Michaels, said more than once that -Our world would be infinitely more peaceful if we could remember one simple truth: Every single person is in every single moment doing the very best they can do with the wisdom they possess in that moment. This really is true, and it really is simple – but simple and easy are NOT synonyms. One detail that tends to slip through the cracks when we try to integrate this truth into our personal philosophy is that it applies equally to all people, including oneself! A parallel truth is that forgiveness is not directed towards the forgiven, but rather, towards the forgiver, since the one holding the grudge is the one whose heart needs healing. Again, this applies equally to all people, including oneself - most especially oneself!


With these two truths in mind, I share a weekly ritual of forgiveness (you could do it more often, but weekly works well for me). This is an ancient Hawaiian practice called Ho’oponopono, and it consists of just four statements affirmed with heartfelt compassion:

I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

Thank you.


These are repeated until they resonate. They can be directed to any person or group, but I find it most helpful to direct them at myself. It’s sort of a spiritual hot soak, cleansing and relaxing, healing and wholesome!

Fertilizer

February 21, 2022

One of the amazing skills I learned (read that “gifts I received”) in Practitioner Training was something called “reframing”. Don’t worry, I am not going to talk about carpentry today – it’s a different kind of frame. This frame is actually mental, or perhaps it’s actually an issue of consciousness. It’s about shifting your perspective around an event or experience.


There’s a phrase I use a LOT: Shift happens! Some folks occasionally omit the f. I have even seen both versions on bumper snickers. Nobody escapes from this experience, so today I want to discuss how I have learned to not just deal with shift, but actually grow and benefit from it. Life is not a bowl of cherries (I learned this from Erma Bombeck back in the previous century). Every person on Earth has experienced events and occasions that were, at best, unpleasant. I have many times been reminded of the Florida expression, “It’s hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp when you are up to your a** in alligators!” I even have a friend who greets me with, “How many alligators do you have today?” Every day contains at least one potential alligator.


I am, however, a reasonably happy and exceptionally optimistic person overall. Do you wonder how I manage that? Well, it’s all about reframing. There is always at least one positive way to interpret anything that happens. For instance, if I find myself up to my eyeballs in manure, I can choose to complain about the stink or I can remember that manure makes excellent fertilizer, because it is full of nutrients that make things grow. I always (albeit, occasionally after a delay) choose to be grateful for the fertilizer and then look for the growth. Did you know that a field of sunflowers grows much taller if it was used as a cow pasture before the flowers were planted? Ask any Kansas farmer!

May I

February 14, 2022

Today, as an expression of my love for all of you, I want to share one of the most important things I learned in Ministerial School. I learned this concept in a class on Buddhism, but it is an absolutely universal Truth. Here it is: you can’t give what you don’t have, so EVERY prayer, whether it’s for healing, prosperity, peace, love, or a new job, EVERY prayer must focus first on the pray-er! That’s right, the only person for whom you can pray effectively is yourself. It makes sense when you consider that the only person you can change is yourself, and prayer is really about change.


So why do you suppose I titled this blog, “May I”? because that’s the Buddhist opening of every prayer. The reason the prayers all start with “May I . . .” is hidden in what “May I . . .” means – the key is to recognize that it is NOT a request, but rather, the setting of an intention. So, when the Metta Blessing starts with May I be happy, it means I intend to be happy, starting NOW. Here’s the Metta Blessing I use every morning, and I invite you to read it with this new definition for "May":


May I be happy.

May I be free from suffering and its causes.

May I be filled with lovingkindness (aka compassion).

May I know my true nature and be at peace.


But it doesn’t stop there! Nope, once I have primed the pump with my own consciousness, the prayer ripples out:


May those I love be happy.

May those I love be free from suffering and its causes.

May those I love be filled with lovingkindness.

May those I love know their true nature and be at peace.


May those I need to love be happy.

May those I need to love be free from suffering and its causes.

May those I need to love be filled with lovingkindness.  

May those I need to love know their true nature and be at peace.


May those who need to love be happy.

May those who need to love be free from suffering and its causes.

May those who need to love be filled with lovingkindness.

May those who need to love know their true nature and be at peace.


May all people be happy.

May all people be free from suffering and its causes.

May all people be filled with lovingkindness.

May all people know their true nature and be at peace.


May all beings be happy.

May all beings be free from suffering and its causes.

May all beings be filled with lovingkindness.

May all beings know their true nature and be at peace.


May all life be happy.

May all life be free from suffering and its causes.

May all life be filled with lovingkindness.

May all life know its true nature and be at peace.


May you feel the love behind this blessing from me today!

GRACE

February 7, 2022

I have always loved acronyms – partly because I love puzzles, and the first time I see an acronym, that’s what it is – a puzzle. But it is also a wonderful mnemonic device, a handy form of shorthand, and usually, also a quick prayer. You have read here (perhaps more than once) that Spirit has a one-word vocabulary, and the word is “YES!!!” Today I am thinking about the form that word usually takes – Glorious Radiance Activating Creative Energy, that is, GRACE.


This is a topic dear to my heart and very much active in my life right now – well, it’s always active, but right now I am especially aware of its activity! One of my favorite Unity ministers, now retired for the second time, Jim Rosemergy, once told me that GRACE is divine electricity, and like the electricity in your home, it is always there, waiting to be used. The thing is, we have to flip the switch to activate the electricity in our home and in our spiritual awareness. I find the easiest way to flip the spiritual switch is via gratitude. Not just, “Thank you, GOD!”, which is my go-to prayer anyway, but a constant (or as constant as I can make it) conscious awareness of the Presence of the Divine, the activity of GRACE in my life on a day-to-day basis. What tickles me about GRACE is that it is so non-judgmental, so instantaneously available, so un-earned and un-earnable – GRACE just IS, the way Spirit/God/First Cause just IS. What’s more, when I am riding the wave of GRACE, I just AM, too.


I invite you to polish your GRACE lens and see what magic happens in your life – it’s guaranteed not to hurt, and you might just experience a world of delight!

SOUP!

January 31, 2022

There is nothing more comforting in the winter than a big pot of homemade soup – tomato tortellini, potato corn chowder, broccoli cheese, or lentil. Since the invention of the crockpot – a truly Nobel-worthy endeavor – it has become so easy to warm the whole house with just a few minutes chopping and stirring and then just leave it alone! I love to come home from the office to the scent of all of those blended flavors – even the dogs seem to like the smell. I love that one pot of soup will feed me for a week, and it tastes better every day. I love the hominess of it. I love the easy cleanup, and the wonderful internal hug of homemade soup – Campbell’s has nothing on my crockpot! I love to call friends over for soup and bagels – with no special occasion other than a full crockpot. Sometimes I save the last bowl and put it in the freezer for some future comfort.

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, wondering what today’s blog topic would be, “SOUP!” popped into my mind and with it, the image of my spiritual crockpot – a wooden rocker with seat and back cushions that sits in front of my prayer altar, with my God Hug draped over it. This principle is exactly the same – chop up the ingredients (distracting thoughts, concerns, challenges, possibilities), dump them in the pot of my conscious attention, stir with a few affirmations, some soft music, or a simple mantra, then meditate/contemplate with no goal but to be present in the questions and in the moment. Soul Soup (Spirit Opening Unlimited Possibilities) is my favorite spiritual practice first thing in the morning. It’s nourishing to my heart, mind and body. It is definitely comfort food for my spirit. And, like the kitchen variety, it tastes better every day – even though it is never the same two days in a row.

Three Moves

January 24, 2022

My husband used say that three moves was a good as a burnin’. Whaaaat?!? Turns out he was right – not much that is unnecessary or superfluous can survive three household moves.


 I am getting ready to move – though not to a brand new state, thank heaven! This is a familiar process to me, and I know LOTS of tricks, like “pack the breakables in the towels” and “the last thing on the truck is the bed – so that it will be the first thing off!” The thing that makes this move unique for me is that I am actually enjoying the sense of freedom that comes from releasing everything I don’t need to take with me.


I haven’t found my new home yet, but the fascinating truth is that, while I am VERY curious to see where I will land, I am not at all worried about it! I have read dozens of books that recommend “living in the question”, and I have always snickered at the very thought. Somehow, perhaps because I have finally learned to let Spirit drive the bus, I have just awoken in the question – living, relaxing, and loving the mystery of it. Wow, who’d a thought?


Of course, there’s more to this idea. I am absolutely certain that the household move is NOT a requirement for the cleansing release. What’s more, it doesn’t even have to be a physical release. From the inside of the question, I find myself wondering what kind of inner issues are ready to be blessed and released. For instance, I have gone on a forgiveness binge – boy is that a hoot! I started with myself, and then just branched out – I am forgiving people I haven’t thought about consciously for decades, and the sense of lightness (in both senses of the word) is almost overwhelming. Every day I wonder how much longer this wonderful sense of presence in the moment, in the mystery, in the magnificent peace can last – and I am not at all concerned that it might end. Somehow, I know it lives in me and once it has been discovered, it cannot be lost.


So here’s my invitation: settle into a quiet place and ask yourself, “What’s the biggest challenge I have?” Then just sit there and look at it. The longer you look, the softer it gets, and pretty soon, there you are, right in the mystery with it! Trust me, it’s a little scary, but it’s REALLY worth it!

Penny in the snow

January 17, 2022

Two days ago, a major winter storm dropped a foot of snow on my part of Arkansas. Except for flickering power and loss of internet, there were no serious issues here at One Heart. Yesterday, wearing all of the clothes I could find, I trekked over to my office to attend an online CSL Sunday service. The topic, proof that God really DOES have a sense of humor, was "Embracing the Now". The talk was wonderful, as were the music and the prayers, and then I bundled up again for the trek home.  After I trudged back to my house, I let my dogs out - well actually, only Penny was interested in leaving the warm house - and then I grabbed the sponge mop I use as a snow scraper and proceeded, grumbling just a bit, to shove a foot or more of snow off of my little Jeep SUV.  About halfway through this task, I looked up to see this little, copper-colored dog, who has not even a milligram of fat on her body, bouncing around in the snow, flipping over, absolutely delighting in the immense, pristine white playground in front of my house!


Needless to say, after wiping away the tears from laughing so hard, I got the message Spirit was delivering through that marvelous talk and this adorable little dog:  Embrace the NOW! Not just when it's warm and fuzzy, but all of the time. There is joy in every moment, if we are willing to allow it to express. Sometimes it isn't easy, like when I delivered the eulogy at my baby sister's memorial a couple of months ago, but it IS always there. It's in the love being expressed by others and by ourselves - to others and to ourselves.  It's in the compassion that shows up as text messages checking to see if you have lights and heat in a snowstorm. It's in photos of a baby girl in her "I am 1 month old today" outfit.  


It's also in that quiet moment, right before I realize I am awake in the morning, when I notice the soft, warm covers, the gentle light at the window, and the snoring of the cat on my chest.  Joy is always, and only, in the NOW moment - grab onto it and let it lift you up to your greatest expression!

Orioles

January 10, 2022

This morning, when I sat down at my prayer altar, I was surprised and delighted to see a HUGE flock of orioles cavorting in my Cardinal Park (just across from the window above my prayer altar)! There was also a single blue jay, but the orioles pretty much ignored him. Mind you, it is the middle of winter, the middle of January, VERY cold and time for all smart birds to have flown south (more south than here)! These were not scrawny, hungry, or confused looking birds. Not at all – they were fat and healthy and appeared to be having the time of their lives. Feasting on last summer’s leftover sumac berries, bouncing (there’s no other way to describe it) from branch to branch, playing tag or just balancing gracefully on branches that look too fragile to hold them, they seemed oblivious to the cold. I, on the other hand was huddled in my jammies, caftan and God hug with the space heater going full blast!


Are you wondering when I will get to the metaphysics of this experience? Well, here it is: this was the most delightful example of Spirit’s unlimited abundance, perfect balance, and the faith and courage expressed in the very nature of these hardy birds and their complete unconcern. They knew they were safe, well-fed, sheltered and right where they were supposed to be – and they knew it, I suspect, without any inner turmoil or questioning – because they were relying on instinct, which when conscious we call intuition. I have decided one of my intentions for this year is to stop ignoring those little twinges of intuition that pop up at unexpected times, and frequently seem a bit “odd”, even counter-intuitive. They only seem counter-intuitive because I am examining them from the limited point of view of ego, coupled with my current knowledge, which is, by definition, incomplete. I often say that God never shuts up – there is a constant, continuous, and copious flow of Divine inspiration over, around, and through each and every one of us, and most of us ignore it most of the time. From now on, I am committed to paying attention to it. I am going to shift my searching for answers and direction from external experts to internal guidance. I anticipate glorious results! Perhaps you might consider joining me? Imagine how that would change our lives, our culture, our environment!

New Year's Resolutions . . . or Intentions?

January 3, 2022

Resolutions comprise a wish list

Intentions comprise a transformation plan

Resolutions wither away

Intentions take root

Resolutions foster guilt

Intentions generate gratitude

Resolutions become should/could/would

Intentions become can/will/done

Resolutions are vague

Intentions are specific

Resolutions trickle top-down

Intentions grow bottom-up

Resolutions yield imaginary results

Intentions yield evolutionary results

Resolutions start big and dwindle

Intentions start basic and build

Resolutions spring from ego

Intentions spring from consciousness

Resolutions dissolve

Intentions ignite

Release Resolutions

Embrace Intentions

Happy New Year!

Season of Light

December 20, 2021

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, which is the oldest celebration of light at this time of year. I love that light is the most common metaphor for the Divine – it’s found in every faith tradition  and culture around the globe. I also love that we use candles to honor and celebrate the Light – again, in just about every faith tradition. The thing about using candles that touches me most deeply is that no candle’s flame is ever diminished by being shared to light another candle. Rather, when the flame is shared, it is also multiplied, so the light gets brighter. That is, the light appears to get brighter. In actuality, the light is infinite, eternal, and always present – even in the darkest night, we look up and see billions of points of light. There’s that metaphor again, because what we see is what we look with, or from – our own spirit’s glow.


I love this season, first, because it illustrates the unity in diversity of spiritual practice – the same basic practice in innumerable traditions, each unique and still celebrating the same Presence. I love it, secondly, because it reminds me that we really are One Life, One Light, One Presence – and even if only for a moment or two at this time of year, we KNOW it, we recognize our oneness. This season reminds me that the light cannot be extinguished – hidden and ignored, but not extinguished. It reminds me that we are not alone, and we are evolving, so hope lives.

Tiny Bubbles

December 13, 2021

Tiny bubbles of time when I become fully present keep me awake, alive, alert, grateful, satisfied, enough. Yesterday, when I sat down at my prayer altar, wearing the kaftan I knit for myself with yarn that was an early Christmas gift, wrapped in my late sister’s God Hug, blissed out by the candles and the gentle motion of my rocking chair, I realized I was absolutely glowing with a soul-deep smile of joy. These are the moments that activate and feed my attitude of gratitude, that lift the Altitude of my attitude (as Dennis Merritt Jones says), that set my heart and soul sailing into an awareness of the Presence – like a fish noticing water or a bird noticing air. In these moments, I recognize the perfect wholeness, fullness, and aliveness in every cell and fiber of my being. They sneak up on me, but I can also lay a trap for those bubbles by holding a conscious awareness, living in an atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation. Mind you, gratitude and appreciation are not synonyms. Gratitude is generalized and requires neither cause nor target. Appreciation, on the other hand is specific, responsive to some event or recognition. Together, they are the wings on which we float, like tiny bubbles of joy, through every day. I think of gratitude as the water without which life is impossible and appreciation as the champagne that celebrates our recognition of the gifts of life. So here’s a toast to life, love, joy, and presence – drink up!

 Oh, no!

November 29, 2021

I am a creature of patterns – not necessarily habits, but definitely patterns. This was brought home to me this past Saturday morning in my prayer room. When I noticed the date on my Science of Mind Daily Guide, I realized that I should have received my December issue, but it was not in its accustomed spot! I grumbled for a minute, then looked up the customer service number (which I called, even though I knew they are closed on the weekends), and then settled down to wait for this morning to request a replacement copy. Then I started to giggle. You see, the accustomed spot for the upcoming issue of Science of Mind is on the top shelf of a bookcase loaded down with devotional and daily reading books. I am always using 8 or 9 of them, but there are a couple of dozen of them, so how much trouble could it be to find a temporary replacement for one? I was just rattled because my pattern had been disturbed.


This being the holiday season, I was reminded of my Grandma DeVoy’s cookie -baking marathons. Grandma would make a list of cookies and then line up the ingredients and dive in. I loved helping because I got to wear one of her fancy aprons and test every batch! Grandma was the queen of improvisation – if we ran out of pecans, she would substitute walnuts, if we ran out of walnuts, she would substitute coconut. We never baked the same cookies two years in a row, but they were ALWAYS great. Years later, with my own children and grandchildren, I tried to replicate some of those variations on a theme – with unpredictable results. Oddly enough, the cookies and the devotional readings had this in common – the variations were never a disappointment; each one became a treasured enhancement. Another commonality was that there was always a favorite in the variations that became a classic in itself.


I know it’s easy to fall into a routine during the hectic holidays, so here’s my invitation, my holiday gift to you: relax, improvise, smile, and have fun – everything else with take care of itself.

Thanksgiving

November 22, 2021

                                                           Take

                                                           Heart

                                                           As

                                                           Nature                                                            

                                                           Keeps

                                                           Showing

                                                           God’s

                                                           Infinite               

                                                           Variety

                                                          Issuing

                                                           Never-ending

                                                          Grace

I have long believed this to be the most important and deepest reaching holiday we have. Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say is, ‘Thank you,’ it will have been enough.” Why do you suppose that is? I believe it’s because giving thanks opens the door to continuous circulation of infinite good. I suspect that’s why in some languages (Japanese and ASL, for instance), “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” are the same words – they open the same doors in our hearts. Take a deep breath and then read slowly through the acronym above – can you imagine anything that feels better than that? Me, neither!

The Upward Spiral

November 8, 2021

A popular metaphor for evolution in New Thought is the upward spiral. It makes so many ideas easier to understand:

  •  When we keep running into the same challenge, we can see that we are not in the same place as last time – and neither is the challenge. We have grown and are now perceiving the challenge from a higher perspective. As we continue up the spiral, we outgrow the challenge and release it.
  • When we feel ‘stuck’, we can see that the slope may have leveled out for a while, but we are still making upward progress.
  • When a challenge seems overwhelming, we can recognize that we might be just a bit too close to the issue to see all of its aspects, and we can choose to keep moving up and out until it becomes clear.
  • When we need to gain perspective on our own growth, we can look in and down and see every bit of progress we have made (especially the small increments of change that are so difficult to notice as they occur).
  • When we feel the need for rest, we can just allow ourselves to take a breather, acknowledging that the spiral isn’t going anywhere without us and we get to choose our own pace.

I doubt that any of this is news, but I did have a bit of an “AHA!” moment about this upward spiral recently that really changed my perspective. I have always pictured the spiral shaped like a Christmas tree – wide at the bottom and narrowing as it rose, with me trudging up the steep outer trail– but as I sat in meditation a few days ago, I realized I had it upside down and inside out. The spiral of my conscious, spiritual evolution starts in my own heart as a tiny spot of awareness and rises up around me, expanding as it goes, expanding as I grow. It never narrows or ends. It is as infinite as Spirit because it is my connection, my bridge of Oneness with the Divine. I can’t fall off or slide back because it cradles me in unconditional Love and guides me with infinite Wisdom. How cool is that?

Goodbye. Hello. Oh, my!

November 1, 2021

One week ago, my dearest friend, mentor, colleague and sister of my soul, made her transition. I was blessed to be able to spend time with her during her last few days on Earth. When I received the message of her passing, I was very sad for myself, for her husband, for her congregation (she was a Unity minister). At the exact same time, I was thrilled and excited – and just a tad envious – for her, because she is now completely absorbed in and by God. Her body is no longer here, but SHE is everywhere at once; she knows everything there is to know and feels the imagination of God creating as it happens! She said, “Goodbye,” to this physical existence and “Hello,” to perfect Oneness, experienced and expressed, which I am absolutely certain resulted in “Oh, my!”


I share this because it has been a blessing to me to see her transition from this perspective – there are still tears, yes, and they are tears of sadness and loss, but they are accompanied by tears of joy and celebration for her freedom, her infinite divinity, and her constant Presence. I am so grateful for the gift of her presence in my life and for the continuation of that presence now!

Enough

October 18, 2021

Enough - it seems to me we generally miss the tremendous power and value of this word. There are three common uses in our culture: time to stop (ENOUGH!), satisfaction of a perceived need, and accomplishment of a requirement. These are both common and pretty much unconscious.


The first one is self-evident and requires no explanation from me. Satisfaction of a perceived need, though, that one is open to a lot of interpretation. Did you get enough – sleep, dinner, affection, money? Not only does this use of enough vary from person to person and culture to culture, but it varies from instance to instance for each individual person. Enough is a very personal concept – enough sleep might mean the minimum required to function; enough dinner might mean anything from “no longer starving” to “stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey”; enough affection depends on the source of the affection, the moment in time, and the emotional state of the individual; enough money – that one depends entirely on the context - and these variations are for one individual person. To complicate the issue, what is enough at one time might not be enough at another time, even if all other conditions are the same. The closest analogy I can give is the idea of “a pinch” in cooking, sometimes it’s 1/8 of a teaspoon, and sometime it’s three grains, depending on the dish, the cook, and the day.


Accomplishment of a requirement is also very flexible. In fact, it’s even more flexible, because at least two people are involved in determining whether or not enough has been accomplished – the assigner and the doer. Each of them might have a different idea of what’s enough. Sometimes it’s determined by an agreed-upon contract, in which case, it’s easy to determine. Sometimes it’s determined by a casual suggestion, which is not as clear, but also not as critical. The tough one is when the assigner and the doer are the same person. In that case the human mind has to contend with the inner or higher self to determine when the effort has been satisfactorily completed – enough done. This can be complicated by the fact that the effort being measured might not be a one-time thing; it could be ongoing (like expanding spiritual awareness) or repetitive (like forgiving your brother-in-law). Enough is flexible, powerful, and open to interpretation from both directions.


Enough said?

The 18-inch Journey

October 11, 2021

I have noticed that when someone asks for guidance or moral/spiritual support, the almost universal response to whatever is offered is, “yes, I know . . .” in a sort of “What else do you have?” tone of voice. This seems to happen whether I am the asker or the answerer, and I don’t doubt its veracity for a moment, since there really are a finite number of ways to share the Truth. Most of us, as we grow into adulthood, pick up some spiritual wisdom and some common sense. We store it in our mental files for easy reference, and pull it out when a question is asked of us. The answers usually have some validity and sound familiar (hence the “I know” response), but somehow, they just don’t seem to satisfy the yearning for comfort, solace, or healing.


Long before I started Ministerial school, I had this experience for myself, and I asked one more question: if I already know that, and I recognize it as Truth, why doesn’t it help? A very wise minister gave me a clear, concise, and challenging answer: because you have to move the knowing from your head (intellect) to your heart (conscious awareness), and that 18-inch journey is fraught with resistance, ego, and fear. We can “wrap our head around” almost any external fact because it IS external. Spiritual growth, on the other hand, involves emotional connection with the facts in question. We have to personally interact with the event or person and engage our higher consciousness to allow the growth or healing to occur. For me, this has often felt like I was dragging my ego, kicking and screaming, into the Presence of Love.


Of course, I didn’t realize it was Love – it looked a lot more like loss or sacrifice or (oh my!) change. The moment I realized that I was trying to open a gift (awakening) without untying the ribbon (ego), it got a lot easier – well, simpler is probably more accurate – to let go of the illusion of control and let God be God in the situation. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean the pain vanishes, but it does become manageable, and the light does start to show around the edges. That’s the good news. The interesting news is that this is not a one-time journey. We have to keep making it in order to keep releasing limitations and expanding our spiritual awareness. This is where the old song lyric comes back to me every time: it’s got to be the going, not the getting there that’s good. Yup, the joy is in the journey and it is always worth it.

Priming the pump . . .

October 4, 2021

There is a lot of emphasis on manifesting our desires in both commercial and spiritual circles today. The methods vary greatly: commercial manifestation is based on hard work, connections, and luck while spiritual manifestation is based on internal work, connection and vision. I don’t much care about commercial manifestation, but I believe we are all engaged in spiritual manifestation – whether we realize it or not – all of the time. Manifestation, after all is the principal activity of the Universe, and as expressions of Divine Mind, we are tools of that manifestation.


What we appear to lack is the understanding of how that manifestation happens. Here’s my take on it: when we perceive a lack in our lives (always an illusion), we focus on the lack and it is intensified. Eventually we wake up and realize that we need to change our focus away from lack and towards manifestation. So far, so good. The next step is somewhat counter-intuitive – in order to shift the focus away from lack, we need to unblock the flow of manifestation and the best way to do that is to give whatever it is we think we lack. Yup, we have to prime the pump just like the pioneering farmers did. The good news is that this is definitely an inside job, that’s why I called it SPIRITUAL manifestation – first we connect with our innate divinity, then we establish the vision of what we desire – which is very rarely a physical object. When we turn inward to explore our perceived need, what we usually discover is that that car/piano/job/relationship is really just a symbol for a desired feeling. We don’t need a car/piano/job/relationship, we need the feeling that we believe having that car/piano/job/relationship would provide. So the internal work part of manifestation begins with identifying the feeling we desire. A car might represent the feeling of freedom of movement; a piano might represent a feeling of artistic creativity; a job might represent a feeling of productivity and abundance; a relationship might represent a feeling of love and affection. Once we have recognized the feeling behind the desire, the next step is to activate that feeling, which is where the giving comes into play. When we can allow that feeling to flow through our own consciousness, by giving it to another, the experience associated with that feeling flows through our lives.


So the basic technique is: if you desire love, be loving; if you desire presence, be present; if you desire abundance, share your abundance; if you desire freedom, acknowledge the freedom of others; if you desire compassion, be compassionate. In each case, be/give/know the desired feeling for yourself and for those you love and for those you need to love, and for all people, and for all life. The pump primed in this way, will not just flow, it will gush!

Donut Holes

September 20, 2021

The idea of donut holes has always tickled me. They are just so cute! However, there are all kinds of issues with this little blob of sweetness. First off, the thing itself started out as a throw-away. Secondly, it’s not the hole, it’s the dough that was removed to make the hole. Then there’s the dietary aspect: how could a hole, which is by definition, nothing, do you any harm? That perspective results in a person eating the equivalent of half a dozen donuts in a single sitting, one hole at a time! Portion control is completely non-existent.


Of course, this silliness is really just a metaphor for stinkin’ thinking. Most of us, myself for sure, have a box of donut holes tucked away in our minds. These are ideas and thoughts we have nibbled away at until only the center of the issue is still there, but we have never gotten around to finishing off that center. It might look like an unreleased resentment, an unforgiven grudge, an unacknowledged bias, or an unhealed hurt. Every now and again, we haul it out, take a taste, spend a little time considering how little value it has in our life, and then – this is the challenge – we just tuck it back away for future reference. Nobody believes it’s necessary to keep, but we somehow don’t work up the spiritual gumption to just let it go. Just as overdosing on donut holes can spoil your appetite for heathy and nourishing food, holding onto that hidden stinkin’ thinking can block your realization of the grace, peace, love, and compassion that are waiting on the other side of that release. 


 Let go of all those stale donut holes and bulk up on true nutrition – I guarantee the result will be a blessing that lasts longer than a sugar glaze! 

Tithing

September 13, 2021

This is not a popular subject – and I believe that’s because we have mis-defined the word TITHE. This concept appears in every faith tradition and every culture. The definition is usually pretty close, regardless of the language, culture, or tradition: give back to God in gratitude for the infinite blessings we receive. The problem with this definition, is two-fold: a) it makes tithing an obligation, in essence, it becomes the bill we pay to God; b) God does not need or require either our gratitude or our money!


I’ll bet that made you sit up and pay attention, didn’t it? I am not being flip or irreverent – I am just taking a New Thought look at this essential practice. We will address problem (b) first: we live in an infinitely abundant Universe, created by God out of God’s own substance, so it is not possible for God to need anything. Spirit is, after all, all there is! Spirit is also infinite and UNCONDITIONAL Love, so it requires nothing from us except to experience life in through and as each individual creation.


Now for problem (a): at the risk of redundancy, we live in an infinitely abundant Universe, so lack is always an illusion. Why is that important? It’s important because we ignore that abundance on a daily, hourly, minutely basis and focus on fear of lack instead. We (all human beings) know God’s giving nature is unlimited, and yet here we stand, under Niagara Falls, holding out a thimble! We experience lack because that’s what we anticipate, what we plan for, and what we believe.


I prefer to think of tithing as opening up the floodgates, priming the pump, allowing the Infinite Good to flow through me. In fact, I want it to flow in a torrent, and absolute white-water cataract of good that lifts me up and moves me forward, that supports me and brings me joy. Because I take this approach, tithing is my favorite part of payday – the first check(s) I write as I allow the Good to be distributed through my checking account and my life. I get a big kick out of deciding where each month’s tithe will go, who will experience the cataract of Good this month. Oddly enough, not only has tithing ceased to be an obligation, it has become a treasured privilege. In fact, it’s really FUN! 


 Jump in, the water’s fine and the ride’s a hoot!

TRUST

September 6, 2021

Most New Thought folks are familiar with the phrase, “treat and move your feet”, but sometimes the movement is really hard to pin down. There have been many times when I could pray with my whole heart, but had no idea at all what my “part of the bargain” might be. That’s where TRUST comes into play. TRUST is my acronym for:


                                                                        Tranquilly

                                                                        Rest

                                                                        Until

                                                                        Spirit

                                                                        Transforms


Are you wondering what on Earth that means? It means WAIT, without fidgeting, without fussing, and DEFINITELY without worrying. Once the situation is turned over to Spirit, my part of the bargain is to leave it in Spirit’s keeping, remember that God is NOT wearing my wristwatch, and remember that there is o problem too big (or too small, for that matter) for Spirit to resolve.


So far, I probably haven’t said anything you haven’t heard before – heck, I probably haven’t said anything I haven’t said before – so what’s my point? Well, it turns out that ego really cares about what other people think, and to lots of folks on the outside of a situation, exercising TRUST can look like being irresponsible, lazy, or disconnected from the facts. None of that is true, by the way. If we truly act from Faith, we cannot honestly worry. If we aren’t going to worry, and we are really listening, but not yet hearing guidance as to the next step to be taken, then what is there to do but TRUST? TRUST is the training wheels for Faith.


I have also noticed that it is MUCH easier to receive/perceive guidance from a quiet, trusting heart, than from the middle of the ego’s “HURRY UP!!!” tantrum. It is usually easier to accept and act on guidance from a place of calmness, too, because from that place, we can see the sense of it (God never does/advises anything that doesn’t make sense!).


This reminds me of that little poem by the ever-popular Anonymous,


“Broken Dreams”


As children bring their broken toys

With tears for us to mend,

I took my broken dreams to God

Because God is my friend.

But then instead of leaving God

In peace to work alone,

I hung around and tried to help

In ways that were my own.

At last, I snatched them back and cried,

“How can you be so slow?!?”

“My child,” God said, “what could I do –

You never did let go!”


What are you holding onto that you could turn over to God  with TRUST?

GRACE

August 30, 2021

I love this word! It is so versatile, so simple, so magical – AND it’s my favorite name for a baby girl. Grace is both a noun and a verb. Grace is universal – it appears in every language, every culture, and every faith tradition.


Grace as a noun means a blessing unearned and unexpected. It also means beauty of form and expression, like Princess Grace of Monaco, or Michelangelo’s Pieta, or a swan on a lake, or a gazelle on the run, or a ballet, or a soaring orchestral strain . It also means a prayer of gratitude, usually before meals.


Grace as a verb means to bless with one’s presence, influence, or patronage, with no expectation of return – and without inducement, simply for the sake of blessing. It means to act from love and with love without any motive at all. It means to endow joy, beauty, peace, and compassion for their own sake.


Most often, in spiritual circles, we hear/speak of the Grace of God or Spiritual Grace. The amazing and wonderful thing about this Grace is that it is constant. It is the atmosphere of the Universe. Divine Grace is the substance of which all creation is composed. It is the entirety of God’s vocabulary: a deep, resounding, forever, “YES!!!” The most important aspect of God’s Grace is that it is unearned, it is God’s “normal”. We don’t need to “deserve” grace, because it is like the electricity that runs through the walls of our homes – already and always there and ready, just waiting for us to flip the switch.


So why do we think we lack grace? Because we are ignoring (or perhaps ignorant of) it. We live inside our human minds, walled in by doubt, lack, fear, and the illusion of separation, but these are only human mental constructs. All we have to do is open up our hearts and our consciousness and Grace floods in. It only needs the smallest opening; no major transformation is required to allow Grace into your life. 


 Watch out, though, Grace almost always brings a major transformation along . . .

Anticipation

August 23, 2021

I have written before about my aversion to waiting, which is probably not unique to me. As I was drifting off to sleep last night, a phrase popped into my mind and I couldn’t get to sleep until I sat up, turned on the light, and wrote it down: Watchful Awareness Incubating Transformation. This gives “wait” a whole new meaning for me. In fact, it transforms (see what I did there?) waiting into anticipation.


This morning, sitting in the rocker in front of my prayer altar, I noticed the continuing ripening of the berries on the sumac trees in my Cardinal Park. The berries look like miniature grape clusters and they start out pale green, then slowly ripen to dark red, almost black. When they are fully ripe, I harvest all I can reach and freeze most of them – saving out just enough to make a batch of sumac tea. Sumac tea is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, and it is both delicious and caffeine-free! It’s very tart, so I add stevia to reduce the pucker-power. That said, back to anticipation.


It takes about three months for the berries to ripen, but even though I see them every morning and notice the slow progression, I never get anxious or impatient with the process – I know the tea is worth the wait. This is the point I want to make – most of the things we have to wait for ARE worth the wait, yet we tap our toes, frown and fret, demanding immediate satisfaction. Since there is no way to alter the speed, why not transform our frustration into anticipation? How do we go about it? Well, according to my experience and the musicians, philosophers and chefs I have consulted, there are just three steps:


  •  Living in the question – that is, allowing the frustration to turn your attention

      inwards, maybe it’s trying to tell you something about a possible point of growth?


  •  Exploring the process – maybe there are things that need to be done, that are

      essential to the achievement of the goal. Making a really good cup of tea or batch 

      of perfect applesauce always requires time to steep or thicken.


  •  Appreciating the journey – as Harry Chapin noted, “It's got to be the going, not the

     getting there, that's good.” Consider all of the things we miss along the way when

     we allow ourselves to fall into tunnel-vision as we move towards a goal.


You might have noticed that all three of these say the same thing: God’s not wearing your wrist-watch, so just relax and enjoy the ride!

Kinetic Meditation - Knitting

August 17, 2021

I love to knit! I am very good at it, after 60+ years of practice. The only challenge is that it is very repetitive. You see, I knit on circular needles, so there are no seams in my garments. That means I mostly knit tubes of various sizes, and once the pattern (which determines the texture) is set, my hands pretty much go on auto-pilot.


You might wonder why that is a challenge? As most of you are aware, I think a lot – in fact, my mind just about never shuts up, so meditation was a tough nut for me to crack. Turns out, the same issue arises when I am knitting. This is not a problem when I have someone to talk with – my Bluetooth is really handy for this – or if there is something entertaining/engaging on television or a DVD. Knitting only uses a little bit of mind power once the pattern is set, and watching a movie or TV show similarly, uses only a tad bit of mental engagement, as a rule, so the combination creates a nice, gentle balance. So, what’s the challenge? There is very little on television in the regular season that I find entertaining – violence, gossip, “reality” shows, these all bore me to tears at best and bring out the inner judge at worst. What’s more, right now it’s rerun season and there’s not a blinking thing to watch!


The solution is in the title of this blog:  meditation. Once the pattern is set, I can just soften my gaze and let Spirit play in my mind. Sometimes, the result is an amazing sense of presence and balance; sometimes, it’s inspiration for a project or a class or a retreat; every now and again, it’s the experience of Oneness, when I realize that twining yarn around a couple of pointed sticks to create beautiful fabric is just a tiny example of the infinite creativity of the Divine, and I am part of it! Who knew?


I suspect almost any talent that reaches the level of skill has the potential to become a kinetic meditation, as do many hum-drum tasks of daily life. Imagine allowing yourself to wash the dishes or fold the laundry on auto-pilot – it would be like taking a mini-meditation in the middle of the day. Approached from this perspective, instead of “who has dish-duty tonight?” dinner might end with “who gets to pray at the sink tonight?” followed by a chorus of “Me! Me! Me!” Well, that might be stretching it just a bit, but you never know.


Do you suppose this is what is meant by “pray without ceasing”?

Perfect Timing

August 9, 2021

I used to remind myself on a regular basis that “God is NOT wearing my wristwatch!” This phrase became part of my life about 30 years ago, when in a moment of utter insanity, I asked God to teach me patience. It only took about one nanosecond for me to realize my error and try to withdraw the request – and God/Spirit/the Universe is still laughing.

This morning, one of my daily readings reminded me that time, and therefore both punctuality and tardiness, exist only in the mind of humankind. We invented it/them. There is no concept of time in the mind of God, because God exists only in the infinite and eternal NOW.


As I started to relax into that reading, I realized that, while I still claim only the ability to emulate patience with a reasonable degree of accuracy, I no longer tap my foot and frown as I await a desired event. I am choosing to call that progress! I also noticed that I no longer wear a watch at all (though I still have several in my jewelry chest). The idea of punctuality and its late brother, tardiness, has also been waning in my consciousness. I suspect this is, at least in part, due to my living in the South, where urgency is an alien concept altogether. This got me to reflecting on the energy and aggravation I could have conserved by simply realizing that EVERYTHING happens with perfect timing – at least at the spiritual level. When I noticed that the answer to “When?!?” is “When Spirit is good and ready!”, I was briefly miffed. Then I started to laugh – if I have learned nothing else from COVID, I have learned that waiting can be either dread or anticipation, and I’m with Carly Simon on that one!


Letting God determine the schedule takes a huge load off of my shoulders. This is especially true when I think about self-care – God never puts self-care at the bottom of the priority list, and I am soooo grateful. I have also noticed that from God’s perspective, self-care can be simple and effortless – maybe just a Sunday afternoon spent in the rocking chair watching old movies and knitting. No preparation required, no measuring effort, effect, or appropriateness, just being.


This reminds me of those old good news/bad news jokes – the “good” and “bad” are all in the eye of the beholder, and timing (did you ever notice this?) almost always determines which way an event is viewed. Since I believe life is an upward spiral of growth, I am claiming this new knowledge: all timing is perfect, especially when viewed in retrospect. Relax, take off your watch, and let God drive the bus – your arrival is guaranteed to be right on time!



S I L E N T ~> L I S T E N

August 2, 2021

S I  L  E  N  T         ~~~~~~~>            L  I  S  T  E  N

_  I  L  E  N  T        Seek                       _  _ S  _   _   _

_  _ L  E  N  T        Inner                      _  I  S  _   _   _

_  _  _  E  N T        Luminance          L  I  S  _   _   _

_   _  _  _ N T        Expressing           L  I  S  _  E   _

_  _  _  _  _  T       Never-ending      L  I  S  _  E  N

_  _  _  _  _  _       Truth                        L  I  S  T  E  N

T his transformation came to me while I was practicing a mindful breathing meditation. I realized that the only time I can really listen is when I am silent and then I can hear my own heartbeat. Somehow, when I am silent, especially if I also close my eyes, I seem to be able to easily release the illusion of separation – from Spirit, from other people, from wholeness, from peace. The simple process of breathing in for a count of five, holding (gently) for a count of five, breathing out for a count of five, and holding for a count of five, repeated for just ten or fifteen minutes is as calming and as refreshing as a good night’s sleep. Who knew?!? You can even do this for just a few iterations to prevent an outburst of “inappropriate” behavior or speech. I sincerely recommend this practice, as a meditation, as a stress release, or as a lullaby – it never fails me. Why not give it a try?



The GOD Hug

July 26, 2021

Three years ago, when my husband was in his final illness, my little sister came to visit. She brought toys for the pets and a very special gift for me. My gift was a hooded throw, with pockets and buttons. It was made of some amazingly soft material – that has retained its softness through years of washing and drying. It’s a cream color on the outside and ivory on the inside, but somehow it never really looks dirty. It lives on the rocking chair in front of my prayer altar. I call it my GOD hug, because for all this time, even at the very beginning of my widowhood, I have been able to wrap it around me and feel the presence of love. When I couldn’t stop crying, the GOD hug reminded me that I was not alone. When I looked out the window to the beauty of my little Cardinal Park, the GOD hug reminded me that beauty is part of every moment. When I sat in meditation, chanting “I’m sorry; please forgive me; I love you; thank you,” over and over, the GOD hug reminded me that I am always cradled in the arms of unconditional love, peace, and compassion.


Then COVID hit, and suddenly the whole world was as isolated and lonely as I was. I wrapped myself in my GOD hug, snuggled down, and remembered that, even when we cannot hug with our arms, we can always hug, and be hugged by, our hearts. So my invitation to each of you is that you give yourselves, and anyone you love (whether you know them or not) a big GOD hug – it doesn’t HAVE to be a physical garment, you can just use your heart. Don’t forget to include yourself!


I wonder if this is why we give hand-made blankets to newborns and newlyweds?


The Daisy Chain​

July 19, 2021

When I was a little girl, we made daisy chains to wear in our hair . Of course, they were really clover chains, but the same principle applies. Many years later, I learned that the concept of a daisy chain had become part of two major industries - information technology and medicine. 


In information technology, the daisy chain, a series of linked processors, became the predecessor of both the supercomputer  (a VERY large processor) and the multiprocessor (a collection of connected processors in one box) - and I thought I was clever making a chain of extension cords to get all of my Christmas lights lit! The same idea became the basis of smooth programming logic using subroutines and distributed processing which became "The Cloud"! Now an online daisy chain is called "going viral".


In medicine, the concept is used with transplant surgery.  Since rejection is such a critical issue, close family members are not always able to donate an organ, so some very conscious and compassionate person figured out the way to let everyone benefit from a daisy chain. Here's how it works: person A needs a kidney, but nobody in that family is a type match. Person B need a liver, but again, no familial match. Same for person C's liver and person D's lung. However, person A's cousin is a match for person B and person B's brother is a match for person C and person C's Dad is a match for person D, and person D's nephew is a match for person A! It requires coordination, organization, compassion and grace, but EVERYBODY wins.


I don't have any family or friends in need of a transplant, but I do have another application for the daisy chain. Suppose each of us expanded our idea of citizenship just a tad - say to include the entire planet. Then it wouldn't matter where that shirt was made, because purchasing it would still feed a one of your countryfolk. It wouldn't matter where the wheat was shipped, it would still be feeding your people. It wouldn't matter where the factory was, it would still be employing members of your nation. Now let's take it a step further and expand our definition of family just a tad - to include the entire human race. It no longer matters where anyone is born, they are all our family. It no longer matters where the children live, our family needs education. It no longer matters how far we have to send the food, the clothing, the doctors, the scientists, the teachers - we are all just taking care of our family.  


I have always taught my children and my grandchildren that blood makes relatives and love makes family - maybe it's time to expand the reach of that idea. Care to join the family?



Practicing what I preach . . .

July 12, 2021

Last Thursday my littlest dog, Penny, went missing.  I wasn't too concerned when she didn't come in at bedtime, since she occasionally like to sleep on the front porch, but when I woke up at 3 am and went to the door, she still wasn't there.  I went back to bed and tried to sleep, without success.  I prayed for her safe return and my faith in said safe return, but I was praying from fear and I knew it.  There's an old saying that if you are worrying, you aren't praying and if you are praying, you aren't worrying, but I felt like I was definitely doing both. My vivid imagination drew Cruella DeVille and her minions right to my gate! I kept reciting my mantra: she has a collar, with a giant rabies tag and a brass name tag - with her name and address and my name and phone number - how could anyone fail to call me when they found her?!?


I posted a plea on Facebook and all of the Arkansas lost and found pet sites. Then I worried and prayed and worried and prayed.  I just knew someone had picked her up and, recognizing how absolutely adorable she is, decided to ignore the tags and keep her.  I cried and ranted about the unkindness of strangers and thanked the dozens of folks who responded to my Facebook post with words of encouragement and prayers. After 24 hours, I was praying that Spirit would either send her back to me or grant me the strength to release her.  I was ticked at Spirit and at myself for being ticked at Spirit.  


Then some friends called on Saturday afternoon to say they were stopping by to look at a cabinet in my barn.  Shortly after they arrived, I got another call from them, asking if I had guests in the retreat house (I did) and whether they had brought a little dog with them (they hadn't).  It seems they heard barking coming from the retreat house garage.  When I asked them to open it, Penny dashed out! Somehow she had gotten into the garage and the door got lowered before she could get back out.  The garage is about 3 city blocks from my house and at least 2 from my admin building, so I never heard the barking.  We agreed that Spirit had sent them to the barn so they could rescue Penny.


So what did I learn? I learned that Divine Order is not a myth, that my neighbors do not include Cruella DeVille, and that even when my prayers feel like whining, they are still affecting my world. I also learned that absolutely nothing feels better than gratitude! Of course, I also realized that applying my own advice is often a whole lot harder than giving it - the effect of emotion and attachment to the desired outcome.


Probably the most practical thing I learned is that the next time I can't find Penny, I will head straight for the garage! 




Meditation Mythbusting

June 28, 2021

I spent 30 years trying to learn to meditate and believing I had failed miserably. I had grown up in the Catholic tradition, where rote prayer was the norm and no instruction at all was given in meditation - although we were encouraged to meditate. My mind was chock full of misinformation:

  • meditation means sitting absolutely still
  • meditation means absolute silence, inner and outer
  • meditation is the highest form of prayer, therefore not optional
  • meditation is simple, therefore easy
  • meditation is effortless
  • anyone who is spiritual can meditate instinctively
  • to meditate, one must first still one's mind


There was more, but you get the idea, and I suspect some of you are nodding your heads ruefully.  


The challenge for me​​ was the only statement above that appeared in every book or class I could find about meditation, the last one about "stilling" the mind. I mean, SERIOUSLY, who can do that in the blink of an eye? That's not a step, it's a process! Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone who could explain that process to me.  I felt completely defeated and inadequate. 


Then I took a class on mandalas. Imagine my astonishment when the facilitator defined "mandala" as a kinetic meditation.  I thought that was an oxymoron! That was almost 20 years ago and it was an absolutely life-changing event.  I discovered that when I was creating a mandala, I didn't have to still my mind. What's more, when I was working on a mandala, time didn't stop - it ceased to exist. Thinking, especially puppy-mind thinking, requires time, so my mind simply stilled itself - while I wasn't looking.  Turns out, my body didn't need to be still, just focused, and the focus was near-as-makes-no-never-mind to automatic. I have created dozens of mandalas since then, for myself and as gifts for loved ones. One hangs beside my prayer altar and another on my office wall.


Next, I discovered a  ginormous mandala that had already been created called a labyrinth.  Once again I found myself amazed and delighted to realize I could walk the labyrinth in absolute peace and solitude, no matter how many other people were walking at the same time. The process of equally balanced left and right turns spiraling into a central point of silence and Presence was miraculous to me. This is still my most favorite form of meditation, and I will eventually have a 100' wide rose labyrinth , with a 4' wide path (for wheel-chair accessibility) and 11 circuits at my  retreat center.


I also found several wonderful CDs of guided meditations, which lead the listener into stillness gently and genuinely without effort. I especially enjoy the 21-day programs by Deepak Chopra and the great variety of offerings from Insight Timer, all of which are free! I think of guided meditations as a spiritual bus ride - all I have to do is sit there and be.


The capstone miracle of meditation for me was a book by Eknath Easwaran, in which he gave not one, but two different algorithms for stilling the mind in preparation for silent sitting meditation.  I am so grateful that I never gave up on this option, because sometimes it's too cold or rainy to walk a labyrinth (though I do have a couple of very nice finger labyrinths), and sometimes I really NEED to just sit still. Not only have I lost that  fear of failure, but I sometimes find myself actually experiencing the state of bliss all of the meditators in my past promised me.


My last note (the last myth to be busted) is that simple, which is true of all of these meditation practices, is NOT a synonym for easy, but once I stopped struggling with the angel, it did bless me and easy just came naturally. If you have found meditation daunting, I promise you that one or more of these busted myths with fit and bless you, too.  



Universal Communication

June 21, 2021

I am learning ASL, American Sign Language, and it has made me think about languages in general. Almost any thought can be translated from one language to any other language, although idioms sometimes bring a challenge.  I have studied Latin, French, and Japanese in the past and I discovered that EVERY language adopts words or phrases from other languages when the concept to be conveyed is alien to the adopting language. For example, in English we might say, "Just a scosh" instead of "Just a tiny bit" or "Je ne sais quoi" instead of "I can't explain it" or "in loco parentis" instead of "parental authority".  Each of these examples has a parallel in the donor language, though I suspect few of us think of these things as foreign terms. 


There is one language, however, that can express ANY concept from ANY other language without words - and it is not ASL, it is music.  I think the challenge in translating concepts from language to language is that people think not in words, but in pictures, and there is no way to convey the desired picture reliably. Music, on the other hand is a language of emotion, and emotions, though they are described in a multitude of ways in different languages, are universal.  


There really is no picture for LOVE, but every heart can feel it in Pachelbel's Canon. There is no picture for loyalty, yet every heart feels it in a national anthem - any national anthem.  Music is independent of geography or instruments or culture, although each of these can identify a style of music.  The magic of music is that, no matter who wrote it or played it or heard it, the emotion is clear and pure and unmistakable. I think that's why one of the oldest forms of music, world-wide, is spiritual music. I also think dance is body music, and that is why when we pray with words, we pray once; and when we pray with music, we pray twice; and when we pray with dance, we pray three times - with our whole body.


Circling back to the beginning of this blog, I am learning ASL because it is a beautiful artform, like music and dance. It allows us to communicate and pray with our whole selves - body, mind, and spirit!

​​


Armadillo Soup

June 14, 2021

My daughter will be 47 in ten days, so this is an old story. When she was ten years old, she went to the Brown's School in San Marcos, TX. We lived in Louisburg, KS at the time, and every six weeks, the whole family had to drive down to San Marcos for family counseling.  We amused ourselves on the drive by counting the armadillos we saw on I35. We reached double digits more than a few times. So when she brought me a brightly wrapped package of Armadillo Soup Mix for Christmas, we all had a good laugh.  When I opened the package and read the recipe/instructions, we laughed even more:


Ingredients -

 1.  This package of beans (17 bean mix)
 2.  One ham hock (substitute 1 tsp liquid smoke + 1 tsp minced garlic for vegetarian

        version)

 3.  One bunch green onions

 4.  One large (or 2 small) carrot

 5.  One celery heart

 6.  One bay leaf

 7.  One armadillo


Directions:  

Rinse beans and soak overnight. In the morning, drain beans, retaining 2 cups of water. Put beans and retained water in crock pot with ham hock and bay leaf. Cook 3 hours or until beans are just tender. While cooking, thinly slice vegetables. Let the armadillo watch - work fascinates him. When beans are tender, remove bay leaf and add vegetables. Cook 30 more minutes then serve with homemade bread and butter.  If the armadillo is still there, give him a bowl, he loves the stuff!


This became such a favorite that I have kept 17 bean mix on hand ever since. The soup, with or without the ham, is delicious, and the memory of that long-ago Christmas is guaranteed to bring a smile to my face and my heart, every time I make or eat this dish. There are lots of these "heart-dish" recipes in most homes, even those where there were never children and those, like mine, where only one person is left in the house.  Some of them, like armadillo soup, involve food. Some of them are simply memories of special, sacred events from the past. The blessing is that they don't have to be from the distant past, or even from your own past. They can be scenes from favorite movies or books or even somebody else's story that was shared with you. So the next time you are feeling a bit blue or lonesome, get out the "heart recipe" box and take a stroll down memory lane - a smile will be the result every time!


Presence

June 7, 2021

WARNING - THIS IS A LOOOONG BLOG, BUT I THINK IT'S WORTH THE READ!


I have a prayer room in my little cabin, and I start my day there every day of the world. When I realized I needed to practice some self-care in my life, I turned there. Divine order is always in operation, so when I set up my prayer altar, I put it under an un-curtained window that overlooks a tiny park on my property. There are a multitude of birds (including Cardinals, after whom the park is named) plus armadillos, racoons, and squirrels in this little park (not quite half of a city block in size) and as I sit in meditation, their movement (together with the infamous Arkansas winds) drew my attention away from my own aloneness and into the beauty of Nature. Looking out this window reminded me that I am clearly NOT alone – in addition to dogs (increased over the past year to 3) and a cat, I live with birds, wildlife, and the cows who live just on the other side of the park. That was the first gift of my grieving, the first of my Presence presents. As I allowed myself to feel the beauty around me, I began to have a glimmer of the beauty within me. My prayer practice went from one hour to two hours, and they flew by every morning. Good morning prayers, followed by reading from 8 or 9 books/booklets (including the Daily Guides from SOM magazine and Unity’s Daily Word), then 15 – 30 minutes of meditation – this routine gave me such a feeling of numinous presence around me that I just naturally allowed a spring of presence to well up within me, too. I didn’t so much get used to the idea of isolation as allow it to fade from my awareness as a negative thing. Aloneness was transformed from isolation to solitude.


My altar also has a collection of votive candles that represent attributes of divinity I want to embody, such as love, life, wisdom, guidance, joy and inspiration. About a year ago, a guest at my retreat center left behind a frosted glass candle-holder with the word “Gratitude” etched on it together with a little picture of a gift. This second present of presence has joined the collection on my prayer altar. I believe the attitude of gratitude is what makes focus possible. Actually, that attitude is what directs the focus inward and upward, which is all that is required to move from observation to presence. It turns out, at least in my experience, that presence is absolutely focused – on (or in) the present moment. It is not possible to be present in the past – not even the immediate past moment – nor in the future, not even the next breath you take. So how is gratitude connected to presence? We absolutely can be grateful for gifts received in the past and also for gifts anticipated in the future! However, we FEEL the gratitude only in the present moment, gratitude requires presence. In fact, feeling anything at all requires presence because feeling happens when we are focused in the current moment, and it requires our full attention. Oddly enough, at least for me, presence also requires gratitude, because it feels so immense, so divine, so beyond separation and into Oneness. Because I have learned to value the time with myself spent recognizing and experiencing Oneness – feeling the joy of knowing I can never actually be alone, much less abandoned.


I am absolutely passionate about presence! I KNOW it is the solution to every problem facing me or us or the planet today. Can you imagine how it would be to live in that feeling? Now expand that imagining to include the entire human race. If you can imagine the entire human race experiencing the oneness of presence, then you know that is within the realm of possibility, so let’s adopt that imagining as our vision for the world. Do you see that in a world where everyone stayed present in the presence, disease, hunger, lack, violence, racism, homelessness, discrimination of any kind, even war would simply not be possible? Consider this aspect of our vision: if we were all present in every moment, we would be living in constant awareness of our connection with divine Mind. That would put us firmly in the infinite flow of divine inspiration and guidance. We would have eliminated the concept of unreachable goals.


So how do we start? We can begin with baby steps. Determine that you will bring yourself into the presence of the present moment as you fall asleep tonight, and do so with the intention of waking up present in the morning. Give yourself the gift of self-care by setting an intention to spend the first two minutes of every hour you are awake focusing your attention on being present. Just two minutes. After a week, add another two minutes this time noticing the Presence of the Divine as it is expressing in your life each hour that you are awake.


I know that if you follow this experiment, you, too, will thrive, whether you live in the middle of a rural area or in the middle of an urban setting, no matter what your path is, without ever feeling isolated, abandoned, or alone. What do you have to lose - stress, lack, fear, loneliness?  


Miracles

May 31, 2021

Einstein famously said, "Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is!"  I vote for everything. I do, however, define "miracle" a bit differently from the dictionary. I can't believe in a deity who would make rules, which we call Laws of Nature, and then break those rules because some human begged nicely or made a burnt sacrifice. This just doesn't make sense.  An omnipotent being, who is also omniscient and all-good, would simply not make laws that could be broken, or consider suspending them as a favor to a mortal who asked nicely. 


So what is a miracle? Clearly, wonderful things we cannot explain have happened in the past and we called them miracles, so what's the story? Here's my take on the concept of miracles:  miracles are the physical outworking of a universal law of Nature (aka God, Spirit, Allah, the Divine, First Cause, Yahweh, etc.) the mechanics of which humankind has yet to discern. Some examples that would have been considered miracles three hundred years ago are penicillin, telephones, manned space flight, chocolate, and heart transplants.  Three hundred years ago, of these examples, only chocolate had been realized, and it might have been considered a miracle even then. Einstein was right - if God can do anything, then everything is a miracle, blessings await our scientific enquiry, and human perception converts miracles into everyday occurrences.

F.R.O.G.

May 24, 2021

When I was in Ministerial School, we had two retreats each year. I always looked for some little memento to take home to my husband. One year I learned that F.R.O.G. is an acronym for Fully Rely On God, so when I found this little green metal frog, not quite an inch long, I had to buy it for my husband's desk. He loved it and it remained on his desk until he made his transition three years ago.  It's been sitting on the base of my computer monitor since then. 


About a week ago, I noticed that every morning when I got to my office, the little frog was on my desktop, in front of the monitor.  Each day, I picked it up and returned it to its position on the base of the monitor.  After three or four days, I began to wonder what was going on here. My office is in the Admin building, so it couldn't have been my cat, Bandit, rearranging things. We haven't had any earthquakes. The spring deluge hasn't caused the building to settle. So, what's up?


I finally decided that this is answered pra