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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Days of Awe Build Bridges of Love by Emily VanLaeys

The Shofar or Ram's Horn 
blown on Rosh Hashanah 


        Last Sunday Mark and I attended the Oneonta Unitarian Universalist Society to celebrate the Days of Awe - the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar. Having never celebrated Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, I didn't realize what a beautiful ceremony we would experience. It began with the sound of the ram's horn, a sharp cry that is intended to "pierce the armor of the heart." 

       The Days of Awe are a time of inner reflection. Many of the words of this ceremony evoke the realization that all of humanity is inter-related, part of the universe, part of God. Each member of the congregation says: "I stand in awe of the universe within me as I do of the universe around me." The minister says: "The great Maimonides said that belief in an external image of the divine is idolatry. He understood that God does not have a face somewhere out there. What we know as holy we know as an inner force, within ourselves. We create the outer images - of gods, of history - to understand ourselves and what is in store for us."

       Many of the words of this ceremony point to a mystical inner-knowing of self. One of the readers says: "The starting place is within. Tzedokah means more than righteousness. It means listening to your deepest intuition of what is right and necessary for you." The minister responds: "We know that time moves beyond our control. Things change beyond our control. Yet we can decide how we will change our responses to changes around us. This is the starting place; the only one there is."

       Then the congregation speaks: "Those who change without evaluating are like leaves blown off by the wind. Those who change without choosing are servants to the whim of time. Truth and power abide in us. Thence will come the light to illumine our paths. The lines written in The Book of Life are the signature of our year to come."

       The ceremony includes a sharing of bread with participants symbolically forgiving and being forgiven by all those who have hurt them or been hurt by them in any way. Forgiveness is a necessary building block for bridges between people who wish to recognize their oneness. Before the bread is passed, the minister asks the congregation  some questions about their relationships with others, and then says: "We ask ourselves these questions that we may begin to be one with ourselves, at one with each other, at one with nature, and at one with the Eternal Unknown." 

       Near the end of the ceremony the minister says: "The world is sustained by the just men and women in it. The light of justice and mercy has been passed on to us; let us pass that light to our children, to each other, and to the peoples of the world. Be this our understanding of our covenant: to be a beacon of justice and mercy." 

       The Celebration of Rosh Kashanah and Yom Kippur is taken in part from a Unitarian Universalist adaptation of the traditional Jewish Ceremonies and made available by the Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness. This celebration helps all of us who did not grow up in the Jewish tradition to understand how the High Holy Days can be a time for all of us to reflect on our oneness with humanity, Creation, and God.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Prayer for Unity


This prayer is the result of a collective effort by members of the Movement for Reforming Society. Please feel free to use this prayer any way you like as there is no copyright for it. 


Monday, July 30, 2012

Building Bridges with the Olympics


The Olympic Games serve as a bridge between cultures and nations, drawing the attention of an estimated 4,500,000,000 people during the 17-days of competition. As pointed out by Patricia Cota-Robles (eraofpeace.com), the Olympic Games signify the Family of Humanity setting aside our differences so we can come together to attain our highest level of excellence. 

Too often, the global events that garner the attention of the masses are horrific ones, such as wars, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism. When this happens, the resulting mass consciousness lowers the vibratory rate of humanity and increases negativity. The Olympic Games are now providing the opportunity for humanity to add to the Light of the world. 

The Olympic Games began with the Opening Ceremonies on July 27th and will build in momentum through the Closing Ceremonies on August 12th. Patricia Cota-Robles says: "Because we are One and there is no separation, we have the ability to set the Divine Intention for the energy, vibration, and consciousness that will be released by the people focusing on the Olympic Games. All we have to do is invoke the I AM Presence of every man, woman, and child and ask that the thoughts, words, actions, feelings, and beliefs associated with the Olympic Games be purified by the 5th-Dimensional Solar Violet Flame and utilized to transmute our human miscreations cause, core, effect, record, and memory back to Humanity’s initial fall from Grace. The Company of Heaven has been given permission to amplify our efforts a thousand times a thousandfold. That means that every call we make will be the same as 1,000,000 people invoking the same thing. Just imagine what a powerful difference it will make when hundreds of thousands of us are making these invocations!"

"Throughout the Olympic Games let’s join our hearts and minds with the hearts and minds of our Father-Mother God, the entire Company of Heaven, and the I AM Presence of every man, woman, and child on Earth. Together we will cocreate the matrix that will form the collective Cup of Humanity’s Consciousness during the Olympic Games. Let’s invoke the new 5th-Dimensional Solar Violet Flame of God’s Infinite Perfection and clear the surfacing negativity that is overwhelming so many people. Let’s also invoke the Light of God to assist all of our sisters and brothers in the Family of Humanity to lift their heads above the chaos and confusion, so they will remember who they are and why they have volunteered to be on Earth during this Cosmic Moment."

Please join prayerfully with this invocation:

"I AM my I AM Presence and I AM One with the I AM Presence of every man, woman, and child on Earth. I AM also One with my Father-Mother God and with the entire Company of Heaven. Beloved Ones, as One Voice, One Heartbeat, One Breath, and One Consciousness of Pure Divine Love I ask that you gather up every electron of precious Life energy that is expressed in any way during the Olympic Games. Purify that energy with the 5th-Dimensional Solar Violet Flame of God’s Infinite Perfection, and Transmute into Light every thought, word, action, feeling, and belief associated with the Olympic Games. Utilize that Light to transmute Humanity’s surfacing human miscreations cause, core, effect, record, and memory, through all time frames and dimensions, back to our initial fall from Grace. Beloved Company of Heaven, I ask that you amplify this invocation a thousand times a thousandfold. I accept with deep appreciation and gratitude that with your assistance every invocation I make will be intensified with the power of 1,000,000 people."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Blessings

Mother and Child by kelliemarian



      This coming Sunday we will celebrate Mother's Day with gifts and flowers for our mothers, cards and calls, and expressions of love. Our mothers are the earthly representatives of our Mother God - the feminine aspect of Divine Love. 

      The Divine Feminine has been suppressed for way too long, allowing an imbalance of masculine power to create the havoc that we see in the world. God is both Father AND Mother, and it is only when these two aspects of the Divine are balanced that love, peace, and harmony will prevail on earth. 

     The wonderful thing about Mother's Day is that the holiday invites millions of people around the world to focus on their love of Mother. This love creates a collective consciousness through which the Light of our Mother God, also known as the Holy Spirit, can flow throughout humanity, blessing all of creation.

     In the Roman Catholic Church, the entire month of May is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Mother's Day falls during the month that millions of people are also devoting their prayers to Mother Mary, one of heaven's most beautiful representatives of our Divine Mother. All of these prayers join together with the collective consciousness of love that is opening the way for our Mother God's return to the world. 

     According to Patricia Cota-Robles, author of Who Am I? Why Am I Here?, Mother Mary's Temple of the Immaculate Heart is opened in the Inner Realms throughout the month of May. Patricia says: "Throughout the month of May, while we are in our finer bodies at night, our I AM Presence will escort us into Mother Mary's Temple of The Immaculate Heart. Once we are there, Mother Mary will work with our I AM Presence to help prepare the Immortal Victorious Threefold Flame in our heart to receive the New Solar Frequencies of the 5th Dimension that we are Ascending into. Last May Mother Mary helped our I AM Presence to expand our Threefold Flame until that aspect of our Divinity returned to its original Divine Potential and enveloped our physical, etheric, mental, and emotional bodies. 

This year Mother Mary is intensifying our Threefold Flame’s ability to assimilate higher frequencies of Solar Light without harming the cellular structure of our Earthly bodies. This is occurring in order to prepare every man, woman, and child on Earth for the unprecedented influx of Solar Light that will flood the planet during the 25th Anniversary of Harmonic Convergence, August 11-16, 2012. At that time we will reboot the patterns of perfection that have been downloaded from our New Planetary CAUSE of Divine Love. When this influx of Light occurs, Humanity’s I AM Presence will activate the newly imprinted genetic codings within our Twelve Solar Strands of DNA. This will allow us to Birth a NEW Renaissance of Love for the Earth and ALL Life evolving upon her."

As we celebrate Mother's Day this year, let us be fully conscious of the miraculous changes being wrought by our Mother God's love!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Discovering Who We Are



       I have been enthralled by all the enlightening information contained in Patricia Cota-Robles'  book: Who Am I? Why Am I Here? Having spent much of my adult life reading books upon books about "the meaning of life," I can honestly say this is the one book that - for me - brings the most clarity to the human question, and fills in the gaps where I had previously received partial answers.

       In this book you will find what I am inclined to believe is the true story of humanity's fall. Yes, we were created to be divine children of and co-creators with our Father-Mother God. So what happened to us? The tragic story sent tears running down my face - but realizing that it happened millions - not thousands - of years ago, I had to keep reading, to follow the unfolding of the Divine Plan. 

       We have now arrived at that point in time when we are ready to re-claim our place as divine co-creators with God. No longer is it blasphemy to claim our true heritage! Now we realize it is blasphemy to deny the mother aspect of our God parents. It is blasphemy to throw away the gift of co-creation that was given to us at our birth, millions of years ago. It is blasphemy to say that any of God's children are unworthy worms.

       It was blasphemy for Constantine to edit the scriptures, removing all references to reincarnation, and to compose, with his bishops, the Nicene Creed that claims Jesus was the ONLY begotten child of God. I have not said the Nicene Creed in a long time, but since reading this book, which confirms everything I had previously known about Constantine, I decided I will remain seated while others stand to profess their faith according to the words of this creed. 

       I know that most people who disagree with the tenets of the Christian Church simply choose not to participate in it. But I still love my church and my church family, so I stay there to protest the lies we have been told for 2,000 years, and to plant little seeds of New Thought whenever I can. 

       For instance, after clearly outlining my beliefs to my pastor, I volunteered to take home communion to our shut-ins. My pastor said that while my beliefs are not traditional, she doesn't have a problem with them. The prayer that I was given for the occasion ended with these words: "Although we are unworthy to approach you, or to ask anything at all of you, grant us your grace and blessing for the sake of Jesus Christ our Redeemer." I changed this passage to read: "As your divine children, we ask you to grant us your grace and blessing, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Way Shower."

       The other elder who was serving communion with me said the prayer was beautiful, and our shut-in friend loved the whole service, including my analogy: that the time Jesus spent between the crucifixion and the resurrection was like the time a caterpillar spends in the chrysalis, turning into a butterfly. I said that we, too, are like caterpillars in a chrysalis - it's just taking us a little longer to break free and fly.

       In recent years I have grown bolder about speaking my truth at church, at home, and in my writing. Patricia Cota-Robles book validates my beliefs in such a way that reading it has given me even more courage to express my beliefs and shine my Light whenever and wherever I can. 


       I have been empowered by these words from Who Am I? Why Am I Here?

"Every day deliberately use your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions
to add to the Light of the world. You have been training for lifetimes to do this. 
Ask your I AM Presence for guidance. Listen to your heart. Trust yourself. 
You are powerful beyond your knowing." 

       These words are for you, my reader, too!



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Equinox Ceremony

       Since the beginning of Time, people have performed ceremony and rituals to create bridges between earth and heaven. The symbolism used is understood by both human and spiritual participants of the ceremony. The energy created by the rituals can affect transformation on multiple levels of existence, from the physical world we live in, on through the dimensions of nature elementals and angels. 

       Last night my friends, Marilyn and Chester, joined me in a Spring Equinox Ceremony, to release the old, embrace the new, and mark our intentions that this new year will be one in which peace, balance, harmony, truth, love, integrity, and compassion will rule the hearts of all beings on earth.

       We began the ceremony by naming and writing down the old ways that must be released: violence, oppression, negativity, injustice, etcetera! We then burned our scraps of paper to symbolize the release of these evils. 


       You can see some of the symbols we used for the ceremony, including an agate egg, yellow flowers, and green and yellow candles: green for growth and healing, yellow for new energies and new beginnings.


       After our prayer to the Great Creator, we wrote down our intentions for the coming year and placed these pieces of paper inside of our green and yellow plastic eggs. To these intentions we added offerings of dirt from Mother Earth, white pine needles to symbolize peace, and a variety of herbs and spices to symbolize love, healing, and new beginnings. We will keep these eggs in our homes, where our intentions can germinate until the Summer Solstice when we will bury the contents in the ground, where they will continue to grow.


       After this part of the ceremony we participated in a guided meditation, followed by a snack of sunflower seeds, almonds, and chocolate eggs - all symbols of new beginnings!




A verse from the Solar Wave prayer that we read: 


Dear Great Creator:
We have new eyes to see as you see.
We have new ears to hear as you hear.
We have new hearts to love as you love.
We have new minds to understand as you understand. 




        
Fun & friendly outdoor d├ęcor for your garden & patio spaces, including lighted outdoor accents, beautiful garden statues & more!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Lord's Prayer - Emily's Version




Our Divine Father and Mother,
whose name is Love:

We give thanks for your blessing of the kingdom within
And help us to know it is here and now
when we choose your will over our own.

Thank you for our daily nourishment
of body and spirit.

Help us to forgive everyone who has ever hurt us in any way,
And thank you for forgiving us for those times we have forgotten
our Oneness with you and your creation.

Keep us ever mindful of our purpose,
to help bring your kingdom to every dweller on earth;
let us not be diverted by selfish desires.

For Love is the ruler of the Universe,
the creator, sustainer, and substance of us all,
now and forever.

Amen











Sunday, March 11, 2012

Flowers and Fairies



These crocuses first opened in my yard on March 8th. Today, a beautiful warm spring day, more crocuses opened and the honey bees came to visit! I'm sure I've never had crocuses open this early in March before - not since I moved from Tennessee to central New York 24 years ago. We are expecting a whole week of warm weather now, and some people are worried that the sap won't run in the maple trees and we won't have fresh syrup this year. I do love maple syrup as much as anyone, but I love spring flowers more, so I just can't feel too bad about it.


This afternoon I went out in the sunshine to gather the dead branches that collected around the yard during the winter, and to clean up the dead leaves around the crocuses, hoping that I might spot a fairy. No such luck, but it's comforting to know that many people have seen fairies. I have read too many first-person accounts of fairy sightings not to believe in their existence, and so I can hope that I will see one someday, too! 


   illustration by Cicely Mary Barker


Right now I am reading The Real World of Fairies: A First-Person Account by Dora van Gelder, which says: "Love for flowers and a conscious invitation to the fairies to help is a way to come to know them and perhaps even to see them. It is love of living things which is the great bridge between the two kingdoms." So while I tend my flower gardens I invite the fairies to help me build a bridge between my world and theirs. Even though I haven't seen them yet, I think they sometimes answer the questions I ask myself while I'm observing nature. For instance, today I noticed a couple of daffodil shoots poking up through the brown leaves in an area where I know I planted lots of bulbs. I wondered why these two were coming up so far ahead of the others, and immediately the answer came: These two are just more eager to come out than the others! They are willing to take the risk that it may freeze again while the other daffodils would rather play it safe. Apparently each flower has an individual personality, something that never occurred to me before! (I'm not really sure if it's the flower or the flower fairy that decides when to emerge, but whoever it is, some like to come out sooner than others!)


Another interesting observation I made today was a little clump of crocuses blooming way in the back corner of the back yard, quite far from where I had planted the bulbs. The neighborhood squirrels enjoy digging up crocus bulbs and transplanting them in odd places. While it's annoying to have my carefully designed plantings re-arranged, it's also a delight to go out in the spring and see what nature has done all on her own, with the help of her creatures, the fairies, and the elements. Later in the spring or summer I will probably discover two or three flowers that seeded themselves from someone else's garden, and I will find out which plants the deer have a yen for this year. 


Of course I always eagerly anticipate the arrival of the new flowers I planted bulbs for in the fall. Last October I put a few of my daffodil bulbs in my neighbor's yard, and I can't wait to see the reaction of these friends who have always admired my spring flowers but never planted bulbs of their own. Bulbs are such amazing, miraculous things! How could anyone plant one of those plain, brown objects, see its flower bloom in the spring, and not KNOW with absolute certainty that this is the work of Divine Love? 


In reading The Door of Everything, I learned that we humans are like flower bulbs ourselves. Ruby Nelson compares us to tomato seeds and chrysalises, waiting to turn into tomatoes or butterflies. Flower bulbs and acorns offer the same kind of imagery. We just have no idea what magnificent beings we are going to turn into, but the promise is in the world all around us if we just use our eyes and don't take it all for granted. Spending time in nature - appreciating, observing, tending, and preserving - is a way to build the bridge that will take us from our bulb-like life to a life of beauty, peace, and love.


Fairy Bridge near Kewaigue










Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Door of Everything




I have just finished reading The Door of Everything by Ruby Nelson and I am in absolute awe over the beautiful way this little book presents spiritual truth and wisdom. When I say "little" I mean it - the book is 4"x6" and 180 pages. It's size and simple message are part of its charm. I have been feeling confused and overwhelmed by the enormous number of instructions, meditations, transmissions, and rituals being offered by numerous people of good intentions, showing us the way to prepare ourselves for ascension. Still stuck in my 3-D existence, I have only so much time and energy for these endeavors, and they are all so appealing, How do I choose?

Ruby's method is simple and straight-forward: "Love, praise, and gratitude, arising from your heart center in silent expectancy, are the three Ascension Attitudes, those focused attitudes of mind that exalt your feelings toward the Christhood level." (p. 109) These three attitudes are the keys to the Door of Everything, also known as the Kingdom of Heaven.

What's interesting about Ruby's book is that it is copyrighted 1963. This was long before the dawning of the "New Age" and its many references to ascension, the Law of Attraction, Oneness, and the vibratory nature of all things; and yet all of these concepts and other "new" ideas are presented here with easily understood illustrations. Also remarkable is the fact that I have searched for Ruby Nelson online and I cannot find her. She does not have a website or a bio or a Facebook page. Her book can be read free-of-charge online: The Door of Everything. She is not trying to promote herself in any way.

The book was written as if the words came directly from the Creator, and I am quite convinced that they flowed from Ruby's higher self onto the page. The only concept that seems more 1963 than divine in origin is her reference to the "Father Consciousness" in everyone, but she also speaks of our Mother-Father God. Whether we refer to our higher consciousness as Father, Mother, Christ consciousness, or something else, this is the spirit of everything - the Love and Light that are all that really is - that stand knocking on the other side of the door that only we can open. We open this door with love, gratitude, and praise. And with faith.

Ruby's Christ consciousness tells us that we will have trouble passing through the door to the kingdom of heaven if we cannot break our habit of judging by appearances. It appears that sickness, poverty, and death are real components of life on earth. We see them, we believe in them, and so they are. Jesus said: "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." But we don't believe it's possible to be perfect. Jesus wasn't serious, was he? And when he said "You will do greater things than I have done," he couldn't have really meant it! And yet Jesus frequently pointed out the power of faith: "Your faith has made you whole . . . . If you have the faith of a mustard seed you will be able to move mountains."

I do believe that my true nature is divine, whole, and eternal. I know that disease and old age are not part of the divine plan for humanity. And yet, every morning I wake up feeling stiff with arthritic pain - sometimes with tendonitis in a foot or an arm. As Ruby says, belief is a necessary step toward faith, but faith is stronger. When I have the same faith in my divine being as I have that the sun will come up tomorrow morning, then I will wake up whole and perfect.

RE: faith, Ruby's Christ consciousness says: "Signs of my inner heavenly kingdom do not precede your comprehension of truth, they follow it. Signs do not precede your faith, they also follow that." (p. 134)

How difficult it is to have faith in something BEFORE we see or experience it. This is why so few people have passed through the door to the kingdom of everything. Most Christians think they need only believe that Jesus performed miracles and returned from the dead. They do not believe that he was demonstrating how we can accomplish the same and even greater things. Believing that nothing is impossible is the first step toward faith.

Ruby's Christ consciousness tells us that faith will come when we spend time in the stillness where we can hear the small, quiet voice of God. She says you cannot "reach a state of total stillness where mighty faith takes over if others all around you are promoting their false gods of imperfection. Evict these noises from the privacy of your closet and listen only to the words of those who have discovered the one God of perfect Being." (p. 151) I find that others around me are CONSTANTLY promoting the negative side of life they see as real. I have yet to spend enough time in the silence, promoting the perfection of God's world, so that faith will take over.

Ruby points out that we see proof of faith's power whenever we believe we're getting sick and old, and we do; whenever we believe we won't have enough of what we need for an abundant life, and we are lacking. It is up to us to change our faith in the imperfect life to a faith in the perfect life that God wants us to have.

I can think of a few times when my faith in the unseen manifested something good. Twenty-seven years ago, when my husband and I had been trying unsuccessfully for a baby for four years, we applied for adoption, and were promised a healthy infant within a year. This promise gave me so much faith in the wonderful gift to come that I became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby girl nine months later. Five years ago I was struggling with the dilemma of finding fulfilling work. One day I wrote in my journal, "This is the day that I will discover the work I can do that will use my gifts and talents." I must have made this declaration with more faith than usual, because it was indeed the day that I learned about the Celebrant Foundation & Institute where I would study and become certified as a life-cycle and wedding celebrant.

You may have had some similar experiences that demonstrate how faith can make things happen. Ruby says: "Faith is your magnetic force and prayer illuminates the way." (p. 176) I am praying that my faith will grow strong enough that I will be able to open the Door to Everything and walk into that wonderful state of being where I will be one with everything - which, as Ruby says is not many things, but One. "Everything is Love" and "Love contains Everything." Our true, eternal life begins on the other side of the door. And "Life is Light and Light is Love." (p. 180) I believe this with all my heart and soul. All I need now is FAITH!


For more on this topic see: Advent: Waiting for the Door to Open


       
Lookupfare, Cheap Flights, cheap tickets

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Restoring a Lost Friendship


Two Girls Reading in a Garden by Pierre-August Renoir

Forty-seven years ago three 11-year-old girls in a group of four ostracized the fourth because she was the prettiest. While this had not posed a problem during their younger years, it was quite apparent that the boys in their sixth grade class had their eyes on the prettiest one, and so the other three were jealous. The three girls teased Cheryl during recess, mimicking her mannerisms and speech. I was one of the three. I don’t remember behaving this way, but then we tend not to remember our own misdeeds. I'm sure it never occurred to me that my behavior would result in the end of a friendship I cherished. But Cheryl was badly hurt, and so she abandoned us and found other friends.


I never took responsibility for the loss of that friendship, always blaming Cheryl for dropping me in favor of the “cool” pretty girls, not realizing they just happened to be the girls who treated her kindly and welcomed her into their circle. We didn’t speak to each other all through junior high and high school, but I never forgot her, and she continued to visit me in my dreams throughout our adulthood. At our twentieth high school reunion Cheryl – now Cheri – and I finally spoke to each other. Cheri smiled at me and exclaimed warmly: “Emily! You look exactly the way I remembered you!”

“I was hoping to see you here!” I responded, overwhelmed with emotion.

“Look, she’s twinkling!” Cheri said to our husbands. Then the tears that had been sparkling in my eyes spilled over, and sobbing, I confided to her about the dreams that had haunted me for so many years, and the sadness I felt about our broken friendship.

“But I have only fond memories of you,” she said. “Our friendship was very precious to me and I’ve always remembered it that way.” She handed me a tissue for my tears. “We used to share a lot of things, didn’t we?”

As I wiped away my tears I felt myself cleansed and forgiven. After the reunion I returned home to central New York and Cheri to Florida, but we exchanged Christmas cards and friendly notes every year for another twenty years. However, it wasn’t until last year, that we started to e-mail each other and open up about the misunderstanding of our past. I learned why it was that Cheri walked out of my life so long ago, and I understood. We realized what a mistake we had both made by coming to wrong conclusions about each other and not communicating. But then we were only eleven years old! Many adults make the same mistake, and so end relationships that could have been saved by an honest heart-to-heart talk.

When we were children, Cheri and I enjoyed reading the same books, spending time in nature, and working on school projects together. Now we are discovering that we still share many of the same interests, and we’re making up for the lost years. This experience has taught me not to give up on an estranged friend before extending an offer to rebuild the crumbling bridge between us. I can only hope that as people build and rebuild stronger bridges between themselves, the bridges of oneness with all of humanity will become stronger as well!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Unity Bridge



Yesterday morning my husband and I drove to Albany and attended the Unity Church that's right near our daughter and son-in-law's apartment. We went there three years ago when visiting for Mother's Day and have always wanted to go back. If only it wasn't an hour-and-a-half drive from our home! Both services have been uplifting and joyful. Instead of confessing our sins, we say affirmations such as this:


I am loving, creative and powerful;
for I embody the Love, Creativity,
and Power of my Creator. 

Instead of the Apostle's Creed, we read the Statement of ONENESS:

The power of Christ Love now releases me from any sense of separation from Spirit or others.
There is only One Presence and One power in my Life and in the Universe, 
that One is God, the Good, Omnipotence.

For those of you who have trouble with the word "God" because it conjures up images of the judgmental father with a white beard sitting on a throne in the clouds, be assured that Unity members understand God as Divine Mind, Divine Universe, Divine Spirit, Mother-Father God - which is Love, Light, and Peace. 

I have never been fortunate enough to leave near a Unity Church (officially part of the Unity School of Christianity) but I have read Unity literature for 30 years, always finding it inspirational and enlightening. Unity is a church that builds bridges, because it is inclusive, saying to all people of the world: "We love you, we bless you, and we behold the Christ in you." If you are blessed to live near a Unity Church, check it out!

Yesterday's message was about how we live in the middle of eternity NOW - so we should not wait until death to live in the Kingdom of God. After all, the Kingdom - of Love, Light, and Peace - is not something that will just "happen" to us. It is a state of being and living that we can choose at every moment. As the Unity Principle states: "Being spiritual in nature, we too are creative. Our life experiences are created through our ways of thinking and behaving."

We are now in the season of Lent, traditionally observed by Christians as a time for repentance and self-denial. During Lent, the Unity School of Christianity encourages students to  affirm their divine wholeness and release thoughts and patterns that no longer serve them. So, instead of giving up a certain food as a way of denying yourself for 40 days, you would give up whatever it is that does not contribute to your spiritual growth and divine wholeness. It may still be a certain food, but the intention behind giving it up is different. You can order a copy of Release Your Inner Splendor to learn more about how to transcend past experiences and awaken from the illusion of lack. 

Yesterday's service ended with everyone holding hands while singing "Let There Be Peace on Earth," surely one of the best bridge-building songs every written. Afterward we took our daughter and her husband out for brunch. Building family bridges is fun, too!

For more information about Unity School of Christianity, check out  their website: http://www.unity.org/





Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Love: the Bridge to Happiness





How many of you knew that February 11th was World Happiness Day? On this day, Happy: The Movie was shown in countries all over the world. My husband and I watched a presentation of the movie by the psychology club at SUNY Oneonta. The movie combines cutting-edge science from the new field of “positive psychology” with real-life stories of people from around the world whose lives illustrate what constitutes a happy, fulfilling life. 


The film's researchers discovered (surprise, surprise!) that wealth is not one of the factors that make people happy. Five of the factors that contribute most to happiness are:


  1. A sense of friendship and community
  2. Caring for and helping others
  3. A personal involvement with nature
  4. A balanced life, with plenty of leisure time
  5. Engaging in enjoyable activities
  6. Spiritual (not necessarily religious) faith

I conclude from these findings that a happy life is a life full of love: love shared with family and friends, love for neighbors, love for nature, love for the divine, and engagement in activities that we love. I see a strong connection between the findings of this movie and the lines from the Lord's Prayer that I discussed in my last article, because surely the Kingdom of Heaven is a state of being where everyone is happy!


In Sunday's class, I shared what I had learned from "Happy: The Movie." Some of the places where happy people are interviewed, including communities in Denmark, New Orleans, Okinawa, and a slum in India, could be thought of as little kingdoms of heaven. I was especially intrigued by the country of Bhutan, which I learned is the only country in the world where Gross National Happiness is considered by the king to be more important than the Gross National Product. Some of the policies that have been put into place to maintain the happiness of Bhutan's citizens are: advertising bans, Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the wind everywhere, strict conservation laws aimed at achieving sustainable development, and bans on plastic bags and tobacco. Now some may say that this is an encroachment on people's freedom, but really, does smoking make anyone happy, or is tobacco, like alcohol and other drugs, just something that helps you forget that you aren't truly happy, makes you sick, and creates an extra roadblock to real happiness? Loving and caring for oneself is one of the links on the bridge to happiness!

This morning when my husband came back from the gym he was upset because he'd been listening to the radio in the car and heard about the practice of Pakistani men throwing acid in the face of a woman who turns down his proposal of marriage. Obviously, a man who would commit such an act is not the kind of man any woman would choose to marry. Such a man is totally divorced from the love in his heart. He doesn't realize the connection between all people and how he hurts himself when he hurts another human being. He must not feel very good about himself and cannot possibly be happy. 

One of the stories in the Happy movie is about a once-beautiful woman whose face was destroyed in a horrible accident. Afterward her husband divorced her, but she found happiness by loving and caring for others, and eventually she met a man who loved her for her inner beauty and became her new husband. I'm sure the man who married the woman with a disfigured face is happier than the man who divorced her, or any of the acid throwers in Pakistan who don't know what love is. 

Jesus said: "My kingdom is not of this world . . . my kingdom is from another place" (John 18:36). The place where the happy woman and her husband live is a different place from where the cruel Pakistani men live. It's the place that exists on the other side of the bridge of love. Anyone can go there. It's our choice.




Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done






            Tomorrow I will lead my adult church class which is studying the Lord’s Prayer. I volunteered to lead the discussion of “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” because it is my favorite section of this well-known prayer. The curriculum writer for this study calls this line a lament, because it points out the fact that there is something seriously wrong with the world we live in. I have to disagree, because to lament means to express sorrow, mourning, or regret. I believe these lines express the hope and faith that God’s kingdom IS coming, and, as Jesus said, it is even already here among those who do God’s will.

Luke 17:20-21 says: Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” 

If the kingdom is already here, there is no reason to lament. We find the kingdom within ourselves when we choose divine will over the will of our egos. To live according to divine will is to live from the heart. As stated in Micah 6:8 “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” When we affirm this with faith it is true. When enough people find the kingdom of heaven within themselves the kingdom will come to all the world.

            Jesus said “ . . . strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). When we do God’s will, that is, do all things with love, our material needs will be met. And if we are truly loving and compassionate, we will not have a great many material desires. The ego desires things that are not in keeping with divine will.  For instance, the ego likes to argue, to be right, and to put others down. The ego wants things that don’t necessarily make one happy, but that give one prestige, status, and power. None of this belongs in the kingdom of heaven, which is a peaceful place.

            The prophet, Isaiah, promises the triumph of God’s kingdom on earth : “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isa. 2:4). This is what the kingdom of heaven is like, so those who love war, or want to be more powerful than others, or amass wealth at the expense of peace, cannot enter this kingdom.


Jesus told the Parable of the Ten Virgins to illustrate the importance of being prepared for the kingdom to come:
 1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
   6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
   7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
   9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
   10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
   11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
   12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
   13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

What does it mean to keep watch – to stay awake? Jesus also told us to be in the world but not of it – which is to be spiritually awake. When we are spiritually unconscious we go through life not thinking about our actions and whether we are choosing divine will or that of our egos. So many of us go through life like robots --  going to work, coming home to eat and watch television, not thinking about how our actions affect others. If we wish to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must think about our choices and how they affect our own souls as well as the soul of the world.    

Jesus also said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3) One who is humble is not egotistic! Children are also innocent, nonjudgmental, and imaginative. Before we shower children with material things and expose them to commercials, they are content with the simple pleasures of life. Children tend to be idealistic. It is so easy for a child to have faith in the goodness of humanity and nature. If everyone could maintain the faith of childhood, we would all live in the kingdom of heaven!  

In Revelation 21, we read:

 1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

            I hope the new earth is not lacking for seas, because I love beaches and the ocean, but the rest of this prophecy is beautiful. Many of today’s Christians no longer believe this prophecy will come true. They think it would have happened by now if it was going to happen, and they are tired of waiting for something that was supposed to take place soon after Jesus’ ascension. But Jesus said the kingdom would come at the end of the age. He also said:I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Traditional Christians do not seem to know what Jesus meant when he spoke of an age. Astrologers present an age as a 2,000 year span. It has now been 2,000 years since Jesus made his promise. It is the close of the age and the close of a 26,000 year cycle – the period of time that it takes our sun to revolve half-way around the Great Central Sun. It is the end of the age of darkness: the dawn of the Golden Age of Light. You can read more about the 26,000 year cycle in these articles:

I will close the class time with a meditation, using these lines as a mantra. You might like to try it:

Breathe in:  Thy kingdom come. (Think about the kingdom within you.)
Breathe out: Thy will be done.  (Think about manifesting the kingdom out in the world.)

Peace and Blessings,
Emily