Good News!

scan016Yesterday was a good news day for me. Sometimes it seems as though things will go along and go along and then one day the champagne cork pops! The trick is not to give up.

         My two students completed an exam from CSL headquarters that took more than seven hours. That more or less finishes their work with me and moves them into their last year of ministerial studies. I am certain they did well on the test and I am certain they are already wonderful ministers. I could not have had more beautiful people for my last ministerial class. Thank you, God!

It’s been two years, but it seems like yesterday that we started. In another way it seems as though we’ve been meeting every Wednesday since we were all teenagers. That can’t be so, because one of the students is actually my daughter.

My other good news is about a long running national struggle and the opportunity for me to release a personal grievance. The Supreme Court announced two decisions that will change the lives of gays and lesbians from this day forward.

The first had to do with Prop 8. Here in California, it looks as if CSL ministers will be performing same-sex marriages again. I look forward to it. The other Court decision gave me personal joy and I am finally ready to release an old grudge about a gross insult and injustice against my dear, departed friends whose story parallels the Supreme Court case…

When I lived in Massachusetts, I had two wonderful friends. We were extremely close for many reasons, including sobriety, political opinions and loving to laugh. We also had a great deal in common because of our successful years in education.

One of my friends was a retired high school librarian. Her partner was a retired administrator in the same school district. By the time the first partner died, they had been together 37 years and were living in a upscale retirement village in North Carolina.

I was back in California by then, but we were still very close. When Mary died, I flew out to help Betty. She thought it would be simple since they had shared everything for so many years.They’d been to a lawyer, made their wills, and everything was owned jointly. So she thought.

Betty believed her income would be lower but that she would still be well-off because they had done everything they could to legally tighten it all up.  She knew she couldn’t inherit her partner’s pension, etc., but she expected the current assets to be slam-dunk. Maybe it would have been in Massachusetts.

We were stunned as the lawyer explained that the surviving partner had to pay an enormous amount of North Carolina State inheritance taxes to settle the estate. I don’t remember it all exactly, but I know she had to pay something like 25% taxes on half of everything because they weren’t married. When it was over, Betty  was in much worse financial position than she’d expected.

These were two women who had worked hard and supported themselves since they entered college in the early 1930’s. One typed other student’s papers. The other waited on tables. Neither of them would have finished school without a desperate need to move up in life. They were ambitious and  they needed those teaching credentials to be self-supporting.

They were a generation older than I was and I knew what it had been like for me so I admired them very much. They were very successful (for women) in their day. Remember, there were no women in corporate hierarchies and  women’s colleges hired only a few women professors. They really did well for their times. They earned their money. Mary taught night school adult classes. Betty made a library training film and self-published it way back in the 1950’s. They were quite frugal, worked hard, and were conservative in their lifestyles. They did what they could to take care of business.

These women were the kind of school teachers who have almost disappeared. Those best and brightest women have mostly now gone into higher paying jobs now.  They were “good” women. Well meaning, respectable, quiet and non-assuming. They took care of things, minded their business and expected courtesy from the world. In the education field, in my day, women like these were fairly common. They were the first “don’t ask, don’t tell” group.

Anyway, my friend Betty took the financial blow without quite understanding what went wrong with their plans. She was in shock over the death of her partner and she didn’t complain, but I was astonished and outraged at an amazing injustice! In retrospect, I think they failed to check out North Carolina inheritance laws before moving there, but women of my generation (even lesbians) didn’t know much about money management.

All this happened twenty years ago but I remembered it well. When I first read about the lawsuit Edith Windsor brought before the Supreme Court I got mad all over again. Her story was almost the same as Mary and Betty’s. The difference was that Ms. Windsor’s married her partner in Canada in 2007. My friends weren’t married because they didn’t have that choice. Many people who love each other still don’t have that choice.

As of yesterday, the Supreme Court declared in favor of Ms. Windsor. She gets to file a joint income tax return and new financial rights for survivors of same-sex marriages are established as the law of the land. Ms. Windsor gets to keep her rightly inherited money. I now release my old grievance and celebrate the future happiness of new friends.  I think many people can understand that people deserve to marry if it means financial equality so I look for more states to make same-sex marriage legal quickly.

Things have turned around in many ways. I celebrate the gay rights movement for continuing to hang in there on equality issues. As time moves along, common sense does prevail.  I try to remind myself of that when I see what’s happening right now on voter rights. That issue didn’t fare so well in the Court but I know that change is coming.

No matter how slowly, we are climbing higher on the good sense ladder of social issues. We should never, never give up.

It is important to positively persist. Those  who hang on to the dream, do prevail.  I learned this as a writer when I was starting out. I learned it again when I started the Center For Positive Living more than 20 years ago. I was reminded of it yesterday when my students took their ministerial test and I was reminded again when I read the news today.

But this is a day to celebrate and I do! I celebrate my students. I celebrate my friends’ love! I celebrate gay rights! I celebrate what’s coming on voter rights! I celebrate this day! We shall never give up. Never let the dream die. We speak our truth and keep on keeping on!

Ask  Yourself

What three things can I celebrate today?

What dreams have I pursued and caught ?

What is my dream now?

How shall I pursue the dream now?


Loving Connections

scan018This week I received cards from two people I haven’t seen in years but each was a good friend. Another person showed up in church who took a class from me 23 years ago. What a blessing!

Funny how you can see people often for a period of time and then they drift away.  That’s the way this modern world looks. We are not villagers in the Middle Ages who live in one place all our lives.

Losing track of friends doesn’t mean the connection was unimportant. Nor does it really mean the friendship is over. Truth is, we carry the imprint of their memory with us always. Every person, dead or alive, who was a blessing at the time you knew them remains a blessing to you this very day.

There is a wonderful poem by the great Transcendentalist poet, Walt Whitman, who says this very clearly. The poem is called, There was a Child Went Forth . It has always been my favorite poem because it touches the truth of who we are and how we are connected to each other in God.

The poem starts out, There was a child went forth every day;
 And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;
 And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of
 the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.  It goes on to chronicle lists of all the beautiful and not-so-beautiful things the child meets in a day.

The poem is a literary masterpiece that portrays our connection to all of life. It also shows how everything in life imprints itself upon the soul of a child. Perhaps because I am a teacher at heart, I find the poem more religious than any writing in the Bible or other Sacred Scripture.

In beautiful, artistic language, Whitman shows how Oneness operates in our lives. We touch each other and that touch resonates throughout our lives. We are truly all expressions of God and we are truly all living our lives in God. It truly is all One.

Long before I completely understood the poem, I loved it. In college, I read it and reread it and I still read it often.  I  read aloud to my Emerson classes because it shows – at a heart level – how life really operates. We are connected in the Love of God and our task is to discover and use that truth in our lives.

The Transcendentalists claimed, as many of my friends also claim, that they found God in nature.  It is true that when I go to the Ocean, I can always count on touching in on the Universal Power and Presence of the Creative Energy of the Universal Life that we call God.

Nothing is as inspiring as the ocean unless it is a beautiful landscape. Right now the Jacaranda trees are in bloom in my town and they stretch their purple branches over my community, helping everyone know and enjoy Universal Beauty.

Finding God in Nature is a piece of cake compared to finding it in ourselves, our relatives, our neighbors and the rest of the people on Planet Earth. One thing I love about Whitman’s poem is that his child-hero encounters all kinds of people as well as nature in his travels.

Since God is All and in All, it is not surprising that Whitman saw the connection of all life, even in the actions of humans upon a child. We may tend to focus on the wrong done, ignoring how universal it is for humans to nurture and care for children. Human babies are totally dependent on the love of adults for a long time just to survive. Their nurture, no matter how peculiar, is a form of love.

Part of my spiritual practice is learning to see Love (nearly) everywhere I look. Coming home from Sunday service this week, I did find God everywhere I looked. I drove along Pacific Coast Highway with the beach in all its summertime glory  and thought about how pleasant it was to see my former student again.  I remembered her zest for life and she remembered me. I understood  that she and I were connected in the way that Whitman’s poem sang about Life and that it was a wonderful thing.

I know God really is everywhere all the time. It is in every friend we make and every beautiful flower we see. God is in our lives, full power, forever and all we need to do is touch into that Universal Truth to be happy. We carry the impress of every pleasant connection we have ever made in our memories and they have all shaped us into the loving people we are.

It was a wonderful day and a wonderful thought. I am committed to having more days that are as filled with goodness and light. And I know I can make choices that will help me do that. Won’t you join me?

I love the idea of finding God in Nature and I am all for taking care of the Planet where we live. I love the idea of finding God in people as well. It  is a wonderful thing to nurture and treasure our connections to others just as we tend our gardens, do our housekeeping and take care of our physical bodies.

We are human beings. We know we are alive. Most of us believe our lives have meaning. Most of us believe in some kind of Love. Most of us believe in some kind of God. Our well-being depends on our physical situation and our emotional situation as well. We have choices and we can make good ones.

Almost everyone needs other people to be happy. The good news is that we can always choose to reach out and connect to others. Even if we feel limited by time, money or physical mobility, we have all this new technology to connect with others in positive ways.

This week, just for fun, reach out to some old friend and say hello. Stretch and connect in some new way. Send a card. an email or make a phone call.  Let that person know he or she played an positive part in your life.

It is good to reach out in love to someone in your past and express the truth of your connection in a way they will appreciate. If you cannot think of anyone who is living, write your feelings to one of your departed connections. The result in your life will still be positive and strong.

Stay away from worrying about difficult relationships. Yes, I know some people can be as difficult as the worst hurricane but they are still a part of God. With practice, we can love them but focus on the easy stuff this week. Ignore the difficult relationships and focus on gratitude for the good ones. You can benefit yourself and connect with God as Love. Just imagine that!

Ask Yourself

Do I want to read There Was A Child Went Forth?

Can I list 25 places, people or things where I can find God as Love?

Where shall I  connect to express appreciation?

I Believe!

spitfire-katharine-hepburn-1934-everettI watched a 1934 movie where Katherine Hepburn played a hillbilly faith healer. The writer made Hepburn’s character absolutely grounded in the idea that you must believe it is done even as you pray for it. The character could barely read and was truly ignorant but she had the consciousness of a great spiritual teacher.

As I watched the movie, I wondered if the writer knew Science of Mind. Her ideas about how prayer worked seemed  totally on the mark and Dr. Holmes was right down the street in those days. Who knows?

I am fascinated by old movies and this one, Spitfire is sort of famous for being the flick that began Hepburn’s slide into her years as “box office poison”.

It was quite a bad movie but I watched it because I am interested in faith healing and hillbilly culture. Not that I learned anything but it is fun to see how things were portrayed in those days .

In real life, Katherine Hepburn was a classy New Englander who graduated from Bryn Mawr and she was startlingly miscast. Bryn Mawr girls have their own very special weird accents so Hepburn’s attempt at Ozark lingo was incredibly wrong. My relatives came out of those hills and I never heard anyone talk like that. They were peculiar and superstitious people in some ways, but not nearly as ignorant as the characters in this turkey.

What truly amazed me was how definitely the writer gave the instructions for successful prayer. Hepburn has all that wonderful electric energy and when she prayed, she put her star power into believing it was so. Between the romantic back lighting and Hepburn’s ethereal expression, I thought I was watching Song of Bernadette in some places.

However, the story was a romance, not a saintly saga. During the first half of the movie, she raised an old lady from the dead and healed just about everyone in the town, then in the last half she dodged violent villagers and decided whether to love Robert Montgomery or Ralph Bellamy. I think it’s the only movie I ever saw where Bellamy got the girl.

Anyway, Spitfire was kind of fun and it reinforced the idea that we must really, really believe our good is happening even while we pray for it. Anyone who has ever learned about affirmative prayer knows it is important to have faith that it is working even as we pray. That was so when the Master Teacher Jesus spoke, it was true in 1934, and it is true now.

We have trust in the process of prayer because that is how Universal Mind works. That’s why we always pray in the present tense. God is always in the Now and always responding to our deepest beliefs.

On the next day, my conversation group talked about the necessity of “feeling” the result of prayer as we prayed and building our trust that God can and does do the work. The emotional component of consciousness is very important. Not only must we understand the way things work but we must believe it. Belief is emotional so when we pray, we should “feel” the result as we realize the prayer is done.

We had a marvelous group discussion and I think we all understood how to pray more effectively. All the great teachers, including Dr. Holmes tell us that we must be involved emotionally as well as logically to make prayer work.  We have to believe it, see it, taste it, and enjoy it, as we are working in mind for it.

There are many things we can do to make it real as we are working toward our goal. One way is to spend some meditation time enjoying the feeling that you expect to have when you attain your goal.  For example, if you pray to lose weight, you might follow that up with fifteen minutes imagining how you feel and what you will look like with the weight off.

Some teachers suggest that if you want more prosperity in your life, you should spend some time wandering through expensive department stores getting the “feel” of being wealthy. Of course, as you walk through the store, you must be careful to feel good about being surrounded by luxury, not wistful because you can’t afford things.

The process of praying for any goal is really a process of changing your consciousness so that you can attract and keep the desired experience. We are aiming to change our minds significantly. It is not enough to attract a new car, we must also have the consciousness to safely enjoy it and be able to pay for the insurance and gas .

There are many ways to build a strong emotional element in your prayer work. Perhaps the best is to linger a few moments during the part of the prayer when you realize that you have spoken your word. Before you give it to God to do the work, take a pause and seriously feel how thankful you are to attain whatever result you’ve prayed for. Let that good, grateful feeling sink in and deepen the experience you desire.

Another way to create a deeper emotional acceptance for good in your life is to behave as though you love yourself more. If you speak well of yourself, dress well and take good care of yourself physically, you are expressing your self-love. Healthy self-love is a declaration of worth and a way of saying to yourself and to God that you deserve the best. The more you can believe in your self-worth, the more you can accept from Universal Mind.

You do deserve the best. You have star power that lights up your world.  When you pray, you are in touch with Universal Power and Love. You don’t need other special powers or two boyfriends or  romantic back lighting to be a star when you pray. You are already the star of your own life and you are also the director and writer of your own script. Believe it!

 Ask Youself

Do I expect the best when I pray?

What can I do to bring up my belief level?

How well do I treat myself?

The New Transcendentalists

Walden PondMy friends, the Zagwyns, are in Massachusetts this summer so they sent me photos of some Transcendentalist landmarks, including Walden Pond. They knew I’d love to see and hear all about this amazing spiritual vortex. This is the birthplace of the Transcendentalist movement and New Thought followed closely behind. I like to think of us as the New Transcendentalists.

 If you attend a Center for Spiritual Living Center or follow New Thought some other way, your lineage includes a group of distinguished American thinkers called Transcendentalists. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott and Walt Whitman are among them. You have a very proud heritage.

The early New Thought writers all quoted Emerson and for many, many years, he was the best known, most quoted and most widely read of all American authors. For example, my mother could quote Emerson poems by heart.

It is difficult for us to imagine how much impact Emerson had because his ideas are all around us today and they don’t seem that original. However, he was a revolutionary influence in the fields of philosophy, religion, and literature. His ideas about finding God in Nature, self-reliance and trusting ourselves branded the character of this nation as democratic and self-reliant.

Emerson was trained as a Congregational minister but he did not believe in some of the rituals, including communion. He decided to become a writer and platform speaker instead. In 1836, he published an essay called Nature. It was not particularly well received but now it is a standard reading in college English classes.

The same year Nature was published, Emerson helped establish an informal group popularly called the Transcendentalists. This group originally gathered to discuss new ideas from Europe; instead, they became the birthplace of independent American thinking. The Transcendentalists were important founders of abolition, women’s suffrage, and authentic American literature as well as opening up traditional religious thinking.

Emerson was the central figure in the movement. During the next fifty years, Emerson wrote and spoke all over the nation and in parts of Europe. His essays included SelfReliance, Compensation, Spiritual Laws and the Over Soul. Our CSL class on Emerson includes these and other essays as well as some history of the era.

So many of the ideas and attitudes that we think of as distinctly American come from the works of Emerson and the Transcendentalists. It is hard to imagine a world without them. It is also extremely difficult to imagine Religious Science without Transcendentalism.

Emerson found God everywhere and Ernest Holmes accepted the immanence of God as an absolute truth. Emerson said we should be self-reliant and listen to our hearts. Holmes believed that our intuition was a pathway to God’s wisdom. Emerson wrote, “To thine own self be true”. Holmes said, “Every man knows the truth.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born 1804 and died 1889. He was Harvard educated but he urged American intellectuals to take a self-reliant attitude and stop looking toward the European past. He consistently called for an authentic American voice in literature. Emerson said many wise things, including “Imitation is suicide.”

Ernest Holmes was born 1902 and died 1956. He was a self-educated thinker who combined Emerson’s idealism with mental healing techniques. The 1937 Science of Mind Textbook is one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

The two men lived in entirely different worlds, even though they were New Englanders, because of the differences in life at their different times. Despite these material differences, Emerson and Holmes had much in common. Both were born into families with dominant mothers and absent fathers. Both had brothers, but no sisters. Both men were precocious, avid readers and showed amazing promise at an early age. Emerson entered Harvard at 14. Holmes dropped out of school because he was bored and studied independently.

Both were born in New England. Emerson lived his whole life around Boston – most of it in Concord, and that was the vortex of intellectual power in his time. His neighbors and friends were some of the most brilliant people in US history. Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Parker and in New York City, Walt Whitman were all his good friends.

Holmes chose to move to the creative center of his time – Los Angeles. His congregation was filled with movie stars, and one of his main financial contributors was the man who subdivided Bel Aire. The Institute he established included Asian religious leaders, college professors and psychologists. Holmes’s open mind blew away any narrow idea of religion. The teaching was called Religious Science because he viewed life as a whole, with no split between science and religion or the visible and invisible worlds.

Emerson and Holmes shared a similarity in temperament which was instrumental in making them great leaders in thought and in life at the same time it was a result of their beliefs. They were both happy, well adjusted, loving men. In his day, Emerson was often described as sanguine, which means he was never ruffled, and always optimistic. Holmes was also sanguine.  A woman who attended my church used to go to hear him in earlier times. Once, I asked her, “What was he like?”  She thought quite a while and finally said, “He was a merry little man.”

Both men were generous. During Emerson’s lifetime, he supported his mother, brothers, friends, including the Alcott family for most of their life. He also very generously sponsored the publication of other writers works. Stories about generosity abound about Holmes’s as well. They both lived well and neither was interested in amassing a lot of money. They expected it to be there.

Emerson and Holmes shared many beliefs. They both believed in idealism – that is they believed that behind every material experience, there was a spiritual cause. They believed in abundance – that is they could share their wealth, give of themselves, circulate freely and there would be enough to go around. They believed in self-reliance, that is, that the final authority in our lives is within, that we must look within to find our unique and individualized truth.

They believed in the sacredness of life – all life. Neither man distinguished good and bad aspects of life, but they saw only good. They were both fascinated by Asian religions and incorporated compassion and detachment into in their teaching. Nevertheless, they remained Westerners. They believed in the innate value of all people. They recognized that all of us have a divine origin and nature.

This is your lineage. If you have studied Ernest Holmes, you have also studied Ralph Waldo Emerson. Their wisdom is available to you as a gift from the Universe. Say thank you and accept; happiness, peace, idealism, optimism, self-reliance, sacred life, and all the other components of their enlightenment.

Ask Yourself

What would I like to accept from Holmes or Emerson?

What would more self-reliance feel like?

What would more self-love feel like?

What would _____ feel like?

Where can I learn more?

The Spiral Staircase

scan020Just for fun, our CSL ministers have been sharing the jobs they held before they became ministers. Since we tend to be “seekers” who came to the ministry later in life, we had great stories to tell about earlier jobs. Our email list is confidential, so you’ll just have to believe me, every pathway was unique.

I worked as a camp counselor, ironed clothes, sold dresses, taught school, owned a folk art store, wrote for a newspaper, wrote books, wrote curriculum, sold real estate, was a marketing director for a development company and then I became a minister.

My work story is pretty dull compared to many of my colleagues but it helped me move upward to a place of trust and love. I had a lot to learn emotionally and journey into a few cull de sacs before I could be a minister.

I believe New Thought ministers are, as a group, wiser about life and better at working with people because we tend to come to our calling later in life. Late blooming spiritual leaders have an advantage because we’ve been around the block a few times. My grandmother would say, “We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.”

We are fully grown adults, ready to be leaders in a grown up religion. We’ve made some mistakes ourselves. We know mistakes create an opportunity to learn.  Most important of all, we know it is never too late to learn.

Maturity is only one factor in the effectiveness of a spiritual leader, of course. You need knowledge, enthusiasm and energy as well. There is a lot to be said for youth and a whole lot to be said for maturity.

I have always felt sorry for young people who enter seminaries and convents at such young ages. Young and old can be genuine seekers but it is easier to for the slow starters to attain the wisdom and clarity necessary for the ministry.

I am writing about maturity in spiritual leadership today because I watched Karen Armstrong on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Armstrong wrote the best-selling book,  A History of God and many others. On Oprah, she  was pitching her spiritual memoir The Spiral Staircase.

Armstrong talked about going into an English Catholic convent at age 17. She said she wanted to know God and chose the vocation independently but she could never learn to meditate, lost focus in her prayers, and hated her mandatory three hours of sewing. She struggled for seven years before she finally made herself so ill she dropped out. Poor child!

She gave up on seeking God for a while but continued her Oxford studies. She also continued suffering from a mysterious illness. She was treated for mental illness until they finally found it was epilepsy. Despite these difficulties, she went on to become one of the world’s greatest religious scholars.

As I listened, I respected her perseverance and I was especially touched by her use of the spiral image for her own spiritual journey. She said she used it because of a poem by T.S. Eliot. It seems to me to a beautiful image for our spiritual journeys. We may feel as though we are stuck or going backward but we are always climbing higher toward the Light.

Armstrong talked about how our challenges can seem to be healed and then return again. She said that when these problems return, they come around again to be healed on a higher level. The return of an issue is not failure.

As she talked, I admired her courage, perseverance and intellect. I am glad she was able to create a successful life for herself after such a difficult beginning. Armstrong now holds a belief in God based on her studies of world religions. She says compassion is the most important similarity in all of them.

As she talks, she sounds to me like a very bright New Thought spiritual leader. She believes God is all Life, present everywhere. God is basically unknowable, except through Love, which she calls compassion.

I have certainly oversimplified her thoughts. But it was her story that story that struck me as the important thing to share. She is very honest and her story is certainly unique. She has come a long way and accomplished a great deal.

Like most people, her life did not follow her initial plan. When she entered that convent as a seventeen year old, she was a starry-eyed child with map that she believed would be a straight path to knowing God. Life led her on a quest that forced her to abandon her beginner’s map. She and the world are richer for the spiraling path.

I love the image of the spiral because I find it hopeful and true. The first time I heard growth described that way was a creative artist who showed it as an ever-expanding illustration. This artist helped me by saying we shouldn’t be discouraged if a problem showed up again and again. She insisted it wasn’t failure, but just the next step in the discovery process. What looked like a relapse is just the next step in the healing journey.

That concept helps me. I have been discouraged. Have you? It is fairly common to face the same issue in different circumstances. The point is to keep on moving upward, toward Love and Light.

You and I could not have predicted what our spiritual path would look like when we started out at 17, anymore than Karen Armstrong could. Her path included disappointments and difficulties, yet she grew into a phenomenal woman.

You and I are also phenomenal. Take a look backward at yourself when you were seventeen. Can you see how far you have come? Doesn’t it seem as though you can go even farther? Of course you can.

Everyone is on a quest toward greater spiritual wisdom, whether conscious of it or not. If you can see that you have greater wisdom and light than you did as a teenager, you will see you are spiraling upward, whether it feels like it today or not.

As we move through life, we gain wisdom and balance and there is always more to come. Change and growth develops in unique and wonderful ways. We gain compassion and a genuine belief in the goodness of life and God. There is no end to that learning because God is Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Love.

We learn to embrace our uniqueness and to love ourselves. We are then able to love others. Our honesty touches others and shows the way. Our spiritual wisdom is contagious in wonderful ways and we are overjoyed to be connected to others through love.

I thank Karen Armstrong for reminding me of the spiral staircase of life. It is a beautiful image of how Love grows and expresses in each of us.

Ask Yourself

What did I believe about God at 17?

What do I believe about God now?

What have I learned?

What pattern or patterns do I seen repeating?

What do I need to believe to release negative beliefs?

Movies & Metaphysics

dreamMade In Heaven, one of my favorite movies, was made in 1987 and stars Kelly McGillis and Timothy Hutton. The story begins in heaven where the recently-dead hero falls in love with the new-soul heroine. In this movie, heaven is a kind of holding pen. The heroine is sent to earth and the hero persuades the authorities to let him “take cuts” in the reincarnation line to chase her.

I like the scenes in heaven because they are whimsical and fun. The Planet Earth plot is an average quest – “Will hero find heroine in time?” The stars have just enough déjà vu to keep them unconsciously seeking their true love.

They are lucky to be reborn into the United States, but there are plenty of complications. He is a low-class Westerner and she’s a high class Easterner. Like all good quests, success looks unlikely  – especially because they don’t know what they are seeking.

The scenes in heaven make it seem as though people create all the good stuff in heaven and then recreate it on earth when the returned as a new persona.

In the movie, as the hero stumbles toward true love, he sees a painting in a NYC art gallery that was first created in heaven. The painting is probably in the story to support the plot and prove some art works are so “heavenly” they must have been created in heaven.

It’s only a movie and I love the whimsical approach to metaphysics but I didn’t take it seriously. However, I have often wondered about nature of individual creative genius.

Why can two equally hard-working, well-trained students be so different in talent? How, exactly, do we explain the fine sonata Mozaart wrote at age eight? Is it reincarnation? If everything comes from God, is it just waiting for someone on earth to imagine it? That’s sort of what Made in Heaven is saying.

This week, I watched that movie on TV once again. Later, I was perusing the Science of Mind Textbook and found stuff on page 273 that takes all the starch out of my favorite metaphysical movie’s garters.

Dr. Ernest Holmes is talking about how affirmative prayer works. He says that the Divine Intelligence is Infinite Mind and when we use treatment, we give it to God to do the work and God creates in that moment. God specializes for us through Spiritual Law.

This is the paragraph that really woke me up: God is forever doing new things, and when we conceive new ideas, it is an act of the Divine projecting Itself into Creation. There were no flying machines until man made them. The Spirit did not have a lot of little flying machine models put away in a cosmic cupboard somewhere. But the mind that conceived the flying machine is God. The mind we use is the Mind of the Universe. This is God in man and it is only through this Mind that we understand anything. This mind is us, responding to us, the flight of the Alone to the Alone,” of “the One to Itself” is God speaking and God answering.

Even if you find that paragraph difficult to understand, it is clear that Holmes says that paintings are not first done in heaven and carried down to earth. God doesn’t invent until the individual has the vision and then God works through him or her. Humans are a necessary component to this creation.

The music, dance, painting or novel, is an expression of the Creative Mind in action but it must act through us. It takes individuals to begin to imagine inventions or creative expressions that we call art before God creates. We are part of the process and it particularizes through us.

The Creative Mind responds to the inventor or artist and creates in the moment. There is no warehouse of paintings or sonatas or stories stored anyplace because God creates in the moment.

Holmes’s statement might surprise some artists. Many artists feel as though their creations are a gift from God that  flows through them. Many writers, including this one, have good days when it feels as though the work “somehow” writes itself. We call that inspiration.

When inspiration flows as wonderful, easy creative expression, it flows like meditation or even a light trance but that artistic expression is always a combination of human being and God creating together.

No matter how talented we are, we all begin as novices. We need teachers and seek outside guidance as a part of our artistic process. Most artists keep ordinary habits and hours because they find that dedication is important so inspiration won’t go missing.

We are all creative and we are all influenced by our culture and outside factors. We all create in different forms and styles. We are influenced by our unique consciousness and because we are unique, our output is unique. Whether it is a Mona Lisa painting or a great new apple pie recipe it is true art, and filled with the Creative Energy of God. Inspiration is wonderful and more available to skilled people who allow the creative energy flow through them as they create.

Many artists have some sort of religious understanding of their work. One of the most famous woodcarvers in Oaxaca, Mexico, once explained to me that the Angels tell him what to sculpt. I don’t believe in Angels but I do believe Senor Jimenez believed.

We do better creative work when we clear our consciousness of self-defeating ideas and allow inspiration to flow. We need to find a path that allows us to be ourselves with our own unique desires and talents.  Just anyone can’t be a Senor Jimenez or a Diana Ross but they have allowed themselves to be themselves so their talent shines. A true artist aims to be his or her unique self.   We are all artists of our own lives.

When you take Science of Mind classes, you learn that you are a unique, individualized expression of God. If you look around, you can see that is true. Do you ever wonder how you came to be that unique, wonderful, person that you are?

Have you ever wondered why you are you? Do you remember when you were a teenager and wanted to be just like everyone else?  Somewhere along the path, all of us, especially artists, must begin to express their own beautiful, individual selves and forget about being like others.

We happier and healthier and more successful when we release the idea we should imitate anyone else. We need to discover our own blessed, individual selves. We need to accept ourselves and our individual talents and strengths.

Movies are fine but they are only stories. The relationship of the visible and invisible worlds or Spirit to matter or God to humans makes more sense in the Science of Mind Textbook than on the silver screen. Dr. Holmes states clearly that we are unique expressions of God and that we can each express in ways no one else can. We are unique and necessary to God.

Ask Yourself

How are you most creative?

What spiritual books do you read?

What are your talents?

Do you have an artistic hobbies?

What artistic expression would you like to try?