Art and Spirit

wonderOur Art & Spiritual Practice Workshop was the first public event I’ve led since I went into rehab last September. Treatment works! 

Last September I couldn’t stand up at all and was not given much hope of recovery. The best  the doctors promised was that nerves continued to recover for a long time. I’m ten months into that mysterious back injury, and I’m still not certain how it happened. That’s not important, however. What’s important is that I am continuing to improve.

I’m walking short distances with a walker now and I can definitely see progress. Since the pain is less and I can now walk a bit with a walker, most of my medical helpers seem to think there is hope. I have never doubted it and neither has my beautiful daughter Kate.

We never gave up expecting the best and we intend to keep working at it. I pray every day and I monitor my thoughts throughout the day. I also thank  Kate and everyone else who is praying for me.

Every day, I am getting better. Most of the time, the signs are small but doing the workshop felt like a major signal of increased ability. What I really want is to continue to contribute to life. So today I am celebrating a breakthrough.

I led the Art & Spiritual Practice Workshop with my friend Sharon Bagley, a marvelous artist, who recently got her practitioner license.

This was Sharon’s first experience of leading a workshop. She had the enthusiasm of youth and talent. I’ve done hundreds of workshops for Wise Women and in church in the past 25 years but this was special because I was actually there, doing what I love to do.

It takes planning and hard work to create a workshop of value. We had excellent help from Lynn Guilfoyle, who contributed to the planning meetings and helped in many ways. She has posted photos on Facebook on Lynn Guilfoyle and Center For Spiritual Living, Carlsbad. She also arrived two hours early to do the set up, she brought the refreshments and chaired the cleanup. We had several other helpers and I want to thank them all. Our church people are always happy and generous with help.

I couldn’t help with the set up but I enjoyed sitting in my wheel chair, (I think of it as my temporary throne). It really does seem to take a village to make a workshop and Sharon and I thank all the willing hands and hearts who contributed to the success.

I truly loved being a part of Sharon’s first success as a workshop leader. I’ve known her as a talented artist from the work she posts on Facebook. Now, I know she is also as a talented teacher.

Sharon opened the morning with a fabulous exercise on dealing with our inner critic. Seems we all have a voice inside us that sends out negative messages. Sharon showed us how to tame that critic so we can get on with our success.

I showed people how to use art in their journaling and in meditation. All of the presentations were popular and people were happy to share their work. That made for a very interesting morning.

I was especially pleased that so many of the participants came from Sharon’s hair dressing clientele. She’s so upbeat, it’s not surprising that her customers decided they wanted to know what she knows and signed up. A leader who lives what she teaches is always popular. Sharon lives on the sunny side of the street.

A lot of spiritual practice is aimed at helping us be happier and more carefree. Each of the exercises we presented was a direct method of lifting up spirits. It was also a means of getting what you want in life. Sharon’s art work that she posts on Facebook is full of joy and it reflects the real Sharon.

My artwork that gets posted on this blog is a form of meditation I developed after my pills made me too sleepy to count my breath or follow a mantra. I select a word I want  and spend 20 or 30 minutes creating that word. While I draw, I focus my thoughts on the good in the word.

Focusing on something like  Joy or Love is a Western form of meditation called contemplation. There are many other  techniques that utilize art. Go to any museum and study the paintings from the Renaisance and you will see that artists are expressing genuine religious feelings.

The circle is a symbol of wholeness that shows up in spiritual practice often. There is a circle in the composition of paintings of Mother Mary and her child in Western art. That is the same circle we find in ancient Hindu mandalas.

Another spiritual concept that is universal is the impermanence of life or experience. The sand paintings of Tibetan monks and Native Americans are well known expressions of spirituality in art.

As I write, I sit in my TV room that it is decorated with Huichol yarn paintings. Those Indians of Nayarit, Mexico created wonderful magical stories from their indigenous belief system. My favorite, among my paintings, is the Corn Mother with bright yellow yarn hair. The story says each season she is born, dies and reborn to celebrate life and the Huichol staple crop – corn.

The belief that life is eternal and also changing is very common in art. I have some wonderful clay figures that were intended to be companions in death. Like the ancient Egyptians, the Lacondon Indians of Chiapas, Mexico buried small figures to keep the dead person company on his or her journey to the afterlife.

We all enjoy looking at art. It enriches our view of life and we “borrow” the artist’s experience to enlarge our own. I have never seen calla lilies the same way since I saw  Georgia O’Keefe’s painting. Artists help us see.

The experience of creating our own artistic expression is even more valuable than appreciating an artist’s work, . It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect . Any attempt at using line, color, texture, and form to create a composition has value. We can all be artists if we are open to the experience. Our Saturday workshop was designed around the idea that if we are willing to participate, we are artists.

Artists – whether we find them in a workshop in Carlsbad, the Italian Renaissance, or the most remote jungle in Mexico,-  are marked by their ability to see clearly and distinctly. An artist’s eye is open to the beauty and uniqueness of life.

Our Western Bible tells us we are created in the image and likeness of God. I believe that our ability to create art is a proof of that belief. God is best defined as the Creative Intelligence of the Universe. Since God is creative and intelligent and we are created in that image, we are also creative and intelligent. Adding an art experience to your spiritual practice might be a good way to understand that.

Ask Yourself

What kind of art do I enjoy?

What would I like to try?

 

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How’s Your MindSet?

 

GrowI play computer games to keep my memory and  mind alert. Sometimes crossword puzzles take too long because my mind is set in the wrong direction. That can also happen in real life.

         Easy crossword puzzles on the AARP website are not really very easy when I get stuck on a wrong-headed route. If I need a synonym for aged and I’m thinking elderly but the answer that fits is ripe they become Frustrating Crosswords.

I have spent many precious moments trying to fit a wrong word into a tight space. Last week, the clue was sort and my time was doubled because I couldn’t imagine anything but genre or type. Sort can also mean arrange.

My problem is chronic. The word was ruler, and I spent ten minutes searching for a four letter word that meant measuring tool all the while, forgetting about king.

I thought the answer to public should have been crowd and it turned out to be overt. I thought the answer to long should have been stretched and it turned out to be yearn. I think the answer to employ should have been hire and it turned out to be use.

Crosswords are just a game and I needn’t worry about my scores. I have an excellent vocabulary so I don’t worry about that either. However, my tendency to latch onto one idea and hold on so tight it hurts can be a private problem. How about you?

Opening up our minds to new ideas is a great skill. We can look at our earlier lives and see how important the ability to see more than one way really is. When I look backward, I see my youthful relationships could have been simpler if I’d seen love and sex as separate words. I see now that my life could have been richer if I’d known mathematics is fascinating fun.

New viewpoints are often invigorating and helpful. Learning new things keeps us young and healthy. I improved my health when I began to define food to include vegetables and fruits, not just meat and potatoes.

Steadfastness and perserverance are two great characteristics. On the other hand, being willing to explore new aspects of a situation and attach new meanings to words is very rewarding. Opening up to change is a great deal of what we learn in the spiritual classes at the Centers For Creative Living.

Hanging onto one viewpoint is just one more way to resist change. If it is an idea that impacts our decision making abilities, we need to learn to let go sooner. The ability to adapt to changing conditions is one important measure of intelligence.

Think about the ideas you have had to change in your lifetime in order to adapt to modern living. Perhaps there was a time when you thought boys were bad cooks or girls were bad mechanics. If you wanted a relationship that is based on equality, you will probably have modified those ideas by now.

One of these days, as a part of your spiritual practice, make a list of some of the ideas you have changed in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised at the progress you’ve made simply by changing your mind.

Here are a few of my changes:

1, I used to believe I was too dumb for math and now I believe I can balance my books.

2. I used to believe I needed nine hours of sleep every night and now I believe seven hours works just fine.

3. I used to believe comic movies are a waste of time and now I believe they make you healthier.

4. I used to believe TV was an idiot machine and now I believe it is an exciting medium.

5. I used to believe working with a team was difficult and now I believe it can be wonderful.

We all change ideas as we move through life and that is a good and not-so-good thing. The trick is to retain the ideas that are still valuable and discard the ones that no longer serve us. It is useful to take an inventory from time to time just to clean up some of what needs to be changed.

As we inventory our beliefs, we may find we are hanging onto ideas that need to change. For example, you might want to take a look at some of your ideas about work divisions between men and women. Who does the housework? Who mows the lawn? How’s that working? How would you like to see it change?

As you do this inventory, be on the lookout for prejudice. You may have picked up some very narrow beliefs as a child. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about. One ethnic group can’t drive well. Another ethnic group is lazy. One gender is untrustworthy. Another gender is money hungry.

If there are any of these old pre-judgments hanging around in your consciousness, this is a great time to change.

Learning to look at life through a wider viewpoint can make you a more successful, much happier, and more successful person. When you open your mind to different ways of looking at things, you also become more creative.

Much of what we teach in our Centers for Spiritual Living has to do with allowing new ideas and new opportunities to come into our lives. We have a simple statement that we say over and over, “Change your thinking and change your life.”

Our Sunday talks, books and classes help us create better and better lives. If you are interested in knowing more about how to widen your ability to see clearly, check out my book, Science of Mind Skills. It is available through this blog or in your church bookstore.

Do something to build a wider mindset today.

Ask Yourself

List at least five ideas you have changed recently.

List at least three ideas you are considering changing now.

How do you plan to open your mind set?

 

 

 

 

 


Change Happens

 

DreamUmbrella‘We are more than keepers of our brothers and sisters, we are our brothers and sisters”

Maya Angelou closed the Kwanzaa documentary with those words. I have no idea if they were written for her or if they were original, but I do know that watching TV documentaries is fascinating – especially the historicals when you’ve lived through those times.

I remember when Kwanzaa was invented (1966), or at least I remember when it became well enough known to attract the attention of white liberals. It seemed, at first, like one more example of a rising interest in African culture. I had no idea that it would become a nationally known week of celebration of the spiritual values that made an ethnic group great.

I didn’t imagine we would routinely celebrate Kwanzaa rituals in the church I founded. Of course, in those days, I couldn’t imagine founding a church. Some things look inevitable in hindsight, but they were impossible to imagine as you headed into an unknown future.

If you learn much about history from TV documentaries, you see that all constructive change movements represent the opening minds of many people. It’s not a movement if it’s only you and a couple of friends. There is an old joke about the important guy with megaphone trotting beside the parade shouting, “Slow down so I can lead you!”

History is like that. An event happens – Rosa Parks says she won’t move to the back of the bus and history happens. Cassius Clay says he won’t go to war and history happens. Betty Friedan writes a book and history happens. Or so they say.

The truth is that history only happens when a critical mass is ready to ignite. There was a whole lot of preparation for the Montgomery bus strike. Many young men and women were against the draft and Vietnam war. Many young people decided they wanted to change from “slave names” to African ones. Many women loved Friedan’s book and untied their apron strings and burned their bras.

It takes more than an isolated event. Constructive change needs to attract a crowd. There are many ways to prepare people for taking steps forward.

We reach consensus by talking in small and large groups, in classrooms and through media. Popular culture prepares people to change. That is why dictators hate open discussions and free press.

Totalitarian leaders seem to need to close schools, shut down the press, squash artists and burn books as quickly as possible. If you want to build and preserve a dictatorship you must stop conversation about change as efficiently as possible.

We live in a nation committed to freedom and we are currently experiencing a strong resistance to change. When we look at how Congress is paralyzed, we see the messy side of democracy. We despair of   our ability to change in the direction of equality and justice for all but it will happen.

Education and the arts are important if constructive change is to thrive. When looking backward the power of the arts is clear. Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit did more to awaken the conscience of the nation than any one thing. Right now, millions are singing the Peace Song every Sunday morning. That song will accomplish as much as a treaty.

Just signing an agreement doesn’t make change happen. Slaves were emancipated over 150 years ago but some people are still working in appalling conditions. Women have had the vote since 1920 but we still get less pay. Someone could write a book called Aunt Tommi’s Cabin and show the poverty of single mothers for the heartbreaker it is.

In this modern age, I suspect that TV documentaries are best for promoting constructive change. God bless PBS. News stories also change minds.

Certainly, the civil rights movement owes a lot to news reporting. It was ordinary people who linked arms and sang as they overcame fear and violence and marched into the 1960’s. It was ordinary reporters who covered those marches.

When I look at the past, I am encouraged but things never move fast enough to suit me. It’s not enough to have a black president although it is a beginning. There is so much to be done it makes me want to jump on my soapbox.

We need major reforms in education, immigration, health, prisons, and money equality. We need to elect more women to public office. There is more but we need to tackle this now.

I am optimistic about change because so much has been achieved in my lifetime, especially for middle class blacks and young women. These changes tend to mask the number of older women and single mothers who are trapped in poverty. It also masks the appalling unemployment rate among black men.

I’m not doing much but watching documentaries at this point but it’s fascinating to compare TV history to my own personal movie. As I look back at my life, I’m grateful that I was as outspoken and on the side of the angels as I was.

I’m also moved to write an occasional social action piece on my blog. I continue to send money to causes and write letters to politicians. These are two possibilities for anyone who wants to help make constructive change.

My spiritual choices are the most important thing I do. My New Thought religion doesn’t tell me how to vote or what to say, but every time I say, “There is a Power for Good greater than I am and I can use it,” I am empowered. You are also.

I believe that spiritual beliefs based on Science of Mind can unlock many constructive changes in individual lives and also make a big difference in our common culture. Think about it. When we locate God in the present, living within each person, we’ve declared independence.

The mere idea that God is the Creative Power of the Universe and not an old white guy in the sky shifts the power base. We become spiritual revolutionaries.

Once we accept that everyone is a spiritual being with equal access to God, we are denying that anyone is more important than any other. That is radical thinking!

I believe we are living in a time of spiritual liberation or revolution. When you learn you can take charge of your life by changing your thinking, you stop looking to outside authority . We are making a great shift in our belief about where the power lives. What used to be “the best kept secret” is becoming a common idea.

I’ve seen it coming for a while. When people started quoting Oprah instead of ministers or priests, I knew we were enjoying a great sea change. The fact that she is a black woman is a harbinger of change.

Like all great movements, it’s complicated and will take time. There will be resistance but the ruling hierarchy is in big, big trouble.

I am not impatient because I have a dream. I dream I’m one of a gathering crowd of spiritual revolutionaries who know we have a God-given right to Love, Light, Prosperity, and Wisdom. We are claiming our Divine Inheritance as we practice the principles of Love and Light. We are spiritual leaders riding the waves toward life-changing acceptance of Spiritual Truth.

Ask Yourself

How have I changed?

How do I want to change?

Do I need to release fear or doubt about change?

Am I ready to change any behavior now?

 

 

 


Getting Gladder

dareA friend, who was born in 1908, taught me to say, “Another day to be glad in” the first thing every morning. She learned it from her mother who was born around 1880. I now  teach it to people who were born in the 1990’s. That’s how wisdom grows, expands and evolves.

Some people are certain life is getting worse, not better. They talk about the “good old days” when life was simpler and better. Some believe in places like Shangri-La, ignoring the fact that the old movie is Hollywood fiction. Other people believe in lost islands of perfection such as Atlantis where everyone was spiritually advanced.

Actually, life is getting better all the time because we gain wisdom as we age and we learn from our mistakes. We impart that wisdom to the next generation. Individual lives vary but in general, we are living better now than we did in the past.

Being a caveman or woman makes good reading in the funny papers but there was no fire to keep us warm or cook our possums. And can you imagine childbirth in the Middle Ages? How about illness before we knew about germs?

There were some dreadful side effects to the industrial revolution but we enjoy the inventions the Age of Progress brought. Technology has improved many things. In my lifetime, I have seen so many labor saving and entertainment devices introduced to my home that it is hard to count them all. I once lived without TV and hung my clothes on outdoor lines.

Our emotional and spiritual natures have also improved. There was a time when theologians seriously doubted if women had souls and witches were burned at an astonishing rate. Only men could speak in church and women had to wear hats so their flowing locks wouldn’t tempt the men.

It’s fun to daydream about Somewhere Over The Rainbow where troubles melt like lemon drops but it simply isn’t true. Life was harder in the old days.

We are much better off today. Travel is easier. Food is better. Health is better. Our collective wisdom has improved things. Slavery may not be totally eradicated but it is rare and considered criminal instead of normal. Child labor is frowned on everywhere and usually against the law.  Thank God we educate girls in nearly every part of the world.

I also believe that people are growing wiser and kinder every day.  Think about it.  Aren’t you growing more loving and less judgmental as you mature? Aren’t you more interested in others than you were as a self-centered teenager?When life is longer and gentler, it follows that people treat each other better.

Ancient Egypt was supposed to be the seat of all spiritual wisdom but  it was a brutal place for the average man who  lived to be 35. Longevity enables us to mature spiritually. The phrase “We are one,”  takes on deeper meaning when we have young loved ones. Every age brings special joys.

We tend to glorify childhood but if you watch the park playground, you will notice that children are just learning to share. In fact, sharing is a major part of the kindergarten curriculum. Yes, I believe we are created as perfect, whole and complete and I observe that it takes most of us a while to discover our perfection. Most of us  improve with age.

We love the innocence of childhood but innocence implies the need to learn. Yes, kids can teach us some things but most of the time, we must teach the children. If the Master Teacher really told us to  become like children to enter the gates of heaven, we shouldn’t take that advice literally. No sensible adult aims for a return to childhood.  We call that senility.

It’s  best not to take the Bible literally. I would interpret the phrase “become like little children” to mean releasing the resentment and pain of the past. And the best way to release those old grievances and sad stories is to live in gratitude each day.

Wisdom can be learned and taught and that is how humans fulfill some of their spiritual potential. We are here to express God and the goodness of life and we expand in spiritual wisdom as we remember to be grateful. In New Thought, we define God as an ever-expanding evolutionary principle. Spirit is Infinite Power, Infinite Love, and Infinite Possibility. That word infinite means no limits. Spirit has no limits and neither do we.

We also know that we bring more of what we focus on into our lives. We keep our thoughts as light and bright as we can to bring more lightness and brightness to us. Over the years, I have learned to train my mind toward optimism and to lighten my dark moods.

How about you? Do you start your days with joy and enthusiasm? Do you believe life is good and getting better? Are you willing to learn? Do you want better days?

If you wish for better days but doubt the possibility your life could improve, why not experiment? Start a simple spiritual practice based on thanksgiving. Gratitude is a powerful tool and everyone can use it to kickstart the Law of Attraction.

What works for others must surely work for you because we are one. I’ve learned to use one of the  simplest and most effective spiritual practices I’ve encountered in my many years of study.

Here it is:  Before you finish your first cup of coffee in the morning, write “Another day to be glad in,” in your notebook. Then list ten things (or more) that you are grateful for.

I  believe you will find this is truly a mind and heart expanding practice, especially as it becomes a treasured habit. It will work in any situation. I’ve seen it pull people out of deep depression when practiced faithfully. I’ve often had it turn around  a day that promised difficulty but turned out great. Gratitude is a lot like magic.

There is always something to be grateful for. There are always people you love, natural things you admire, entertainments you enjoy, a some surprise event like a baby’s smile or a phone call to enjoy and put on your list.

Your list doesn’t have to be complicated. Just note the simplest things, like your coffee, your doggie, your petunias, tomorrow’s football game or your favorite aunt’s name.   By making the list, you take control and you will no longer feel so helpless. It will lift your spirits.

We can all control our emotional mindset if we acquire simple techniques such as gratitude lists. It took me a long time to learn that truth but I accept it now. I used to want to blame conditions or other people but I rejoice that I am in charge of my emotional life now.

Wisdom grows through our experience. Because we are intelligent humans, we can also learn from other people’s experiences. Even a simple idea such as taking charge of our emotions can be learned through practice. Sometimes it takes a while to embrace obvious truths but it can be done.

Ask Yourself

What’s on my list today?


Pots Of Gold

rich3Did you believe in Leprechauns as a child? Did you wish upon a star? Did you play Cinderella waiting for her Prince? Did you have a magic penny? Or toss your money into the wishing well?

Some people carry unrealistic ideas about money into their adult years. For example, the person who expects money to buy  love or happiness is looking for more than money can accomplish. So is the person who tosses  money away on junk and doesn’t save for another day.

Money isn’t magic. However, our money ideas work almost like magic in our lives.

A few years ago everyone was talking about a book called The Secret. It sold extremely well by repeating the same truths that New Thought has been teaching for over 100 years. It seems we must rediscover the fact that our thoughts are creating our experience in every new generation.

Earlier, Dr. Eric Butterworth wrote an excellent prosperity book called Spiritual Economics. I love Butterworth’s wisdom because he is so clear and he focuses on changing our consciousness in order to create new results.

There are many classes and workshops on prosperity in New Thought churches. My church, the Center for Positive Living in Carlsbad, CA, will focus on financial abundance this month of September. Rev. Debby O’Donnell speaks.

No matter what prosperity message you read or hear, wherever you are, you will hear some version of, “Change your thinking and change your life.”  That’s a shorthand version of every Science of Mind message. New Thought teaches God is Love, operating in our lives as Spiritual Law. Our individual minds are  directly connected to the Great Mind and we are constantly sending messages to God whether we know it or not.

Our lives will take the direction of our prevailing belief patterns. Random thoughts are not as powerful as our trained spiritual mind treatments or affirmative prayers but the Spiritual Law is always responding to the direction we give through our thoughts, beliefs and emotions, (which comprise our consciousness).

Many of the beliefs we hold are shared with others and we may not even think about them as beliefs because they seem so natural.  For example, in Canada and the USA, most of us share the belief that hard work pays off. One might say our North American culture is built on that belief. Our media reinforces the idea. Despite individual differences, that shared belief created  two prosperous nations.

Individual beliefs do have an individual impact. If I grow up believing that I must work very hard for money because it is very scarce, I will be less successful . Even if I have more money, I’ll be exhausted.

On the other hand, if I grow up believing that no matter how hard I work, I’ll never get ahead, I will have another result. Perhaps I will believe I am too dumb or too uneducated or the wrong gender, or whatever. In any case,  If I learn about spiritual law, I can change my belief and get more of what I want out of life.

The workaholic can envision, pray, believe and accept more fun and more free time. The discouraged worker can replace his or her “Why try?” mentality with an  “I can do” attitude.

As you read this, take a look at your responses. Do you believe that hard work pays off? Do you think you are working too hard for too little result? Do you have a defeated or pessimistic attitude? What would you like to change in your life? What would you like to have? More time? More money? More fame? New kind of work?

Nothing of this essay is intended to blame anyone or detract from anyone’s worth as a spiritual/human being. Our worth is always equal in Truth because we are all living in God.  Some have more money than others do today. That can change soon.

It is important to understand that money is simply money. It is not anyone’s intrinsic worth. Is that something you need think about? Do you need to look at your beliefs around worthiness?

If we are honest and we can lower our defenses a bit, we will see our ideas about money are showing up in our lives. Even if we cannot see that in our lives, we can probably see spiritual law working in other people’s lives. Take a look around but do not judge. Just observe.

Sometimes we don’t know what we think . One way to become more aware is to listen to our own chatter. Even if we say it with a laugh, we are claiming the idea when we say, “No rest for the wicked” or “A woman’s work is never done” or “I just can’t seem to get ahead.”

Become conscious of what you are saying when you are not listening. Those are habits of thought and you may want to change some of them because habits have power. Begin by asking yourself what you want to believe and pray to release what you do not want. You will see change.

Other ideas are not so apparent and they may have been acquired very early. Some may have a lot of emotion around them. These subterranean beliefs can be powerful and even dangerous to our bank accounts.

For example, as a younger woman, I turned down many financial opportunities and it was because I had a deep-seated belief that I could not have love and financial success. Counseling helped me see what I was doing and change some behavior.

Do you have a  journal? It is very instructive to spend time writing down money messages you heard as a child. Did you grow up in a home where money was secret? Or  mysterious? Was there never enough? Might you still live in that atmosphere? Do you want to change?

For example, I used to be very frightened of authority – especially the IRS. Filing my income tax  was scary. Once I discovered how and when I adopted that fear, I was able to release it. Knowledge is powerful.

Almost all of us have ideas about money that need to be rescued from the shadows.  The plan is simple. Discover what you want and what’s standing in the way. Then go for it.

Shape your spiritual practice around prosperity work. Use meditation and spiritual mind treatment to work your magic.   Release the old stuff that isn’t working and accept the new stuff that is right for you. Make this a priority and do not give up. Be consistent and do what you need to do to believe that spiritual law is working for you.

You will be guided gently to take steps in the direction of your dreams. The more you can believe there is a Power for Good working for you, the faster you will see the abundance  you desire.

Way will open.

Ask yourself

What’s my desire?

What’s my plan?

What’s my spiritual practice?


Fear & Love

open005I read a novel set in Portugal in the 1700’s. Although it was not a violent book, the Inquisition loomed in the background and eventually some of the major characters were burned at the stake. The story disturbed me, as stories about religious fanaticism always do.

I thought it was a good novel about interesting people but at the end the writer obviously thought the Protestant religion was best because it was so sane. However, I know there were many witches burned in Protestant nations in that time.

I thank God every day for my religion where I learn that God is love and fear is only a mistake or error.

Most of the terrible things like war, pogroms and ethnic cleansing come from fear. So do the personal terrors such as economic disparity, prejudice, crime and abuse. Fear creates problems such as suspicion and sleeplessness in our daily lives also. Fear of the unknown creates trouble on personal, tribal, national, and global levels.

This week, people are caught up in the story of Trayvon Martin’s death and rightly so. Whenever a young man is tracked and hunted because he is a different color it is a cause for national concern. I understand the jury has spoken and that the trial it is over. Somehow, we must choose Love rather than despair.We must trust Love.

Perhaps Trayvon’s death will awaken people and they will see there is more to be done about fearful laws, fearful guns and racial divides. We cannot just elect a black president and say it is over. We must find a way to help people release fear and move into acceptance, and Love.

New Thought people are leaders in acceptance because our teaching is steeped in the belief of Oneness. I am feeling very much at One with Trayvon’s parents this morning and so are many others. I hold them in Love and I choose to respond to the nonsense in the media with Love. It is my attitude of choice.

Fear and Love are attitudes and we all slide up and down the scale, just as we do with hot and cold, happy or sad, healthy or well.  We all have mixed bags of choice and we are not always logical. One person fears immigrants but loves to travel. Another person loves people but fears animals. Nations with borders either love or fear each other. When did we last hear anything mean said about Canada?

Fear can elect politicians and impact laws. We build fences and place armed sentries at gates to keep out people whose labor we depend upon.  Gated communities are built in fear. In some places, kids must walk in groups to school because they live in fearsome neigborhoods. Fear is contagious but Love overcomes all.

Sometimes a mild form of fear is useful. I check the date on my refrigerated food. I wear a hat in summer and a jacket in winter. I even fear the company of some people enough that I avoid them.

We are constantly picking positions on the attitude scale. These choices should be conscious instead of automatic. When we are conscious, we choose Love because it is our true nature. We choose Love and we avoid spats, arguments, and even wars. We choose Love because it expands joy and brings adventure, wisdom, and happiness. We choose Love because it reinforces our true God-self.

Choosing Love is easy to practice in small ways when we are conscious. We might even make a game of overcoming fear. We might be brave and try a new restaurant or make a new friend or join a new group.

Choosing a new restaurant is a long way from the Spanish Inquisition – of course it is. But the fear that keeps us in a rut is a small version of the fear that created the Inquisition. It also created segregation and racial prejudice. Fear creates wars. It also creates great havoc and pain on all levels including our  personal life. It is good dispose of fear and move toward Love.

Your choices help yourself and they also help everyone else. Our collective consciousness if made of individuals like you and me. Anytime we choose Love over fear, we move everyone forward. In the next few days, think about your current choices. Are they Love based? If not, are there alternatives? I trust you will all take a small risk toward more and Love and Life.

Some of us may be tuned into fear-based news media that makes it seem as though our nation is filled with threatening strangers and the world is terrifying and evil. If that is our news source, we need to change the channel. Fear is contagious and so is Love. Fear is a habit and so is Love.

Developing the habit of making conscious choices based on Love makes a difference in our planet. We can’t heal it all alone but we are not alone. Let’s open up to Love with ourselves, our family, our friends, and all the other people on the globe. Let’s accept Love as normal. Let’s stop resisting change and diversity.

If we only speak to people with our same opinions, who look like ourselves, in our neighborhood, and in our own age group we might as well talk to ourselves. I love my marvelous friends, not just for our agreements, but also for our differences. They enrich and enlarge me.

In New Thought, we believe that all human beings are expressions of God. We all come from One Source and that Source is the Creative Energy of the Universe and it is Love. Fear is error or a mistake. We do not waste our energy fearing life or reacting in anger to someone else.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Why not take that as an affirmation to use in the context of your personal life?

Small choices matter. Here’s a personal example of  fear and error can change. Rev. Debby and Rev. Mattie added a ritual to our Sunday service after I stepped down as pastor. They brought in a traditional candlelabra and I’ve never liked ritual because of my childhood religion. In the first weeks, of candle lighting, I feared the change.  I thought,  “Why talk about the Truth found in Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam during a New Thought service?”

I truly love Rev. Debby & Rev. Mattie and I loved their leadership so I was silent. Every Sunday a congregant lights candles honoring the major faiths. Then we are asked to look within and light our own personal candle of Love and Light.

Thank God, I didn’t choose to be the crow who croaked, “That’s not the way we used to do it.” Thank God, I chose Love instead of fear because candle lighting is now one of my favorite parts of the service.

Ask Yourself

How is fear holding me back?

What are my choices?

Where shall I begin?


It’s All Her Fault!

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I’m amazed! I thought we won these battles a long time ago, yet I see on the evening news that state after state is closing in on women’s freedom to choose. A woman should have a choice about what to do with her own body.  Is this a time warp and it is 1960?…Otherwise there is no excuse for this nonsense.  

For a while, I was a home teacher and one of my students was a shy, lovely young woman who had been told she couldn’t come to school because she was pregnant and might “contaminate” other girls.

She got caught in an unwanted pregnancy and chose to carry the child to full term. No matter what her choices were after the child was born, this was a setback for her and her life plans. It was a long time ago.

We all face setbacks in life and she had the intelligence to manage better than most unwed mothers. If it was her decision to keep her child, she was headed toward poverty, according to the statistics. If she chose to have her child adopted, that was fine although there could be psychological issues. She had some difficult choices to make.

I didn’t know her well and we didn’t talk personally. She was a good student and I tried to teach her well. I remember I thought it was very unfair to kick her out of school but life was very unfair for women. It’s a sure bet that the baby’s father didn’t have to leave.

Abortions were still not legal and I have no idea if she would have wanted one but the point is, she didn’t have a safe choice. Every woman deserves a choice!

That was a long time ago and times have changed. Teens now are usually allowed to finish school and some of the girls are allowed to choose a special school where they also get parenting classes.

I wrote a book called Young Parents once and I learned from the research. If the girls choose to keep their kids, they were statistically doomed to poverty for the remainder of their lives. Of course there are exceptions but most teen parents struggle for years. Almost none have a baby’s father who stays in the picture.

When I taught high school, back in the Sixties, I heard kids say you couldn’t get pregnant the first time. Some of those kids also believed that you had to “really enjoy it” before you could get pregnant.

Those kids  were sixteen years old and it was more than fifty years ago.  United States Congressmen and State Representatives are a long way from  high school. Some of them spouted ideas on the news that were more nonsensical ideas than any I have ever heard from a teenager.

Why are they really against Planned Parenthood? Why are they attempting to whittle away at abortion clinics? I can’t believe they are motivated by religion or they’d be more religious about helping the children who are already here.  I think they must believe that their views will bring them more votes from people who fear change.

These fearful voters are the same ones who are routinely trying to keep poor people from voting. They also want more guns and they are anti-immigration and the list goes on. If dinosaurs ran for office, the change-adverse voters would rush to vote for them. Oops! Dinosaurs do run.

Resistance to change concerns me but I really get hot about the shutting down of abortion centers and the persecution of Planned Parenthood organizations because I have a great long term memory.

In my day, girls were routinely blamed for getting pregnant. We were supposed to know better and understand that boys had “needs” that would drive them to distraction. It was up to us girls, when we went on a date, to keep our wits about us and our knees shut.

During this last election, I heard several political figures spouting the same nonsense. I even heard one candidate claiming that women cannot get pregnant if they are “legitimately” raped. That is probably based on my 1960’s students’ belief that you had to enjoy it before it worked to make babies.

If my news station is to be believed, that is a fairly common belief today. I had never heard that particular canard until recently, but apparently it has been around a long time in the right-to-life circles. Do they old guys still chuckle and say, “If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it?”

All of this is just another alarming sign of the age-old prejudice against women. Whether it is a judge who blames the rape victim because she wear the wrong clothes or the neighbor who blames the teenage girl for going out with that wild boy, it always centers on the idea that it is all her fault.

How about your family? If you have children and grandchildren, what are you teaching them? Do you tell the girls to be careful and the boys to have fun? I hope not.

As a retired Religious Science minister, I’m supposed to look on the positive side and I usually do. The positive side here is that it will all change despite some people’s attempts to block progress. And I’m positively glad to know that New Thought arose, to make progress and accepting women as equals was part of that forward movement.

Many feminists deny all the traditional teachings as being anti-female and patriarchal. Their interest is in ancient teachings featuring goddesses and that is an interesting development. I’m glad they are doing it but I’m happy to see there are other attempts to the nonsense in the dominant religions.

Some people see the Bible as an old fashioned book that promotes men into leadership positions of power. They say blaming the woman is a common theme in the Old Testament.

True – there are a lot of stories about women enticing men to sin, probably because men wrote the book. Whether it is Eve, Delilah or Jezabel, these Biblical characters are nasty ladies. Some of the traditional churches seem to hang on to those attitudes, stating that women cannot be priests or ministers and the man is head of the household.

But most of the traditional churches are moving away from those beliefs based on stories written thousands of years ago. Protestant seminaries are crammed with women studying to be ministers. We are living in more enlightened times.

I don’t worry so much about what the churches say anyway. If someone chooses to believe that sex without a desire to conceive is a sin and not use birth control, that is personal business. It becomes impersonal when freedom of choice for every woman is threatened.

I think this is a good time to take a good look at the issue of women’s rights in general and check out your own attitudes about sexual behavior. Is it all the woman’s fault in your world?

Ask Yourself

Do I want to change any of my personal attitudes?

Do I want to investigate this issue?

Do I want to tell my legislators how I feel?