Time Marches On

Magictree_nMy dear friend and colleague, Rev. Jeanette Keil, made her transition last week, while I was at the Asilomar conference.  I’d been saying good bye in my heart for while, but I was sad. At the same time, nearly everyone was a little bit sad because this is the last time we will hold our conference on the beautiful Asilomar campgrounds.

 When I was a kid, they ran newsreels about World War Two at the movies. They always began with a man’s deep voice, announcing, “Time Marches On.” Despite that message, the war seemed endless, and Roosevelt was our president until I was eleven years old.  Life felt pretty static.

However, time did march on and I learned that things change all the time. I now understand that moving on is the nature of life. I do not expect to live forever, nor do I expect my friends to live forever. The sun rises and sets. I get that. Even so, sometimes change really hurts. Sometimes it is difficult to let go.

It is natural to feel grief when we let go of something or someone we love. I know that Love never dies. Jeanette’s life was wonderful and she now enters a new experience with God. My grief over Jeanette’s transition  was personal.

There was a collective shadow at the retreat. Religious Science has used the Asilomar campgrounds for more than fifty years and so there was some resistance to that change hovering over our activities and conversations. Not so much doubt about the decision, but nostalgia and foot dragging fantasies to protect our hearts from grief.

In Science of Mind, I have learned that what we call God is the Creative Intelligence of the Universe. It is Spirit and everything is created by this Spirit. What’s more, this Spirit is the Cosmic Energy or Life Force that shifts, recreates, renews, builds up and tears down.

Creating, tearing down and recreating is what Life does. It does this because it is the nature of Life. Our personal consciousness directs the Life Force to some extent, because our minds are connected to the Great Mind. But with or without our direction, change is what God does.

Most of the activity is impersonal. There is no Old Man in the sky who rewards or withholds blessings to good or bad children. These ideas were abandoned long ago.  In New Thought, we envision God as the Creative Energy of the Universe in action.

This Creative Energy is Love working as Spiritual Law in our individual lives. We are living in God and constantly communicating with God because we are God.  Science of Mind teaches us to pray so we can direct the flow of our lives. But try as we might, we cannot change the flowing. Life will continue to create change.

Changing locations for conferences is really a small matter. Several speakers at Asilomar pointed out that the magic is not in the grounds but in our personal consciousness. They said when you visit Asilomar at another time, it doesn’t feel the same at all. I know this is true because I’ve tried it.

We associate the campgrounds with love and joy but we created that experience ourselves. The setting is gorgeous, however it is our consciousness of love that really matters. Our loving consciousness will travel with us so wherever we go. We need not resist change.

Resistance is fear and resistance to change is common. Some people wear their high school hairstyles despite the wrinkles of time.  Some people won’t change their diets after switching to sedentary jobs.  Some of us won’t try new foods or abandon old beliefs. When we hold on and resist, we are confronting the Life Force Itself.

Much recent political activity is simply resistance to the march of time. The Tea Party seems to be all about holding on to an imaginary past.  These right wing politicians who insist on ruling women’s bodies are deeply mired in the 1800’s. I have been quick to call these guys dinosaurs.

This week I got to see my personal resistance in my “good old days” conversations at Asilomar. It was also there in my grief about losing Jeanette. But I’m not stuck. I know I cannot remain in resistance and be happy or healthy. I thank God for the gift to see my foibles and love myself as I move into the new expressions of life.

I cannot defy the nature of life. I can influence my destiny through prayer but whether I want it or not, things will change. What makes me happy is that I know I can guide at least part of that change in my personal life.

I have choices and I have free will. I can choose to be happy and grateful as I live my life. Meister Eckhart, a mystic of the middle ages told us that “Thank You, God” was the prayer we needed.  I believe that with all my heart. I am grateful for every day. My aim is to live in gratitude.

I appreciate the many wonderful years I enjoyed at Asilomar and I look forward to the new places for future conferences. I can appreciate the past and greet the future cheerfully.

I am deeply grateful for Jeanette’s, love, clarity, and support all those years. It was wonderful to serve God and grow together. It was wonderful to be prayer partners. She will live in my heart forever.

I am grateful for many other wonderful people as well. My trip was possible because of love and support from my daughter Kate. I was so proud of my student Lori Mac and her excellent dance workshop. I loved my talks with Dr. Nancy Anderson, Dr. Arlene Bump,and, Dr. David Leonard, There were many others. I appreciate them all.

One of the best parts of my Asilomar trip was driving along the seacoast at sundown of the last day. The familiar scenery of quaint, gaily-colored, Victorian homes were on my right. The gorgeous coastline was on the left. The Monterey Pines twisted in intricate beauty as they were waiting to pose for post cards.

On this evening, the sky and sea were silver and the village of Pacific Grove looked like a romantic fairy tale. I found great promise in that silvery sunset drive. Beauty takes many forms and this shimmering scene was so serene, and so full of promise that the world seemed to be born again – totally new and quite lovely.

It reminded me that we are spiritual beings having human experiences. We live in God and we are always surrounded by the Love of God. Wherever we go, whatever we do, God is always waiting to express more Love, Light, and Joy through us. It is always NOW in God’s time and we are always in the arms of Infinite Possibility.

Ask Yourself

What am I holding onto?

What do I choose to release?

What am I grateful for?

How can I express my gratitude today?

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I Choose Love

Whenever something horrible, such as the shootings at Sandy Hook School in Newton, CT, happen, we look for meaning. We may want to blame, or call out for new laws or beg God for an explanation. In the end, none of these attempts to deal with pain wipe away the suffering.

This was a tragedy that touched all of us at some level. We are all mourning.
All parents know that losing a child must surely be the worst thing that can happen to any of us. In the normal course of things, we expect to outlive our children and so there is shock mixed with grief.

Abrupt death is always shocking. Random, blameless, abrupt death of a child is a tragedy. The death of twenty children and six teachers is a national nightmare.

I’m certain that every schoolteacher in this nation felt something like terror as he or she suited up for duty today. Not only does the possibility of violence seem more real, but also the task of talking with the children about why things like this happen must seem overwhelming.

There were several things about this shooting that made it stand out in our national consciousness. For one, the neighborhood was an affluent community with no particular problems and plenty to commend it.

We know that there are school children dying violently in this country all the time but not in such a large group and on the “other side of town.” There is nothing like trouble in our own backyard to make it real.

That’s the truth whether we like it or not. Single deaths are shocking to those who are directly involved but we are accustomed to the fact that so many of our young people lose their lives to gunfire in cities. We should believe, like the poet John Donne wrote, that we are connected but we are cynical about our affluent islands.

Another reason this event was shocking is that there was no one thing and not just one apparent blame. The shooter must have been insane. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws and it looks as if the guns involved were legal.
We may want to blame the ease obtaining guns, the media, video games, violent movies, TV and our national culture and there is truth in each part but it is not the whole story.

Don’t mistake me. I think we can do something about most of the things that abet our national predilection to violence. I would also include better identification and help for the mentally ill as something we could do more about.

I am all for social action steps. Even so, this shooting makes it clear that bad things happen to good people and we don’t always know why. So what are we to do in the face of uncertainty, vulnerability and sorrow?

First of all, we should not rush to blame anyone who was directly involved. The school officials, first responders, local and state officials behaved in an exemplary manner. The President’s two speeches were responsible, sane and inspirational.

We should follow the lead of the various religious leaders who spoke at the memorial service on Sunday evening. They exemplified diversity, cooperation and love that are found in the core of all great religions. I was sorry there were no New Thought people involved but there were several women, a young Muslim teenager and a leader of the Bahia’ teaching.

All great religions have taught us that we should love each other. We should hold each other dear, be together and comfort each other. We should take what action seems sensible but remember that the most important things we can do is be that candle in the darkness.

I was very moved by the service and also by the great love I felt expressed in our Center for Spiritual Living in Carlsbad on Sunday morning. I know that same love was expressed all over the nation, in and outside of church.
Here is my very incomplete shorthand explanation of what I think Religious Science teaches about the nature of good and evil…

There is First Cause, (that we call God) which creates everything out of itself. It is not a person, place nor thing but the Creative Energy of the Universe. It is the consciousness behind everything and it is Love.
This Love creates us, and works in our lives through spiritual law. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and that means we have free will. Our spiritual nature is always perfect, whole and complete and when we return to God, it returns as spiritually whole, perfect and complete.

No experience that we have on the human plane of existence ever damages us although, as humans, we face choices about how much of our God-nature we reveal and live by. As we live, we can reveal more and more of our perfection through choosing Love.

Since we were created by Love, we must have Love as our central nature, whether we always know it or not. We contact Creative Spirit or God through our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. At the level of Spirit, we are all good and all equal. At a human level, we can gain in understanding and that consciousness can grow as we choose to love. Consciousness continues.
We are in God and God is in us but we are not all of God and we do not understand all that God understands.

Perhaps at some time it will all be revealed but now we do look though a glass darkly. The more Love we have, the more we understand. The more we understand, the more love we have. We can always choose to express more love. That is why three is opportunity in any challenge. Love may be deepened by any tragedy because we always have choice about how to respond.

For a more complete and clearer explanation, I suggest you take classes, read books and attend a Center For Spiritual Living close to you. If there are none nearby, check out the CSL websites and you will find online talks, written prayers and articles.

The main thing I you to take away from this posting today is that you do not have to have all the answers before you know what to do. Just follow your instincts and express more love. Make it a point to reach out and love others today. Send out your Christmas cards or letters and call up people you want to cheer up. It will make others feel better and it will also make you feel better. Love really is the answer.

Every one of us faces a choice today. We can choose to reach out and offer love to others. Or not. If we offer love, we are expressing the highest and best meaning that we can know about life.

That is what I understand on this day. Think about what you understand. Ask yourself if you can think of some way to express a little more love today than you did yesterday. Then make the move in the direction of the light.

Ask Yourself

How do I feel?

Who do I love?

Who can I reach out to?