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?

 

Advertisements

God Sends

power2

When my daughter returned from Africa last week it would have been considerate of me to give her time to deal with jetlag, but my bags were packed. I was “Raring to go!”

I’m out of Rehab and I  love my home more than ever. It is single story and that is a true God-send because I am currently using a wheelchair. I also have a wheel-in shower that I designed for my mother thirty years ago, Another God-send! So is the extra-large, extra-fancy hospital bed I inherited from Rev. Mattie’s mother.

I  have two wonderful helpers and  a loving group of family and friends who want to help me anyway they can. I’m not kidding when I say I am surrounded by God-sends.

The move home is going smoothly. My healing is on-track and I’m convinced prayer helped. If you are a part of the wonderful group who prayed for me, I thank you very much.  Your prayers for my health make you another of my God-sends.

Whether I knew you were praying or not isn’t important. Either way, your prayers went straight to the Subjective Mind of God and they planted the seed of perfect health. You made the prayer and (as always) God does the work. Your prayers set Spiritual Law in motion.

I came away from Rehab even more committed to teaching the power of prayer. Even when I was so unfocussed that I had trouble doing my own prayers, I could feel the energy of other people’s and I was able to accept the love and care from others.

Prayer works even if the recipient of your prayer lives in Tucson and you live in Omaha. God lives everywhere, full power, all the time. God lives in the hearts and minds of every individual whether he or she recognizes it or not.

Here’s a very short sketch of how prayer works in our lives. Spirit is the Creative Energy of the Universe. Spirit created us in It’s image and likeness. We are separate and unique, but we are spiritual creatures and we are connected to God through our consciousness. (Consciousness contains all our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings in this moment.)

Our consciousness is constantly sending messages to Spirit and Spirit responds. God (or Spirit) is Love working through Law in our lives. When we pray, we are speaking directly to God with the purpose of setting Spiritual Law into motion to create new circumstances.

The person praying envisions, believes and accepts the desired outcome. The person we are praying for must accept the goal of the prayer in order to have it work. That is a part of why we never pray for others unless it is requested. When we ask for prayers from others we are depending on, or borrowing their conviction and clarity. Of course, the best thing is for the person requesting prayer to also have conviction but that’s not always at an optimum level.

The reason prayers from unknown people worked for me was that when I requested the prayers, I was already envisioning, believing and accepting the healing at some level. The prayers of others were powerful because they were clear and focused. I needed your prayers because I was, more or less, stuck in the experience of “not well”.

If this all seems complicated and too technical for a blog, I apologize. Remember that you do not have to understand how prayer works, you only have to pray and expect it to work. If you want to know more, you should take a class in your Center for Spiritual Living or on-line.

You can also learn to use prayer more effectively by reading books. My book, Spiritual Mind Skills has individual chapters devoted to each of the steps of affirmative prayer or treatment.  You can buy it from this blog bookstore. You can also find it in church bookstores along with many works by Dr. Ernest Holmes and other New Thought leaders. I especially recommend Treat Yourself To Life by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker.

I wanted to express my gratitude for your prayers. My progress is apparent and I still have a way to go. If you want to help, continue praying for me.  Please see me as walking independently  and getting back to a regular schedule. I am praying for these goals now.

I am not only praying, I am choosing to enhance my prayers with physical therapy, occupational therapy and getting the recommended medical attention. I choose to pursue my healing this way. Others may choose other ways and that is up to them. I choose to do what the doctor orders.

We are spiritual creatures who have a part in creating our lives. We have free will and we always have choices. I believe that getting good medical attention will work well for me. I also believe it is important for me to move forward.

Somehow I had a back injury. Obviously I could choose to look backward and ask myself what caused the problem. I could also choose to believe I’ll be in a wheelchair forever. Or I could choose to blame myself or others and spread anger over my life. I could also choose to feel sorry for myself.

I choose to focus on healing and I choose to move forward. I also choose to take it a day at a time, and start my day with gratitude. Each day, I start by writing and/or saying, “Another day to be glad in.” Then I make a gratitude list. You are on it.

Love,

Jane


Staying Positive

now  I am working hard on physical and occupational therapy in rehab. My quest for the demonstration of my healthy and active physical body is going well.  I am clearly getting better.

I still don’t have a clear picture of what is going on but I am over the shock of the sudden change in my health. One day I was well and the next day I was in hospital. It has all gone well but there is much more to do.

Thanks for your concern and for your prayers and please keep up the good work. I sometimes find praying for others is easier than praying for myself because it is easier for me to see the truth about your perfection, wholeness and completion. I see through your appearances more clearly than my own because  it is eaIsier not to believe it.

When I pray for myself, I sometimes get tangled up in wondering what happened and why it happened. I am so grateful for your prayers because, without the prayers of my loved ones, I would not have come this far.

What happened is not the important thing but, in case you are curious, my back was injured and I am unable to stand alone or walk at the time I am writing this.

We hear that challenges present an opportunity to learn and to grow. They also present an opportunity to express gratitude. I am very grateful for this rehab center and the wonderful staff. Everyone is cheerful, optimistic and pleasant all of the time. That’s a big help.

My years of Science of Mind studies also help a great deal. I’d like to believe that my understanding is so great that I never have illness or troubles. Perhaps that will be true some day, but iIn the beginning of this episode, I was in too much pain to help myself much, Knowing that my friends were working for me was a big comfort. It is also true that treatments we do for others are important. I’ve been on both sides of the prayer process and I am living proof. in both ways.

In the beginning, I was in so much pain I was out of it. I relied on the love and wisdom of my family and friends. My daughter, Kate DuViver, and my son-in-law Chuck DuVivier as well as my sister, Anne Seislove and brothers, Mike and John Claypool showed me the love and support that family brings.

Families and friends and spiritual groups all are expressing God in action. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful church family also. Friends and other support groups have helped me. I thank God this is so.

My ministerial friends Mattie Dobbs, Carol Carnes, Lisa Stewart, Lori Mac, Lynn Guilfoyle were all wonderful about visiting, running errands and praying out loud when they were here. Many others are praying silently for me and I am very grateful.

Behind that visible group of supporters is an army of other friends and colleagues who are praying for my fast recovery. Known and unknown well-wishers are making  a definite difference in my recovery.

Everyone can see the difference. Recently, one of the nurses told a visitor that I was getting better even though they might not know why. The visitor friend looked at me and smiled. We share the belief that Spirit comes first.

My church is a tremendous recovery resource – the people, the wisdom and the love are very real and I can feel it all. Thank you for your prayers and love. It is all a part of a giant recovery plan that God has given me and everyone else in need.

I also give great thanks for my wonderful medical support that I have found with my primary and secondary medical staff. I am so grateful for Scripps Hospital Rehab and my new Rehab Center here in Carlsbad.

Consciousness comes first, We can waste time asking ourselves what went wrong and how did it happen? Or we can focus on the  desired solution. Anything we believe will be a part of our healing process will help.

I believe in traditional medicine as well as spiritual healing. I remember my first Pastor, Dr. Frank Richelieu, saying “All knowledge is God-given.” I believed him then and I believe him now.

Long ago, I decided my job includes selecting the best medical treatment I can find and then following the instructions of my medical advisors plus the healing principles of Science of Mind.  Dr. Ernest Holmes,  founder of Religious Science, said  that it is not a choice between spirit and matter but that everything has its basis in Spirit.

It seems to me that right now, I am in the perfect place to fully  accept the spiritual truth of my perfection. I am grateful to be in medical facilities  that accept prayer as a healing modality. More than one doctor and nurse has offered the opinion that prayer helps.

I know the most important part of my personal healing process is to use spiritual mind treatment and remember the Truth that sets me free.

This rehab center is a wonderful place and I believe that my getting a private room here is a direct result of my daughter’s prayers. She did the search and God guided her to this wonderful set up. The room is filled with good colors – warm, buttery yellow and soft aqua accents. I am very sensitive to the healing power of color and couldn’t be happier about the color palette.

I am still careful to limit my visitors to a few daily because I am busy with other activities such as therapy. If you want to visit, please call in advance. If you want to contact me, please send cards or well wishes to the Church or by email.

I will try to keep the blogs up more regularly now that I am feeling a bit better.  I think it is a service to write honestly, even when things are less than perfect on the level of appearances so that we can all recognize the Truth that sets us free.

 Love, Dr. Jane

Ask Yourself

Last time I was in trouble, what people  helped me?

Is this a good time to send them a thank you note?

Can you list 10 people who really helped you get though any tough spot in your life?

Do you want to write a thank you note?


Class Lessons

open005I taught my first New Thought History class on Thursday. My students are eager to learn.  I’d like more of them because I think our history is absolutely fascinating. The history is also helpful when your relatives ask those silly questions.

We’ve all had friends and relatives who asked questions that tell more about their bias than we could guess.

I’ve heard many questions in the last 25 years. Here are three favorites I can remember. “How can an intelligent woman fall for that hokum?” “How can I visit your church when I’m Jewish?” “What do you guys think about having sex outside of marriage?”

There is  one question that still tangles me up – “Is New Thought Christian?”

Do you get tongue tied when someone asks you if your church is Christian? Do you think Unity and Divine Science answer yes faster? I think it is possible because they were formed in the 1880’s. Religious Science came about 50 years later and I think the answer is more apt to be, “Yes and no.” It may also be a longer response.

Some New Thought people think we are practicing original Christianity because we teach what Jesus taught. On the other hand, some Fundamentalist Christians are certain our answer has to be no. They believe we can’t qualify as Christian because we ignore some of the Bible stories and don’t talk about sin.

New Thought is usually classified as Christian in encyclopedias because it evolved from earlier Christian denominations. That’s what the encyclopedias believe – but not all New Thought followers agree. Some don’t believe they are Christians. I think people in Unity, and Divine Science are more apt to say yes to the question because they were created in the 1880’s.

The founder of Religious Science, Ernest Holmes, was a prodigious student of religious and philosophical ideas. He gives a yes and no answer on PG 4 of our class textbook, The Philosophy of Ernest Holmes. He writes, “…we have roots in a very deep antiquity. …it has drawn its knowledge from all sources; it is not just a Christian philosophy, although it is a Christian denomination.

All New Thought denominations believe that everything comes from God. There is no split between body and soul. There is no battle between light and darkness or good and evil.  The belief in Oneness puts us in a rare stream of mystical teachers (including Jesus) that are all recorded and respected.

New Thought, whether the most modern aspects of Religious Science, or the most Christian aspects of Divine Science, are based on a mystical worldview. In other words – we may or may not be Christian but we are all mystics.

We are called mystics and we are also called idealists. Whether the word is mystic or idealist, we believe that everything comes from One Source – Spirit – the formless or invisible part of life. Although Holmes used his studies of many religious and philosophical sources to create the Science of Mind teaching, he never strayed from the idea of Oneness.

All New Thought uses this Oneness as a tool for spiritual healing. It was built on the knowledge of God or Spirit’s to heal. We recognized the mind/body connection early.

There is no sin in New Thought. We know that in the original Aramaic of the Bible, the word that is now translated as sin meant, “missing the mark.” Or error. We believe that people make mistakes but the essential nature or Spirit is never harmed and we will all eventually come to know ourselves as perfect, complete and whole. We also believe that life is eternal and consciousness continues to exist after what we call death or transition.

Technically, we don’t pray to rescue the sinner or heal the sick. We pray to see the spiritual Truth. The Truth we pray for is already there and we want to realize it through our prayer.  Holmes says the result is not a healing but a revealing.

That is an important thing for practitioners to remember when they pray for others. They are working to know the person they pray for is already perfect, whole, and complete at the level of Spirit. As they pray, the Truth becomes apparent. That is both the mysticism of the Christian mystics and the idealism of the Greek Idealists.

Next week we will explore the Greek roots of New Thought in my class. We will learn about Greek philosophers such as Plato and his follower, Plotinus. My students will also learn that Ernest Holmes had a  brilliant, and inquisitive mind. He was a self-directed student and he knew his classical history.

Holmes knew and loved Emerson who also embraced Oneness and idealism. But that was not all of the story. Emerson and Holmes also knew about Asian religions and that led them to a world view we call mysticism. Mysticism also runs throughout the history of Christianity. Leaders like St. Augustine, Hildegard of Bingham and Meister Eckhart  gain fame as New Thought grows.

Emerson was greatly influenced by the work of one Christian mystic, Emmanuel Swedenborg. He also read  some basic Asian texts. Scholars trace the influence of Hindu and Buddhist texts that on  Clipper ships into the Boston harbor.

This history makes a pattern of Love and Light. Holmes loved Emerson and he also loved the Bible. He ended up with a mystical teaching that was influenced by classical philosophy, Asian religions, and the teachings of Jesus. When Holmes found the work of Thomas Troward, an Englishman who lived in India most of his life, he was able to build a powerful intellectual structure for spiritual healing. He called it Science of Mind.

Some people are disappointed when they learn that Ernest Holmes was basically a synthesizer. He didn’t receive his message from on High. He collected the best from myriad sources and had the ability to weave it together. Actually, I believe that the fact that Holmes took from a variety of sources makes his genius even more rare. The combination of his studies, seasoned by his unique, inventive and magnificent mind, created a thoroughly modern religion.

We are studying the strands of wisdom that Ernest Holmes knit into this wonderful, teaching, philosophy, and religion. I’m confident my students will gain a great respect for using the Science of Mind in their lives.

I’m not so sure it will give them a snappy answer to that Christianity question. But is it important to ask  questions about classifying a belief system?  Isn’t it better to ask, “How do I use this wisdom?”

Ask Yourself

If I believe I am perfect, how will that look?

If I let go of feeling wrong, guilty or sinful, how will that look? Feel?

Do I have any special sources for my beliefs?

Do I have special stories about my beliefs?

What would I like to know more about?


Sunny Days

power2It’s been hot here and I don’t enjoy hot, humid weather.  I tend to forget San Diego has the best year-round climate in the continental US. I’m like the millionaire who complains when her stocks don’t rise fast enough.

It is easy to forget how comparatively fortunate we are. Whether it is health, money, friendships or climate, we don’t want to fall into a pattern of grumbling and make it worse. Let’s not take the good stuff in our lives for granted.

Sometimes it helps to see ourselves in relation to others. I don’t like to chortle because someone else is hotter than I am, but when I watch the weather channel it does put my complaints in perspective. Do you ever use comparisons as a basis for gratitude? I do.

As a child, I resented the idea of comparing myself to others. At supper, I was supposed to eat all my dinner because of the poor starving Armenians or Chinese etc. It just didn’t seem right that I should have to eat spinach because someone on the other side of the world was hungry.

My mother used to tell the story about a person who had no shoes until he met a beggar who had no feet. I wasn’t interested in shoes or feet, I just wanted my dessert. And I wanted it now!

Since I’ve learned more about how spiritual law works, I’ve been able to release the guilt I felt about my “selfishness”. It didn’t really help if I ate all my supper. (I’ve also resigned from the clean plate club and lost over 100 pounds.)

These days, comparison is a tool in my bag of gratitude tricks. When I remember to be grateful I don’t live in Arizona, it cools me off as much as an extra shower.

I am not a shaman and I don’t do a rain dance so I can’t yet control the weather, but I can control my thinking and my response.  Gratitude thinking changes the experience even when things are out of my control.

Gratitude trains the mind to be happy. Feeling happy is as welcome as a cool breeze. Believe it or not, it is possible to feel happy in any climate. It is also possible to feel happy before getting everything we want. In fact, it helps us get it.

Happiness really is a choice. We are in charge of our thoughts and that puts us in charge of our moods. The key is to manage our minds effectively, no matter what the issue seems to be.

Using gratitude to move away from the problem and toward the desired solution puts us in a mental space where we are guided to take new actions. It is perfectly all right to work for new goals and feel happy before you gain them.

I used a prayer of gratitude to control my response to the weather this week and it helped me a great deal. It didn’t change the temperature outside but it led me to make some discoveries. A mid-day shower helps. So does setting the fans correctly. I’ve also changed my work schedule so I’m in my air-conditioned office during the hottest part of the day instead of just the early morning.

Anyone who follows the teaching of Ernest Holmes has heard the expression, “Change your thinking and change your life.” Followers of  Science of Mind read books and take classes to learn how to pray effectively. Affirmative prayers change circumstances and solve problems. So does positive thinking. The key is to focus on the solution rather than the problem.

In Centers for Spiritual Living, we learn to use the power of our minds consistently to create positive results. We learn that there is a Power For Good and we can use it. We learn that our individual minds are connected to the One Mind. We learn that we are co-creating our lives.

We discover that positive thinking and affirmative prayer can actually bring improved circumstances into our lives because God is Love working through Spiritual Law. The Law of Attraction is always working and our prevailing belief system is creating our experience.

One aspect of powerful prayer is to see it so clearly in your mind and feel it so deeply in your heart that you accept it as real. Your prayer then closes with an expression of gratitude for the achieved goal. If you hold onto your belief, God does the work just as quickly as you can accept it.

The key is to look at what we want rather than obsess about what might go wrong or what we think is the problem. We cannot afford to be children stamping our feet and saying, “I don’t have what I want!” We need to be believers who are saying “Thank you God!” We need to trust in the power of prayer.

Many wonderful things happen when people focus on using spiritual law in their lives. Those who develop a habit of prayer and visualization attract great results because they are using unlimited God-power. Debt can change to wealth. Illness can change to health. Loneliness can change to love. All this comes through the Law of Attraction.

I have seen great demonstrations of the power to create new circumstances through consistent prayer and meditation during my years as a student and teacher of Science of Mind.  I know that the dedicated student achieves great results. Gratitude helps create dedicated students.  So do classes.

Classes are the best way to understand the concepts that lead to a consistent and satisfying use of mental power. This is the time of year to think about enrolling in a class at your local center or on-line. I am so grateful that it is now so easy for everyone to find an excellent class in this day and age.

When we focus on gratitude and look at desired solutions, rather than the problems, a great many good things happen. Great good can happen even if the condition cannot be changed completely. For example, I may not change the weather but I can accommodate myself to it. New solutions may become apparent. I may even decide to move North. The results of my prayer may not be exactly what I think I want, but I can gratefully celebrate the solution that emerges.

If I stamp my feet or whine because I can’t make it snow in September, I’ll be fighting the laws of nature and making myself miserable. Better to distract myself and move on. I can always choose to feel grateful for what I have and the results I get. That attitude will lift my spirits and make things better.

No matter how hopeless things look, prayer and positive thinking will create a better, not worse, situation. Stick with gratitude. It is the key to success.

Ask Yourself

What are my goals?

Do I believe they are possible with God’s help?

Do I have a solid knowledge of affirmative prayer?

How might I learn more?


A Freedom Tale

free I was seeking freedom when I got sober and I was seeking even more freedom when I returned to attending Religious Science church. At first, I was discouraged, but  I held onto the belief that prayer and spiritual principles might set me free. I was right.

Theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr is credited with the well-known prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I got sober sitting in Mexican living rooms with dirt floors, drinking coffee and saying that prayer at every meeting.

The Serenity Prayer was what I had to hang onto at first and I hung on tight. It wasn’t a bad beginning.  I had to look for support somewhere and  I desperately needed more courage, wisdom, and serenity. In the beginning, saying the Serenity Prayer, making gratitude lists, and living one day at a time kept me sober.

A couple of years after l was back in the United States, I started attending  Religious Science Centers in Albany and New York City.  I put the Serenity Prayer to the side a bit because I was learning about affirmations and new prayer treatments that seemed to promise more.

I was attracted to the teaching of Dr. Ernest Holmes because I had several unresolved situations in my life. When I began to study Science of Mind, I had money problems, was withdrawn and shy, and felt like a failure. I’d been in a close but difficult relationship for several years.

The relationship seemed to me to be my greatest problem. I had always wanted to get married and live happily-ever-after just like the story books promised .  My two marriages weren’t completely happy and they ended with the deaths of my husbands. That was part of my drinking story.  I’d latched onto a third prospect who seemed like he would be a fine husband if only…

I was miserable about the direction this love affair was going. I believed that I was trapped by my past decisions.  I was getting older and I believed my options were closing down. I had sad stories to tell to anyone who would listen.

Truth is, I’d quickly created a good life for myself in many other ways. Once I was sober, my writing career soared and I was doing very, very well. My health was good and I had a bit of money in the bank. Things were really looking up except I was still obsessing over this long-term relationship that wasn’t going anywhere and that I couldn’t imagine leaving.

We were bound to each other emotionally but there was too much pain so  I told us both I was taking a temporary place in  New York City to help my writing career. For the next year, I “visited” him on the weekends.

I revisited the Serenity Prayer as I learned  all about prayer based on New Thought principles. I learned that each of us is an individualized expression of God. No one can live another person’s life for him, no matter how much we may wish to. We all have freedom of choice.

I learned I couldn’t pray to make my lover change or do what I wanted. Up until then, I’d dreamed of writing the script and forcing him to speak his lines.   Even though it clearly wasn’t working, I was disappointed when I learned I could only control myself.

I found Dr. Raymond Charles Barker’s book, the  Power of Decision early in my studies. My favorite paragraph starts out, “You cannot cheer up chronically unhappy people…”

I felt as if Dr. Barker had written it personally for me. My lover was chronically depressed and we’d fallen into a pattern of me trying so very, very hard to cheer him up. This was before I knew the word, enabling, but that’s what I was doing.

Up until then, I wanted to use Science of Mind prayer and principles so he would change. Gently, my teacher introduced the idea that I was the only one I could change.

As she shared he wisdom, she promised me a new world if I used these spiritual principles correctly. I would become a person who created her life rather than a person that life happened to. I couldn’t quite believe that, but I was willing to try because I could see many things were better in my life.

It was very difficult for me to give up the idea of changing him. I couldn’t quite believe  I couldn’t convince him to live happily ever after. He wouldn’t even talk about positive living.  I kept hanging onto the idea that if I tried harder I could convince him to agree to my way.  It didn’t work.

Eventually, I understood my lover didn’t want to mold himself to my specifications. He had never promised me that. I had never promised to be what he wanted either. So we parted.

In retrospect, I see I was trapped in a fantasy of my own making. I wanted that happy ending and I wanted it to be my way. I also see my story did have a happy ending that depended on all three aspects of the Serenity Prayer – courage, serenity & wisdom.

I’d had the courage to change many things about myself. I stopped drinking and I built a successful life. I lacked serenity for a long time because I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. I needed to gain wisdom to let go of an unrealistic dream. I needed to accept the truth that set me free.

That was all a long time ago. I’ve  lived happily ever after. Last time I heard,  he had a new lady and they were dancing to his old tune. I laughed when I heard that.

My only question might be what took me so long.  I think the answer was right there in the Serenity Prayer all along.

I had the courage to change but I couldn’t change another person, I gained the serenity to let go eventually and that helped but I wanted more than to endure in an unsatisfactory love affair. If I could rewrite this tale, I’d gain the wisdom I needed sooner.

Ah well, it took what it took. Change comes a little bit at a time for most of us. Every prayer works because it brings us closer to realization but most of us have to chip away at resistance when we tackle old, treasured ideas.

I tell this story to illustrate that prayer and spiritual principles bring freedom. I’m now living an entirely new story. How about you? What story are you living? Is it a happy one? Do you want to make some changes?

Ask Yourself

Have you ever used the Serenity Prayer?

Have you ever held on to a condition too long?

What do you want to pray for now?

What do you want to let go of now?


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?