Keep On Keeping On

FaithNever give up! That is something I’ve preached for years and now I am proving it in my own recovery. I haven’t been able to take up my bed and walk like they did in those Bible stories, but I do see real progress.

When I landed in the hospital with nerve damage last September, no one offered me much hope. All anyone knew was that my back hurt and I was paralyzed from the waist down.

No one knew for sure what happened to me, or what would happen next. I endured many tests, and many hours of physical therapy until January, when they sent me home in a wheel chair.

I got the impression the medical staff thought my recovery was as good as it was going to get, although no one said it out loud. They only said, “You can never tell about nerves.”

I prayed daily and I did my exercises. I didn’t waste my time worrying about what had happened or why it happened. I started each day with a gratitude list and tried to stay as cheerful as I could, because I knew cheerful helps.

The improvement was very slow but steady. I remember how pleased I was when I learned to move from wheelchair to chair without anyone helping me. I remember how thrilled I was when I went to the bathroom all by myself!

Small victories are still happening after months of physical therapy in rehab, at home, and now in outpatient care. Since I started with my current physical therapist, I feel very hopeful.

I’d been under the care of at least five other physical therapists, plus consultation with neurologists, a spinal surgeon and other medical doctors before I found Jennifer. She found what weak muscles are keeping me from walking. Jennifer’s new exercises definitely helped.

I’m now using a walker around the house sometimes. This week, I began standing for a minute without any support or help on balance. I do this at least four times during exercise. It feels like a significant break through.

I don’t have any guarantees but every little win makes walking seem more possible. I pay attention to the wins because I want to keep motivated. I do what the doctor says. My personal recovery plan includes compliance.

I developed this recovery plan when I was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago. That was a scary surprise and my recovery covered almost a year of surgery, chemo, and radiation. I’m now officially a survivor.

During my cancer recovery, I chose to follow a media diet of happy, happy, happy, all the time. I based my choices on Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of An Illness and I’m on a permanent diet of happy movies and books.

As a Religious Science minister, I am certain that it is possible to recover from any illness. The course of any illness will go the way of the individual’s prevailing belief system. Therefore, the most important thing is to keep my belief system as light and bright as possible.

I know that it is God that heals and God is present everywhere. While I pay attention to my present body condition, I do not worry about the past or future. God lives in the NOW and I do my best to live there as well.

My recovery plan depends on my spiritual practice and Western medicine. I realize Western medicine is not the only way to recover, and it may not be the best plan for everyone, but it suits me.

I believe the best path for anyone to follow is the path he or she believes in most deeply. I also believe you should be persistent and compliant after you decide what path you will choose to follow. Jumping around and trying to use Chinese teas, Indian yoga, magic numbers, Irish whiskey and Western chiropractors is probably not the best way to cure a sore toe or anything else.

Years ago, I discovered that I am a believer in Western medicine. I believe if you are going to use doctors, then you should do what the doctor tells you. My responsibility is to select the best doctors I can and do what I’m told.

Even though I am the patient and need to be compliant, I never forget that the doctor is there to serve me and I have a right to ask questions and get answers. It is never a good sign when I feel ignored or patronized. I have, on occasion, changed doctors or therapists because I didn’t think we were a good team.

My job is to ask questions when I don’t understand and to cooperate. My doctor’s job is to explain and not to patronize me. If it isn’t working, I have a right to change doctors or ask for a second opinion.

I sometimes hear people complain about their doctor. As we talk, I often find these people don’t question their doctors and don’t follow directions. What good is getting the prescription for an ailment and not taking it? Instead of thinking of themselves as part of the team, they seem to see themselves as victims. Assertiveness training is needed everywhere, even in the doctor’s office.

Speaking of assertiveness training – I do believe in following the doctor’s orders unless they say there is no hope. Never let anyone tell you that your prognosis is hopeless! You are a spiritual being and you are more than your disease – whether it is measles or bubonic plague.

I think of myself as a healthy person and from the beginning of this adventure with my back paralysis, I have tried to be positive about my recovery. I am so grateful for all the help from Religious Science practitioners. I consulted them over and over again. Right now, I have a daily prayer partner whose help I treasure.

I pay attention to my recovery efforts and I follow my plan but I do not make it the main issue in my life anymore than I can help. I have kept as busy with church work as I can because it is good for me to think about something besides myself.

I have continued counseling others, continued teaching and just gave a workshop with my friend Sharon Bagley. I write my blog about other things than my health. I’m helping others with their books. I’m writing the final draft of Spiritual Practice, a book I started last year.

So that is my program for recovery. I am very determined and never think of giving up. I comply with the medical advice. I pray daily for recovery and ask others to pray for me as well. I take good care of my diet and exercise. I keep cheerful and help others when I can. Most of all – I remember that I am more than a diagnosis – I am alive and well and living my life NOW.

Ask Yourself

Do I agree with this program?

How do I behave if I have a health issue?

What is my relationship to my doctors like?

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Eureka!

Kingsolver2It was a rainy Sunday and I was in a stinky mood. I missed church yesterday because of my physical limitations and my normal spiritual practice wasn’t cutting through the self-pity.

I had plenty of excuses for feeling sorry for myself, but I didn’t want excuses or sympathy. I wanted to feel better. I knew that required a lift off the self-pity pot.

When I began my ministry, Dr. Tom Costa of Palm Desert, CA was a giant in Religious Science ministry, partly because he so clearly believed in our divine right to happiness. I loved his talks; he used humor to move people along their path to freedom. He also had a gift for keeping it simple.

Dr. Tom used to say, “If you are going through Hell, don’t pitch a tent, keep on moving!”

I certainly didn’t want to pitch my tent on Depression Ave that morning so I kept doing my spiritual work and turning it over to God, When that didn’t work, I prayed and turned it over again. And again.

Nothing worked. Then, Divine Inspiration kicked in and reminded me that I had been planning to look at talks on UTube.  Here was something new to try.

Only the week before, I’d listened to a talk by Rev. Chris Michaels of Kansas City. Besides the great talk, I felt as if I were visiting an old friend. That talk was so marvelous I’d decided to add internet talks to the  Spiritual Practice book I’m writing.

Even though I wanted nothing more than to give up and watch old movies or go back to bed and pull the covers over my head, I opened up this computer and began to browse on the UTube.

Eureka! One of the best things about organizational conferences was hearing a variety of speakers. Now I had a wide variety of speakers at my fingertips. It was like having instant Asilomar Conferences packed into my apple box. It was like striking oil in my front yard!

Although it’s a bit difficult to navigate, it seems there are many, many well-known and wonderful Science of Mind speakers available on the internet. The quality of production is good and the talks are generally excellent.

My mind and heart were renewed after I watched four talks in a little over an hour. Suddenly, it was simple to set aside the morning’s gloom. All I needed was someone else to remind me of what I already knew. That’s the way it works sometimes.

I listened as my colleagues told stories and jokes to make their spiritual points. I desperately needed to hear everything they said because I felt stuck.  Or alone.

There is something cozy about hanging out with people who share your opinions and beliefs. I loved hearing Rev. Gayle Dillon and Rev. Dr. Kathy Hearn speak on ideas that are dear to my heart. Rev. Gayle was brand new to me and Dr. Kathy seemed like an old friend. They were both delightful.

It was a wonderful treat to find my dear friend, Dr. David Walker’s talk online. There he was, telling me once again, You Are Enough. Even more amazing was seeing and hearing Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, speak on the power of belief. Dr. David has only been gone a few years but Dr. Holmes made his transition in 1960 so the talk must have been transferred from an old film.

I’d be the first to admit I’m behind the times when it comes to researching the internet and I’m never going to be a  “techie” but I discovered an amazing world of wisdom out there over the rainbow.

Maybe some of you readers already know what a wealth of material is available on U Tube and on individual church websites. If so, please write comments and share your tips. For instance, how do you search? I found searching by speaker’s names to be better than looking under more general topics such as Religious Science. However, that precludes contacting new speakers.

I hope every reader will check out minister’s talks on the computer but that’s not the only reason for this blog. What I hope you will take away from my experience isn’t just about the internet. The real lesson is that perseverance pays off.

I observe that many people let their emotions rule them, even after they hear about taking charge of their lives by changing their thinking, they struggle when events disrupt their plans. Many of us  try to control our emotional reactions but we give up too soon.

If one spiritual practice method doesn’t work, we can try another. There are many ways to help ourselves when a bad mood strikes. We can take control of moods if we hang in there.  One should never give up.

I used to have depressions that seemed to drop in to visit for no reason. In those early days emotions seemed to be something that happened to me. Science of Mind taught me I can choose my reactions to events . It may take extra effort but it works. Now listening to talks on the internet gives me another tool.

Here’s something else the experience taught me. I thought I was missing church – the people I love and talks by my own brilliant ministers, Rev. Mattie Dobbs and Rev. Debby ODonnell. It’s true I missed my church but the deepest thing I was missing was the message of Religious Science itself.

I know I can change my thinking and that will change my life. Church always helps me do that because the teaching is so clear on Sundays in a roomful of believers. On yesterday morning I needed a sharp reminder – the kind I get in church.

I go to church consistently because my life goes better. I also use reminders during the week. Recently, I’ve depended mostly on books, tapes and CD’s to supplement and replace church when I can’t get there. Now I’ve added a powerful new tool that offers  a more immediate experience

I have always wished we could find a way to package the feeling of love and joy we find   on Sundays. Church offers music, fellowship, committees, cookies and that’s all great but the real reason we attend church is to acquire the key for taking charge of our lives. We change our thinking and develop a new consciousness of successful living.

We can do it because God created us to express the qualities of God. We are intended to be happy, healthy, loving, and wealthy. Clearing out old ideas and accepting positive beliefs is a lifelong endeavor. It takes support and perseverance.

Every mindful thing we do moves us along in the direction of our dreams. We must take what we learn on Sunday and use it 24/7. We must internalize the message.

I’m excited about the discovery of internet talks because it creates an immediate experience.  Of course, I will, continue with my other powerful tools. I will attend church, do my prayers, meditation, reading, art work and other familiar tools.

Now I have added another techie tool to my journey down the yellow brick road toward enlightenment. I’m going to listen to a few talks every week. How about you?

Ask Yourself

Is there anyone I’d like to check out?

How do I begin?


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?


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?


The New Transcendentalists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Yourself

What would I like to accept from Holmes or Emerson?

What would more self-reliance feel like?

What would more self-love feel like?

What would _____ feel like?

Where can I learn more?


The Spiral Staircase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Yourself

What did I believe about God at 17?

What do I believe about God now?

What have I learned?

What pattern or patterns do I seen repeating?

What do I need to believe to release negative beliefs?


Why Thank God In Advance?

acceptscan188A good friend started taking Science of Mind classes. She wanted to make some changes, including a happy new marriage. After a few classes, she went shopping and purchased a beautiful wedding gown. She wasn’t dating anyone, but she prayed daily and thanked God for her great marriage daily. She knew it was a “done deal”. Soon after her dress purchase, she met her perfect right husband. They’ve lived happily ever after (more than twenty years and counting) .

One of the most unusual things about affirmative prayer is that we don’t wish, dream or beg, we know. Our prayers close when we give thanks to God for doing the work. We  know it works. 

That’s what makes our prayer different. We never plead, we simply claim our Divine Inheritance. We speak our word, and give our claim to God, knowing that God does the work.

We pray this way because we know that we are living in God and that our minds are connected to God’s mind. God says yes to any life-affirming goal that we can imagine, believe and accept.

Our job is to imagine, believe and accept our goal both with our minds and our emotions. We realize it is already done in the mind of God. At that point, God, which is Infinite Love, acting through Spiritual Law, must bring it into form or being. It comes into what we sometimes call the “real” world.

In our beginning Science of Mind classes, we learn that God is always saying yes to our prevailing belief system. So prayer is a message to God, and God is Infinite Power, Infinite Possibility and Infinite Love. What’s more, Infinite Mind must say yes when we have thoroughly imagined, believed and accepted it. That’s how the Creative Principle works. It’s the Law!

My friend bought her dress because she believed and she got what she expected. Next time you do a prayer, ask yourself if you really believe it. If not, spend a few more minutes. Even if it takes more than one prayer, aim for total trust. Keep doing the prayer work until you see results. Sometimes there is more to be known and released before you get to the point of total belief.

About twenty years ago, another friend called me for prayer to find a new job in the big city.  She’d been praying and nothing had worked  so she called me. I asked her if her bags were packed. Later, when she became a Religious Minister minister, it became her favorite story and talk. The title was, “Are your bags packed? Seems she literally packed her bags after  my question. Next day, the phone rang with a job offer.

The trick to effective prayer is developing a level of trust in the prayer process that enables you to move right along in the direction of your dreams. We call that opening our consciousness.  Sometimes we need to begin by praying for clarity and to deepen our trust before we can budge those old beliefs.

Once we learn the basics, it’s easy to unerstand why some prayers are more effective than others.  Even if we always  use the same procedure, our level of belief  and acceptance is quite different in different areas of our life. Some people find it easy to believe that prayer works in relationships and difficult in health or creativity. They think health is physical and “real” Or they think only “talented” people can write or sing or paint. Others discover they have layers of negative beliefs around  prosperity. The idea that money issues can be resolved by affirmative prayer seems OK to one person and nonsense to another.

It is important to have a daily spiritual practice that includes prayer and reading. Classes are also very important. Your spirit practice deepens your belief in the power of affirmtive prayer and helps you release  beliefs that stand in the way of success. The need for a good spiritual practice is always there. Long after you are in total agreement intellectually, you will discover some “emotional” resistance if you are honest.

If you  pray for a specific issue and get nowhere for a while, consider working with a New Thought minister, counselor or practitioner. That person can help you sort out your beliefs and help you plan to release them.

If you want to try working alone, here’s one way. List the beliefs that you suspect are standing in your way. Look at what you heard about money or love in your childhood. Some beliefs, like taking your doctor as  the ultimate authority or believing it is impossible to prosper in a negative economy are easy to spot.  You can begin to pray to release the sabotaging  negatives. You can also draw a line through your list of  harmful beliefs and write affirmations as replacements.

Perhaps you need to begin by praying to be willing to release the old  beliefs. Or pray for a deeper conviction of spiritual law. Don’t be afraid to start at the beginning. Be honest. There is no shame in learning something new. I used to believe I could not lose weight because I could not stay on a consistent food plan. I prayed to lose weight and discovered that I was speaking about my failure often.

I stopped saying, “I can’t”. in conversation. I didn’t talk about my weight but I prayed to lose weight. I knew my prayer was being answered when my intuition told me to work on self love. I kept praying and, one fine day, I stopped binge eating. I also stopped ordering small  amounts in public because I wasn’t fooling anyone. This was all a part of my self-love, releasing shame, and self-acceptance plan.

I also began to bless the fat people I saw. I stood nude in front of the mirror and blessed myself and said, “I love you.” One fine day, my intuition kicked in again and I decided since I hated diets, I would eat what I wanted and aim for healthy foods. I kept track and aimed for 1200 calories. If I went over, I made new choices tomorrow.

This is not weight loss advice. This is an example of how prayer helped me with a problem that began in the 7th grade. It was a deep seated issue and it took a long time to see results. I eventually released 110 pounds and I also released a carload of old ideas about self-worth. It took several years and I’ve kept it off for over three years. I’m not thin but I’m out of the doctor’s DANGER box on the chart.

Learning to pray effectively is all about learning to pay attention to what you are thinking and believing and learning to trust that this teaching works. When we get to the place where we can trust enough to thank God in advance and totally believe it, then life it smoother sailing. And, if we use affirmative prayer and pay attention to our prevailing belief system, we can all get there.

Ask Yourself

Do you have goals to reach?

Do you believe prayer is powerful enough to help you?

Is it time for classes? Books? Practitioner help?

What will be your first step?