I have decided to postpone the launch of “Sunday Spiritual Circle.” The idea is great: the timing isn’t. This process of discernment is like seeking the sound of a professional orchestra that vibrates beautifully when it is properly tuned. When the timing isn’t right, the orchestra sounds squeaky, feels gritty and is essentially dis-harmonious. Discernment is a divine power that when used in the highest spiritual way, brings harmony and the feeling that “just feels right.”
So we shall wait, knowing the timing will be right sometime later. All is well, and all is perfect. And so we let it be.
In seminary, I was assigned to write my personal mission statement. After much meditative discernment, (walking the Unity Village golf course as the sun set) I created a statement in which every word was discerned and evaluated. It felt so right, I knew it was “mine.” I stood by it even when Rev. Dr. Tom challenged me on the choice of one of the words. I stood by it, because it felt right in my gut, in the solar plexus, where the Power of Wisdom/Discernment resides. When I revisit my mission statement, I still feel that sense of “it’s mine.” And I’m still exploring its implications for my spiritual journey. Here it is:
My mission is to be, express and nurture
authenticity, beauty and the Presence
in myself and others.
As I walk through life “post-seminary,” and discover my role as a “minister,” I learn more and more clearly what is means to “be authenticity,” to “be beauty” and to “be the Presence.” These concepts are alive in me, in everything I do. These are my high callings: they create in me a surge of excitement!
I nurture these qualities in myself, and through expression, hope that I am nurturing them in my students. I follow deep inner guidance to establish and maintain authentic interactions with my students and my Self. I seek beauty, (which includes balance, harmony, radiance…) adjusting and evolving as I go. I practice the Presence and model the practice with others.
As I explore this cutting-edge online teaching ministry, I realize that, just as I boldly stepped into the work, I can boldly revise and redirect my course offerings. I see this ministry evolving with ease, flowing down the stream effortlessly, riding the current of expansive evolution. And so it is.
ANNOUNCING “Sunday Spiritual Circle” a heart-conversation
Do you understand how it feels to be at church on Sunday morning and catch yourself yearning for meaningful, personal interactions with others? The social hour is great. It provides fun, authentic fellowship: a good time to make new friends and welcome newcomers. But do you sometimes find yourself driving home wishing there had been a
deeper spiritual contactwith a few others? … Using the power of video cameras, New Vista now offers an opportunity for “heart-conversation” interaction online at New Vista’s “Sunday Spiritual Circle.”
These conversation and meditation sessions will be less didactic, than our other courses, with few if any PowerPoint slides. There will be a lot of time for you to just enjoy the presence of the others in the circle, listen and empathize with them, and stretch yourself into more expansive thinking.
We will begin in March with the study of Eric Butterworth’s Discover The Power Within YouEngage in eye to eye heart-to-heart spiritual conversations on Eric Butterworth’s classic. Unity basic teachings – through the lens of Jesus’ sayings. Student preparation is essential to making this experiential rather than didactic. Join us! and invite your friends!
I have been in an attitude of gratitude that is beyond my expression. How can I express the gratitude I feel toward every one who has found New Vista Learning Center and has enrolled in classes? How can I express my gratitude for the technology that links us across thousands of miles and enables us to have fellowship as if we’re all sitting in the same room? Can I aptly express my gratitude for Unity Institute which gave me the knowledge and confidence to bring New Thought truth teachings to others. Can I quantify my appreciation for my ongoing spiritual growth throughout this experience?
As I am grateful to the students and teachers in my life, I am also grateful to Presence and Power, to Guidance and Inspiration, to Source and Substance. As a human being, I desire to “say thank you” to that Presence and Power. And, at the same time, I know It is not a being, not a personality, not a person that gives me things. It is an Energy and Essence, a limitless Creative Cause of all things. It is my very essence, and my inner “ground of being.” It is my innate capacity to use my innate talents to create a world that works well for me and for others. So the applause goes to” All That Is.” Kuddos to the “‘vivifying Life-giving Principle” of my heart and my innate intellect.
My most favorite Unity author is the one and only H. Emilie Cady, whose articles were the first lessons to be published by the Unity movement. Written in 1892, as a series of articles in Unity magazine, it was compiled into a book: Lessons In Truth and published by Unity in 1896, becoming the most influential and longest running textbook used in the training of Unity ministers.
Reading it today we are simultaneously charmed by the smooth, poetic prose of the Victorian era, and distracted by the language that alludes to “separation consciousness” which is paradoxically counter to its teachings. I find myself translating many passages so that I can see past its language patterns and comfortably learn from its truth.
For example, the following passage about prayer is a beautiful expression on the power of being grateful:
“Go even beyond this and speak words of thanksgiving to this innermost Presence, that it has heard and answered, that it does now come forth into visibility. There is something about the mental act of thanksgiving that seems to carry the human mind far beyond the region of doubt into the clear atmosphere of faith and trust. … do not worry or cease from your thanksgiving. Do not go back … again to the asking, but continue giving thanks that while you waited you did receive, and that what you received is now manifest; and believe me, you will soon rejoice and give thanks, not rigidly from a sense of duty, but because of the sure manifest fulfillment of your desire.” – H. Emilie Cady Lessons in Truth Lesson title: Finding the Secret Place.
Sometimes I find myself jotting in the margins a completely re-write so that I can see past blocks from my past embedded theology. Here, Emilie is talking about what we might do while we sit in the silence, awaiting an answer to our prayer. First the original, from the same lesson, then my translation.
“We repeat from time to time, while waiting, words something like these: ‘Thou art now renewing me according to Thy highest thought for me; Thou art radiating Thy very self throughout my entire being, making me like to Thyself — for there is nothing else but Thee. Father, I thank Thee, I thank Thee.’ Be still, be still while He works.”
My translation is an attempt to speak from a consciousness of Oneness; to remind my self that I “live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28) in the Oneness that we sometimes call God: (note the lower case “s.” That’s my egoic self which tends to slip into forgetting that my True Self is One with/as The One, because That is All That Is.)
My translation: “We repeat from time to time, while waiting, words something like these: ‘I am renewed now, as I am open to my Divine Power and my Highest Thought. Divine Self radiates throughout my entire being, making me reflect the Oneness– for there is nothing else but The One. I am grateful, I am grateful.’ Be still, be still while Principle works.”
I love Emilie Cady! And I love Unity’s casual permission to let Emilie’s truth words from 125 years ago be translated to speak to my Truth.
One of her images, again from the same lesson, speaks to me, the gardener. She is talking about practicing the presence of God by allowing not straining.
“Some persons carry in their faces a strained, white look that comes from an abnormal “sitting in the silence,” as they term it. It is hard for them to know that [Presence] is right here within them, and while in the silence they fall into the way of reaching away out and up after [It]. Such are earnest [people] truly feeling after [Oneness] if haply they may find [It], when all the time [It] is near them, even in their very hearts. Do not reach out thus. This is as though a seed were planted in the earth, and just because it recognized a vivifying, life-giving principle in the sun’s rays, it did nothing but strain and stretch itself upward and outward to get more of the sun. You can see at a glance that by so doing it would get no solid roots in the earth where [Source] intended them to be. The seed needs to send roots downward while it keeps its face turned toward the sun, and lets itself be drawn upward by the sun. … But we are consciously to let it; not merely to take the attitude of negatively letting it by not opposing it, but to put ourselves consciously where the Son can shine on us, and then “be still, and know” (Psalm 46:10) that while we wait there it is doing the work. While waiting upon God, we should, as much as possible, relax ourselves both mentally and physically.”
When you practice prayer or meditation this month, during the season of gratitude, let this be your vivifying, life-giving image of your Is-ness. For so It Is. Namaste.
(In the 6 months since this ministry began, through to the end of the calendar year, I will have engaged 61 students and taught 10 different accredited Unity SEE courses. I have many more planned for 2016, as I help students fulfill their requirements to move on toward licensing and ministry. Watch New Vista SEE pages for new listings coming up in 2016.)
I just returned from a memorable week in Gaithersburg, MD, where I had a wonderful opportunity to teach Unity Affirmative Prayer at an SEE week-long intensive. Memorable not only because of the lively people who attended my class; not only because of the great freedom we felt as we celebrated an affirmative way of thinking through New Thought realizing our happiness as we see ourselves whole and One with The Divine; but also because we got to talk with others about the power of love in Charleston and the descent of a flag that has become a symbol of domination. And we got to celebrate the rise of a flag that has come to symbolize inclusivity, reinforcing even more prominently the New Earth: a new era of consciousness!
And in the midst of it all, we got to grieve together and support each other as we collectively expressed an earthly farewell to Gaithersburg’s beloved young minister Rev. Jennifer Holder. It was my privilege to be a pastoral presence for that congregation. That’s what ministry is all about, and that’s what we were to each other last week: a pastoral presence.
I received some special requests from people who are working toward their License Unity Teacher credentialing. People who are almost there and need only a few more courses. I am working with my calendar this week to plan New Vista’s future courses based on their requests. I hope to become the go-to person for LUT candidates to get their final classes before they go to the Village for Leadership Training. But these courses can be for anyone interested in learning at a deep spiritual and exciting intellectual level. These classes can be for the beginning New Thought student or a long-timer, or even a minister who wants intellectual and spiritual fellowship.
Are you wondering how the virtual classroom is going? We have completed three virtual classes so far, and we’ve become very adept at logging in and activating our cameras and microphones. We pray together, watch videos together, listen to music or the spoken word, share documents and pictures. We feel that the distance is not an issue!
We experience spiritual fellowship and a sense of intimacy using this virtual classroom platform that we couldn’t have predicted!
So please spread the word. Forward this to others who are on the path and let them know what’s happening at New Vista Learning Center. “like” New Vista Learning Center on Facebook, and “Follow” this blog!
Happy Fourth of July! Happy Freedom! Happy Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!
A few months ago, I began blogging at a different site. Those blogs are still available for you to read. I received quite a few hits and comments on the one titled “I Wouldn’t Go To Church Either… if I Weren’t a Minister!” You can read this and all of the older blogs at Reflections.
I’ve changed the site because I’ve changed the name and the focus of the ministry. When I returned to the Durham/Chapel Hill area that I have called “home” since 1986, I thought I might be serving the Durham people by opening a spiritual center where we would come together physically to grow spiritually. Although some people responded positively to that invitation, the ministry just didn’t “launch.” I decided to let it go.
As spiritual things happen, within days of letting my old idea go, other ideas and opportunities came forward. I began receiving invitations to teach Unity SEE courses in the Triangle and Triad of NC. From those experiences, I remembered that teaching is what I truly love. I realized this is the “bliss” that I have been following all my life. Doors began to open, opportunities turned into confirmations of guidance, and I eventually submitted a proposal to Unity Worldwide Ministries to teach SEE classes through a virtual classroom. UWM has given me permission to do a trial run, and to share with them how it goes. So my ministry is now a Learning Center: a virtual classroom where people can learn Unity teachings from the comfort of their own homes, while still connecting real-time with other spiritual explorers and receiving personal inspiration, insights and guidance from a contemporary cutting-edge Unity minister.
It’s ironic: when I was in seminary, I was absolutely sure that I would serve as a pulpit minister. Which I did, but for only two years. Now I’m developing an teaching ministry. Other classmates were absolutely certain that they would not become pulpit ministers. Some did not. But others are now serving congregations! It’s true that when we follow spiritual guidance, our best made plans sometimes vaporize into thin air!
Thus the change of name and the change of site. I hope you’ll enjoy reading some of my older posts, and “follow” this one to keep up with the unfolding of this ministry.
Join us on Facebook at “New Vista Learning Center”