The Chinook Blessing was the theme of Rev. LaVern's message on September 13, 2015.
In November, 2005, two years after my mom had moved to Idaho from California with my brother and his family, an MRI was done on her leg and the MRI was read by two radiologists on separate days. She was told by her doctor that she had bone cancer in her leg. Since she was 94 years old, no treatment was suggested. Her doctor explained that she was in good hands and that they would make sure that she would be provided with good care. Her response was, "I just want to enjoy Christmas and my birthday in January, then I'll deal with it."
When my brother told me the news, I called Silent Unity at Unity Village. I spoke to a lovely lady who assured me that prayers for my mother would begin immediately and continue for the next thirty days. My mother got to enjoy the holidays and her birthday, fairly pain-free. When another MRI was ordered a couple of months later, there was no evidence of cancer. The only thing showing in that area were two circles of light. From then on, each time she would visit her doctor's office she was known as "Miracle Girl."
Mom was raised in the Christian Science Church. Later, sometime in her 30's, she embraced Unity thinking and read Daily Word every day until the day she passed away at the age of 99. On the day she left Earth she was only in the hospital for a few hours. On that day, upon waking in the hospital and realizing that she had not yet had her breakfast, she let everyone know that "This Swede needs her coffee!" She was a sassy delight to the very end.
A Personal Treatise on the Love Chapter
By Donna Fry
At the end of chap. 12, Paul discusses the “body of Christ”. Of which we are all a part ...
we are one
In the church God has appointed different tasks according to gifts – i.e., being exactly who we are innately, honoring that special talent, gift, beingness by expressing it.
Within this framework of expressing one’s natural self, there is a greater good (a most excellent way) for the one.
So, we practice patience with ourselves and each other.
We are kind to ourselves and all we come in contact with.
We are happy with the gifts and expression of such in those around us.
We recognize our special gift and know confidently that it is ours,
therefore apparent and there is no reason to boast.
We are considerate to ourselves and others.
We see the many as one so we do not have to be self-seeking.
We have no cause to be angry as we are aware of human emotion
and are kind to ourselves as we process inner hurts.
We forgive easily, ourselves included.
We recognize the positive view of life and focus on it.
Our supreme goal is awareness of truth.
Our love protects, trusts the higher good, hopes and stays us on our path.
Love is eternal; it has always been here and goes with us after this life, where ever that takes us
We are love; we are one and one equals love. I am that. We are that.
This Easter Rise and Shine
This Easter season, we welcome spring when nature once again calls forth new beginnings. Highways and country roads scream, “Look at our pallets of brilliance!" Earthworms dance beneath the dirt, hiding from colorful birds that chirp and sit sassy upon limbs dressed in lace-like leaves of green.
Butterflies dart about like miniature kites, resting momentarily upon a plant or bush. These winged wonders have long been a symbol for Christians of new life, resurrection and hope. The three stages of the butterfly’s life often symbolically represent the three stages in the life cycle of Christ and the Christian.
Rev. Catherine Ponder in, "How to Resurrect Your Good," said that some people are "turned off" by the emphasis of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and suffering. That is only the beginning of a story that she prefers to deem "Success from the Cross." Take the story further, she advises, and dwell upon the resurrection: the fact that we all have access to God’s power working in our own lives.
One definition of "resurrection" means "to bring to view again or to restore life." Seemingly, one purpose of the story of Jesus of Nazareth was to bring to view again the divine nature of all humankind.
In the article, "He Is Risen," Rev. William Cameron says that the world has never been the same since the Resurrection of Jesus, who is more alive today than before his death. To date, He has influenced far more people; is better understood, is more comforting and inspiring than ever before.
Another message of Easter calls us to roll away the stone from our imaged tomb of negative thinking, doubts, and disbelief. In other words, we are called and challenged to rise and shine:
To rise to love and to shine through loving more.
To rise to joy and to shine through joyous living.
To rise to good and shine through our goodness.
It appears that the life cycle of the butterfly is one of God¹s glorious mysteries of creation. We too are glorious creations made in God¹s image and likeness. Resurrection seems an inside job accomplished by the Christ within. Recall these beautiful words, "The mystery that has been hidden…Christ in you, the hope of glory!" --Colossians 1: 26, 27.
LESS IS MORE
By Dolores Everard
This past winter, I was house bound while recovering from surgeries and unable to attend the seasonal services of the Burning Bowl and White Stone ceremonies to my disappointment. These are wonderful Unity ceremonies for releasing old negative thoughts and feelings of the past year then starting the New Year off with a clean slate.
This spring, however, I find myself rejoicing in my return to health and the ability to join a group of church women for our first annual Women’s Retreat at Camp Allen led by Rev. LaVern Watters. And what a treat the retreat was. In the words of one participant, “We laughed; we cried; we hugged; we chatted; we planned; we babied each other...all the things we love to do as women.” I wouldn’t have missed this time of spiritual enrichment and bonding with my spiritual sisters for the world!
The retreat closed with fond farewells and the leader giving each of us a White Sea shell with an inscription on the shell’s inside. Mine read, “Let go and experience God.” Good idea.
Returning home, I placed the shell on my altar and picked up the nearby white stone that my thoughtful prayer partner got for me in my absence from the January service. I turned it over and there it was—the words, “less is more” that I had written following a meditation while recouping.
I remember writing about these words in my journal. Here are a few tidbits from my journal entry on December 27, 2010:
“Less agitation, more peace
Less anger, more joy,
Less anxiousness, more centeredness,
Less business, more stillness,
Less cursing, more blessing.”
And on it goes:
“Less fear; more faith,
Less frustration, more understanding,
Less getting, more giving.
Less illness, more wellness.”
I’m beginning to obsess about these “less is more” missives in my journal:
“Less worry, more certainty,
Less judgment, more understanding,
Less lack, more prosperity,
Less seriousness, more laughter.”
I especially like laughing just for the health of it. I’ll cut you some slack and end with only four more of the gazillion “less is more” statements that I wrote:
Less shallow breathing, more deep breaths,
Less suspicion, more trust
Less talking, more listening
Less worry, more certainty.
Enough already, you get the idea. I invite you to create your own list. You might even consider flipping it around like the following:
“More love, less hate,
More meditation, less cogitation,
More prayer, less anxiety,
More giggling, less grumbling”.
I’m off and running again, so I’ll leave you with the old adage, “a rolling stone gathers no moss,” but a white stone gathers a new name from Spirit that no one understands except the one who receives it, or so says Revelation 2:17. I hope you God my missives.
In light and love, Dolores
My name is Susann, and I am directionally challenged. After 12 years, I still have to remind myself that Houston is south and The Woodlands is on the west side of I-45. I do better these days and still I occasionally suffer a spectacular relapse.
The latest, on my way home from Spring, involved a tank-truck water sprinkler; two large, moving bulldozers; yelling, gesturing road workers; and a flatbed truck loaded with sod and dangling a forklift. Which is how I came to hit the mailbox (unharmed) with the right side car mirror (broken). Some of these vehicles I encountered again and once I turned the corner to avoid one a second time, with no idea where I was going. Another dead end. Exhausted, I finally turned into my own tiny cul-de-sac street only to discover a huge moving van in the left lane and four parked cars in the right, blocking our driveway!
More disturbing than the physical obstacles was my private road rage, in which I star as both perpetrator and victim. Driving from one dead end street to another, I peppered my self with abuse: “You are so stupid! Any yoyo could do better than this! How many times have you done this already?!” Then came the next step in the familiar spiral of depression: “There you go, beating yourself up again. You know better than this. You are hopeless!” Ad nauseum.
Recounting this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad experience later, I alluded to one of the first truths I took from Unity: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” “What,” I wondered aloud, “is Spirit trying to tell me?”
“To get a GPS!” replied Sharon. Everyone laughed until I threw in another sad fact. After hearing my tale of woe, Wade, my husband, gently reminded me that the GPS he had bought for me was in the armrest of the car, all along. Problem solved: Remember the GPS.
But the problem wasn’t solved, I realized, as one and then another person shared stories of GPS failures and I remembered even worse gruesome internet articles. Surely Spirit would not be leading me to count on, take solace in, so unpredictable a guide.
The day before this discussion I had been struck by a sentence in the “Daily Word”, which came back to me: “In any moment, I can re-center myself in Spirit and change my point of view.” For 40 minutes of “lost” anxiety, I had not been able to do this. Thinking about it later, I realized the deeper nature of being directionally challenged – looking outwardly rather than within. Following practical advice in another “Daily Word” I asked, What would have been the best way to respond to this situation? What can I learn about myself from this?
Many years ago on a birding trip to Arizona, I started my driving shift in San Antonio. Before anyone realized it, I had wandered off I-10 and onto old US Hwy 90. Consequently our route took us to a roadside park outside Brackettville, TX, where we saw our first vermilion flycatcher, a flash of crimson beauty. It was dark by the time we pitched our tents on the west side of the Pecos River. We awoke in a field of stunning red and yellow wildflowers and spent the morning exploring ancient pictographs in Seminole Canyon that we’d never heard of until I took that “wrong” turn. A peak experience.
So here’s where I am now. The next time I find myself lost, I’m going to park in one of those dead ends, breathe deeply, re-center, and activate my God Positioning System. I’ll affirm with gratitude that wherever I am, God is. Depending on the circumstances, I’ll try the earthly GPS, remember what side of I-45 I’m on, and check the position of the sun before I start out again. And I’ll keep an eye out for the divine order I would otherwise have missed.
It’s started. My heart’s fluttering like a butterfly, emerging from its cocoon ready for flight. I recognize this excitement as an annual surge of energy in anticipation of the holidays.
Lights, wreaths, trees for trimming, and plastic Santa blow-ups will soon sway in front yards. “Holidaze” paraphernalia have already pushed Halloween over the hedge, gobbled Thanksgiving, and started the trek to Bethlehem.
After many years of traveling to be with families at Christmas, we are staying home this year. And you “can count on that.” We’re dusting off ornaments, dragging down the pseudo fir tree, and inviting friends to help decorate over Thanksgiving weekend.
The crèche will be placed on the mantel as a reminder of the Christmas story. Well, stories. Matthew’s gospel focuses on the historical setting of Jesus born over 2,000 years ago. Luke, on the other hand, pays more attention to little things: the setting of a manger, shepherds, animals, and an angel.
The book of John gives us another meaning on a deeper level to the season that Christ lives in us, personally. You, me, and yes, even the Grinch! John’s Christmas story lands us right in the middle of the manger of our hearts. He tells us that when we acknowledge the Christ Spirit in ourselves, we pay tribute to our Way shower, Jesus the Christ---a gift that ranks along side of those of the magi to the babe.
Whatever story we prefer, the authors were telling about an event of great importance from their century. It was their story of discernment of “spiritual truth.” Rev. Ed Townley in A Metaphysical Interpretation of the Christmas Story writes that what can be born in us is our awareness of our true Christ nature.
So, as I understand it, right in the smack-dab- middle of the manger of our hearts is the potential for the birth of Christ consciousness. Thus, every Christmas we can be reborn into the light of the Christ. New light. New possibility.
Spiritually speaking, Jesus said,”I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) and also said, “you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). I never took physics, but common sense says that all light has a source of energy other than itself.
Scripture tells us that the source of spiritual light comes from the nature of God. The light in Jesus was the Holy Spirit and the source of that light came from the Creator. This same power and light like an Ever Ready battery is always available to us.
This lends new meaning to the children’s song, “This Little Light of Mine.” Little ones so fresh from God get it---the sparkling spirit of the season. Let’s join them to beam light, love, and peace to the world, knowing that Christ in us is our hope of glory.
Grit, Grace, and Gratitude
by Rev. LaVern Watters
It is November, and in Houston that means it is finally time to cool off and enjoy the beauty of nature. It also means that the holiday season is upon us, beginning with Thanksgiving Day. Gratitude is a natural topic for this time of year and yet we may not always understand why it is so important to our spiritual health.
In Neale Donald Walsh’s groundbreaking book Conversations with God, God tells Neale: “The correct prayer is…never a prayer of supplication, but a prayer of gratitude…. Thankfulness is thus the most powerful statement to God; an affirmation that even before you ask, I have answered. Therefore never supplicate. Appreciate.”
Simply put: gratitude is an appreciation of the movement of the Divine in our lives. It is easy to acknowledge that Spirit is present everywhere and in every circumstance when life is “good” – when the bank account is bulging, the relationships in our life are satisfying, the car is running well, and there are no health problems.
However, our attitude of gratitude might begin to slip a bit when life gets “gritty,” such as when an unexpected expenditure depletes our savings or a long-term relationship suddenly turns sour. Yet these are the times when we need the power of appreciation most. In order to move through gritty circumstances we need to know that Spirit is with us – strengthening us, guiding us, and growing us. We must turn to that awareness of God moving within us and in our lives in order to seek out the blessing that can be brought forth from the grit.
Moving from grit to gratitude only happens through grace. Grace is that Divine power that shifts our perceptions from the “negative” – focusing on what we dislike about life – to the “positive” – seeing good all around us. We cannot make grace work. It is a part of the activity of Spirit in us and all we can do is be open to it happening in and through us. And…one of the best ways to stay open to the power of grace is to practice gratitude.
Charles Fillmore spoke of gratitude as having two aspects: “praise and thanksgiving.” Before we can experience a feeling of thanksgiving, we must first perceive that we have received something good. The most “good” anyone can have is an awareness of God in all things. Every time we “thank” God we are sharpening our perception of the good in our lives. This practice reminds us of the Truth that we are One with Spirit and therefore inheritors of all the good God has prepared for us. While we might not always be able to perceive good when we are surrounded by depressing facts, we can still cultivate a feeling of thanksgiving to Spirit for the Truth that we can never be separate from Divine Presence.
While thanksgiving comes from perceiving our good, praise is how we give it value. We might be tempted to think that if we perceive good. we automatically value it. However, this is not always true. We often have good in our lives that we take for granted. A persistent and consistent practice of gratitude reminds us both that there is good in our lives and that we do well to value that good.
Take some time this Thanksgiving season to reflect on past experiences that you have labeled as “negative.” Consider how that experience changed you. What did you learn from it? Are there any blessings in your life now that might not be there had you not gone through that earlier difficulty? Is it possible now to perceive some good that may have resulted from that experience? If so, take some time to write a letter of thanksgiving and praise to God for the grace that moved you from grit to gratitude.
The truly awesome thing about practicing gratitude is that the more we do it, the more good seems to show up in our lives. The Truth is that all of that good was already present – we simply were not aware of it. By sharpening our ability to perceive it and value it, we move it into our awareness. This then is the True meaning of grace: the ability to open up to God’s good in every moment of our lives.
May this Thanksgiving season bless you with abundant grace in all things!
Unmasking the Monsters: In the Between Times
Halloween is approaching.We are moderate Halloween celebrants. We put out a few traditional decorations – a funny scarecrow, some plastic jack-o’-lanterns, a blow-up skeleton. A generous wink at the season… a nod to our neighbors to let them know we enjoy the fun of seeing the young people in their costumes. We always make a fuss over the costumes - pretending to be frightened by the scary ones and charmed by the others – before rewarding them with treats.
Many believe that Halloween had its origins in the ancient Gaelic festival known as Samhain, which was held at the end of the harvest season, traditionally celebrated around October 31. It was a pagan celebration marking the transition from “the time of light” to “the time of dark.”
The Celts believed that there was a strange magic afoot during this festival time: “… turning points, such as the time between one day and the next… or the turning of one year into the next were seen as magical times…. This was the time when the ‘veil between the worlds’ was at its thinnest… the normal order of the universe is suspended, the barriers between the natural and the supernatural are temporarily removed (Celtic Mythology, p. 127).”
I have heard about this belief before, that there is a special magic in the between places - in this case, in the “between times.” We often encounter this sort of ‘magic’ during times of transition. Transitions are usually shadowy times in our lives – times when the world of the seen (our external life) and the world of the unseen (our inner life) seem to be confused, turned upside-down. At such times, the “veil” between the inner and the outer can seem very thin indeed.
During a transition, we are in the process of changing from a life that we knew well - whether we liked it or not - to an unknown future. We are in doubt as to how to proceed from this point. We re-evaluate all that we knew, or thought that we knew, about our selves and our lives. It is a time of unrest… of not knowing. In the between times we find ourselves haunted by our “monsters,” the shadows of our subconscious - old beliefs, thoughts, and habits that limit and block us from proceeding forward into new territory.
The truly magical thing about being in the between times is that it is a state of consciousness that holds unlimited potential for healing and growth. The monsters are only there to remind us what is yet to be healed. They might frighten us briefly, until we recognize them for what they truly are, but they are not meant to warn us away from exploring these shadows of self. Instead, they are an invitation to go deeper in our spiritual understanding and embrace a part of our self that has become hidden or locked away.
Before we can truly embrace our monsters, we have to see their true identity. One of the most persistent monsters in my life has been depression. Over time I have come to recognize that my depression is driven by an underlying feeling of unworthiness. Through psychological counseling I discovered the origins of that feeling and learned how to counter it by using affirmations and other spiritual practices. However, when I am caught in the between times, it is not unusual for me to see the specter of depression still peeking out at me from the shadowy corners of my mind. I recognize the little spook now and know that she is really here to help me.She is a reminder to keep working on releasing the old beliefs and thoughts that fuel those feelings of unworthiness. Over time, I have even come to appreciate the blessings that have come into my life from dealing with the challenge of depression.
So… if you are feeling caught in the between times in your life, remember the magic that Halloween symbolizes – the opportunity to heal a part of self by unmasking your monsters and embracing the lessons that they offer.
Peace: A Real Possibility
Imagine this, if you will: a world at peace. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you think it? Say it out loud. "Peace." Let the word roll off your tongue like a sticky sweetness to embrace people of all cultures and backgrounds, all religions and traditions. Let this sweetness spread like honey on warm toast covering all nations in a vision of unity, a coming together without prejudice, without anger, and without malice.
Woman, you ask, are you crazy? Don’t you watch television? Read newspapers? Are you a cockamamie Pollyanna? A leftover hippie from the 60s?
I know, it’s hard to believe, but just listen for a moment with the heart on your ears. Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, many have had and now have a dream of world peace and faith to dream this possible dream. Unlike Don Quixote, who fought windmills of illusion, peace is a real possibility. Listen up.
Every Sunday during our service, we join together is saying the Unity Prayer for Peace. Peace Pilgrim (1908-1981) wrote, "This is the way of peace: overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love."
This one little penniless pilgrim of a woman walked more than 25,000 miles across the country to spread a powerful message for peace during her lifetime. Peace Pilgrim trudged dusty roads and countless cities, vowing “I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food."
She walked her talk. Her pilgrimage raised the mark for our minds to wrap around as we contemplate what would happen if we gave an iota, or more of our time and energies for peace.
Peace Pilgrim described her walking as a prayer saying that if you give your life as a prayer you "intensify the prayer beyond all measure." Her efforts covered the entire peace picture--peace among nations, groups, individuals and most importantly, peace within.
I try to walk two miles a day. It's my "Emmaeus Walk," a time for contemplation and reflection upon my Creator and nature. If numbers serve me right, I would have to walk about 12,500 days which totals almost 34 years or nearly half of my lifetime to equal Peace Pilgrim's journey. My feet ache and back twitch at the thought of this.
Peace Pilgrim gave us a model for peace. She said that all of us could work for peace and do this right where we are, right within ourselves. The more peace we have within our own lives, the more we can reflect into the outer situation. So, put down your sneakers and relax. This peace practice can be done standing on your head and stacking marbles, if you wish. Actually, practicing peace is more of an attitude adjustment and "assuming right attitudes about life."
Peace Pilgrim advised to solve the problems that life sets before you. These challenges contribute to inner growth; ditto, to helping solve collective problems. Live in harmony because no life can be in harmony unless belief and practice are in agreement. Remember you have a part in the scheme of things, and to simplify life is to bring inner and outer well being.
What legacies of love this woman left humanity. Can we throw down the gauntlet of disharmony to embrace world peace? Can we heed it's call to" simplify (our life), purify (our bodies), recognize (our unity) and watch our thoughts? Peace Pilgrim had an "I Can Do" attitude.
While living in Alaska, I worked in the "bush" with indigenous people. They taught me an invaluable lesson: together we can do what none of us can do alone. Let's do it. Let¹s set our sights higher and embrace world peace. Let's envision "a peace which surpasses all understanding." (Philippians 4:7)
In light and service,
Dolores Everard, PhD, LUT
On the Unity Road
Most people read Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” in high school. As you may recall, it ends:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
These words may have little meaning to them as teenagers. As they mature, a less-traveled road that curves out of sight or a fork that goes off into an apparently unsafe area may seem frightening to some. These folks generally end up taking the more familiar route. Safety is a priority. It is more comfortable, less difficult.
Some, however, see such a road as an adventure. They choose it precisely because it is less familiar or popular. Often this path becomes the greatest adventure they will ever experience - not only the trip of a lifetime, but the journey of a life.
When the New Thought movement started over 150 years ago, it was just that, a new way of thinking, a road less traveled. Unity grew out of this movement. Different from traditional denominations, at first it was not even called a church, but a study group. Over time, Unity has become the road of choice for many who are dissatisfied with the familiar.
Discovering Unity, one encounters the thought that we are all Spiritual Beings living a human life. Unity upholds the idea that we are all One with the Divine in our Spiritual Nature, this being the Truth of us, rather than the human experience we live. When we live the Truth of ourselves consciously in thought, then the human experience is a more loving, fulfilling, and peaceful existence as well.
Interestingly enough, the Unity movement has caught on and there’s more traffic on the road once less traveled. For some, it is still unfamiliar and strange. Others feel a gentle tug towards the road which answers to their heart’s belief in the oneness and connection of humankind. Unity thought and Unity Principles attract them down the road to fulfilling their individual purpose. It may be a path worth traveling.