Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Long and Winding Thought Pattern

So much happens so quickly these days. I had a whole bunch of things to write about, but that was last week. Somehow they stopped feeling relevant and now are positively uninteresting. I suppose in some ways, that’s great. The fears and false beliefs that hypnotized me are no longer even interesting enough to remember. The “aha” moments that were so critical in the moment are part of my everyday thinking.

It makes me wonder about the things that feel so urgent and important today. I am more than willing to be excited about learning. I have fun finding new “aha’s” that can improve my life. Yesterday I sat down and read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandburg. I was so into what I was reading that I finished the book in one day. I felt like she was speaking directly to me about how I hold back in order to be “nice” or how I don’t even realize I’m limiting myself. I loved the chapter about feeling like a fraud. It’s so much more common than I thought it was – and I thought I was over it, but she redefined the issue for me. I can see, now, the chance to go deeper, to be more authentic and to let go of limiting beliefs.

The things that were bothering me, upsetting me, flipping my sense of identity even two weeks ago feel less important too. I’ve had time and space to come to grips with them, to redefine what some situations mean and to lose the energy around them. Some of the issues weren’t worth talking about. Maybe I just needed to hear myself think them through. Other issues have evolved and I’ve maybe even healed some. I’m more than happy to let those go, given the opportunity.

So here’s what I think I’m saying – let the emotions and energy ebb and flow. The good stuff will add to your life in some permanent way. You can’t really lose the progress you make, even if the effects are hard to see later. And the other stuff that ebbs in importance, that’s okay too. Let it flow. What’s for you can’t go by you. What you take into your soul is yours to keep. What drifts off again can’t really be yours. And thank god for that, right?


In Service

Our theme this month at the Center for Spiritual Living Prescott is service to the world. Now, depending on how you read this, it can feel overwhelming or wonderful. There’s a part of me that still hears someone’s desires as my problem to take care of (oh, to be free of the old programming!) so the idea of being “in service” can feel overwhelming. On the other hand, I’ve learned that when I am in service and simply doing what I’m doing in the present moment, with no agenda other than to be there, it’s beautifully relaxing and fun.

It’s not our job to save the world. Let me repeat that – it’s not our job to save the world. The world does not need saving. The world is full of adult children of God that have wonderful, wise souls with wisdom installed at the beginning. Just because I might have dealt with a similar situation or because I feel like I’m in a better place, doesn’t mean that I should have the spiritual arrogance to try to fix or save anyone.

There’s a story told in a TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli about how he learned how to be of service without imposing any of his own “stuff” on those he was serving. When he first started out, he went to a third world country and taught them how to garden. They had a beautiful garden, although getting participation from the community was hard. And then the season changed, the garden flooded and a group of hippos came and ate everything overnight. Ernesto noticed that the locals seemed unsurprised. When he asked why they didn’t tell him that this happened every year, their response was, “You didn’t ask.” And so the talk was titled, Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

To be in service to the world – whether it’s the Divine world that exists within you or the physical world that is all around you – requires that we first get quiet and listen to what is needed. I might be great at baking bread and want to teach you how to do it. However, if you don’t like bread, or can’t eat it, it is not actually service to you when I teach that. It’s service to my own need to feel good. If your heart is calling for you to be gentler with yourself as you go through changes, yelling “Try harder! You can do it!” in your head may not be as helpful as you think.

n any case, we are called to be in service. We are called to get quiet and listen to our consciousness to hear what is ours to do. If we want to help another person, we are called to first ask, “How can I help?”

How is the world calling you to be of service?

Give me a break!

I’m on retreat all next week and I can’t wait! For many people, the idea of sitting around, reading non-fiction books, refusing to leave my room (okay, I might go to the pool to read) and generally being alone in the quiet, doesn’t sound all that appealing. What I’ve learned is that all that quiet can be very annoying for the first few hours or even the first day or so. After that, something in me slows down, starts to listen deeply and, if I can stay with it, allows me to hear that little voice that tells me what I really think and feel underneath all the things I do.

I schedule this time away. It’s actually in my contract with the Center that I get 5 business days per year specifically for this. It’s not vacation time – that’s something different. This is dedicated to spiritual practice and not much else. Now, I consider napping and baths spiritual practice if they occur on retreat, but other than that, it’s just the usual stuff you expect a spiritual seeker to do. There’s a part of me that’s still Catholic enough that I wouldn’t be comfortable sneaking out to a movie during retreat time or channel surfing through whatever is on TV these days. Ted talks and documentaries are okay, but no Housewives of Whatever County.

I find that when I don’t make the time to do this slowing down, sometimes the Universe creates it for me. I remember once, long before I understood the concept of the Cosmic Two By Four, I was overdoing it and my car blew a gasket. I couldn’t do my job without a car, so I had to take a break. I was just grateful that it was the car that blew a gasket rather than me. Another time, while in ministerial school and working full time, I discovered myself on a San Diego freeway stuck in overdrive and without brakes. I got the message earlier at that point (and a new car, too!). My point is that if don’t slow down voluntarily, Spirit brings me to a screeching halt.

So what would a retreat look like for you? Would you be willing to try for just a few hours in the silence (awake, I mean) and see how it feels? Are you getting signals from the Universe that some quiet time is in order? Give it a shot and see how you feel. Your soul will thank you. And, maybe, so will your mechanic.

The Dentist’s Chair

I checked in with the dentist this morning. I know I’m overdue for a regular appointment but what I was there for this morning was different. I grind my teeth in my sleep and it’s gotten to the point that my front teeth are all chipping. We were addressing that problem and making sure it doesn’t get worse any time soon. Since I have some problems with dentistry, I was given nitrous oxide to keep me calm and able to be worked on. In the clarity of laughing gas, I realized that what we were doing this morning was a lot like the spiritual work I do with folks as their minister.

First, they gave me some help (yes, in this case a drug) to help me prepare for the deeper work. When folks show up at our Center, we generally start them off with the inspiration of the Sunday service or a class. In either case, they learn tools like prayer and meditation. Next, my dentist had to even out my rough spots and that was less than fun. But in spiritual practice I often find that once folks have learned they are safe here, the painful stuff comes up to be healed. Sometimes they have rough spots, lack social skills or just are in so much pain that they don’t know what help to ask for. Finally, the dentist put some protective coating on the spaces in my teeth that were ready to shatter (I realllllly grind my teeth). Our ongoing spiritual practices give us this protective coating. As we get better and better with the tools of Science of Mind, we have more strength and can get on with the business of living (and eating!) much better.

Now I recognize that for some folks, this metaphor is a bit of a stretch. The thing is, I’ve written some amazing talks while having dental work done. I almost never remember them, but I know they were good. This time, I wanted to make sure I shared before it all went away.

For those of you who are wondering, my dentist is Dr. Seth at Larson Family Dentistry ( He has some of the qualities of a good minister and kind of the same job. He works on painful problems with people who might be very scared to let him help. His job is, in part, to create an atmosphere of safety and trust with his patients. He also talks a lot about what folks can be doing to take care of themselves and prevent problems in the first place. No, I don’t like the lecture either, even when he pulls out the Ipad and shows me pictures and tells me how much money I can save by preventing problems rather than cleaning up after existing problems. I especially hate that he’s right and I need to commit to better self-care.

So there’s my spiritual truth for the day. The dentist is a minister. Taking care of my teeth is a spiritual practice. Our practice is really everywhere and all the time.