The Minister's Weekly Message

Rev. Mary Wood is in the office on
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Rev. Mary Wood's Weekly Messages

Please note that Rev. Mary generally updates her message on Wednesday afternoons.  You can use the arrows to move back to previous months to explore more of her blog.

JUNE 2018

Date Posted Post
2018-06-18
0:00 am
A LITTLE R&R

Maybe you thought R&R meant a little Rest and Relaxation  -  that’s another talk for another day……  but today it stands for Reaction and Response.  How to respond rather than react.  An important lesson for healthy and loving relationships  Something I’m interested in…  and still working on.  How about you?

 

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One day on the subway, while quietly reading a book, author Stephen Covey was interrupted by two wild children that got on with their father at a subway stop. The children were out of control, jumping up and down, running loudly through the subway car.  The father seemed not to notice or care that his children were misbehaving and disturbing commuters…

Stephen approached the father and wanted to scold him for not controlling his children and teaching them respect for others… The father knew what was coming, what Stephen was going to say.  He agreed, and sighed sullenly, saying “yeah, I just don’t know what to do or say to them.    We just came from the hospital where their mother died from a random assault….”  Hearing this story immediately changed Stephen’s perception of the children and the situation. He then sat down with the man who had lost his wife.

When we react to something or someone, we make judgments, we blame.  Many times, we react without knowing what’s going on.  It is our perception and comes from what’s going on within us.  Reaction is always based on fear – on emotions caused from our beliefs. 

 Wayne Dyer:  “When you judge another, you do not define them.  You define yourself.” 

Charles Fillmore in Mysteries of John:  “Judgment, when expressed on the mortal plane of consciousness, often is the expression of a critical and backbiting disposition.  Man’s safety lies in recognizing his need and balancing his judgment faculty with love.” 

Mother Teresa – “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” 

John 8:   There was a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, and a group of men were bringing her to Jesus.  The law is that this woman should be stoned to death, and the Jews are wondering if Jesus will conform to the law.  And the men that are bringing this woman to Jesus are prepared to carry out the sentence. 

Then Jesus bends down and he writes in the sand……  do you want to know what he wrote in the sand……  that’s something we’ll never know.   But we do know one thing that is important - he bent down, he came from a place of humility. But what he did say to the men is:  “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast the stone.”  Jesus is taking the situation and casting it back upon them – he’s turning it around.  Let’s come back to the way we live our lives.  The men dropped their stones and walked away.

When we react, we limit how we see ourselves and the world around us.  It is a large source of our suffering and unhappiness.  It also sets us up to play the victim in situations, and then we try, either inwardly or outwardly, to make the situation or person wrong.  Our reaction has nothing to do with what someone else has done or said; it has everything to do with our beliefs, our habits, our judgments of ourselves.   Beneath the judgments, we often find thoughts we’ve believed for years.  They’re like religions that we unconsciously live.

And it’s wonderful, it’s freeing as we become aware of these beliefs, and know that they can be changed, they can be healed.  When we are aware of it, then the healing begins.   And as Unity Truth students, we know that we can change – we are always changing.  A new awareness prepares us for a new response.    Responding means we are taking responsibility – the ability to respond.  Responding empowers us so that we can make whatever changes need to be made.  When we respond to a situation, we have stepped away from the fear and come from love and acceptance.

When we blame or judge someone else, this leaves us powerless to change our experience.  Taking responsibility for our beliefs and judgments gives us the power to change them.  No one’s behavior can make us feel anything.  A big thank you for this awareness.  What you and I feel as a result of someone’s behavior is up to you and I.  If someone yells at me, I can react… Or if I am aware of those triggers, I can recognize that there are many other ways I could act, and then I can choose from that list of actions and respond accordingly. 

So the distinction is that no one is making us feel anything.  They are doing what they are doing, and it’s our pre-established bias that makes us feel a certain way.  If you and I can recognize that trigger, we can open ourselves up to new options and respond to the situation more compassionately.

A holy man was meditating and noticed a scorpion struggling to climb onto a rock out of swirling water in a brook.  The holy man tried to help it, but the scorpion kept striking back at him.  A friend that was passing by said, “Don’t you realize it’s the scorpion’s nature to attack?”  “Yes, said the holy man, “but it is my nature to love and rescue.  Why should I change my nature just because the scorpion doesn’t change his?”

When we respond we’re free to love “difficult” situations as much as we love lovable ones because they no longer threaten us.  We realize the situation or people that seem to be against us, that we react to, are really blessings in disguise, they are really a gift.  Has there been a situation or a person in your life that you thought was a burden, and then turned out to be a blessing?   “Everything happens for me – not to me.”

The 4 Steps of Grace to help us come to this place:  1.  Thank God.  2.  It must be good       3.  What can I learn from this experience.   4.  Where’s the gift.    Many times these gifts don’t come wrapped in shiny fancy paper with a big red bow.  They come wrapped in many layers of plain brown wrapping.  And as we peel away the layers, we find the gift.  

The best gift of all is the awareness of who we truly are.  The light of the Christ.  A child of God.  And from this awareness, we live a life of love, and respond to that life with grace from the Christ within. 

 
2018-06-12
0:00 am
WAIT ON THE LAW

Welcome to the last week of our series learning from Derek Rydall’s book Emergence:  Seven Steps for Radical Life Change.  

 

 

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In the age of quick-fix just about everything, most of us want what we want, and we want it now!  But just as you can’t force the acorn to grow into the oak tree until it’s ripe and ready, we can’t force our potential to grow until it’s ripe and ready. “If you build it inside, it will come outside, but you can’t control the timeline since you don’t always know what’s being built.  Waiting is part of the perfect process.”

This doesn’t mean that you sit around, waiting for someone to knock on your door.  Waiting requires courage.  On one level, it’s doing nothing when everything little thing in us wants us to do anything to get what we think we need.  Another level is having an inner stillness and openness to what is unfolding.  The third level is staying planted where we are, growing those deeper roots that run beneath the surface so the barren times and storms can bless us.

It’s learning to be in the world, but not of the world, less attached to outcome and more attuned to out-go.  When we can achieve this, A Course in Miracles says, “it leads to the infinite patience that produces immediate results and, ultimately to true freedom.”  Waiting on the Law means trusting that the seeds we’re planting are growing and staying the course in the face of evidence to the contrary.

When we’re committed to a vision, days and months can go by when our spiritual work doesn’t seem to bear fruit, it’s important to be still, stay the course, and grow down – no matter what’s going on.   This poem hung on Mother Teresa’s Calcutta home:

“People are often unreasonable, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Did you know that Mother Teresa suffered from a crisis in faith for 40 years?  But because of her commitment, she did the good works anyway.  Improving our lives asks us to stop looking for a better human experience, and like Jacob from the Old Testament, wrestle our angels until they yield their blessings of transformation.

 Let’s remember that our real goal isn’t about manipulating and controlling the outer appearances and experiences until they make you and I feel better; it’s about aligning with our inner essence that already feel great.  Then our outer experiences will shape themselves around that.  So let’s be patient and work through the layers.  Charles Roth, a Unity minister, writes in his book A New Way of Thinking:  Patience is a sign of maturity – gosh darn it – emotional and spiritual. 

On our path to spiritual maturity, we realize that God is never late.  Divine law and order is always a process.    Mark 4:26-28 reads, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.  The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

The Chinese plant the seed for the bamboo tree; they water and fertilize it; the first year – nothing happens.  The 2nd, 3rd and 4th year they water and fertilize it – nothing .  The 5th year they water and fertilize it, and sometime during the 5th year, in approximately 6 weeks, the Chinese bamboo tree grows roughly 90 feet.  So..  did it grow 90 feet in 6 weeks or did it grow 90 ft. in 5 years.  The obvious answer is that it grew 90 feet in 5 years because had they not applied the water and fertilizer each year, there would have been no Chinese bamboo tree…….

Know that with God, all things are possible.  And then practice patience.  .  We are not attached to the outcome and how long it will take -  we know in our heart that it will work out in the divinely right and perfect way.  Actually, I think it’s fun to live in the mystery – because Spirit often comes up with a plan much better than the one I have.  Step by step, we’re led into the experiences that are part of the orderly process.  Conditions don’t just happen – they grow; just like the oak tree that grows from the acorn.  Don’t try to figure out how this will all happen – feel how it feels when the plan, when the vision materializes. 

Like the Chinese bamboo tree, “emergineering” is about putting in the energy and having the patience to dig down and develop a root system that’s deep, strong and broad enough to support the wonderful destiny you were born to live – no matter who you are or how old you are.  Henry David Thoreau said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams and endeavours to live the life which one has imagined, then one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

When we are willing to use the principle of Emergence – everything is within – then we can use this to live a life in service and become an instrument of evolutionary progress in our family, our business, our community and the world.  Our capacity to be an instrument of good in the world is no longer based on our human abilities, but on the limitlessness of life itself.  And from that place, we know that all things are possible.  Now I’d like to end with Derek’s words

“Being a visionary isn’t about being famous or a history maker.  It’s about seeing things differently, seeing the invisible and articulating it, whether to family, friends, or the world.  We’re all called to live a visionary life, no matter what our station.  It’s about being true to the best in us.  Visionaries think for themselves, because if you’re not thinking for yourself, someone else is thinking for you.

“As we’ve been discovering, our life is not really our own, and we’re not here just for us.  As we realize we already have everything and are part of a system of one, our life becomes about helping others awaken to their full potential.  It becomes the reason we wake up, the fuel that powers us through the dark nights.  We live to give and make a contribution wherever we go.  Conflict and competition dissolve in the realization that we are one.

This is about becoming a servant of life, whether on the world stage or in your community or family.  Everyone is called to this, but few answer the call.  If you’ve made it this far, and staying the course, you’re one of the few.  So congratulations.  And thank you.  As your consciousness is elevated, it raises all human consciousness.  This is the highest form of service, the true meaning of greatness.  “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others.”  AMEN11

 

 
2018-06-05
0:00 am
EMBRACE WHAT APPEARS BROKEN

 We’re continuing with a series based on the book, Emergence, Seven Steps for Radical Life Change by Derek Rydall. We embrace what appears to be broken through the power of love because there’s a place within you and I that has never stopped seeing ourselves through the eyes of love.  And just like the acorn has everything inside it needs to become an oak tree, we have everything within to become who we came here to be.

 

 

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As the wonderful Sufi poet, Hafiz writes, “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing Light of your own Being.”

Unity’s co-founder, Myrtle Fillmore wrote, “We are longing to bring into manifestation that which has been given us to bring forth; that is why we are sometimes restless and discontented.” So when we are feeling the call to become more, what gets in the way?

We are divine beings expressing. The same essence that holds the planets in place has empowered you to get out of bed this morning. It is the same essence beating your heart right now, breathing your breath, dwelling within every cell of your body. It is the very Life coursing through you.  But it is so easy to lose sight of that and let the outer world usurp the voice of Spirit. Those messages from within don’t shout over the noise of the outer world. They don’t scream over the inner dialogue that is constantly going on, or the unconscious internal noise that is drowning them out. The messages from Spirit are very often whispered, and we need to get underneath the limiting shadow qualities and beliefs to hear them.

Do we then have total faith in the Infinite Source within us, or do we have faith in the limitations? It’s a great question to ask ourselves.  Because those limiting beliefs that have taken up residence in our psyche, that we took on at a young age, can so easily cover up what lies beneath the surface. The truth gets crowded out of our awareness. So what do we do when they get in the way?

The work is to embrace any darkness that shows up in our lives; it’s called integrating the shadow. It’s not about making the ego bad or wrong, it’s about embracing and loving it into wholeness. The darkness is not the enemy, it is the soil we need to dig into for our own growth. Whatever shows up in our path is the path. And we need to embrace it. Embrace what appears broken.  In order to do that, we have to become what Jack Canfield calls an “inverse paranoid” which is someone who is convinced that the universe is conspiring for his or her good. So that even when the shadow shows up, we know that it is for us in some way –and we continue to do the work.

Knowing who we truly are is not a destination, it is a journey! And awakening to the truth of who we are comes from that journey – it entails having love and compassion for what is showing up in our path, and  for ourselves. It’s a life long quest to find the Living Christ Spirit within.  Nothing outside of ourselves has the final word on what we can do or who we can become. It is never about the event, it is about how we interpret the event. That doesn’t mean we condone abusive behavior or trivialize traumatic events – but it is about doing the inner healing work with compassion to integrate the limiting beliefs we have taken on because of those things.

So when things show up that show us some aspect of the shadowy darkness, we shift from the pain of fighting and fixing to the peace of loving, accepting, embracing parts of ourselves that we have formerly held hostage. That takes self-compassion.  “Challenges are wake-up calls, telling us we’ve settled for a life too small and must open up our tightly held places to a larger vision.” 

Allow your heart to enfold all parts of yourself within its embrace. When all of you is welcome, what you’ll discover is that the welcoming inner environment enables you to grow beyond your limitations into who you really are. Not only that but when you look within yourself with kinder eyes, you will find a kinder world being reflected back to you. How can we help make the world a better place for others if we are carrying around self-condemnation? The short answer – we can’t. We can’t heal life by repressing or rejecting it. We can’t live more fully if we are at war with ourselves. The inner war needs to end.

The more we expose and redeem those shadowy places within us, the more we become a healing, unifying influence for others. When we discover who we truly are, we set the stage for others to also make that discovery within themselves.

What if everything that is happening in this world right now is conspiring for our awakening to this truth?  Nothing outside of us has the final word on what we can do or who we can become.  This thing called Life is an ongoing practice that leads to a paradigm shift of how we view our lives and how we respond – moving from resistance to embracing what appears broken.

So when we have those painful moments and discover some shadowy material, we want to remember to:

  1. Stop and take a moment to feel deep compassion for ourselves.
  2. Ask yourself – how could changing how I think about this situation change my experience of it?
  3. Assume that the universe is conspiring for your good and ask what gift is inherent in this situation. Then watch and listen for the answer to show up.

I want to end with this quote from the author, Jaeda DeWalt:  “I embrace my shadow self. Shadows give depth and dimension to my life. I believe in embracing my duality, in learning to let darkness and light, peacefully co-exist as illumination.” Embrace what appears broken.

Welcome home to your wholeness, which is the greatest gift of all.