July 21, 2019
“The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton
“I was on death row not by my own choice, but I had made the choice to spend that last three years thinking about killing McGregor and thinking about killing myself. Despair was a choice. Hatred was a choice. Anger was a choice. I still had choices and that knowledge rocked me. Hope was a choice. Faith was a choice. And more than anything else, love was a choice.
I wondered why it is that the cries of another human being can touch us in ways we don’t expect. I wasn’t expecting to have my heart break that night. It was a revelation to realize that I wasn’t the only man on death row. I was born with the same gift from God we are all born with – the impulse to reach out and lessen the suffering of another human being. It was a gift, and we each had a choice whether to use this gift or not.
I didn’t know this other inmate’s story or what he had done or anything about him that made him different from me. What I knew was that he loved his mother just like I loved my mother. I could understand his pain.
‘I’m sorry you lost your mom, but man, you got to look at this a different way. Now you have someone in heaven who’s going to argue your case before God.’
It was silent for a few moments, and then the most amazing thing happened. On a dark night, in what must surely be the most desolate and dehumanizing place on earth, a man laughed. A real laugh. And with that laughter, I realized that the State of Alabama could steal my future and my freedom, but they couldn’t steal my sense of humor. I missed my family. I missed Lester. But sometimes you have to make family where you find family, or you die in isolation. I wasn’t ready to die. I was going to find another way to do my time. Whatever time I had left.
Everything, I realized, is a choice.
And spending your days waiting to die is no way to live.”
May 26, 2019
“Start Where You Are” by Pema Chodron
“One of the deepest habitual patterns that we have it to feel that now is not good enough. We think back to the past a lot; we also think ahead quite a bit to the future – always holding out hope that it might be a little better than now. We don’t quite give ourselves full credit for who we are in the present.
One reason I wanted to talk about giving up all hope of fruition is because I’ve been meditating and giving dharma talks for some time now, but I find I still have a secret passion for what it’s going to be like when – as they say in some of the classical texts – ‘all the veils have been removed.’ It’s the same feeling of wanting to find something that’s more awake than the present situation. Sometimes this occurs at a very mundane level: you want to be thinner, have less acne or more hair. But somehow there’s almost always a subtle or not so subtle sense of disappointment, a sense of things not completely measuring up.
“Someone once told me, ‘When you feel afraid, that’s fearful Buddha.’ That could be applied to whatever you feel. Maybe anger is your thing. At that time, begin to accept the fact that that’s ‘enraged Buddha.’ If you feel jealous, that’s ‘jealous buddha.’ If you have indigestion, that’s ‘Buddha with heartburn.’ If you’re happy, ‘happy Buddha.’ In other words, anything you can experience or think is worthy of compassion.
I began to learn that I couldn’t get away from buddha no matter how hard I tried. I could stick with myself through thick and thin. If one would enter into an unconditional relationship with oneself, one would be entering into an unconditional relationship with buddha.
Could you make an unconditional relationship with your height just as you are, the weight just as you are, the amount of intelligence that you have, the burden of pain that you have? Right now, today, can you make an unconditional relationship with yourself?”
May 5, 2019
“I Am Not Bound By Any Mistake” By Ernest Holmes
“Let us now let go of everything and enter into the consciousness of that which we believe. The Spirit within each one of us is God, and It is perfect, It is love, reason, life, truth and beauty. It is limitless and perfect and complete and whole. It knows no lack or limitation.
There is nothing we have done, said or thought which rises up against us, which has power over us or which limits us; there is no memory of fear, no condemnation for previous mistakes. With the desire to free ourselves from further indulgence in the mistake, the effect of the previous mistake is wiped out, just as light dissipates the darkness. The Universe holds nothing against us…Consequently, every apparent shortcoming -which could be traced to some mental or spiritual infringement of the Law – is not only removed but the effect is healed!
That means there is no history to our case. All of its history is this minute wiped out in the knowledge that today the perfect Law – the Law of Freedom – is the only Law there is in our experience. We enter into that freedom with joy, free from every sense of sadness and burden. We enter into it with laughter, with lightness…
We know that Infinite Wholeness is in us and through us and around us now, and we are conscious that we are renewed this moment, instantly and perfectly, after the image of Perfection. We are guided into the knowledge of happiness, of certainty, of wholeness, and of freedom; and we know that there is that subtle Essence of the Spirit, which emanates from us at all times, healing everything It contacts.”
April 7, 2019
Our first reading this morning was:
“On Prayer” by Kahlil Gibran
“You pray in your distress and in your need; may you also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.
For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?
When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom except in prayer you may not meet.
Therefore let your visit to that temple invisible be for nothing but ecstasy and sweet communion.
It is enough that you enter the temple invisible.
And if you but listen in the stillness of the night you shall hear in silence, "Our God, who is our self, it is Your will in us that wills.
It is Your desire in us that desires. We cannot ask You for anything, for You know our needs before they are born in us:
You are our need; and in giving us more of Yourself, You give us all."
Our 2nd reading was:
Prayer of the Heart, by Kallistos Ware
"The heart indicates the human person in its fullness, in its unity. Above all, the heart is a symbol of wholeness, of integrity, of integration.
So when we speak of Prayer of the Heart, what we mean is a prayer of the total person, prayer in which the one who prays is altogether taken up into the prayer. The prayer of the heart means not just the kind of prayer that I say, but the kind of prayer that I am, because that is what our broken world needs today, not persons, who say prayers from time to time, but persons who are prayer, all the time. Prayer of the heart means prayer into which I am wholly taken up and transformed."
March 3, 2019
“For the Inward Journey” by Howard Thurman
Our reading this morning comes from our book of the month, For the Inward Journey, by Howard Thurman.
“I want to be more loving in my heart. I want to be more loving.
Often there are good and sufficient reasons for exercising what seems a clean, direct resentment. Again, and again I find it hard to hold in check the sharp retort, the biting comeback when it seems that someone has done violence to my self-respect and decent regard. How natural it seems to give as good as I get, to take nothing lying down, to announce to all and sundry in a thousand ways that no one can run over me and get away with it.
All this is part of the thicket in which my heart gets caught again and again. Deep within me, I want to be more loving in my heart. To glow with a warmth that will take the chill off a room which I share with those whose lives touch mine in the traffic of my goings and comings. I want to be more loving.
I want to be more loving in my heart. It is often easy to have the idea in mind, to plan to be more loving, to see it with the mind and give ascent to the thought of being loving. This is crystal clear. But I want to be more loving in my heart. I must feel like loving. I must ease the tension in my heart that ejects the sharp barb, the stinging word.
I want to be more loving in my heart, that with unconscious awareness and deliberate intent I shall be a kind, a gracious human being. Thus, those who walk the path with me may find it easier to be loving, to be gracious because of the love of God which is increasingly expressed in my living. I want to be more loving in my heart.”
January 27, 2019
“One Taste” by Ken Wilber
“And therefore, all of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout from the heart—perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakable public example—but authentically always and absolutely carries a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacent. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you.
Alas, if you fail to do so, you are betraying your own authenticity. You are hiding your true estate. You don’t want to upset others because you don’t want to upset yourself.
Because you see, the alarming fact is that any realization of depth carries a terrible burden: those who are allowed to see are simultaneously saddled with the obligation to communicate that vision in no uncertain terms: that is the bargain. You were allowed to see the truth under the agreement that you would communicate it to others. And therefore, if you have seen, you simply must speak out. Speak out with compassion, or speak out with angry wisdom, or speak out with skillful means, but speak out you must.
There is no room for timidity. The fact that you might be wrong is simply no excuse: You might be right in your communication, and you might be wrong, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter, as Kierkegaard reminded us, is that only by investing and speaking your vision with passion, can the truth, one way or another, finally penetrate the reluctance of the world. If you are right, or if you are wrong, it is only your passion that will force either to be discovered. It is your duty to promote that discovery—either way—and therefore it is your duty to speak your truth with whatever passion and courage you can find in your heart.”
December 16, 2018
“The Essential Ernest Holmes”
“The mystics, or those who were illumined, have all had an experience in common: They have seen the Cosmic Light. That is why it is said that they were illumined. They have all sensed this light, and we all do at times. I feel that if a spiritual mind treatment could be seen, it would be seen as a pathway of light. All spiritually minded metaphysical practitioners, when they are treating, often experience a light about everything, and feel that they are immersed in light.
Now, this light is real. There is such a light at the center of everything. There is nothing outside this light; everything exists in it. Even though it may not appear to exist, it is there just the same. It seems that in all forms of healing all that can be done is to let an inner light flow to restore us to our original patterns of perfection, a pattern which we did not make.
Do not be afraid to seek this Consciousness, to experiment with It. Do not feel you are silly. It is not hallucinatory, It is real, It is a light, I have seen It many times.
We need in the silence of our own contemplation, to take time to feel that light and to see it. Very frequently I sit down all alone for two hours and listen to the silence and it speaks and looks into the darkness and it turns light – it is there and there is no question about it. God is warmth, Spirit is colorful, the Universe is filled with light.”
“We are here tonight to dedicate a church, a physical building. I think it is beautiful, I think it is wonderful, I think it is a miracle, but I know why it is here. It is here because you are here and because of the consciousness of all of you wonderful people.
There are so many wonderful religions in the world. We are not better than the others. We are not more spiritual, we are not more evolved, we are not anything other than this one thing”
Here his voice changes
“We have conjoined our consciousness with the eternal guarantee of the Universe that the everlasting and eternal Father of all life and the Mother of all creation, forever begetting the only begotten, is begetting him in us, right now. And the word of our mouth is a word of Truth in such degree as it emulates and embodies Truth which sanctifies the word to its unique service of healing, not only the sick but the poor in heart.
We are dedicated to the concept that the pure in heart shall see God, here; that the meek will inherit the earth, now; that one with the Truth is a majority; that every one of us in the secret place of the most High, in the center of our own consciousness, has the secret with the Eternal, the Everlasting, the Almighty and the Ineffable. God and I are One. And I see uniting in one great inner praise, one great union of effort, one crescendo of song and one enveloping light of consciousness –
…I see it!
…The veil is thin between.
…We do mingle with the hosts of heaven.
…I see it!
…And I shall speak no more.”
December 2, 2018
“The World’s Religions” by Huston Smith
“People were astonished by Jesus’s teaching. If we are not it is because we have heard them so often that their edges have been worn smooth, dulling their subversiveness. If we could recover their original impact, we too would be startled. Jesus presents a scheme of values so counter to the usual as to rock us like an earthquake.
We are told that we are not to resist evil but to turn the other cheek. The world assumes that evil must be resisted by every means available. We are told to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. The world assumes that friends are to be loved and enemies hated. We are told that the sun rises on the just and the unjust alike. The world considers this undiscriminating; it would like to see clouds over evil people and is offended when they go unpunished. We are told that outcasts and harlots enter the kingdom of God before many who are perfunctorily righteous. We are told that it is more difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom than for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye. The world admires wealth. We are told that the happy people are those who are meek, who weep, who are merciful and pure in heart. The world assumes that it is the rich, the powerful, and the wellborn who are happy.
Jesus taught that the two most important facts about life are: God’s overwhelming love of humanity and the need for people to accept that love and let it flow through them to others. Time after time, as in his story of the shepherd who risked ninety-nine sheep to go after the one that had strayed, Jesus tried to convey God’s absolute love for every single human being. To perceive this love and to let it penetrate one’s very marrow was to respond in the only way that was possible – in profound and total gratitude for the wonders of God’s grace.”
November 25, 2018
The Bushman Way of Tracking God” By Bradford Keeney, PhD
“This is the secret. Let the love pull you all the way to the sky village. Fear not, God is behind you, holding, comforting and pushing you forward.
Let love pull whatever is inside of you – that which is waiting for a new kind of movement in your life. You will always find a reason to be dismayed. Something will show up to give you cause to worry; that’s the way it is. But rather than stay down, hand yourself over to a higher power. Let God pull you up. You are taken care of, and there is a rope that can lift you.
Getting touched by God is the number-one gift we can ever receive. Remember, God is a family of gods, and they are all beings of infinite love. They are formed to pull your heart into cosmic rhythms and passions of ongoing ecstatic creation.
God has come to me as a grandfather and as a grandmother. Once, God had many arms and hands, and spun like a top, enabling many hands to heal and shoot energy. I met God as a child and as an elder; God can become all things in the sky village. Whatever form is the best fit for your heart at the time of your visit is how God will come to you.
God wants to hold your hand. Help God and hold another hand. Become part of the holding, lifting and pulling. Simply love.
The great infinite source is beyond our ability to name it. What we can be sure about, however, is that God loves us and that we are created and changed by this love. In this creation, we are transformed over and over again with each breath, beat, pulse, song, and birth. We fall into God’s heart.
Be inside God’s walls; they are infinite. Pray inside God’s Love. Sing within God’s house. Here, you love everything when you love anything. This is First Creation, where everything is everything.
Drop your guard and let your cover-up slide away. Enter into the final wisdom. It all comes down to one word: love.
Now you know everything.
October 28, 2018
Rabbi Harry Manhoff
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote:
"Long before Abraham came along, there was a certain man, who used to stand outside the gates of Sodom and cry out against it. Day after day, year after year, the man would stand there, all by himself, pleading and demanding that the people change their ways.
Once, after many years, a delegation came to the man and demanded to know what he was still doing there-- hadn’t he realized that his protests would not change anything? The man replied: "I came to Sodom to try to change them-- and I have long since realized that that won’t happen. However, I must keep trying, because if I leave, they will have changed me."
Protest is exhausting work – because the results are almost never immediately apparent. Change often comes at a glacial pace, and quite often society’s problems get worse long before they get better. The spiritual work of protest is a matter cultivating audacious hope.
May this be our prayer, by St. Oscar Romero
“We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own. “
October 21, 2018
“The Science of Mind” by Ernest Holmes
“It is human to grieve over the loss of dear ones. We love them and cannot help missing them, but a true realization of the immortality and continuity of the individual soul, will rob our grief of hopelessness. We shall realize that they are in God’s keeping and they are safe. We shall know that the loving friends have met them, and that their life still flows on with the currents of eternity. We shall feel that we have not lost them, they have only gone before. So we shall view eternity from the highest standpoint, as a continuity of time, forever and ever expanding, until time, as we now experience it, shall be no more.
Time heals all wounds, adjusts conditions, explains facts; and time alone satisfies the expanding soul, reconciling the visible and invisible. We must give ourselves time to work out all problems. If we do not work them out here, we shall hereafter. There will be time enough in eternity to prove everything. Every person is an incarnation of eternity, a manifestation in the finite, of that Infinite, which, Emerson tells us, ‘lies stretched in smiling repose.’
And so, we prepare not to die, but to live. The thought of death should slip from our consciousness altogether; and when this great event of the soul takes place, it should be beautiful sublime…a glorious experience. As the eagle, freed from its cage, soars to its native heights, so the soul, freed from the home of heavy flesh, will rise and return unto its Mother/Father’s house, naked and unafraid."
October 14, 2018
“40 Day Mind Fast Soul Feast” by Reverend Michael Beckwith
“You are literally the delight of God. In a moment of pure intention, supported by your sincerity of practice, you will hear your brother Jesus saying, ‘You are the light, the light that lights up every woman and man who comes into the world.’ It is because Spirit yearns to share Itself with you that It placed Its essence within you. This Divine Presence within your soul consciousness is what allows you to commune in God. Don’t keep the Spirit waiting! Doing so postpones your delight in experiencing a relationship of unimaginable beauty. Prayer and meditation are the divine doorways through which you walk into communion with the Delight of all life.
When you set your intention to move through this incarnation celebrating as the Light that you are, you will be lifted out of the secondary causative factors of life, which may have hypnotized you into believing that you are here on earth to cope with your existence through the overcoming of problems and challenges. Wake up to the realization that, as Sri Aurobindo put it, ‘To seek for Delight is the fundamental impulse of Life; to find, possess and fulfill It is Life’s whole motive.’ God-adoring hearts beat to the rhythm of Cosmic Love, Cosmic Delight
Today, be one of the greatest lovers God has ever known. With every step you take, talk to God about the delight you experience in the realization of your oneness with pure Spirit. With every breath, realize your glow with God. Then you will know absolutely that the flame of the Godhead is always alight within you. You will realize that Spirit’s delight is in your seeking of Itself within yourself. Once this discovery is made, Cosmic Delight engulfs in oneness the seeker, the act of seeking, and That which is sought.”
Please repeat after me this affirmation, “The Spirit ever gives of Itself in lavish abundance. I receive the gift and delight in its sweetness.”
October 7, 2018
“For the Inward Journey” by Howard Thurman
“Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.
Despite the dullness and barrenness of the days that pass, if I search with due diligence, I can always find a deposit left by some former radiance. But I had forgotten. At the time it was full-orbed, glorious, and resplendent. I was sure that I would never forget. In the moment of its fullness, I was sure that it would illumine my path for all the rest of my journey. I had forgotten how easy it is to forget.
There was no intent to betray what seemed so sure at the time. My response was whole, clean, authentic. But little by little, there crept into my life the dust and grit of the journey. Details, lower-level demands, all kinds of cross-currents -- nothing momentous, nothing overwhelming, nothing flagrant -- just wear and tear. If there had been some direct challenge --a clear-cut issue -- I would have fought it to the end, and beyond.
In the quietness of this place, surrounded by the all-pervading Presence of God, my heart whispers: Keep fresh before me the moments of my High Resolve, that in fair weather or in foul, in good times or in tempests, in the days when the darkness and the foe are nameless or familiar, I may not forget that to which my life is committed.
Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.”