Posts Tagged ‘UCM Alberta’


Daily practice. It has backed many religious/spiritualist movements. Secular mindfulnessIMG_2684 movements. Psychological/holistic healing. Creative arts. The idea that each day to do something that takes you into another space. The thin space that “separates” the creative spark (some call God) and creation…when in fact they resonate well together it is simply us that must pause, and enter into the thin space to truly create.

These are thoughts that have been spinning as I work through my own block. Writer’s block. Very rarely experienced in my life, but lately has been cropping up. It is a block of darkness. Or that is what I see when I take moments to pause and be present. The light is kept out, unable to truly break through. Feel one’s breath is what the experts say to enter into a deeper meditation. It starts with presence. Experiencing what is in the now. The now being a concrete block within my mind’s eye.

bookBut it comes back to each day trying to keep practice. For as Martella-Whitsett (2011) How to Pray without Talking to God brought the book group to this week. We tend to stop our practice to soon. That is we tend to enter into our prayer/contemplation/meditation time of creation/manifestation/denial/affirmation BUT before we truly make a breakthrough the silence scares us.  For it is resting in that silence that the heavy lifting to the “Thin Space” can be done.  Simply, because being with ourselves and truly affirming the divinity we are created in is, well, S-C-A-R-Y. So it is always easier to simply stop at the imaginary line, than spend that extra beat and wait to see if the light shines through.

The light of daily practice. Been a long road back to some semblance of this for myself, yet trying to attempt it. Working into some Wisdom in Ecclesiastes, reminders about the ebbs and flow of life. Silence. Concrete blocks. Reminders in the ancient story of Nehemiah, called to rebuild. On the front lines as a leader in the moment, but taking time away to get above the daily work, the daily battles to be able to see the lay of the land. The higher plain of planning.

That is the extra beat in the silence.

The higher plain, being able to see (wholly) who one is.

From their stepping into the true reality.

Yet, in the moment, one chapter hangs by the precipice. A block of stone blocking that light…just one more beat…in the silence…

Today’s practice.

awaiting

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Psychologically speaking denial is the conscious or unconscious act of avoidance or locking away of the negative (or positive in some cases) experiences/emotions that will cause detriment to one’s mental, emotional or physical well-being. The extension of this denial can actually trigger unconsciously and systematically that which it is trying to avoid. Metaphysically and holistically denial in spiritual work is something different. And that is where the Skype conversation at book club (due to Calgary’s snow day) commenced. It is a practice many spiritualists already have if not named.

Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett’s work is the pre-course to becoming a prayer chaplain in the Unity Movement. For anyone who does prayer work, energy work or holistic work I would suggest her 2011 How to Pray Without Talking to God: Moment by Moment Choice by Choice for its constant reminder that we are within the Divine (Holy Spirit) and that is where our identity and self is anchored. I will be more blunt than her eloquent words, but we are not the labels placed upon us by society. Contrary to many “money makers” of religion, spirituality or metaphysics– we do not manifest the negative in our lives. Well duh.

Which brings us into the conversation on denial in this context. It is not avoidance or suppression, it is cleansing, or in Martella-Whitsett’s words (p.83):

Constipation in the body is relieved by following a treatment plan. First, you ingest a purgative that rouses the organs of elimination. Second, you await the outcome in a supportive environment, however many hours it takes. Third, you sit on the pot, relax and release. Finally, you flush. 

This is the way we deal with a physical blockage in our systems. Spiritual denial is the same kind of process as she writes (p.84):

First, you are provoked by a niggling realization that you are filled with false beliefs. Second, you heighten your spiritual awareness through study, prayer and meditation. Third, you cultivate a consciousness of denial by your words, leading to elimination of false beliefs. Finally, you flush- it is finished- with an emphatic Amen.

Denial is doing the work to rid yourself of the destructive shadow. It is

bookthe gremlins-saboteurs laid bare and flushed out through laxative of the soul. It is the soul work that with other care (medical, mental health, spiritual) can create a healthy you. It is the system flushing that allows for authentic affirmation work. Not the trite- fake it til you make it- post it note to believably- catch all. Though within this stage the post it notes will be more real to you.

As the Rev. takes us through more soul work, this gem is found on page 94 in regards to affirmations (post system flushing or to have regular up keep on said system):

Feelings must be engaged. … If your intellect crafts wonderful words, but your heart does not believe them, your affirmation frustrates rather than supports. You experience inner conflict rather than inspiration.

For authentic denial is the flushing of the false shadow self, authentic (realization) affirmation (thinking) is tapping into our true Divine Self/Nature/Truth. It is the hardest soul work, for all these words must grow out of our whole being (heart and mind) not just an intellectual exercise.

When it happens it is beautiful, healing, and igniting of a (re)newed you. It can also reveal the new path the labyrinth of life is taking you too.

Or as Charles Fillmore (Co-Founder of Unity) would say:

I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by me. (from Atom Smashing Power of Mind, 1949).

Where is the sizzle in your life to do what ought to be done by you?


P-R-A-Y-E-R.

“We have been so persistently taught that prayer consists in asking God for some human need that we have lost sight of our spiritual identity and have become a race of praying beggars.”

-Charles Fillmore

To some a four letter word. To others an opiate (to paraphrase Karl Marx) to keep the masses appeased and seeing themselves as fallen. Some an introspective/meditative/positive thinking technique that removes any personal or mystical agency for the miraculous. At worst, an intercession to a man in the sky that may deem us worthy or unworthy of aid.

And the stalled litany that removes mystic growth of the soul to true love communion with creation and loving Creator is removed by continuing the piece meal of pablum. Where is the meat? Those growing, become emaciated as they are not allowed out of pre-school, and those in pre-school are never given the challenge of spiritual growth into Kindergarten or Grade One (never mind 2-12 or upper colleges of spirituality) because no one wants to rock the tradition boat. Whether you are from the Abrahamic religions, Eastern spiritualities or meta-physicians.

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[a]

-Gospel of Matthew 6:5-9 (English Standard Version)

The debate over how we pray. While we miss the point on what is the point of prayer. In her 2011 book, How to Pray Without Talking to God, Unity Minister Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett poses this question:

To what degree does praying in the traditional fashion support or detract from your growing awareness of your divine identity?

-p.45

Much like Brother Jesus in his teaching on prayer. Break the mold of what is taught by rote, without emotion, without self(lessness); without connection to the divinity that is breathed into us, and that is around us (y’know that love source we are from and return to). For it creates a false dichotomy that one method is better than another. There is no false dichotomy. All movements have their ways. Centering and grounding techniques to bring us to peace.

book

Great new book study with UCM Alberta

A priest mentor gave a sermon on praying for the dead, which would be seen as the ultimate traditional form of prayer. It has been taught to pray your loved ones out of purgatory into paradise (heaven). What I loved is he pointed out that purgatory in its purest form is having whatever has kept us from the Love Source, God, purged away instantaneously upon death. So why pray for the dead? It allows us to get out of our own pain/heads/hearts and speak that which is mired deeply within us.

What is that? It is grief processing? Singly, and when Mass is celebrated for the person, communally. It is healing.

In the metaphysical way taught by such as Ernest Holmes, The Fillmores, and Mary Baker Eddy to name a few, it is about going within to the divine identity that always exists. Much like the Lord’s Prayer Jesus leads into with his words from the Sermon on the Mount, these methods allow us to centre and root.

Image result for lord's prayer

Hey do you notice any metaphysical steps in this?

The Five Steps of Affirmative Prayer (Holmes’ way) are here. While my family prefers the method of this spirituality taught to kids. BINGO: Begin with God; Include yourself; Name your good; Give thanks; Over and Out.

 

Much like the Lord’s Prayer almost mirrors…

Image result for ACTS prayers

Into the Unity Five Step Process which is simply (from Unity.org):

1. Relax
Close your eyes. Relax, breathe deeply, and let go of outer concerns.
2. Concentrate
Quiet your mind. Begin to focus your thoughts on the spirit of God within you.
3. Meditate
With an open mind and a receptive heart, feel the peace of God’s presence. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 RSV).
4. Embrace the Silence
In the silence of your soul, know that you are one with God. Allow this realization to permeate your being.
5. Give Thanks
So is it talking outside or within yourself?
What is prayer?
It is communing with the love that we are sourced from. Tapping into the cosmic dust that exists within. personalized and cosmoligically. It is coming to an understanding of surrender, presence and love.
This is halted when Chemicalization (psychologically may present as cognitive dissonance) sets in. When we become stuck in the pablum of life not open to the grand cosmic buffet. Martella-Whitsett (2011) defines chemicalization as “a confused state of consciousness when embedded beliefs appear threatened by the introduction of new spiritual ideas.” (p. 41). The protection mechanism of life, as change triggers the grief cycle, and the grief cycles forces us to acknowledge that we are autonomous and interdependent people. It is easier to freeze where we are comfortable than to continue the journey.
That is why prayer is such a dividing line between movements, for it is within how we pray that we can label those who have “levelled up” and those who have not. Missing the point, that in the journey, many ways and means will bring us back to the grounding of understanding and resonance with God.
It may seem unbelievable…but…
P-R-A-Y-E-R
Takes many forms as a way to centre the person and community into the true source and identity of who they are. It centres us into seeing each and every person as part of the beautiful rainbow of creation and belonging. Labels define supports, not the intrinsic worth of the person.
Created in love. Meant to return to love. And most importantly, to live out of that love…to as the Christian Testament describes it…bring the Kingdom here.
That is to transform our world through one humble act of compassionate love at a time.
Are you willing to truly enter into prayer?

…Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those granted nearness to God.

-Sura 3:46

                The Crusades were a horrific time within the Empire phase of Christianity. It was about anti-Semitism (travelling to and from the Holy Land was a great excuse for the warriors to cull the Jewish in the lands) and to let blood run high in the Holy Land battling the “infidel”.

During one such crusade time a disgraced Crusader received a call to something different. Francis was a party animal, one of those wealthy ne’er do wells many towns and communities know of. He thought to increase his lot by bravery in the Crusades…suffice to say he was not a good Knight, and wound up injured in a burnt out church where Jesus spoke to him through the San Damiano cross calling him to rebuild his church. After stealing supplies from his father, and rebuilding 3 fine parishes he was once again revisited and redirected to actual community based around hope and loved. Even beaten and imprisoned by his own parents, just emboldened this man to cast of (literally) the clothes of wealth and walk naked into the world.

The Franciscan movement is what began. Part of the life lived that receives little mention outside of the international circles (as most just know Francis for his love of animals, not activism) so he has been reduced to the garden statue or fountain. Yet it was in the midst of crusade times this rabble rouser and friends upset the apple cart, and not just in the challenge for equity and justice for the poor. Nope, he also crossed treasonous lines by going back onto the Crusader path to meet with Sultan.

Why?

To pray together.

To talk.

To share bread.

To be community.

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was ever inclined to God and obedient to Him, and he was not of those who associate gods with God.

-Sura 3:68

Francis and his community understood an eternal truth. God is the source of all that is, all that exists within and through and lived out of the Holy Mystery. The source-Love- was not to be confused with the manifestations. That is…the wells are not the river.

We want the labels to divide. Those in power hope that we allow the labels to divide. Yet, there is another way. A way where we acknowledge the One River, and sample one another’s well water in a safe place of community, sharing prayers, sharing discourse, sharing bread. Being like Francis and the Sultan. That piece of light in the darkness.

And he will teach them the Book, and The Wisdom, and The Torah and the Gospel.

-Sura 3: 49

This is why my family hosts an inter-faith Questing through the Qur’an; and a Brunch & Bible (where we travel the roads of the Gospel of Luke & Acts of the Apostles) on alternating weeks. To share the foundation stories. To see where we connect. To hear where we differ.

To know  we are still united in our diversity.

                Much like Francis’ call to bring the gifts of peace, hope, faith, joy and love to Sultan. But also to receive these same gifts from Sultan.

For, what are we in humanity,

if not neighbours….

francis

The Gospel story, the faith story has not ended. It is not sealed. Each of us in our journeys, our lives continue to write in the book of life about how we live within, through and out of the love that is the Holy Mystery. So what is the new chapter you are starting in this moment?


The later 1990’s early 2000’s through the United Church Observer is when I became aware of a Matriarchal Wisdom movement, that sadly has fallen off the radar. Women from some U.C. congregations, local mosque and synagogues in Ontario were meeting on a project to bring the three major Abrahamic faith texts together (Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament and the Qur’an). The idea being to provide the cross-reference texts through all three to show how the faiths are more similar and connected than adversarial.

Part of why I am enjoying being the host family for UCM Alberta’s questing through the Qur’an is the real-life reproduction of this project. The past gets together we had a local mosque’s missionary via skype for roughly half the time being able to answer questions, share in readings and discussions. It was also good as I have written about before as common ground allows good things to grow, and that can change our world better than anything.

This post points to an horribly overlooked point in western religious world, and that is the idea of equality and equity for all God’s children and creation. Our continued readings through Sura 2 highlighted the equality and protection of men and women afforded equally through contrasting divorce laws instead of discussing marriage vows. Yet it also shone a light on the ending of scape goatism, and standing firm in yourself accepting the consequences one’s own actions creates regardless of their socio-economic status.

O ye who believe! Equitable retaliation in the matter of the slain is prescribed for you: the free man for the free man, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if one is granted any remission by one’s brother then pursuing the matter for realization of the blood money shall be done with fairness and the murderer shall pay him the blood money in a handsome manner. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. And whoso transgresses thereafter, for him there shall be a grievous punishment.

-Sura 2:179

At first reading, this appears to be a retelling of the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth teaching from Exodus 21:24. This short treatise was a counter-culture teaching that stopped the children of Israel from restraining ancient justice and wiping out whole townships due to a small infraction, the response was now commanded to be measured response. This can appear as an expansion, as it points out that you could not buy your way out of offense, or use a wife, or a slave or a societal lesser to pay for your crime as was a normative practice as well. You were responsible for your actions, no one else.

Yet it was more. For it truly echoes back to the nativity story. Think of it, a movement of one of the holiest prophets/messiahs/spiritual teachers, Brother Jesus, came from a working-poverty class village, where life expectancy was on average forty years old. Chances are carpenter was a political choice of translation, when in fact he was part of the unskilled labouring classes. Joseph arranged and purchased Mary, she had no voice (regardless of what you believe about the conception of Jesus, she was a teen girl who was sold by her family as was the practice of the time) in whom she would wed.

Yet this is what the Christian testament tells us of the voice in the decision to birth Jesus:

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was engaged[a] to marry Joseph, but before they married, she learned she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Mary’s husband, Joseph, was a good man, he did not want to disgrace her in public, so he planned to divorce her secretly.

20 While Joseph thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus,[b] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,”[c] which means “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. Joseph took Mary as his wife, 25 but he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

-Matthew 1:18-25 (New Century Version)

Part two was Joseph choosing to be apart of this. He had many options before him, as Matthew’s text was written for the Jewish members of the Jesus movement. Culturally they knew that Joseph could have Mary killed for adultery, or simply cast her and the baby outside the village to work in the sex trade and begging until her and the child died, these were the quietly put away moments. What this contrasting showed, was the Joseph heard the same choice to be made by the angel, and had to make a choice. In this small of a centre he knew the whispers, the scandal, the gossip, the possible loss of income and what the world his son would be entering into in this microcosm, and even the scorn that could come to Mary. Yet he needed to choose. One of 2 that had to choose.

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’sname was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting. 30 So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! 31 Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will neverend.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. There fore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God. 36 “And look, your relative Elizabeth has also become pregnant with a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month! 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

 -Gospel of Luke 1:26-38 (bible.org)

Before coming to Joseph, the one with no voice, was spoken to and asked directly. One can say the question was asked of one so young due to naivety, yet be honest in such a small village she knew what the consequences would be. How could one find the strength to say yes to such a weird event for the time?

Simple, Mary got what the old men’s club did not of her era (and sadly many eras since), everyone’s voice matters, and everyone is created in equality, equity and justice. The gifts of peace, faith, joy and hope reign in our beings, but the cosmic dust at our core is shaped in L-)’V-E. That is right, Mary had the same choice as Joseph tradition tells us, unencumbered by society, simply one question asked, yes or no. She mattered.

How did she know?

Simple beginnings in the Hebrew Bible:

27 God created humankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them,

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them 

Genesis 1:27-28 (bible.org)

A simple ancient poem of the creation of everything. An ancient poem stating the why to the people. Humanity was created in the Creator’s image. Both genders (and all sexualities, all races, all cultures, all religions, etc)…one river many wells to drink from.

Each person in autonomous, but their decisions have consequences, good, neutral or bad within their communities. Like the pebble hitting the pond and the ripples going outwards. The first step is understanding though that we are autonomous in an interdependent community. This is why it matters to discover what and how our neighbours believe. So we can see where the common ground is for moving forward, and creating a world that was dreamed of in that first moment when -BANG- it all appeared.


We began questing, and have set up a regular rhythm. So expect a few reflective posts to come out of thoughts around and out of the Qur’an. Just like when the Rainbow Chapel was meeting, I continue to encourage folks to read spiritual works in groups together aloud. It is not only because most were crafted for this, but also allows for different life journeys to be brought to the text, and wisdom bases. Also, to have the generations involved is a whole other blessing, for how can the young learn to discuss what they believe if it is not modeled by their elders, and community happens when play happens and food is shared. As well, I encourage exploring other spiritual texts than those you are familiar with or from your tradition for it opens a new world of insight. As always I encourage use of the spiritual discovery tools discussed in other writings of mine to dive deeper into what the Holy Mystery is speaking to your soul.

Sura 1: The Opening:

  1. In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.

  2. Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.

  3. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

  4. Master of the Day of Judgment.

  5. It is You we worship, and upon You we call for help.

  6. Guide us to the straight path.

  7. The path of those You have blessed, not of those against whom there is anger, nor of those who are misguided.

Remember as you journey through the words, it is not a literal understanding (as with Conservative Christian scholarship of the last 120ish years or allegory but rather the rhythm of contrast) it is the rhythm of contrast that reveals the unity that binds all through, with and within the Holy Mystery that is love.

The journey after opening brought us to the longest Sura 2, The Cow. It is actually quite a recitation that a student of the Hebrew Bible would recognize. Each time the Nation of Israel got a mulligan, they spent time—whether it was a leader, prophet, judge or king, reciting the story of the people and the law up to that moment in time. A device to remind the people of what the Holy had brought them through, and who they were as a tribe. As we began to explore the second Sura, this familiar journey was reminded. In the historic moment, Islam being officially the third religious sect sprung from the Abrahamic and Sarai Covenant with the Holy (first two: Judaism and Christianity, anthropologically this can be broken down to multitude more, but I will not digress). Reaching half-way through it showed a great discussion around monotheists, and polytheists as the contrast presented for those who have found the path and those that haven’t. Yet within the contrast what can be seen is not the challenge of how many spiritual beings exist, for all are within the one. What is seen to be judged is found in 2:14:

  1. And when they come across those who believe, they say, “We believe”; but when they are alone with their devils, they say, “We are with you; we were only ridiculing.”

That is, is what we say what we do…or do we only profess kindness while plotting only for our own glory?

How many recognize this challenge from other wells that they use to drink from the Holy River?

  1. Their likeness is that of a person who kindled a fire; when it illuminated all around him, God took away their light, and left them in darkness, unable to see.

-Sura 2:17

A reminder as the teaching the Holy light would shine into the darkness and confuse it had been around since the ancient myths of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods for humanity. What this verse does, is starkly remind us when we choose to live only for ourselves, to forget love of neighbour and self that flows out of the Holy River, the light never existed and all that is left is darkness.

Are you living the light or lying in the darkness?

 


In the journey of the Magi is the metaphor of gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) that of the things needed for new life, and to honour the life lived at the end. But there is also the story of the journey from the East to the creche. Ancient wisdom for a modern world, or as my Bible College profs would spout on about—post-modernity.

For today, I simply bring a gift of a piece of my journey. Our journey of exploration with the Universal Church of the Master Alberta’s book study of the Aquarian Gospel. A new age imagining of the Jesus story from nativity through childhood-young adulthood-ministry-lynching-resurrection. It shows the influence of the spirituality of the world upon the growing Brother Jesus. There are moments you can see shamanic traditions, earth-pagan teachings, Eastern Philosophies, the Chakras, Judaic teachings, and the convalescing together into the gospel proclamation that would inevitably lead to Brother Jesus being executed by the oppressive powers. Yet the Cosmic Christ birthed out of that instance that continues to breathe new life. So below is a link to the text, and one to some reflections of my own:

Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ

My own Aquarian reflections

Now I did say there was no looking back, and this not looking back, for January 9, 2018 the group continues in its discovery of teachings from our neighbours by exploring the Qu’ran.  So watch for those reflections to come.

What will you choose to learn from your neighbour today?