How It All Began …

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Forty-five years ago today I woke up alone in my little apartment. I dressed and packed a weekend getaway bag. My friend came by and picked me up. We drove from downtown Los Angeles up into the San Bernardino mountains to Cedar Lake, near Big Bear. She was on the committee organizing this retreat for new ministerial students at the Ernest Holmes College of the United Church of Religious Science. I had wanted to be in this place, at this time, for my whole life. I couldn’t remember when I didn’t want to be a minister. Everything had led me to this moment! What I did not anticipate was what happened next! An exotic little sports car, a bright blue Lotus Europa pulled up with a gentle roar and parked. Out of it emerged the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen! He was tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, mischievous and simply marvelous in every respect! He had kind eyes and strong hands, a warm smile and pleasant voice. A carved pipe was clutched in his teeth and rested on his prominent chin. A subtle and sweet scent came from the cold pipe. He spotted me and asked brightly: “Do you know where I can get a cup of coffee?” I did! That was the day I met Gil Linsley!

During the events planned for the new students, he and I seemed to gravitate together. When they asked us to form dyads to share our vision of ministry, we were partners. When they scheduled a silent vigil we wandered off together to talk and laugh and tell stories. When the sun set and we sat around the campfire, we sat next to each other. And when my candle kept going out in the wind, he lit it again and again from his own, which miraculously never went out. He talked about himself and his life. He told me the water in Cedar Lake was “trick water” which I later learned meant “smooth enough to do tricks on water skis”. He told me he lived in both Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe and played trumpet in a big band. He mentioned the names of performers I knew and admired and said his band played for them at the casino showrooms. His  experiences were far removed from my own, but we shared a passion for living and teaching the Science of Mind!

I had come to this mountain retreat to begin my life’s work, my ministry. I never dreamed that the love affair which would lead to our marriage would begin here as well! There are times in one’s life when, in retrospect, we say: “This is where everything changed; this was the defining moment! If everything hadn’t conspired together just the way it did, my whole life would have been different!” I feel incredibly grateful for the exquisite alignment of consciousness and events in both of our lives that brought us to a tiny lake in the middle of a forest where we could discover one another and fall in love and begin the adventure of a lifetime!

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Arizona Highways

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We visited last week at 5000 feet in the pine and cedar forests of Payson, AZ at our niece Linda Mills’ house. She has a lovely, comfy home at the end of a culdesac where it’s quiet and cool. We played with her great dog Cody, shopped, prepared and ate meals together, sat on her porch in the early evenings and listened to the birds and enjoyed the gentle breeze. Before we left she got out her tools and installed our new fire extinguisher and repaired our screen door. Things that would have taken us hours to accomplish, if we could have done them at all, she made look easy! It’s been a peaceful, loving week and we are so grateful for her hospitality and unassuming goodness.

Yesterday we headed southwest through Mesa, where we picked up our provisions, made it through the middle of Phoenix on the freeway, and then back out to the open desert for a total of almost 300 miles before arriving just 10 miles from Mexico in Yuma, AZ. We stopped in Gila Bend for a late lunch at Humberto’s and had a delicious burrito and yummy rolled tacos. Things were going swell until late in the day, and at the extreme end of my availabile energy and attention, both the GPS and my husband insisted that our destination lay in the middle of a cornfield on a dirt road too narrow to get out of without backing up for half a mile! Sigh. And the resort’s phone is answered by a machine which says they’ll call back. Maybe. Sigh. But, as I like to say a lot these days, there’s more than one way to do absolutely everything! After turning off Google Maps and asking my darling to just be quiet, please, and let me think, I discovered a map feature on the resort’s website which gave different (and more accurate!) directions to our destination. Praise God!

So, because of our delay, we arrived after the registration office was closed. Sigh. But all is not lost. A camp host came swiftly to our rescue and got us registered, assigned a lovely spot with a view of an enormous grassy field out our kitchen window, a spot which is close to the pool and laundry facilities, has clear sky access for our satellite dish and then he even provided us with glossy magazine information about how to walk across the border into Los Algodones, which is apparently a haven for retired gringos looking for inexpensive and expert medical services not covered by Medicare.

So, here we are. It was warm enough last night to leave all our windows open, which means it will get hot enough today to close it up and turn on the AC this afternoon. We’ll check out the pool (natch!) and read up on border crossings. The whole conversation about immigration and walls and troops is brought into sharp focus in my mind. I wonder how we will be received as visitors on their side when things are the way they are on this side. I must look up how to say “Sorry!” in Spanish.

Sometimes we marvel at our own audacity. The choices we make, the adventures we have, the obstacles we surmount are really rather remarkable when we consider how predictable our lives were for so many years. I’ve been sitting here writing in the predawn quiet. Roosters are now crowing, rosy fingered dawn is emerging, a trash collecting truck can be heard in the distance and my coffee is gone. Gil has awakened and joined me and a new day has begun…

 

Let it…

50AD9C82-07D1-4CE2-8477-7A8D89369C9AIn the predawn hours, I sit quietly and notice the worlds within and without me. Wind rattles the handle on our closed awning against the side of our motorhome. I feel the gentle rocking and I relax into it. A train rumbles in the distance, moves closer, and louder, the whistle blows once, twice, three times, and the rumbling recedes into the silence again. I don’t know where it came from, what it’s carrying, where it’s gone. I simply notice.  The muscles in the left side of my neck and shoulder feel tight. Actually, they hurt. Gently I turn my head in that direction, ease into it and release the tension. It hurts less. Gil interrupts my reverie with questions about where we’ll go tomorrow, when we’ll leave, what he’ll wear. I answer patiently. Then he asks me to explain the end of the book we finished yesterday. He interrupts my answer and I resent that, and I respond with irritation. And the whole point of this writing is brought into sharp focus. When I allow, when I notice, when I let it be, I am at peace, harmoniously in synch with all that is. When I resist, my heart closes, my head pounds, my body tenses and I hate who I’ve become. Today I let that out, told him how I felt, hoping he would understand and empathize … and change. Instead, the look of confusion and sadness in his eyes told me he had no clue what he had done wrong nor how to fix it. Sad puppy-dog eyes. No one kicks the puppy. But one sometimes kicks oneself.

Dawn came. Breathing slowed. Heart opened. I spoke soft, reassuring words to my dearest friend and longtime beloved. Peace reigned. And, slowly, like releasing a tense muscle and leaning into the pain, I forgave myself.

I still don’t know where the train came from, or where it went.

Beyond Hope

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We drove from Lake Havasu City to Salome, Arizona yesterday on Gil’s ninetieth birthday. It was a beautiful two hour journey we stretched to three. We followed the meandering Colorado River, went through colorful rock canyons of improbable shapes and hues, over miles of shrub covered dunes and past remarkable cacti. We even drove through a tiny town called Hope. Careful, don’t blink or you’ll miss it! As we left, we both noticed a sign by the side of the road saying YOU ARE NOW BEYOND HOPE! We laughed out loud! Gil said, “Finally!” And I said, “Yeah, because hope is a subtle illusion and an unconscious compromise!” (Quoting Ernest Holmes from his Science of Mind textbook.) He also said it was better than despair, but inferred that it was not by much. That’s because hope has no power in it, no juice, no generative oomph! Sort of listless, passive even, not much is going on there or likely to happen in the near future. Hope completely abandons the creative energy of the correct use of mental and spiritual law.

An honest appraisal of current reality coupled with a grateful heart however, will actually propel us from where we are to where we want to go with incredible ease and speed. As the non-judgmental voice of the GPS wizard corrects our course, this three part process guides us unerringly. “Are we there yet? No. But we’re not in a ditch either! Great! So which way? Okay! Let’s go!”

Thankfully WE KNOW AND WE KNOW THAT WE KNOW! Now that’s when hope is no longer warranted and we’re finally beyond it!

 

When for no earthly reason I can think of…..

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I used to think that my anxiety, or what some know as panic attacks, had real life corollary events or causes. Similarly, I expected that some change in the world of manifestation would be the remedy. Wrong on both counts apparently. I have witnessed and weathered terrible crises with remarkable aplomb, collapsed into helplessness when absolutely nothing averse was occurring and experienced no perceptible shift inwardly at all when conditions improved or deteriorated. Now that’s just weird if you ask me!

I do have a strong preference for equanimity, even cheerfulness. And I am willing to adjust whatever is necessary to restore my equilibrium. But sometimes the only thing that seems to work is a pill, prescribed by someone credentialed and taken according to directions. I’m not sure why that should be for me an occasion of shame; Ernest Holmes said there was as much God in a surgeon’s knife or a pill as in a prayer, and I have believed him on everything else.

So I hereby admit there are times when I weep uncontrollably for no apparent reason and times that I tremble with dread and other times when I am vicious in speaking to my most dearly beloved. But not today. I saw it coming and took the pill. I will return to reading (Fire and Fury, nothing upsetting there!) playing Words With Friends, listening to it rain on our metal roof, making beef stew and cornbread for dinner and gently responding to the dear man around whom my life revolves with good humor and gentle affection. I guess that makes the little pill a bloody miracle, huh?

Body is the last to know…

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Sometimes those of us who practice applying the Law of Attraction are accused of blaming the victims. I avoid this unnecessary and unproductive unkindness by not speculating on how your life is going or why. It is only useful when I apply my knowledge and understanding of this Law to myself and my own experiences. When I share what I learn, I become even more clear about it. If that resonates with you, then you can use it. If not, leave it. I don’t claim to know what’s best for anybody else. With that disclaimer in mind, here goes…

As that which is seen is made up from that which does not appear, or, since thoughts really do become things, I get that my life is my consciousness writ large. I don’t actually know or monitor my thinking carefully enough to be consistently aware of it, so it is helpful to me that it shows up in form in an ongoing fashion. And since the process of creation always moves from ideation to manifestation, it is true that “body is the last to know!” This time lapse can obscure a shift in consciousness that hasn’t made it into physicality yet, while my body is busy acting out a previous and unskilled mental attitude. This discrepancy, if not acknowledged, can lead to misinformed and counterproductive self-criticism. If I allow for the limitations of the space/time continuum and acknowledge that I am progressing nicely in my enlightenment process, I can nurture rather than impede my own growth.

So the appropriate question for me to ask myself is not: “Whatever was I thinking that brought on THIS?” but rather: “Isn’t it lovely I am releasing an old worn out idea and have moved on to something more elegant?”

Happy New Me!

 

4:00 am

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This is when, in the Pacific time zone of the United States, we join together with people all over the planet in meditating for world peace. We began this annual practice many years ago while we were serving our church in Carson City, Nevada. We lived at Lake Tahoe then, a good half hour up the mountain. The winter snows have often begun by this time of year, and I remember one time when our son was quite small and not feeling well. We decided my husband would stay home with our sick child and I would drive down the hill to church the previous evening in order to outrun an anticipated winter storm. When I arrived, I unlocked the building, placed chairs in a circle around a little candle, set my Baby Ben alarm clock brought for that purpose to 3:45 and curled up with a pillow in the corner to get a few hours of sleep. The alarm rang, I awoke and lit the candle, then looked outside to see a beautiful blanket of fresh snow about a foot deep! I sat in the circle of chairs by myself and wished I was home with my family. No one came. That was the last time we scheduled an “event” at church for 4:00 in the morning! We would remind everyone the week before New Year’s Eve Day to set their clocks and join in meditation wherever they happened to be, but I never knew if anyone did. Now, more than thirty years later, we go to sleep so early each evening that waking at four happens easily quite often! Today I awoke with a sense of purpose at the appointed hour and began my quiet practice of centering and focus. And here, alone with Gil in our little motorhome, nestled in the forest of the foothills of the Sierra in California, suddenly I felt the community of souls worldwide, in blissful collective attention. We are not alone. Now, more than ever, there is a groundswell, not just of longing for peace, but actually expecting it to break out, burst forth and flower in our lifetime, before our very eyes. You see, we have to think it’s even possible and to feel our connection with one another in order for it to manifest. And I know it today with more conviction and celebration in my heart than ever before! I bid you Peace!