Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This is a New Day

This is a new day.

I am not limited by events of the past, mistakes I have made or problems I have had. I am only blessed by the wisdom that came from those experiences. Every step on the path of life has brought me to this time and this place, and I recognize my potential to live this day with a greater sense, of joy, peace, harmony and love. I have no fears or worries about what lies ahead. God's good is everywhere present. I live this day with confidence and high expectations for the blessings that abound.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Life is a Teacher

Here we are at the first of 2010. We have the entire year before us, to do with it whatever we choose. Many of us have made resolutions. We have set goals and objectives. We have high hopes and strong desires for 2010 to be a good year, and whether it is a good year or not hinges on one thing: the state of well-being we experience as we go through it.

Well-being is Life’s primary value. Everything else we pursue is secondary, in that we believe it will lead to a stronger sense of well-being. Peace of mind, love, harmony, happiness, prosperity, success, health relationships are all wonderful beautiful aspects of life because they instill within us a sense of well-being. Well-being is the ultimate goal that every single living thing seeks, and every living thing has everything it needs to create an existence of well-being.

Often time when I am out and about and meet people not familiar with Unity Temple, they will ask me, what exactly is Unity Temple on the Plaza? My response is, “It is a Center for Well-Being.” Unity Temple is a Center that helps establish and support well-being, for the body, the mind and the spirit. We are a church. We hold church services. We are a community center where many different support groups, social groups and special interest groups meet. We are a cultural arts center that presents concerts, art displays and various forms of theater. We are a spiritual center that provides space for many different approaches to religion. But first and foremost, our primary purpose and principle is to be a Center for Well-Being.

We aren’t selective, discriminatory or judgmental when various people or organization want to hold their activities here. We only have one criteria that determines what happens here and what doesn’t:

“Does the activity uplift people to a great sense of well-being, without having a negative impact on anything or anybody?”

Throughout 2010 the Sunday morning service will be dedicated to offering insight and support to you for the increase of your well-being individually, and also focus on ways that we can collectively increase the well-being of the world. That is what Unity Temple is all about.

If you will commit yourself to this process for 2010, individually and collectively, we will march through 2010 together, confidently and triumphantly. We will find ourselves at the end of this year looking back with great appreciation and satisfaction for the increase in well-being we have created for ourselves and for others.

Well-being is a natural state of being, so in order to increase our well-being, the first objective is to discover what interferes with or hampers it, usually something that has happened in the past or a fear we have of what might happen in the future. So let’s make our first objective to leave in the past what belongs in the past. Many years ago, there was a minister here at Unity Temple. Her name was Martha Guidici, and she was a most interesting character. She was short in stature, stocky, actually quite stocky. She chose to wear her belt beneath her stomach. When she walked, it was a very determined and confident walk, with arms swinging out to the side. she was a like fearless general walking onto the battlefield! Long before I became a minister, I came to see her because I was facing a tremendous challenge that seemed to cloud over every other aspect of my life and totally diminish my sense of well-being. After listening to me pour out my sorrows and woes, Reverent Guidici said to me, “This time too shall pass”. Then, she told me a story.

“There once was a woman”, she said, “very much like yourself, who was deeply troubled about a situation in life. One evening while she was wallowing in her misery there was a knock on the door. When she opened it, there was a very tall and stately-looking man, dressed in what might have been a butler’s uniform, and he spoke with a very proper English accent. He said, ‘Good, Evening, Ma’am. This is for you,’ and handed her a small package, after which, he turned and walked away. The woman went into her house, opened up the package and insider there was a mudpie, a real, honest-to-goodness mudpie, made out of real mud. At first, the woman was confused as to why anybody would send her such a gift. Then, her confusion turned to irritation, and irritation to anger. But, for some reason, she didn’t throw the mudpie away. She sat it on the window sill in her kitchen and went to bed. Days passed, then weeks and months. Each day, the sun would come through the kitchen window and shine upon the mudpie. Eventually the mud dried out, and began to crack.”

“One morning, when the woman went into her kitchen, the mudpie had crumbled completely apart, and inside the mudpie, there was a diamond.” At the end of the story, Reverend Guidici looked me in the eyes and in a very kind, but strong and adamant way, she said, “inside every mudpie, there’s a diamond.” She then instructed me to come to church that Sunday.

When I arrived that Sunday morning, I was surprised to see that the lesson title was “Inside every Mudpie…There’s a Diamond.” The entire lesson focused on the twists and turns of life. She said, “Every adversity, setback or challenge holds with in it the seed of a greater benefit. Those times in our lives which seem the most troubling and difficult are not stop signs, but actually stepping stones that lead us to a higher degree of well-being in our lives. As we look back over our lives we can see how various events and activities that seemed devastating, unfair or even tragic at the time, actually were the first steps that led to a good in our lives, that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. If we get stuck in a difficult time of the past and replay the situation over and over, re-experiencing the painful emotions over and over, WE NEVER GET BEYOND IT."

The problem I was dealing with the day I went to see Reverend Guidici was about a very hurtful experience I had. It weighed heavily on me at the time. I was stuck in it. She helped me get unstuck, so I could move on with my life. Now, looking back, I can clearly see that if I hadn’t had that experience, I would be where I am today. I wouldn’t be living the life I am living, which I consider to be very good.

The point is that everything that happens in our lives, everything, has meaning and purpose. Every experience is a step on our individual path, and we have the choice to either get stuck on that step and stay stuck in the misery, or pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and confidently take the next step forward, step toward a renewed sense of well-being.

Now, the question arises, what exactly is well-being? Well-being is our birthright. It is the nature of life. It is our spiritual inheritance. Well-being is experience in life what we want to the degree of fulfillment. At times, peace of mind constitutes our well-being. AT other times, it is love, harmony, happiness, or succeeding in some undertaking. Every living things has the ability to do that. Every create on the earth is born with an instinctual power and the inherent attributes to create for itself an existence of well-being.

Life is the teacher, and we are the students. When we closely observe the nature of life and the way every other living thing on this earth lives its life, we discover that everything in life, every species, every individual expression within a species, has a strong and consistent state of well-being, except for human beings.

There is an old saying, “A cat never jumps on a hot stove twice.” It does it once, understands the consequences and never does it again, and at the same time, never thinks about it again. If the cat engaged in thinking like a human being after jumping on the hot stove, it would revisit the experience over and over again, reliving the pain an suffering the hot stove caused and live in trepidation and fear, that somehow, some way, we might end up getting burned by a hot stove again. WE think that way because we have two attributes that no other living things have. We can reflect, and we can imagine. We can reflect on the past, and we can imagine what might happen in the future.

Reflection and imagination are means of inspiration. They are meant to strike like lightening, with flashes of insight and higher knowledge. When something problematic, difficult or challenging happens, we can reflect on it to determine the cause. We can imagine what we could have done or what we can do in the future with a similar situation. We can come to a conclusion and move on. The problem is, because this power to reflect and imagine is relatively new to human beings, we have not yet mastered their use. We are still engaged in the learning curve. Many times we don’t reflect on the past, instead we dwell on it. A difficult, unfortunate or painful experience becomes a dwelling place for our mind, reliving over and over and over again the same situation and re-experiencing, over and over again, the same negative emotions.

In a similar regard, there are time when we don’t imagine new ways, changes or solutions for our problems and challenges, but rather thoughts of fear and trepidation cause us to imagine new, bigger and more horrific problems that might happen in the future, but that in most cases will never happen at all. The vast majority of things that disrupt our sense of well-being are NOT things before us in the present moment, but rather thoughts, feelings attitudes and perceptions that have gotten stuck in the remorse of the past or fears of the future.

With this knowledge about the importance of finding and maintaining a sense of well-being, we can now go through life with a renewed sense of purpose. We can begin to observe our thoughts and emotions and feeling and attitudes looking for recurring patterns about the past or the future. We identify them first so we can then learn and grow beyond our current regrets and fears. We can let go and let God the Good be revealed in our lives. Being present with all our thoughts and emotions, honoring them, then letting them go, compassionately allowing ourselves this next year, this year of potential, the year 2010, for a great transformation through these small, tiny steps that we will take each day, to learn and grow in a whole new way. Our sense of well-being depends on it.