This month, we are "Minding Our Ps and Qs!" Not in the scolding way we may have been told to do as children, but in a way to lift us into a life of greater meaning, filled with magic and miracles, which is our annual theme.
Specifically, we are being MINDFUL:
to PRACTICE PRAYER (that was last week);
to PURSUE PLAY (that's today);
to QUICKEN OUR PURE POTENTIAL (that's next week);
and finally to be mindful to POSESS A GRATEFUL PRESENCE (perfect, of course, for Thanksgiving weekend!)
If you were here last week, you may remember that I said we were going to do a mindfulness practice to begin this time together each week. And we will do one in just a moment - but I want to lay some groundwork for our topic first - which is the deeply profound and powerful spiritual practice of . . . as I already said . . . Pursuing Play.
Why would I say that Pursuing Play is vital to a life lived in peace and power? Why would I say it could be looked at as a spiritual practice? Wow. That seems a bit extreme. Why would I suggest that?
Let's think about it for a moment. When we are at play, having fun - in a mindful way, meaning being fully present to it, in the moment -- what is going on with us/inside us? [We are happy, joyous, smiling, laughing, childlike, energetic yet relaxed, exhilarated, not worried about tomorrow, feeling free, unencumbered, spontaneous, imaginative . . .]
Do you see any relationship between these qualities and your Divine Nature? Those are our natural, inherent qualities.
In the Bhagavad Gita, we are told that the full nature of God is joy and that we are the enjoyers.a
Now look at how the Universe and the creative process of the Universe work - there is a natural law of creation (law of attraction is one name for it), and we create our lives depending on what messages we consistently give to that Law, what we plant in the law so to speak with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, values and actions.
What happens when we plant in the Law messages of happiness, joy, imagination, energy, exhilaration, freedom? Well. I'd say we get back a life of peace and power. So do you see why the pursuit of play is something we should be mindful of as a spiritual practice?! Good!
Having said that - we are now ready for a playful mindfulness exercise. Are you ready? Are you sure?! This was one that Vetura Papke taught.
For those of you who don't recognize that name, she was Ernest Holmes' practitioner in California. She then moved to Arizona and served and taught there until her transition in the mid 90s.
This is a laughing exercise [have congregation stand up, raise their hands overhead, bend over to touch toes and say, "Oh bountiful joy, come bubbling forth," lift back up and laugh with hands above the head again. Do this at least 4 times]b
[As the laugher starts to subside, have someone say into a mic very seriously:] WE INTERRUPT THIS SERVICE FOR A CNN NEWS FLASH: The Center for Disease Control has reported this week that a new virus has been discovered. This virus is air born and spreads very rapidly from one person to the next. It is so contagious that even one person can pass it on to millions. The CDC advises that in order to avoid contracting this virus you must keep a distance of at least 50 feet between you and anyone displaying the symptoms. They have given it a very interesting name. It is called....... Systemic Measure of Infinite Life Eternal or, for short, S -M - I - L - E. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.
If that's the case, let's cause a smile epidemic! I am always so moved when I see a statute of the laughing Buddha or the painting of the laughing Jesus.
To often, we think that we have to finish the work or get through the hard time or do all the things that need to be done and then at some later time we'll have time for play, fun, laughter, joy, spontaneity, etc. I know I can be very guilty of this!
But think about this. Have you ever been driving your car when a light on the dashboard came on signifying low oil pressure?
You don't have to answer this aloud, but have you ever made the decision not to stop to get it checked out, because you were getting so close to your destination and were just sure you could make it? After all, it was only a few more miles.
Well, have you ever pushed it like that only to roll in to a garage and be told that because the oil ran dry and the parts had worked against one another with no oil, the engine had burned itself up and that it will now need a complete overhauling?
All too often, we do the same thing to ourselves that some have done to their cars. We see the warning signal, but we think we can go just a little farther without doing anything about it. And we may make it. And sometimes we think we are making it, but we're not really! And sometimes we crash and burn and are in need of a complete overhaul.
We need joy and play as we go along through life, just as a car needs oil when it is running, not after the journey is finished.
A very appropriate Bible verse is: The oil of joy for morning; the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.c
In fact, the Bible repeatedly emphasizes the importance of maintaining a sense of lighted heartedness, joy and humor. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, we are reminded that there is a "time to laugh" as well as "a time to cry."d
It is fascinating to realize that the Bible has over 90 references to joy. Here are just a few:
This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.e
Let the rivers clap their hands and the hills be joyful together.f
All who seek for God shall live in joy.g
. . . . everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.h
And from the teachings of Jesus, we read: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.i
Commenting on Jesus' teachings on joy, New Thought writer Eric Butterworth wrote: "When Jesus tells us to rejoice and be of good cheer, he was pointing to a dynamic truth. The potential for rejoicing is already within us. Joy is a spiritual capacity, the unborn possibility of abundant living, and it is our privilege and responsibility to release it."j
It is our privilege and responsibility to release it! Do you have a playful attitude about life? About yourself? It is said that angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. Ernest Holmes said he took his work seriously, but not himself.k
One person who took himself lightly was Yogi Berra in his great autobiographical book: The Yogi Book, subtitled "I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said!" Here are some of the pearls:
I was giving Joe directions from New York to our house in Montclair once when I said: "When you come to the fork in the road, take it."
I was receiving the key to New York City on a miserably hot and humid day. Mayor Lindsay's wife, Mary, commented on how cool I looked, and I replied: "You don't look so hot yourself." He wrote: "I guess I was a little nervous about the speech I had to make."
"Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours."
"Never answer an anonymous letter." [As a new minister - I was given that advice too!]
You've got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, 'cause you might not get there.
I don't know where we are going, but we sure are making good time.
Playing golf one day, I started to complain that my shot was going to go into the water. My friend Kevin Carroll said, "Come on, Yogi, don't be like that. Think positively." I replied: "Okay, I'm positive my shot is going into the water!"l
Here is a real New Thought piece of advice: "90% of the game is half mental."
We are seeing more and more evidence of the relationship between joy and physical healing, but it isn't a new concept.
In fact, King Solomon gave us one of the earliest recorded accounts regarding the HEALING power of joy and laughter when he wrote at Proverbs 17:22: A merry heart makes the body healthy; but a broken spirit dries up the bones.m
In the 1300's, surgeon Henri de Mondeville reportedly told jokes to his patients in the recovery room. In the 1600's, educator Richard Mulcater recommended laughter for those suffering from head colds. Throughout the centuries court jesters have been hired to relieve the royalty's stress from governmental duties.
Perhaps the most insightful recording of the benefits of laughter in healing came from Dr. Norman Cousins in his book, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient.
In 1964, Dr. Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and extremely painful inflammation of his body. With his physician's assistance, he checked out of the hospital and into a hotel to utilize as many natural resources as possible to treat his condition. His experience became a controlled study in pain management and overall healing.
Dr. Cousins decided to experiment with laughter to create a positive factor in altering his body chemistry to be in a healing mode. Dr. Cousins systematically watched Candid Camera episodes and Marx Brother films, and read books like E.B. and Katharine White's Subtreasury of American Humor and Max Eastman's The Enjoyment of Laughter. And he later wrote: "I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep"n. He recovered from his condition and spent the next 20 years teaching about the merits of laughter in physical healing.
You may recall in the movie The Secret, the women who shared her story of healing from breast cancer and how she and her husband watched nothing but silly movies so they could laugh.
Play, humor, laughter and joy HEAL! They heal the body; they heal the heart! It is as simple as that. Ernesr Holmes in the Science Of Mind: If we wish to come to the Spirit for the healing of our wounds let us come . . . with spontaneous joy, for the Spirit is joy.o
I am well aware that life is filled with many situations that are difficult. You can either laugh or cry. When we laugh, we lay down the burdens that weigh upon us for even a moment, and we already talked about the role this plays in the creative process.
Could it be that Jesus had this in mind when he said "except ye become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven"p?
We need to return and become as a little child. I'm not saying deny that pain or suffering exist, but have you ever noticed how most children deal with hurts? They scream or cry for a moment or two - and then, they are right back at play.
A child is filled with enthusiasm for life, and the boundless bubbling forth of joy. He doesn't learn this. It is natural to the spirit, until it is unlearned.
Ernest Holmes wrote in the Science Of Mind: "How we long for a return of that simple trust in life which children have. In their minds there are no doubts -- they have not yet been told that they are sinners, destitute of divine guidance and spiritual life. The life of the child is lived in natural goodness. God is natural goodness. The prison walls of false experience soon build themselves into barriers, shutting out the light, and the child grows into a man, often losing his sense of that inner Guide, leading his footsteps aright. We must return the way we came -- as little children, who know that life is good and to be trusted.q"
I love that last line: We must return the way we came -- as little children, who know that life is good and to be trusted.
Find the joy and spontaneity of the child here . . . This is supposedly true.
A first grade teacher collected well-known sayings. She gave the children in her class the first half of a proverb and asked them to finish the proverb. Here are the results!
Strike while the ......bug is close.
It's always darkest before.......... Daylight Savings Time.
Never underestimate the power of........Termites.
Don't bite the hand that......... looks dirty.
No news is......................impossible.
You can't teach an old dog new............math.
Love all, trust.....................me.
An idle mind is......The best way to relax.
Happy is the bride who...........gets all the presents.
A penny saved is.................not much.
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and.........................you have to blow your nose.
AND, finally, If you lie down with dogs, you'll.........stink in the morning.
There is a joy potential within every person; there is light within every person-all the time-there is an unborn possibility of happiness. Remember, ours is the privilege and the responsibility of giving birth to it - and when we "enlighten up," we "enlighten up" the world.
So, if I could have a flourish of music and everyone blowing their bubbles, would the certificate carrier please come forward.
By this certificate know ye that
Everyone here today
is a lifetime member in good standing in
The Society of Childlike Persons
and is hereby and forever entitled to:
Walk in the rain, jump in mud puddles, collect rainbows, smell flowers, blow bubbles, stop along the way, build sandcastles, watch the moon & stars come out, say hello to everyone, go barefoot, go on adventures, sing in the shower, have a merry heart, read children's books, act silly, take bubble baths, get new sneakers, hold hands & hug & kiss, dance, fly kites, laugh & cry for the health of it, wonder around, feel scared, feel sad, feel mad, feel happy, give up worry & guilt & shame, stay innocent, say yes, say no, say the magic words, ask lots of questions, ride bicycles, draw & paint, see things differently, fall down & get up again, talk with animals, look at the sky, trust the Universe, stay up late, climb trees, take naps, do nothing, daydream, play with toys, have pillow fights, learn new stuff, get excited about everything, be a clown, enjoy having a body, listen to music, find out how things work, make up new rules, tell stories, save the world, make friends with the other kids on the block, and do anything else that brings more happiness, celebration, relaxation, communication, health, love, joy, creativity, pleasure, abundance, grace, self-esteem, courage, balance, spontaneity, passion, beauty, peace, and life energy to the above named member and to other humans & beings on this planet.
Further, the above-named member is hereby officially authorized to frequent amusement parks, beaches, meadows, mountaintops, swimming pools, forests, playgrounds, picnic areas, summer camps, birthday parties, circuses, cookie shops, ice cream parlors, theaters, aquariums, zoos, museums, planetariums, toy stores, festivals, & other places where children of all ages come to play, and is encouraged to always remember the motto of The Society of Childlike Persons:
It's Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood!
kErnest Holmes Sermon by the Sea
lYogi Berra The Yogi Book, "I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said!"
nDr. Norman Cousins Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient
oErnest Holmes Science Of Mind, p. 447
qErnest Holmes Science Of Mind, p. 456