AND IT CAME TO PASS
This month, we are looking at the idea of the "Circle of Life," knowing that the circle, the cycle, is an ongoing series of beginnings and endings, of openings and closings, of hellos and good-byes, yes, and even of births and of deaths.
As I have stressed each week, there is something very important to know about this circle -- it is not static. It does not loop back upon itself. Rather it is ever expanding, ever transcending and ever growing upward and outward. Or, in the words of Sammy Fontanez: "In Celtic symbolism, the spiral represents the evolution, motion, progress and continuous development of the human-being physically and spiritually."a
Each Sunday this month, inspired by the lessons from The Lion King, we are exploring this upward spiral of life.
Specifically, today, we are going to look at the downward arc of the Circle of Life - the places that feel like closings, goodbyes, endings, deaths. These places can be dark and scary. When we are in these places we might feel as if we have lost our way. When we are in that portion of the circle, it may feel as if we will be there forever.
Our hero in The Lion King, Simba, certainly found himself there. Because of some tragic events, he left his home and his family and forgot -- really denied, rather than forgot -- that he was the rightful king of Pride Rock.
He wandered for quite a long time not fulfilling his life's purpose. Eventually, the shamanic figure, Rafiki, came to him to help him remember, first, who he is, and, second, his rightful place.
During the time of wandering, during his dark night of the soul, Simba's deceased father, Mufasa, came to him in a vision and said a most amazing line (in the rich, deep voice of James Earl Jones): "Simba, you have forgotten who you are. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life."
And, of course, we've explored in the past weeks what it means to take our place and how important that is!
So the idea that: "You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life," is going to become our mantra for when we are in the downward arc of the circle.
But we'll make it personal and adjust it just slightly: "I am more than where I am right now. I can take my place in the circle of life."
Say that with me please. "I am more than where I am right now. I can take my place in the circle of life."
This morning, my desire is to assist you in getting a new perspective of this downward arc on the infinite circle:
By finding the blessings it has to offer; and
By realizing that it did not come to stay - in fact, it came to pass.
1. FINDING THE BLESSING
1. Finding the Blessing
I know I often talk about looking for the good, finding the blessing in every situation - and you may have thought "ho-hum," here we go again, but I want to give you two thoughts this morning that are a bit different from the idea of simply looking for the good in a specific "not so good" situation - although that is always a powerful, powerful thing to do - so keep it up.
A. FOLLOWING THE TRUE LIGHT
a. Following the True Light
Several years ago one of the daily meditations that I read contained a wonderful metaphor that I have never forgotten.
The author of the article had a window next to her computer looking out on a skylight in an overhanging roof. As she looked out one day, she saw a hummingbird trapped under the skylight. It had flown under the roof and then to the light of the skylight and was then trying get out via the skylight. Obviously, without success.
As she sat and watched the struggle, her intuition told her that this creature of God would instinctively go to the true source of light beyond the roof (and thus be set free) if she could cut off the appearance of the false exit by covering the skylight. She pursued this "aha" by getting a ladder and covering the skylight. The bird was free by the time she got off the ladder.
She wrote: "This incident caused me to ask myself, "what happens in my life when I have been following a false light?" and I realized that some kind of "dark night of the soul" often occurred. In that moment I gave thanks for my 'dark night of the soul' because it is an indication for me to take another path to the light. I then follow the truth of being well connected. God is my light, and my connection with this truth cannot be broken."
So being in the downward arc, the dark place, may be because you have allowed yourself to get off track, to veer from your spiritual center. Life's circumstances may have hit you hard or you may have simply gotten wrapped up in life and let God fall by the wayside.
A blessing of the downward arc is that it is a messenger for you. A messenger that says WAKE UP. Find the true light again. And, of course, once you do that, you begin to move into the upward portion of the circle once again.
There is another thing that might be going on for you when you find yourself in the downward arc of the circle. And it is also a great blessing! Let me describe a scenario and see if any of you have ever experienced it.
You have an awakening and are beginning to look at life differently. You begin to think differently - affirmatively. You've begun to have a whole new relationship with God. Perhaps you've started coming here or to a church like this - or you've started taking classes here. And my goodness, things start to change for the better. Circumstances start to change; your life really starts to improve. This is fantastic!!
Or perhaps you're not new to Truth teachings, but you are taking steps to go deeper with it. And again, things are really starting to shift in a delightful way for you.
But then all of a sudden, it stops. No, it more than stops - in seems to go in reverse. You become frightened and discouraged, doubting that anything really had changed for you.
There is a story in the book Your Aladdin's Lamp, whereby Dr. Bill Hornaday was working with a New York Cab Driver - Julius Potholz -- who had the worst case of negative thinking Hornaday had ever encountered. But through Hornaday's council and some willingness on Julius' part, he started changing the way he thought - turning all the negatives into positives - and his life really turned around.
The ending scene of the story was Julius and his wife coming to Sunday service and Mrs. Potholz in tears thanking Hornaday for the miracle he had worked on her husband. Hornaday gave her a word of warning - sometimes after some miraculous changes, things seem to slow down or stop and it gets difficult again.
We call it chemicalization, and it is a natural part of the process of expansion and growth in consciousness. In the Unity classic text Lessons In Truth, Dr. Emilie Cady discusses the process of "chemicalization."
What is chemicalization? The chemical change that literally takes place in your thoughts and feelings, which is then reflected in your body and affairs.a
Catherine Ponder, in her book The Dynamic Law of Healing writes: "When people have lived for years in wrong thought, they have molded these negative notions into their bodies and affairs. Now they have begun to do an about-face, thinking in terms of love, praise, forgiveness, release. Such reversed thoughts are a big dose for their system to take, and so there is a clash between their old and new ways of thinking - this sets up a chemical reaction in the mind, body and affairs. At such times, the good thing to remember is that one positive thought is more powerful than a thousand, rowdy negative thoughts; the old way of thinking is on its way out, no matter how much noise it makes in the process. It has to go! But having been in control for so long it doesn't give up without a fight. Even while it is flaring up for the last time, you can know that it is actually unconditionally surrendering and will soon be gone completely. Meanwhile, there seems to be a lot of excitement as it takes its last stand. Chemicalization sounds like a negative process, but is actually a very positive and natural one."c
So it could be that what seems to be a downward arc in your circle of life is simply the natural, necessary and very positive experience of chemicalization - a blessing indeed!
And, then, the second new perspective is:
2. IT CAME TO PASS
2. It Came To Pass
It is important to remember that whatever is going on - whether you are having an opportunity to find the True Light or whether you are in the process of chemicalization - that "this came to pass."
How many times in the Bible do we read the phrase: "And it came to pass." We could take a good lesson from this phrase! It came to pass; it didn't come to stay.
Dr. Domenic Polifrone of the Hollywood Church of Religious Science, always said: "When you're going through hell, keep going. Don't stop and build a condo!"d
What great counsel that is for putting the downward arc of our circle in perspective. Perhaps take the attitude of the carpenter as told in the story called the Trouble Tree, found in Chicken Soup for the Soul.
The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.
On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.
Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job sometimes, but one thing for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning, I pick them up again."
"Funny thing is," he said as he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."e
Why? Because they came to pass! We block our flow by thinking our dark moments came to stay; we begin our movement in the circle of life again by realizing that they came to pass.
And so, my friends, if you find yourself in the downward arc, experiencing a dark night of the soul, remember you are:
. . . more than where you are right now. You can take your place in the circle of life.
Myrtle Fillmore's How To Let God Help You: "None of us has learned to abide in the Christ consciousness continuously, but the times we do rise into it keep us growing and overcoming and establishing more and more of its Truth in our lives. We are not to feel discouraged if, after such a glorious experience, we seem to lose the Christ consciousness and go back into the old habits. We cannot really lose anything that Spirit has expressed in us. We simply let it sink into our human consciousness to do its good work, just as we plant seeds in the ground and apparently lose them in order that they may grow and bring forth many, many other seeds, and the beauty and fragrance of the budding and blossoming which come before the ripe fruit."f
And so it is.
bLessons In Truth, Dr. Emilie Cady
cCatherine Ponder The Dynamic Law of Healing p. 202
dDr. Domenic Polifrone of the Hollywood Church of Religious Science
eChicken Soup for the Soul, Vol. 4, p. 310