Let's start with a prayer: Mother, Father, God; help us to be open to new ideas and new ways for spiritual growth. Help us to take in new ideas and taste them but only swallow those that are right for our lives. Help us Father to discern what is right and true for our own spiritual development. AMEN.
Summer is a great time to explore books that have been on our "must read" list but which we haven't yet opened, and I decided to pull two books that had been on my reading list and make them our topic of conversation this month.
They are Living Big by Pam Grout, which we have explored the last two weeks and The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein, which we will explore today and next Sunday.
Before we get to The Universe Has Your Back, I want to hear a little about how your charge from last Sunday went. And that charge was to tangibly live the three Big Ideas we talked about last Sunday, which were . . .
Bless Big through kindness;
Give Big through service and
Love Big by connecting with that innate spiritual quality in yourself and in all others!
For those of you who weren't here, the charge was this: To take the card that you were given and write someone a note telling them they are loved. Now it could have been to someone you know, so you signed your name. Or you could have mailed it anonymously to a friend or to your elderly neighbor down the street. Or you could have left it in the windshield wiper of a car at the store.
So, I'd love to hear from a couple of you on what you did and how it felt. Laser focused in your description, please.
If you weren't here last week, but want to play, or if you want to keep playing, there are cards in the foyer again.
Today, we will explore our second book. And I have said the name of it is: The Universe Has Your Back, but that actually isn't complete. The full name of it is: The Universe Has Your Back: How to Feel Safe and Trust Your Life No Matter What.
Wow. That's pretty appropriate for our world today. Actually, everything we are talking about this month is! Because in the aftermath of all of our national and international challenges just in the last few weeks involving . . .
voting restrictions endangering our democracy;
the uproar in Haiti;
the Florida building collapse;
violent white supremacist actions;
the new strain of the corona virus
and more . . .
. . . it is extremely important for us to remember what it means to live big in the way we have defined this month and to know at the core of our being that the Universe has our backs always and in all ways.
In my written description of today's talk I said I was going to explore two concepts from the book, but I am going to follow some ministerial advice I heard lately, which was this: "Never let a talk title or description keep you from saying what needs to be said!"
So we are going to veer a bit off course today to focus on one and only one really big Universal Truth inspired by this book and that is . . .
WE ARE ALWAYS BEING GUIDED
We are Always Being Guided Even When It Doesn't Look Like It, Feel Like It or Seem Like It
There is a fundamental, foundational concept upon which this statement is based. Are you ready for it? Lean in a little so you can really hear it. Poke your neighbor and pay attention. Are you ready?
Every experience we have is here to grow us. Again, every experience we have is here to grow us. Individually, as a person here on planet earth; and collectively, as Californians, as US citizens and as citizens of the world. Every experience we have is here to grow us. Therefore, we are always being guided to the experiences that will grow us!
Now, that doesn't say just the fun ones. Just the ones you like. Just the pleasant ones. But every, every experience. Even the events of the past few weeks. Even a scary diagnosis or a financial challenge. Every experience is here to grow us! And, in the middle of the growth experience, the Universe has our backs!
So, if everything is guiding us to grow, the question is "grow into what?" To grow into a deeper, more fully alive knowing that God is all there is and that each and every one of us is One of God.
Emily Cady writes in Lessons in Truth: "This is why we sometimes say. "We are all one in Spirit." The "unity of the Spirit" in each one of us assures us of unity in Spirit; assures us of our oneness with Absolute Good. There is no separate self; there are only individual expressions of the one Spirit. We do not all do the same things or like the same things, but we are all expressing, through our personality, the one Spirit that is in each of us, according to our level of soul unfoldment. To have true freedom we must come to know our fellow men and our fellow creatures as one with us in Spirit, since all of us are manifestations of God as Spirit."a
It says in Ephesians 4:4-6: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all."b
And the concept that we are always being guided says that every experience we have is guiding us to these awarenesses!
So say with me please: "Every experience I have individually . . . is here to grow me . . . into a greater understanding . . . of my Oneness, . . . and I know . . . that the Universe has my back . . . while I grow." "Every experience we have collectively. . . is here to grow us . . . . into a greater understanding . . . of our Oneness, . . . and I know that the Universe has our backs . . . while we grow."
Now, because we are always at choice (always) we have a choice about this. We can choose to grow or not! And whether we grow or not depends on our perspective of the situation. In other words, what color glasses do we have on?
We have talked in the past about the fact that there are really only two emotions - only two and everything else stems from them. What are they? Who knows? Yes, Love and Fear. So our lenses are either colored with Love or with Fear.
Choice 1 is to see everything through the perception of - the lens of - love, and when we do that, we will grow into those things we've just discussed;
Choice 2 is to see everything that happens through the perception of - the lens of - fear and, when we do that, we won't grow, at least not for now!
Bernstein writes in The Universe Has Your Back: "Each instance is a holy encounter providing a divine spiritual assignment in which you can choose to heal [I am going to change that word to "grow"] or to stay stuck . . . . If you choose to show up for these Universal assignments with a willingness to heal [grow], then many miracles will be presented to you. But if you are unwilling to show up for these assignments [in that way], you will stay stuck in the stories and experiences that do not serve you."c
Can we truly look at everything that comes into our lives - everything - from a personal challenge to a global-scale travesty as coming in absolutely on purpose for us to heal anything that is keeping us separate from who and whose we are and from one another?
So this thing is in front of you. This issue. The current news. Voting rights disappearing - whatever you are seeing as a frustrating, unfortunate, problematic, scary, challenging problem. What if it you looked at it - perceived it through love - and saw it as something that isn't actually so bad?
What if you realized that something embedded inside it or inherent in it is actually there to grow you in love? How would you show up around it?
Can we decide today that they mean we are being guided to grow into a greater expression of our Divinity and a greater realization of our Oneness not just with the Divine but with One another?
Here's another really important idea. Ready for it? Lean in again. OK here goes: Just because your mind tells you something is awful or terrible or scary or otherwise negative in any way, shape or form doesn't mean you have to agree with what your mind says.
Ok, that's really big, so let me say it again: Just because your mind tells you something is awful or terrible or scary or otherwise negative in any way, shape or form doesn't mean you have to agree with what your mind says. We can perceive it another way!
And likewise, just because other people say that something is hopeless or crazy or broken to pieces doesn't mean it is. We can see it - we can perceive it - another way! We - you and I - get to decide what story we tell ourselves about any situation.
And that is the power of perception. We get to choose how we'll look at the challenge. The fact is, we can't change the challenges themselves, and that is where the beautiful Serenity Prayer comes in:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Or another version, which I just love:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the person I cannot change,
The courage to change the person I can,
And the wisdom to know that that person is me.
No, we can't change the challenges themselves or the people involved in them - that part of the equation is set - but we can change the way we perceive them and that can make all the difference in the world!
Emily Cady writes in Lessons in Truth: "The remedy for suffering is to realize that we are spiritual beings; then to do all that is necessary to base the activities of thinking and feeling (our formative power of thought) on Truth, so that only true words, actions, reactions, and conditions may result.
There are steps that we need to take in order to come into the realization of our true nature, so that we may free ourselves from the suffering that many human beings experience. Then we can express all the loveliness, beauty, and dignity of our own divine nature, here and now."d
And we read words like this and shake our heads, yes, yes, this is good. Yes, let me choose to identify with power and love and beauty and peace, happiness, abundance and success. Yes, let me choose to identify with those things.
And then I ask you, can you choose that perception toward whatever is challenging you this morning.
Oh, you mean my challenge?! This issue?? Well, that's a different story!
And there is where the discipline comes in. Do we have the discipline to choose our perception of love, to realize that the Universe has our back and to accept that this challenge is here for us to deepen in our spiritual growth . . . or do we choose to listen to all the stuff that goes on in our heads and even in hearts - or in the news?
If we can chose the perception of love, that's where all the difference is made.
There is a beautiful prayer that says: "Thank you, Universe, for presenting me with this divine assignment for spiritual growth and healing. I am ready and willing to show up for this assignment with love. I welcome your support. Show me where to go, what to do and what to say. I trust I am being guided."e
So, for now, let us remember in this room, in this space where we are together in heart and in mind:
- that the Universe truly does have each and every one of our backs,
- that we are absolutely always being divinely guided for our growth and expansion and
- that we have within us a power which is greater than anything we shall every contact; a power that can overcome every obstacle in
our experience and set us safe, satisfied and at peace, healed and prosperous in a new light and a new life.
So we can call it good or so very, very good! Can we do that together? Then my work is done here!
Let's end with a prayer: Father, Mother, God; Thank you for presenting us with divine assignments for spiritual growth and healing. We are ready and willing to show up for these assignments with love. We welcome your support. Show us where to go, what to do and what to say. We trust we are being guided. AMEN.
aEmily Cady Lessons in Truth
cThe Universe Has Your Back: How to Feel Safe and Trust Your Life No Matter What.Gabrielle Bernstein p. 39
dEmily Cady Lessons in Truth
eThe Universe Has Your Back: How to Feel Safe and Trust Your Life No Matter What.Gabrielle Bernstein