Friday, December 29, 2017


What a year 2017 has been!

It has been a year of endings for some of us, beginnings for others.

I am reminded of a song, "Everything Must Change."  If things don't change there would be stagnation and death. Intellectually, this is not a difficult idea to grasp, but emotionally it is hard for most of us, especially if those changes were unexpected or not according to our preferences.Often when there are changes in our relationships, our finances, our careers or our health, the changes are generally regarded as losses. (We often don't even notice the positive changes!)

It feels tough to lose a friend... or to end a relationship... or to be downsized out of a job... or to be replaced by a younger, prettier, more-desirable model in any area of life.

At this time of year, I am reminded that in nature there are answers. The changes of the seasons are more subtle here in southern California, but they are there. The deciduous trees have lost their leaves or the leaves have become brittle and dried up on the branches.  Some of those leaves remind me of the part of myself that resists change. They just won't let go. Gardeners cleaning up the soil are really preparing for lush new growth in spring. Winters  do not last forever.

The poet Percy Shelly wrote: "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

This is such a great reminder that everything must change and ultimately everything is for the betterment  and greater expression of life. 

As spiritual seekers, we are called to view everything, expected and unexpected, as the evidence of the presence of God. We are called to trust that some greater good is always becoming known and present. Even the great good that we are experiencing is ushering in newness. Can we be observers of our lives with joyful anticipation? Can we notice the changes without judging them as unsatisfactory? 

We recently experienced Christmas and many of us gave and received gifts. Part of my joy in giving, is seeing the receiver's pleasure! I can imagine the angels clapping their hands in delight at my unconditional acceptance of what is.

When you give up your good for the greater good, you are proving your trust in the Divine Mind, the unconditional love.

This is a great time of year to consciously choose how you are going to view your life no matter what, as a brand new year is just days away. My intentions are: 

  • to say "yes" to life no matter what
  • to be rigorously honest and persistently kind toward myself and others
  • to look for the good and praise it
  • to take full and complete responsibility for my life just the way it is
  • to stop whining, explaining or justifying
  • to quit pining for what is not and what will not be
  • to consistently and joyfully plant seeds of greater good for my body, mind and spirit
  • to recognize that God is the Source of all good and that good is at hand
What are your intentions for the new year?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Celebrating 50 Years: An Interview with Lisa Spinelli

We don’t define our spiritual home by the location or even the teaching, rather it is the people, the community, that make it special.

As we look forward to celebrating 50 years together, I spoke with one of our longest standing members, Lisa Spinelli. Lisa lives in San Clemente. She moved here in the 1970s from the East Coast. Raised in the Congregational Church as a child and with an interest in all religions, Lisa found our Center from an ad in the newspaper.

How did you find the Center?

When we first moved here in the mid-70s, I looked in the newspaper and saw a tiny little ad. It said something about Ralph Waldo Emerson and of course Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of my all-time heroes. Being from the East with Thoreau’s Walden Pond, Emerson and all those guys I thought, “Well this has got to be a place to go check out.” It was an ad for the Science of Mind and the service was down at the old Masonic Temple in San Clemente. That was with Dr. Jackie and Leslie Harrold. Later, they moved to another space on Serra and I went there, and then they moved to San Juan to that space where they were for a very long time.

What do you remember about when you first visited our Center?

The first thing I ever got as a newcomer in my little kit was a cool cassette tape. It was Ernest Holmes’ radio broadcast from the 1940s in LA on Sunday morning and he started his broadcast, “There is a power for good in the Universe and you can use it.” He said, “And I can use it now and we can use it now.” That was the greatest thing; that little speech of his. He was a strong teacher. This Thing Called You is my favorite book.

Was the Center’s congregation very big?

In the early years there were about 50 to 60 people in the congregation. It was enough to fill up the Masonic Temple. There were classes then too. When we moved to San Juan, the membership really started to pick-up because it was more centrally located and it had a bigger space. You have to remember that there wasn’t a Congregational Church and Unity was all the way up on Ridge Road, so there wasn’t much for people seeking a New Thought church.

I lost most of the people I did go to church with in the beginning. They are gone now. People don’t realize what comes before you. It’s so powerful, all these people that kept this place going for so many years.

What’s changed?

Of course, what’s changed is the service; the addition of more music, more professional musicians, and the need for this kind of thinking in the world. I think that the idea of Universal Oneness is pervasive. We are all growing together. Now we’ve got Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer. I think this teaching is more attractive to people. It seems more sensible.

Have you taken any classes?
I’m not the most intellectual Science of Mind student but one of the things on my bucket list is to get up to the Science of Mind Founder’s Church, which is only around the corner from where my twin sister lives in Los Angeles. That’s one thing I would like to do because Ernest Holmes may actually be a relative. I’ve got 10 or 12 generations in New England where I came from and Holmes is one of our family names so I always think that between Emerson and Holmes I might really be part of the family. I might have to break down and take some classes. I have the SOM book, I read it here and there. I’d rather do things for other people with my time than study it, but you never know.

How do you incorporate this teaching into your life?

The Science of Mind magazine just squares away my day. I don’t always buy a new magazine but I keep a pile of them and I play Science of Mind magazine roulette. I pull one out, open to the number of the date and there it is. They work. I give away a lot of the old magazines. They are very powerful for people who need help with their thinking.

Are you happy you found us all those years ago?

I think it’s been a very powerful contribution to my life, especially to stop myself from getting wound up in drama. It’s allowed me to be there for my friends for one thing. I think that’s one of the most important things you can do for someone; be there with good thinking.

Thank you Lisa for sharing your story with us!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Friday, December 22, 2017

Grown Up Christmas Wish

What would you like to receive for Christmas? What are you giving? They have to match!
Several years ago, David Foster wrote the  song "My Grown Up Christmas List."  It is filled with ideas of things I want for myself and all beings everywhere.
A few of the lyrics are:
"No more lives torn apart  That wars would never start   And time would heal all hearts... And everyone would have a friend...And right would always win...And love would never end...This is my grown up Christmas list... This is my only lifelong wish...This is my grown up Christmas list."
A bridge between the verses states; "What is this illusion called the innocence of youth...Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth!"

O Christmas tree!
 I love the innocence of youth and don't think it is an illusion. I think about the feeling of wonder and awe that accompanied my early Christmas evenings when we finished decorating our tree, turned all the house lights off and sang carols. 'Blind belief' sounds like what many people would call faith. What is the truth we are looking for?

Jesus promised that he had come so we could live more abundantly. He promised peace... the peace that "passeth recognition."

I am ready for peace. I am ready to let fear be a thing of the past. If that is really my intention, what is my promise?  Since I must provide  a channel for my demonstration, it means that I must be prepared to live as peace. That means I cannot let my heart be troubled ever. As Dr. Bitzer, one of our pioneers in Science of Mind, was fond of saying, "Don't abandon Principle even for a special occasion!" I am being called to live as peace no matter what!

I am also ready to live in a world in which "no lives are torn apart." No lives torn apart by abuse, or neglect, or divorce or boredom! As a practitioner of the Science of Mind, I am called to see right action see with spiritual eyes... to perceive the presence of the Divine even in the most challenging circumstances.

I am ready for a world in which "no wars will ever start."  But can I believe it?

Do I believe that "time will heal all hearts?" Do I believe that Principle is not bound by precedent? Or do I believe that the future is going to be a repeat of the past? It is time for self-examination, with loving kindness and honesty. Or is is possible, that simply by perceiving with spiritual truth, all broken hearts are healed?

Do I believe that love is eternal? Or do I believe that it can and does end?

I encourage you to join me this Christmas, to make a grown up Christmas List that we are willing to pray unceasingly to create. The time is now and we are the ones.
The video below is a beautiful rendition of Natalie Cole and David Foster singing "My Grown Up Christmas List." There is a special bonus for my Asian friends. Enjoy it!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Life of Courage

I must be myself. I listen to my heart and have the courage to examine my life, matching my inner conversations with outer action. And So It Is!

Friday, December 15, 2017

What to Do When You Are Misunderstood

Last Sunday my Sunday topic was "Living a Life of Character." The book suggested for the month is If You Know Who You Are, You Will Know What To Do, Living With Integrity.  The chapter on "A Life of Character" is about differentiating between the integrity of being true to yourself and living a life that is moral. In the book, author Ronald Greer states that Hitler was a man who was true to his  nature, but lived a life that most of us would consider immoral. I wanted to take a path that was closer to what we teach in the Science of Mind, namely that our nature is one with God, made in His image  and likeness. For me this is about knowing our Goodness and living in our Truth openly.

I chose to open my message with a short video about the heroic life of Malala Yousafzai. This young woman is the epitome of living a Life of Character. because she was passionate about education for everyone, especially women. She courageously wrote about it, even though the Taliban had made it illegal for girls to go to school. She was sought and identified and shot three times by an armed Taliban man. She survived and was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which she received when she was just seventeen years old.

Meanwhile, I have been watching Season 2 of "The Crown" on Netflix. I have  binged but not yet watched the whole season. One of the episodes featured the marriage difficulties between Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. It showed him as quite a ladies man, committed to keeping his philandering ways private and secretive, especially from the Queen. Of course, the press found out and then the whole world knew about his behavior. Then the Queen had to repair her marriage and also to repair their reputation with her subjects. I mentioned in my message that his behavior would be the opposite to living a Life of Character. He was living fearfully and secretively whereas Malala is living her life fearlessly and openly.

Immediately after Sunday's service, one of our members confided she didn't agree with my example. She thought Prince Phillip's actions were illustrating an addiction, not a lack of character. It is quite true one could look at it that way. Then later in the week, someone simply asked for clarification. What did the story have to do with Science of Mind Principles? Both of these people helped me to realize that I had not done a great job of communicating what I intended to say. I am very grateful to both of them.  It might have been interpreted that I was saying that it was immoral to have sex with women to whom he was not married. But that was not what I was attempting to say. (That is very judgmental and does not really illuminate the Principles of the Science of Mind.)

What I was saying is that since we are One with the Source of Goodness and since a synonym for the Divine is Truth.
As Ernest Holmes defines it, " Being Infinite or All, the Truth can have nothing outside itself, other than Itself, or unlike Itself, by which to divide Itself; consequently, the Spirit is Indivisible, Changeless, and Complete within Itself. "
So we are always broadcasting our beliefs about ourselves.  When we think we need to keep our actions secret, we are saying that there is something unacceptable about us. It seems that the answer is obvious.
As Will Rogers once quipped, "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell  your pet parrot to the town gossip."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Life of Character - Rev. Heather Dawn Clark

I trust my inner goodness and I notice the goodness in others. All is well in my world; I live a life of integrity and love.

And So It Is!

Friday, December 8, 2017


My first Sunday back after my sabbatical was December 3,2017. My last day here was August 31st, summer was ablaze! Now the night's are cold and very long. Winter is definitely approaching.

I was so grateful to be back home. I was welcomed with loving arms and I am very grateful. The Sunday flowers were given in my honor. I took them home last night after Wednesday's Wisdom.

There was also a tasty and beautiful chocolate cake which proclaimed "Welcome Home!"
There were three candles to signify the three months I had been away. After two attempts I finally blew out the three candles! (I guess I was internalizing the enormity of what had transpired in those three months.)

It is really great to feel valued.

But the greatest feeling in my heart is gratitude.
Rev. Pattie and me
I am so grateful for  Rev. Pattie Mercado and Rev. Judee Chapman, our two Assistant Ministers, and the consciousness they brought to our Center especially in my absence.  Not only did they each speak once  a month, but also they did all the other work, plus they both continued to do an excellent job in their own ministries. Plus they have their homes and families to look after. Rev. Pattie's full-time job is Youth and Family Ministry, which grew in my absence. Rev. Judee is the CFO of Mark Optics. Both already have very busy lives! It is an amazing gift of love that they both gave. Some of their responsibilities included: They attended the Board of Trustees Meetings, they ensured that all the administrative work was taken care of, they met with the practitioners for their license reviews, and they did so much more. Rev. Pattie left me a detailed report of many of the activities that they supervised. It is in two-inch-thick file folder.  They hosted the guest speakers. They planned, organized and participated in our annual pledge appreciation dinner. They communicated to the staff and other ministers. They are angels and I am greatly blessed. They kept the Center working so well that many people were surprised that I had already been away three months.
Rev. Judee and Santa
June Dickson, me, Rev. Judee and part of Diane Hennessy 

I am grateful for Rev. Karyn Allen and the excellence she provides as the Creative Arts Ministry. She selects the congregational music, plus AllenDale is the usually the guest musician on the first Sunday of the month. Her contribution is immeasurable. For the guest musicians that Rev. Karyn has arranged and for special concerts, I am grateful. 

I am also very grateful for our Administrator, Diane Hennessy. She has been doing two jobs for several months -- upstairs receptionist and business manager, Mondays through Wednesdays, then Thursdays she has been finishing her church-related projects. She has been such a gift to us all, with a consciousness of love and service. Diane's newest project is to create a Directory of Membership that is up-to-date. We have been eagerly awaiting this idea!

I am grateful Claudia Nelson, our Suites business manager and receptionist for Thursdays and Fridays. She does everything with grace.

I am grateful to Juli Isola for her brilliant work in marketing our Center. Juli's addition of  the Good News e-newsletter has been a big hit and  a grate help in communicating what was going on in our Center. She has been working closely with Rev. Pattie to plan a strategy for marketing our Center for the past three months but also has developed a plan for 2018.

Then there are all our practitioners, and the rest of the staff ministers, and the many ways in which they contribute.

I am so grateful for all the people who have continued to attend our Center in my absence; each one has blessed us all in a myriad of ways.

Gratitude is a multiplier of good. "My cup is over-flowing so I am drinking from my saucer."

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Mean Banyan Knocked Me on My Butt

The Banyan Tree in Lahaina

While I was on sabbatical, I had an encounter with this Banyan tree.  The tree covers more than half an acre, takes up most of a city block, started as an eight foot sapling in 1873 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of  the first Protestant mission in Maui. 

It has flourished. The roots grow from the branches and descend down into the earth, establishing new trunks. But it is the same tree. It is over 60 feet tall with six main trunks and a canopy that provides shade in the mid-day heat and the home for hundreds of birds.

This reminds me of life. It may look like there are many different beings on our planet, but we all come from the same Source.

My adventure consisted of attempting to take  a shortcut under one of the large branches. The wood of the tree is very hard. I took off my sunglasses but left the hat on. I ducked down, thinking I had given myself plenty of room to miss the branch. I had not. I hit myself smack in the middle of my forehead. In fact, I hit so hard that I knocked myself right on my butt.

If it hadn't been real life, and if I hadn't been intimately involved, it would have been hilarious. It did remind me of an Abbott and Costello routine.

My travelling companion had no idea where I was. He had not seen any of it. In fact he had just texted me to see if I was climbing the banyan tree. I texted back yes I was. In fact one is not allowed to climb or sit on the tree at all.

A lovely man started running toward me, asking if I was alright. Only my pride had been damaged. (And a little bruise on my backside, but my head was not injured in the slightest.) I felt so foolish.  Now when someone says that I am being hard-headed, I can retort that they have no idea!

The man who tried to come to my rescue explained that it must be easy to misjudge this tree, since earlier in the afternoon he had seen a full grown man do the same thing and actually knocked himself unconscious.

I can take many life lessons from this incident. Some of them are:
  1. When you are knocked down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.
  2. Nothing happens to you, everything  happens by means of you.
  3. New ideas are taking root right now.
  4. What starts out small, can become enormous.
  5. There is no need to keep your hat on when attempting a dangerous activity.
  6. Even when you think you are alone, someone is there to lend a helping hand.
I am so grateful for everything I experienced and am ready to be back home where I belong.

I hope to see you soon at the Center.