Friday, April 20, 2018

Honoring Mother Earth

This coming Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day!

National Geographic WILD wants you and me to see what a wonderful world we live in.

Maybe if we have more appreciation for our Mother Earth we will take better care of her.
We, as a species, have not been doing a very good job so far.

Did you know that plastics were invented in 1907? It seems that they have been around forever.

So here we are celebrating 100 years of the Science of Mind and 101 years of living with plastics.

When I was a kid, plastics bags were regularly re-used. My mom and grandmother could see how useful they were for storing food and taking lunches to school. We would wash and dry them, then turn the bags inside out and with a clothes pin hang them on the line. Later when I was a young, newly-married woman I took for granted all the time-saving conveniences. I was a typical consumer. When the lids no longer fit my plastic containers, I would throw them in the trash. (That was before we learned about recycling.) I believed that there would always be enough room in the dump and besides which we regularly burned our household trash. Throwing a "good" plastic bag was unthinkable unless it was unusable.

Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

However, plastics is a huge issue. The story of three plastic bottles below:

After watching a few videos about plastics, I am committed to start refusing when I am offered any kind of plastic from bags and bottles to cups and clothing. I may need to recycle my tennis shoes. I already take reusable bags with me when I am shopping.

I also intend to watch the National Geographic Special on Sunday night so I can be reminded of the beautiful world in which we live.

I intend to be better at the commandment to honor my mother.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Taking Things Personally

Last Saturday afternoon, in preparation for my Sunday message, I re-watched some of Brene Brown's work. I love her vulnerability, her authenticity. The title of Brown's Daring Greatly book came from an inspirational Theodore Roosevelt's Man in the Arena speech:
 "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..." 
Brown went on to say that she used to pray that the critics would not be present when she spoke, but realized that that is a coward's action. So she plans for them to be there. She mentally gives them a seat in her arena. She says she always includes her biggest critic, herself.

I thought it was a great idea. But an idea that would take courage and confidence.

Last Sunday, in my preparation, I invited the critics, including myself into the sanctuary. (Sanctuaries, unlike arena, are supposed to be places of safety.)

It was very freeing. I felt more spontaneous than ever.

I felt as if I were sharing important spiritual principles.

I got a lot of positive feedback.

And then, Monday morning I received an anonymous note that said, "I didn't understand a word that was spoken."

I was crushed! Even though, I had consciously invited the critics to be present for my message, I really didn't expect them to show up.

What could I do? What I did was try to ignore it. (I do believe that anonymous notes are poison darts that the writer knows are poisonous!)

I attempted to become aware of who would have written it. (And I justified my choices by making the listener wrong!) Neither of these "solutions" would have moved me forward in consciousness.

Then finally, I received the gift. Of all the feedback I could have received, this was a very gentle one.
(Thank you, Divine Mind, for bringing my demonstration in a gentle way.)

So I needed to ask myself, what can I learn about myself regarding the feedback?

I am still discovering things. First, the universe always responds when I plant a seed in Divine Mind. Second, instead of feeling resistant and defensive, I could choose to watch the talk and see for myself how I could have communicated more clearly. (The truth is, I rarely watch myself because I am so self-critical. And I usually don't stop with the content of the message but also include anything else I feel self-conscious about --- my hair, my clothing, my waistline, my facial appearance, my movements, etc. So I finally made a decision to pray first and then to re-watch the video.

Again, I encountered resistance. (Maybe I didn't really want to watch it!)

I was waiting at home for a delivery and decided that watching the service would be the best use of my time. First, I tried to get the service to play on my computer. It took a little time to find it. Then I could see it, but there wasn't any sound. Next I tried my iPad. With it, I couldn't even find our website. Finally, after I charged my phone for awhile, I played the whole service on the phone.

I saw a woman (me) who was having fun with her message. I did understand most words that I used but I could see how someone might not have been able to understand them. Yes, it could have been clearer. I could have told the listeners what I intended to say, then said it, then told them what I said. I did not do that. But it wasn't terrible. Louise Hay gave the best advice about becoming a better speaker. She would gently say to herself, "Louise, that was pretty good for your first talk, and your next one will be even better!"

The ultimate learning comes from realizing that there will always be critics and that all I can do is the best I can do.

That is all any of us can do.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Glimpsing Heaven on Earth

Last Sunday night, I watched the television live concert performance of  Jesus Christ Superstar featuring Brandon Victor Dixon, John Legend, Sara Bareilles and many other very talented musicians. I was touched and inspired by the music and hearing the entire musical. Like all of you, I knew the story. I was moved to tears by a song sung by Mary Magdalene (Sara Bareilles) and the Disciple Peter (Jason Tam) called "Could We Start Again Please." It is sung first by Mary and then by Peter, after Jesus has been arrested but before his crucifixion. It is a song about wanting a second chance, a common theme for us human beings. The lyrics are:
Mary:"I've been living to see you
Dying to see you but it shouldn't be like this
This was unexpected
What do I do now
Could we start again please?
I've been hopeful so far
Now for the first time I think we're going wrong
Hurry up and tell me this is just a dream
Oh, could we start again please?"

Peter: "I think you've made your point now
You've even gone a bit too far to get the message home
Before it gets too frightening
We ought to call a halt
So could we start again please?"
 Evidently this number was in the original Broadway play. I must not have been ready to hear its beauty because I don't remember it at all. (And we used the music from Superstar every year for many years as our Palm Sunday message and experience.) On Sunday evening, this performance was definitely a place where I experienced the divine. I heard God. I saw God. The relative and the Absolute were dancing through each other.

When I contemplate how Jesus' disciples must have felt when he was arrested, beaten, tortured and crucified, my heart breaks. Moreover, I think there is a universal sense of wanting a "do-over," when we realize that our relationships, or our circumstances, are heading toward an ending that we didn't anticipate or desire. (I believe this is the genius of lyricists like Tim Rice, who was able transform our opinion about Judas, the synonym for betrayal as well as elicit feelings of empathy for Jesus,  Mary Magdalene and the rest of the disciples.) We know the power of words to transform. The right and perfect music helps deliver the message.

I recently read an interesting article by  Eric Weiner, who introduced me to "Thin Places." He says, "Thin places are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we are able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think about it, the Infinite Whatever." He went on to explain that thin places are places in which one would have an experience of non-sequential time. Some people describe it as an intensity, not necessarily tranquil, where the power and the beauty of the Divine are experienced. He writes that in thin places we "are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world."

In his article in the New York Times, Weiner mentions places  like Iona, a small island off  the western coast of Scotland. He also mentions sacred sites like St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. But he stated that thin places may be something as conventional as an airport. He states that not everybody will feel the sacred in his "thin places." In fact the same place may seem thick to another person. He concludes his article with the idea that perhaps the whole world is thin and that we are too thick to recognize it. He concludes: "Maybe thin places offer glimpses of heaven on earth as it really is, unencumbered. Unmasked."

Last Sunday I glimpsed heaven on earth watching Jesus Christ Superstar. If you saw it, let me know how you felt about it.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Holy Week

For my blog this week, I am sharing the Easter message of Paul Martin Brunet, a writer I stumbled upon in old Science of Mind magazines. I have found his writing to consistently inspire and challenge me. I am especially thrilled when he has written the daily guides. This guide is from April 5, 1953. I trust someone will love it, too.


" ...I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." John 11:25 
"This glad Easter Morn I rise in conscious Oneness with the Christ of the Universe. Infinite Life, Infinite Love, exalts my whole being in peace and harmony. Every trial and tribulation melts away. I find myself alive in a sea of Living Love. The Power and the Glory hath made me free.
The Mind of Christ fills my soul with the light of Divine Intelligence. I am completely liberated from fear, worry, darkness, doubt. The Spirit of Eternal Life breathes through every atom of my being. Today, old things are passed away and I am born anew. 
The same spiritual Power that raised the Master from the tomb, is the Power in me that rolls away all stones and stumbling blocks. Divine Presence goes before me and makes my way perfect. My whole subconscious is illumined with new Light and Christ-energy.
Immortal Life changes, transforms and transfigures me completely, in this Holy Hour. My mind, my life, my consciousness, are spiritually revitalized. I am released in intelligent, purposeful action forevermore. Under the leadership of Love I am free from all self-made prisons. The grace of Immortal Spirit is the dynamic substance of my being. I am alive in Christ, Truth, now and always, and It is alive in me. I realize the Christ of Ascension lives within me, and in every living soul of the universe. I am filled with God's Radiant Bliss. 
Thanks be to God, His Love, the Christ is risen in me this day! 
Textbook -- Page 630, Resurrection" 
Rev. Brunet was the Minister - Director of the Second Church of Religious Science in New York City. in 1953. If anyone has more information about this minister, I would be very thankful for the information.

May your Easter be absolutely splendid!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Rituals Worth Keeping

A ritual as defined by Meriam Webster is...
 1. of or relating to rites or a ritual
 2. according to religious law
 3. done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol. 
 We have developed a ritual here whenever we have money to deposit. We, the ministers and the administrator, take a couple of minutes to be grateful for all the givers who are represented by that deposit. That includes our tenants, our members and friends who have given a donation, our friends who have purchased a book or piece of jewelry or any other way money has come to us. Together we hold the deposit bag as I offer a spontaneous  affirmative prayer or spiritual mind treatment. I go on to speak an intention that the money, being love in action, does good work for us in our spiritual Center as well as in our business. Almost always, I say that every dollar, given in love, returns to each giver increased, pressed down and running over. Then we put multiplication signs all over the outside of the bag. We have done this ritual for at least 14 years. Even when I am not here, we do this ritual. Sacred giving is one of our beliefs. In order to experience sacred giving we need to also experience sacred receiving.

Blessing the Bank Deposit
The Holy Hands of Dr. Heather, Rev. Pattie, Rev. Karyn and Diane
It made me wonder what people would think if they knew that we blessed all money that comes to us. Most people don't know we do it. My hope is that people will feel as if they are participating. Indeed, their dollars are very important for all our programs to continue.

I LIKE the ritual of blessing our money. When I am finished praying and we have all added our multiplication, there is a feeling of pure love in the room. It feels great! Gratitude is a multiplier of good. There is so much for which to be grateful -- our health, our friends, our families, our understanding of Divine Mind and our relationship with Spirit.

You could join us in this ritual if you are in the Center when Rev. Karyn is ready to take the deposit to the bank. But you could also participate by taking a moment of gratitude for all the good that you have given and received; and see yourself opening up to an expanded awareness of prosperity in all the forms it takes. You could see all the money, that you have given in love, returning to you "pressed down, multiplied and spilling over."

Remember the powerful words of Emma Curtis Hopkins, "There is good for me, and I ought to have it."

You ought to have more of every good thing. 

It has reminded me of one of my favorite videos about gratitude featuring the photography by Louie Schwartzberg and the narration of Brother David Steindl-Rast.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sixteen Weeks to Transformation

I love the Science of Mind. It has changed my life for the better for over 35 years.

I love teaching the Science of Mind.  In 1994, as a fairly new minister, I was asked to join our organization's Board of Education. I was excited to sit in meetings with some very knowledgeable
colleagues, including Dr. David Walker, Dr. Arleen Bump, Dr. Jackie Belzano, and Dr. Sandy Jacob. Then I was further honored to be part of a small curriculum creation committee, consisting of Dr. David Walker, Dr. Kennedy Shultz and Rev. Chris Michaels. Both Dr. Walker and Dr. Shultz had served as president of our organization. I had become  a minister in 1992. To say that I was a little intimidated would be an understatement. The three men were friends and loved to snipe at each other but they were always respectful of me. We did some great work together. For many years, our organization offered the curriculum we wrote as the first year of studies. After a long hiatus of 6 years, I am going to offer it again this year, beginning April 3, 2018. We used to offer these courses as 8-week stand-alone courses, but in order to have equivalency with our new 10 to 12 week foundation curricula we needed to offer the first two courses, so this course will be 16 weeks. I am inviting you to consider it; you will be so grateful you did.

The first part of the course is "The Spiritual Path" and introduces the metaphysical student to the basics of spiritual study including affirmation, meditation, and prayer. In addition to the basics, there are some great activities and processes which anyone can incorporate into their daily practices. During that eight weeks, the students will learn spiritual mind treatment/affirmative prayer.

The next part of the course continues to emphasize prayer and is titled "The Nature of Effective Prayer." This is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. When we change the consciousness of a thing, we change the entire experience of it. For example, before studying Science of Mind I would often take a victim mind-set when it came to illnesses. Like many people I had two or three colds a year. I was subject to the race consciousness of a "flu" season. Since then, I have come to understand that nothing happens to me, everything happens through me, by means of me. This is a powerful idea.

If everything comes through me, I must allow or invite the idea of  "flu" into my life. As I mentioned  a couple of blogs ago, rarely is the thing we are experiencing a result of thinking about the illness. In other words, I didn't get a cold because I thought about "colds;" but rather, when we feel stressed and overextended, we can let a 'flu" or "cold" into our lives.

  • We will learn to pay attention to our thoughts, and make intelligent, self-supporting changes to our thoughts and feelings.
  • We will learn to write and use powerful affirmations which will start the creative process by planting a new idea.
  • And we will learn to meditate. By getting still and being comfortable with silence, we will more ably hear the voice for God within ourselves.

People's lives will be transformed. People who are senior students, those who have taken foundation courses many times before, will heighten their awareness of self. And those people who take the class as their very first step down the spiritual path will awaken to their own inner magnificence. People make life-long friendships in Science of Mind classes. You will learn to pray for other people as well as yourself. There is so much good for you... and you ought to have it!

I would love to see YOU at class. Tuesdays, beginning April 3rd at 6:30 pm. For credit: $240 or love offering.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Impersonal Nature of the Divine

It is great to be "Rooted in the Divine," and it is good to remember that the principle is infallible. It is working all the time for everyone. "The rain falls on the just and the unjust."

Some people might claim that this is very unfair of God, not to reward those who are good and nice for being good and nice. We might have held that cherished thought, when we were spiritually immature. We may have thought that we were dealing with a God that could be influenced by our prayers and petitions. Now we have come to find out that we are not punished for our sins but by them. God is not keeping score. Life is not a game in which someone wins and someone else loses.

Rather it is the nature of Principle to give and It is forever giving. Our job is to cooperate with the Divine Nature. We do that by being crystal clear about our beliefs. It is done to us, as we believe. In other words, if my belief is that the nature of my thought is that it is creative, then I will be meticulous about what I am believing to be true! I will not let doubt rob me of my good.

An example in my life is what I have been doing since March 1st! On March 1st, we entered into Escrow on our building. Being the spiritual director of the Center, I was the one who had to sign all the documents -- and now I am the one that is running madly toward all the deadlines! "Running madly" is not an intelligent way to approach anything in life, so in this moment, I take a deep breath, and "re-frame" that idea.

The whole idea is that we, the seller, would have all documents necessary for a smooth and easy escrow completion.

Perhaps I could say, "I am steadily and persistently handling each piece of paper when it gets to me." 

Perhaps I could further declare, "Divine Mind, in me, knows exactly how to complete all paperwork in a timely way." 

Perhaps I could add, "I have more than enough support to complete all tasks in a timely way." 

Perhaps I could even claim, "It is satisfying to complete all the paperwork on time." 

Maybe I could go so far as to say, "It is easy for me to do so. Change my thinking, changes my life!"

Aww!! Much better.

Dealing with an escrow of a commercial building feels like learning a new language, or maybe learning how to pray scientifically. One step at a time. I remind myself that I DID learn how to pray scientifically. And now, I do it so often, that I do not need to think about it at all.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Person Develops a Cold

This year was the first time in years that I got a flu shot. I thought that getting a flu shot would be insurance to support the divine idea of health in me as me, but instead I came down with the flu. I just got out of my pajamas for the first time in several days. It felt delicious to have a shower and I am looking forward to fresh sheets on my bed tonight. I realize now that I needed more than the flu shot to ensure vibrant health.

I do pray and meditate daily.  I always include health and wholeness for myself in my morning prayers. So what happened? Did the law quit working for me?

The answer is simple. The law is always working. The answer is that on the subconscious level I must have had a greater belief in illness than health, a greater belief in stress than relaxation, and a greater belief in confusion than in clarity.

So what do I do? 

I often check out Louise Hay's guides to see if what she says rings true. 
Regarding colds, Hay writes the probable cause is, "Too much going on at once. Mental confusion, disorder. Small hurts."
Well, I have had a lot going on. We were at our annual convention last week from Monday night through Thursday night. Friday night was our Center's gala fiftieth anniversary party, which was wonderful. In addition to these events, we have had and accepted an offer on our building. Saturday I started coming down with something but I had no conscious idea of what it could turn into. I should have stayed home last Sunday. I could have. I even had an amazing guest speaker, Rev. Dr. Kenn Gordon. But I didn't. I drove our guests back to their hotel and then I put on my pajamas. I slept and slept.
Louise Hay suggests the following affirmation for colds. "I allow my mind to relax and be at peace. Clarity and harmony are within me and around me."

First, analyze my thinking. Are there instances where I have a greater belief in illness than I do in God? Am I in agreement with disease or illness anywhere in my life? Have I made an agreement with limitation? Do I believe in another power, one that is greater than God? I do not. 

The next step is to speak the affirmation and be mindful about my life, then to pray from a greater awareness of God's grace and power.

In this holy moment of now, I recognize and know the Truth which frees me from any condition, consequence or effect. I recognize that the Power of Life Itself is within me and is responding to me always according to belief. I remind myself that this mighty moving power is the Power of Creation and there is none other greater than it. I remind myself that the nature of the Divine is perfect harmony, clarity, vitality and energy, God indwells me. God is at the Center of my being. 
Knowing this is so, I remind myself that I live in a harmonious Universe, in which there is sufficient time for living life fully, without undue stress or concern. I remind myself that I am made in the image and after the likeness of the Creator Itself.  I remind myself to choose to breathe and relax during all the events of my life.  I remind myself that God continuously and easily makes all things new. I remind myself that this power is moving through me -- my ideas, my beliefs, my body and my affairs. I choose perfect health. I breathe easily. I take everything in stride. My mind is relaxed and I am at peace. I clearly see what is mine to know and to do. 
With great gratitude for the Omni-active law of Mind and for the Spirit within that always guides, I place this Word in the action of Law. It is complete. 
And so it is.
Reverent Reverend

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Ask a Practitioner: Where did my affirmation go wrong?

Have you ever repeated an affirmation and felt like it didn't work for some reason? 

This month we have a question about affirmations and our very own Rev. Arpad Petrass, a staff minister and practitioner, has a wonderful answer to guide us to clarity and greater effectiveness with our affirmations. 

First the question:

After re-watching The Secret, I decided to start affirming, "I am open and ready to receive checks in the mail from expected and unexpected sources!" 

I didn't think it worked because I didn't personally receive any new income, but then it hit me! Not long after I started the affirmation, a nonprofit organization I volunteer with asked me if I would be willing to have my name and address on their donation form and help manage the flow of checks from advertising sales. I started receiving checks in the mail from unexpected sources...HA! 

Unfortunately, it was not my money, but rather money for the nonprofit. Where did I go wrong with my affirmation? How could I make it clearer and more effective in receiving money for myself and my family?

Rev. Arpad's thoughts:

What a wonderful question. Don't you like the way the Universe has a sense of humor? 

It is always giving us what we need, which is based on what we believe to be true about ourselves. It is important to understand a few basic truths.

1.  The Universe can be very literal in its delivery of ones desires much like your demonstration.

2.  Spirit wants you to be clear in your intentions. Our intentions must come from our heart. It really does not matter what we say. What does matter is how we feel inside about ourselves. Someone can say all day long, "I want to be rich and prosperous," but if they feel unworthy inside and feel that they can never get ahead, they will never receive their heart's desire. In reality, they are believing in a victim consciousness and are attracting more of what they don't want rather than what they do want.

3. Remember to put yourself in your desires. Visualize yourself doing or experiencing that thing that you desire. 

And finally,

4.  Let Spirit decide how to best give you what you want. Don't limit the Universe by telling it how to deliver the goods. It may have a better or bigger idea in mind for you based on your heart's desire. 

Great tips Rev. Arpad! Thank you. 

Do you have an experience or question for a practitioner? Send us an email with your question. You can also visit our Prayer Ministry page on our website to reach out to a practitioner directly.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom: Experiencing the Power of Spiritual Practice

On just about every Wednesday evening throughout the year, you can find Rev. Judee Chapman, one of our assistant ministers, up on the Center's platform hosting a middle-week experiential service for an audience who has found something special and extraordinary. 

Since starting the mid-week 'faith lift' in 2004, six-months after becoming an ordained Religious Science minister, Rev. Judee's Wednesday Wisdom service has grown and evolved, most recently adding the tagline Practicing the Presence. 

"Practicing the Presence means to me that everything and everyone is sacred and we all have the ability to connect with the Divine, if we so choose!" explained Rev. Judee. "But just like everything else, we need to engage and invest in spiritual practices like prayer, chanting, meditation, silence, inspirational talks, etc. to have it work in our lives."

To add an experiential element to the Wednesday service, Rev. Judee started seeking out speakers and activities that would support those spiritual practices. In the past, the Wednesday's Wisdom has hosted a wide variety of diverse services including, but not limited to: 
  • meditation, 
  • healing services, 
  • drumming, 
  • Native American ceremonies, 
  • solstice ceremonies (winter, spring, summer, and fall), 
  • singing bowls, 
  • concerts, 
  • Taize meditations, 
  • interactive discussions, 
  • Q&A on the Science of Mind, 
  • Season for Nonviolence peace meditations and readings, and
  • personal empowerment talks (like Al Wallace and his personal growth story about walking the Pacific Crest Trail and Anita Baroldi with her spiritual transformation experienced while walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.) 

When asked what draws her to a particular topic, Rev. Judee replied, "I am open to anything that values living our life 'out loud!'"

Many practitioners and ministers, from within and outside our Center, have shared their gift of personal awakening or subjects that inspire them during the Wednesday service.  

Rev. Judee believes that anyone who is grounded in love and service to our Center and humanity is welcome to have a evening to share their wisdom. To get a spot on the monthly calendar all potential speakers need to do is ask. Once she receives a request, Rev. Judee has a short discussion with the speaker on what topic they want to share and then finds a date on the schedule.  

"I have never had to turn anyone away so far," said Rev. Judee. "For instance, a practitioner came to me on Sunday and said 'I have a talk that has been brewing in me for six months. Can I 'book'  a Wednesday service?' I said, 'Yes, of course!'"

When people leave the Wednesday's Wisdom "Practicing the Presence" service, Rev. Judee knows that they leave with something that will enrich their life.  

"Maybe it is a new spiritual practice, or a new person that they meet, or just a place to BE  and feel loved and accepted for who they are," Rev. Judee explained. "I want them to leave fulfilled and happy that they came!"

More than anything, Rev. Judee knows that each and every person can benefit from attending the service and by making it their mid-week habit!

The Wednesday's Wisdom Service is every Wednesday evening beginning at 7 p.m. in the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley Sanctuary. On the first Wednesday of the month there is a potluck starting at 5:45 p.m. Everyone is invited to bring a dish and experience a sense of community and friendship. Childcare is only available on the first Wednesday so families can come for the potluck dinner and adults can enjoy the service afterwards. 

If you have questions about Wednesday's Wisdom or feel called to be a presenter, email Rev. Judee. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Making Big Decisions

What do you do when a big decision looms before you?

Of course, we all want to make decisions that are in our highest and best interests. These decisions could include buying a home, having a child, adopting a child, getting  a divorce, moving to e new city or starting a new job.

Over the years, I  have had many life-changing decisions appear on my path. Sometimes when they first appear, I do not realize the significance of the decision. With every one I made I received guidance. I KNEW I was making the right choice even when other people would advise me against the decision.

One of those instances comes to mind when I think about the process of becoming a minister. My teacher was in Calgary and I lived in Edmonton. Ministerial training, at that time, was at least two years long. I decided to move to Calgary. I was advised by all my friends not to tell the administration of the secondary school in which I taught English, math and social studies to tenth graders. Our school was going through some typical changes for large secondary schools. They were looking to reduce our staff by one or two people. I naturally thought that the best thing for me, the school, and the rest of my colleagues was to tell the Vice Principal, that I was declaring myself surplus because I would be moving to another city. I did.

 Then I went to my first interview with the Calgary Board of Education. I felt peaceful and calm because I had an inner KNOWING that I would be moving to Calgary. And I had an indestructible faith that I would be able to find the right and perfect job. The interviewer was very kind and sweet but she told me that there were no jobs available for high school English teachers. In fact, she gave me the statistic that she had 1,000 ( yes, one thousand) applications and no (zero) jobs. She advised me that unless I wanted to put myself on the substitute teaching list, I should stay right where I was.

I could have questioned myself . After all, I had a wonderful tenured position which I would be giving up.

So I checked within. The guidance was still there. In fact, it was stronger than before. So I asked another question of the interviewer. I asked her if the Calgary Board was hiring any teachers at all. Then she said the magic words.  "We are looking for several special education teachers at the junior high level." I indicated that I would be interested.

Now the interesting thing was that five years earlier when I moved from Junior High to High School, I was guided to apply to be a special teacher on a pilot program in a secondary high school, which was attempting to retain "at risk" teenagers in school. It wasn't exactly special education, but it was enough to qualify me as someone who was willing to think outside the box and I was willing to learn.

Within ten days I had three  interviews in Calgary. I met with the first Principal and we liked each other, but I thought I would keep my other appointments to see if there was an even better fit. During that interview, I made a comment which included the words, "if I am successful..." My interviewer, who turned out to be my future Principal, stopped me and declared, "Ms. Clark, I don't think you understand the situation. You see, there are three positions open for you. You get to pick one you want!" I was over the moon with gratitude for the divine presence in my life.

Within ten days, following my internal guidance, I went from being told that there were a glut of teachers with my skills and being cautioned to stay right where I was, to having a choice of one of three jobs. I loved that teaching assignment. My teaching partner and I became great friends. And I got to advance my spiritual studies to include ministerial training. But most importantly, the thing Itself, that knows me intimately had guided me and I had listened. I have been doing my best to listen ever since.
The Buddha Nature is All-Knowing

Friday, February 16, 2018

Releasing the Old and Making Welcome the New

Last week, I just signed a counter offer for our Center's building.

When we first decided to sell our building we imagined that the buyer would be very similar to us, in that they had a need for a large open space and also would continue to run the executive suites. An owner-user would have been a wonderful deal. We had established that kind of organization would pay top dollar for the building. After months of marketing by our realtor, including sending a  hard-copy brochure to  almost a thousand potential buyers, and holding open houses, we received an offer. We were partially right: the buyer does want a building with Executive Suites but they want to convert the whole building to offices. We have countered the original offer with terms that we can live with including a lease-back option for almost nine months.

 I could be elated, or I could be a little numb.  One of the things that grew clear to us as we determined to sell the building is that this building was NEVER our vision. So we are just like many families who buy their first home because it is what they can afford, and move to a larger space when they can, They considered their first homes as starters.  We have come to realize that huge space was likely a starter for us so we are the opposite of a growing family. We want less space.

I feel waves of joy  and thanksgiving for the right action of being able to buy a much more manageable-sized building and devote our time and attention to our members and friends.

We are asking for your help. If you see a smaller commercial building for sale, please let us know. Our real estate committee is composed of Aidan Greaney, Grant McPhail, Fred Mercado, Pam Rocke, Greg Young , Wayne Davis, Lee Van Slyke, Dena Hart Van Slyke, and me. If you see something that might be of interest please let one of us know. We have already been looking for a new building but without knowing our price range we were not able to move forward very easily. We are looking for a building that is approximately seven thousand square feet. We will net approximately two million dollars.  We are looking forward to being free of a mortgage. (And also being free of the repairs and maintenance of a building that is almost 20,000 square feet.)

We need to work together as a community to find the right place that will serve our needs and allow us to grow.

Although none of us have a crystal ball, and are not skilled in predicting the future, we do see that likely with interest rates going up, investing in commercial real estate becomes less inviting.We feel that the time is right.

The offer we got allows us to lease back from the buyers for up to nine months. (We thought this gestation period would give us enough time to find the right and perfect place for our new home Center.)

How can you help?
Working Together
Photo by Juli Isola

Let's work together. The kids in the photo above have the right idea. Facing the unknown in the ocean of life, it is easy and fun if we do it together. Stay positive. Remember that all demonstration starts with a clear idea. Our idea is to own a building that is self-contained, no further than 10 miles from our present location,, that would hold our fellowship, our social time, our children and our classes. We want a beautiful, safe outside space that reflects a respect for and love of nature. We would like  a sanctuary in which every seat feels like it is a special seat, all people can see the speakers and singers with ease. The acoustics are great. It will would easily seat 150 people. The whole building will  be imbued by a feeling of reverence, it can easily hold the weight of the divine. We need room for our piano, our band, and our choir in addition to needing a room in which it is easy for the speaker to connect with all people in the audience.

If you haven't started yet, please add the Center to your prayer list. See us completing this sale with grace, finding the right building for our new spiritual home, in the right location, and purchasing a new building with the proceeds from the sale. And most importantly see us thriving in our new home, connected with each other and growing spiritually.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Details Available on Sunday!

Dear Readers,

We have an offer on our building!

We want you to know all about it!

This Sunday, after service, there will be a meeting and YOU are invited!

With love,

Friday, February 2, 2018

Don't Go Back to Sleep

The 13th century mystic, Rumi wrote:

 "The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you.  Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.  Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,  
The door is round and open     Don't go back to sleep!”
It is so true that we can be more interested in keeping our habits then we are in our spiritual growth that we simply go back to sleep. When we are on the spiritual path it is difficult to remember that we live in a sea of infinite intelligence. Not only do we have access to it, but also it is pressing Itself into us, awakening us.

Last night was a phenomenon of a Super Blue Blood moon, a rare lunar eclipse that was visible here in the Americas for the first time in 152 years! It was visible at 4:51 AM our time.

I thought about setting my alarm but it turned out that I didn't need to set it. Directly outside my bedroom is a small parking area for guests in our community. At 3:45 AM someone's car caught fire. Before firemen arrived, water hoses were needed. My hose was the nearest and my quick-thinking neighbor already had it hooked up and running before I realized what was happening. Soon I was up and awake. The eclipse had not occurred yet.

So I watched the first part of the eclipse. Those of you who witnessed it were blessed with a feeling of awe and delight! Then I went back to sleep. My bedroom was reflecting the red of the moon. And I went back to sleep.

Rumi's poem reminds us that we are constantly bombarded by new spectacular ideas from every direction. Stay awake in every moment. If you miss a divine idea, the next one  is already present. Be still. Listen to the voice for God. Divine ideas return much more quickly than a super blue blood moon!
The link will take you to more on  the solar eclipse.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Celebrating the 50 Year History of the Center

Founded in a Sleepy Little Beach Town

In 1968, Rev. Gretchen Bremmerman founded the First Church of Religious Science of San Clemente, which would later become the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley. The journey from San Clemente to San Juan Capistrano, and back to San Clemente is storied and rich.

Rev. Gretchen was a fixture in Los Angeles’ art and classical music scene. She performed during the 1930s through the 1960s, and was a member and officer of the California Art Club. 

Answering a higher calling, Gretchen became a minister of Religious Science, moved to what was still a sleepy Southern California coastal town and began what you see today – The Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley.

Rev. Gretchen would serve five years as senior minister before retiring. Though small, the congregation of 15 was mighty. In five short years, it had managed to create a Building Fund of $10,000, and was able to pay its next minister $300 a month.

New Ministers and Great Growth

At the time Rev. Leslie Harrold was selected as the church’s new minister in 1973, services were held in a small one-room building. But within six months, the church had grown, and Sunday services moved to the Masonic Temple in downtown San Clemente. Rev. Leslie, along with his wife, Rev. Jackie Harrold expanded the church’s reach, offering classes and spiritual counseling in the Harrold’s home.

Revs. Leslie and Jackie came to their ministry from the corporate world. Rev. Leslie had worked in human resources at the corporate level. Rev. Jackie was an educator and had a background in business administration. Both supplemented their income by working outside of the church, but they also brought with them a depth of experience.

The church began to grow and prosper even more. People from around the area joined the church, people with a passion to grow their spiritual lives, and also with a passion to nurture their community, to volunteer.

By the time 1976 rolled around, the church had grown to 75 members committed to creating and maintaining a self-sustained spiritual center. Rev. Jackie had launched the youth program, and Rev. Leslie had just been ordained as a minister of Religious Science. The church was now so prosperous that it could easily pay Rev. Leslie a full minister’s salary, with Rev. Jackie as the Assistant Minister. Revs. Leslie and Jackie could devote all of their time and energy to the church.

Here’s a little-known story. During its early years, the church had as a guest speaker, a famous actor, in town performing in a local stage production. Mickey Rooney.

Having outgrown its space in the Masonic Temple, and with its $10,000 Building Fund, in 1977, the church purchased its first home. The building, with 1,800 square feet, provided the church with enough space to provide Sunday services, youth church and classes all under one roof—for the first time in its history.

Church members pitched in to remodel the building to suit its needs. When the remodel was complete, the building had space for a minister’s office, bookstore, kitchen, bathrooms, a large room for classes, meetings and even social events. Owning this building was one of the most brilliant moves the church would make, for it doubled in value in just a few years.

The Move to San Juan Capistrano

In 1980, San Clemente was still a rather small city. The church decided to move Sunday services to Marco Forster Middle School in San Juan Capistrano. This central location gave the church greater access to more populated areas, and allowed it to continue to grow. Here, the church attracted even more people. More members were taking classes and participating in annual retreats at the UC Conference Center at Lake Arrowhead.

The church eventually decided to sell its San Clemente building in 1982 and began leasing a 2,000 square foot space San Juan Capistrano’s Plaza del Rio Shopping Center. The space was remodeled to include a kitchen, bathrooms, bookshelves, a minister’s desk area and a large area for church services and classes. At last, one location for everything the church could want.

This new location opened up many opportunities to grow and expand. It was now easily accessible to Lake Forest, Mission Viejo and Laguna Hills. These communities would eventually have their own Religious Science churches, but that’s another beautiful story for another time.

They quickly added another room to its lease, used for Youth Church. The next year, another room was added, for a minister’s office and more Youth Church space.

Another interesting story, next door to the church, sharing a wall, was a Mexican restaurant. The restaurant often had a mariachi band playing during Sunday brunch. Coincidentally, brunch fell in the middle of Sunday service. So, halfway through many services and weekend evening seminars, church goers would be serenaded with mariachi music. One can laugh about it…now.

However, with this expanded space, the church was now able to present and sponsor more special events, classes, fundraisers and social events than ever before.

For the remainder of the 1980s, the church focused on organizing itself in a way that would strengthen its foundation and create a backbone that would sustain it for decades. A Volunteer Program launched, with a Volunteer Coordinator at its head. Various volunteer positions were created, birthing a fully functioning organization.

In 1988, membership had grown to 150. Rev. Leslie was now Doctor Leslie Harrold, having been granted his doctorate by Religious Science International. Dr. Leslie and Rev. Jackie, now Jackie Belzano, separated, but remained close friends. Dr. Leslie took the pulpit at a church in Alberta Canada. Rev. Jackie became the church’s senior minister.

Adventure in Faith Accelerates Growth

In the Spring of 1989, Rev. Jackie invited a church growth consultant to lead a series of workshops for the congregation. The workshops aimed to help members create a vision and purpose for the church. From these workshops, a yearly October pledge program developed – a program that would serve not only to create regular financial commitments to the church, but to foster greater community, personal bonds and a deeper sense of ownership among the church’s members. Adventure in Faith would continue to be the church’s mainstay pledge program for another 25 years.

And at the same time, the Mexican restaurant next door, moved away. The church leased the pad and consolidated its footprint into a contiguous 4,500 square feet of sanctuary, office and Youth Church space. Well, it was 4,500 square feet which was remodeled into a well-functioning sanctuary, office and Youth Church space. Five years later, another 1,000 square foot space was added, for a second Youth room.

Six years after the first Adventure in Faith, that program expanded to include small groups, Discovery groups. Many would continue to meet throughout the year, and helped create and solidify personal spiritual growth and friendships.

Dr. Heather and the Return to San Clemente

The church continued to grow and flourish during the 1990s. By June, 1999, Rev. Jackie, now Dr. Jackie, was ready to retire. The church had more than 300 members, 30 licensed and intern Practitioners, a large Youth Church and In-Flight Teen programs, paid and volunteer office staff and a strong choir and music program.

The church welcomed Rev. Heather Clark as its new senior minister in 1999. During her years as the Church’s spiritual leader, Rev. Heather received her doctorate, guided the church through its parent organization, Religious Science International’s integration with its sister, Religious Science United. Through the organization’s renaming to Centers for Spiritual Living. Dr. Heather guided the church…Center…during one of the country’s greatest financial downturns, while maintaining and growing its financial prosperity.

In one of its greatest demonstrations, the Center, in 2012, purchases its own home. Returning to San Clemente, the Center’s new home is a two-story building with nearly
20,000 square feet of space; half for the Center, and half for office rental income.

Dr. Heather begins her 20th year as the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley’s senior minister and spiritual leader in 2019. Drs. Leslie Harrold and Jackie Belzano remained close friends. Both Dr. Leslie and Rev. Jackie have transitioned but we know that they will be with us this year, celebrating in spirit.
First service back in San Clemente

Friday, January 26, 2018


Sometimes there are so many thoughts fighting for my attention that it is hard to FOCUS on one.

A few months ago I had LASIK surgery in both eyes. During the surgery, I was instructed to keep looking straight up into the green light. I was holding my vision as steady as I could and the two assistants were helping me. One was coaching me. She kept saying, “Focus, Heather. Focus!” Whenever she said that it encouraged me to focus, I would wonder if I had stopped focusing. Maybe she could see something I couldn’t see.  See how easy it is to doubt the self! 

I wanted to shout that I WAS FOCUSED!

My surgery was a success. Now, I do not need glasses for distance or for reading.

I started to wonder if I have a tendency to do something similar regarding keeping in mind the good that I want to experience.

As we know, it is done unto us as we believe. What we believe, or know for sure, becomes our experience.

Then I could ask myself, are there areas in my life in which I would like to experience more good?

Of course, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” I would like to make a bigger difference in people’s lives. I would like to have more time and money freedom. I would like to have an abundance of energy to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. I want to be healthy and free of any ailments whatsoever. I would love to live in bliss and peace. I want to daily prove the principle and be a living, breathing demonstration of the power of our teaching.

Last week I celebrated a birthday and I was wined and dined, gifted, celebrated and acknowledged by hundreds of friends and colleagues. One of my friends asked me what I really wanted for my birthday--- if I could receive anything what would it be? I joked at first that a lotto win would be great! But then I thought about it and told the truth, “The best present anyone could give me is for our sanctuary to be filled with people who are moved, touched and inspired by the message, the music and the experience of community!

I am focusing on my good right now!