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.