Sunday, June 14, 2015

I HAD A SUGGESTION....




                             I Hear You Knockin!  (Click for Audio)

“You went away and left long time ago
Now your knocking on my door
I hear you knocking
But you can't come in
I hear you knocking
Go back where you been”

The words of that old song by Dave Edmunds kept going 
through my mind as I watched still
another pharmaceutical commercial during the evening news television broadcast recently. Commercial after commercial… offering up an array of frightening symptoms of one physical malady after another, each message planting seeds of doubt and worry to the receptive and unsuspecting thought.
I have seen and experienced the effect of some of these messages… “Do I have those symptoms, could that be what I have? I think I may have those symptoms, that horrible condition!”

Oh, the power of Suggestion!!! Suggestion is probably appearing in a venue near you… TODAY… TONIGHT… TOMORROW!!! See if you can identify and unmask him!!

Targeting a marketing pitch to a receptive client is very important in marketing and sales.  The motto seems to be to “Plant the Seed of Need! Then provide a solution or fix!” In other words… SUGGEST!!!

We should pity the physician who has to eventually answer to the fears and concerns resulting from the suggestive messages and eventually calm and overcome the patients’ concerns.

Pharmaceutical commercials are just one type of aggressive "suggestion" that we face from the media every day. Not al
l are fear based.  Some are enticements. Images of new
flashy cars, beautiful luxurious homes, scenes played out of beautiful men and women finding the good life in often far fetched circumstances, the allure of wealth and happiness based on material “things”, planting the seeds of discontent with our sometimes humble lives.

While many of these enticements are innocent enough, they often influence us to do what is not in our best interests, such as an enticing ice cream commercial often gets my interest and suddenly I need an ice cream “fix”!!

As a guy who really doesn’t NEED any more ice cream and has felt the influence of all of the above "suggestions", that old song, “I Hear You Knockin’ But you Can’t Come In” has relevance. Those lyrics magically appearing in my thought at some of the most tempting moments have saved me, helped me to close the door on intrusive thoughts and brought me back to more rational thinking,  guarding my thought.
                 

 When I was a young boy, a well-known hypnotist came to town and put on a show. This “mesmerizer” was very convincing as he went through his act, choosing one person after another from the audience. These folks, ordinary Main Street moms and dads, middle America Ohioans, arrived with innocent and open minds, eager to see what was coming next. There was no defense for them, as they were subject to every suggestion that the hypnotist made. 

One older lady who was told that she was very thirsty immediately began showing signs of light distress and drank several glasses of water while we watched, fascinated. When the hypnotist woke her up she had no idea of what she had done.

Another volunteer selected was a very distinguished looking, middle-aged man, bald and rather rotund. The

suggestion was made to him that he was a chicken and he immediately he began running around the stage clucking, waving his arms as though they were wings.  It was  a really good chicken imitation which I am sure he could never have imagined he would ever be doing in front of an audience.

From that very moment, even as a young boy, I knew that I never wanted to be put to sleep by suggestion in that way, nor be fooled into believing something that was not true. AND, most 
"suggestions" don’t come as easily identifiable as does a tuxedoed Hypnotist!! They come subtly as our own thoughts!!

Mesmerism, or hypnotism involves the mesmerizer making suggestions and his clients becoming absolutely mesmerized by him, convincing enough for them to act out the role that has been suggested.

AbbĂ© Faria was one of the disciples of Franz Anton Mesmer, an early experimenter in what was called “animal magnetism” in the late 1700s. Faria continued with Mesmer’s work and conducted experiments to prove that “no special force was necessary for the production of the mesmeric phenomena such as the trance, but that the determining cause lay within the subject himself;” In other words, that it worked purely by the power of suggestion.

Certainly we need no hypnotist to be affected.  We are bombarded by hypnotic suggestions every day, sometimes every moment.

Pioneer in Christian Healing, Mary Baker Eddy, in her Book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, realizing that disease is fear made manifest on the body, wrote:

 “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears. Exclude from mortal mind the offending errors; then the body cannot suffer from them. The issues of pain or pleasure must come through mind, and like a watchman forsaking his post, we admit the intruding belief, forgetting that through divine help we can forbid this entrance.”( 1 


The Bible describes  “planting suggestions” in a 
parable  about a farmer who planted good wheat seed but an enemy came along and planted tares, or bad seed,
among the wheat. To me this parable typifies the bad “suggestions” being planted in our thought to battle the good seeds in our thought. Some Bible scholars agree that in the story in Matthew 13, the enemy who planted the seed was actually the farmer himself, unwittingly letting the evil, the temptation, the bad seed take root.

These downward pulling hypnotic “suggestions” aren’t a new thing! Jesus was tempted by that “knocking at the door” after some long period of meditation and prayer, alone on a mountain when intrusive thoughts identified as “Satan” suggested that Jesus could turn rocks into bread, throw himself off of a mountain, even be King of the Jews. Jesus, realizing that Life is Spiritual,  quickly identified the thoughts as evil 
"suggestions", and "Satan" disappeared.

Recently. I went through a rather lengthy siege of attacks from 
"suggestions". It seemed like one thing after another came to me and as soon as I prayed and overcame one thing another, even more serious,  hit me. There seemed to be no consistency, rhyme or reason in the attacks. The problems ranged from not being able to form sentences, not able to voice the words that were in my thought,  to instability in standing and walking, back pain, loss of vision, extreme anxiety, and so on and so on.

Letting down my guard,  my reactions ranged from fear of the symptoms, to the thought that I was passing on, to mental confusion and looking for a cause on one side… to laughing out loud when I realized (as one who has practiced Christian Science healing for many ailments and life problems for fifty years),  how utterly ridiculous the whole scene was. These material suggestions were so exaggerated,  I was acting like a tennis player running around the court hitting back the ball… backhanded, forehanded, in bounds and out of bounds!!! 

Then I remembered Mary Baker Eddy's clear direction in times of distress:  "Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action. Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man." (2.

Apparently I was believing the "suggestions".  It became clear that the more I looked at myself, my body, my personal situation for health and happiness while suffering from a deep sense of loneliness after the recent loss of my spouse, the more problems I would find.

Then, after a short while of listening for God's guidance, that old song,  a reminder to "stand porter at the door of thought"  came to me once again and I sang out loud… "I hear you knockin’, but you can’t come in”.  
Remembering that we are here to reflect God's infinite goodness and Love replaced the fear and negated the suggestion.   And “the devil”, identified, disappeared.”

Whatever your religious or moral beliefs and convictions, we can all be alert to these 
"suggestions" and consider where they are coming from. Understanding that the only real, true, inspired and eternal Truths are from our Father, we regain our sense of  health and happiness.     Keep Singing!!!!!

(1.   Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures... Mary Baker Eddy   page 392
(2.    IBID  393

Thursday, May 28, 2015

MOLLY and DISTRACTIONS AND DECEPTIONS







Sitting in the control tower at United States’ northernmost Air Force Base, two o’clock in the morning and very dark, the blue lighted taxiways provided a surreal dim glow, almost hypnotic, across the field. With little air-traffic it was difficult to stay awake. Of course it didn’t matter the time of day because at this base, a little south of the true North Pole and almost due east of magnetic north, the sun didn’t come up at all in these winter months. After a sunset in late October, the sun wouldn’t show it’s beautiful smiling face again until early in the next year. You get used to the 24 hour darkness.

Beautiful classical music was playing over one of the air traffic control speakers in the tower. I didn’t know how that was happening since there were no radio stations, actually no people, for a thousand miles or so and certainly no known radio stations. Then, unexpectedly a voice came on announcing the world news. It started off blandly with a soft female voice but quickly escalated as she began describing one of our U.S. Senators as a “known war monger”. I sat up and really paid attention at this point as she unreeled a story that was VERY un-American about one of our Senators and the treacherous intent of the United States. 




AXIS Sally - Mildred Elizabeth Gillars
What a wake-up call!! We soon discovered that the station was referred to as Radio Moscow, a propaganda station somehow using a harmonic to reach our VHF Control Tower frequencies and the speaker was a person known as Moscow Molly. Molly was a cold war replica of World War II propagandists Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, who broadcast misleading information in an attempt to frighten, dishearten and confuse their enemies and to plant seeds of distrust. 

It almost worked for me as Molly began to address the base where I was stationed. I felt that she was talking directly to me, the senior controller in the Tower as she noted, for our information, that the fourth runway light on the right-hand side on our main runway was out and alerted us that it should be fixed.  We turned the runway lights on and she was correct. She even seemed to know what we were having in the chow hall during the week

This little seed of distraction did momentarily make me question our security there, how did this information get out. But recognizing this for what it was, a distraction intended to undermine, to deceive, we quickly dismissed it as the propaganda that is was.

Isn’t that the secret to handling distraction? How
alert we must be to the downward pull of materiality,? This is not a new trick of baseless evil thinking. We remember the “Sirens of the Sea”,  dangerous yet beautiful mythological creatures who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

In the Bible Jesus faced the same kind of distractions and temptations. As he was in the wilderness praying, Satan came to his thought, tempting him, distracting him from his prayerful vigil by suggesting that Jesus could rule the world, could turn rocks into bread, could throw himself off of the mountain without being hurt if he would only listen to the Deceiver. Of course Jesus had the understanding and alertness to cast out the suggestions immediately.

Responding confidently, Jesus answered the suggestions and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan” and then, “when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. “ (I noticed that Satan left him “for a season”. Good idea for us to remember that because sometimes when we least expect it, the “season’ is over and he comes back with his bag of distractions and deceptions!!!!

Even today we face those distractions that would turn us away from our “mission”, our efforts to follow a life of Love, kindness, helpfulness, purity and healing, to follow Jesus’ encouragement to “Love one another”.

FaceBook, a wonderful social media tool for
communicating with friends and sharing ideas, can result in friendly people being pulled into meaningless arguments, sometimes becoming vicious. I know because I have fallen into the trap over and over. The distraction, planting seeds of discord, injustice, person against person arguments leave us feeling bitter. And often disappointed with ourselves for being “tricked” once again.

Political discussions can also bring hatred, resentment, nasty attitudes which undermine not only friendships, but peace of mind, and cause misunderstandings, stress and heartache.

Drug advertisements on TV… suggesting illnesses… are another distraction. Like the story of the wheat and the tares in the Bible, these ads often “plant the seed” of the fear of disease in a “healthy field” , often leading folks to become concerned, looking closely for the symptoms described… “Oh dear, I did feel a pain last week, I wonder if I have that!!!!” There is plenty of evidence that these ads and their suggestions can actually cause the disease to appear. (http://www.naturalnews.com/023656_body_cancer_stress.html–– and there are many more references.)

Jesus gave us the mandate to be alert, to watch and pray to identify the distractions and deceptions, as he did. He said : Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. John 14:12

In her companion book to the Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy encourages us to be alert to duty: “Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power. These proofs consist solely in the destruction of sin, sickness, and death by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them. This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil.”

Further guidance in that same book cautions: "In a world of sin and sensuality hastening to a greater development of power, it is wise earnestly to consider whether it is the human mind or the divine Mind which is influencing one."

So, alert to the worldly thoughts and influences that would distract us from our mission to 
Love One Another… 
 we can say to distraction, Get Thee Behind Me!!! And move forward reflecting Love and Truth in health and happiness.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

PEACE... OR... WE WOULD RATHER NOT - POLITICS IN AMERICA




The world is an amazingly complex place with different cultures, national interests, religions, levels of thought and widely diverse goals, strategies, human opinions, and constantly changing patterns of war and peace. 

Perhaps the most frightening attitude of earth’s peoples  is one that has been extant over the centuries, that war is necessary to achieve national goals and objectives; to protect a way of life;  and, to further a nation’s goals, religious or secular.  This attitude rejects efforts towards forgiveness and peace.  

In other words, throughout history  many nations and their leaders have taken the approach that “only war will win the day”. 

As political campaigns and the heated rhetoric they will generate start to build for the next presidential election in the United States of America,  we will hear such attitudes expressed by candidates for that office as they discuss the myriad of conflicts and potential threats in the world today.

Political Discussions

We already see early criticism of efforts of the President and other world leaders who seek peaceful solutions  and rational negotiations,  and there will undoubtedly be loud shouts for military action over compromise and finding an acceptable pathway to peace.

 As we stand by awaiting the inevitable chest beating,  calls for “protecting our liberty and national honor” and derogatory comments about those peace seeking leaders, and even efforts to defeat their negotiations,  it would be well to remember the words of one of our country’s most successful generals, a respected president and a humanitarian of great intelligence.

General Dwight David Eisenhower


President (and General) Dwight D Eisenhower was certainly a brilliant military man, a 5 star General, Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces for the invasions of Italy and Normandy in World War II and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.   Great military credentials without a doubt.  But as a man of substance, goodness and humanity he also realized the futility of continued warfare. We need only look back over the past 3,000 years to see that warfare does not end warfare. The players change, the situations change but the inexplicable  inner desire of man to obliterate man is still seen across the centuries.


We should entreat our politicians and, indeed, all Americans to heed the call of President Eisenhower and consider his words as we are urged to turn aside peaceful efforts and support conflict today and in the future.

He said: "Every gun made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This is not a way of life at all. Under the cloud of threatening war it is humanity hanging from across of iron."

And about our forefathers as they established America, Eisenhower said:
"The real fire within the builders of America was faith – faith in a provident God  whose hand supported and guided them: faith in themselves as the children of God… Faith in their country and its principles that proclaimed man's right to freedom and justice."

This man, powerful in war and government, but with a deep appreciation of  life and peace,  understood freedom, democracy and the importance of trusting God for the providence of all mankind.

A recent visit to the Eisenhower Museum several years ago in Kansas revealed  even more clearly that the choices of mankind are: Do we love, or hate?  Do we seek war or can we trust peace?  Are we fearful without carrying a weapon?   Are we humble enough to seek peace and understanding as a solution or must we be pumped up, arrogant and dominate the world?  

The founders of America came here to establish a nation built on peace... are we truly in tune with that spirit of peace and love today?  Have we betrayed those early settlers who saw America as a place where people could go to bed at night in peace, who didn't fear for their children's lives, who were tolerant of others? 

Yes, America has always defended itself and well it should, decisively and effectively.   "Ike" was certainly not one to bow down to oppression, nor should we let down our guard.   But we must not let the voices of fear and arrogance block efforts to live harmoniously with other nations and seek peace as the first and most desirable alternative.   As a case in point,  history reveals that many of the trusted  allies of the United States were at one time in conflict with us.  If we can be partners and work with countries that were at one time enemies, why can’t we cut out the “middle man” of armed conflict and go right to peaceful relations.  

Christians, should recall the words of the Master Christian, Christ Jesus when he said:
 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it  be afraid.”   John 14:27
We pray that our leaders will remember that one huge assignment that Jesus left for his followers:  Love One Another! John 13:34.  

 Religious Leader Mary Baker Eddy, author of Science and Health with  Key to the Scriptures wrote the definitive answer:   "Bloodshed, war, and oppression belong to the darker ages, and shall be relegated to oblivion.  (1   War will end when nations are ripe for progress.  (2      And when are politicians are ripe for progress, when they are ready to seek peaceful solutions whenever possible, they will be ready for office. 
 
 First Church of Christ Science and Miscellany Mary Baker Eddy  
1) 285:10

2) 281:28

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

THE HILL CLIMB - TALKING OR DOING!






I sat there staring at the hill in front of me. The engine of the hill climbing dirt bike was sputtering as they are wont to do at very low idle speed. That hill straight ahead looked very steep, and… intimidating.   The churned up dirt track leading up the hill in what seemed like a near vertical climb was awaiting my hesitant self. Sure,  other bikes  ahead of me had made it to the top, maybe more experienced hill climbers,  undoubtedly less cautious, but most had made it to the top.

My dilemma had started a week earlier. As a Sunday school teacher working with a teen age class it seemed like every week I was the one learning lessons.   Not a bad thing, but not the way I had envisioned things when I volunteered to teach.

As the class discussed the Bible Lesson for the week, we talked about fear.   One boy, about 16 years old, had shared with the class that he was going to do some hill climbs on his dirt bike. He told us of how it was a great bike and that he wanted to do it but that he had become fearful of climbing the steep hills.  He wondered if truly understanding  God’s love and protection the way that Jesus described Him could really help overcome fear?   Sure, Jesus urged us to “Be Not Afraid”, but how?   

I of course took the cue, jumped in and assured him that he was safe in God’s care.  I thought sharing my own experiences would help and the whole class shared instances of how they had experienced God’s protection in their lives.

With all of my talk, encouraging him to trust and to be courageous, I had no idea that this young man would invite me to come the next week to enjoy the sport, to give him encouragement and to actually ride his cycle up that steep hill, an opportunity for me to  demonstrate strength,  courage and trust in God’s protection.  Oh Dear!!!  Now what had I done?

Now, I was a motorcycle rider myself but not really into off road riding. Here again, as my dad used to say, I had talked myself into a pickle.  It is easy to “talk the talk” as some folks say, to make claims, to maybe go beyond what we actually want to demonstrate! 

So, sitting there, having gotten myself into this situation,  facing my challenge, I did reach out to the Father.   I was truly going to have to "Trust in the Lord" !    I asked for the silent voice to speak to me in thought and give me courage. And, He did.  

The story of David and Goliath, a familiar one to many, and one that has special meaning to me, came immediately to thought.   The exciting story is told in the Bible in  I Samuel 17  where the  Philistines gathered together their armies to battle  King Saul and the men of Israel.     The Philistines had a champion, Goliath , of Gath.  He was a huge man and was suitably armed.  Rather than array all of the armies in another bloody battle,  Golaith proposed that  the Israelites  send forth one man to do battle to determine the contest.    Whichever one  lost, their armies would be the servants of the other nation. 

The Israelites were afraid and only one, a young shepherd boy, David, had the courage to fight the giant.  While the Israelites were milling around in confusion, talking bravely perhaps but not willing to join the battle, David took the challenge.  To me this Goliath's very presence evoked fear and dread.    

Young David was undeterred, his confidence in the power and presence of God to protect him undiminished.   He cried out to Goliath,  “ Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.”  Now THAT is Trust.  Not just talking, but demonstrating!

Needless to say this young lad defeated the giant, symbolizing the defeat of error, the striking down of fear, as David relied on God for strength, wisdom, understanding and courage.  Sort of David’s version of a hill climb.

So, with the story of David’s courage in my thought, seeing the hill as my Goliath,  I grasped the bike’s hand grips, hit the throttle and went churning up that hill. At times when the bike seemed to waver and wallow, I opened the throttle even wider,  trusting that God would deliver me to the top. After all, my Sunday school class was counting on me!  What a wonderful feeling it was as I reached the top, exhilaration and a sense of victory over fear.  Doing instead of talking!!

Mary Baker Eddy, early American religious pioneer, Christian healer, preacher and teacher noted the importance of demonstration.     She said:   
While respecting all that is good in the Church or out of  it, one’s consecration to Christ is more on the ground of demonstration than of profession.   1.)  Practice not profession, understanding not belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence.   2.)
 Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power.  These proofs consist solely in the destruction of sin, sickness, and death by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them. This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil. 3.)

Jesus himself required proofs of God’s power. He knew that talk alone would not sway the world,    His overcoming sin, sickness of every type, death, lack, insanity, were all key to his acceptance by the world as the “son of God”, the example of the Christ.  Not words, but WORKS!

To confirm his conviction that the proofs were important, he said:  “ Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?   the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  4.)

We can trust God.  And we will not be afraid to replace talking with doing!! My student proved his own trust by joyfully making it up the hill too!  Several times!!

A favorite hymn gives us a gentle reminder of where we should put our trust:

O he who trusts in God’s protection
And hopes in Him when fears alarm,
Is sheltered by His loving-kindness,
Delivered by His mighty arm;
If ye God’s law can understand,
Ye have not builded on the sand.

O wait on Him with veneration,
Be silent in humility;
He leads you after His own counsel,
His will is done and still shall be;
All good for you His wisdom planned;
O trust in God and understand.  

Christian Science Hymnal  216

4.  John 14:11-12

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS - A Shepherd's View 2014!!!



The plane arrived ahead of schedule. In that sometimes quirky system in the Arab world, delightful really, but unusual, the Kuwait Airways jet left half an hour earlier than the scheduled departure time because the passengers were all there,  the plane was loaded so we left. Pretty logical I thought.

The taxi ride from the airport into the city of Amman, Jordan was uneventful. Wait, it WAS “eventful”!! As we drove the relatively short distance into town I saw the most delightful site. Along the road, up on the hillside, I saw a shepherd with a flock of sheep. Such a peaceful scene, it seemed so natural and so right somehow, even though I guess I had never actually seen a shepherd and a flock of sheep.  I’ve seen plenty of sheep in my time but never a scene like this where the shepherd was guiding and protecting them.


Living in the Middle East and traveling frequently among the Arabian Gulf states, one observes many sights which are perhaps new and unusual for them.  In particular, the camels roaming freely among the sand dunes on the drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai,  a scene straight out of the Arabian nights. Those wide stretches of sand with the undulating dunes always made me feel so at peace. None of the hustle bustle of city life but just seemingly endless expanses of shimmering sand and sun, a gentle breeze, a calming sense of peace.

But on this day near Amman, the city named Philadelphia in Roman times and described in the Bible as the City of Brotherly Love, the shepherd with the sheep struck a chord.  It brought thoughts of shepherds abiding in the field watching their flocks by night as described in the story of the birth of Jesus.  In this peaceful setting even though it was close to the city, that Bible scene became very real to me. How wonderful that the birth of the Herald of God’s love, Christ Jesus as he would become known, appeared first to simple shepherds.   

While a few “Wise Men” had indeed received the angel message that there was to be a significant event, this first close-up glimpse of the divine idea, heralded by Angel Voices came not to astronomers, not to priests or other religious leaders, not to King Herod or the secular higher-ups but to simple shepherds, those whose minds were perhaps childlike and trusting, as shepherds must always trust, in a power greater than themselves. Those stalwarts who face dangers every day with only a staff and sling shot to protect them and their charges.

At this Christmas time may your heart and mind be as humble, expectant, receptive to the Christ spirit and as full of peace and love as those early shepherds watching hopefully on the hillside.  And, may your flock, large or small, rest comfortably and abide with you, or in your thoughts, during this holiday.

Merry Christmas ... and Love...  Pat Collins

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fitting In and the Chameleon

Fitting In and the Chameleon



As we sat in our lawn chairs in the backyard enjoying the late afternoon sun, I was startled by the sound of splashing water. I quickly turned to see what was making that noise since our little Pekin ducks, which had been playing in the wading pool, were now out and walking around the back of the lot.

The source of the noise was quickly seen to be our dog Lucy, jumping around and splashing noisily in the pool like she was a duck.

Lucy was our loved Corgi that had come upon the scene  a
few years earlier, first appearing as a small head with big ears, dark eyes barely peering out from the woods. She obviously had no home and was living off the land as best a small dog can do. She soon became our dog and seemed happy enough to have a regular meal schedule and a warm bed.

Lucy quickly appointed herself mother and protector of our ducks and she was always with them, guarding them from the occasional coyote and from the hawks which flew overhead peering down at a possible duck dinner!  Lucy  seemed to love mothering and watching over the little quackers and the praise we gave her for being such a good guardian.  

On this day, she had been watching the ducks as they did their joyous “duck things”, frolicking and diving underwater, then surfacing and shaking, flapping their stubby wings, swimming, diving back down underwater, and repeating the process.  As the ducks finally got out of the pond and wandered away, apparently little tinges of jealousy started pulling at Lucy.   When we looked back at the pond, there she was  in the pool, ducking under the water, getting up shaking, diving again into the water mimicking everything that the ducks had done except her quack quack sounded more like a bark, bark.

She was trying to “Fit In”.
MAYBE FITTING IN IS GOOD IDEA HERE!!

She wanted to be accepted and loved  like the ducks were, I guess, even to the extent of changing her behavior and normal inclinations since she had never shown an affinity for water.  She must have thought those actions caused us to love those ducks and she wanted part of that love!.

In my own experience I have faced the temptation to ”Fit In”, to go outside of what I knew was right for me, to act contrary to what I believed in and what I stood for, and what I knew about myself. I wanted to  “Fit In”  and not stand out as different from the group as an “odd ball”, to not draw attention to myself, my ideas, my principles.   How much easier it seems to be “one of the gang” than to stand for something. It wasn’t very comfortable but it was EASY. Doing the wrong thing can be Easy but it isn’t very satisfying or comfortable.

 I remember a helpful slogan I heard years ago that said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.

In recalling some of those moments from years past I was reminded of the story a friend, Howard, told me long ago.  He cautioned me about being a Chameleon and explained how Chameleons change their color to “Fit In” with their environment.  He made it pretty clear that I should avoid that temptation and stand up for what I believed in, that I should reflect on the outside the qualities that I cherished in my heart.   
 While appearing to be one thing while you are actually something else inside, just to “Fit In”,  is good for a lizard, but it is often a treacherous trap  for humans

In a world where the lure of drugs and alcohol, the temptation to shortcut, stretch the truth, discuss with heated temper politics and social issues, to gossip about and show no respect for others…  so many temptations, we sometimes edge more toward being the Chameleon, perhaps hiding our true nature and feelings rather than standing firm on principle.

The Bible contains many wonderful examples of Chameleon disguises versus standing firm with honesty and integrity, and also shows that things don’t change very much from century to century, as the same temptations we face were present in Jesus' time as well.

In the lifetime of Jesus many people undoubtedly discussed disease, blindness, physical disability, deafness, leprosy, immorality, and many other issues.   Jesus didn’t fall in with the group and talk about how terrible it was that these diseases were present, didn’t spend time criticizing the government nor gather with the group to pass judgment and cast stones at sinners. . He stood firm with his understanding that God, who he understood to be Divine Love, the Mind that created ALL, did not create evil, disease or death,  but Life Eternal. He didn’t worry about being “different” and healed and uplifted those in need in spite of those who resisted or ridiculed him. 

In contrast,  Judas, one of the 12 disciples, typified the Chameleon in the most hurtful way. While in his chameleon outfit he was outwardly loyal to Jesus, but he betrayed him to the soldiers, an attempt to Fit In with the authorities.  Matthew 26

And, even Peter,  a loyal disciple who loved and was loved by Jesus fell into the trap.   He wore  the chameleon outfit when Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest,  and tried to Fit In with those who claimed they did not know Jesus, and denied being a disciple.  He was later so ashamed of his actions but he did prove that even those with high ideals and standards can fall victim to the lizard influence!  Matthew 26  

So, whatever the motive, we can and must drop the "act".  Mary Baker Eddy in her Miscellaneous Writings sums up helpful guidance for the principled individual. Urging integrity and sincerity in each of our lives, she counsels:  "The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the same,at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen.

He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him, for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be,full of truth, candor, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path but the fair, open, and direct one, and would much rather fail of success than attain it by reproachable means. He never shows us a smiling countenance while he meditates evil against us in his heart. We shall never find one part of his character at variance with another.  Miscellaneous Writings pp147

And so, Dear Lucy, your  efforts were all for naught. Even though your attempts to Fit In were innocent enough, you
didn’t need to be a duck with stubby wings, web feet or a cute quack, quack.   I loved you for who you were.  


Just so, our dear Father/Mother God, loves each of us as we truly are, no frills needed, no change of costume or color,  no false pretences about who we are. We can be ourselves, the spiritual self we were created to be… the individual reflection of Life, Truth and Love that are ours as God’s perfect image.  As Jesus counseled:  "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. " Matthew 5

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

EARTHQUAKES AND OTHER SCARY STUFF




I could feel the floor starting to tremble under foot, first a jolt and then a gentle tremor. I saw my office door begin to swing slowly, then I realized...  Here we go again, still another earthquake. 

I happened to be on an important telephone call at the time and as the senior manager in my building I knew I should set a good example and evacuate immediately but, even though the ceiling tiles were falling, books being jostled from the bookcase and there were sounds of screaming in the hallway, I stayed on the phone for the a couple of minutes to finish the conversation. The guy on the other end, one of my staff members, was laughing at my plight as he was safely in his office in Oklahoma, far from my Southern California location. The screaming continued, I left the office for safety outside.

When the dust settled and we received an “all clear” from Security, we all returned to the offices and I addressed the source of the screaming. I called my administrative assistant
into my office. One of her duties was “Building Safety Coordinator. I told that I had seen her grab her “hard hat” and run out into the hall as the tremor started. That was good. But, we also discussed how that it was probably not appropriate for her, as the Building Safety Coordinator responsible for an orderly building evacuation, to run down the halls screaming “Run for you life! We’re all gonna die”!!!

I suggested that perhaps it would be better for her to give up that additional duty position and to accept another duty that was less stressful.

Now I personally know a lot about FEAR. I have sampled various fears many times in many of its disguises and know it intimately.

For example, Fear comes in many disguises. What is frightening to one may not be to another. 

SKEERD?  Not Me!!!!!
Panic Sets In!!!!

Fear is irrational. I have felt perfectly safe on a very bumpy flight, experiencing heavy turbulence, while the person next to me was reduced to crying and shaking. And, I have felt inexplicable fear in a packed elevator while others crammed in next to me laughed and talked, oblivious to what was frightening me, while I was about to implode.

If fear were rational, we would all fear the same things, which proves to me that FEAR is individual and within our own consciousness.

Courageous Burmese political figure, Aung San Suu Kyi is
quoted as saying: “The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.”   
Intellectually, we know that it is important to stay calm, and we should exercise caution. Author Neale Donald Walsch says:“Caution is what causes you to look both ways before crossing the street. Fear is what keeps you frozen on the curb forever.” 

When FEAR lifts its ugly head, we all react differently. Fear and confusion often block intelligent actions, sometimes we seem to become immobile. A Flying Safety magazine article some years ago reported that the Landing Gear warning horn was so loud and insistent as his jet fighter aircraft approached the runway, creating fear and confusion in the pilot’s thinking, that ironically, he landed without lowering the landing gear.

Since fear is subjective, in our own thinking, I have often contemplated Job’s observation and its relevance to myself. In the Bible, in the Book of Job, we find:" For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me." *1  

Is the fear, that "Gear Warning Horn" so loud and insistent,   “coming upon me” because I am entertaining it, giving it place, honoring its presence by believing it? If I didn’t fear, would the “thing” happen?

Now I am not saying that my Administrative Assistant caused the earthquake!! But her reaction certainly reflected a fear that was personal to her.   BUT, what causes fear? How can we conquer it? 

It seems that FEAR is a feeling that somehow we have become separated from our Creator, that we are alone without support. We may we feel that we are adrift in this world, vulnerable to something that is about to happen, or may happen, or will happen!! We feel a lack of firm foundation, and we ACCEPT those fearful, threatening thoughts and cling to them!

But do we have to believe everything that comes into our thought, everything we see, hear and feel? Are we “authorized” to sort the thoughts that come to us, do we have permission to keep the good ones, discard the bad ones, the fearful ones?

In her book, Rudimental Divine Science, Mary Baker Eddy cautions that :
“Accepting the verdict of these material senses, we should believe man and the universe to be the football of chance and sinking into oblivion'.”*2   In her Bible companion book*, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she challenges us, when threatened by belief of disease or any erroneous belief, to guard the door of our thought: She counsels: " Reverse the case. Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously." *

God’s plan for us is never frightening, never leading to danger, doubt, discouragement, disease. We are never separate from our divine Source, never out of the Mind that holds us in His consciousness never threatened by God, who is LOVE.

Jesus of Nazareth, the humble preacher centuries ago, knowing that he was ALWAYS hand in hand with his heavenly Father, faced every situation fearlessly. He said, “I and my Father are ONE.”*4   And the apostle Paul comforted us by assuring us of our inseparability from God when he said:   “In Him, we live, and move and have our being.” *5   Definitely a statement of our true, spiritual existence.



Regardless of how solid, or shaky, material foundations may seem, they are really not “the rock” that we need as
security. The assurance and peace of mind of being “at one with the Father” comes to us in a way that some of us hav
e experienced as children when, unexpectedly separated from a parent and experiencing that sinking feeling, looked desperately for their comforting presence. Then, reunited, hand in hand with our parents, we once again felt safe and secure. That same comforting presence of our heavenly Father/Mother is always available, here and now, and will bring that same sense of peace and well being.

This poem speaks of feeling God's everpresence: 

I walk with Love along the way,
And O, it is a holy day;
No more I suffer cruel fear,
I feel God’s presence with me here;
The joy that none can take away
 Is mine;  I walk with Love today.

Come, walk with Love along the way,
Let childlike trust be yours today;
Uplift your thought, with courage go,
Give of your heart’s rich overflow,
And peace shall crown your joy-filled day.
Come, walk with Love along the way.*6

*       The Holy Bible  - Job 3:25
**      Rudimental Divine Science - Mary Baker Eddy (MBE)
***     Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (MBE)
****    The Holy Bible  - John 10:30
*****   The Holy Bible  - Acts 17:28
******  Christian science Hymnal 427

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

LESSONS FROM THE PLAYGROUND

   



CRASH!! I felt the shock through my whole body!! What started as a fun experience on a Teetor Totter turned out to be a lasting life lesson for me.

My young friend from across the street and I had gone to the school playground to use the equipment and do what 8 year old boys do, running, jumping, recklessly enjoying the playground equipment.

We had been having a good time on the teetor totter, first balancing each other and then taking the ride up and down. As daring young men, of course, we went up and down as fast as possible, but suddenly, when I was at the top, my friend thought it would be funny to jump off. I came plummeting down hard on the concrete with a resounding crash. I was shocked and couldn’t believe that he did that.

But I soon recovered my pride and my sense of humor, and that experience has been a helpful reminder to me through the years that life sometimes hands us these “jarring” experiences.

More than just playground pranks, these situations reflect the precariousness of our joy, our attitude, our income, our career, our relationships, and other aspects of life when based on merely a material sense of the human experience.

Many of us may have received that jolt just when everything seems to be in perfect balance, just as we are experiencing success, the “top of the teeter”, so to speak, the bottom drops out and we come crashing down, and it hurts.

Recently, in the wake of several severe JOLTS in my own experience, a friend was talking to me about the challenges of maintaining a balance in our daily lives. We are constantly faced with balancing, trying to maintain a leveling of the perceptions of sickness and health, success and failure, poverty and adequate supply, life or death, happiness versus sadness. When this idea of balance gets out of skew, we come crashing down as I did on the teeter totter.

Apparently the modern versions of teeter totters now

have “safety springs” which can stop the riders from abruptly hitting the ground, gently cushioning the fall. But are there “safety springs” for us in our life experience? Can we soften the blow of “out of balance” situations? Can we make our “playground of life” a safe and happy one?

Students of the Bible have found that, through the rich and courageous experiences of those who have gone before, we can gain a better understanding that life is spiritual, and not based on the fickle nature of matter and its inherent problems. We can prove that balance need not be a factor in our lives.



HOLY BIBLE
In the Old Testament we learn of challenges faced by Moses, Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Elijah, David and others. These strong believers knew that God was protecting them. Understanding that this mortal, material existence is not the baseline of reality, they threw the entire weight of their trust on the spiritual side of the equation. They did not weigh their fate in the “Scales of Justice” or human logic, which are traditionally shown as weighing a cases’ support versus opposition. They trusted in the power of God, good, to save them.

Christ Jesus, a man who more nearly reflected God, his Father, than anyone in history, showed that there IS only one side.

Rather than weighing the good versus the evil, he
SCALES OF JUSTICE
demonstrated the Allness of God, his Father, our Father, and consequently the nothingness of sin, sickness, death, materiality, poverty, hunger, all of the woes of mankind. In so many instances he was faced with the pleas of the material world to balance things, to acknowledge the reality of matter, disease, sin and even death. But, he was unwavering in his understanding that life is spiritual, PERIOD. His view is reflected in his admonition, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt5:48) No wavering. No compromise.

He proved the unreality of disease, he healed leprosy by understanding that man is the pure image and likeness of God, Mind, untouched by the ravages of illness. He gave sight to the blind by his understanding that man’s vision is for seeing spiritually, seeing God and the effects of God’s radiance in our human situation.

In a world where sin seemed to attach itself to mortals, Jesus saw purity and forgave and lifted the burden of the false concept of sin from those who suffered under its illusion. He raised the dead by understanding that Life HAS no opposite. Life IS!! He dealt solely with spiritual truths.

He didn’t “teetor” about complete understanding of and placing his reliance on God, the divine intelligence in which "we live and move and have our being", as described by the Apostle Paul (Acts  17:28). Nor did he weigh whether a person was good or bad, whether they “deserved” to be healed, whether they were worthy of being fed or released from bondage, whether they were deserving of his teaching and counsel. His clear vision and understanding of God, described as LOVE, looked beyond the frailty of the human conditions and saw each person as God’s loved child.

How refreshing that model is in an age where blame, criticism and judgment are so common and widespread.

Not only did Jesus heal and support, he taught his disciples to heal also, to understand this total reliance on spirit. And they went about the countryside healing, uplifting, blessing.

And, he challenged us to do the same, and to do even greater works than his, because he was being lifted up above this dream of life in matter when he said:” Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (Jhon 14:12)  His "instruction manual" for us to follow can be found in The Bible, Matthew chapters 5-7.

We need no balance, no scales, no teetering, we need only to begin to understand that this material life is a fickle, poor substitute for the spiritual life, the love, the intelligence, the purity, the gentleness and kindness that is our heritage and the truth of our being.


And so, with all due respect and my deep love to my wonderful friends in the news media and medical fields who sincerely and loving practice their crafts, as the television blares out advertisements selling us on how sick we might
be,how that pain in our leg could be serious, how this pill or that surgery will cure our ills; and as the news readers sadly comment on the ravages of war and storm, the unkindness of man to man, the immorality of this singer or that movie star, we can choose to teetor with those stories and their tragedies, OR we can hold to the Truth as practiced by those early examples from the Bible, and of folks today who are living a spiritually rich life based on demonstrating love, and trusting in God’s gift of life that is spiritual. 

Mary Baker Eddy, early religious pioneer, who founded a

religion based on the teachings and healing practices of Christ Jesus, states in her 
book, Science and Health with key to the Scriptures: “Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause.” *(p 313)

And in perceiving how he used this Science in healing, she wrote: “Undisturbed amid the jarring testimony of the material senses, Science, still enthroned, is unfolding to mortals the immutable, harmonious, divine Principle,  — is unfolding Life and the universe,ever present and eternal.” (p306)

So Mr. Teeter Totter, you can stay on the playground of the mortal dream, and provide a fun time for many, but as for me, I have decided to stay on firmer ground of Spirit!!