Saturday, December 31, 2005

"How can I make perfect mashed potatoes?"

Most newspaper headlines are rife with themes of "Renewal" "New Hope for the New Year" "Positive resolutions for the New Year" etc. etc. Did you know that there are over 21 million other references to New Year's Resolutions on the Web? All that being said, I have to applaud the Rhinelander Daily News (Wisconsin) for getting down to the everyday with the Community section's article on "How can I make perfect mashed potatoes?" What a bold, radical and refreshing headline for the New Year!!

I am ready for a new refreshing twist on New Year's resolutions. What resolutions come down to is basically how to be better. See the ten top resolutions for the year. These include:

  • I will be kinder.
  • I will lose this weight.
  • I will accomplish my goals.
  • (and, I am sure, some where at the very bottom of the list) I will make perfect mashed potatoes.

Been there. Done that. This year, doing resolutions seems to me to be just another list. Lists, once the backbone of my daily activities, have slowly lost their influence with me.

At one time, lists gave me a way to see who I am by what I do. I loved checking off the list and going to bed at night feeling a sense of accomplishment.

After having an incredibly full schedule in the last seven years, a never-ending list of things needing to be accomplished was just depressing. Today, my time is purely mine to determine what needs to be done and lists are total fabrications. So, lists are on their way out. They have been replaced in part with more active listening and letting inspiration move me forward toward an accomplishment or insight.

I am practicing living more simply and more closely to my prayer.

My new backbone -- the only thing on my "list" for this new year is to praise God. That's all.

If this sounds a little flaky, consider the powerful impulse of praise. It opens thought to an omnipotent force of good (God), it protects you ( there is no room for evil thoughts to grow in a consciousness filled with the awareness of good), it establishes you (praise for God means you recognize God and your ability to sing His/Her praise!), it purifies thought (singing praise uplifts and keeps going higher; the purity of happiness and joy are self-creative qualities that build on themselves and burn away any impurities).

Praise for God does more good things:

  • It makes you kinder and more thoughtful
  • You start to glorify God in your body
  • Your accomplishments are done with more ease and grace because your motive for accomplishing anything is to glorify God
  • AND you are perfectly nourished in the awareness of your tender, nurturing relationship to God who is all good. As a result, you can probably make the most perfect mashed potatoes!
Have a blessed gratitude-enriched New Year, all!
Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely. (From Psalms 147 - the Song of David)


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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Snowfall in the sunlight

I turned the corner into my living room and there it was...........beautiful glittering snow in the sunlight. And this against a backdrop of a field of snow bordered by black and white birch trees and evergreens and a semi frozen creek. I gasped. I have never experienced this phenomenom (or never paid attention enough), that is, precipitation falling at the same time the sun is shining. In this case, fat snowflakes were falling thick and fast, catching sunlight on every flake. Amazing.

I ran to get the camcorder. The batteries were out. I rushed about to find the digital camera. My husband had taken it. Frustrated, I realized I couldn't capture this moment on anything but my memory.

I slowed down and looked out again. I took this time to take it in. A show of beauty, just for me. It would not last, but it did not matter. I was in a natural fantasy land of fat falling glitter. It was altogether lovely.

Beauty and love have alot in common - harmony, radiance, attraction. Listen to this juxtapositioning of beauty for love in this Bible verse from I Corinthians 13 ( New International Version - UK) and you get an idea of the gentle inspiration that I yielded to while watching it snow.

(Beauty) is patient,

(beauty) is kind.

It does not envy,

it does not boast,

it is not proud.

It is not rude,

it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs.

(Beauty) ... rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

(Beauty, like) Love, never fails.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Expectancy and Consent

I think that I have gathered sufficient evidence in my life to be able to claim I have a truism. And this is it: There are two elements of a successful venture:

  • One – you expect that good will happen and
  • Two - you give your consent.

Expect good.

Some time ago, a friend invited me to hear a popular evangelical minister. Out of curiosity I went. The place was packed with at least a couple of thousand people and the minister had the stage with a band. What I remembered most from that evening was that at one point, everyone was standing up, swaying and saying or shouting “Jesus, Jesus!”

I looked behind me at this wave of arms. What struck me was this beautiful, openness to the One who was worshipped. I looked ahead and to the sides of me. More swaying arms. There was such clarity and purity of desire. People’s guards were down. There was no agenda, but just straightforward worship and immense expectancy to feel a holy presence. Some people were crying, others were laughing, many just quietly swaying and praying. Yes, I know, some may say that people were just getting caught up in a type of mob mentality. But you could not deny the motive and the depth and the hope that was at the epicenter of that movement of thought.

It is an understatement to say that they expected to feel God’s presence.

Give your consent.

There is a oft-told story of the time that the extension of The Mother Church in Boston was being built. Deadlines were tight and not adjustable. The person in charge of overseeing the construction, James Rome, prayed throughout its building. After it was built, he wrote a letter to Mary Baker Eddy which said, in part,

At first I thought that…it (meeting the construction deadlines) seemed impossible… (but then) I saw at once that somebody had to wake up. I raised my eyes, and the conviction that the work would be accomplished came to me so clearly…. One feature about the work interested me. I noticed that as soon as the workmen began to admit that the work could be done, everything seemed to move as by magic; the human mind was giving its consent. This taught me that I should be willing to let God work. I have often stood under the great dome, in the dark stillness of the night, and thought, "What cannot God do?" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Miscellany, p.60)

I have heard quotes from other notable thinkers that echo this idea. Expecting that you can accomplish the good you hope for and then, admitting that it can be done. Expectation and consent. Winners every time. (See also Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p.394)

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Practicing patience

Stillness.. Quiet..... Peace.....Lots of it. Lots and lots of it.
It has been a couple of quiet weeks. I started getting anxious. "Father, is there something more I should be doing?" I asked God.

Busy is good. According to my recent hospital volunteer training in culturally competent care, I learned that Americans consider busy-ness to signify importance. (As in "Love to talk with you now, but gotta run. I am very important.") It follows that busy-ness is second to the I-gotta-fix-it drive. Although I thought the I-gotta-fix-it approach was a guy thing, I started seeing how these two elements were part of my operating system and they were jamming it up.

I am not busy - I could make myself so, but that is not the point. I have little to fix. I have fixed most everything and little is coming my way to fix. Hmmmm. I thought. Not busy. Little to fix. SO then who am I?

I started thinking about patience. It didn't start off well.
I reasoned that if I can tolerate patience for a while, then later, I get to be busy and do stuff. I moved on to thinking that if I get the right thinking thing down, double that with the patience, then I get to go somewhere.

OK, I needed another angle.
I think the point may be to get beyond a busy life to a meaningful life.

When I kayaked, we had a name for those who stayed in the calm waters of the eddy, waiting to figure out how to do a rapid -- sometimes waiting for long periods of time. We called them "eddy flowers." Being an eddy flower was an anxious thing to be. You could get swamped by indecision, doubt and grow increasingly intimidated by the rapid ahead of you. Far better it was to determine your course and just do it. In fact, that is how I have handled most of my life. See. Pray. Do. Quickly, efficiently, full throttle.

The "aha" thought came today that now, in this quiet time, there is actually lots of life going on. Perhaps I am not in the eddy at all, but am flowing along with the current of life. Perhaps it is a new river, and instead of being a roaring class IV, it is a calm class I-II, teeming with life and gorgeous every splash of the way. As I am typing now, my family is going about their usual Satuurday routine, and I am looking out over a stand of birch, maple and pine trees with big, fat snowflakes falling. This is the epitome of pleasantness.

In the quiet of the last few mornings, I had a distinct thought about someone I love very much. Although I would never suspect that this person would ask for Christian Science treatment, I thought through how I would pray for this person if called on. I opened Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy at random and started praying with the ideas that I was reading.

The next day, I was told this person was in the emergency room. I went to visit him and he commented that he was going to call me to ask for treatment the night before. We talked and what he shared made me realize that in the quiet of those few days, I had been mentally preparing to be of help to him.

There was never a moment lost.

Here are some wonderful bits about presentness, moments and stillness.

The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams but you
will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds. The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean which only the heart fathoms insofar as it overflows with faith, trust and love. — Jean-Pierre De Caussade in The Sacrament of the Present Moment

The present is holy ground. — Alfred North Whitehead quoted in Teaching Your
Children About God
by David Wolpe

Yet more and more I find that dwelling in the present moment, in the face of
everything that would call us out of it, is our highest spiritual discipline. More boldly, I would say that our very presentness is our salvation; the present moment, entered into fully, is our gateway to eternal life. — Philip Simmons in Learning to Fall

Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much.
--Mary Baker Eddy in Miscellaneous Writings

Love for God and man is the true incentive incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action. Love is priestess at the altar of Truth. Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept. Patience must "have her perfect work." --Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

I am in my right place. God has graciously given this to me. Abundance. Potential. Gratitude. Grace. Stillness. This is what fills my days.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Coming home to Truth

(Note: this is a long one, but it's good!)

I shared this with you all before, that the universal ideas of Christian Science are fully explained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. When sharing this book with others, I often heard responses from new readers of Science and Health like
“This is what I have always believed” “I always knew this to be true” and “I have known this all along.”

To many of these first time readers (and actually for us old time readers as well!) these ideas aren’t foreign, but feel like a homecoming, welcoming us to see as real the hopes and ideals we had always hoped would be true. Reading Science and Health ideas like: God is all Love, that good is not helpless, that Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need, etc. these cherished ideals are true and can be demonstrated over and over again.

Once when I was working in a Christian Science Reading Room (a specialty bookstore focused on the practical healing ideas of Christian Science and its founder, Mary Baker Eddy), a woman came in to ask about The Christian Science Monitor. We got to talking about Mary Baker Eddy, who started this international newspaper, and her other achievements. When I told her that Mary Baker Eddy discovered a system of healing based on Christ’s work and Scripture, her eyes opened wide!

Taking a deep breath, she started pouring out her story of how she was healed through prayer while she was a patient at a hospital.

“People thought I was crazy, but I can’t explain it any other way,” she said.

I assured her that she was not crazy, and talked to her about healings I had had. This conversation felt so good! Not only was I able to validate that she had a healing, I could introduce her to hundreds of healing experiences where healing was accomplished through prayer alone. (Many Reading Rooms keep an archive of articles and testimonies of healing that had been published for over a hundred years.) My hope is that she gained some peace after her visit and realized that she was not alone.

At another time, a visitor stepped in the doorway of the Reading Room, but didn’t commit himself to coming all the way in. He explained that when he was in prison, he got a hold of some Christian Science literature and some of the ideas really stayed with him. He carefully shared an incident when he was working in the prison kitchen and accidentally poured hot oil over his arm. Immediately he said his thought went to one of these spiritual ideas and he felt that he was totally safe. Sure enough, there were no marks from the accident whatsoever.

After telling me this, he must have thought that I didn’t look amazed enough because he said,

“I don’t think you heard me, I said that it was hot oil poured all over my arm!”

(I am used to stories like this, and learned that I need to be a bit more responsive!) Like the woman mentioned above, I shared how happy I was to hear this and introduced him to scores of stories of healing through prayer and offered encouragement for his spiritual path.

The recognition of healing through prayer seems to be growing. Browsing the web there are a growing number of sites like The Order of St. Luke and their stories of healing,,, (and their report on the recent Harvard symposium on Spirituality and Healing),, etc. etc. It is fascinating to follow some of these sites.

I used to think that Christian Scientists had a corner on the market for healing through prayer. Indeed, the very purpose of the Christian Science church is “to reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.” Now, I can see that healing through prayer is broadly practiced in a wide variety of ways.

I needed to ask myself, what distinguishes Christian Science? And I came to the conclusion that it is its textbook, Science and Health. This book, dedicated to the sincere seeker for Truth, explains how healing through prayer works, and how it can be demonstrated. It continues now, as in its over 125 years of its publishing history, to heal those who read it again and again. It has the potential of bringing into sharper focus the science behind healing through prayer – taking it beyond an unexplained phenomenon to a repeating practice.

A good friend of my mother-in-law used to be a nun and shared with me her healing of multiple sclerosis through prayer. This was done under a doctor’s watchful eye, and with the help of her church’s prayer groups. She commented that she is hearing in her own church community of more and more healings being accomplished through prayer. Delighted to hear that I was in the practice of healing prayer, we had a lively and happy discussion on the growing recognition of healing through prayer.

Another new friend explained to me her work with a prayer practitioner who lived across the country, and how sessions with this practitioner were helping her gain a sense of dominion over her life. More secular in its orientation, the prayer she worked with touched on aligning thought with one’s spirituality.

My hope is that this site is one, that along with others, can help bring that validation that healing through prayer is alive and well and spreading. We are all coming home to the cherished realization that
with God, all things are possible.”

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Paramedics, protection and prayer

I have just finished a two day orientation to my new volunteer work with Pastoral Care at our local hospital. My volunteer work will be hosting the chapel once or twice a week and being there as a listening ear; providing comfort and support.

In this orientation, every aspect of the hospital’s operations were covered, from nursing care to laundry operations. Not being a regular user of the medical system myself, I was very impressed at the lengths at which all employees were trained to accommodate and serve all people with respect for their spirituality and religion.

Another aspect of the training covered the care of the dying. Here I was moved to hear other health care workers’ stories of what moved them and what they found challenging about this aspect of their work. A young paramedic shared that he had seen so many people die while in transit that he felt he was starting to distance himself from the very meaning of death. Unfortunately, at times he also is the target of a person’s anger when this person’s loved ones dies while on the young paramedic’s watch. He takes it, apologizes and then has to deal with it alone.

My heart just went out to this guy. I thought about the bravery of his work. Just by doing his job, he brings the elements of attentiveness, effectiveness, duty, protection, and knowledgeable care to a situation. These are spiritual qualities that help to take away fear, and in many cases bring a sense of relief either to a patient, a patient’s loved ones or both. The healing balm his work brings to a patient is fundamental to that patient’s care.

He really epitomized for me a prayer by Mother Teresa that was shared at the beginning of the orientation. Here are some excerpts:


People are often unreasonable, illogical or self-centred.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are honest and frank people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow.
Be good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be good
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God
It was never between you and them anyway.

I have often found it difficult to look to people for recognition or a reward in doing good. Many times, it simply is not there. But, as Mother Teresa’s poem states, our actions are between God and us. We reflect God. Not partially , but wholly. It is the spiritual power behind forgiveness, honesty, creativity, happiness, goodness, unselfishness, loving and healing our fellow man -- these qualities of God in turn protect us.

Mary Baker Eddy helps define this power further. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes,

Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot harm us.

It is proverbial that Florence Nightingale and other philanthropists engaged in humane labors have been able to undergo (,) without sinking (,) fatigues and exposures which ordinary people could not endure. The explanation lies in the support which they derived from the divine law, rising above the human. The spiritual demand, quelling the material, supplies energy and endurance surpassing all other aids....

Loving one another, unselfishness and good deeds HAVE power. It is this power that we can claim. We do good because we are good and God guides each one of us in channels of His Love. We are protected from fear, despair, attack, by claiming and accepting God’s protecting power and love for us.

I just also wanted to send out some major gratitude into cyberspace for all those paramedics who are doing heroic work. This article is a prayer that recognizes you cannot be harmed for doing this necessary work and that you all are greatly appreciated and loved.

I am sure I will be writing more later on this very happy new venture….

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

World AIDS Day - investing in prayer

UN envoy urges "exceptional response" to AIDS crisis
Thu Dec 1
JAKARTA (AFP) - Countries around the world must make an exceptional response to the global AIDS' epidemic if they wish to stem the crisis, the executive director of UN AIDS Peter Piot warned. "On this 18th World AIDS Day, the world faces a choice in the global response to AIDS," Piot said in a message released in the Indonesian capital to mark World AIDS day. "...we can recognise the exceptional global threat posed by AIDS and embrace an equally exceptional response." He urged countries to invest in HIV prevention as well as treatment and care. "By making these investments, each and every country can reverse the spread of AIDS... With a crisis as unprecedented as AIDS, we cannot afford to neglect any vital front," said Piot, who is on a four-day visit here.

After reading this article, I realized that Piot had just laid out four main points that I am now using as my prayer agenda for AIDS. This is how I am praying:

"The world faces a choice"
Choose hope. Hope not based on wishful thinking, but on a growing recognition of the omnipotence of God. God is bigger than any disease. Hope keeps thought open to all possibilities.

"embrace an equally exceptional response"
Choose prayer. Prayer is communion with God. God is exceptional. God is omnipotent, all knowing, all good. "Neither red tape nor indignities ever hindered the divine process." writes Mary Baker Eddy. Numbers cannot hide the spread of hope; ignorance cannot stop intelligent care; bureaucractic snarls cannot stop the flow of solutions; disease cannot overcome health; addictions cannot overcome compassion. Prayer confirms this, puts the stake in the ground of human hope and is not reversed. There are no retrograde steps in prayer.

"make an investment - we can reverse the spread of AIDS"
Give your consent. Invest your prayer that affirms that the spread of AIDS can be reversed. This is possible. Give your consent to this possibility and expect to see it. Expose and target the problems and bring them down. Celebrate and cement the progress that you hear about.

"do not neglect any vital front"
Work it. Prayer is the vital exceptional response needed. It is the momentum under all effective action. Daily prayer and its accompanying affirmation of the power of good keeps the momentum going. It wears and tears away at the foundation of disease and restores us to our natural state of radiant health and robust living.

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