Sheer shameless schmaltz…

A year ago a friend of mine introduced me to the music of Jason Mraz. It is sheer shameless schmaltz and, being the schmaltz-monger I am, I love it.

One of his songs is called “I Won’t Give Up” and when I heard the chorus I realized I was listening to more than your basic love song. It seemed clear – to me, at least – that this was a promise to our world, and a love song to humanity:

I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up, still looking up.

Ahem. And it just so happens that my dear friend, Kathi, from Nova Scotia turned me on to a karaoke site last week… and it just so happens that Jason Mraz’s melody was on there!… and soooo… one thing led to another, and the next thing you know… yeah… here I am in all my schmaltzy glory:

http://www.singsnap.com/karaoke/watchandlisten/play/c386693c8

I won’t give up on us. ūüôā

‘…you own your career!”

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company – you own your career! – Earl Nightingale

Don’t ever let economics alone determine your career or how you spend the majority of your time. – Denis Waitley

Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success. – Paul J. Meyer

***

A career is a precious thing – a gift I’m not sure I’ve always appreciated when I was ¬†performing “A Job” – following orders, meeting “expectations,” carrying out “duties” – encumbered by the fear of losing my job if I didn’t follow orders. But those times when I’ve been inspired to go beyond the duties, expectations, and orders, and to overcome the fear of losing my economic security – those times when I’ve been more concerned about doing the right thing than “meeting expectations” ¬†– those are the times when I’ve felt ownership of my career, and gratitude for it. ¬†Those are the times when I honored the gift that had been given me.

And when, a couple years ago, I found myself in a position that no longer felt useful – and that didn’t build that “human connection” that Paul J. Meyer refers to in the quote above – I had no reluctance in leaving that financially-secure position for another that pays less, but gives me the opportunity to help my community. It took me awhile to reach that point, but once I did it was the most natural thing in the world to move on from one thing to the next. Without fear.

In Retrospection and Introspection, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity.” ¬†Note that Eddy doesn’t say an individual “might” – but “must” – fill his own niche in “time and eternity.” ¬†It’s not like this is an optional thing. We all MUST be where we’re meant to be.

And in the book,¬†Lectures and Article on Christian Science, Edward Kimball writes, ‚ÄúIt is probable that there will come a time when you will be in quest of professional or business occupation; when you will be in want of a situation. Let us assume that you will be entitled to it and that it will be right for you to be employed righteously and profitably. Such an assumption as this carries with it scientifically the conclusion that if it is right for you to have such a thing, that thing must be in existence and must be available‚ĶOne of the most influential human conditions is the one which I will call expectancy‚ĶYou are entitled to the fullness and ampleness of life, but you will need to learn that gloomy foreboding never solves a problem and never releases the influences that make for your largest prosperity and advantage.‚ÄĚ

It’s natural for us to fill our own niche, to find the gift of our own careers. We shouldn’t be surprised to find ourselves in the “right place.” We MUST fill our own niche. You were meant to have the career that brings you joy and satisfaction, that uses your talents, and that brings good to the world.

 

Sharing a Child with the World…

¬†Sharing a child with the world is the absolute in love — he will be in contact with more love than he has ever had in his life. And will of course share it all with you. It’s time to sharpen your intuition and other heartfelt communications skills. If you stay in tune with him, you’ll see how easy it will be to have him experiencing the whole globe and still be connected to your heartstrings. Try to stop mourning something that you did not lose. This “graduation” into adulthood will pay back endless dividends to you and to him. So — I know that I am sounding like a big smartypants….but it is true, I AM a big smartypants! Congratulations on this essential step in parenting. Don’t worry, you have job security. Forever. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†– Linda Sola

***

My oldest son left home yesterday to return for his final year at the university. This time felt different, to me, than the three times he’s returned to school before. This time it felt so… well… final. At the end of this¬†school year he graduates, launches off into his “own life”, and maybe returns to us once a year at Christmas.

As the son was getting himself packed up and ready to go, I was trying to figure out what I could give him to send him on his trip. If I had a daughter leaving to go back to university maybe I’d give her a card, or some little sentimental trinket, or flowers… but the son is a very male male… still… I had a sudden memory of the son at about the age of three, sweetly offering me a fistful of yellow dandelions… he’d always liked flowers when he was little.

Was it my turn to give him a flower? How would a manly man feel about his mother handing him a rose?

Oh bother. I still wasn’t sure how to proceed, but my rose bushes needed pruning, anyway, so I decided I might as well start clipping off some of the buds – and if, when the time came for the son to leave, it didn’t feel quite right to offer him roses, I’d just keep them and put them in a vase.

And then a cool thing happened: As I was bringing the rose buds inside, the son looked over and saw them. “Pretty flowers,” he observed.

And suddenly it was the most natural thing in the world to say, ¬†“I’m going to give one to you to take on your trip,” He smiled and thanked me – kind and generous in the way of a man grown – accepting my little floral offering with the same look on his face that I’d probably had when he’d once offered me his little fistful of dandelions.

The husband and I smiled and waved as our son pulled out of the driveway and headed back to school. And then I made my way to the solace of my Secret Garden, and remembered…

Andrew and dandelion

Aspirin and the 91st Psalm and a Most Uncomfortable Read

We may or may not have an operation, we may or may not take a pill, we may or may not observe religious rituals, but whatever we do (or don‚Äôt do) does not affect us either for good or for ill. –¬†from¬†Christian Science Re-Explored¬†by Margaret Laird

I asked a friend why she liked to repeat the Ninety-First Psalm when she was in trouble. She replied that it gave her comfort. She did not realize that the comfort it gave her was the same kind of comfort that an aspirin tablet gives. There is nothing wrong about this if transitory comfort is important to us, and there are times when it may be. But Enlightenment is the real Comfort that we feel in our belief of comfort. The comfort that comes from reading the Bible or from tranquilizers is an abstraction, or belief of comfort, which can easily turn into discomfort. The comfort we need when we are in trouble does not lie in words but in Science, the discernment of spiritual facts, since being is Spirit. Unfettered by nice-sounding, comforting words on which to lean, the Scientist moves to a new dimension of awareness, unfamiliar but exciting and self- fulfilling. – from Christian Science Re-Explored by Margaret Laird

***

I just finished reading Margaret Laird’s book, Christian Science Re-Explored, and found it¬†wonderfully uncomfortable. I found myself questioning concepts I’d always just accepted as true. Margaret Laird’s book “stirred the waters” of my thought and helped me re-think my beliefs about Christian Science, and look at it in a new way. And that’s not a bad thing. I can’t say that I accept as “true” everything Laird writes – but I get the sense that Laird would have been really disappointed if I did. In fact, one of the big themes in her book was the idea that we should never just blindly accept what any “authority” tell us is the Truth – that individual freedom to explore new ideas, and question old and accepted ones, is something to be celebrated, not squelched. Laird writes: “…the man of imagination…does not regard another’s point of view as needing either rejection or acceptance. He recognizes that dissent is often more creative, more stimulating to original thinking, than consent. This does not mean dissent from the standpoint of right or wrong, but dissent from the standpoint of a view of Reality other than one’s own. Often a viewpoint that differs greatly from our own will do more to stoke the furnace of imagination than one with which we agree. The acceptance of another’s point of view as right, or the rejection of it as wrong, would interfere with our own individual creativity.”

I’m still processing the thoughts presented in Christian Science Re-Explored – the author’s thoughts regarding The Bible, organized and institutionalized religion, Ecclesiasticism, Christianity, and the “technique” of “affirmation and denial” were really interesting to me.

Laird believed that if Christian Scientists use Christian Science as just another health care system – a method for healing some ailment – it’s no ¬†different than any other system for treating disease. She writes: “He who prays with a goal in mind is not being the prayer of understanding or unconditioned Love…” and “Christian Science is not a technique or an argument by which we try to remove that which is objectionable to become something man already is but sees as a goal…¬†He who professes Science, ‘declares the Truth’ as if it were an intellectual tool, a means to an end, will find desires unfulfilled, hopes unrealized, goals unattained. If our goals are unattained, it is because goals are on our mind rather than Science or self-fulfillment.” Laird writes: “The Christian Scientist who is Science gives treatments entirely from the standpoint of no goal, no result, no consequence or effect.”

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy assures us “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” In Christian Science Re-Explored, Margaret Laird refers to what she calls “compensations” as the forms, or mediums, that appear for meeting our human need: “Compensations¬†on the human belief-level‚ÄĒfood, air, exercise, sleep, and perhaps the ministrations of a physician‚ÄĒ must be identified with and as Love. Their use must not be deplored or seen as obstacles in the path of demonstrating Health, Wealth, Happiness. The fact is that Love supplies the human need in the language of individual discernment. Compensations become obstacles only when the vision is too clouded to identify them with Love. The deplorable is never the use of the compensation, but the ignorance which would separate the compensatory image from Love. Love is the existence of everything contributive to well-being on the human belief-level.”

Laird asks, “Can you imagine Mind, Life, Principle, Truth needing to grow in grace or to sacrifice itself? Then why should man, whose existence is reflection, need to grow in grace or practice self- sacrifice?” I think she asks a really good question there. Starting from the standpoint of man and woman already perfect – reflections of Love, Mind, Life, Principle, Truth – how could we possibly improve or get better? In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The great truth in the Science of being, that the real man was, is, and ever shall be perfect, is incontrovertible; for if man is the image, reflection, of God, he is neither inverted nor subverted, but upright and Godlike.” Eddy writes: “The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, – perfect God and perfect man, – as the basis of thought and demonstration.” Laird believed that to experience true healing one needed to start with the Absolute – perfect God and perfect man. She quoted her Christian Science teacher, Bicknell Young, as saying, “Let absolute Science be your one and only standpoint, for Christian Science is the only Science of Being and therefore the only standpoint from which to be. Give them (patients and seekers) the real, the absolute Science; then they will understand and not have to relearn‚ÄĒand not be confused. Explain from the standpoint of perfection; live from the standpoint of perfection¬†.¬†.¬†. because ‚ÄėPerfection is gained only by perfection.‚Äô Perfection is one and absolute. It is always its own protection, blessedness, bliss, and progressive unfoldment.¬†.¬†.¬†.‚ÄĚ

Well, dang. I already have 1154 words in this post – 1163 now – oops! 1166! It’s probably time to wrap this baby up: Margaret Laird’s book may or may not represent “Truth” – there were parts of it that were troublesome for me – but it was also wonderfully stimulating for me – got me thinking and questioning and looking at ideas anew. And I’m always glad for that opportunity.

 

***

Radical reliance on Truth has been interpreted inconsistently as the non-use of medicine. Scientific healing power has nothing to do with sickness but with ever- present self-fulfilling Health or Wholeness as one’s self. You may need a Christian Science treatment, a pill, a hospital or an institutional church for your personal identity. But, whatever the need, you have only to look out from your own Mind, God, to see that need supplied in discernible form. Рfrom Christian Science Re-Explored by Margaret Laird

Christian Science is not practiced in words (incantations) or in deeds, but in understanding. –¬†from¬†Christian Science Re-Explored¬†by Margaret Laird

Dry Bones or Lively Stones?

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.  And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.  And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. РLuke 19

 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:  if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,  ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. РI Peter 2

I just finished reading Stephen Gottschalk’s Rolling Away the Stone,¬†which focuses on the last 20 years of Mary Baker Eddy’s life. It was not an easy read for me – it took several weeks to work my way through it – but I found it really thought-provoking. One of the themes that seemed to keep re-appearing was the idea of a “revival” – the idea of stirring up “the dry bones” and bringing new life to our Christian Science experience. Gottschalk quotes Mary Baker Eddy as instructing her student, Albert Farlow to,¬†‚Äú‚Ķstir the dry bones all over the field, to more words, actions and demonstrations in Christian Science.‚ÄĚ

Later Gottschalk writes: “As with other movements after the death of their founder, Christian Science became to a significant degree routinized, in the process losing much of the spiritual animus that accounted for its early growth. The pattern is observable, whether we are speaking of the early Christian church after Jesus, the Islamic movement in the decades after the death of Mohammad, or the Franciscan order after the death of St. Francis. Eddy appears to have anticipated with great apprehension that the Christian Science church, too, would settle down into a kind of bland predictability, when she was no longer on the scene. To her, being a Christian Scientist in any meaningful sense involved not only a strong commitment, but, in a sense, a spirit of adventure.‚ÄĚ

Gottschalk writes: ‚ÄúWhat apparently concerned her the most was the prospect that the church would devolve into yet another ecclesiastic organization, ‚Äėbarren,‚Äô to use her words in Science and Health, ‚Äėof the vitality of spiritual power, by which material sense is made the servant of Science and religion becomes Christlike.‚Äô‚Ķ This materialism could, she believed, take on ecclesiastical form. It did so when Christian Scientists, conditioned by their earlier adherence to orthodoxy, failed to break with outworn tradition, ritual, and other merely exterior forms of worship. ‚ÄėLong prayers, ecclesiasticism, and creeds,‚Äô she stated, ‚Äėhave clipped the divine pinions of Love, and clad religion in human robes. They materialize worship, hinder the Spirit, and keep man from demonstrating his power over error.‚Äô‚ÄĚ

Whoaaaah, right?

The Christ, Truth, is living, lively, dynamic – ¬†it didn’t die with Jesus. And the Christian Science movement was not meant to stop and flash freeze at the moment of Mary Baker Eddy’s passing, either. I’m sure Eddy would not have wanted this for her movement.¬†‚ÄúI find the general atmosphere of my church as cold and still as the marble floors,” she wrote, after an appearance at The Mother Church, ¬†‚Äú‚Ķ I did feel a coldness a lack of inspiration all through the dear hearts‚Ķ it was a stillness a lack of spiritual energy and zeal that I felt.‚Ä̬†And, In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science, Eddy writes: “The letter of Science plentifully reaches humanity to-day, but its spirit comes only in small degrees. The vital part, ¬†the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love. Without this, the letter is but the dead body of Science, – ¬†pulseless, cold, inanimate.”

Life! Joy! Love! Aren’t these the way-marks of the living Christ – the Truth that heals?

***

Jesus was alone

when he rolled away that stone

Pushing back matter –

throwing away the tatters

And we have our job, too

to see what is real

to do what we must do

to rise up and heal

to laugh, dance, and sing

praises to our King

to stir those dry bones

and be joyful, lively stones.

***

(I’m sure Seuss would have done better

at writing this poetry-letter

But he is not here

and you’re stuck with me, I fear.)

There ain’t no midi-chlorians here.

Do you remember the first time you heard the term “The Force”? If you’re of my generation, it was probably in the late 1970’s – when the first of the Star Wars movies came to theaters. “May The Force be with you,” we heard the characters tell each other as they headed off into battles and adventures and saved-by-the-skin-of-their-teeth escapades. And we probably all thought that WE knew what the characters meant when they used those words – and were no doubt impressed by the characters’ highly-evolved sense of The Force, which, weirdly, coincided so well with our own perceptions and beliefs.

As I was thinking about George Lucas’s use of the term The Force this morning it occurred to me that using those two words was a stroke of sheer brilliance on his part. No matter what background and beliefs the members of his audience had, The Force was vague enough that we could all relate to it, and claim it for our own. For some audience members The Force¬†probably represented nothing more than luck, and when the characters said “may The Force be with you” to each other, they were really saying, “Good luck!” For other audience members, The Force no doubt represented God – whatever they perceived God to be.

In the movies that first came out in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s, The Force seemed to me to represent a power that was equally available to everyone. But in the Star Wars movies that came out in the late 1990’s and early otts,, The Force¬†seemed to become less universal, and more selective. Now the characters talked about these microscopic life forms called midi-chlorians (¬†http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Midi-chlorian¬†) that connected humans to The Force – and we learned that there was a genetic or hereditary factor involved in the whole shebang – some people were born with more of these midi-chlorians than others, and had an easier time of tapping into The Force’s power.

And I found myself feeling really disappointed in the direction the movies had taken when it came to defining The Force for us.

“Heredity is not a law,” Mary Baker Eddy writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. “In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as ‘a very present help in trouble.’ Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.'”

No individual, no family, no dynasty, no nation, and no religion owns the power of Love and Truth. Having the ability to heal – to use the power of Good, God – ¬†is not something we inherit from our parents or grand-parents. The power found in the Science of the Christ, Truth, is not genetic – it’s not like the midi-chlorians that “run strong” in the family of Luke and Leia of the Star Wars movies. Christian Science is available equally to all of God’s children – no one has more access to the power of Love than anyone else, and no one has less.

There ain’t no midi-chlorians here.