Grateful Living - Day 1

Simple Gratitudes
By Rev. Paul John Roach
Originally appeared in Daily Word®.

I believe we need only one thing to live in gratitude and appreciation. That one thing is our ability to allow the present moment to unfold just as it is. The simple willingness to look and listen is all we need to open up to whole new worlds of possibility. When that expanded vision arises in us, we cannot help but give joyful thanks.

My first experience of this shift in awareness came when I was 7 years old. My sister had just died, and there was much sadness in our family. I remember walking with my dad through a forest on the slopes of a mountain we often visited on family outings. It was late summer, and my father picked hazelnuts from the bushes and fed them to me. His tender gesture of love transported me to a timeless place of light and safety. I felt a tremendous sense of well-being, and what I experienced in that moment has stayed with me ever since. It propelled me on the spiritual journey that led eventually into ministry.

What happened that summer day? I was simply present, without expectation, to that moment and to my dad’s actions. A shift in my awareness opened me to appreciate the love and healing happening around me. Looking back, I see that the grief that followed my sister’s death may actually have made that moment more intense. Everything conspires, it seems, to help us realize the fragile magnificence of our lives.

I have also felt inspired in the presence of those who appreciate every moment, no matter what the experience is. At the beginning of my conscious spiritual journey, I met a man who had overcome advanced cancer by giving thanks for everything. When the car engine started, he would declare, “Thank You, God!” As the sun rose, “Thank You, God!” Even if he faced a challenge, his response still was “Thank You, God!”

I was not in the habit of appreciating everything so keenly, and I was quite startled by his approach. It did, though, get my attention. I began to understand that thoughts held in mind, and words vocalized, do indeed have power to change our lives. Overcoming cancer is impressive, but what struck me more was this person’s genuine happiness. I wanted some of that joy too!

Thankfully, as the saying goes, it is never too late to begin. We may have been absent to the universe, but the universe has never been absent to us. The minute we look around us with natural curiosity, the moment we attune ourselves and listen without judgment, we open up to spacious new vistas.

Sometimes we may miss these moments. We overlook them on our way to something we consider more meaningful. To become aware, we slow down, look, and listen to what is present right now. Such is the hidden splendor of God’s universe that, if we can just be for a few minutes, rich spiritual rewards await us.

Do you remember a time when a seemingly ordinary, even mundane, event took on greater significance because you were fully present to it? Did it spark a sense of gratitude that arose spontaneously from within?

The immortal words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 remind us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” That means being grateful for whatever happens. If we live by that standard, we will be transformed.

Begin today. Notice the clouds and the changing light as your day progresses. Look into a friend’s eyes as you share a meal or a conversation together. Be open to adventure at the checkout line or in traffic. A kindness shared and a courtesy offered may move you, without fail, into your rightful place of generosity, gratitude, and joy, which are your true nature. Yes, only one thing is required, and it is available to you right now!

Panache Desai on "The Ego"

Written by Rev. Chris Jackson, Unity on the Bay Senior Minister

Written by Rev. Chris Jackson, Unity on the Bay Senior Minister

It’s been my take for some time now that the ego gets a really bad rap in the journey of spiritual awakening.   It’s almost as if we’ve traded in the devil, or Satan, for it.  Everyone wants to blame the ego, condemn it, and ultimately get rid of it.

In his book, “Discovering the Signature of Your Soul,” Panache Desai tells us, “Seemingly, ego allows the illusion of separateness in order to really enjoy the pleasures of being human, because we have to have one polarity in order to experience the other.  When your ego is in alignment, it becomes your trusted ally with which to move forward.”

I like the idea of befriending the ego.  I’ve always believed it had a divine purpose when seen and used rightly.

For 15 years I was the happy “papa” of an 80-pound black lab named Spirit.  I told people that, as a dog, she was the best.  If, however, I was to ask her to balance my checkbook or drive my car, she would have been a miserable failure.  A dog is a dog, and I wouldn’t ask a dog to do what a human is designed to accomplish.  

So it is with the ego.  Speaking as the ego, Panache says, “I am a raw power that can, when harnessed for the good, do anything.  But you haven’t learned to tap into me yet.  You don’t need to tame me or whip me into spiritual submission.  No.  My challenge to you is to accept and own who you are.  In that journey, I am your best ally.”

Let’s take the ego out of the driver’s seat of our car and succeed it with our divine nature at the helm.  Let’s realize what the ego does well and not ask it to accomplish what it’s not designed to do – lead our lives single-handedly.  Let’s realize it’s something that we have -- to use -- but not the entirety of our identity.  

Panache goes on as the ego’s voice, “I am the one who allows you to pick up the phone and ask your boss for a raise.  I am there when you muster the courage to ask someone out on a date.  I help you get down on your knee and propose to your beloved.”

My suggestion?  While we are mastering the art of loving and appreciating ourselves, let’s remember to include our ego in the process. 

I hope to see you on the evening of Saturday, April 9, at Unity on the Bay.  Let’s spend a wonderful evening making peace with our ego, discovering our soul signature, and being blessed by a visit from a spiritual giant … Panache Desai! Buy your ticket here.

Rev. Chris Jackson
Unity on the Bay Senior Minister

I worked the keys, and they work.

Rev. Juan del Hierro

Rev. Juan del Hierro

I worked the keys, and the keys worked.

I owe the blessings that currently make up my life to the transformative power of Unity’s philosophy, especially as I learned them my first year at Unity on the Bay through the prosperity courses. When I first came to Unity on the Bay in 2002, I decided that I wanted to experience more abundance in my life. In many ways my life was a struggle back then and I wanted to release what was holding me back from living the life I felt I was meant to live.

Through my first Keys to the Kingdom class over 10 years ago, my understanding of what it meant to be abundant expanded. Abundance is more than the amount of money we have. Money is simply a symbol for the energy of abundance. So is laughter, healthy body, deep relationships and so much more.

One of my favorite things about the Keys to the Kingdom class is the simple and fun exercises we were asked to do. In “Key Four: Making Room for the New,” we were invited to look at ways to create vacuums for more of what we wanted to enter our lives. At the time I really wanted to find the love of my life. This is what I did:

  • I noticed I was speaking on the phone a lot with my friends. I thought, “if I want a husband to talk to about my day, call when a challenge arises at work, share some of my memories with, maybe I need to create time in my day for those would be coversations.” So I stopped being on the phone as much.
  • I noticed I had a lot of stuffed animals (no laughing!) and decorative pillows on my bed. If I wanted an intimate relationship to wake up to, I figured I needed to make room for him in my bed. I put all of my stuffed animals and some of my pillows in my closet.

Wouldn’t you know that by the end of the Keys to the Kingdom class, I had found a boyfriend and was on my way to a very deep and beautiful intimate relationship.

In total, Rev. Chris, Elizabeth and I will be exploring the 7 Keys to the Kingdom.  Each one is a deep look at abundance in our lives and we have wonderful exercises to make them more than just theories. 

And so it was through these fun and thought provoking exercises that I began to see the very concrete ways my life was more fully aligning to my heart’s desires. Isn’t it time your life started to do the same?

Register here so that we can have fun together in The Keys to the Kingdom that starts Tuesday, April 12. 

written by Rev. Juan del Hierro

Break Through Your Limitations

Enjoy this article and express your gratitude through a Love Offering

By Jesse Herriott, M.A.

As the working of the power of good (or God) through you, prosperity makes your life complete and whole. Prosperity belongs to you as your divine right; it is your natural state. Students of Truth should always remember that prosperity isn’t about material possessions. Prosperity is what you are. It is your state of being. Just as you take one breath without thought of whether the next one will come or not, prosperity is the flow of Spirit through you for your betterment.

Our modern misunderstanding of the concept of prosperity can be linked with the English translation of Psalm 118:25 from the King James Bible. The KJV translation of Psalm 118:25 reads in this manner: “Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.”

The English translation of this book of Scripture portrays the author as someone in a place of lack, desperation and totally out of alignment with their source. This Scripture presents Spirit as a genie who has to be coaxed and wooed in order to grant the seeker their wishes. Now there are times in life where we may feel like prosperity eludes us, and Spirit turns its love and abundance away from us. Yet as a student of Truth, one question we can always ask ourselves is; if this power for good in the universe is progressive, loving and affirmative, why would it deny itself the chance to be more of itself through our lives?

The word prosperity translates roughly from the [Hebrew] word tsalach or tsaleach, meaning to evolve, to push onward, to break through, or break forward. In other words, this word does not imply a specific material lifestyle at all. The original languages suggest that prosperity is about growth, pushing forward, crossing over, evolution, involution, progress, expansiveness, and breaking through. Metaphysically, what we are crossing over and breaking through are the veils of falsity that we embrace as fixed, permanent, crystalized, “real” moments in our consciousness. A true demonstration of prosperity begins with the recognition of your oneness with Spirit. From that awareness, your task is then to break through your own self-imposed limitations and take an active role in co-creating life as you desire it to be.

In the language of spiritual psychology, your ability to become more integrated, open and individuated allows more of Spirit to know itself through you. In other words, you don’t have to beg God to prosper you; it is in the nature of the affirmative life giving Source of our being to say YES. Your role is to say YES to Spirit. So when you feel as if you are in lack, don’t beg for prosperity, shift your awareness and say YES to the prosperity that already is yours.

Biblical scriptures were written by men and women like us, with similar concerns, worries, families and obligations. They discovered that same power for good that operates within us, to make us actualized and make our lives complete. Today, make a decision to embrace the prosperity that is yours by breaking through your limitations, crossing over your inner hurdles, and moving forward in the direction toward your goals with integrity and patience.

Take a deep breath, feel the rush of the moment, and exhale with the understanding that you are loved and infinitely provided for. The Universe is waiting on your Yes … will you heed the call?

You asked "How is Easter relevant in my life today?"

"How is the story of Easter relevant in my life today?"

Rev. Elizabeth Longo

Rev. Elizabeth Longo

Every year as we approach Easter I take the time to be very intentional about my journey through Holy week as I contemplate on what is no longer serving me and what is seeking to be birthed through me. This year I have made extra time in my morning prayer and meditation time for journaling. I love the art of journaling for it provides me with the opportunity to discover and unveil hidden beliefs that are otherwise veiled, yet clouding my perceptions. As I journal, I notice what I am feeling, what feels stagnant, and what feels really alive. While I am immersed in this practice noticing the thoughts, the feelings, the longings, the energy field, I allow my attention to go a little deeper as I rest in the I am presence without the conditioning or the stories. The moment I see clearly into my “life’s story” I no longer have to be it. I can rest as presence.

Easter is relevant when I am willing to look within and go through my own resurrection. When I am willing to cross out error thoughts and tell the truth a shift in consciousness takes place. It takes courage to tell the truth and to choose differently. And it is only when we are willing to tell the truth that we can truly be free. Easter is about new life. Water that doesn’t move becomes stagnant. Life is movement and we are all in a journey in consciousness to ever expanding love.

This year as I contemplate on my journey and my resurrection what has become really clear is that we are all in this together and that there is no separate life. As we look at the events of Holy week leading up to Jesus crucifixion and resurrection we see chaos, treachery, bigotry, oppression, lies, injustices, fear and anger. All part of the human condition. Still very real and present in our world today. Also present in our common humanity is compassion, love, joy, the desire to serve and do good. 

I believe that my journey through Easter and my “resurrection” is no longer my individual journey, but rather my continual expanding awareness that I AM the living, loving Christ and so are you. This Easter I am choosing to be love, to breathe love, to see love, to share love, and to love my neighbor as my very self.

Rev. Elizabeth Longo

The Ten Commandments Hike

On Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, I was blessed with speaking in front of over 100 Boys Scouts and their leaders during their 10 Commandment Hike. It was the second year they had invited me to speak to them. What a true gift it was, on many levels.

Ministry, and our work as people of faith, is to remind ourselves of our connection to Spirit and to each other. It is sometimes not an easy task. Due to my past uneasiness with the Boys Scouts of America and some of their policies, my initial instinct was to question how I would be received as an openly gay minister from a very unique spiritual community, especially since I was being invited to speak on how Unity sees a specific commandment.

This year’s hike was through Key Biscayne and I the invitation was to speak on the first commandment: “Thou shall have no gods before me.” I was to speak right in front of the Key Biscayne Lighthouse.

And so almost 100 Boys Scots and their leaders heard me speak about God as our Lighthouse. How when we put God first in our lives, we find direction and guidance. I was even able to lead them through a short meditation. They were invited to become still and think of a challenge or issue they may be facing in their home or school life. Then, using the Golden Key, I invited them to think of a word for God – love, peace, joy, gratitude, etc. Once we closed the meditation, we discussed how each of us felt when we brought up the challenge in our minds and how the energy shifted for us when we remembered God as our Lighthouse. It was really a beautiful experience.

We ended our time together when the Boys Scouts Leader, Jason Bacon, presented me with my honorary Boys Scout badge. And although I was extremely honored to have received my first ever badge, the main gift I received was recognizing that making connections and forming bridges between Unity on the Bay and other people who may not be as familiar with us, always brings about a transformation – whether it was in me, in them or in both.

Rev. Juan del Hierro

Tapping into Source

Rev. Elizabeth Longo

Rev. Elizabeth Longo

Life is infinite, unbound, and ever expanding. And we are one with this life. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” The truth is that we are so much more than what our senses perceive. Yet in this human experience we fall into the dream of separation identifying with the race consciousness that is time and space bound. We are infinite energy beings here to realize our divine essence and dance in the quantum soup of possibilities.

What are you waiting for? Just for a day, or a few hours, set aside your known identity and stay open and present to life to teach you its mysteries. It is all energy…ever swirling light…intelligence realizing its Source.

Begin by withdrawing attention from the thinking mind and noticing each breath, every inhalation and every exhalation. As you stay with the breath you will notice that the body begins to relax and feel lighter. You can then bring the attention to the heart chakra and see the light of awareness radiantly shining. Let the light expand throughout your body, and go forth to the Universe. As you are allowing your light to expand and travel in consciousness you will begin to have a direct experience of the interconnectedness of all life. When you come back to your body take a few moments to bask in the energy of gratitude. You are now creating new pathways in the brain and expanding your sense of self. Repeat this a few times.

Create a mantra that you resonate with and repeat it often, especially when you wake up and before going to bed. Here is an example, “I AM THE LIGHT OF AWARENESS, AND THE ENERGY OF LOVE IN ACTION.”

Expand in love. You are an energy being, made in the image and likeness of your creator, here to awaken to its Source and shine the light of awareness to all. Once you have had a tiny glimpse of the truth of what you are there is no going back to identifying with the limited personality. And you will be anchoring Heaven on Earth.

If you want to learn more about tapping into source, Unity on the Bay is blessed to be welcoming Donna Eden on March 5, 2016 (more info here) and Dr. Garland Landrith on February 18 and 20 (more info here).

Rev. Elizabeth Longo