Give Miami Day, a huge success because of you! Thank you!

The Miami Foundation for several years now has declared one day out of the year as Give Miami Day. The day when everyone is encouraged to be generous to local organizations who are impacting Miami in a very positive way. Unity on the Bay is one of those organizations and The Miami Foundation matched a percentage of donations made to Unity on Give Miami Day. 

Because of your generosity, Unity raised $41,000+ on Give Miami Day and we couldn't be more moved! Thank you! 

We would like to specifically thank the following individuals for making donations on Give Miami Day: 

Aaron Moore
Abe Wainer
Achilles Ballestas
Alexander & Armande Marchant
Alexis duarte
Amy Baez
Ana Besu
Ana Corrales
Ana Santos
Andrea Luke
Andy Herrmann
Angela Ribiero
Barbara Calderon
Bashir Osman
Bill Gorman
Bill Warren
Bob & Daenira  Meyer
Brandan Fannon
Brenda Westhorp
Brian Zahorchak
Carlos Perez
Carmen Navedo Cordova
Carolina Garcia
Celeste Davis
Charles Collazo
Cheryl & Cindy Lockwood-Binder
Cheryl Dektanel
Chris Jackson
Christianne Arroyo
Christina Robinson
Claudia Forero
Claudia Valderrama
Courtnee Pingan
Dale Stine
Daniel Prezebel
David Safeer
Debra Iglesias
Donald Inniss
Dorothy DAVIS
Earl Parler
Eddie Dominguez
Eduardo Martinez
Eduardo Nunez
Elizabeth Longo
Elizabeth Regalado
Emily Schumm
Emmons McNaught
Francisco Zayas
Gendry Sherer
Gustavo Nieto Poa
Harold Martinez
Heather Weldron
Hector Martinez
Helen Masin
Helen Vivian
Honor CLARKE
Ismary Musa
James Paine
Jason Weeks
Jawara Dia Cooley
Jemmy Pierre-Louis
Jerome Williams
Jerry Bell
Joanne Seniza
Jody Johnson
John Guillot
John Irvin
Jose Arevalo
Jose PRIETO
Joy Davis
Juan Acosta
Juan del Hierro
Karen Mobilia
Kari Roundy
Kathy Bird
Keith Webster
Kevin O'Brien
Laura Thezine
Leslie Rosen
Leslie Wolfe
Linda Eads
Line Bovery
Lisa Ghai
Lourdes Hernandez
Luis Arguello
Luis Zuluaga
Lynette Richardson
Lynn Montero
Maggie Dique
Maggie Rey
Mande & Alex Marchant
Mandy Giust
Marcia and Hal Martin
Maria Espaillat
Maria Herreros
Maria Melendez
Mark Butler
Mark Ritchie
Marlen MUNOZ
Marlene Rodriguez
Martha Creek
Martha Naar
Mary McKenry
Maryanne Lukacs
Mercy Palomo
Michelle Barrial
Michelle Callava
Michelle Naples
Miguel Spencer
Millie Font
Moshe Heyn
Nelly Ayala-Ramos
Pamela L              
Pamela Mitchell
Phillippa Weech
Raeford Melton
Raul Hernandez
Regina Binder
Renee Schafer
Renee Schafer
Ric Owens
Robbie Bell
Roberto Hermosilla
Rodannie Zapata
Russell Gilbert
Sandra Tagle
Shante Haymore-Kearney
Sharmaynne Thomas
Sharon Reid
Shawn Brown
Skarley Guerrero
Stefanny Suarez
Stephan Thomas-Schulere
Stephen McCoy
Steven McGrath
Susan Rosler
Teresa Albernas
Thomas Gantt
Thomas McHugh
Tony Moss
Traci Winn
Trudy Freeman
Vanessa Billot
Veronica St. Albin
Vickie Krall
Vijo Menon
Virginia & Brett                 
Vivian Rosado
Wendy Hayward
William Gordon
William Mitchum
Yolanda Arnavat-Parga
Yvette Bravo

 

Hurricane Irma Update.

Photo taken Sept. 10 as Hurricane Irma impacted Miami.

Photo taken Sept. 10 as Hurricane Irma impacted Miami.

To our beloved spiritual family,

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma's impactful appearance in South Florida, we invite you to pause for a moment, take a deep breath and awaken to God's presence in your midst.  In gratitude, welcome that presence as reassurance and peace and allow it to fill your entire being.

As we hold the high watch with the many friends of our spiritual community, we open a powerful space in our collective consciousness that helps bring restoration to everyone who has been affected by this storm.

All of us at Unity on the Bay continue to hold you, your families and loved ones in prayer and we trust the presence of God to bring you peace, strength and order as we count our blessings and move forward in faith.

We also hold in our hearts all who joined us in holding our campus and all the people who make up our spiritual community in prayer. Your prayers were felt as the comfort and protection of God. We give thanks for you.

In unity and love,

Chris Jackson. Senior Minister
Juan del Hierro, Associate Minister

6 Tips for a Healthy Relationship

Are You “Shoulding” on Others?  
Six Tips for Healthy Relationships

Do you find yourself in disagreement, disappointment or conflict with another person?  Welcome to the human experience!  Here is a formula that works every time you use it:

  1. Recall that your own spiritual genius has created this scenario for your benefit. You are not a victim unless you choose to be. All of your experiences in life are external reflections of internal dynamics.  Your world is always extending an invitation to you to look at yourself.  Every relationship offers an opportunity for you to discover often hidden aspects of your own character that are awaiting spiritual healing.  Each relationship comes to you by virtue of your own spiritual brilliance.
     
  2. Identify the discrepancy between what the person is doing and what you believe they should be doing. We all carry (often unspoken) expectations of the people in our life.  Troubles can occur when the behavior of others does not meet our expectation.  We can all be quite presumptuous in assuming other people should align with our values and prescriptions.  This can actually be quite dishonoring of another’s way of being that is vital to their own growth – even and often when we believe their way is clearly not as beneficial or appropriate as our own.
     
  3. Don’t hold the other person in obligation to your standards. We are all free (and usually more than willing) to offer our advice and opinions to friends and loved ones.  True service comes not when we advise based on our own opinions, but rather when we encourage others to look within themselves for the guidance and action that is right for them – not us.  This can be difficult when we feel we know what is best for another.  It can be helpful to remember that we often barely know what is best for ourselves – let alone another person.  Trust the inner guidance of other people to direct their lives in the best way.
     
  4. Remember that your mission is to come from love. Behind our opinions about and reactions toward others, there is a heartfelt desire within us for unconditional love.  Often relationships begin with a glimpse of that love, which is later blotted out by emotions and our own personal insecurities.  True love honors the wisdom inherent within every person and supports that wisdom whether or not it produces the end result we are hoping for.
     
  5. Share your desire and give the other person options. You are free to own and share your personal preferences, expectations, and desires with another, but you are not free to force compliance with them.  Every person is a unique and individualized agent of the divine.  Respect them as such.  Offer the option to allow them to fulfill your ideals and realize they are free to say “no,” just as you are free decide that the form a relationship takes may need to change.
     
  6. Honor the decisions of the other person as well as your own boundaries. Relationships come and go in life for very specific spiritual purposes.  You have the right to discern what you desire in a relationship but you do not have the right to demand it from any specific person.  People are drawn to your experience to match the growth that is needed in the moment.  Free yourself from the attachment that any particular relationship must show up in any specific way.  Live and let live.  Trust that you are always attracting relationships that meet you at your level of spiritual growth.

Rev. Chris Jackson

Rev. Chris Jackson
Senior Minister
Unity on the Bay

Something in Your Way? Try this.

Rev. Chris Jackson

Rev. Chris Jackson

I recently made a true confession.

In as much as I like to consider myself a spiritually-evolving individual, I must admit there is still something that bothers me.  I get irritated when people are in my way!

I would like to thank Margaret Pace Park (just down the street from my condo) and my local Publix store for bringing this irritation to my attention.  One of my favorite early morning activities is that of walking in the park – usually at a pretty good pace to bless my cardiovascular health.  As a weekly excursion, I make my way to the Publix store across Biscayne for groceries.


In both instances, I have noticed that people get in my way.  Though I’m certain it’s nothing conscious or intentional, I sometimes wonder if these folks congregate in anticipation of my arrival to determine the best ways they can block my mission of getting exercise and food.

Now, I love children, but have you seen those humongous shopping carts disguised as trucks and automobiles so that happy kids can pretend they are riding up and down each aisle of the store?  You put one of those next to a mom who is standing across the aisle from the cart trying to figure out what kind of cereal to buy, and you have a definite road block.

Same is true at the park when a family is leisurely strolling down the sidewalk with their two strollers and three dogs on leashes.  Road block – no way to get by without breaking my pace, stepping off the sidewalk, and running the risk of a potentially messy situation given the number of dogs that handle their business there.

Now I won’t elaborate on the conversations that can run through my mind in these frequent encounters, but I will say that I have progressed sufficiently to know that the irritation has nothing to do with them.  I’m sure they are thoughtful, well-intentioned people.

The real question is, “What is this irritation telling me about myself?”  The answer is that I am defining these situations as antagonistic and I’m taking them personally.  Time to practice what I preach.  

So I’ve decided to re-define my predicament.  Rather than harbor irritation or resentment, I’m asking myself how I might use the situation to become a better, more aware individual.  My answer was to use these “roadblocks” as God given opportunities to become a more courteous, cooperative person myself, and to be a little less mission oriented in ways that allow me to slow down and enjoy the journey toward my goal.

I do realize that I’m blessed to have a beautiful park to walk in and a great store in which to shop every week.  I realize my petty upsets are nothing in comparison to much greater challenges I have faced in life.  But my point is that we are always free to re-interpret anything in our lives that appears to be “in our way.”

We can choose to remember that everything that comes on to the screen of our lives is both a gift from God and an opportunity to grow – from the tiniest to the most tremendous road blocks that seem to stand in the way of our objectives.  They are there for a reason.  There is an insight, an awakening or maybe even a revelation in their midst.  They show up for us – not against us.

Try remembering this the next time somebody or something seems to be standing in the way of your progress.  It works!

Rev. Chris Jackson
Senior Minister
Unity on the Bay

Are You Procrastinating?

Rev. Chris Jackson

Rev. Chris Jackson

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”  

This quote from Mark Twain brings a note of humor to a subject that most of us deal with in our lives every day – procrastination.

Wikepedia tells us that procrastination is “the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished.  Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the ‘last minute’ before a deadline.  … (it) can take hold on any aspect of life – putting off cleaning the stove…seeing a doctor or dentist…or broaching a stressful issue with a partner.  Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression, and self-doubt.”

To be sure, there are times when avoidance and passivity need to be addressed – these traits live to a degree in each of us and can keep us from accomplishing whatever might be ours to do.  There will always be tasks that we enjoy and those we don’t.  We do need to learn how to do what is ours to do and hold ourselves personally accountable.

At the same time, our delay to take action may have some spiritual merit and we need to look closely at what that might be.

From the material of Abraham-Hicks, we find this quotation:  “Procrastination is the feeling within your energy sensor that this action is not in perfect alignment at this time.”

From this statement, we are encouraged to remember the importance of recalling that our energy, or vibrational level, is critical in all that we do.  To live optimally, we need to complement our actions from a vibrational frequency that supports them.

How often do we find ourselves engaged in activities from a space of obligation or guilt?  Are there tasks and engagements that we are participating in because “we are supposed to do it?”  When our vibrational level, commitment or interest doesn’t match the way we are living our life, we can sense an energy drain that is felt by others and we’re not bringing our best a situation.

It is also true that our actions can be born from the opinions of others as to what we should do.  Spiritually, it is important to remember that we are here to participate in the unfoldment of the will of God.  When an action or decision is taken into meditation and prayer, we can sense if it is in alignment with God’s plan for our life.  When we know that it is, it’s possible to give it our all with enthusiasm and anticipation.  When we do not have the feeling of “rightness,” we may not only be unsuccessful in the endeavor, we might also bring others down through our obligatory participation.

When the time is right for us to take action and our passion knows it, nothing will stop us from its accomplishment.  Our action energizes us with enthusiasm and our commitment strengthens.

Healthy procrastination – not acting until we know the time is right – helps us act in alignment with the flow of life.  Sometimes a delay is needed as an idea evolves or as circumstances shift.  It’s not wise to impose our timetable or the expectations of others to push us into acting prematurely or out of accord with the divine will.

If you find yourself putting something off until “the day after tomorrow,” check in with yourself to determine if it’s really your own avoidance and passivity that’s making the delay, or if you’re being prompted by your inner guidance to let the divine timetable come to pass.

Rev. Chris Jackson
Senior Minister
Unity on the Bay

Claiming Your Destiny

Rev. Juan. Photo Credit: Maurizio Martinoli

Charles Fillmore, Unity Co-Founder once said “desire is the onward impulse of the ever evolving soul.” That impulse is within you and leading you to the places where you will be invited to trust, stretch and deepen as fulfill your destiny, entering a new consciousness filled with possibilities never before imagined.

Yet sometimes we allow fear and discomfort dictate our direction in life. In times like this, you can find inspiration in all sorts of places. One such place, for me, is the song from Disney’s Moana, “How Far I’ll Go.” It was the third or fourth time I played this song that I actually first truly heard it.

Connect to your inner child and allow yourself to be carried, inspired and directed by its words:

Lyrics from "Moana"
Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mark Mancina


I've been standing at the edge of the water
Long as I can remember
Never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water
No matter how hard I try

Are your fears to be anything less than perfect keeping you from having the courage to pursue your dreams, your inner most desires? The desire to please and win over people’s approval can stem from a thought of unworthiness. Don’t let that one thought move beyond your edge, your comfort zone.

Every turn I take
Every trail I track
Every path I make
Every road leads back to the place I know
Where I cannot go
Where I long to be

We may hide from our desires, we may want to quiet that within us that is seeking a new way of being but the reality is that all roads will lead you back to facing your destiny. You may delay your own evolution, but you can never stop it.

See the light where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
No one knows how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know
If I go there's just no telling how far I'll go

Metaphysically, the sky can represent our higher state of consciousness meeting the open sea, a place of possibilities but nevertheless a place that can bring uncertainty and challenges. By bringing our higher self to that place of unease, the very light that we are can shine through like never before. The wind, the very impulse of conscious evolution, will carry us through. We must just trust.

Seems so happy on this island
Everything is by design
I know everybody on this island
Has a role on this island
So maybe I can roll with mine


Even our fears, as long as they are familiar, can seem to bring us some comfort. We cling to that comfort and try to stop ourselves from facing the unknown. Are you clinging to what is safe rather than what is in your heart?

I can lead with pride
I can make us strong
I'll be satisfied if I play along
But the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me


Well if it is fear that is keeping us from growing into our dreams, then we are in the place of a prideful and strong ego. Let the true small voice within you guide you. Your life is meant to be your own special song!

See the light as it shines on the sea
It's blinding
But no one knows how deep it goes
And it seems like it's calling out to me
So come find me
And let me know
What's beyond that line
Will I cross that line

See the light where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know
How far I'll go

Just don’t let yourself say “one day I will know” too much. Make that day, today!

I invite you to move into the Silence and reflect upon that which you are desiring for your life. Ask yourself, am I holding myself back from living the life I am meant to live? If even a small part of you says yes, check in to my next blog where I will share with you how to build the courage and faith to follow your dreams.

To be continued...

Rev. Juan del Hierro
Associate Minister
Unity on the Bay

Celebrating the Board of Trustees as our Sacred Service Team for July 2017

Our Board of Trustees, from left to right, John Irvin, Dr. Mary McKenry, Rae Melton, Eddie Dominguez, Achilles Ballestas, Hector Martinez, Rev. Chris Jackson, Bashir Osman, and Laura Thezine.

Our Sacred Service Team of the Month has a tremendous responsibility, the stewardship of Unity on the Bay as a whole. Through their dedication and willingness to follow Guidance, our Board of Trustees is ensuring that we honor our 90-year history and create a deeper legacy for our future. Thank you to all of our Board Members for all that you do and model.

Stay tuned for the Sacred Server of the month of July. Thank you for your service in making the community great. 

Just do the next thing.

Rev. Chris Jackson

Rev. Chris Jackson

Do you ever wake in the morning and find yourself wrestling with a mental list of people to call, places to go and things that need to be done?  Does it seem as though no matter how much you accomplish in the course of the day, there are more assignments “on hold” than there is time in which to do them?  

For myself, I often find this to be the state of my world.  And on the most challenging of these days I can find myself rushing through one project or meeting after another – hoping for a sign of the finish line to foster a sense of self-worth and achievement.  

To live life in this manner is to be destination oriented as opposed to being oriented in the moment.  It seems to me that the greatest moments of joy in life are found in the present moment, accessible by being fully engaged in what is happening right here and right now.

My journal includes a wonderful quotation by one of my spiritual teachers, Meister Eckhart, who said, “Wisdom consists of doing the next thing you have to do, doing it with your whole heart, and finding delight in it.”

From that sage advice, I have crafted a little sign I keep on my desk.  It says, “Just do the next thing…don’t worry about the rest.”  It is a revelation born also from a little coffee cup that my mother-in-law gave me when I first began my career in the Unity movement.  It was inscribed with the words, “I do my best and leave the rest to God.”

While we hear of the necessity of mastering the art of “multi-tasking,” I find that I receive the greatest satisfaction and joy from my work when I am totally engaged in one thing at a time.  My presence in a state of heightened awareness to the content of the moment allows me experiences that don’t get noticed when my mind is pre-occupied with a list of future obligations.  

I am becoming more adept at recognizing the next thing that is mine to do.  Yes, I still have a long list of tasks, projects and engagements that will ultimately require my attention.  But I am developing the habit of taking just a few seconds to close my eyes and ask, “What is the next thing I need to do?”  It comes to me, and I “do my best” to immerse myself in it as though it was the only thing calling for my attention.  

At the end of the day, I may not have accomplished all that I intended.  There may be some disappointments from those who believe I have failed to fill their expectations.  There may even be moments of self-guilt for not meeting my own expectations – regardless of how unreasonable they may be.  Yet I can choose to evaluate my own level of accomplishment without the measuring stick of other’s opinions and even my own opinions.

At the same time, I can rejoice that in the brief and fleeting moments I am privileged to be alive on this planet, I take the time to focus on the exquisite nature of each and every undertaking I am a part of, give it my all, and savor the experience of everything I do.

I may not be able to say, “Look, I made it to the finish line.  All my work is done!”  But I can surely say, “I lived with my whole heart, and found delight in it.”

Try it for a day.  Believe in the wisdom of doing the next thing you have to do.  Be totally present with it.  Enjoy and savor it.  It is a wonderful way to live.  And you might be surprised to accomplish more than you ever dreamed.

Rev. Chris Jackson
Unity on the Bay, Senior Minister

 

4 Ways to Re-Energize Your Spiritual Practice

Practice makes perfect. That’s something we have all heard and in many ways we believe in. Yet “practicing” can take its toll. Like anything else, spiritual practice can take a lot of effort and focused energy. At times, we may feel drained or lack some of the enthusiasm to continue the practice. I love the gym but there are some days that I just need a rest from it. I love my spiritual practice, but at times it can feel like an obligation rather than a choice. So how can we keep the excitement and energy going when we start to lose some of the enthusiasm in our daily spiritual practices? 

  1. Schedule and push through! Let’s face it, many of us are attached to our phones and all their tools. So make use of those tools so that you can detach from it all. Put your mediation or prayer time in your calendar, or download a program that can remind you of taking a mindful breath at odd times in the day. It helps to have a schedule in mind – whether it is the same time every day or one that you create for yourself at the beginning of the week. Having reminders can support you in pushing through those moments when you are feeling a bit sluggish about your spiritual practices.
  2. Keep your spiritual practice toolbox diverse! A toolbox that only has one hammer isn’t going to be much help when you need a screw driver. The whole power in a toolbox comes from having a diverse group of tools that you can call upon as a situation arises. The same can be said for spiritual practices. Diversify the ways you practice and are connected to the Presence. Mediation can take many forms – they can be guided or simply being in the silence, indoors in your favorite room or outside under a tree, sitting in the lotus position or walking through a park. Try them all and start to recognize which works best for whatever situation you may be going through. If you may be feeling lonely, a communal times of meditation may be just what you need. If you are feeling distracted or absent-minded, you may want some alone time to decompress and become more centered.
  3. Keep your spiritual practice fresh! Rather than deciding to meditate every morning with the same CD playing, try to keep it fresh by making slight or bigger changes to your routine. Maybe it’s scheduling a different practice each day. Mindfulness Monday, Tai-Chi Tuesdays, OM Hour Wednesdays, etc. Another way to keep it fresh is to continually take classes and workshops that can deepen and expand your spiritual practices. I remember when I first learned about the Dessert Father’s mediation practices that involved moving back and forth while keeping myself focused on an affirmation or reading. At the time, it brought new energy to what was becoming a stagnant mediation practice.
  4. Make it part of a community effort! I love going to the gym but I need to be part of a gym that fosters community. Going in and out is not enough for me. I need to have people that connect me to the gym, to the working out. When I don’t show up at the gym for the 9 AM class, getting a text or call from one of my gym buddies makes me get dressed and be there for the 10 AM class. The same can support us in our practice. Have some time in communal meditation or group yoga classes. Connect with those around you. When someone doesn’t show up, let them know you missed them which also gives them permission to do the same with you.

Our spiritual practice may look different but as people we go through the some of the same struggles. If you hit a lull in your spiritual practices, you can choose to do the above and bring in new energy to it. Finding the right balance for yourself is key and will go a long way in making your practices one which you will deepen and continue much farther than you think possible.

Rev. Juan del Hierro
Associate Minister
Unity on the Bay

Are YOU on your to do list?

Rev. Chris Jackson

Are you always trying to fit more accomplishment into the 24-hour span of one day?  Do you feel at times as though you’re “spinning your wheels” to accommodate the demands of family, work, and social obligations? 

Though it may sound contradictory, one of the best ways to increase your productivity is by adding one more thing to your “to do” list – self-care.  Most of us are familiar with the instruction given to us once boarding a plane.  We are reminded that, in the event of any emergency, it’s important for us to put the oxygen mask on our own face before attempting to assist anyone else with the same task.  The idea, of course, is that if we fail to care for ourselves first, we may not have to worry about anyone else.

In his book, “Sabbath; Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives” Wayne Muller tells us, “…life has become a maelstrom in which speed and productivity have become the most valued commodities.  Sabbath honors the necessary wisdom of dormancy.  If certain plant species, for example, do not lie dormant for the winter, they will not bear fruit in the spring.  If this continues for more than a season, the plant begins to die.  A period of rest – in which nutrition and fertility most readily coalesce – is not simply a human psychological convenience; it is a spiritual and biological necessity.”

When our well-being is not a priority, our lives can become personal assembly lines in which our primary interest is accomplishing the next assignment.  We live for another completed task or project rather than the exquisite nature of the miracle of life in our midst.

It is alright – in fact it is noble – to prioritize time for your own personal relaxation, rest, renewal and reflection.  A period of recharge is a way of wisdom for those who realize that our greatest contributions are made when we are well-rested, at peace, and undisturbed by the demands of daily living.

Put yourself on your calendar – for an hour, for a day, for a weekend or longer.  Prioritize the time you need to energize yourself from within.  At the end of the day, it’s not the person who reaches the finish line first that wins.  The true winner is the one who has enjoyed a balanced and rewarding journey to the finish line, and they take the time they require for rest and renewal.

Set a schedule for your Sabbath.  Find periods for renewal on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.  Add the ingredients of nature, meditation or a good book.  Light candles, sing songs, tell stories, eat and nap. 

In a somewhat miraculous way, you’ll begin to find your life accommodating your priority of self-care.  You’ll be more productive and pleased with your accomplishments.  You’ll be contributing to your health and well-being in a way that will allow you to better appreciate the quality of the life you work hard to provide for yourself and your loved ones.

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

 

Crutches, Part Deux

If you read my last article, I shared a process by which the “crutches” in our lives could be made known to us, with the intention of beginning to release that which no longer served us. To re-read that blog entry, click here.

As many of you know, “crutches” came up for me when I had a gym accident a few weeks ago which left me with a broken bone on my foot. In the first few days after the accident, I used crutches that I believed I could release very quickly. And I did. Just a few days with the crutches and I was ready to walk the world, albeit with a small limp and a special shoe. Healing was taking place, at an accelerated pace I might add.

Fast forward to just a few days ago when I was told that in reality, my fracture had gotten wider. It seems I should have used the crutches much longer than I had wanted to, or thought I did. And so now, I am on crutches once again.

This led me to realize that we have to be gentle with ourselves as we try to release things we believe no longer serve us. In the process of releasing, we may find that something new comes up and we move back into our old habits, into our old ways of reacting and responding to people or situations. Rather than feeling guilty or feeling lost, we can recognize that it was needed and that it helps creates the necessary drive within us to evolve.

It also reminds me that our work is to create the space for the process to take place rather than to make the process happen.

Part of creating that space involves becoming more open to seeing how the “crutches” are showing up in our lives and how they create things we no longer want in our lives. This can be helped by bringing a higher level of accountability into our lives.

A few ways to develop accountability are:

  • Journal in the third person about situations when you have acted out of your “crutches.” Doing it in the third person allows us to see a situation with a little more perspective. It also supports us to not have resentment or shame towards our past behavior.
  • Speak your “crutches” out-loud. Do it in front of a mirror or, better yet, talk to a friend or someone who you can invite to hold you accountable for when the old you shows up.
  • Give permission to people around you to hold you accountable. It is important to remember two things though at this step: 1. do it with someone who you will feel less inclined to take it personally, 2. Ask someone to do it that you feel is more inclined to be impartial and not become too critical. The point is to have help in keeping yourself accountable, not beating yourself up.
  • Pray. Affirm right-action taking place in your life.  Set prayerful intentions to embody a new way of being.
  • Act. If it feels like the expression of that which you had been working to express, celebrate yourself. If it doesn’t, celebrate yourself for becoming more aware, for taking a risk and trying it out, and begin the process again.

When giving birth to a new consciousness, it’s good to remind ourselves, “You’re doing great. Take a few deep breathes, and now push.”

 

Rev. Juan del Hierro
Associate Minister
Unity on the Bay

Do this in the morning and make your day!

Rev. Chris Jackson

Throughout my years of spiritual work, my practices have changed, including the one I use to stay focused on the present moment.  There are countless ways to practice being in the present moment.  I encourage you to try as many as possible until you find the one that works best for you. 

My practice begins every morning with a thirty-minute meditation.  I begin by silently repeating the statement “thank you” to myself.  After a few minutes, I change the statement to “Here I am,” again repeating it several times, each time allowing myself to become more deeply immersed in the present moment.  As distracting thoughts or feelings arise, I try to let them pass along and return to the statement, “Here I am.”

After a few more minutes, I change the statement to, “I am receptive.”  I allow myself to relax more completely and see myself receiving whatever the present moment reveals.  The present moment always reveals the presence of God, but that presence reveals itself in many different ways.  It may be the answer to a pressing question in my life, a direction to follow, an insight or awareness of some kind, or a sense of deep peace. 

Next, I change the statement to, “I am willing.”  Silently repeating these words to myself, I see myself in total obedience to the will of God, trusting it to live as my life.  A few more minutes follow, and I return to the statement, “thank you,” repeating it several times as I conclude the meditation.

This sets the tone for my day, throughout which I take periodic moments to return to these four statements, especially when I am heavily distracted by certain events in my experience.

Rev. Chris Jackson
Unity on the Bay, Senior Minister

 

UOTB Choir to perform at Pulse Memorial Service

Interfaith Miami invites you to join them on ThursdayJune 15 at 8:00 p.m. for a concert of remembrance and hope as lives lost are honored from the Pulse Nightclub shooting one year ago. This concert is hosted by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral of Miami located at 464 NE 16th St, Miami, FL 33132

This will be a time of music, featuring the Unity on the Bay Choir, Miami Gay Men’s Chorus, the Trinity Cathedral Choir, and talented musicians from Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, and Miami Shores Community United Church of Christ.

There will be time for prayer and introspection, featuring local South Florida faith and community leaders. This concert will be an interfaith service of healing and promise for the LGBTQ community and its allies. A reception will follow prepared by the good people of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

The Will of God by Rev. Chris Jackson

Lately, in my times of contemplation, I’ve been guided to reflect on the will of God. 

During the past several years I have been realizing more and more just how limited my own perception really is.  My conditioned mind is very quick to diagnose and judge people and situations in my life.  It also likes to prescribe courses of action which usually involve changing or “improving” life situations and individuals so that they are a better match for what I determine is needed, or what “ought” to be. 

I am learning more every day that there is a higher order at work in all of life.  Through each one of my activities and associations, this order is at work to support me and everyone else involved.  It sees beyond my personal analysis of how things need to be.  Its perfection is not obscured by my personal desires and preferences. 

For me, this is the will of God.  As my trust in this higher order increases, I learn to look beyond the way things seem to be – Jesus called this not judging by appearances.  I think that is because he knew that things are never as they seem.  There are universal forces – the same forces that orchestrate an entire cosmos, that are in motion in my life. 

I may not always like the apparent disappointments or misfortunes I encounter in life, but I have experienced enough of them to know that they always bring me a gift – and typically it’s not a gift that I knew I needed or that I particularly wanted.  It is always, however, a gift that expanded my awareness, made me more aware of love in my life, or allowed me to appreciate something or someone I was taking for granted.

More than seeking to accomplish my personal expectations in life, I want to be present to support the will of God – the higher order of life.  Personally, I believe it has my best interests at heart and wants to extend greater love into my experience.

More and more I want to support the will of God and to see it at work in my own life, the lives of those I love, and throughout the collective experience of the family of humanity.  Maybe you would like to join me?

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

Celebrating Tony Aviles. Thank you, Tony!

Tony Aviles

It is a great honor to recognize a long-serving Sacred Server as our Sacred Server of the Month for June 2017. Join us in celebrating Tony Aviles!

Tony has served in a lot of different ways, most notably as an AV Team member and at one point Coordinator, Prayer Chaplain, and even Board Member. Today we honor him for his consistency and commitment to our Wednesday Night OM Hour Service. Tony shows up every Wednesday battling Miami traffic just to help us with all of our AV, especially sound and lighting. It is through his service that our OM Hour Service is a quiet respite for many. We thank you, Tony, for all you do and all you are.

Crutches

"Crutches" written by Rev. Juan del Hierro, Associate Minister, Unity on the Bay

Rev. Juan del Hierro

A few Saturdays ago I had a small accident at the gym. After a quick trip to the urgent care clinic, I emerged on crutches and a fracture on my foot. As I drove back from the clinic, I began to think about the crutches I would be using for the next 7-8 weeks. Here were tools for me to get by, helping sustain me and lifting me up when my own feet could not. And yet, in about two months, they would no longer serve me and would actually hold me back, not allowing me to use my own two feet to move through my path with ease.

A few weeks back, for Earth Day Sunday, part of my talk included how we could use the processes of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle within our own lives. Recycling was about letting go of that which had at one point served us but no longer did.

We all have crutches. Without judgment and guilt, we can look at what we created for ourselves to serve us in a moment of need or a challenge, but that is now keeping us from experiencing our highest good.  

So how do you know when a tool has become a crutch?

First and foremost, we go into the Silence. Think of what your prayer work could be around this. Seek the Guidance of Spirit in showing you what it is that you must release. One of my favorite affirmations to use when moving into the Silence for guidance is “Reveal what must be revealed, heal what must be healed.” Sit with it. Ask your higher power “What is now holding me back?”

What comes up for you may or may not surprise you.

Remember to release judgments of yourself as things are revealed. Even the deepest fears may have shown up as a tool for survival – whether physically or emotionally – at some point in your life.

If you experience guilt, shame or confusion, you may want to take out a piece of paper and journal with these two questions in mind:

  • How did this bless me at some point in my life?
  • How is this now holding me back from living my best life?

I hope you take this opportunity. With just a moment of clarity, that which needs to be revealed can show up for us to begin the process of healing.

During my next blog, we will explore the ways in which we can let go of the crutches and begin to flow within our lives with more ease and joy.

PS. This process also reminded me of a wonderful experience I had in 2014. I was invited by Eric Page, at the time Director of the Unity Archives, to write a blurb on an artifact they found at Unity Village that year. It was a set of wooden crutches. Check out the picture and short blurb titled “Walking on Divine Feet” by clicking here (https://www.facebook.com/juan.delhierro/posts/10152541745352020)