Update on the Minister Search from Your Board of Directors
We are fortunate to have received a number of applications from Unity ministers across the country for our Senior Minister position.
Our Search Committee has been doing an amazing job of reviewing the materials submitted by the applicants and following up on the background information of each applicant.
We have eliminated from further consideration a few applicants based on the leadership requirements of our church and school. The review process of other applicants continues. We know that God has a perfect plan for our beautiful community. We move forward through this process in faith.
Progress updates will be provided as new information presents itself. You can find those updates through our weekly eBlasts, Newsletter, Website, and Facebook page.
We thank you for your prayerful support through this process. Please join us in affirming the following statement with joy and enthusiasm:
Divine love and wisdom provides the perfect Minister for Unity of Delray Beach quickly, easily and under grace. God’s perfect plan of good
for our church and school is established now.
I feel much gratitude for all that we have shared in the past year. I want you to know the love and appreciation that I am feeling for you as I share with you what is on my heart.
When you welcomed me here last fall, I sensed a strong desire for spiritual growth that was apparent every Sunday and in each class. Thank you for sharing your willing spirits with me. I feel that we have grown together through this time.
On October 1st, I will be permanently retiring from Unity ministry and moving to Tarpon Springs to live. My last Sunday here will be September 29th.
As many of you know, I have studied for the past twenty-five years with Jane Hart, who was an executive at Unity headquarters and is a Unity licensed teacher. This move will allow me the opportunity to study with her more closely, which is very important to my soul.
The board could not have been more supportive over the past year. They are an excellent, dedicated team, and you will continue to be well served by them. They will be sharing their action plan with you over the next few Sundays. Our friend Martha Creek will provide us with expert guidance for this transition. Our church staff is of the highest consciousness and integrity, and I know that they will work together to serve in your best interest. As a congregation, you are a bright light in the Unity movement.
I know that there is someone who is ready to step forward as your new minister. You are such a loving and committed congregation. I know that they will find the same warm and loving welcome and sense of community that you have shared with me.
During these next three months, I want to have a chance to thank each and every one of you for your loving support. I have been very fortunate to serve as your minister. I will always hold you in my heart.
In Loving Gratitude,
COOKING LESSONS FROM A DOG
by Greg Barrette
Have you ever tried to simultaneously cook six pots on a stove top, in anticipation of a large holiday banquet? The challenge is to catch each one before it boils over. You find yourself moving your attention from one pot, to the other, to the next, until you are back stirring the first one. Not a very efficient way to cook!
More than thirty years ago, I accepted a position at a church that reminded me of that image. Their last four ministers had been driven out in a span of eleven months. I had arrived there on the third anniversary of its founding. I guess I just had never lived on a beach, and wanted to try it out.
And, being young, I felt invincible.
Not so fast.
Soon after I had arrived, I was presented with several problems that I had never heard of before, in or out of ministerial school, or since. I was “stirring all of the pots”, and saw the beach across the road from my lodgings as the perfect place to figure out each and every one.
My intellect was in overdrive as I was furiously scribbled down my tangled thoughts about these many problems, when three dogs showed up and started kicking sand onto my carefully staged beach towel/workspace. When I tried to shoo them away, the leader—and I swear he gave me a look that said “stoopid human!”—grabbed my reef shoe and took off with it, down the beach.
“Hey!” The second dog took it from him, and passed it along to the third. They were paying a game of doggie keepaway! Just as I caught up with one, the next one would grab it and run away and splash out into the water, or race down the beach, all the while shooting me looks of superiority and playfulness. I was offended and outraged. Being a powerful, important human, I had things to do, pots to stir, problems to solve!
After a while, I began to laugh at my predicament, and even to enjoy it. Here was a problem that I wasn’t equipped to solve! The more we played, the more we all got into it!
I began to feel like I was one of them. The thought occurred to me: what if I really let go and became a dog? And so I looked up into the skies, threw back my head and started howling!
All three dogs stopped dead in their tracks and stared. They didn’t know what to do! One by one, they all started howling in harmony with me. It felt liberating, in the light of all of my current troubles. My reef shoe lay dropped and forgotten in the sand, as we out-howled each other, until I found myself fully absorbed in being a dog, singing my part in a choir of howls!
After a long time passed, I remembered why I had gone to the beach. The sun was getting low in the sky. It wasn’t that I was going to be late for anything, but fun’s fun and work’s work and I simply must be getting back to my problem solving and pot stirring!
I picked up my shoe and walked back to the beach towel, ignoring the playful nips and yaps of my three new dog-mates. When I sat down and pulled out my pen and paper, one of them grabbed the OTHER shoe and, this time, swam out to the deepest water. I picked up the first one for safekeeping, and took out after him. I will always remember the look of disappointment that dog gave me when I finally got my shoe back. It was as if he was saying with utter disgust “You don’t even have enough good sense to be a dog!”
I wish I could say that I grasped the lesson that had just been handed to me by the universe. But I didn’t. I unsuccessfully tried to solve each and every one of those problems for months, using my intellect. They got worse, for all my effort. It took much too long for me to finally reflect back on that day at the beach and see the light.
The hidden lesson was this: the way to deal with six boiling over pots on a stovetop is not to stir each one in turn, driving yourself crazy. The answer is TO TURN DOWN THE HEAT!
THAT is what playing with the dogs was about. THAT is what they were teaching me--to open up to that playful, intuitive part of myself that could rise above the problem into the space of the solution.
Who sent those four-legged angels to me? Their arrival surely was no accident, even if it took me forever to receive the gift that they had brought me.
And so I began to focus on times of meditation, quieting my mind through nature and exercise, going on spiritual retreats, being an adventurer in my own life. These were effective ways of turning down the heat. I learned to do this the hard way, but eventually, I made sure that I spent sufficient time nurturing that part of me that dwells above the pot-stirring intellect that thinks that it can figure it all out. And things worked out a lot better once I did. Many of the pots (problems) were still there, but I wasn’t heating them up as much with my worried mind.
I remember reading that Mother Teresa used to require her volunteers in Calcutta to do two things. One was to meditate and pray for an hour each day. The other was to play games for a second hour.
Turning down the burners will allow us to take care of what is ours to do, with grace and ease and poise. Then we can lift up into the guiding, intuitive mind that really knows the answers.
GOD IS RARELY EARLY BUT NEVER LATE
by Greg Barrette
There is no telling how a material need might get filled, spiritually. Perhaps it is best to let go of any and all expectations of the form of the fulfillment and focus instead on feeling gratitude in advance for the answer.
For many years, the Rev. Marianne Bowers was Catherine Ponder’s editor for several of her finest books. She had a rare gift in that regard. Back in the 1970's, when we were ministerial school students together, she used to edit my articles for the minister’s magazine, Contact, and she could do it, with all of the markings, faster than I could read my own typing over her shoulder. She was that good—and that fast!
After she became the minister in San Angelo Texas, the church had a balloon mortgage payment that was coming due in two days and only $150 to spare in the bank. She told her prayer circle about the one that Myrtle Fillmore held with her staff during the Great Depression of 1890 when it looked like the fledgling Unity organization was about to fail. As they stood together in a circle holding hands, one of the workers exclaimed “Let us pray that the money holds out” to which Myrtle replied, “No, let us pray that our faith holds out”.
Then Marianne and her circle did their prayer work of gratitude, giving thanks for the supply that was sure to come.
The very next day, a woman placed what she thought was a prayer request in her coat pocket. After she got home, Marianne reached into that pocket and was surprised to discover that it wasn’t a prayer request, but a check from a wealthy Texas oilman who had never set foot in her church and who needed a charitable tax break, written for just more than they owed. This resulted in Marianne’s immortal words:
“This proved to me the adage ‘God is never late’. God's rarely early—but is never late!"
TRUE PRAYER IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART
by Greg Barrette
Three Sanskrit scholars passed by a beggar who was chanting Vedic prayers by the side of the road and, after not placing any money in his begging bowl, corrected his pronunciation with haughty disdain. They were surprised later in the day while crossing a river on a ferry boat when they heard the splash of the same beggar--who was walking on the water and asking them to please refresh his memory as to the correct way to pronounce those prayers!
Jesus said that it is the spirit that gives life, not the form. Our spirituality must lead with the heart first, not stuck in our heads. If we are too rigorous in our adherence to only one way of languaging our prayers, we may lose the spirit and choke the love out of our God-experience.
Emilie Cady, who wrote Unity's great and seminal textbook Lessons in Truth, spent the whole first three-quarters of that book powerfully making the case that God is not a being, God IS Being--and that God is not a person, but principle. But then in the last chapter, she asks us to consider not giving up our warm personal relationship with our divine mother and father in whose arms we can rest. She admits that it is paradoxical and suggests that we get over ourselves. "God as cold principle alone will not suffice any more than in the past God as personality." "Both are true, and both are necessary parts of a whole. The two were made to go together, and in the highest cannot be separated." We understand this paradox instinctively. Jesus told us to "become as a child" and a child leads with the heart.
Maya Angelou would never have had her life-transforming experience when she recited Cady's prayer "God loves me" during a class with her mentor, without this flexible relationship with the Divine. Myrtle Fillmore, Unity's co-founder, whose healing prayer began "I am a child of God" also related to God in this heart-centered way.
My older sister's miracle healing resulted after my mom repeated a prayer that she had received from Silent Unity that began "You are God's whole and perfect child" for a year.
She was born with massive birth defects. The prognosis was that she would never walk. My parents received the address of Silent Unity and through constant prayer treatment for a year, they were led to an experimental reconstruction of my sister's pelvis that at best would only allow her to hobble with braces painfully for the rest of her life. When the cast was removed at two years of age, she developed normally and had not a trace of a limp, not a speck of pain. The doctors had never seen this. They attributed it to prayer.
I almost always use the language of the God within, in prayer. That said, sometimes I don't hold to a rigid construct. At times, I need to know that I am God's child, and love and cherish my higher power. I don't lead with this, but there are times when, like Ernest Wilson, I just need to feel held by God.
Remember the paradox of light being both a particle and a wave? Sometimes we need to see it one way, and sometimes we must see the other. Spirituality is a jewel containing infinite facets and at times it is helpful to view things from the opposite side. A bird that cannot open and close its wings as a crippled bird. A hand that I cannot open and close is a broken hand.
A teacher many years ago shared with me that in this world of polarity and paradox, something can be true and then pushed so far that it ceases to be true. Theological legalism is not rooted in love. And love is the fulfilling of the law.
As we do healing prayer treatment, we must understand poetry, metaphor, and paradox. Spirituality must be held with a light hand. Just as a bird must flap its wings open and closed, we must also be flexible in our approach to the Divine". I remember as a teenager hearing Ernest Wilson say that he understood that God was immutable impersonal principle, but that sometimes he just needed god with skin on. We know instinctively what he meant.
We all understand the poetry and paradox of mysticism and spirituality. In an English class, would a teacher tell the poet that they needed to rewrite "my love is like a red, red rose" because no person is composed of vegetable matter? In the same way, would we tell a person who lights a candle before meditation to rid themselves of that primitive barbaric practice because, after all, spirit is certainly more than wax and wick?
The language of prayer is only a signpost, Eckhart Tolle says. It points to something more. We must take care not to turn these signposts into the destination itself. Flexibility is a must. "Become as a child," Jesus said. True prayer is the language of the heart.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR SOUL
by Greg Barrette
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
So said the Persian mystic Rumi.
All of God, all of the essence of the whole universe, is contained in your very center, the soul of you. THAT is your true identity. THAT is your soul.
But you've got to get to know that soul.
If you wanted to become friends with someone, what would you do?
You'd hang out with them. You'd spend time with them. You would be fully present with them, as much as you were capable. You'd listen to them.
Well, what are you doing with your soul?
Are you spending time hanging out with your soul awareness?
What are you doing every day to get to know your soul, to quicken and awaken your soul evolution? Are you making friends with it?
This is a simple analogy. What are your spiritual practices, your walks in the woods, your times that remind you that everything in your life exists to grow you spiritually?
In a time of crisis, I posted two signs by my phone: "This can only bless me" and "This can only heal me". They kept me on track in my quest to connect with my soul. This got me in touch with the fact that everything in my life was moving me forward.
Your soul evolution is always the most important thing. So, whatever you think is going on in your life is secondary. The things you think are important come second. The only thing is your soul evolution.
YOUR HOLY WEEK PROCESS
by Greg Barrette
Your Lenten season is a gathering light that has been expanding into the spiritual powerhouse of Holy Week. Holy week has three stages, representing the three-step process of fulfilling your every dream. 1) What do you want? 2) What is in the way? and 3) What are you going to do with it?
WHAT DO YOU WANT? Palm Sunday is your first step. The people of Jerusalem all shouted out their support for the possibility that Jesus represented to them. Every prayer needs its initial shout! Enthusiastically affirm what you would like to see happen and initiate the course of its fulfillment.
WHAT IS IN THE WAY? The releasing process of Good Friday allowed Jesus to throw off all that prevented his resurrection. Now, you too can face and overcome the false beliefs that are keeping you from your answered prayer. Write these down and burn them! Or shred or flush or tear them up!
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH IT? Resurrection means the fulfillment of your heart's desire, once you have released all that is in the way. It is the synthesis of these first two steps that leads to your answered prayer, which you must accept with an open heart and then let it outform.
Faith is your willingness to go through these three stages, and especially the last. When you hold your heart open for a new possibility to emerge, it moves out from the realm of imagination and takes shape in the formed world.
Happy Holy Week!
DESIRE AND THE SOUL
by Gregory Barrette
You are a soul in evolution and every experience in your life is there to move your soul forward.
When you are dealing with a difficult person, this means that you can say "I am using this person to heal my soul". When you are dealing with a difficult situation, you can say to yourself "This can only bless me. This can only heal me". Everything in your life becomes the stuff out of which your soul gets to evolve.
But what is your soul?
It's hard to talk about because it's not physical. You cannot measure it.
Maybe we have a wrong idea about the soul. Do you think that you have a soul? Or do you think that you ARE a soul? That changes everything.
Then you share the experience of the Catholic mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who said "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." Once you identify yourself with the soul first, what Jesus called "the kingdom", "the pearl of great price", "the treasure in the field", all of which is really your soul consciousness and true essence, then you begin to live your life from within out.
I used to think of my soul as bobbing way up above me, like a helium balloon on a string. I thought that maybe through hard work or some mystical experience, I might be able to pull that balloon down and experience my soul, hugging it tightly. That is, until somebody pissed me off and then I'd let go of it and it'd go flying back up into the blue yonder.
But that's not my soul. Because I don't have a soul. I AM my soul.
I might forget about that fact, but it is always true nonetheless. And knowing this changes everything.
What does it take to generate this soul experience? The desire for it. And it is worth every effort we make to gain it. The healing of the soul, the unfoldment of the soul, the evolution and subsequent enlightenment of the soul is worth whatever it takes. It truly is the pearl of great price.
As the great Sufi mystic poet Rumi wrote, "Listen, o drop, give yourself up without regret, and in exchange, gain the entire ocean. Listen, o drop, bestow upon yourself this honor and in the arms of the sea become secure. Who in the name of God could be so fortunate? An ocean wooing a drop? In God's name, in God's name, sell and buy at once! Give up a drop and take this sea full of pearls!"