Spiritual Bloom

Boldly Go
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader

April 28, 2022

The introduction for each episode of the original Star Trek television series ended with, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” The word boldly is an adverb defined as confidently and courageously, showing a willingness to take risks.

We are in a time of rapid transformation in our world – a call to live boldly and confidently. With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, we sheltered at home for an undetermined amount of time. The initial forecast of about two weeks turned into nearly two years. During this time, people learned how resilient they were and discovered personal areas of resistance to be unbound to survive. As a result, everyone entered a rapid growth spurt simultaneously. In 12-step programs, there is a saying, “You only have to change one thing: everything.” That became real for everyone. And we did change.

Then, as always, changes occurred again. People had time to re-evaluate their lives and what matters most. Clarity rang like a bell for everyone. Life-changing choices became easier to make. With the clarity and understanding that we don’t know what the future holds, and this moment now is all we have, making significant changes became easier to comprehend. They boldly went where they had not gone before.

I recently read an allegory to the Parable of the Eagle, attributed to African intellectual, missionary, and powerful educator, James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey. In short form and paraphrased, a man goes out into the woods to catch an animal and returns with an eagle. He places the eagle in his yard with chickens, ducks, and turkeys. He trains the eagle to be like a chicken. After five years pass, a naturalist comes by and sees the eagle and attempts to get it to fly. Each time the eagle jumps down to join his chicken friends on the ground pecking at the chicken feed. The owner confidently declares that the eagle is not an eagle but a chicken. The banter continues, and after two failed attempts to get the eagle to fly, the naturalist is inspired to take the eagle out of his environment. The eagle trembles initially and appears to be filled with new life but does not fly. Finally, the naturalist turns the eagle to face the sun, and the eagle, with his eagle heart, lets out an eagle cry and soars away, up, up, up, higher, and higher, never to be seen by them again. This story is rich and meaningful, with a lesson for us all.

If you feel Divine discontent in your life, perhaps you are an eagle pretending to be a chicken. These are the voyages of the (insert your name here) Enterprise. Commit to living with spiritual boldness as we enter the month of May. Live under the radical premise of “I AM Divine.”

Say yes to discoveries, adventures, and challenges. Say yes to boldly going where you have not gone before. You are magnificent.

And so it is.

Creative Glory
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader

April 14, 2022

The dictionary defines the word create as bringing something into existence. So it’s no wonder that when the topic of creativity arises, if you haven’t produced a painting, drawing, music piece, writing, or otherwise, you respond with great clarity, “I’m not creative.”

The truth is that we are all creative. I’m not talking about producing a product or a performance. I’m talking about you creating your life and your experience on the planet at this time. We are in constant co-creation with the Divine. What are we creating? Our lives. The Science of Mind teaches there is one God, common to all, in and through all things; its nature is love, and our thoughts are creative. Time to remove that “I’m not creative” statement from your vocabulary!

When you realize that you have the power to create a life for yourself that you love, your life becomes a glorious exploration and adventure. You jump out of bed each morning with joyful anticipation and cheerful expectancy of all that will be revealed on this dazzling day. Today is a beautiful day, one that you have never experienced before.

Dr. Ernest Holmes observed: “We are chemists in the laboratory of the Infinite. What, then shall we create?” Good question! You can start by creating your day. Go deeper than looking at your calendar and determining what to eat and when to exercise. I find that beginning my day with gratitude, prayer, and meditation lays the foundation for my experience of the best day ever. What works for you?

Imagine how you would like your day to unfold. Maybe you’re ready to experience ease and grace or a peaceful day. Perhaps you have some tasks you’d love to tackle efficiently and clearly before noon. You might enjoy connecting with friends on this day or trying something new.

When you state your desire of how the day will unfold aloud as if it is happening now, you are off to a great start consciously co-creating with the Divine. For example, today is a peaceful day of ease and grace. I complete my to-do list with efficiency by noon. See where I’m going with this? Name it and claim it. Then watch it unfold as you do your part.

What we think about, we bring about. What you are thinking right now is creating your experience. There is no need to get superstitious about this. It’s not that every thought produces itself externally. The sum of your thought patterns – those thoughts on a playback loop that rise randomly throughout the day and hook you into believing them.

Easter is a time of renewal – a reminder of life restored. It’s a great time of year to cleanse your mind of vintage thought patterns and replace them with those that would reveal the finished kingdom through which you walk. You are co-creating with Spirit a life you love. Rise and shine, beloved. Enjoy yourself.

And so it is.

Choosing Joy
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader
March 31, 2022

Ernest Holmes wrote in his book, Think Your Troubles Away, “If we would know a God of joy, we must become joyful!”

When we feel life’s challenges, we might mistakenly think we have to give up our joy and playfulness to be upset and angry. True joy is deep happiness not based on favorable circumstances in our lives, such as the weather being to your liking, the store carrying that shoe you love in your shoe size or getting that job you wanted. True joy stays strong and is malleable like a bamboo tree, bending and bouncing back to where it was.

Joy is a spiritual quality, and when you feel it, you are experiencing the expression of Divine or Universal goodness. It’s deep-rooted inspired happiness that regenerates us.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “If you wish to be happy, argue with yourself on the side of happiness; take the side you wish to carry and be careful not to talk on both sides, or to argue stronger for sorrow than for joy. You are the attorney for the case and will win or lose according to your plea.”

The quote above reminds me of the Native American parable of the two wolves. A grandfather tells his grandson about a fight between two wolves happening within him. He tells him, “One wolf is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. Both wolves are fighting to the death. The same fight is going on inside you and every other person.”

The grandson takes a moment to reflect on this. Then, he looks up at his grandfather and asks, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee gave a simple reply. “The one you feed.”

Remember that you have the power of choice. You can choose how you would like to move through the world and which wolf you will feed. When you take a backward step and become the observer of your life, you can see how and where you have the power of choice. Then, standing firm in your spiritual authority, you can make new, fulfilling choices for yourself that lead to living a life you love. So enter your plea and make a strong case for joy today. You deserve it. Argue for your happiness.

This Sunday at Awakening Ways Spiritual Community, we have the founders of OhMyGod Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world of Joy, providing the music and message for us with a powerful workshop following the service. So if you need a little boost with activating joy in your life, join us at 10 AM at the Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero.

Your joy can not be taken away from you by anyone. It is a constant that lives within you, waiting for you to notice it.

And so it is.

Laughter is Good Medicine
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader
March 17, 2022

A priest, a rabbit, and a minister walk into a bar. The rabbit says, “I might be a typo.” Did you laugh? Studies have shown that laughter releases endorphins that reduce pain and the symptoms of stress, can increase job performance, and connect people emotionally. In addition, laughter has a beautiful way of pulling one into the present moment, dissolving thoughts, and propelling us into a state of joyful bliss.

The NeuroLeadership Institute tells us, “Laughing swaps the cortisol in our bloodstream with highly sought-after chemicals in the brain: dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins.” Dopamine can enhance learning, motivation, and attention, oxytocin creates feelings of relatedness, and endorphins trigger feelings of pleasure.

Laughter is a great spiritual practice to balance the solemnity of our life experience as spiritual beings having a human experience. So call your funny friend, watch a funny movie or your favorite stand-up comedian, read some funny jokes, and let yourself laugh.

Or you can set a timer for sixty seconds and laugh continuously until the timer goes off.   We practiced this at our gathering last Sunday, and it was beautiful. You can engage in this practice with your family and friends. I encourage you to check in with yourself before practicing – what is your mood, what are the sensations felt in your body? Then check in again after your laugh session. Notice how a little bit of laughter transforms you. At our experiment on Sunday, we all noticed a lightness of being and a magnificent shift in the room’s energy.

You can also practice laughter with laughter yoga – it’s a thing. There are online and in-person classes available, as well as YouTube videos that will guide you in the practice of laughter. Get creative with activating joy in your life through laughter. Take giant steps or small steps with a friend, blow some bubbles, or make something else up to laugh.

Did you hear about the Buddhist monk who leaned over to another and quietly asked, “Are you not thinking what I’m not thinking?”

We are all disturbed by the Russo-Ukrainian war and the horror that war brings, and we do not forget about the suffering of the Ukrainian people. However, we can hold multiple Truths at once. We can hold and know peace for the world and at the same time take ourselves a little less seriously.

If we take ourselves too seriously, our grave and somber disposition will lead us straight into the gates of despair and depression, which is not helpful for us or the world.

Laughter is good medicine for the soul. If we can learn to laugh at ourselves, not only will we experience less stress, worry, and fear, we will never cease to be amused!

Dr. Ernest Holmes wrote, “Have the will to be well, to be happy, and to live in joy.”  Happiness is your natural state, and it’s a good day to let it be present in your life.

And so it is.

Practicing Peace
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader
March 3, 2022

With the devastating unfoldment of the Russo-Ukrainian war, there is a call to peace in the world, far more significant than I have ever observed. My social media feeds are filled with prayers of peace and hope for Ukraine.

Our prayers for peace are empty if we find ourselves at war in our minds and hearts, for example, when we experience inner conflict with our beliefs, unforgiveness, resentment, judgment, shame, guilt, and even complaining. To experience the peace we desire, we must dissolve the structures we have built up against peace. So today, let’s plant seeds of peace.

Scripture states, “A double-minded person is unstable in all their ways.” [James 1:8] Someone with a double-mind has in the mind opposite or opposing views at different times. They are restless and confused in their thoughts, actions, and behaviors. Such a person is always in conflict with themself. One torn by such inner conflict can never lean confidently into the God of their understanding.

Correspondingly, the term unstable is analogous to a drunken person who cannot walk a straight line, swaying one way, then another. They have no defined direction and, as a result, do not get anywhere. Such a person is “unstable in all they do.”

If my prayer is for peace and I am holding onto resentment, I am unstable in all my ways. If you are hoping and praying for an experience of peace, your call to action is to be the peace you desire to see in the world. The world I see is the world in me, and if I see war, conflict, people suffering, fear, and more, how does that reflect my consciousness?

Hope is not a strategy. Sometimes, hope is the next rung on the ladder that can lift us out of despair; however, we must continue to the next rung and not rest on our laurels. We must get to work. Forgive, be kind, study peace until you become a peaceful presence in the world, no matter what.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. It is confidence or trust not based on proof. Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation and desire. Faith says it is so now. Hope says, well, maybe it might happen if we are lucky in the future.

Faith is like the gasoline for your car. You have your car and hope to go to Carmel. Without gas, you’re not going to get very far. You have the fuel to get there when you put the gas in your vehicle. You don’t simply hope to get there in a car with no gas. You have an action to take. Please put the fuel in your vehicle as you continue to pray for peace. Have faith that your consciousness makes a difference and that your work to know peace in your own life affects the world.

And so it is.

The Greatest Love
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader
February 17, 2022

Spirit is the greatest love of all – the greatest love that ever was and ever will be. It’s the love that is there when the objects of our adoration disappear. It’s the love that stays with us because it is rooted in us. It can’t be taken away. It is with us everywhere we go and will be with us when we leave this planet. We return to this love when we leave our physical bodies.

Is it possible to surrender entirely to this love while we are still here in these earthly bodysuits? Yes! It was Rumi who said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” There is a love within us that permeates out to every aspect of the self and out to all.

What kind of barriers do we build against this love? When we hold on to resentments, past hurts, anger, and upsets, we condemn a part of ourselves from the experience of love. We have placed yellow tape around the area and will not go there. You can do an internal scan to locate the places where you have yet to dissolve these hardened parts and then look at them in a new way.

While holding on to anger about other people, places or experiences gives us a sense of control, it also reinforces the wall around that area of our consciousness, ensuring that love cannot enter. We are loving beings by nature, and it takes more effort to keep walls up than to allow our natural state to do what it will do – love.

Surrendering the need for control is a good beginning. Then turn the upset over to the God of your understanding. Let it deal with the reconciliation in your heart. Spirit has mighty things to do through you. You landed in this earth suit, on the planet, at this time with a purpose, a mission.   There is work to be done through you that only you can do. There’s a reason you are here now, and the time has come to let the sunlight of the Spirit shine brightly in all areas of your consciousness. Yes, even in that place.

Allowing yourself to be loved, every part of yourself, by you, is a beautiful thing. Sometimes we tell ourselves we are not lovable. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is your birthright to experience love, and Divine love lives within you. It’s doing its very best to shine through you. If Spirit loves you exactly as you are, can you love yourself exactly as you are, too?

Be aware that as you dissolve the barriers you have built within you against love, spontaneous joy, lightness of being, and giddy bliss are likely to ensue. Happiness, freedom, and laughter follow, as Divine love causes your eyes to sparkle. Totally worth it.

And so it is.

Practice Makes Permanent
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader
February 3, 2022

Lawyers practice law, doctors practice medicine, and humans practice living. Those who have dedicated themselves to a life of spiritual living practice improving their conscious contact with the God of their understanding, usually done through a similar set of practices for most world religions. Some include prayer, meditation, sacred service, giving where one is spiritually fed, to charity, or both, spiritual education, and gathering with those of like-mind to expand understanding and awareness of spiritual principle.

A mystic is a person who has a direct experience of the sacred. The experience is usually a flash of illumination or a moment of Divine Truth. Some people court the Divine and cultivate a relationship with It, resulting in many flashes described above. Sometimes they are sequential and long-lasting but are fleeting moments without practice. When an embodiment of principle occurs, the flash becomes an eternal flame within us that can never be extinguished, even in our darkest days.

With everything, we are required to practice. I remember when I discovered hot yoga for the first time many years ago. I was a devoted yogini, serious about my practice which began with learning first to stay in the heated room. After that, I began to learn the poses, one bend, and one hold at a time until I could get fully into the pose.

In my mind, I was learning the poses to strengthen my body. However, one bonus resulting from my practice was gaining the ability to place meditative space between impulse and action. One often feels the urge to get up and leave that hot room, especially if one is new to the practice. Impulses, like thoughts, are not all to be acted upon or believed. When able to feel our impulses and allow them to move through us without taking action, we gain control over those impulses.

The dictionary definition of practice is the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, instead of theories relating to it.

Ernest Holmes wrote, “I would rather see a student of this science prove its principle than to have them repeat all the words of wisdom that have ever been uttered.” Thus our call to action is to use the principles we study and talk about and find ways to implement the principles in our lives. Otherwise, it is just theory.

Ever notice how when our prayers are for peace, it doesn’t arrive the next day from Amazon in a lovely packaged box? Instead, we are given opportunities to practice being peaceful. It’s all about the practice.

Practice makes permanent. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. Instead, you can verify spiritual principles in your life that will help propel you to living the life you came here to live, to being all that you came here to be. As we prove spiritual principles in our lives, we strengthen our faith.

Practice makes permanent. Let’s get to work!

And so it is.

 

Be Curiously Engaged
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader
January 20, 2022

Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck said, “Joy is exactly what’s happening, minus our opinion of it.”

Are you experiencing life as it is, or are you experiencing your thoughts about life? Our thoughts have power and can seem like the truth. Often they are based on past experiences cultivated by a need to protect or defend. What if, instead, we allowed our past experiences to inform us but not run us? It is possible with curiosity.

Curiosity allows us to be present, in the moment, observing what is. Being curious enables us to engage with our experience without resistance, without being preoccupied with our thoughts and stories (our commentary) about what’s happening.

In a leadership course I once took, I learned that we tend to take what happened in our lives and collapse that with our story about what happened. It is in that collapse where our suffering occurs. When we pull the two apart, we have what happened and our story about what happened. Now we are empowered to choose whether we want to release our story about what happened or keep it. In keeping it, we will continue to feed and perpetuate it with our precious mental energy, allowing it to grow and become our way of moving through the world. But, on the other hand, releasing our story about what happened liberates us. Left with what happened and no story about it, it is much easier for us to face, feel, process, and heal without the story.

Sooner or later, you’re going to realize that a singular belief has dictated your entire experience on the planet for a long time and decide to release it. So you might as well make it happen sooner than later.

Dr. Ernest Holmes was widely known as “the eternal question mark.” He was curious about everything. Curiosity is about embracing the now and observing what is. With focused attention, our curiosity enables us to rediscover a natural inquisitiveness, just like when we were children.

Back to what Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck said, “Joy is exactly what’s happening, minus our opinion of it.” We were each birthed into existence on the planet at this time for a purpose. The more we can release our stories and be present in the now, the quicker we become who we came here to be. The world needs us to be all we came here to be. So be curiously engaged; get in the game of what’s happening right now in your immediate surroundings. Your time as a spectator is over.

Observe, ask, wonder, repeat. As you consciously engage in the practice of being curious, you will feel the sweet liberation of living life in the now where anything is possible. Spontaneous joy will erupt and bubble up from your toes. The best gift is that you get to choose. Once you have chosen to be curious, it’s all about the practice until your practice becomes permanent.

And so it is.

 

Everyday Wonder
By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue,
Spiritual Leader
January 6, 2022

Our seed of awakening for January at Awakening Ways Spiritual Community is Wonder. It’s the first of our 12-month journey through 2022 of Living Everyday Wonder.

Too often, we save our experience of wonder for rare occasions, when if we look around and take notice, we will find the wonder in all things ordinary. French novelist Marcel Proust observed: “The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” This quote is appropriate for us as we use new glasses with lenses of wonder and experience it regularly.

As we learn to live in wonder, we find awe in the ordinary things of our daily lives. Below I have used the five senses to illustrate examples as a simple way to incorporate wonder into your everyday life.

I find wonder at that holy and sacred moment of my first sip of coffee in the morning. I also revel in the Divine splendor of the heavenly aroma of a fresh bag of coffee beans opened for the first time. The connection felt when holding the hand of someone near and dear to me. Then there’s the sweet musical sound of my beloved speaking or singing or the sound of a parent’s or child’s voice. Lastly, there’s that way we connect with the eternal as we experience the beauty of a baby or our significant others, or art, and so much more.

The Greek philosopher Socrates observed: “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” Our curiosity in knowing and learning new things causes us to question things we already know and accept, causing us to seek truth and attain wisdom.

How magnificent is it that we can see the world around us with the eyes of wonder, and we can also explore our inner world with the eyes of wonder? We are gentle with ourselves as we investigate thought patterns and beliefs that no longer serve us.

Seeing with the eyes of wonder is like looking through a window to the eternal, which captivates the soul. It pulls us in, and as we connect with the eternal presence of the Divine, we begin to walk a new path of gratitude for the simplicity of being alive.

When I contemplate everyday wonder, I can’t help but imagine ice cream cones, airplanes, clothes, and computers, to name a few. Have you considered the wonder of planes when you are about to take off on a trip to your favorite tropical island? Or the awe of sitting at a computer or using your phone to communicate via email to another instantly?

There is so much of this Divine creation for us to be amazed and awed. So let us begin on this glorious day to see, appreciate, and bless the everyday magnificence we experience, from paper clips to pillows, clouds, clothes, people, and everything in between.

Something wonderful is happening here, wherever you find yourself in every moment.

And so it is.