Who Has the Power?

I was almost at the bottom of the psychiatric hospital hierarchy in 1994. I didn’t mind, but I was confused how a spiritual truth like “God is the only power ” had any reality in my every day life. Eventually it bothered me enough to make a demand on God. “If You really are the only power, show me what this means at the hospital.”

I remember vividly walking into the hospital that day, “Okay God, I’m ready.”

In a tiny closet/staff space, I finished my meditation during a break. One of my co-workers came in and was immediately curious about what I had been doing. I generally kept my spiritual practices to myself, but as she was suddenly asking me lots of questions, I shared more than usual. “I think it’s cool that you meditate. I’d like to do more of that myself but can never find the time.” I shared with her my practice of God first, no matter what, every day as much as I possibly could. It was fun to be talking with someone at work about my spiritual life.

Later in the shift, the charge nurse sitting with other nursing staff, made an unexpected comment to me. “I notice, Harriet, whenever we have to respond to a code to contain aggressive behavior, you remain so calm through the whole thing. It’s so tense and emotional, why doesn’t it seem to faze you?”

I was surprised by her comment and question as I hadn’t realized anyone was aware of my small part in these often volatile moments. My focus during codes was to take the action I needed to, while keeping my attention as much as I could, on the wholeness of God as the person who was in trouble. That focus kept me from getting distracted by judgments or fears. As I answered the nurse, I was aware of how intently she was listening. I felt seen and respected.

Then lastly, during this same shift, out of the blue one of the doctors who I didn’t know very well, began peppering me with questions in the hallway. “You’re so different than other people, I can’t figure you out.” He wanted to know what motivated me, why I talked about the things I did (I remember wondering how he knew what I talked about,) and why I didn’t seem as effected by our environment as others. I gave him a vague answer as I was clear he was using a battery of questions as an expression of his discomfort at my lack of comformity and not out of genuine interest in the answers. He wanted to let me know he felt my difference and he wasn’t sure if he liked it.

This is how God answered my question of what God’s power looked like in my every day life.

God doesn’t demand, dominate, manipulate, control or show-off, but She is making a difference all the time whether we are aware of it or not.

To God be the glory.

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Magnetic Beauty

She stood to my right as I walked off the elevator, and upon seeing her I pulled back, constricted by her unappealing appearance. Then I went to the nurses’ station to begin my shift at Dominion Psychiatric Hospital and found she was one of the people to whom I was assigned that day.

Still being a bit resistant, I found her in her room, introduced myself and began talking with her about who she was and what brought her to the hospital. My heart broke as she told me of the horrific abuse of her childhood. She shared her writing about her experiences and its lasting impact on her life and my soul hurt listening about things beyond human comprehension. Being present with her, my heart wide open, I saw her for who she really was and was magnetized by her extraordinary beauty that transcended, yet included, her past.

When our hearts meet in the purity of God’s beauty, we have the experience of falling in love, the walls of separation drop away and our hearts connect underneath the surface of life. This, to me, is heaven on earth, falling in love over and over again as we see and feel with eyes and heart of God. I had been blind and ignorant when I first saw her, but her story, her expression of life, healed my blindness, opened and filled my heart with heavenly beauty

Every shift I worked after this first day, she was the first person I sought upon arrival as I desired to connect with her and hear about her unfoldng healing, and delight in her creative expressions. We met in the depths of her Soul and there beauty reigned supreme.

May we remember to let go of our shallow eyes that see only the surface of appearances, and instead sink into the depths of God’s love and see through Her eyes and feel with Her heart, the queendom of love, beauty, Heaven Itself, right here on earth.

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God’s Healing Light

She came into the hospital suicidal. Having been to this psychiatric hospital a few times before, done therapy, been on various medications, nothing had worked and now she was done. When I came in for my shift, I was assigned to sit with her as she wouldn’t get out of bed to attend any of her therapy groups, and they wanted to know she was safe.

I went into her bedroom, the curtains drawn to block out the light, and sat in a chair next to her bed as she lay immobile. She repeated to me what she had told the nursing staff, “There’s no point to go to therapy, it doesn’t work, medication doesn’t work, nothing works.”

Her hopelessness melted my heart as I remembered the time I had felt that way. “Yeah, I get it. I don’t have any answers, I have been there and it was the worst. I can tell you what I did though, I don’t know if it’s any help, but I’ll share it in case it may be.

I was brought to my knees in hopelessness, like you, having done therapy, learned spiritual principles, and yet none of it had changed the pain inside me. In the midst of the hopelessness though, came the unshakable clarity that God was my only reason to live and with that as the light in my inner darkness, I knew the way out of the pain was to live my life for God first every day. I also knew, and I don’t know if this is important to you or not, it was important for me to make the commitment in the Name and Spirit of Jesus Christ. Then I had to figure out how to actually do this…”

I kept talking, and as I did, the room filled with a swirling Light energy; everything including “solid” objects like her bed and my chair, the floor, the walls, as well as both of us, were in this swirling pure Light. I was now in the witness state, outside of my body observing the Light, watching myself talking. Then all at once I knew it was done. It was a definitive knowing not a vague hope and without another word, I got up and walked out of the room.

About 10 minutes later, as I worked at the nursing stage across from her room, she emerged. The curtains were opened behind her, she was dressed with make-up on, and she shined with a big smile on her face. “Do you know where my group is?” I pointed her in the direction, and off she went to continue her journey of healing in the human realm, even as the healing had already happened spiritually.

May we all open to God’s healing light during the dark times of our lives.

To God be the glory.

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My Buttons Get Pushed

“You can trust him” was what I heard from The Christ in the vision with Yogananda calling me to minister back in December 1993.

I knew almost nothing about Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 – 1952), so I was surprised and delighted to find his autobiography in a bookstore. As I read it, I found myself challenged by all the supernatural stories he recounted about various Hindu gurus. I was skeptical about these stories and complained to Jesus – “You said I can trust him, but You can’t expect me to believe all these stories”

It also felt like the special place I had reserved for Jesus Christ was being tampered with by Yogananda. Raised in a protestant Christian tradition, the only person I had ever heard of working miracles was Jesus and I didn’t like that Yogananda was moving in on His territory. Buttons I didn’t know I had were being pushed by the very person Christ told me I could trust. So on the one hand, I was unsettled.

On the other hand, I was inspired by Yogananda’s call for people to have and sustain direct realization of God. He offered a path to enlightenment, and since I was told I could trust him, I embraced this possibility. I sent away to Self-Realization Fellowship – Yogananda’s organization- for his home study lessons which focused primarily on meditation with the aim of enlightenment.

I now I had my first real meditation teacher and gave myself to his strict instructions. I liked it and committed myself fully to his path. I was still uncertain and uncomfortable with aspects of Yogananda, something I would work out in years to come, but I was clear about wanting to be enlightened and I was grateful for his spiritual authority and guidance.

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I Receive My Call to Ministry

“Dear God, I am so grateful I get to serve You in my work at the hospital, and I long to do more. Which direction do I go? Please show me Your Will.”

Within a few weeks the answer came unequivocally in a vision dream. It was the fall of 1993. The dream started with the voice of The Christ, a voice I absolutely trusted, telling me I could trust the spiritual teachers that were suddenly before me. Before me was a Hindu teacher who I learned was Paramahansa Yogananda and a Japanese Zen teacher, who I later confirmed was Shunryu Suzuki. They were standing by the miniature bridge at Lake Shrine, where I had spent so much time during my 30 days of silence. Yogananda, was standing closer to me, on one side of the bridge, and Shunryu Suzuki was behind him on the other side of the tiny bridge.

Yogananda was looking at me and he told me that I was to be a minister. Then Rev. Russ Williams entered the vision on Yogananda’s left side and whispered in Yogananda’s ear his doubts about me being a minister. Yogananda heard all that he was saying, nodding in understanding as Russ whispered, and kept looking at me intently and saying, “you need to be a minister, you need to be a minister” and behind him, Shunryu Suzuki was nodding his head in vigorous agreement. And that was it, the vision was over, and the trajectory of my life was set in place.

I was grateful for the presence and guidance of The Christ at the beginning of the vision. Eastern spiritual teachers had been unsafe to me because I had heard on the news as a child of some of those who had been unethical when they came to the states. It is beautiful that The Christ, intimately knowing my heart, began the vision with letting me know I could trust these 2 spiritual teachers.

It was perplexing too. Why did Christ give me my call through a Hindu and a Buddhist teacher? There was no easy answer to this question. Thus, these 2 amazing and very different teachers, along with the New Thought philosophy and my love for Jesus Christ became the inspiration and sandpaper of my ministry, revealing my path day by day in a way that followed none, but in the One, it was everything.

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I Am One with Christ

My twin flame drove off to join a monastery and I began the 2nd class at Celebration Center for Spiritual Living in the fall of 1993. Immediately, I was delighted by one of the required books, Journey of Awakening by Ram Dass. He explained in clarity and playfulness the purpose of meditation and shared many different kinds of practices. I gave myself completely to the material, trying out the different meditation practices every week.

One particular practice revealed an unexpected gift. The practice was mantra meditation, which is a word or phrase silently said within, over and over. Longing to feel my connection with Christ ever since my childhood experience, I created the mantra, “I am One with Christ.”

Sitting cross-legged on my bed, in my apartment in Falls Church, VA, I closed my eyes and began saying the phrase silently. I longed to be with Christ so much, focusing without distraction was effortless.

The next thing I knew, with a little disorientation, I was an older woman in a big crowd of people. Surrounded, I became aware of this holy, fragrance that permeated the air. Feeling the magnetic pull of its’ beauty, “I” pushed my way through the crowd to find the source. I found a space and peered out to see a group of people walking by, carrying a stretcher with someone on it. Then in amazement I realized it was Jesus being carried from cross to tomb. It was Him that exuded this extraordinary, holy fragrance. I looked on in awe, humilty and a heart overflowing in love. Then, as quickly as I had arrived, I was suddenly back in my body , sitting cross-legged on my bed in Falls Church, VA

There is nothing to do but simply sit in love, gratitude and awe for the unexpected gift of being in Jesus’s presence. To God be the glory.

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A Twin Flame

Dating can be fun and I was having it at age 27. However there was definitely something missing in all the connections, I just didn’t know what it was. Then one day I found it.

My attraction to Bret was immediate and powerful as I saw him step off an elevator. We had our first conversation soon afterward and dove right into the depths, without stopping for the weather. He talked and I stood amazed. His way of speaking, his thoughts and feelings were the same things I thought and felt in the privacy of my own company. Never in my life had that hidden part of me been mirrored back to me by another person. I was hooked, not in a wild moment of emotion, rather a recognition of a connection in Spirit that was already fully formed.

Bret felt the same magnetic pulls towards me. There was no effort, we just were. Unfortunately the same cause of our connection was also the cause of our almost immediate separation. Bret’s first love for God called him to be a novitiate in a monastery. I thought of monasteries as something that existed in the middle-ages, so when he told me, it didn’t have much impact on me. Nothing could break the connection we had.

I was wrong. 3 weeks after our first conversation, Bret left for the monastery. Again, I was sure he’d be back as the magnetic force between our hearts had to be fulfilled.

Instead, I received a letter. He wrote that it was like getting his heart ripped out of his chest when he drove away. He was committed to his path however, living God first, and he wasn’t coming back.

It took me a long time to fully understand that monastics can have no contact with their old life, especially women. It was so far from any reality that I knew, I couldn’t fathom it. It made no rational sense to me. Why would anyone choose to have their freedom taken away? God was everywhere, one didn’t have to hide away in a monastary to find and live for God. The whole thing seemed ridiculous and I didn’t think for a minute that God would ask this of anyone. My emotions vacillated between anger and being heart broken.

Being with Bret was the first time in my life I hadn’t felt alone. It wasn’t the feeling of a romantic high, it was the discovery of that missing piece for which I had been longing. With Bret, I was intimately known at my core, even as I saw and loved him at his core. It wasn’t just that we loved God, it was the way we loved God that had the impact.

A friend suggested he was my twin flame. I didn’t know what that was, but it resonated from the moment I heard it. It made the acceptance that we would never be together that much more painful. 

It wasn’t until 20 years later, in 2013, sitting in Starbucks reading about Eastern Orthodox Monks in the book The Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos Markides, that I understood for the first time my soul connection with Bret. As I read, my heart burst open in recognition, “these are my people!” It turns out the hidden part of me was a monastic! This was the part of myself that I hadn’t yet fully seen and embraced though Bret revealed it to me decades earlier. Just as monastics can live apart from the world, this part of me lived apart from the rest of me.

And now I found her, my inner monastic, and it has been a wonderful homecoming ever since.

Have you ever met someone that mirrored a hidden core part of you?

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She Is, I Am

We are interested in those things we of which we are aware, and dismiss those those things of which we are unaware.

During my spiritual awakening that began in the late 80’s, I was never bothered by God being referred to as Father, and in the male gender. I grew up praying to the air, knowing God was beyond form. I grew up learning and knowing God as unconditional love and infinite wisdom. God wasn’t missing anything as my Father. Also, to the extent we may project our own father onto The Father, I loved, adored and respected my dad, so again, I felt no limit.

The summer of 1993, just after I finished the Foundations Class at the Center for Spiritual Living in VA, I flew out to San Diego to attend a New Thought conference. The speakers and the music were more inspiring and uplifting than I had ever before experienced. In this joyous state, my friend Stephanie Clarke and I took off for a day to explore Old Town San Diego.

Feeling pulled into an old Catholic Mission Church, we walked in and I beheld the statue of Mother Mary at the front of the church. Immediately I judged, “Jesus is the reason for the church, not Mary.” Walking up to Her, I looked up and thought about the Foundations class I had just taken and the teaching of First Cause and the creative process. “Well, I guess if I am a woman and I am birthed into form from First Cause, First Cause must also be a Mother. I am made in the image and likeness of First Cause, Divine Mother.” As I had this thought, the statue, or rather the spirit of Divine Mother represented by the statue, came alive and moved toward me, enveloped me and we were One.

When I had the experience of becoming One with the Christ as a young girl, I was filled with Divine Love. This experience was slightly different, it was the feeling of a wholeness in and as my being. What followed was a lightness of being and a childlike silliness.

I saw the confessional, and with excitement I went over to explore it (having never seen one before.) I went in and sat and called Stephanie over to try it. She suggested I could be offending people, which surprised me, but I didn’t want to harm and immediately came out. As soon as we walked outside the church, the energy dropped away, and I was my normal self again.

After this experience, getting to know the Divine Mother was of vital importance to me as prior to that moment She had been invisible to my awareness.

In Her invisibility, I recognized my own. My thought was to bring Her forward in my awareness, I would learn more about both of us. It didn’t happen. I read books, I joined women spiritual groups, and though I learned some things about women, I didn’t feel particularly connected with Divine Mother.

I had a professor in ministerial school who once said that masculine energy knocks on the front door and the moment you answer it tells you all about itself. Feminine energy, he said, comes in through the back door and fills the house and you don’t even know it’s there (he was comparing the feminine energy of Taosim found in most martial arts, with Hinduism and Buddhism which had come to the west in a more typically masculine form.)

For me, the Divine Mother is always there and yet She is illusive. She can suddenly touch me with Her presence, and at times with Her words, and I am guided, or healed, or given some wisdom. I have yet to figure out how She works, or even the way She works other than She can’t and won’t be confined to any concept about who She is.

I no longer read books about Her, or try to grasp onto some finite concept of who She is. I love Her and I am grateful for those moments when I feel touched by her wisdom and grace. It’s as simple and mysterious as that.

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Don’t Stop Learnin’

I didn’t like school growing up, it felt disconnected from my heart, body, and the world around me. It didn’t address the possibility of spiritual experiences like the ones I had, and it didn’t directly ask the big questions like, what is our/my purpose for being here? and what is the meaning of our/my life? And really, what’s love got to do with it? Academics, to me, seemed high-falutin, abstract and impractical.

However, as I became freer from traditional education in my twenties, I found there was an abundance of classes and workshop in my areas of interest, and with that I discovered I did love to learn! After college I had gone to an acting school, took classes at a New Thought ministerial school, took a graduate class at Georgetown University, and attended workshops and seminars at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Learning brought me alive.

In January of 1993, happily working at a private psychiatric hospital, I hungrily looked around for my next class. Rev. Michael Beckwith, the minister of the Agape International Center of Truth in Los Angeles, was my greatest inspiration spiritually and he was in an organization called United Church of Religious Science (not to be confused with either Christian Science or Scientology.) There happened to be a church near where I lived in Falls Church, VA and so I joyfully signed up for Foundations, a 13 once-a-week class, teaching universal truth principles and how to apply them to our lives.

I had been exploring, practicing and living many of the ideas for the last 6-7 years of my life, however this class synthesized the ideas in a way that clarified them brilliantly. In fact, Ernest Holmes – the founder of the United Church of Religious Science –described himself as a synthesizer of the ideas of religion, philosophy, and science. I was in the right place.

Ernest Holmes’ intention was to evolve our spiritual understanding away from an anthropomorphic God to a God of principle. For instance, this Presence, often called God (but Its true Being is beyond all names,) is beyond all time and all space, and It is all time and space. It is infinite and eternal and all form is relative and temporary. God’s Presence doesn’t come and go, It isn’t withheld or used as a reward, rather God’s presence, power and love is unchanging, absolute, birthless, deathless, transcendent, and immanent. It is the cosmos, It is this earth, all people, all cultures, all paths, the saint and the sinner, there is no place where It stops and something else begins (which would make It finite and thus, of space/time dimensionality.) One Love, One Presence, One Power, One Eternal Reality behind all temporal appearances, this was the first foundation principle that was taught in the class I took in the winter of 1993.

Another idea I learned in this class that made a large imprint in my awareness was the idea of God as First Cause. Ernest Holmes defines it this way, “First Cause is that which is the cause of all things. It is the Uncreated, from which all creation springs, the cause of all that is manifest on any plane.” First Cause is greater than all effect and includes all effect. First Cause has no past precedent, it is not bound to anything that has every happened previously, thus It is unlimited in Its possibilities moment to moment. Let that sink in. Whenever we tap into to First Cause, we can open to an entirely new perception about ourselves and our world, shifting our experience of it as well. It is a New Thought from the Uncreated.

When is the last time you let go of all the past ideas of yourself and the world and opened to an entirely New Thought?

May we never be too old to learn something new.

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Mind Blown

I loved working at the psychiatric hospital in the early 90’s. There I met people committed to their healing, and people committed to serving people in their healing. I practiced the presence of Oneness, of wholeness, of unconditional and eternal love, knowing I was God’s employee, and I was happier than I had ever been. My life was aligned.

One afternoon in 1993, on a day off from work, I relaxed on my bed and began reading old journals, something I almost never did. As I read, I happened upon this entry from August 16th, 1987:

“I had a dream the other night about how I didn’t want to die because I have so much to live for. I saw me working like in a psychiatric hospital, making friends with staff and the feeling of comfort and love was there. All the senses seemed to be at work in an effort to convince somebody (I think it was myself or maybe God – something non-identifiable – or it was trying to convince me – there were 2 things there, who was doing the convincing and who was doing the listening is unknown) that to die now and I’d miss out on a way happier life. I must say it was pretty convincing and I woke up feeling refreshed and motivated and happy at the thought of such a nice future.” Then “…all I know is I feel like things are happening to me for a purpose – like they are all leading me to something. I wonder what it is?”

My journal dropped. Here I was 6 years later living exactly the life that I had dreamt about 6 years earlier. I went through my life since 1987, all the deliberate choices I had made, the 4 times I had moved across the country, the emotional turmoil I went through that brought me to a life of surrender – how did this Being know that this was where all those choices would lead? It was mystifying, beyond what my rational mind could fathom.

I knew the teachings about the law of cause and effect like “karma,” “as you sow, so shall you reap,” and “as you believe, so shall it be done unto you.” They teach when we change our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, we create different outcomes, and this moves us from victimhood to circumstances to empowerment. I practiced it myself successfully [see my blog: The Power of Mind] so I knew them to be true.

Yet, as I took in this dream’s prophecy, what struck me was even when I thought I was choosing and creating my own life, there was something more powerful behind my thoughts guiding and directing me. What I understand now is while I was affirming what I wanted, I was also clear in my prayers that ultimately what really mattered to me was living God’s Will more than my own.

This dream showed me for the first time that God’s Will was a specific reality, not just a feeling state.  God had (and has) a definite and specific will for my life, and it wasn’t conditional. The knowing from the dream wasn’t “If Harriet does this and thinks this, then this is what will happen.” Rather the Being in the dream was clear, if Harriet stays in her body, “this is what is going to happen.”

These visions of God’s Will and fulfillment continued for many years in my life. It is a different way of living than “I create my reality” and sometimes put me at odds with the teaching I am in. However, these paradoxical ways of living, surrender and choice, are both a blessing to me as they challenge, guide, grow and humble me on this extraordinary spiritual path of awakening.

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