For the last three years, we’ve had a “word of the year.” This year it’s been “ACTION.” We know that whenever we focus on something, when we give it attention, when we affirm it, it will grow and flourish and multiply. This has certainly been a year of action at Woodland Chapel! I hear it from individuals and I see it in the progress of the church itself.
In November, we are inclined to look back and count our blessings, and I count many of the actions of this year among my most cherished blessings. Cathy Daniels and her large band of teammates have furthered the Chapel in so many ways with their Community Matters Committee. They brainstorm, then put into action, many wonderful plans for us. Because of them, we’ve had numerous workshops and seminars with great teachers, many fun social gatherings, and many service projects. Rev. Don Kerr, who, among many duties, recruits and organizes the music for Sunday morning and our upcoming Candle Lighting Service, has really outdone himself this year. The level of talent we enjoy on Sunday mornings is at an all-time high. Music inspires and supports the Sunday message, and the message has been supported brilliantly this year. Our grounds have grown in beauty thanks to the actions of the many hands of Mother Nature’s Helpers, guided by Caleen Thorsen, Phyllis Kerr, and Kathy Prather. Many, many active hours have brought us to where we are today: grateful and growing.
And then there’s me. When I declared “ACTION” in January, I wasn’t fully aware of how much INACTION I would be experiencing this year. I did take some unavoidable actions and had two major surgeries in two months this summer. One of them being a total hip replacement, my actions were severely curtailed for quite a while. (Our friend, Jerry Braza, of River Sangha, says I can now consider myself one of the select group of “hipsters”!) Being a Religious Scientist, I never ask “Why me?” I ask, “What was I thinking?” What was my consciousness that created these experiences? There is sometimes an observable one-to-one relationship between a thought and an experience. It is commonplace, for instance, to witness the person who goes around affirming “It’s the flu and cold season!” catch the flu (when others around them don’t). But it’s not always that obvious. I haven’t gone around saying, “I hope I don’t wear out my hip! I’d never want to do that!” (What you resist, persists.)
But I have identified strongly with my father who, at my very young age (are you recognizing an “affirmation” when you hear it??), was walking with two canes and never stood straight another day in his life. I watched him, I noticed all our other similarities, and, having been raised by grandparents, I was already aware of what “inevitably” happens “as you age”. Even with all the spiritual progress I’ve made and the many other conditions I’ve healed or avoided through working with the principles, I got to my sixties and, right on cue, the slice of the Race Consciousness I’d bought into about genetics kicked in and there I was this summer: INACTIVE.
So what does a Religious Scientist do when something like that slips past the Guardian at the Gate of our Consciousness and turns into an experience? First, you go all human! You blame yourself; you cry; you bemoan your inactivity; you start suffering even though you’ve always affirmed with Ernest Holmes that we no longer have to learn through suffering. Eventually (and it feels like a l-o-o-n-g eventuality at times) you take a deep breath, settle back into Principle, and, as Ram Dass said, you “work with what’s on your plate until it feeds you.”
I have been fed this year by the action of inaction. I have been forced (lovingly) by the Universe to sit down and learn much about what is truly important. How wonderful is it that God works through the brilliant mind and hands of a gifted surgeon to relieve pain and restore health? How humbling is it to be so loved that your friends and family will care for you, attend to your needs, fill in for you, take over your activities while you explore this action of inaction? When your world shrinks to the size of your own body, what are you truly left with? What truly matters? If you are not this whirlwind of activity with ego and personality attached, who are you?
I have found that I am God showing up as me. Just plain ol’ me, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous arthritis. Nothing has changed from God’s perspective, which is the only one that counts. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about ACTION or INACTION, about what we accomplish or don’t accomplish. It’s all God. If we stay open to the possibilities of every moment, regardless of how it looks or how it feels, if we don’t judge it but simply listen to its song, we are inspired and instructed by the melody. I’ve heard that song this year: I am who I am, worthy and loved, whether I move or don’t, whether I plow that field or let it lie fallow. I can give thanks for it all. And the gratitude itself is my greatest blessing