Speaker: Sandy Souder, May 15, 2016

Good Morning Beloved!

Once upon a time, a woman died and went to heaven. When she reached the Pearly Gates she was met by St. Peter. She said, “Am I in heaven?”

He said, “Yes, you are at the Pearly Gates.”

“Do I get to come in?”

“Yes, if you can spell a word.”

“What word?”

“Any word.”

She said, “Okay, I’ll spell love.” She did and was allowed to enter.

A few minutes later, St. Peter approached her and said, “I have to leave for a minute. Would you watch the gate?”

She was astonished and said, “You want me to watch the gate?”

“Yes.”

“What do I do if someone comes up?”

“Just what I did. Ask them to spell a word.”

As she stood looking around at all the beautiful sights in heaven, she saw a man walking toward the gates. As he drew closer, the woman recognized him. It was her husband. She was shocked!

“What happened?” the wife asked.

“Well,” he replied, “I was drinking and I had an accident and died.  Am I in heaven?”

“You are at the Pearly Gates.”

“Do I get to come in?”

“Yes, but you have to spell a word”

“What word?”

“Czechoslovakia.”

Living off your card (or ON it!)

Many of you participated in the Visioning Weekend with Rev. Stephanie Seigh and you may recall one of the exercises she led us through called the Hero’s process, where we determined the characteristics or ‘values’ that we each individually, considered important in our lives.

We did that by looking at those people, living or past, real or imaginary, who we look up to…who are our heros and heroines?

Think about that for a minute.  ————–

DO you have your list?

For me Jesus and the Buddha, but also Yoda!  My mentors.  And Eleanor Roosevelt.  And Jodi Foster!  And some writers like JK Rowling….

Now, look at the characteristics that draws you to that person….what are they?

Those characteristics that you find in those hero’s are also in you. If you can see them in another, you have, at the very least, the potential to have that same characteristic.

And that is what you list on your CARD…your Standards of Integrity.

And this is what we did during the Visioning Weekend.  We looked at what OUR Standards of Integrity were and then we applied them to Unity of Rehoboth Beach.   Because we ARE Unity of Rehoboth Beach!

We then worked further to weed them down and established what five values were most often found at Unity of Rehoboth Beach…and they are: Community, Spiritual, Shining Light, Love, Inclusive.

From there we worked on Vision and Mission Statements.  We are still refining these and should have something for you to vote on next week.

We each have values that we consider important.  Sometimes we don’t realize them. Especially if we haven’t taken the time to get to know ourselves.  Often we are ‘too busy’ to take the time, that is often why we hear of “mid-life crisis” or why it is later in life that we find people making changes in their lifestyles, changing jobs for a lifelong dream, or buying that sports car!

That may be why some of you are here, sitting in those chairs, at Unity of Rehoboth Beach.  You were looking for a deeper connection, maybe more meaning to your life.  Maybe you finally listened to that still small voice.  That is, in part, what got me here.

Remember, one of Unity’s Five Principles is self-responsibility.  It is YOUR responsibility to live ON YOUR CARD.  Or I like to think of it as within my INTEGRITY. It’s at the heart of what each of us controls—ourselves. Nothing else.

A sign of maturity is acknowledging that we are responsible for our own needs.  It is also a sign of Spiritual Maturity.  We can be Spiritually awake, meaning we are learning the TRUTHS, but applying them takes Spiritual Maturity.

That’s Living On Your Card.

The way we choose to think, feel and act directly comes from one of two places—our egos or our higher self. If ego or personality is at the root of our thinking, feeling and acting, our choices may be based on lack, survival … which all stem from fear. None of these would come from our higher self.

Rather, our higher self shows up as possibility thinking, gratitude and inquisitiveness.

When we listen to our higher self; choices, thoughts, feelings and actions take on a whole new realm of possibility. Our perceptions are more objective, our thoughts are more compassionate, our feelings are more loving and our actions are in integrity.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Dr. King’s quote is one that is steeped in choice, intention and right action and that power is ever-present with each breath we take. Isn’t choice something we would all say yes to each and every moment?

Of course, and yet we often unconsciously say no to choice because we rely on that automatic pilot—our habits, our ego-self—that we have relied on for many years.

We don’t even think about it. Many of us manage hourly, daily, weekly and yearly with our habits and ego guiding our thoughts, feelings and actions.

To be unconscious to our own light and power could be due to many things: our lack of awareness of who we really are, our lack of discipline, our lack of a plan, our willingness to play small.

We don’t have to hold a management or executive title to lead and show up in ways that move an organization or a household, (or a Spiritual Community!), forward toward its mission and vision. We just need to clearly remember and recognize who we are at the core of our being and act from that place of love and strength.

How do we so that?  How do we stay Living On Our Card?  How do we live our integrity?  How do we walk our talk?

Here’s one way that might help:

  1. Identify your intention.

Maria Nemeth, author of Mastering Life’s Energies and owner of the Academy of Coaching Excellence teaches her students to start each day by asking: “Who am I willing to be in order to produce an extraordinary result out of this day?”

  1. Become a self-observer.

We have to be able to observe our thoughts and the stories we are telling ourselves about our encounters. Ego loves drama, fear and power, and many of the stories we make up are great tragedies.

It’s important to quickly observe the stories and stresses we are experiencing … and to be able to redirect our reactions in ways that will be helpful to ourselves and others.

  1. Take authentic action.

“Authentic” in this context means to act from our higher source—our intention—not from the ego, but from that spark of divinity that is in all of us. When we act from that place, we know we are being true to ourselves. We are expressing energy that is coming from our soul. We are spirit in action.  We are living our truth being in alignment with who we truly are.

Choice is the only freedom we really have. As we go about our work, whatever form that might take, let’s all remember to say yes to what really matters in our life; to say yes to choice; to take time to pause, reflect and choose our intentions carefully; to self-observe our thoughts and feelings; and to act authentically from that sacred place of love and strength.

Consider these statements:

If I live my life to perfection, doing what is right and good on behalf of others, but act with compulsion and without love, then I am nothing at all.

If I take care of the needs of everybody in the world, especially the poor, because of my own need to help, but am without love even for myself, then I am nothing at all.

If I am efficient and successful in all that I do for the sake of justice, but act out of a sense of being driven and without love, then I am nothing at all.

If I am cultured and refined, and in touch with the pain of existence, but am absent from the pain of persons in the present moment who need my empathy; and if I act without love and compassion, then I am nothing at all.

If I have the gifts of wisdom, insight, and understanding, but am not engaged with those around me in the present moment and am without a spirit of compassion and love, then I am nothing at all.

If I am faithful, loyal, and obedient, and never deviate from the law, but am judgmental and blaming, and am without love, then I am nothing at all.

If I live in a pain-free world of dreams and plans, enjoying optimism and pleasurable options, but am not addressing present problems and am avoiding people in actual distress and am without love, then I am nothing at all.

If I am strong and powerful, but lose my best self in a spirit of resentment, retaliation, and vindictiveness, and know nothing of the vulnerability of love, then I am nothing at all.

If I am settled and accommodating, holding onto a sense of distance and calm, but am not journeying inward to know and appreciate my weaknesses and gifts, and am neglecting my own legitimate calling to love myself, then I am nothing at all.

Each statement can be another way to question if we are being Spiritually mature.