|UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
October 2, 2022
All Rights Reserved
One of the most popular passages in the Bible is Ecclesiastes 3: "For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven." In other words, the defining characteristic of life is change. All living things change.
At this time of the year, the air chills, the leaves on many trees turn colors and fall off, leaving the trees dark and bare. We know this is a necessary change that comes from deep within the tree itself that prepares it to endure the storms and cold of winter. We know that when winter comes spring isn’t far behind and will bring with it another change as the bare limbs begin to show their green again. We accept these changing cycles or turning points in nature. Many of us even look forward to them because they reassure us that there’s a Divine Order at work in the universe. So, when we experience a drought, we know the rains will come again. And if we’re in the middle of a hurricane, we know the wind and rain will eventually subside.
However, in our own body, relationships, family, job, and life when something changes, it can be very difficult for us to rise above fear and trust in God's Divine Order. Have you ever considered that many of the changes we see and just accept as a part of nature would be terrifying to the creatures going through them if those creatures thought and made judgments as we humans do?
For example, the Hermit Crab must move out of the shell it has tucked itself into for protection when it grows too big for it and go off to find another, larger shell. It doesn’t say, "I'll just have make do with my old shell. There is probably not a bigger shell available in my neighborhood anyway. I can’t just move out on faith. I need a written guarantee from God that I’ll find something bigger and better. I’m afraid I might end up homeless or I might get eaten by something bigger than I am.” The Hermit Crab doesn't resist this turning point in its life. It crawls out of the old shell and goes off to find a larger shell to move into without all the drama we humans so often put ourselves through.
What would a tadpole say if it had the power of speech as we do and if it thought and formed judgments as we do. When it sees its tail slowly fading away and legs starting to sprout out of its body, would it say, “God help me! I think I’m losing my tail! If that happens, I won't be able to swim or catch food to eat and I’ll starve! My friends will laugh at me when they see these funny things sprouting out of my body. I won’t fit in. I’ll be an outcast.” A tadpole doesn’t torment itself as humans often do. It just keeps swimming until it starts to hop and get along with its life.
How does a Monarch Butterfly feel in its caterpillar season when its muscles grow heavy, and it feels an urge from within to build a cocoon around itself? What gives it the courage to seal itself into what is a coffin for its caterpillar self? Can it possibly know the exquisite creature it will become? Scientists tells us that it is unlikely. However, it acts as if it knows because it just keeps moving forward toward its greater good.
The Hermit Crab, the Tadpole and the Butterfly aren’t troubled by negative thoughts or anxious emotions like we so often are because God only gave them instinct to guide them forward. On the other hand, God programmed humans with instinct and reason. Scientists tell us that insects and animals don't have the ability to reflect upon and question the workings of change in their lives because they haven’t been given the power to question. They only have been given the power to follow their instincts. The insect or animal operating solely on instinct trusts because it has been programmed to trust. As reasoning beings, we have Free Will, as the power to choose. We only trust when we “Will” it so. We must consciously choose to trust in God and Divine Order when a change or tuning point comes along and seems to turn our life upside down.
Often, we must make a conscious effort to override our instinct for self-preservation and choose to trust in God's perfect plan. God plans so well for the tiniest creatures, surely God is doing as much for us. But we are free beings not robots which means that we can choose to exercise our free will to doubt, question, resist or refuse to do the Will of God, which is always pushing us in the direction of growth, healing, and a higher, more abundant life governed by compassion and love rather than by instinct and survival of the fittest. When we refuse to go with the flow of Divine Order, we stop our development right at the point where we are. In other words, we have got to change if we want to grow and become all that God created us to be. Many kinds of change come into our lives.
Even happy and planned changes can be very stressful. For example: We fall in love and get married and then we must meet the many changes involved with sharing a life, a home and often even a paycheck with another person. There are other changes as time goes on. We may have children, or maybe we can’t have children or, we have a child with special needs. As time goes on there are more changes. The children grow up and move out or maybe they grow up and for some reason they fail to launch. We may have a job change or many job changes. We may lose people that are dear to us. We may have changes in health, or we retire and our income changes.
Many life changes seem thrust upon us against our will. But whatever the change may be, the Unity Way Of Life is to meet it with faith and acceptance and not fear and resistance. As we become more spiritually aware of our oneness with God, we begin to welcome change knowing that God does not change, and that God means all change for good and only good. The Spirit of God in you does not change and God's Will is always for our higher good and wholeness because God’s Will is always for a greater expression of itself in the physical world.
There is only God. There is only one energy, one substance, one presence and power in the universe but that presence and power can manifest as invisible energy or as a visible, usable form. Energy/God is in constant movement. It is continually moving from the invisible and unformed world of Spirit or pure potentiality into the visible world as some form of usable good. It then moves from the visible world of form back into the invisible world of pure energy. That is not only a metaphysical fact, to Quantum Physicists it is also a scientific fact.
However, for many of us change can be hard to endure. I've gone through more than one change, thinking, "What good could possibly be in this or come out of this?" But I used the Unity Principles, and trusted God which means that I trusted in the process, and I worked through the experience. In the end I could look back and say, "Ah, now I understand. This is what I needed to come up higher in consciousness. This change, challenge or opportunity is a turning point!” When this kind of change first comes, we can feel like a crab feels about its too--tight shell, or a tadpole feels about its disappearing tail and growing legs, or how a caterpillar feels building its own coffin. We feel pain and anxiety because we fear the unknown. We want to hold on to the familiar because our consciousness is operating on the instinctual level of our being. We want to continue doing business as usual. In those moments, our task is to stay centered in God. By affirming God’s presence and our oneness with God we then aim for the unusual! You might repeat Jesus’ words to his father (intellect) and mother (emotional nature), “Did you not know I must be about my Father’s business.”
These words are from Isaiah: “I will bring the blind by a way that they know not. In paths that they know not will I lead them. I will make darkness light before them and crooked places straight. These things I will do, and I will not forsake them. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. You are precious in my sight and honorable and I have loved you, fear not, for I am with you always.” In many changes that come along in our lives, we feel as if we're losing something very precious. So, we try to hang on to it. We resist letting go. But it’s only through releasing that we can move forward into growth and the newness of life.
In her book, Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst said, "When we think of loss, we usually think of loss through death of the people we love. But loss is a far more encompassing theme in our life. For we lose not only by death, but also by leaving, being left, changing, letting go, and moving on. Other seeming losses include not only our separation and departures from the people we love, but from our conscious and unconscious losses of romantic dreams and possible expectation, or illusions of safety and security, and even the loss of our younger self; the self that we thought would always be unwrinkled, invulnerable and immortal.
Losses are an unavoidable and universal part of our life, just as change is a part of life. And losses are necessary because we grow by losing, leaving, and letting go. The road to human and spiritual development is paved with renunciation. Throughout our life, we grow by giving up. We give up some of our deepest attachments to others. We give up certain cherished parts of ourselves. Passionate investment in the realm of matter always leaves us open to loss, no matter how clever we think we are.”
If we look closely at our losses, we will often see how our losses are linked to our growth and that they are often the beginning of new wisdom and positive change. We can start to become aware of the ways in which our responses to our losses have shaped our lives. In fact, if we do this, we will often discover that losing and letting go is the source of much of the good in our lives. By leaving the carefree days of childhood full of dreams and games, we grow up and become moral, responsible adults, free to discover, make decisions, and free to make our own mistakes.
By giving up unrealistic and unreasonable expectations we become a loving, connected self, renouncing an idealistic vision of a perfect marriage, a perfect friendship, perfect children, a perfect family life, and a perfect church, for the sweet, imperfections of our all--too--human relationships. In confronting losses brought by time and change, we become a mature, adaptive self, finding that every season of life offers opportunities for creative transformation.
We also learn that little can be understood in terms of either/or and black/white. There isn't an answer. It isn’t either this or that. It is usually both. We discover that we can love someone and not like the same person at the same time. The same person (us maybe) is both good and at times not so good at the same time. Some of us will even learn how to come consciously to the TURNING POINTS in our life, rather than continuing to flounder in the doubt and darkness of the human condition.
It is possible that we can be transformed in an instant as the Bible story about Paul on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians tells us. Paul was struck by lightning, blinded, and ministered back to health to by followers of Jesus Christ. This story tells us that spiritual insight, can come at any age to free us from singing the same old sad songs over and over again.
We can't understand our history or our future unless we recognize that it is composed of both outer and inner realities. We must understand both to understand ourselves and our own responses to life, including our response to our spiritual unfoldment. When something comes to an end, it's an opportunity to apply the principle of letting go and letting God. This means to accept the fact that God is everywhere present and always working for our highest good. God never works against us and often, what we think is good for us isn’t what God knows is good for us. The story of Joseph is an illustration of this point. Remember what he told his brothers who had sold him into bondage in Egypt, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good."
When we look at life through divine eyes, we can see the essence of God in every experience and that is a vital Turning Point in our evolution from instinctual consciousness to Christ consciousness. As the prayer of St. Francis affirms: “It is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
In his book, The Power of the Myth, Joseph Campbell writes, “When you reach an advanced age and look back on your life, it can seem to have a consistent plan and order as though composed by a novelist. Events that when they happened seemed accidental or unimportant turn out to be indispensable turning points in the composition of a consistent plot. And just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself by which your consciousness is unaware, your whole life is composed by the will within you. It is as though our lives are features of one great dream of a single dreamer, of which all the dream characters also dream. Everything links to everything else and is moved by the universal Will of God.
An ancient Indian myth talks about this idea and calls it the ‘net of Indra’ which is a net of gems where at every crossing of one thread over another there is a gem reflecting all the other reflective gems. Everything rising in mutual relationship to everything else.
In Unity, we think of a turning point as a sort of about face where everything looked black, suddenly light came. Where life hung in the balance, the turning point came; the crisis passed, and healing took place. Where there appeared to be no way to meet a situation and the way forward seemed completely blocked by a mountain of impossibilities, an idea came, help was unexpectedly offered, and solutions appeared. It was a turning point! It is as if we got on an elevator marked ‘Down’ and went “Up” instead! It's as if we had settled for failure, and suddenly someone proclaimed us the winner! It’s as if we had awakened out of a wonderful dream to find that it wasn’t a dream after all but wonderful reality! Unity sees turning points as opportunities for increased good, not a crisis or failure.
In Unity we say Turning Points are God’s road signs that say: “Stop! You’re going the wrong way! Turn Around! This is the way to health and happiness. This is the way to peace of mind. This is the way to fulfillment and success.”
I invite you to look back on your life and make a list of the experiences about which you can honestly say, “That was a turning point in my life!
Our soul can only find the path to the freedom that it is seeking by letting go and trusting in the Divine process that is working in and through all life. "For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven."
What do you think?
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