One World Family

I had the honor and privilege of participating in the One World Family Interfaith Prayer event this past Sunday at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale. About one hundred of us gathered under the shade of two beautiful banyan trees with the intention to dissolve the illusory walls of separation and come together in the spirit of oneness. No one was there against anything. We were only there for Love. A representative from Islam, New Thought, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism each shared a prayer from their tradition, many in both English and their own sacred language. It was very powerful. The prayers were woven together with music provided by a talented flautist and the amazing Daniela de Mari and Orlando Sandoval from the musical group Breath of Life. One of the highlights for me was when Daniela first took the stage and simply stood there in silence holding up a set of wind chimes. Mother Nature provided some wind gusts and the metal bars danced and played as Orlando slowly added some beautiful notes with his keyboard. Then Daniela began to sing with that unmistakable operatic voice of hers, and it felt like she were inviting the angelic realm to join our gathering. I have no doubt angels heard the call and were hovering all around. (Click HERE for a small sample.)

As many of you know, one of the “woo woo” things I like to do is to plant tiny rose quartz crystals wherever I go. Rose quartz is said to hold the frequency of unconditional love and compassion, and I enjoy adding this energy to the places I visit. The first thing I did upon arrival was sprinkle some rose quartz at the base of the two banyan trees, and then my friend Steven and I placed some in the grass where we were sitting. I envisioned the loving energy of oneness that was created in the hearts of everyone at that event spreading out through the rose quartz grid to the entire planet. Isn’t that a nice visual?

Some may say, “Yes, John. That’s a nice visual. But how can a few stones and one hundred people getting together to sing and pray under a banyan tree change anything?” A Course in Miracles says:

The world you see is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.

Peace cannot be found in the outside world until it is found within. If one heart opens up to the possibility that another’s beliefs are not all that different from their own, change has occurred. This was demonstrated beautifully by a story the rabbi shared about Muslims, Jews, and Quakers coming together to clean up a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia that had been vandalized. I agree with him. Peace happens when people from different traditions set aside their differences and come together in the name of love to help each other.

Many thanks to the organizers, donors, and all who contributed their time and talents to make this event a success. If you missed it, don’t worry. They plan to make this an annual event. I have no doubt next year’s gathering will be even more powerful. You can still make a tax deductible donation to help cover costs of the event by clicking HERE.

If you are having a difficult time finding peace within, I would be honored to help you with Life Coaching or Family Constellations. Both are amazing tools that can shift your inward condition so that the outside picture can follow. Please look around my website for more information or contact me by email with any questions you may have.

Until next time, may you always remember that we are indeed One World Family…

Flying Biscuits and Sweet Tea

I think I ate more biscuits and drank more sweet tea this weekend in North Carolina than I have in my entire life. There was definitely some “Southern Hospitality” going on. The warm biscuits and apple butter at the Flying Biscuit Cafe in Raleigh were especially good. I might even go so far as to say they were heavenly. Maybe that’s because there was a beautiful mural inside the restaurant that depicted biscuits with angel wings flying around as the Cow jumped over the Moon and Humpty Dumpty sailed away in a hot air balloon. Honestly, this wasn’t that far fetched. I certainly felt like I was flying when I left the restaurant that first morning, but I don’t think it was just the sugar. It was also due to our server, Kim. She was a loving, nurturing soul with a “what you see is what you get” kind of attitude and sense of humor. We had so much fun joking with her while savoring those heavenly biscuits that we went back for lunch on our last day in Raleigh to enjoy some more of both. Kim greeted us with great big hugs and told us how touched she was that we came back.

Those kinds of heart connections happened all weekend. In fact, I encounter them often because I look for them. One of my favorite quotes from A Course in Miracles offers this advice:

When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.

As soon as I arrived at the hotel in Raleigh I could tell that the woman at the front desk was a kindred spirit. She was telling the family in front of me about her brother who went to North Carolina State University and promptly got a job 48 hours after graduation. I thought it was sweet of her to offer words of encouragement to the son who was apparently thinking of going to NCSU. Just as it was my turn to step up to the desk, the phone rang. She must have seen the call was coming from inside the elevator so she asked me to wait a moment while she took it. With patience and only a slight eye roll, Lexi explained to the woman on the other end of the phone how to use her room key to operate the elevator. Sadly, the woman didn’t understand the concept, so Lexi had to dispatch a maintenance worker to assist the woman. I commiserated with Lexi about that call, explaining that I worked in customer service for many years and was all too familiar with calls like that. I told her I thought she handled it very well.

Lexi was surprised when I addressed her by name since she was not wearing a name tag. When she asked how I knew her name, I made up a story of how her reputation for providing exceptional guest service with only slight eye rolls preceded her. Then I admitted I heard her say, “Front Desk, this is Lexi,” when she answered the phone. After a laugh, we discovered a little glitch in my reservation. My name was not on it! I had no doubt that Lexi and I would find a solution together, and eventually we did. What could have been a huge inconvenience ended up being an opportunity to make another heart connection. Had I approached Lexi as my enemy, the outcome might have been very different.

You don’t have to be a jokester like me to make heart connections. Simply using a person’s first name makes the exchange much more personal. If I am speaking with someone over the phone or who isn’t wearing a name tag, I simply ask them their name. Most people like the fact that I care enough to ask. There was another woman I spoke with at the front desk when we checked out. When I said, “Good morning, Mimi,” she replied, “You remembered my name! That makes me feel so good.”

I truly believe those words from the Course. When I meet anyone, I do my best to remember it is a holy encounter. It makes a world of difference when I do. If you are having a challenging time seeing your relationships at home, work, or with family as holy encounters, maybe now is the time to try Life Coaching or Family Constellations. Both can uncover what’s going on under the surface preventing you from experiencing them that way. Please look around my website for more information about both, or leave a comment below with any questions you may have.

Until next time, may you see the light of who you are reflected in each person you meet.

Angel’s Window

“Let me be still and listen to the truth.” This was my daily lesson on Tuesday from A Course in Miracles. The timing was perfect because I knew I was listening to the lies of the ego over the weekend. How did I know? On Sunday I was feeling a little sad and disconnected. I got back on track during our weekly Miracle Monday study group, but started to feel out of sorts again by Wednesday, this time with a slight headache and upset stomach too. Before heading to my next client, I allowed myself to be still for a few minutes on my bed with a heating pad on my neck to let the physical and mental discomfort pass. I stopped resisting and just surrendered to it. When I felt a little better, I decided to read something inspirational, so I picked up The Holy Encounter newsletter, a bimonthly A Course in Miracles publication from the Miracle Distribution Center. I received the latest issue in the mail on Friday, but hadn’t looked at it yet. Imagine my surprise when the headline of the very first article on the front page read “Let Me Be Still and Listen to the Truth.” Apparently Spirit really wanted me to get this message! Taking a moment to be still and listen to the truth was exactly what I needed to do. The words of the Course reminded me that peace, love, and joy abide in me. I can never be separate from my Source or these qualities.

I had a spontaneous moment of remembrance of this truth about ten years ago when I first started studying the Course. I was hiking with my partner at the time at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We found an awe inspiring place aptly named Angel’s Window. I can easily imagine angels congregating there to look at the view from that window. It was a natural arch overlooking the canyon who’s cut out section revealed part of the Colorado River. To walk out on the plateau above that window provided not only a breathtaking view but an other worldly experience.

We arrived late in the day as the sun was setting. The canyon was spectacularly illuminated in golden yellows and pale pink hues. There weren’t many others around, so it felt like we had that gorgeous spot all to ourselves. In fact, we took turns allowing each other to have a private moment on the ledge while the other snapped a few pictures from across the ravine with my new digital camera. When it was my turn to have a moment perched on top of Angel’s Window, the wind picked up and swirled all around me in the vastness that is the Grand Canyon. I felt simultaneously like a very tiny part of something huge as well as a deep connection to all that is. It was a wonderful sensation and I savored every moment of it. While I was still, the gusts of wind danced around me whispering: “You are part of something beyond measure and there is a powerful force all around you.” This felt like truth.

If you are feeling disconnected in this moment, then you are probably listening to the lies of the ego like I was. One great remedy is a visit to Angel’s Window. However, if that’s not feasible at this time, it would be my great honor to be like those gusting winds and remind you of the truth with a Life Coaching or Family Constellations session. Look around my website or send me an email for more information about both. Perhaps now is the time for a breath of fresh air!

Until next time, try to to take a moment at least once or twice every day to be still and listen to the truth. It will indeed set you free!

Ego Unplugged

We had a very interesting discussion about God and the ego at our Miracle Monday A Course in Miracles study group at Bridges of Wellness this week. It was sparked when I shared how much one particular moment in the movie “The Shack” impacted me. My heart overflowed with love and my eyes filled with tears when Octavia Spencer, who plays God, said to the main character, “If you only knew how much I love you.” The same thing used to happen when I watched the TV show “Touched by an Angel” back in the 90s. Whenever Monica revealed that she was an angel to the protagonist of that episode, she would always tell them, “God loves you,” and the waterworks would start. I know. I’m a big sap. But there’s something very powerful about that remembrance if you truly take in those words. Many of us have gotten so caught up in the world that we have forgotten that the Presence of Love is all around us.

Now my intention for writing this is not to debate the existence of God or Spirit, whatever those words mean to you. Let’s keep it simple and use ideas from A Course in Miracles that most can probably agree with. The Course says that Spirit is the Voice of Love and the ego is the voice of fear. In any given situation we are listening to one of these two voices. I can always tell which voice I’m listening to based on how I feel. If I feel sad, angry, scared, or alone, I can be sure I’m listening to the ego. If I feel peaceful, content, and happy, I’m listening to Spirit. A trap that many A Course in Miracles students fall into, myself included, is the idea that we somehow have to defeat the ego. What I have come to understand during the past ten years of studying the Course is that whatever I choose to fight against only becomes stronger. There is great truth in the statement, “What we resist persists.” That includes the ego. The more I fight it, the stronger it seems to get. Thankfully there is a much gentler approach. 

Here is a tool that helped many in our group who admitted that to them the ego seems quite powerful and scary. I think of the two voices like two different electrical outlets. When I’m plugged in to the thought system of the ego I think thoughts like, “There is no solution to this. I don’t have enough. This shouldn’t be happening. I’m in this alone.” I feel hopeless and scared. When I notice that’s how I’m feeling, I imagine myself going to that outlet and literally pulling out the plug. I then imagine the ego thought system powering down like a big clunky computer that was caught buffering endlessly. I allow those thoughts to simply fade away. I even imagine the sound effect of a machine losing power like in an old Frankenstein movie when the switch is flipped. Then, I take that same plug and insert it into the thought system of Love and watch my mind light up like a Christmas tree! That image makes me feel better instantly. Lighter thoughts come flooding in like, “I don’t have to figure this out right now. A solution will be revealed. There is more than enough. I am connected to my Source. I am never alone.” You can get creative with the new thoughts and use any images or sound effects you like to assist the switch. Try it and let me know how it works for you.

I offer more tools like this in my four, six, and eight week Life Coaching programs based on the loving principles found in A Course in Miracles. It would be my great honor to help you move through whatever might be trying to take away your peace in this moment. Family Constellations is another great tool to help you unplug from the ego’s thought system. Join me for an upcoming event or schedule a private session in person, by phone, or Skype. If you choose a private session, I encourage you to bring a trusted friend or two with you. It makes the experience that much richer. For more information please look around my website or ask a question by going to the Contact John page.

Until next time, in case you have forgotten, the Presence of Love is all around you and you are loved!

Theme Park Prayers

Last week I didn’t send out an email because I was having a wonderful time playing Disney Tour Guide for three adults and a five year old. None of them had ever been to Disney World before, so it was great fun for me to see the parks through their eyes. I honestly don’t know how anyone manages to navigate that place without a guide. However, I believe we all have a guide that can help us navigate any theme park (or life experience for that matter) if we remember to ask for help. Saying a prayer and setting an intention for the day makes a huge difference no matter where you are or what the day holds for you. I had proof of this at Disney last week.
 
We went to the Magic Kingdom on Day One. Before we began our adventure we huddled in our van to say a prayer of gratitude for being together. We also set the intention to be the presence of love and joy everywhere we went. Minutes after that prayer, I realized that I had left my park ticket in my wallet back in the hotel. Oops! Luckily I had taken a photo of the back of my ticket so I had the ID number. It took less than five minutes for a friendly cast member to issue me a replacement. Despite incredibly large crowds on President’s Day, we managed to ride several rides and find an excellent spot to watch the 3 o’clock parade. After the parade, we went back to our hotel to rest for a while. We returned for nighttime fun and fireworks refreshed and reenergized. I highly recommend this strategy, especially if you have little ones.

For some reason the opportunity to pray never presented itself on Day Two, or perhaps we simply forgot. Even though there were fewer people at the Animal Kingdom that day, things did not flow as well as the previous day. There were many obstacles, including an injured bird that caused the closing of the entrance to DinoLand, USA for over an hour. The day ended with an attraction that broke as soon as we entered the cue line. It wasn’t a horrible day, but it certainly didn’t flow like the first day.

Noticing the difference between Day One and Day Two, I was determined not to forget our Theme Park Prayer on Day Three. I loved seeing the five year old’s eyes light up when I asked her if we could all pray together before boarding the monorail. That prayer worked! The way everything lined up that day was quite miraculous. Thanks to an inspired idea and a handy Disney app, I was able to make breakfast reservations for us at the perfect time at the Polynesian Resort. Although it was drizzling when we arrived at the Magic Kingdom, the rain stopped long enough for us to enjoy the 3 o’clock parade, a few rides, and make it to a restaurant in Liberty Square for a late lunch. During lunch the skies opened up and torrential downpours literally flooded the park. The rain continued off and on for the rest of the day, but we were still able to ride more rides and join the dance party in Tomorrowland. True, our prayer didn’t change the weather, but it sure changed our experience.

Every morning the first thing I do when I wake up is ask the voice of Love to help me make all of my decisions that day. Then I ask these three questions from Lesson 72 in A Course in Miracles

What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?
What would You have me say, and to whom?

It’s a wonderful way to surrender to a presence that has more of the answers than I could possibly have. A Course in Miracles has more great advice in Chapter 30:

Throughout the day, at any time you think of it and have a quiet moment for reflection, tell yourself again the kind of day you want; the feelings you would have, the things you want to happen to you, and the things you would experience, and say:

If I make no decisions by myself, this is the day that will be given me.

Whether you are headed to a theme park, the grocery store, or a family reunion, this technique can work miracles. Give it a try and see what happens.

If you’d like some more specific assistance with your particular situation or circumstance, I would be honored to be your guide with Life Coaching based on the loving principles found in A Course in Miracles. I offer four, six, and eight week programs to suit your needs and budget. Family Constellations is another great tool to help clear the path of obstacles that seem to be blocking your happiness and peace. You can find more information about both on my website.
 
Until next time, may you surrender to the kind of day you have been wishing for and the happy life that is waiting for you.