“Light! Light! Hot! Hot!”

When I was growing up, my family attended a candlelight service every year on Christmas Eve at our Methodist church in Vestal, NY. My siblings take great pleasure in reminding me of the year I practiced my words during what is supposed to be a very sacred, holy moment. As the congregation stood with their lit candles softly singing “Silent Night,” little Johnny pointed to the chandeliers above repeating very loudly, “Light! Light!” This was followed by “Hot! Hot!” also with volume, as he pointed to the flames dancing on the candles. I’m told everyone in the congregation was giggling. I don’t remember this, but I’m happy to know I was entertaining people at a young age.

Most scholars agree humans have gathered around the fire for at least the last 400,000 years. It’s not surprising that many of our traditions and holidays involve the lighting of candles. One candle is lit for each of the eight days of Hanukkah and the seven days of Kwanzaa. Birthday cakes have as many candles as the years we are willing to admit. In the final moments of a candlelight service, the flame is passed to each person in attendance. For those who celebrate Christmas and enjoy singing Christmas carols but have never attended a candlelight service, I encourage you to attend one next year. Candlelight services at Unity of Houston are especially beautiful. It’s not the same as being there in person, but for a taste of the experience, click this link to watch a video on the Unity of Houston Facebook page. All of the music was great, and the three tenors singing “O Holy Night” about an hour and fifteen minutes into the video is a “must see.” 

As in years past, to accommodate all the Houstonians who enjoy this holiday tradition, Unity had three candlelight services. I sat with dear friends and simply experienced the first one, then served as an usher and candle lighter for the second and third. I felt blessed to be immersed in that powerful energy and phenomenal music three times! At the second service, my usher position was all the way in the back. It was a sight to behold when Rev. Michael invited everyone to raise their candle high to symbolize the light we all carry. Hundreds of flickering flames illuminated the darkened sanctuary and gratitude illuminated my heart to witness such beauty.

For the third service, my assigned usher seat was closer to the front in the center section. When the service began, I was surprised to see two empty seats next to me. Suddenly, my mind raced back to an experience from seventeen years ago when I first started attending Unity on the Bay in Miami. The sanctuary was usually filled to capacity, but on Father’s day there was one empty seat next to me. I decided to imagine my dad sitting there. He made his transition when I was seven, so I didn’t have many Father’s Days with him in person. That day I absolutely felt his presence. As my spiritual life began to blossom, so did this new way of being in relationship with my dad.

With two empty seats next to me on Christmas Eve, I decided to imagine my dad and my mom, who is now also in Spirit, sitting there enjoying the service with me. Immediately, tears began to well up in my eyes and tingles went all through my body. I felt their loving presence so strongly. A Course in Miracles calls this a holy instant, and what a miraculous Christmas gift it was. This experience demonstrated the truth of a passage we read the night before in our Miracle Monday group:

In the holy instant the condition of love is met, for minds are joined without the body’s interference, and where there is communication there is peace. The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed, provided that you see not the body as the necessary means of communication.

“Christmas as the End of Sacrifice” ~ T-15.XI.7:1-2

If I can assist you in creating more peace and holy instants in the New Year with Life Coaching or Family Constellations, please reach out or visit my website for more information. 

Wishing each of you a New Year filled with miracles and love!

The Powerful Voice in My Car

I’m pretty sure my iPhone and my Honda are having an affair, or at least a mischievous friendship. Every time I get in my car and turn the ignition key they can’t resist connecting even if the music app isn’t open. They seem to enjoy playing random songs from my iTunes library to startle me as I pull out of the garage. I like surprises, so I often let those two select the songs for our drive, knowing I have veto power at the touch of a button on my steering wheel. 

Last Sunday morning, to begin our drive to Unity of Houston, they chose “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John. That song seems more appropriate for a trip to the gym than to church, but it was one of my favorites in the 80s so I let it play. When the song slowly faded away, a powerful, deep voice began speaking to me. No, it wasn’t God. And it definitely wasn’t Olivia Newton-John. It was Dr. Wayne Dyer. 

Here’s the interesting thing. I did not know I had any of Wayne Dyer’s audiobooks in my iTunes library, and I know I never bought one. I feel a connection with him now, but when he was alive he was not one of my favorite authors or teachers. You can read more about that in a blog I wrote 3 years ago titled “My Crazy Wayne Dyer Connection.” I don’t know how he ended up in my iPhone, but given our connection and my belief that things happen for a reason, I listened to what he had to say.

Not surprisingly, it was exactly the message I needed to hear. He spoke about listening to the call of your heart more than the wishes of others if you want to live a joyful life. True, we may disappoint people by choosing a different path, but it will feel like we are living someone else’s life if we don’t do what inspires us. “Don’t die with the music still inside you,” he offered in one of his most famous quotes. If there is a painting, book, song or other creative project wanting to be born through you, let it out. What a perfect message for this time of year!

Wayne continued to speak to me literally and figuratively for the rest of the drive. While sitting at an exceptionally long traffic light at the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Unity Drive, I started to get anxious. The second service begins at 11, and it was already a few minutes past. I was so close yet so far! As if on cue, Wayne shared a quote based on an old English proverb to alleviate my stress. “Fear knocked on the door. Love answered and no one was there.” In two sentences it captures the essence of A Course in Miracles. It’s so simple. In the presence of love, fear cannot exist.

When the light finally turned green, I peacefully drove the short distance to Unity. The chapter ended and a new song began as I turned into the parking lot. Obviously, I was meant to hear the entire message uninterrupted. I walked into the sanctuary just as the opening prayer was ending and the congregation was invited to greet each other. The timing and the message could not have been more perfect. Many thanks to Wayne, my iPhone, my Honda and Spirit for conspiring to make that all happen.

We never know where or how those messages will arrive, but we can trust that they will when we are open to receive them. As the New Year approaches, maybe now is the time to give yourself the gift of a series of Life Coaching sessions. I’m always humbled to witness how Spirit works and weaves things together in my sessions with clients to reveal what wants to be revealed and heal what wants to be healed.. The same thing happens during every Family Constellations workshop. Please visit the calendar page on my website for events happening in 2020! 

Until next time, may Spirit find miraculous ways to deliver messages of peace, love, and joy to you this holiday season…

Angels light the way, so that all darkness vanishes, and you are standing in a light so bright and clear that you can understand all things you see.

A Course in Miracles – WB-131:13.2

Just Say Ho Ho No!

The days are getting shorter as we approach the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere. With fewer hours of daylight, most living things slow down and spend more time resting. Bears hibernate. Squirrels stop running around because they’ve stored enough acorns for winter. Trees drop their leaves and stand dormant until spring. Strangely, we humans do exactly the opposite. We add more to our “to do” list with holiday shopping, decorating, cards, parties…the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder we feel exhausted this time of year!

I’m not saying we shouldn’t do those things. I’m saying that it might not be in anyone’s best interest to do all of those things. What if we took a moment to check in to see if the activity will bring us joy? Will doing this give us energy or take it away? I have adopted my friend Kathy’s mantra: “Just because I can do it doesn’t mean I should do it.”

A few years ago, a colleague asked me to play Santa Claus at a holiday party. Given my work history in the Entertainment Department at Walt Disney World, she thought I was the perfect guy for the job. At that point in my life, I had no interest in wearing a hot, red velvet suit and a scratchy, fake beard while shouting “Ho Ho Ho!” I struggled with this decision because I didn’t want to disappoint her or the kids. As much as I wanted to be a team player, this particular gig did not feel joyful or like it was mine to do. If I said yes, it would definitely be out of obligation, not inspiration. Santa would be passing out some hidden resentments with those pretty wrapped packages.

After much deliberation, I mustered up the courage to tell my colleague I didn’t want to be Santa. She was disappointed but respected my decision. In the end, there were lots of other elements that didn’t come together so the event never happened. Sure, I could have avoided that uncomfortable conversation had I waited, but the peace and relief I felt after saying “Ho Ho NO” was immediate. A few minutes of discomfort was much better than all the moments of discomfort worrying about the event, and definitely better than a few hours of discomfort in that outfit had the event not been cancelled.

During that time, I was living at a friend’s house taking care of her cat while she and her husband were on a five-month road trip. The same colleague who asked me to play Santa had agreed to fill in for me the two weeks I was on vacation. A few weeks before my trip, she informed me that she had done enough litter box cleaning lately and did not want to do it for another two weeks. Like her, I was initially disappointed but respected her decision. I truly believe my honesty with her gave her permission to be honest and authentic with me.

Faced with having to find someone else rather quickly, I asked Spirit for help. That’s when the name of one of my classmates from massage school dropped into my mind. I knew this friend loved cats and was still grieving the recent loss of her beloved kitty. Not only was she thrilled to have kitty time, but she also enjoyed the opportunity to be outdoors working in the yard with the various plants and flowers around the house. Clearly, she was the perfect one for the job and no one had to do something that did not bring them joy!

This busy holiday season, I invite you to take a moment for self-reflection before sitting down to send those cards or buy those gifts on Amazon. If your decision to do these things comes from inspiration and it brings you joy, by all means, do them. If it feels like an obligation, at least notice this and give yourself permission to make a different choice now or perhaps next year. The results might just be the best gift you give yourself and those you love!

If you could use some assistance letting go of things that do not bring you joy, I would be honored to help you with a series of Life Coaching sessions or a private Family Constellations session. Both will give you new insights and a broader perspective to make lasting changes in your life. Please look around my website or send me an email for more information and to schedule a session. Gift Certificates are available for all of my services.

Until next time, may you give yourself the gift of joy this holiday season and always.

Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas, for the time of Christ is meaningless apart from joy. Let us join in celebrating peace by demanding no sacrifice of anyone, for so you offer me the love I offer you.

A Course in Miracles – T-15.XI.8:

The Truth About Miracles

“I wouldn’t blame your experience of feeling good on your circumstances.” These words spoken in a YouTube video sent to me by a friend arrived at the perfect time. In this video, a woman was sharing about her expanded sense of well being while at a seminar in beautiful Costa Rica. The facilitators cautioned her not to attach her experience of well being to the physical place. They reminded her that she brought that sense of well being with her and allowed it to expand by choosing to attend the event. 

To illustrate this point, one of the facilitators shared that he began experiencing severe pain from a dying tooth nerve shortly after landing in Costa Rica. Obviously, this was not what he was hoping to experience in this beautiful setting. He could have chosen to hold on to a story that this shouldn’t be happening and taken no action to alleviate his suffering. Instead, he found a dentist as soon as possible to restore health to his tooth. It turns out he had a great connection with that dentist and the issue was resolved quickly. According to A Course in Miracles, this was a miracle simply because he had a shift in perception from fear to love.

That is the truth about miracles. They don’t necessarily change anything on the outside, but they do change something on the inside, namely our thoughts. This is the kind of shift I needed recently. Due to a very traumatic experience with a dermatologist in Fort Lauderdale two years ago, I had been putting off scheduling another appointment here in Houston. I had two suspicious little bumps under my left eye and this year another one formed on the side of my neck. When my sister saw the one on my neck at the Big Sky Retreat in September, she urged me to get it checked out when I got home. I understood her concern. Our father made his transition forty-five years ago after a long journey with what started as skin cancer. I knew this wasn’t melanoma like his, but it needed to be taken care of.

To honor my word to my sister and myself, when I returned to Houston I made an appointment with a dermatologist recommended by a friend. I’m happy to say it has been a completely different experience from the one I had two years ago. This dermatologist has been extremely kind and gentle. He explained a treatment plan thoroughly and thoughtfully before ever cutting into my skin. When he took the first two biopsies on my second visit, I couldn’t believe it when he said he was done. I barely felt anything! When I went to the front desk to schedule my next appointment, the women behind the desk were so friendly and caring my gratitude overwhelmed me. I let them know what a great job they were doing and how cared for I felt. The shift was beginning.

I wish I could say it was all smooth sailing after that. Unfortunately, fear and anxiety returned the night before the surgery to remove the spots close to my eye. I am not too proud to tell you I accepted the nurse’s offer to take Valium to calm me down on that day. When the doctor returned to ask me if it was working, I told him I couldn’t tell. My partner laughed and assured him that it was. Apparently, my shoulders dropped several inches and my speech slowed way down. I made it to the other side of that procedure and two others. The bumps turned out to be basal cell carcinomas. They are gone now and have been replaced with bright pink scars which I’m told will fade away in a few months. 

This may not seem like a miracle to you. No, the spots didn’t magically disappear. I had to take action and face my fear (with a little help from the Valium.) The miracle is the love I felt all through the process. Thank you to all those who prayed with me. I know it’s because of your prayers that the procedures went so well and I’m healing faster than expected. Practicing the principles of A Course in Miracles helped too. I’m also extremely grateful for the love and support from my partner. I don’t remember much about our walk to the car after that intense surgery near my eye. I know he was right next to me holding my arm while I took teeny, tiny steps like the old man character played by Tim Conway in the Carol Burnett Show. With tears rolling down my cheeks I must have been quite a sight for all the passersby on the street.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things: my partner, family, and friends, good health insurance, the exceptional medical practitioners in Houston, Family Constellations that helped me understand where some of my sadness and anxiety was coming from, and A Course in Miracles.  Recently at our Miracle Monday Group at Unity of Houston, we went back to the beginning of the Course reading the 50 Miracle Principles in Chapter 1. Talking about them every week has reinforced the truth about miracles. Number 35 especially spoke to me:

 Miracles are expressions of love, but they may not always have observable effects.

If you could use some assistance in shifting from fear to love, please consider giving yourself the gift of a series of Life Coaching sessions based on the life-changing principles found in A Course in Miracles, Family Constellations, and other New Thought teachings. In celebration of Gratitude and Thanksgiving, I am offering a 25% discount off all of my Life Coaching packages until Monday, December 2. Gift certificates for these packages are also available at this reduced price. For more information and to take advantage of this special offer, look around my website and make a purchase with PayPal before midnight on Monday.

Until next time, may you experience love and peace even when things don’t appear to be going your way.