After our stay with friends Greg and Sherry in Minnesota, Rich and I headed west then south through the Dakotas down through Iowa and into Missouri. We had planned to stay in a small town just outside Kansas City. This was no random choice. We were going to spend a couple of days with some very dear friends from our time in Naples, Italy. I had been a team member on many CREDO Personal Growth Retreats with Rod, and Richard and I had both been involved with the CREDO Marriage Enrichment Retreats with both Rod and his wife Trish.
Rod and Trish had made a flying visit with us about three years ago here in Jacksonville. They had been doing some east coast travelling and decided to dip down a little lower than originally planned to spend a day or so with us. That had been the first time we had seen each other since they had left Naples, Italy back in the mid-nineties. So we were very excited to be seeing them again. However, even though they were the primary reason for choosing to make Kansas City a stop on our 4,252 mile retirement ride, I had a secondary motive for wanting to stop there.
During the period 1989-91, Richard was transferred to a ship that was home-ported in Norfolk, VA. Although it wasn’t my first visit to the USA, it was the first time that I had lived here. It proved to be a very difficult time for me. The culture and way of life over here is drastically different from Europe. Everything over here involves distance and there is very little public transportation. And the distance factor enters into creating relationships with other people. In Europe everybody knows everybody. In Norfolk I found it very difficult to make friends; people seemed to live in their own boxes.
However, through a specific fellowship that I am involved with I did manage eventually to create some meaningful friendships. One lady in particular, Gert, became a very good and close friend. In the spring of 1991 Gert gifted me with a a subscription to Daily Word, a small daily reflection booklet that is published by UNITY. That booklet became my lifeline. It is the most positively uplifting daily meditational book that I have ever read. Wherever I went, Daily Word travelled with me, and I have continued to renew the subscription every year since then. I have used their twenty four hour prayer line many times over the years and it is such a comfort and a joy to make a call and get a real person on the other end who truly cares about whatever issue may be bothering me in the moment, and who is willing to pray with me and offer comfort.
Inside the front cover of the Daily Word each month there is a photo of the Silent Unity Chapel. There is always a light on in the top tower of this building and the photo intrigues me. Every time I see it I think, wow that’s where the prayer ministers are who receive all the phone calls and pray with all the callers – at any time of the day or the night every single day of every year. For the last fifteen years I have held a small dream to go there and visit. And here we were, planning to go to Kansas City and I knew that Unity Village was located somewhere close by. So when Rod asked if there was anything particular that we wanted to do/see in the area, I jumped right on it.
On Friday 26th August, we set off with Rod and Trish to go visit the Unity campus. I had no idea what a spiritual treat I was in for; God was in a most generous mood that day. Upon arrival we parked in the main parking lot right in front of the Book Store and Café. We decided to go in there because we figured that we could get information as to the layout of the campus and get directions to the Silent Unity building and chapel. The store was an absolute delight and we perused for a while. The staff was so helpful and we bought a couple of items and received a map of the campus. Imagine my joy when I found out that there was a large, handicap accessible labyrinth laid out on the ground immediately opposite the store. Rich, Rod, and Trish were quite happy to indulge my desire to walk the labyrinth and so with a happy heart I took my walk. Below is a video that Rich made and towards the end there are some still photos that he also took.
While I was walking the labyrinth, a large red-shouldered hawk came and rested at the very top of a tree on the edge of the labyrinth and watched me as I made the eleven circuits. His photo is here below.
When I had finished my walk we all went through a walkway and up some stairs to go visit the Silent Unity Chapel. Nothing quite prepared us for the beauty that lay before us at the top of the stairs. The campus buildings were laid out in a long oblong design and centered in the middle of them was a beautifully designed formal garden with fountains and pools. The whole thing made me think immediately of Europe and of St. Augustine, Florida because there was a Spanish flair in the design. I could have stayed there for hours. It truly filled my heart and soul with great happiness.
We wandered along and crossed the a small bridge over the central pool then headed toward the chapel. Trish and I went inside noting that there were two other people already there – a man and a woman. As we entered, the woman turned around toward us and said, “we are just about to do a guided meditation, would you like to join in?” We both assented, and spent the next fifteen minutes being guided through a beautiful reflection. This was another highlight of the trip for me. We spent a little more time walking around the campus and taking in the peacefulness and serenity of that place, before heading off to have a lovely lunch together.
I came across some notes that I took during the course of a retreat. The speakers had been presenting their views on forgiveness. These are the notes that I made during the presentations.
- Forgiveness: the warm fuzzy feeling doesn’t happen immediately – maybe never. The important thing is to make the decision to forgive because it is the
right thing to do, for God and for us. And most times we have to make that decision on a daily basis for a long time before any peacefulness about
the situation or the person comes into our hearts. “Faking it till you make it” doesn’t quite apply in this circumstance, because a deep willingness to forgive
needs to be there. It is important that we practice making that decision every day for the peace to come.
I thought it was quite God-incidental that I came across these notes a couple of days ago because someone has just sent me a very interesting article about forgiveness which, I think, puts another slant on the topic. It is the recording of a conversation between a person called John Cali and another “person”, Joseph (referred to as Chief Joseph), whom Cali channels through. These are Chief Joseph’s thoughts on forgiveness.
“We are going to say something right here at the start which may surprise or even shock some of you.
There is never a need or a reason to forgive another person. That’s not your job.
True forgiveness, friends, is forgetting – forgetting the pain, the anger, the sadness – and remembering the love.
Forgiveness is really about letting go. Letting go, and forgetting, the pain you’re holding onto. And whatever that pain is, you – not the other person – created it. The pain is self-inflicted. Always, no exceptions.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. It has everything to do with you, and only you.
Do you think God holds grudges? Do you think your higher self holds resentments?
When you are willing to go through that process you call forgiveness, you are remembering who you are, who your higher self is – God.
If you insist on forgiving, then forgive yourself. Whatever real or imagined harm the other person did, did not hurt you. Only your thoughts allowed you to be hurt.
No one can hurt you without your consent. The other person, acting in the best way she or he could in the moment, was there in that moment because the two of you co-created that experience.
No one is to “blame”.
If you see such situations from your higher self’s perspective, your pain will go away. All that will remain is the love.
Pain is illusion. Love is real.”
I have been pondering on this for the last few days and although it is tough, I think it is right. I probably need to give it some more thought and talk it through with some friends that I trust, but the more I think about it the more it resonates in my heart. Hope it gives you some food for thought.
Much as I loved and enjoyed my trip to San Antonio, I am so grateful to be back in the spiritual sanctuary that is my garden. I try very hard to keep my small personal routine on schedule when I travel but it is never quite the same. Perhaps if I had lots of money and could stay in the kind of places where I could be guaranteed a quiet terrace, garden, or patio where I would not be disturbed by anyone or anything except God’s incredible creation, then it might be a little different.
The joy of sitting in my lanai fairly early in the morning, surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies, cardinals, titmice, and mourning doves, as well as the flowers that bloom in my garden and the pine woods out back, is indescribable. The quiet and the beauty restore my soul and fill my heart with happiness.
In my solitude here each morning there is a peacefulness that fills my whole being, a tranquility that I am blessed with, that allows me the perfect start to each day. My meditation books are there within easy reach and I am called to a place of quiet communion with my Creator that sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Here I can bare my soul to the One who loves me always, no matter what. Here I can tell Him my concerns, share my joys with Him, and make any specific requests that I may have. I read recently that, “Faith functions in connection with prayer and persistence. Persistence cultivates the belief that prayer will be answered. A person with a persistent spirit will be blessed.” (The Power of Prayer by E.M. Bounds)
And so I continue in my prayers for special causes that I have, for the many people who have asked me to pray for them, and for all those who have no one to pray for them. And in my praying I am drawn closer to my God. In my praying I go deeper on my spiritual path. And in my praying for others I am released of the bondage of self-importance and of self-centeredness.
I am immensely grateful for my sanctuary. For my special place where I can retreat from the chaos of the outside world. For the quiet that offers me the time to recharge and regenerate to face whatever challenges the day may bring. For the time each day that I am blessed with to nurture my soul. Amen!!