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I am a minister

I woke up this morning after a wonderful night's sleep in a bunk bed in a vacation rental in San Clemente, CA. I am here at a Minister's Gathering.

I am a minister!

This still blows me away a little bit. Last night our leaders took a brief moment to thank us for answering the call. They take every opportunity to do that. Indeed, they create opportunities to do that.

On the one hand, it evokes all sorts of warm wonderful goodness in me, that they would so go out of their way to thank us every chance they get. On the other, it makes me wonder, not for the first time, what on earth I have gotten myself into. Is being a minister such a really hard job that they feel the need to get all gushy with gratitude every time they get a group of us together?

It can't be any harder than being a wedding photographer.


Let's examine this: As a wedding photographer, I have to know some things technically. How to light any given situation so that the images look good, and the people in them look good. How to pose any body shape so it looks good. How to set my f-stop and shutter and flash unit to emphasize what I want, hide what I don't, and make everything look nice and balanced. And I have to do it quickly, easily, calmly, with all that wedding energy swirling around me: protective fathers, anxious mothers, hopeful brides, and the general mood of excited yet fearful anticipation.

Not so hard. Well, not now it isn't hard. When I first began doing weddings, it was hard. My partner knew not to try and speak to me on Saturday mornings. Even though I might not have to be at a wedding till 3 that afternoon, I needed the entire morning to rest and prepare. And I would come home so tired at night that I would be in tears. Literally. It's not like that now. I've been doing that for so many years that all it takes to prepare is some meditation, some reminders about what is important, another check of my equipment, and off I go. And I've set my fstops and shutters speeds and lights so many times that I can set them up right the first time and do what I came to do: make wonderful wedding images. No matter what.

After 27 years of doing photography, I got this. And yet, I also know that, given the nature of the beast, I need to keep on my toes: to continue my studies, make sure I am physically fit enough to chase a bride up a mountain side or down to the beach, carrying 50 pounds of equipment, and I need to remember that every bride is unique and special and not take anything for granted.

As a minister, what do I do? Well, let's see. I need to know some things technically. Only it isn't a piece of equipment I need to know, it's people and spiritual principles.

I need to be able to remember and grab hold of any given spiritual principle at any moment, based on what the person in front of me has brought to the table. And I need to do it when they are in attack mode because they are having an issue in their life and instead of looking at that issue, they've made it about me. I need to remember not to take it personally.

I need to sound profound. Every Sunday, no matter what.

I need to be able to, in the middle of the grocery store aisle, set aside my shopping and answer the call of a congregant in need who needs to talk.

I need to be able to inspire a team of mostly volunteer workers, over and over again.

I need to be an effective administrator. I need to know marketing and PR.

I need to set boundaries, and keep them. I need to stay in balance. I need to continue my spiritual studies. I need to take enough time off, and know when to say "no." And I need to remember my own humanness, and not be so hard on myself when I fall short of all those very lofty "needs" I just listed.

And I need to keep physically fit, because it's a holistic thing, and if I'm not physically fit things might be a bit out of balance. And I need to remember that every person I encounter is an individual, with their own unique way of expressing things, and their own needs and wants and desires, and their own expectations of what I can or should do to meet those needs.

And I need to do it, and make a living wage, in spite of many people's expectations that I do this work for free. matter they are always thanking me for answering the call.

And yet, there is some sort of magic here. Some sort of wonderful elusive thing that tells me I am in the right place. It tells me I can do this, it tells me I am up to the challenge. I approach this new career with excitement and energy and a joy of living and a continued search for fresh knowledge and new insights, because that is the way I approach everything in life. And they told me in ministerial school that the way I do one thing is the way I do everything.

So I'm here at my very first Minister's Gathering, excited and grateful beyond measure. Today we will have a session on having difficult conversations, and some fun with stretching our spiritual muscles with spoon bending, and a bonfire, complete with smores. And lots of fellowship, and sharing and good stuff. And yes, I am a Minister, and I am up to the task!



Every day, as part of my spiritual practice, I read from a couple of different daily readers. Today, both of them are about forgiveness. While some might consider this magical thinking, I've learned not to ignore stuff like this. When I get two readings on the same topic, it allows me to stop and take a closer look and ask myself: is there anything or anyone I need to forgive today in order to provide myself with relief? I spent some time in contemplation this morning and am happy to say that no, no forgiveness is needed today. I have no lingering feelings of resentment that need taken care of. But when I do, I take care of them.

I've learned a few things about forgiveness.  When I forgive, it doesn't excuse or condone bad behavior on the part of another.  Forgiveness really doesn't have anything to do with anything or anyone else.  Rather, forgiveness has to do with myself.  Forgiving gives me relief.  It frees me from victimhood.  Forgiveness feels like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, allowing me to move easier and breathe freer.  When I forgive, I must also be willing to give up the  payoff that sometimes comes from lack of forgiveness.   Have you ever realized that not forgiving gives us a sort of feeling of power?  "I am strong!  I am NEVER going to allow that other person to think what they did was OK!"  Unfortunately, such a sense of power is false and will turn against us, making us sick.  And what we do doesn't have any bearing on what another thinks.  The real power comes from forgiving and moving on and fully enjoying life.

How about you? Is a lack of forgiveness preventing you from fully experiencing all the joy that life has to offer?



I've been thinking a lot lately about the equinox coming up, probably because I'll be traveling to Lake Havasu City at the end of this week to do a talk there on this very topic at the Lake Havasu Center for Spiritual Living.

We get an equinox, or solstice, twice a year.  Once in the spring around March 20 and once in the fall around September 21.  These signify the day when the daylight hours and the night time hours are equal.  For the spring solstice, the day light hours then grow at a rate of a few minutes a day, till the fall equinox, when the day light hours then begin to shrink at the same rate.

Traditionally, fall equinox celebrations centered around harvest time, and this makes me think of what I am harvesting.  And what I am harvesting today depends on what I have planted yesterday.

Ernest Holmes (founder of Centers for Spiritual Living) tells us that today's outpicturing is the result of yesterday's consciousness.  This means that the thoughts and beliefs I held yesterday are what is manifesting in my life today.  Is this to be taken literally?  Not necessarily.  More accurately, it means that the tendency of my thoughts will influence my life in that direction.

So if I have planted good thoughts, thoughts of gratitude and optimism and love, then that is what my life will look like.

Does this mean that shit won't happen?  Nope.  It does indeed happen, it is part of life.  But if my thoughts have been ones of love and acceptance, then I am better able to handle it when it hits the fan.  I am not talking about spiritual bypassing either.  I'm talking about focusing on what is good while taking responsibility.  A good example of this would be the cancer patient who chooses to create humorous situations, all the while going through the medically indicated treatment.

So this is a time to consider what is going on in your life, and consider the seeds you have planted in your consciousness.  Do you live in the past, basing your current decisions on what happened when you were a kid?  This might be a good time to revisit that and see if a change is indicated.  Do you limit your actions based on fear?  This might be a good time see what it is you are afraid of, and what is behind the fear.  It may no longer be valid.

The equinox means the days will be getting shorter and the flurry of activity that most of us engaged in during the summer will begin to slow down.  Fall is a time to regroup, and see if perhaps we want to plant some different seeds.

I'd love to hear about your seeds!  What have you planted that is growing in your life right now?  What do you want to plant from this point on?