In Us, As Us, Through Us
Human spiritual traditions are filled with stories of creation, birth, death, and rebirth. From the daily cycle of day and night to the four seasons, our world is being constantly created.
On this first Sunday of Lent, Rev. Joanne reminds us that in the Hebrew tradition, the Book of Genesis has two separate creation stories, one in Genesis chapter 1 and another in chapter 2. She also tells us of a third Hebrew creation tradition. As told by Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) it is known as Tikkun Olam. Luria said that God created some vessels that contained that which was “not God.” When God put the Divine Light into these vessels, they were unable to contain it and shattered. The shards of glass fell to earth and are scattered throughout creation. He explained that it is humanity’s responsibility to gather the shards and put them back together so that we can see the Divine Light here on earth.
As a tool to help us contemplate the meaning of Lent and focus on the healing we wish to occur, Rev. Joanne and the Worship Team distributed mini Zen Gardens for us to work with. Each Zen Garden kit contains a tray, sand, several pieces of beach glass and a small wooden rake to smooth the sand. On most Sundays, Unity Spiritual Center has a Christ Candle as a centerpiece of our platform. Rev. Joanne explains that during this Lenten series we have a vessel containing many pieces of beach glass illuminated by sparkling lamps. This vessel will serve as our symbol of Divine Light and a reminder of our focus on healing.
Unity started as a healing ministry in the second half of the nineteenth century. Co-founder Myrtle Fillmore (1845-1931) held in her consciousness, and repeated silently and aloud “I am child of God, and therefore do not inherit sickness.” By doing so, she experienced physical healing that the physicians of her time were not able to facilitate or to explain. She could have resigned herself to a lifetime of illness but instead chose not to allow the shards of her shattered world rule her life. (Below: Myrtle Fillmore, ca. 1875)
We are experiencing something similar today. Global public health conditions, and governmental responses to it, have to a large degree shattered many people’s lives. What was normal has been broken apart. Rev. Joanne challenges us to consider, how can we walk through this time remembering the Truth of who we are?
As we are focus this week on physical healing, Rev. Joanne shares with us a story of Jesus’ ministry of healing:
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Matthew 8:1-4
Jesus’ instruction to the man in this story to visit the priest and offer the gift commanded by Moses was made in accordance with the tradition of the priests being the authority to declare a person “clean” or “unclean.” Sacrifices and ritual ablutions were needed to allow the faithful to once again be accepted into society. So strict were the Jewish religious laws at that time that even touching someone who was considered “unclean” was enough to befoul you.
In this healing story, Jesus did not fear to touch the leper. By touching him, he showed literally and symbolically that we are not made unclean by touching that which have have declared as unclean. We are not to ignore openheartedness and compassion to those we have decided are not worthy. But Jesus saw the leper as he was in absolute Truth – whole and holy filled with the Divine Christ Light.
While it is true that Unity teaches that we have with us the power to attract to ourselves that which we experience, we must be careful to guard against what may be termed “metaphysical malpractice” regarding our physical health. Rev. Joanne tells us that she has spoken with some people who are reluctant to visit our church because of ongoing physical health challenges and the judgment from others they may receive as a result. What are you holding in your consciousness that has drawn to you these challenges? What do you need to release to facilitate a healing?
Such judgments are not consistent with what Unity teaches, which is that in spite of appearances each and every one of us is whole and holy, and supports us in our healing. It is important to note that healing may be different than curing.
Rev. Joanne shares with us a healing story that was told by Rev. Tony Campolo (b. 1935). A congregant who was suffering with cancer was near the end of his life and was very angry with God. Why doesn’t a loving God cure me of this disease? How could a loving God even allow it to happen? Having spoken with Rev. Campolo about these feelings, the man came to a place of peace about his situation. A few weeks later, the man’s wife called Rev. Campolo to tell him her husband had been healed. Before he could reply she also told him that he had died. She explained that the healing was his coming to peace with himself, his family and God, and that his final days were filled with love and joy.
Rev. Joanne explains that this story illustrates that in spite of any appearance to the contrary we are whole and holy, and this body that we inhabit is simply a vessel for the Light of Christ that is within us. Inviting us to allow it to express through us, and as we do so with and for one another, hearts open in compassion, recognizing within each one, you too are that Divine Light of God. Doing so we allow healing within our own individual life and within the lives of our greater community.
Unity has a very specific formula for experiencing that place of healing:
Health is real, abiding, eternal, unchangeable. Health or wholeness is every man’s birthright. . . . The first step to be taken toward healing is repentance, a change of mind, turning away from the belief in things as they appear and turning within toward God, then making the necessary change in conduct.1
Rev. Joanne emphasizes that recognizing the Truth of who we are may not be enough on its own for physical healing to occur. In this regard, Unity is not like Christian Science, another New Thought philosophy that began around the same time as Unity who teaches that physicians are not necessary for healing. Unity teaches that having recognized our Truth, we allow Divine Mind to guide our actions, which often includes seeking the medical advise of physicians.
This is not a small distinction. While the story shared by Rev. Campolo may be heart warming in that the man and his family found peace, I think most people would agree that while experiencing this type of healing is absolutely a good thing and something to work toward, we also seek curing. We would not like our family to be told that “the operation was a success, but the patient died.” This is fully acknowledging that our physical bodies are mortal and the best medical care can only delay, but not prevent, the inevitability of death. Ideally, we would like to experience both healing and curing.
We do not have to settle for anything less than that which is our Divine Right. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.
Now Go and Be the Light.
Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. Jeremiah 33:6
Jesus said, “Yes, I do choose. Be made clean.” How will you choose to support the physical health in your life? Is there an area that you are being invited to focus on? How does it currently feel in your body, mind, and spirit when you consider this area of physical health? What can you do to relieve this, even just a little? What necessary change can you make to more fully realize the abundant life and vitality of God within? Make a choice and commit to your physical health this week.
In your Lenten bag, take the beach in your hand and hold your commitment in this glass. Make it your physical sign and place it with your Zen Garden as your reminder.
During Lent, we will have two ways we are “building our living cross.”
First, we would to share stories of healing. Visit our website to connect with Rev. Joanne to share your story. We will record some of these stories to share as examples of how we are “resurrecting” during this Lenten Series.
Second, as you work with your Zen Garden during this series, take photos of your work for us to share on our website. You are not limited to the items contained withing the Lenten bags we distributed. Allow Spirit to guide your imagination.
1Healing, Series 1, Lesson 2, Unity Correspondence School, Lee’s Summit, MO, July 6, 1970. For full text of this lesson visit: https://s3.amazonaws.com/truthunity/assets/books/ucs-series1/lesson2/correspondence-school-series1-lesson2-manuscript-1972.pdf