Charles Holt tours the world and lives in a frequency of abundance. Wherever he travels, whatever he desires appears. The last time I saw him we attended the grand opening of Dallas' new Performing Arts Complex. Waiting to cross at a crowded intersection, Charles struck up a conversation with a total stranger who turned out to be a faculty member at Southern Methodist University. By the time we crossed the street, she had booked him to teach one of her performing arts classes before returning to L.A.
As kids, we were obliged to give up "pop" for Lent. I took a legalistic approach. Every chance I got, I'd belly up to the soda fountain at Watts' drugstore and order a vanilla phosphate. Adhering to the letter rather than the spirit of the law, I rationalized that the blend of flavored corn syrup and soda water was most definitely not pop because it wasn't packaged in a container with a top to pop. I could earnestly say I had fulfilled my religious commitment. Clearly, I experienced little in the way of spiritual preparation.
Stuck on an elevator with a geeky stranger I tried striking up a conversation about the wild temperature fluctuations this month. "I don't even think in Fahrenheit," he said, thoughtfully. "Only Celsius." End of conversation.
Looking back, I see a geeky approach is well-suited to spiritual practice, too.
Reporters are trained to cover the 5-Ws (Who? What? Where? When? Why?). They're good questions for making sense of human drama. But I'm convinced too much focus on the 5-Ws detracts from our spiritual power. Focusing instead on deeper questions of purpose and potential, allows us to redirect energy from perpetuating drama to creating fuller, freer lives.
I once asked adults working with Sunday School students to identify the moment in life when they absolutely knew what it meant to love unconditionally. Some said they've always known. A few said it was when they were loved by a cherished pet. Others said they learned to love without strings when they had their own children. All agreed it was a continuing journey in which we give and receive love at deeper and deeper levels of our being - and that children have a better handle on unconditional love than most of us.
Gazing out the window of my motel room on campus at Unity Village, home to Unity Institute and Silent Unity, it's hard believe this is January. Leafless trees and dormant foliage mean the venerable and decrepit tower (soon-to-be renovated) dominates the scene more than ever. The feelings evoked by the condemned landmark are sadness and a hint of emptiness. My impulse is to push away the sadness by imagining the view in a future season: a spring or summer when the grounds are lush and green and the historic tower is gloriously restored.
Most meeting and workshop facilitators spend a few minutes establishing ground rules. They're usually pretty boiler plate: One speaker at a time. Maintain confidentiality. Respect the ideas of others. Here's one you may not know: Step up. Step back.
Last week, on a day-trip to Manhattan, I saw the Ground Zero fountains in the morning, spent the noon hour on Times Square, and by 2 p.m. was seated for the matinee performance of the Tony Award-winning musical, "Memphis." (Thank you, God, for unplanned prosperity demonstrations!)
Remembering how much I enjoyed last winter, I find myself lamenting the brown-grey barrenness camouflaged by last winter's abundant snowfall. I find myself longing for the peaceful beauty of a new-fallen blanket of white.