Messages from a mural! FIVE SATURDAY THOUGHTS with Alex Cook and Tony Lobl, CS

  • April 30, 2016/Tony Lobl
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    The mural above is part of artist Alex Cook’s YOU ARE LOVED mural project. You can learn about it at  www.youarelovedmurals.com

    Each mural has/is one of five messages…

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    “Upwards of 50 passers-by lent their hands to paint this design.”

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    15 murals have been painted in as many US states, and in two other countries.

    IMG_1976 (1).jpgA man wrote an email saying that seeing the message on this car stopped him taking his life!

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    Alex is looking for sponsors, so if you know of a local organization or public space that could benefit from one of his engaging murals, he would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact him at YOU ARE LOVED MURALS and ask him whatever questions you want to about the project.

    Alex has also written an in-depth article on how he overcame fears that accosted him in relation to this and other artistic endeavours. Click here to read  the article, “Finding Purpose and Overcoming Fear Through Deep Listening”.

    Thanks for the art, Alex!

    https://tonylobl.com/2016/04/30/messages-from-a-mural-five-saturday-thoughts/

    ‘He didn’t jump’ – Q: How can I pray about the issue of suicide in my school?

     

    Hope is the major weapon against suicide.  Faith and spirituality is an unobstructed path to hope.

    Volunteer crisis intervention and suicide prevention counselor for LGBT youth.

    Rob Scott

     

    “Sometimes when things seem difficult in our human experience, we are inclined to discount this hope. We deny that it is legitimate or push it back as too good to be true, to be Truth.
      
    “And yet it still remains there, ready for our acknowledgement. For that hope of good, peace, and joy, is God speaking to us, calling us to believe. And when we do, we find that that small drop of conscious awareness of God can’t help but overflow, filling us up with Truth and Love, and washing away the doubts and fears. This hope, this connection with God that material sense would hide, is our true guide and forever friend. It leads us home and impels us to bring healing hope, light, joy, and peace to others as well.”  

    Laura Moliter, CS

     

    Whatever happens, I hope that you will continue to hold on to hope too.  Even in our darkest moments, it is there.  And in all its tenderness and beauty, even if hard to see sometimes, it is life’s greatest gift.  A precious gift to share. 

    Danielle Steel

     

    This sentiment is shared by Shane Lopez, author of the book, Making Hope Happen.  CNN quotes Lopez, “there is a profound difference between hoping and wishing.  Wishing encourages passivity, whereas hope represents an active stance.  Wishing is fantasy that everything is going to turn out OK.  Hoping is actually showing up for the hard work.”

    By June 12, 2013 11:55 am ET

     

    Judy Collins sings “Wings Of Angels,” a tribute to her late son, Clark, who died by suicide in 1992.  Dedicated to all those LGBT youth who were unloved and unwanted by their human families and didn’t make it.

     

    ‘He didn’t jump’

    From the teen series: Q&A – April 26, 2016

    Q: How can I pray about the issue of suicide in my school?

    A: Thank you for praying about suicide in your school. Just the other day, I saw a video featuring a mom whose teenage son had killed himself after being severely bullied. She said she wished that her son’s friends, who noticed him having a difficult time, would have said or done something to let her child know he was cared for. Your prayers are a way of caring for those who may be struggling with these same dark thoughts. And, as I learned last fall, prayer does have a tangible, healing impact.

    I was driving along the highway to church one Wednesday night when I saw someone standing on the bridge above me. It looked as if he was standing on the other side of the railing—as if maybe he was about to jump. It was hard to see what was really going on, and there was no way for me to stop. But my thought went instantly to prayer. I had already been keeping my thoughts open to God during my drive, listening for God’s assurance that I was loved and cared for, as I was feeling down.

    In that moment under the bridge, a line from a dearly loved hymn came immediately to mind: “Everlasting arms of Love / Are beneath, around, above” (John R. Macduff, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 53). My favorite synonym for God is Love, and in a split second, I got a completely new view of what it means to say that God is Love. To me, those “everlasting arms of Love” meant that Love is the only active presence, completely surrounding and tenderly caring for me and everyone, everywhere and always. I felt in a profound way that Love is in total control, every moment. No one can actually opt out of being loved by God. Love, being All, truly is all there is!

    Several days later, I was still curious about whether I did in fact see a man on that bridge, so I did an Internet search on it. I found a news article that confirmed what I’d seen. Right around the time I’d passed under that bridge on Wednesday night, a man had, indeed, been planning to jump. However, an off-duty police officer talked with him for a while, and the man changed his mind, moved away from the edge of the bridge, and climbed back over the railing to safety. The article specifically noted that the officer hugged this man for a while. It was such a tangible reminder of how we’re never outside of Love’s embrace, and this was a message I so desperately needed to hear for myself that week, too.

    • Also, special thanks to the off duty police officer who talked with him for a while, and the man changed his mind, moved away from the edge of the bridge, and climbed back over the railing to safety.  Perhaps the police officer was an angel entertained unaware – Rob Scott

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    Whats unconditional love got to do with HIV/AIDS? Only Everything!

    I suspect you [… antigay C.S.B.] have been loving to gay members but still approached them as in NEED of healing for being gay or lesbian which would make them feel less than acceptable as if they are broken and in need of being fixed.  

    Name Withheld

     *
    …. when repressed homosexuality reared its head after I had Class Instruction, there was no one in my Father’s House to take up the slack or meet the need. But Life has a way anyway! My teacher could not make gay go away! I spent a lot of time beating up on myself.  I was saddled with a lot of false teaching and false human opinion about gayness… We all have experienced dramatic rejections and out castings.  We all have tried opening up only to be “spewn out dispassionately”.  
    Name Withheld
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    (A re-share of Ron Ballard’s article after intro, for our community!)

    I spent time working on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign at the end of 2015 to help pass the Equality Act which would prohibit discrimination in housing, education and employment against LGBT people in 31 states which currently have no protection. The Equality Act is currently before Congress.

    One college student shared with me that he signed up as a member of HRC because he has two moms. He shared that he is a well loved man because of it.

    I was touched by one heart breaking story in particular. One woman shared that she had a friend whose son was gay. His family ostracized him for being gay so he left home with no further contact with them and perhaps felt pressured to leave his faith behind too. He died at age 26 from AIDS.  Perhaps he died of famished affections due to a lack of love and acceptance from his family and church.

    But this same women also told me she has a gay son but she loves him unconditionally and their family welcomes him and stated God loves him unconditionally regardless of who he loves. As a result, he is now happy, healthy and well adjusted which demonstrates that love is the cure as stated by Sir Elton John.

    Why is this story important to our youth? See the following statistics listed below from the former deputy director of the White House Office of National AIDS policy under President Clinton and executive director of the Trust for America’s Health.

    Thus this blog is dedicated to all those who didn’t make it, never had a voice or had to suffer in silence.

    As one Journal Listed, CS stated: “God is listening!  If you want to get into the reality of things, it is always God communicating.  But, I think in the sense of having one’s voice heard, it is comforting to know the divine ear is always alert to our needs.”

    Amen.

    We are on the right side of history and love is ever with us as divine Love is having Its day in our day.

    *Note – To those of you who have read our book club novel, Stick,  you know the ending is heartbreaking but not without hope.  Bosten was forced out of his house for being gay and fled to the streets of Los Angeles where he becomes homeless.  There was a breakdown in the family structure with no mention of any faith and spirituality.  Thus Bosten was left with no support system to lean on.  Thus the false landmarks seemed his only option of addressing his pain which exceeded his ability to cope.

    The last chapter of the book has Bosten and his brother in a safe environment.  But Bosten is struggling.  I couldn’t help wonder if he would make it or find healing after all he had been through.

    Since this is a fictional book (but could be a real life example of thousands of  LGBT homeless youths) then perhaps I could add the final chapter with Bosten walking into Ron Ballard’s office and finding healing.  I couldn’t think of any better ending for him.  So let it be.

    So let Ron Ballard’s article below be the final chapter for Bosten and for all those going through similar ordeals of family and religious rejection to find Truth and Love in the heart of darkness.  Only Love will save them.

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    Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL Mankind,
    Rob Scott
    Oaxaca, Mexico

     

    PREVENTION:  Starts In Families: LGBTQ youth whose families are more supportive have significantly lower rates of depression, substance abuse and suicidal ideation and attempts. It is important for federal, state, local, community and faith-based programs to support families of LBGTQ youth, such as through parenting skills-building, case management services, professional best practices in the justice and healthcare systems, and promotion of positive role models.
     
    If we do a better job of providing a supportive and respectful environment early in life, we could help reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS and assure a higher quality of life for the next generation of LGBTQ Americans.
     
    Jeff Levi
    Former deputy director of the White House Office of National AIDS policy under President Clinton and executive director of the Trust for America’s Health.
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    “Too often in the history of religion, people have killed in the name of the God of life, waged war in the name of the God of peace, hated in the name of the God of love and practiced cruelty in the name of the God of compassion. When this happens, God speaks, sometimes in a still, small voice almost inaudible beneath the clamor of those claiming to speak on his behalf. What he says at such times is: Not in my name!

    A Universal Answer to Religious Violence – CSMonitor – 08/02/2015 

     

     

    The Reciprocity Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to helping the city’s homeless youth realize their full potential by developing their passions and reconnecting with their spiritual side. Many of the youth they work with are people of color or part of the LGBT community, and many come from religious backgrounds.

    “Many (of these youth) feel negatively towards religion since it has contributed to their isolation from their family and/or homelessness,” said Taz Tagore, a Reciprocity co-founder.

    “Most LGBT adults have left their childhood religion because of rejection they’ve experienced,” Ryan said. “So many have a lack of rootedness and connectedness. (Reciprocity’s) approach is helping to restore a sense of spiritual practice.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/09/reciprocity-foundation-lgbt-retreats_n_6294206.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices

     

     

    COVER ARTICLE

    Responding to AIDS with unconditional love

    From the July 22, 2002 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

    • Permission granted to post article in its entirety
       
      Responding to the world’s call for help

    Considering The International AIDS crisis, I’ve found that taking a prayer-based approach to the problem can bring healing to my own thinking that will ultimately help bring healing to the disease itself.

    The acronym

    The term AIDS, which stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, obviously refers in large part to the whole issue of immunity. I’ve thought a lot about what really constitutes our immune system.

    Physiologically, it’s that capacity of the body to defend itself from infection by determining whether an intruder is friend or foe. But the healthcare community is beginning to explore the relation of thought to body, and may well come to recognize what is fundamental to the spiritual healing community—that bodily activity is essentially a mental phenomenon, not a physical one.

    Spiritual healing, at least as it’s practiced in Christian Science, begins with the understanding that quality of thought determines one’s state of health. The practice of Christian Science looks at something called “mental anatomy.” This is mental self-knowledge that involves the dissection of thoughts to determine their origin and quality and quantity, in essence to determine whether they are friend or foe, (see Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 462).

    Christian Science shows that by identifying with the spiritual or divine influence present in all of us, we can strengthen thoughts, and, therefore, the body.

    Christian Science shows that by identifying with the spiritual or divine influence present in all of us, we can strengthen thought, and, therefore, the body.

    Science and Health asks: “Are thoughts divine or human? That is the important question” (p. 462). In a sense, developing a true immune system happens when we draw closer to spiritual qualities that strengthen thought—such as unselfishness, purity, innocence, integrity, and courage—rather than to malice, envy, fear, lust, and so forth, which weaken us.

    This passage from the Bible has helped me in thinking through this idea of what immunity is. It says, “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). TheChrist is a term that stands for our spiritual identity—it’s a universal term, rather than a denominational one. The Christ is the visible expression of God’s nature in human experience. By recognizing our identity as defined by something far greater than mortality, we find the natural outcome is that limitations in our lives drop away, and we embrace our spiritual identity more fully.

    In elaborating on this idea, Mary Baker Eddy wrote that we’re “… ‘hid with Christ in God,’ – with Truth in divine Love, where human sensehath not seen man” (p. 325). That gives a great description of immunity—seeing ourselves in God’s likeness, created with an indestructible life, in an entirely spiritual realm.

    Another element of the acronym AIDS indicates that this disease is something “acquired” and not innate. This means that it is an intruder and implies that it has no valid place in one’s being. For me, the greatest spiritual healer of all time was Jesus, and one of the things that really impresses me about Jesus’ healing was his profound sense that all discord is unjust.

    You could say that it was Jesus’ passion to prove that divine justice in human experience is everyone’s divine right. Jesus freed people from the awful burdens of sickness and suffering, sin, and death. Because to Jesus, these evils were not the inevitable consequences of living—they were the impositions of human fear and misunderstanding. And they were correctable.

    Moral stigma of AIDS

    I live part of the year in San Francisco, and as most of the world knows, San Franciscans are no strangers to devastation. We’ve lived through a lot as a community. And we’ve done that, I think, because we know how important it is to work together. And AIDS, I feel, is not unlike the earthquakes that San Franciscans have lived through. You reach out to others through the same sense of divine justice—that it’s just unfair that people suffer. And that it is God’s will that Her creation experience the freedom that comes from living a life of spiritual integrity.

    But in San Francisco, especially, there has been a moral stigma attached to AIDS—a stigma that makes the sufferer feel even more separated from love—as if this disease were God’s punishment for immoral or inappropriate behavior. And this concept needs healing.

    The primary fact is that God never sends disease—for punishment, or any other reason. Knowing that, I honor the spiritual integrity of individuals. That’s my sense of judgment of others. My teacher, Christ Jesus, encouraged me to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). To me, that means to judge from a spiritual perspective, from a perspective of divine Love, which is really reverencing the good, spiritual nature of each individual as the real fact of her or his being.

    The primary fact is that God never sends disease—for punishment, or any other reason.

    Mary Baker Eddy once observed that Jesus’ wonderful healing works came from his ability to see in others God’s own likeness, and that it was this “correct” seeing that enabled him to heal (see Science and Health, pp. 476–477). Now, obviously, as we look at ourselves and others, we don’t always see things that are very Godlike, but we have to look beyond mortal faults and frailities. Through spiritual seeing, we can begin to recognize the way each of us expresses God’s nature.

    That doesn’t mean we should simply overlook those things that could be destructive to our lives. Parents, for example, because of their love for their children, point out things that can harm them. So spiritual healing does include helping a sufferer see what is harmful to one’s well-being. But this is helping point the way to more constructive living and must always come from a standpoint of great love—never from a standpoint of human judgment.

    It saddens me that there are some in the religious community who believe that people who suffer from AIDS deserve what they get. I don’t find that attitude supported in the Christianity that Jesus taught. Jesus didn’t overlook the things that could harm others; instead, he gave them a much higher sense of how God made them. That’s the kind of response I think spiritual healing must take. To me, responding to this challenge in my own community is a matter of praying for a clearer view that we are all expressions of God.

    Battling “compassion fatigue”

    Sometimes people feel that the problem of AIDS is so big that their prayers won’t make a difference. They experience what some call “compassion fatigue.” But you have to keep the goal in mind and know that every effort you make brings us just that much closer to resolution. If we’re operating out of a conviction of the power of Love, we don’t give up.

    For example, for months we saw people giving tireless efforts at Ground Zero in New York, in an attempt to help others. And I believe that effort came from a much more significant source than human capacity. I believe that those truly remarkable efforts came from what could be called “Immanuel,” or “God with us.” That’s what destroys compassion fatigue—a divine presence that breaks through human limitations.

    And this divine presence is what relieves anyone of the false notion of personal responsibility in healing. Because no one who practices spiritual healing can be truly successful, I don’t think, if he or she believes that the healing power is personal—that is, that its source is in human capacity.

    I’ve seen some truly remarkable healings over the years, and they’ve all been accomplished through a clear sense of “God with us.” And while it’s true that one individual human effort probably doesn’t seem to make that much of a dent in a situation like AIDS, any effort that is derived from the divine will does makes all the difference.

    Responding to the world’s call for help

    I feel that I must live “for all mankind” (Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 294). Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery of Christian Science—the laws of God—was no mere denominational effort. She deeply felt that her discovery of the method of Christ’s healing belonged to everyone. I feel we owe it to everyone to perfect this spiritual healing in our lives, because scientific spiritual healing is not a special gift to just some people. And while some may balk at the use of the term Science,spiritual healing requires precise practice—practice that ensures a continuously growing understanding of God and the demands that God makes for what I call “unselfed service.”

    To me, anywhere I see our human family struggling is a call for help that must be answered. Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power” (Science and Health, p. 192). I take that to mean that if we turn away, and never move beyond our borders of familiarity, we are unlikely to experience God’s power to the extent it’s possible. I often think, “What would be thought of someone who had something so helpful to give, but refused—out of apathy or indifference—to give it?” Maybe that’s why, even though this AIDS epidemic crosses all social /ethnic/racial/gender/age lines, the individual cases leap out from the statistics and require our attention.

    One example

    A case that meant a great deal to me involved a young man who came to my office. He had been diagnosed with Kaposi’s sarcoma, which is a form of cancer that is often seen in advanced AIDS patients. While I didn’t know everything about the disease, I was familiar enough with its symptoms to recognize it. This guy had a story that really tore at my heart. He was cast out of home when he was 13. He came to San Francisco and took up residence on the streets. He became a slave to all sorts of addiction—alcohol, drugs, sex—and somewhere along the line, he became HIV-positive and then developed AIDS.

    To me, anywhere I see our human family struggling is a call for help that must be answered.

    Interestingly, he didn’t come to my office looking for physical healing. He had made up his mind that he was going to die. But before he did, he wanted to get a different view of himself, or a better self-image. He had attended a Wednesday evening testimony meeting in a Christian Science church, and had heard something about God that really intrigued him. I’m sure there were a number of people sharing stories of spiritual healings that evening, but he really didn’t hear those. He only wanted to know something more about God than what little he did know.

    So when he came to my office, we talked a lot about God as a presence, a force, an intelligence, and not a superhuman or anthropomorphic or manlike God. Something struck a chord with him about that, because he said that while he’d never believed in God, he’d always felt that if there were a God, it had to be something other than manlike.

    Before he left, we touched on the idea in that Bible passage that I referred to earlier about being “hid with Christ in God,” and how he had a life in God that was so much more than what he’d experienced over the last few years.

    Each week, he came back, and we talked and prayed some more about what it meant to have a “life in God.” After the first visit, we agreed not to talk about what life had been like on the streets, but to explore what life with Christ—our spiritual life—is really like. And he never spoke about the disease. Our discussions were all about spiritual growth and development. I learned so much during that time—just by journeying with him on his spiritual quest.

    Some time later he became symptom free. Over the years, I’ve had many questions about his experience, because of the nature of the disease and curiosity about it—the fact that it’s considered incurable. But the greatest significance to me of this case is what happened when he decided to seek a clearer understanding of God.

    This happened probably eight or nine years ago. And while I don’t have personal contact with him anymore, I have heard that he constantly shares his healing with others. Sometimes people end up calling and asking me questions as a result of what he says, oftentimes asking me to pray for them.

    This is just one of many instances in which I’ve seen the truth of the Bible promise that if we draw close to God, God will draw close to us (see James 4:8). I’ve seen that over and over through the years in my practice of spiritual healing. Health is not really about getting a handle on some disease. It is about drawing closer to God.

    Fear of AIDS

    Another aspect of AIDS that needs healing is the dread of this horrible disease and the fear of even touching those afflicted with it. Fear is about not feeling in control—about feeling vulnerable and helpless. This is another way of saying that God is not present in our lives.

    Yet fear disappears when the occasion is gone that prompts the fear. That occasion, whether it’s AIDS or any other problem, can be turned around to lead us to discover that God’s love casts out fear. That’s really all that healing fear is about—knowing that God is unconditional love and is always present. No matter what we do, how we act, what mistakes we make, God’s love doesn’t ever move away from us.

    The idea of perfect Love being the healing agent of something considered incurable comes directly to us from the Bible. Jesus faced this same dread and fear when he healed lepers—the diseased and shunned outcasts of his day. The AIDS epidemic of today spread in the United States with drug users and people who were gay. Once they were diagnosed with the disease, they were shunned more than ever—considered society’s modern-day outcasts. Today this crisis affects children, the elderly, and everyone in between. It is devastating Africa and the Caribbean. This is a global problem.

    Jesus often helped those who were considered outcasts. His approach to dealing with the outcast was to foster an appreciation of that individual’s spiritual integrity. That’s something that we can all do, whether we know someone personally who’s suffering with this particular disease or not. We can all begin to build our appreciation of another person’s spiritual integrity—their oneness, or wholeness, as God’s expression. To me, that’s prayer. And prayer is about changing our thought—about bringing it in line with the higher view of what is true about our world family. This change creates a mental atmosphere that allows for more inspiration, more intelligent action, and, therefore, more opportunities to meet this daunting challenge.

    True heredity

    About four years ago I was asked to pray for a child with AIDS. The child had acquired the disease through his mother, who was also suffering from it. That gave us an opportunity to think about heredity.

    We began to explore the idea that heredity, seen from a spiritual perspective, is not a handing down of a bundle of physical characteristics from a human parent. Rather, heredity from a spiritual perspective is a divine heritage. This child had a right to experience his spiritual inheritance from God. The qualities and attributes that made up his being came directly from God, his real source. And as we prayed and grew to understand this concept more fully, the child—over a matter of months—dropped all evidence of the disease.

    It’s clear to me that in every case, whether it involves children or adults, the real need is to recognize that everyone has a direct connection with his or her true Parent, which is our Father-Mother, God. While a human parent provides the encouragement that is often necessary to help us see our spiritual wholeness, the real qualities and characteristics that go into making up a person’s being come directly from God. And those certainly don’t ever have anything to do with disease, sin, or death.

    Responding to AIDS with unconditional love

    rub scott

     

    Finding Purpose and Overcoming Fear Through Deep Listening by Alex Cook

     

    How to overcome fear by using deep listening as a tool

    • Reposted with permission by Alex Cook
    Profile photo of Alex Cook | 32 comments
    You are loved mural on wall for overcoming fear

    When I was 23 years old, I painted my first mural. Northampton, Massachusetts, 1997.

    My art was my life. And the thought of peddling it door to door, being rejected by gallery after gallery was more than I could handle.

    In a moment of inspiration I thought – if I could just get someone to let me paint their wall, nothing could stop me from sharing my beloved pictures with the world!

    To get there, I had had to do some things I never did before. I walked around town searching for walls I might be able to paint. I asked at stores and businesses “Who owns this building? How can I contact them?”

    I was making it up as I went along but amazingly, after some weeks I received a call back from a local building owner. The answer was yes. I could paint a mural on his building.

    I was getting a degree in painting at the University of Massachusetts. I painted all the time. In my home, at my studio on campus – but always in private.

    It gave me freedom to make mistakes, explore, try new things, fail, start over, succeed, celebrate, and feel.

    The wall for this mural was on the main thoroughfare in town. Hundreds of cars drive by every hour.

    Here’s the thing: when you do something you’ve never done before you can’t be prepared for what’s going to happen. There’s just no way to know what’s going to happen.

    I had my design – a broad-leafed tree of life, 16 feet tall and 10 feet wide. It felt infinitely larger than anything I had ever done before.

    I took out my brush, opened the paint and went to begin, but I froze. In a moment, I was overcome by a gripping fear so powerful I could not proceed.

    “You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

    The Grip of Fear

    My thoughts screamed: You are going to fail! What if you ruin this wall – right there in front of hundreds of strangers? What if they all think it is so stupid?

    It was a degree of fear that was not normal to me. I was stunned.

    But I literally could not proceed. The terror was too great.

    This fear of being exposed as a fool, a failure, was coming right from my most sensitive place. No longer safe in the privacy of my studio, every phase of the creation of this painting would be visible to passers-by.

    I knew something had to change, or I would simply have to go home and not paint this mural. But it had all felt so right!

    I stood there, brush in hand, closed my eyes and prayed. “What can I do?!”

    Deep Listening in the Thick of the Moment

    The sound of traffic faded. I forgot where I was and just concentrated, listening for some kind of new idea.

    Over the period of a few minutes, a new thought arrived in my mind like the sun dawning over the horizon. It was utterly new to me.

    This is not about you or how people see you. This is your opportunity to give a gift to the very real people who live in this neighborhood.

    That idea sat in me for some minutes. I sat with it silently, stunned again at this concept which turned my prior state of mind upside down.

    In essence, it meant, “Your fear, as enormous as it feels, is not really relevant here. Your work, because it IS good, is meant to enrich others.”

    My pictures were precious to me. But could I be so bold as to consider them a gift to the community?

    Then, glory: I found I was falling in love with this new idea. My work IS for others!

    I began to feel it through and through, and as I did it was as if the idea grew in me so large that there was just no more room for the fear. My excitement to create this painting which, for the first time ever in my life, really would reach people, overcame me.

    A rare kind of joy filled me as I realized I was now able to begin the painting.

    The Spoils of War

    Over the ten days that I worked on that mural, I met lots of people, talked about the mural with countless strangers, and my life was changed.  Riches poured forth from the experience.The mural tree of life on the wall

    First of all, I showed myself that I could do the very thing I had most feared that I couldn’t. The mural succeeded.

    Not only was it not a failure, but it was also a vibrant success. People had slowed their cars driving by, clapping and shouting approval as they passed.

    The very people I had feared would judge me, had become a source of joy for me. I could see and feel that my idea, my mural, had communicated with many of them.

    I had a new understanding of “community”. Each face passing on the sidewalk and in the flow of traffic on the street is a being that matters.

    They each, just like me, have feelings, hopes, fears, the stories of their lives. And if they have those things, I can reach them my art.

    It landed in my heart with a soulful certainty – I will be a muralist. And I labor to bring beauty to these beloved people.

    “When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

    A Crazy Idea

    Fast forward seven years. I’d made my way painting murals, sometimes fighting for every inch of success, sometimes with great, generous moments of progress.

    I’d become used to the idea of coming across an idea that I loved and worked to make it a reality in the world. It was exciting and hard.

    In those days, I drove a humble 1993 Mazda 323, white. Guaranteed – no heads turned when I drove by.

    One day a dreamy idea floated into my mind. It was my little Mazda, but instead of its blank whiteness, it was painted to look like a little brown bird.

    I smiled at the thought and went back to my business.

    Some weeks later I had the same thought. I smiled again and imagined that little car zooming around my neighborhood.

    The thing is, the thought kept coming to me more and more over a year. It was a really cute fantasy!

    But then, about a year after I first began dreaming of this bird car, it dawned on me – I’m gonna do it! I got really excited about it.

    I drew up the design and went out to begin. And as I went to make the first mark on the hood of the car – it happened again!

    That fear came crushing down on me like an avalanche. One minute previous all had been well, and now I was filled with terror.

    A cruel voice in my thoughts announced, as certain as gravity, “They will pity you. They will shake their heads and pity the poor village idiot. You will be shunned.”

    All anonymity will be gone. Everywhere I go, I’ll be the poor idiot who thought he had a good idea, but really just went too far.

    I was, again, paralyzed. I had no tools to deal with so vicious and terrifying darkness.

    I closed my eyes and prayed. I’d grown so used to following my ideas – why did this feel so horrible??

    I simply reached out, listening – “What can I do?!”

    What Do You Stand For?

    Very quickly, almost like a response, a new question arose in my thoughts – a question for me. “Do you believe in beauty?”

    It seemed unrelated, but I considered it, willing to go along. My heart’s answer came quietly, quickly. “Actually, yes, I do. I believe in it more than anything.”

    I knew it was true. Every time I worked on a painting what I was really doing was loving beauty. It was perhaps the most life-affirming thing I knew.

    And then, as if it were a mathematical proof, the next step asserted itself: I believe in beauty. I know I will go to any length for it. Without beauty, there is no point in anything else.

    And with that, the threat that people will pity me remained, but I found that I didn’t care. I realized then and there; I was willing to stand by beauty.

    If beauty instructs me to do something that makes me look foolish to some, I will do it. Beauty is right and those people (if they even exist) are wrong.

    And the punchline again, as if it were the refrain in a song: It isn’t about how they see you. This is a gift of beauty for the very real people who walk the streets of your neighborhood.

    Car painted as a brown bird

    Standing Out for What You Believe In

    I made the bird car and drove it everywhere.  Never once did anyone ever say anything mean about it. But I did receive countless compliments, applause (yes! As I drove down the street!), and one note under my windshield wiper: “You have the best car in the city.” Children often tugged on their parents’ hands and pointed, smiling and laughing.

    One of my previous thoughts had been right. I did lose a lot of anonymity. Everywhere I drove my car called attention.

    I realized this was a necessary step forward in my mission to help people through creating beauty. Every day as I step into my car I am consciously affirming my commitment to stand out on a limb for beauty. I accept the honor of the job.

    “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Feeling Loved

    These experiences of reaching out and finding answers in my times of great fear leave me feeling loved by life, the universe, God. Whatever name I put to it, my experience tells me that if I reach out for guidance as I strive to do my most real work, I receive that guidance.

    Through countless difficulties and challenges that guidance has been there. It often brings ideas that cause me to have to change, grow, and do things I never did before.

    It often is demanding, giving me my work to do. And as I honestly strive to do that work, it brings beautiful, real goodness and healing for myself and others.

    If that’s a real thing, I want to share it.

    You Are Loved

    In late 2013 I was working on a mural for an elementary school in New Orleans, LA. The principal of the school intimated her desire to help the students feel loved and cared for as they walked through the halls of the school.

    I felt a deep honor as I considered the important challenge that laid out for my mural. How to actually cause these children to feel and recognize how precious and important they are?

    As I have learned to do, I listened in the deepest inward way I could. I focused my desire to have my art really be effective in people’s lives.

    A question came. Do we have to be subtle about this? Can’t we just say it directly?

    I tried to think of the words that I had most longed to feel at the hardest moments in my life. Within the larger mural I wrote:

    YOU ARE LOVED

    YOU ARE NEEDED

    YOU ARE IMPORTANT

    YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL

    YOU CAN DO IT

    Mural on the wall with you are loved written on it

    The Most Important Message, Everywhere

    Upon finishing that mural I realized that I had come upon a large idea. I began to imagine the words YOU ARE LOVED, 15 feet tall on the sides of public buildings. I recognized the airy, exciting feeling of the hope of making an idea into a reality.

    Since then I have worked to connect with schools, worship communities, prisons, and anyone who was interested. We are making YOU ARE LOVED murals in the real world.

    Sometimes, even now, so many years later, I find myself feeling fear about what I am about to express.

    Last year, beginning a YOU ARE LOVED mural in a prison in Massachusetts I felt the nervousness that this was too sensitive a thing to say in so rough and mean a place. At this point, it is a familiar feeling.

    It was easy to recognize that voice. Yes, it feels like fear – but now I recognize it as the voice that proves to me that I’m doing the right work. I’m pushing my boundaries and bringing beauty to places where it doesn’t usually get brought.

    “The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” ~ Fredrick Beuchner

    Fear is a Gate, Listening is a Tool

    From these and many other similar experiences, I feel confident that fear is a gate. It comes, sometimes powerfully when I am beginning to attempt something important.

    Fear presents the appearance that the gate is locked, and there is no way to go through. But there always is a way.

    Listening is the tool that arrives at the key to the lock. It is a deep and trusting willingness to reach out to the universe, God, intuition – our deepest knowing.

    In this article, I have related stories of when listening produced quick and complete answers. Other times in my experience it has required patient and persistent listening and asking.

    One thing I feel sure of: there is a voice out there, willing and able to present us with the perfect idea, even at the darkest time. And its ideas are light, generous, and cause us to turn outwards to serve.

    Fear is not the end of the path. It is our invitation to listen!

    Over to you –

    When you listen deeply what do you hear?

    http://www.aha-now.com/overcoming-fear-deep-listening/

    A beam that rescues you from clouds of confusion and the darkness of despair.

     

    For students of Christian Science, the hard work of hope is prayer.  It means looking beyond one’s fear of sickness and conquering that fear with an assurance of God’s love and power.  This results in wellness.  The importance of hope is illustrated in the words of the founder of this system of healing, Mary Baker Eddy, “As human thought changes from one stage to another of conscious pain and painlessness, from sorrow and joy, – from fear to hope and from faith to understanding, – the visible manifestation will at last be man governed by Soul, not by material sense” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 125).

    Posted on April 29, 2013 by Thomas Mitchinson

     

    Cover Article

    HOPE

    From the January 18, 2010 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

     

    THINK OF HOPE AS A VERB.

    AN IMPERATIVE: HOPE!
    MEANING EXPECT, ANTICIPATE, TRUST.

    Because if you look up the word hope,
    you’ll find those three synonyms.

    Then watch your concept of hope do a 180:
    You won’t deem hope a wave of wishful thinking,
    but a lighthouse of inner peace
    —a beam that rescues you from clouds of confusion and the darkness of despair.

    Expect that the same Spirit that inspires your desire to see more good in your life will make good on that desire.

    Trust that the same Life that makes you desire health and vitality and happiness—delivers.

    Hope that Love will show you how to enrich the lives of those around you.

    The good you desire and to which you aspire will transpire.

    Mary Baker Eddy observed: “When the destination is desirable, expectation speeds our progress.”

     

    This Truth is a light which illumines the universe by Laura Moliter, C.S.

     

    “Divine Science, the Word of God, saith to the darkness upon the face of error, ‘God is All-in-all,’ and the light of ever-present Love illumines the universe.”
    Mary Baker Eddy
    (Science and Health, page 503)

     *

    e-inspire, April 25th

    by Laura Moliter, C.S.

    The Word of God is power and it is Truth. This divine mandate is the death knell to darkness. God’s Allness, the infinite ever-presence of active good, annuls the belief in anything that is not good or right or true. The reality of God and His Truth, declared and enforced by His own Word, cancels out the lie, the seeming attempt of evil to be something, say something, do something.

    Our God is All-in-all, and that Allness is perfect Life and perfect Love. This Truth is a light which illumines the universe. It reaches every corner of the world and every idea in it with powerful goodness. Love’s ever-proclaiming presence drowns out the chaos and darkness of evil and confusion and conflict.

    Let’s listen, receive fully, and accept with joy and gratitude, this Word of God, this glorious and healing light. Let us recognize that not only is the illumination of Love in every place, it is uniting us all in its warming radiance. We are bathed in this light and at the same time at one with it, an active, natural, and necessary ray in the sunlight of God’s powerful, ever-present, bright Life of Love.

    Laura Moliter, CS

    www.beingfreenow.com

    www.lamolitercs.wordpress.com

    A Look at the world with Mrs. Eddy and Virginia Harris, C.S.B

     

    Nature voices natural, spiritual law and divine Love…Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens, – all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect.

    Mary Baker Eddy

    *

    An Earth Day Prayer of Praise and Gratitude

    (A re-share from last year’s Earth Day, hope you enjoy!)

    The hymn in the video below “Look at the World” by contemporary composer John Rutter, is a gentle and joyous reminder of the beauty and majesty divinely bestowed from the Mother Love of our earth.

    We global citizens are one with this divine creation and are enabled, through the spiritual intelligence we reflect, to be good, responsible, and praised stewards of our treasure.

     

    Earth Day and a truer view of nature – The Christian Science Monitor

     

    Earth Day is all things to all people,” Frank Maisano, an energy-industry spokesman in Washington, told The Christian Science Monitor in 2008. “It’s a symbolic representative of the desire for everything we need to do to respect how we treat the earth.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2016/0422/Earth-Day-2016-Do-people-still-care

    *

     

    Earth Day and a truer view of nature

    One of the psalms in the Bible comes to mind: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof” (Psalms 24:1). When I consider that everything is created by God, divine Spirit, it makes sense to me that the true nature and substance of all creation is like Him – meaning, it’s spiritual and good. In the textbook of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy defines Earth as: “A sphere; a type of eternity and immortality, which are likewise without beginning or end.

    “To material sense, earth is matter; to spiritual sense, it is a compound idea” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 585).

    Loving nature and protecting the planet is what Earth Day, observed in the United States each year on April 22, is all about. But I know I can do more for the environment by looking beyond the physical, to understand more of the glories that God has created.

    Mrs. Eddy wrote, “All nature teaches God’s love to man …” (Science and Health, p. 326). Praying to better understand the spiritual reality and splendor of God’s creation, which is “very good” (Genesis 1:31), is something we can all do. So, on this Earth Day, while planting trees, cleaning up parks, or appreciating our planet in some other way, let’s each take a moment to look beyond the surface of things, and affirm the present, perfect, spiritual nature of God’s creation.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/A-Christian-Science-Perspective/2016/0422/Earth-Day-and-a-truer-view-of-nature

     

     

    Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.

     

     “…man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”

    Mary Baker Eddy

    “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”

    *

    The Eagle’s Nest

    From the May 4, 1918 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

    How well the Bible writer knew the habits not only of the birds but of mankind. To most of us, when young, material existence is smooth and comparatively easy; the pleasures of sense seem to outweigh its pains, and we are satisfied with the world’s ways of living. Then come to us the sharp experiences and piercing shafts of the world’s sorrow, and one by one our soft resting places, our trusted medicines, our would-be balms, our healing lotions, prove of no avail. As we turn our weary eyes away from earth, we hear Love’s tender call, “Come unto me,” and we look, but almost fear to trust. There is no other way, and so we try, only to prove the truth of what out Leader says in Science and Health (p. 66), “Trials are proofs of God’s care;” and we ever find Love’s outstretched pinions underneath, always find, proved in our own experience, that divine Love alone did lead us.

    The world to-day is stirred to its very foundations. False ease, sleepy content, a deceived sense of peace, have been wrested from us, and we find ourselves pierced by the sharp thorns of hatred, pride, and mad ambition. Each one of us has been called to go forth to battle, if not in his own person, yet in the person of some loved one; but let us not fear. If there had not been enough of truth in the world to overcome these conditions, they would not have been uncovered at this time. “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. … He maketh wars to cease.”

    Human consciousness, your consciousness and mine, is the real battle field. The time for action—unceasing mental activity—has come, and “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way” (Science and Health, p. 454).

    I will try again tomorrow – Be a good Samaritan to yourself

     

    When you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward.

    Tyler Perry

     

    • Don’t miss today’s powerful video

    “Be a good Samaritan to yourself”

    From the April 27, 1974 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

     

    Sometimes in human life we make regrettable mistakes. Still, there is bound to be a blessing if we are willing to learn from the experience. The Christ, Truth, reveals this blessing to our purified consciousness. By lifting our thought to God, good, turning from the seeming discord to the truth that man is always in the presence of God, expressing the joy and confidence that are our spiritual heritage, we shall find unerring guidance for every aspect of our human experience. That we have made mistakes in the past is no reason for our not going forward today, assured of the Father’s loving care. The harmony of Life is never interrupted by human mistakes.

    Mrs. Eddy writes, “Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept.”4 The perfect concept unfolds to our thought as we yield to the Christ, Truth, in understanding the spiritual meaning of patience and exercise it in our attitude toward ourselves and others, in our loving concern for the whole world.

    “Be a good Samaritan to yourself” means also: Be patient with yourself. Pray for yourself. Bind up your own wounds. Regard yourself compassionately. Forgive yourself. And if nobody else does it, give yourself from time to time a well-deserved pat on the back. Expectancy of good, knowing that there is but one power, the all-power of God, places us directly under the control of divine wisdom. Thus we will gain the victory over every adverse situation and receive the divine blessing: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”5