I am always both humbled and amazed by how one simple piece of writing can so align the moments that follow and lead me to write a blog with this title. The writing was Unity’s Daily Word message for today, December 24th, 2021 and its affirmation was “I follow divine light toward rebirth and renewal.”

What followed the fifteen minutes in The Silence this morning, during our daily gathering via Zoom, was an intuitive nudge to step over to the wall of books in our study where I was drawn to a book by Mark Nepo, this one titled More Together Than Alone. It was one I had begun to read some time ago and had never finished. Its title spoke to me now and awakened to mind both contemplative questions I’d been having over the past several weeks and new insights as to why certain other events had taken place within the preceding twenty-four hours.

This blog is a sharing of those questions and insights, as well as bits and pieces of material that spoke to me as I began to read Mark’s book. It is my hope that through the writing of this blog I will find answers to my own questions and a deeper knowing of the courage involved in Believing. It is also my hope that this blog will offer you an opportunity to explore your own level of courage and your capacity for Believing (having Faith in) God’s Presence and guidance within you.

I’ve realized for some time now that when I am entertaining questions about why others do or don’t seem to do certain things, things that leave me feeling left out or not important or maybe just plain confused, I’m asking the wrong question. The more revealing question to ask, one that is likely to get me to the truth more quickly, is “Why am I not asking myself why what others do or don’t do matters so much to me? What meaning am I attaching to what I’m experiencing emotionally?”

As you’ve heard me say many times before, the only way in which I can influence people and situations in the world around me is to change my own thinking and how I see the world. And you might be thinking (and this is pure conjecture coming from a shadowed part of my mind), “Since you’ve become aware of this fact and shared it several times before, how come you’re still experiencing the same issue?” The answer is: I’m a spiritual being having a very human moment. And I think for you to truly understand what that familiar and perhaps over-used, generic maxim really means, I need to share with you the questions, doubts, and events from these past few days. So please exercise a bit of patience and an open heart as you read on.

The past couple of weeks have not been anything like normal for me or for my wife, for that matter. We had made appointments to both get our booster shot two weeks ago today and we almost immediately began to experience some of the milder (but unexpected) effects of the vaccine: besides a sore and itchy arm, we ran periodic fevers, chills, cold/flu-like symptoms, and extreme tiredness and total lack of energy. I accepted this as what it was and chose to rest, read and do nothing in the way of spiritual writing. We both isolated ourselves from others and avoided direct contact with just about everyone.

While social isolation can be a welcoming experience when one is doing it in order to better use time, it can also be a kind of stressful experience, especially when one is more emotionally needy and finds almost no one reaching out with an email or a phone call. In such a weakened, out-of-balance spiritual condition, I began to question the reality of the friendships I thought I shared with those in my spiritual community. And it went beyond this group of friends. This was a ripe field for old beliefs to surface and take hold and that brought out a level of separation even at home.

This past week brought with it yet more stressors, ones that fed my distrust and sense of victimization. Here’s just one example:

· I’d been receiving a noticeable increase in scam emails that elevated my level of concern about them. So, when I received an email from someone I’d once been very close to but had not been in touch with for more than a year (a mutual choice, given we didn’t seem able to overcome or resolve an old wound to our friendship), I immediately felt my antennae go up because of the nature of the request made in the email. It must be a scam! Somehow, someone has gained access to my email address file and is setting me up to be a victim! Thinking I was pretty shrewd, I sent back a reply (because the sender email address was that of this old friend) that asked that the person call me and confirm it was her) What I received back was another email telling me she couldn’t call me because she was having problems with her landline. Now I’m absolutely convinced it’s a scam. I call a mutual friend and explain what’s happening and she agrees it’s probably a scam but that she will call our mutual friend and find out the truth about the emails. Impatient for an answer, I finally decided to call her directly, and what happens? I seem to get a connection (I hear a garbled voice) and then a dial tone. Now I’m certain it’s all a scam!

So, what shows up in my email inbox later that evening? Another email from this friend apologizes for the phone call disconnect and goes on to explain that the special devices she has on her phone (she has had a longtime hearing condition I knew about but had forgotten) were not yet calibrated properly, resulting in her not being able to hear me clearly. Her email went on to share details, like the names of my wife and a personalized version of the name of our mutual friend! Yeah! “Silly me! There I go again!” I had assumed the worst only to find out there was no “enemy lurking out there in cyberspace!” It was all happening in my own mind.

But over the past few days, we’ve been deeply touched by the many Christmas Cards and best wishes we’ve received from the same people we thought had forgotten us, and that caused me to realize how spiritual imbalance can color one’s experiences in life. How it can cause one to lose sight of our inner powers, like the Courage it requires to Believe, to follow our inner guidance, and do what we’re here to fulfill and realize.

It has been brought home to me that we all are truly part of the One Source of all, God. That we share the same common needs. As Mark Nepo says in More Together Than Alone, “For no matter where we come from, no matter how we got here, we all yearn to be seen, heard, and respected.”

On this day before Christmas, my wife and I were guided to mask up and attend a late afternoon service of songs and candle lighting, one that explained and celebrated the Twelve Powers that are fundamental to Unity’s teachings. That choice proved to be one that gave us the experience of true Unity with some sixty-plus other spiritual friends, including someone we’d not set eyes on in nearly a year. And while we both had changed slightly in our physical appearance our masks couldn’t hide the spirit within and the love which sparkled in our eyes. The music and the shared ritual of the candle lighting ceremony capped off the service and set the tone for the remainder of the evening I spent at home with my wife.

It is my hope for you that you too have the courage to Believe in yourself! And allow your inner light to shine the Way for yourself and for others.

Love and Light, Steven