Unity of Monroe
The Courage to Imagine: I Am Joy
August 5, 2018
Roses are reddish/Violets are bluish. If it weren’t for Christmas/We’d all be Jewish. Can you believe it - it’s the Christmas season once again. Didn’t we just do this 365 days ago? Yes, we did, and in that time we’ve had 365 installments of living, laughing, loving, crying and otherwise practicing our humanity and spirituality. It has brought us around to those days on the calendar dedicated to celebrating the spiritual feast the season invites us to enjoy - a bounty of love, peace and goodwill for each other and every atom of God’s Creation. And at sundown today, Jewish people all over the world will be observing the season of Hannukah, eight nights and days, also know as “The Festival of Lights.” Hanukkah reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and commemorates in particular the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles on the menorah each night of the festival. It’s significance is that of how light, much like at Christmas and other traditions, leads the way. Light, as we might understand it metaphysically, signifies the understanding principle in mind. Light is a symbol of wisdom which is why when someone has a brilliant idea, a wise thought, it is depicted with a light bulb going on. We too are inspired by the light of God within us to better understand our own God nature and the wholeness and holiness of all life.
The Christmas season can be such a time of enlightened ideas, ideas of wisdom and understanding that frees us and reminds us we are not alone. We are not unrelated atoms, bouncing and ricocheting amid alien life forms - we are a part of something, which holds and sustains us. If we are struggling with shopping lists and invitations, frustrated by our recent early winter blast, it’s good to be reminded there are people in our lives who are worth all this and people to whom we are worth the same. Think about it! Christmas shows us the truth of the axiom, “blessed be the ties that bind us in love.” Those ties are threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way with family, community and friends. Each year, when Christmas rolls around, we might ask ourselves what new thing, new wonder, delight and joy can I find in the season? What new awareness or tradition can I bring forth? As we close out this yearlong once-a-month series on The Courage to Imagine, we turn to the thought idea that to experience Joy in the season or any day we so choose, we must be willing to affirm and know I Am Joy. Imagine that!
To affirm and know, I Am Joy, is opening up our wisdom faculty that shows us that the power of joy lies squarely within. This time of year often activates profound and moving memories and emotions. I’ve found that one of the things that might inhibit our sense of inner Joy is holding too firmly to our recollections of Christmas past. Like one of the great holiday characters that comes to mind, Ebenezeer Scrooge, the great character from Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, we too may have felt the hauntings of Christmas past or even the ghosts that haunt us in the present. However the ghosts we create are just the illusions of our mind and the wishing of our heart. Ever been there? Sure we have. In the midst of all these times there are recollections of unfulfilled or challenging Christmas’s of the past. I know it was a challenge for me and my brothers to honor the holiday spirit right after my father made his transition - which happened to be on Christmas Eve. It was a challenge at first yet there comes a time when we make the choice to create a new tradition or a new way of looking at and finding the deep significance of Christmas. In this gentle wish-filled time we still may be dwelling on unfulfilled past Christmases - the gift we never received, the passing of a loved one, warmth and kindness from loved ones that went unfulfilled, instead of living for what is before us now.
When I began todays service, I dedicated it to our dear friend, Dick Fligor, who, along with his wife Betty, was a long time member and most recently a member of our Board of Trustees. While we are at the early stages, we can remember that we can hold onto both the impact Dick’s passing may have on us as well as expressing Joy, not just for the season but for the season of life that Dick experienced and expressed. Today we may feel both the sense of sadness and a joy of a life well lived. We can all claim enlightenment when we understand both the pull of our sorrow and the passion of our Joy for this day and the Joy of having had Dick Fligor in our life. How then do we activate joy within when there is pain happening in ourselves and the world? It may be that we think the joy in our life only begins when such outer events and happenings like Christmas or a great thing takes place. We in Unity have at times been criticized for what has been called the tendency to always see everything in the best possible terms and to concentrate just on light, love, and joy, ignoring the dark side of the world and its pain. While I can see what they say and it’s not an either or situation. It is equally very easy to be seduced and get caught in a grouchy, Ebenezer Scrooge complex in which everything is dark, troubled, and foreboding. Facing the darkness without focusing our attention on the light within is like trying to go caving without taking a flashlight.
One of the biggest challenges we are facing and have been for some time in the world today is to be a life-affirming, optimistic idealist. An individual who has ideals and affirms optimism, positivism, and joyously celebrates the world. It was a bit sad the other day when a young girl who was waiting on me, a student in college as well, kept lamenting about some terrible things in the world. She seemed resigned to the terrible things that life can display and as I shared with her there’s far more that is right and good and life-affirming than we allow ourselves to see and experience. It all comes down to where we want to see ourselves and feel we can be a Imaginative Visionary. An Imaginative Visionary is when we perceive a positive and joyous future and where we find a deeper connection to our greater good that helps shape the road before us.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t remember such events or forget what happened or what has taken place in the world or with the passing of a dear loved one. It means that we use the power of our creative mind in life-affirming ways to effect healing and change through the power of our attention. If you were going through some sort of trauma or health challenge, who would you like to minister to you as a healer: a practitioner or doctor who can affirm life’s possibilities or an individual who is pessimistic and sorrowful, constantly reminding us of how much we are suffering and holding out little hope for our recovery? Do we want someone who beholds the Christ presence within us expressing from her joyous, positive, encouraging, and life-sustaining vision for our future or someone who only looks on the troubles in life? You’d want someone who holds you in a vision of infinite joy and wholeness. When I counsel people going through grief after a loved one passed I invite them to think what their beloved would want for them to cope. They all state that their loved one would want them to be joy-filled and moving forward/upward with life. Dare I say that Dick Fligor would want that for all here as we celebrate his life this morning and later this afternoon.
We can still be going through a challenging situation and find the joy in living and life making those spiritual solutions we desire. Eric Butterworth wrote that: “Joyousness is a connecting force linking our hearts and minds with the presence of the sacred. Joy is what the sacred is.” How can I enter into the Presence if I don’t understand, be open to or meditate on the qualities/power which manifest that Presence? It would be like trying to work mathematical problems without knowing the basic roots of mathematical science. How often do we spend time in our life waiting for a particular condition that will allow us to experience joy? When I was young I couldn’t wait for the holidays to arrive but so many times was disappointed because they didn’t meet my expectations. It was as if I was saying to myself, “I will feel Christmas JOY when...”, which underscores a belief that, “My life right now is not good enough for me to feel JOY.” But that’s simply not true! We don’t need to wait to feel JOY! Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” What this Scripture is saying is that there is nothing missing in our life today, nothing missing in this season of wonder and awe that would prevent us from feeling joy. Your life, my life - exactly as it is right now - has enough blessings and goodness and abundance and love and opportunities in it for us to feel JOY right now. Do you feel it, know it, sense it, own it? So we give thanks for that inner Joy in the celebration of this season before us also give thanks for the season of life of our dear friend, Dick Fligor. In deep respect, honor and appreciation we say, Thank you, Dick Fligor for you, your life and your presence here on the planet and in our life.
Unity of Monroe • 272 Britton Lane • P.O. Box 138 • Monroe, Ohio • 45050
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