Please Note: Unity is not a proselytizing movement and I am in no way trying to convert anyone. I am just sharing my sacred again and, well, there's a very particular reason that I named my blog This Path.
My faith is very much on my mind lately as I am in the midst of rejoining the Chaplaincy program. I had taken the chaplain training in 2004, when it first began at my church. Our commitment is for one year, and after I had Ivy in 2005, I pretty much stopped all of my volunteer work at the church. To be honest, we didn't even make it to services most of the time. Now this was a conscious decision, but I've definitely felt a lack in my life as I disconnected with my church family. And I was not as diligent in my own spiritual practice as I should have been - which was twice as bad for me since I had chosen to be baptized in 2004. I had basically written my own ceremony since Chad didn't really have one for an adult baptism, and it was a very important personal dedication for me. Ivy came as a surprise, and I realize many things take a necessary backseat to new young ones, but I do wish I hadn't lapsed as badly as I did.
Now that they're both older, I'm ready to resume that connection. There's really no better way than the chaplaincy, and I have missed that. I've still substituted in the Chaplain Corners on occasional Sundays, but being active - both in the church and in my own personal prayer life - will really make a difference in my life. This weekend is the Chaplain retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center, which has an awesome 11-path (I think? Maybe 13) labyrinth that I had an amazing time with last time. It's a wonderful experience all around and a bonding between chaplains, and I'm really looking forward to it. I even get to stay overnight, which I missed last time because Eden was nursing. Last Saturday we had a workshop on prayer, and the Saturday before that we had our Unity Basics workshop.
I thought, since this is my driving force at the moment (and through October, which is when we will be dedicated), that I would share a little bit of those Unity Basics here. Not many people have heard of Unity, and it's something I feel even more passionately about than I do reiki and birth.
Unity was originally nondenominational; like reiki, it was meant to be an addition to personal spiritual practice. Its founders, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, were Christians, but they were hesitant to make a 'church' out of it. Unity came as part of the New Thought Movement that was gaining steam in the late nineteenth century. It actually started with Myrtle, who had been diagnosed with tuberculosis (as much of her family had) and was given very little time to live. The Fillmores went to a discussion by Dr. E.B. Weeks, who was a student of Christian Science. She heard Dr. Weeks say a very important thing - "You are a child of God and therefore do not inherit sickness." Myrtle went home and lived this. She basically sequestered herself in her room (Charles' mother lived with them and took over everything) and worked on healing herself.
She pulled up an empty chair across from hers and invited Christ to sit with her and help heal her. She went through her body, organ by organ and cell by cell, and apologized for affirming their weakness and believing they failed her. She did this daily for about a year, constantly affirming health as her Divine Right until she was healed. Neighbors became interested in her healing and they began to come for weekly classes. Unity was born from there.
As part of the New Thought movement, Unity interprets things a bit differently from 'mainstream' Christianity. When people ask me what Unity is, I usually describe it as "Christianity without the damnation". The first principle of Unity is "There is only one Presence and one Power active as the universe and as my life, God the Good." This means we don't believe there is a 'Devil' or that God would damn anyone to hell (least of all for believing something differently). 'Evil' in the world is a result of spiritually uninformed choices.
Unity calls itself 'Practical Christianity', seeking to incorporate Jesus' teaching into our lives by living his example. The Bible is our main Holy Text, so to speak, but we believe that the Bible is to be interpreted symbolically. For instance, Genesis through Revelations and the time from Jesus' birth to death can both be interpreted as the story of each person's soul development.
Unity's Five Basic Principles:
1. There is only one Presence and one Power active as the universe and as my life, God the Good.
2. Our essence is of God; therefore, we are inherently good. This God essence, called the Christ, was fully expressed in Jesus.
3. We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.
4. Through prayer and meditation, we align our heart-mind with God. Denials and affirmations are tools we use.
5. Through thoughts, words and actions, we live the Truth we know.
(from Unity.org: 5 Basic Principles. Give it a click to also check out the kids' version)
The thing I enjoy most about my church is that our preacher quotes from Masters of all religions. When I arrived for the first time, I noticed that the altar housed statues of Jesus & Mary alongside Mohammed, Buddha, Kwan Yin, and Yoda. Chad often quotes Rumi, H.H. the Dalai Lama, Ram Dass, Carlos Castaneda, and a whole host of other monastic geniuses whose names I cannot pronounce or spell. I love having a meditation in services and howling like a wolf afterwards. I love calling it "Father/Mother/God", singing the Lord's Prayer, and holding hands at the end as we all sing the Peace Song. I love that besides "Unitics", we actually have many pagans and agnostics who come to our church. And a whole lot of folks who call themselves "Recovering Catholics".
From Unity.org's FAQ:
We believe that all people are created with sacred worth. Therefore, we recognize the importance of serving all people within the Unity family in spiritually and emotionally caring ways. We strive for our ministries, publications, and programs to reach out to all who seek Unity support and spiritual growth. It is imperative that our ministries and outreaches be free of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation. Our sincere desire is to create spiritually aware organizations that are nondiscriminatory and that support diversity.
In 2003, Unity also adopted a Joint Statement of Peace, written by Rev. Gary Simmons:
Unity stands for peace in the presence of conflict;
for love in the presence of hatred;
for forgiveness in the presence of injury.
Unity honors the many names of God,
the many paths to God, the many ways to worship God;
for there is only one power and presence of God
and that God loves each of us equally.
It is therefore the position of Unity to urge all
nations, their leaders, and their people
to turn to God by whatever the name
for guidance during these challenging times and pursue peace,
not war, for this is what honors the God of all our faith traditions.
Unity stands for peace in our lifetime.
Well, I'm very glad to be getting back to the 'practicing' part of this 'Practical Christianity'. After my initial training, I said, "Becoming a chaplain took me from being just a member of a church to being a member of a church family." I look forward to recapturing that. I'm sure I will also share this chaplain process, as well as my progress on my Personal Action Plan. I hope that you don't mind me sharing this particular path with you. Someday, as part of this process of reaffirming of my faith, I might also share my baptism.
Having shared the basics, I'll leave you with the specifics. As part of completing (several times) the 4T Prosperity Program, I have created a Personal Mission Statement. I'm ashamed to say that this has also fallen by the way side the past few years, but I hope now to keep it in the forefront of my consciousness. (Josh agreed to get me two bumperstickers from the church to help: "To whom it may concern: I love you!" and "Fail til you succeed" :D) I share it with you now, and while I'll always retain the right to revel in a good snark, you can feel free to point out if I start straying from this too much.
My Personal Mission Statement:
I Am a Divine precipitation,
Dedication to remembering and exemplifying Truth,
to glorifying God
through all of my thoughts, words, and deeds.
And so it is.