Message at unity Church in Albany 12/1/2019
We’ve been told a lot of things in our life, by a lot of different people, some more influential than others and we’ve had to decide what to accept as our truth. Sometimes we accept exactly what we are told but other times we judge according to our own experiences. When it comes to healing, many of us formed our beliefs around what the medical community says. We often don’t feel qualified, so we look for experts to tell us and as a result, we establish limits according to what we are told or what we’ve read. That works for some but not all. Many seek alternatives to standard practices for a host of reasons. Sometimes the alternatives are based on an emotional or spiritual approach, like prayer or affirmations. Sometimes physical, like alternative therapies, yoga, acupuncture or any of one hundred others. We wonder, what is our place in the world? What power do we hold within ourselves? Are we required to adapt to the world or can the world adapt to us? We may wonder about our ability to heal and what changes we’d have to make for this to occur. And other questions may enter our minds; do we deserve to be well or have we done something to deserve our ‘illness’. Is it too late to be healed? From a spiritual perspective, we may wonder if ‘god’ will truly help us or whether it is even possible. There may be nuances in our beliefs. We may be afraid to be well or healthy, because of the anticipated expectations that may come our way. And sometimes we may even feel that being made well is too good to be true. These and many other thoughts and feelings may interfere with our healing.
When I’ve spoken with others about Bible passages, some stories seem too difficult to understand and leave us wondering what the story meant, what really happened and how the story applies to us. I felt this way at one time, sometimes getting lost in the message and wondering how it could apply to me and then something happened. As I read, I began to see and feel bible stories come to life, as if I were present when they happened. Everything about the story became vivid in detail. I could see the event take shape, even see the expressions on people’s faces. As powerful as this was, what truly changed things for me, was that I could feel what was happening, recognizing the emotional and spiritual content and depth. So, I wrote them down, knowing one day I would share them with others. Today is one of those days. I am not asking you to believe me, rather I’d ask you to listen and decide for yourselves based on what feels true to you.
When you think about it, isn’t this always the case. Don’t we all hear, see, smell, taste and feel for ourselves and then decide what feels true to us? So, I encourage you to take a figurative walk with me for a little while.
I have three stories to share with you, two from the bible and one from our Unity co-founder, Myrtle Fillmore.
I’d like to preface by saying that an overriding fundamental spiritual principle is at work in these stories and in each one of our lives. It’s a simple formula, but certainly profound in nature. I believe it is the formula for all of our earthly experiences. (Enough drama) It is C-B-A, which stands for (C) conceive, (B) believe and (A) act. It feels the truth to me that nothing will ever happen unless we can CONCEIVE it as, at least possible. If we find our way to conceiving something, our next step is whether we BELIEVE it. Sometimes this can take a while. And once we come to believing, we need to take ACTION in order to support the belief. Through this simple formula, we can manifest anything/everything. Let’s see how this formula applies to these three stories.
The first story, which is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke and is told from Yeshiwa’s, (Yeshiwa being the Aramaic name of Jesus), perspective and he is the one speaking.
Read the story-Woman in the Crowd
I walk among you. The same and not. I know what power I hold. I feel it as my blood and I know when it has been touched, even among a crowd. Some touch me, some touch my heart. This is a faith touch and it can change anything, can change everything.
A woman nears me. I know her heart and I know what holds her body and grips it in a way that will not let it go. Not by its own choice. It is subject to me and the power of love. She walks in my shadow, tortured by an awareness that all but me will revile her for her thoughts, because she wants to touch my garment. Others would not allow this, understand this. They believe I become the same unclear they believe she is. This is not my way and it is not my father’s way. It is not her way, and so I call her to me, not with words, but with my heart. Her timidity is exceeded by her pain and she reaches out to touch my cloak. The moment she does her whole world changes and she will never be the same. She has chosen a new way and seen me for who I am. She sees the face of god. She sees her own in its reflection. Her heart becomes still. I ask the crowd, who touched me. I do not ask because I do not know, for I do. I ask so that she may choose to step forward and realize the magnitude of the change to her life. It is not the healed physical body that is important- to her or to me. It is her spirit, which can now be at peace. It is her spirit which knows me, loves me and rests with me. She will speak often of this and change many lives. This is how faith works. It enters the heart and seeks other open hearts, moving freely. This is how all actions of faith happen. Amen.
I am struck by many things this story brings out and all of Yeshiwa’s awareness’s. He knows about his power and can feel it. He has an awareness of his truth, that he is a part of god, just as you and I are and he has an awareness of others, especially in this case, the woman in the crowd. He’s aware of the woman’s concerns; her physical conditions (12 years), how she might be prevented from approaching him, and her knowing she might be turned away or refused. Yeshiwa is aware of her commitment and the action she intends to take of touching his garment
And then there are their interactions. Yeshiwa communicates (non- verbally) with her, offering her encouragement. He draws her out so that she will acknowledge the truth her actions will create. He confirms that her faith has made her well. The whole story is beautiful to me. I sense so much here and am particularly struck by two sentences:
“She sees the face of god” and “she sees her own in its reflection”. To me, this is where the power is because her whole point of reference has shifts. She is no longer a woman living a life separated from god. In that one moment, she comes to see the truth, that she is god, not separate, but whole and in the wholeness, lies her belief and her healing. And not only does it change her life, she chooses to speak her truth to the world, offering what she has received and what any heart that is open, may receive and accept.
Our second story comes from the gospel of John and is about the interaction between a blind man at the pool of Bethseda and Yeshiwa.
Read the story of the blind man at Bethesda
Blind Man at Bethesda Pool
Now there was a man sitting and waiting. Waiting for his chance to enter the pool and receive his sight. As a boy he’d been told that the first to enter the pool when the waters had been stirred would be made well and he believed this. He believed this with all of his heart. And why would he think otherwise, for everyone had said this same thing to him.
Each day he sat by the pool, listening carefully to the sounds, so that he would not miss the stirring of the water and so that he might be first to enter. But each time he heard it stir, someone else always entered before him. He believed them to be healed. He could not see what happened, but he could hear their joy and laughter as they walked away from the crowd of those wishing to be healed.
For thirty-eight years he had waited by the pool. Waited for his chance.
As I passed, I noticed him and knew his life. I could feel his heart and see what lay within him, the desire to be made well. I felt his faith in the water, a faith placed there by others.
I asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”
He inclined his head toward me and responded, “Yes, with all of my heart, but there is no one to help me into the pool when its water’s have been stirred. Each time I rise up and walk to the steps, someone is there before me and they enter and I am left, still blind, standing on the stairs.
I knew he had faith and trust in others words. I searched inside of him to see, could he have faith in his own? Could his heart see for him? Could he believe there was another way to be healed or would his mind refuse this?
I asked him, “Do you know who I am?”
“No sir, I do not, for I cannot see you, but I wonder if you are he that I have heard about. Are you the one who heals the lame and the sightless? Are you the man they call, Yeshiwa?”
“I am Yeshiwa and I am he who offers healing to all who choose it. Others have told you that the stirred waters heal you, but I say to you, it is your faith that makes you well.”
And so, I asked him, “Do you believe that your eyes can be opened?”
He sat there by the pool with his head bowed. I watched his heart, knowing how hard it was for him to release his belief in what others had told him his entire life. I watched, seeing an inner stirring in him and felt him searching. And I saw how his heart embraced hope and a new faith. I watched as it grew inside his whole being, releasing his old ways and opening to a new way of seeing.
His head lifted toward the sound of my voice and he spoke, “Yes, I believe my eyes can be opened.”
So, I said to him, “Arise, pick up your mat and walk. Come and follow my path. See with your new eyes and believe with your new heart.”
And he rose, exclaiming, “I can see! I can see!”
He came and hugged me and I said to him, “Brother, your faith has made you well.”
And he did follow my path and helped many others to see with new eyes.
Consider this scene for a moment. The blind man in the story has been waiting 38 years, clinging to the hope of entering the pool first, so that he might be the one to be cured…can you even imagine this?
The blind man’s faith is in what everyone has always told him since he was a boy. Aren’t we often held in place by what others have told us and haven’t we experienced for ourselves how repetition makes a belief grow stronger, until it appears to be the absolute truth.
The blind knows the process and believes in the process, perhaps never considering an alternative. His faith in the water, as the pathway to healing is unquestioned.
And along comes Yeshiwa who sees him and “knows” his heart and desire to be made well, but understands the blind man’s faith is in the “water” NOT in himself and knows that the blind man does not see himself as part of god.
Yeshiwa asks the blind man, “do you want to be well?” The blind man answers. “Yes, with all of my heart…then gives the reason it hasn’t happened. How often do we fall into this trap and have reasons why something won’t work? I know it happens to me and I suspect you’ve had it happen to you.
Yeshiwa asks the blind man if he knows who he is speaking with? The blind man has heard about Yeshiwa’s reputation, so he asks if he is the one who heals others.
Yeshiwa responds- with very important phrasing saying, “I am he who OFFERS healing to all who CHOOSE it”. Yeshiwa looks into the blind man’s heart to see if there is room there for a shift in his beliefs. Can he find the courage to believe there is another way to be healed or would his mind refuse this? I take note of what’s happening here…this decision will either be made by the blind man’s mind or his heart (spirit).
Yeshiwa asks him a KEY QUESTION. “Do you believe that your eyes can be opened?” Underlying this question is whether the blind man can conceive of his healing and can he believe that his faith can make him well. Yeshiwa has told him that it is not about the water, rather it is about his faith.
The blind man sits, considering the question. It is a hard thing to release what others have told him is the truth and to search within himself for his own answer and then to embrace a new belief. And yet, the blind man responds, “yes, I believe my eyes can be opened”. To confirm this faith and the shift that has occurred, Yeshiwa says. “Arise…”, to which the blind man responds, “I can see, I can see.”
The blind man hugs Yeshiwa and is told, “Brother, YOUR FAITH has made you well.” What an awesome story this is for him and potentially, for us as well.
Myrtle Fillmore’s story
And now shifting to a story you may already be aware of, because it is about Myrtle Fillmore, co-founder of Unity who contracted TB in an era where that was a certain death sentence. You may recall that she attended a lecture by E.B. Weeks, a metaphysician, who shared with her that every human being has an innate potential for divine healing through the use of affirmative prayer. So, Myrtle decided to claim her birth right, saying “I am a child of god, and therefore I do not inherit sickness”. She “released” her misperceptions that she was unhealthy and “embraced” a new perception that she was whole and healthy, choosing constantly to reinforce this image in her daily life, until it became her living truth and reality. Myrtle lived to be 86 years old.
So how do these stories relate to us? If we asked ourselves a few questions- what would be our answers?
What have we been told and accepted as the truth about our lives and about our healing? What is our belief system that either supports this or prevents it?
Will these beliefs allow for us to be healed? If we were asked, “do you want to be made well”, what would we respond? Do we want to explore what might work for us?
I’d like to offer you one possible pathway for healing for your consideration. It’s an alliterative alphabetical approach…(which I’m not going to try to say three times fast).
The first step is…
AA= ask and accept
Are we able to ASK for help and are we able to ACCEPT it once it is offered or given? I have to confess, given my life experiences, I’m not one to ask for things, so this step is more challenging than some of the others for me, but it is no less important. In fact, it’s critical because I can’t do this by myself. I’ve discovered that I both need and want god’s help. And just as important as asking, is that once I do ask, that I accept what is offered to me and that I trust the divine to be there with me and to be there for me.
BB= (stands for) breathe beautifully
It can be very difficult to start what we imagine to be a challenging process. I believe we are always aided and supported by moving into our breath. Breathing beautifully anchors us and connects us with the divine breath. It slows us and prepares an opening inside of us.
CC= (is) clear consciousness
Once we are at peace, we can clear our consciousness, releasing all of the ideas and beliefs that no longer serve us and that we feel may be preventing us from seeing clearly. There is great wisdom in acknowledging their presence, thanking them for whatever message they shared with us and then releasing them.
DD= (means) decide deliberately
In the beautiful, free and open space that you have created, you can “decide on purpose” (deliberately) what you ‘choose’ to believe and you can exercise your free will and your limitlessness, knowing every pathway is open and available to you.
EE= (stands for) experience everything
A part of this process is to experience everything, to allow it all in and not shut out any possibility, and to be open to all choices, to feel all of your feelings. Remember that what you resist, persists. So, take it in and then decide what to keep.
FF= follow your fears
Fear is an integral part of the process and always serves to point the way toward love and healing, so allow yourself to follow each and every one of your fears, listening for the messages they carry with them for you
GG= gratitude for the gifts
Here’s one of the most important steps in the healing process and one that may take some practice. Following each of your fears because it leads to a state of gratitude for all of the gifts that can be revealed to you, gifts that provide insight and offer strength to “release” your fears and “embrace” faith in your ability to be made well. Gifts that open your heart to the divine so that you can accept whatever healing you are ready for.
HH= healing your heart
As each fear is released and each gift embraced the way becomes clear for healing all that feels unwell in you. Healing through your very own faith. It’s worth saying again here, that Yeshiwa did not do the healing, but rather allowed and encouraged others to do the healing themselves through their faith and awareness that they are part of the one.
Summary of the healings
In each of these three stories there are demonstrations of conceiving, believing and action. Before the story even begins, the Woman in the Crowd has conceived and believed that by merely touching Yeshiwa’s garment, she will be made well. All that is left for her to do, is to take action. So, she reaches out, beyond all of her fears, touches his cloak and is instantly healed and her life is changed forever.
The Blind Man at Bethesda Pool has a tougher time because he must first release his long-held beliefs before anything else can happen. He must open himself up, and so, Yeshiwa says to him, “I am he who OFFERS healing to all who CHOOSE it”, which is a clear message that healing is brought about through the blind man’s ‘deliberate decision’ of faith. And so, the blind man accepts the gift offered, opens to a new concept of healing, changes his belief and taking action, rises up saying, “I can see! I can see!”
For Myrtle Fillmore, it was her opening to hearing a new truth that spoke to her through the words of E. B. Weeks and then her believing and accepting these words as her own and taking action through her daily repeating of an affirmation that changed her life.
Conclusion Healing by faith is not something that can be proven to you from the outside. Stories of it may certainly ignite your hope and help to shift your beliefs, but it only works if you do it from the inside. So, consider opening to conceiving, believing and acting in accordance with the truth of your holiness, your wholeness and your oneness with our divine source. May it be so. Amen.