Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Back some years when you boarded a commercial aircraft you could peek into the cockpit and have a gander at all the instruments the flight controls and it was suitably impressive. As a former U.S. Air force air traffic controller, frequent international business flyer and private pilot student I am still fascinated by all things aircraft. Years ago,  boarding a commercial airlines  Lockheed Electra 188 on a business trip, I took a gaze at the complex instrumentation and equipment within the cockpit, and smiled admiringly with just a touch of envy.

On this particular day I took a comfortable seat close to the back of the aircraft and relaxed for a three-hour flight.   A lot of things have changed since those days in terms of procedures and protocols and everything is now much more terse and governed by procedure, regulation and strict enforcement.  But on this day, the flight deck guys became talkative and addressed the passengers over the intercom as we taxied to the runway. 

 It went something like this;  “Well Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Eastern Flight 182,  We have a nice day for our flight.   Our aircraft today is a Lockheed Electra which holds 100 passengers and a crew of 5. “  As we rolled onto the runway and began the takeoff roll the commentary continued “This big old girl has 4 Allison turbo-prop engines driving 4 blade, constant speed, propellers.   She is 106 feet long with a wingspan of 99 feet, all made of heavy metal, carrying 5500 gallons of fuel.  Overall she weighs weighs about 116,000 pounds.  Undoubtedly getting this monster off the ground with all this weight would be a real MIRACLE, but we are going to try!!”    

Then, as the speed increased and the runway 1,000 foot markers flew by, the aircraft rotated, nose wheel lifted and we were airborne accompanied by a big sigh of relief and applause from the passengers and the crew member shouted "HOORAY, It’s a MIRACLE!!!"

Thinking back, it provided me with food for thought about Miracles.  While lifting that big aircraft off the ground looks daunting on the surface, and hearing the facts about the size, the bulk, the weight, trying to lift that huge beast off the ground using only invisible, seemingly substance-less air, sounds impossible, but it is actually all well within the laws of gravity and aerodynamics.   

And, thus, the MIRACLE was not really a miracle!!   Helpful here, maybe, is a definition of Miracle from Webster's dictionary:

mir·a·cle     1.) noun \ˈmir-i-kəl\: an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by
 1 :  an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
3:  Christian Science :  a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law.
You can see that the dictionary definition of Miracle from #3, a Christian Science  spiritual view, is somewhat different from the #1 material view. 
I will tell you why…

We often see so-called Miracles in our daily lives.  Without understanding the underlying principles, we often believe them to be just that.  Miracles seem to somehow represent a momentary setting  aside of fixed principles, foundational rules and laws to benefit someone or something.  Folks often think that God, the Creator, the divine Intelligence of the Universe, the Establisher of Rules, sets aside those rules based on a partiality to some sweet, deserving person; an answer to a worthy prayer; a “giving in” due to much crying by the petitioner; the soulful pleading of a church congregation' or, the humble searching of a lonesome pilgrim in the depth of despair.

As I have begun to better understand the teachings of the Prophets in the Bible, and particularly the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, I have started to see that occurrences that SEEM to be Miracles are really just the unfolding of natural law, law based on Spirit and not matter. Our prayers don’t change God or spiritual reality, but they bring us into harmony with, and the understanding of, those laws that were ALWAYS there. God is unchanging Love.

Mary Baker Eddy, in her Bible companion book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures defines miracles this way:   

“Miracle.  That which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly; a phenomenon of Science. “  (2.).

“The belief that the universe, including man, is governed in general by material laws, but that occasionally Spirit sets aside these laws,this belief belittles omnipotent wisdom, and gives to matter the precedence over Spirit.       (3.)    

Just as with the “seeming miracle” of the Lockheed lifting off into “thin air”, Jesus healed a plethora of diseases, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, restoring a clean character to a woman taken in adultery, even raising several people from death... all in accordance with established laws, spiritual laws. 

Jesus did not set aside the fundamental laws of the universe to help and
heal, just as that pilot did not disregard the law of gravity or invoke some “special law” of aerodynamics just to get me to a business meeting.  

Who could possibly believe that Christ Jesus, the beloved son of God, the obedient servant, would heal someone that God had made ill, or that God had intended to suffer?  He understood that God never made his children to suffer!!   As a matter of fact, in explaining his healing acts, he averred, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. “ (4)    In his loving acts, he saw through the material belief of mortality’s limiting view, the blinders imposed by human belief, and opened the eyes of the beholders to the reality of God’s perfect presence. 

 Jesus of Nazareth, characterized in Science and Health as    “the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material  surface of things, and found the spiritual cause."  (5)

Miracles?  Yes, to human sense.  But not to Jesus, or his disciples.   His yearning hope was that his message of God and Life as Spirit, overcoming the material would be picked up on and continued by his followers was reflected in his words:   "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (6)
And,  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (7)   If ye love me, keep my commandments.  (8)

So.. Cleared for takeoff… No Miracle Required!!  Climb to and maintain altitude of spiritual thought, and have a great trip!!  Refreshments will be served en-route!

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures  591
SH 83
John 8
SH 313
John 8:32
John 14:12
John 14:15

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

RONNIE RAY - Lost and Found

Ronnie is a good friend and really something special, you could call him indomitable, a really bright guy.  I have learned a lot from him.  But, recently he apparently ran into some problems.  Actually, he never acknowledged that times were a little tough, he never even seems to notice…  always undisturbed amid the sometimes frightening situations he is in, he shines right through.

Life had been unusually good for Ronnie, his life was bright and prosperous. Blessed with a sunny disposition and warm heart he had always been a source of inspiration to all those upon whom his light shone. He was a favorite at the beach where he frequently hung out.  And in the community he was a wonderful, valued friend to farmers, gardeners, store owners, parents and children.

But, last week we were all concerned that Ronnie had run into trouble.  No one in town could find him. He was missing for several days and folks around here were all worried.  Ronnie was the main topic of conversation, you could hear people at the grocery, the hardware store, and particularly at the Farmers’ Market in Blue Ridge,  asking what in the world had happened to him. His entire family had suddenly disappeared and concern was even expressed on the TV evening news out of Atlanta. 

But, not to worry!!!  He did show up later in the week .   Ronnie and the family burst onto the scene in a flash of brilliance, as usual.    You see Ronnie's full name is Ronnie Ray, he is a ray of sunshine.  YES!! Literally!

All the time that we had missed him, wondered and worried, sought him out, he had been busy.  While the skies had been grey and gloomy for us,
rain cascading down, the “Thunder of Thor” and the “Lightening of Zeus” flashing across the empyrean, Ronnie had been on top of the situation, calmly doing his job, just as he did every day.  He had been... well.. SHINING!!  That's all that Ronnie does, actually.  And Ronnie shines all of the time, day and night, on rainy and gloomy days, on snowy “no school” days, days when people he shines on are happy or sad, rich or poor.  He SHINES.  Even though we can't always see him,  he is there, faithfully, constantly, abundantly, like God’s Love.  

I love the thought of the sun’s rays, quietly about their task, shining, lighting up the dark places, warming the soil, melting the snow and ice, shining on birthday parties and parades, welcoming new arrivals to earth, helping the farmers, and comforting those of advanced years who may be sitting on their rocking chairs on the front porch, cherishing the warmth and the loving memories of friends and family. 

My wife is fascinated by the sun’s rays shining down through the trees in
early morning, or late afternoon.  The light filtering through the leaves, never the same, always making beautiful patterns.   As we sat on the deck one recent afternoon, I knew what she was thinking as she quietly gazed at the beauty before us.  Funny how something so simple can ignite a spark of peace, awe and appreciation.  She ALWAYS comments about the beauty of the light filtering down, you can count on it!!   I love her for that!!!

I began to wonder, are we like those rays?  I have often thought of how much like the sun and its rays are God and His precious ideas, His offspring, each one of us.  We aren't little flesh stick figures, "of few days, and full of trouble"  as Job described man born of woman.  

Aren’t we like rays of God’s goodness, similar to how the sun’s ray go out to bless the earth?  It helps me visualize how God, Love is expressed in the human view.   As God’s individual “reflections”, isn’t our job to “light up the dark places of sickness, disease and despair”?  Aren’t we here to bring the message that Life is eternal, that God is LOVE, to warm the hearts of those whom we touch, to brighten the days of the sad and sorrowing, to bring light, joy and happiness, a feeling of peace and well being to the world?     

Thinking of Ronnie Ray has helped me. He has made me realize that a real “heavenly ray” just reflects the Sun, it doesn’t come down to tell us how good it is.  It doesn’t try to convince us of its importance, or why it is better than darkness, or even compare itself to the other rays, it doesn’t have to be “The Greatest”!    It apparently doesn’t worry about how many are feeling it’s warmth or light,  it isn’t concerned about where it ends up, doesn’t know or care about the temperature of the earth or the surface it touches, needs no medicine, no drugs or stimulants, is content just to shine.   It just shines, it’s just there, just BEING…  being a sun ray.

Too, the rays of the sun, like their brothers, the rain drops, land where they are destined, humbly falling on the good and bad, never explaining or trying to convince the world that they are the REAL rays or raindrops, that their theory, creed or dogma  is the right one, that they were sent instead of some other less important ray or raindrop.  They just “ray and raindrop”,  blessing  all  by doing what they were created to do.

In her Bible companion textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy has it As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being. The Scripture reads: “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.”  SH 361

Man is not God, but like a ray of light which comes from the sun, man, the outcome of God, reflects God. SH 250

Today is the day for each of us to emulate Ronnie!!!   God provides the warmth, gentleness and the light, we just reflect.

With apologies to the popular song from the Broadway play, "Annie",  which includes the lines:
"The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

When I'm stuck with a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,

The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow"

Sorry Annie!!  The sun is shining TODAY!!!!!!!  Just ask Ronnie Ray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013


OK… so it wasn’t the smartest thing I ever did.    Granted!!!  

But my Father-in-Law whom I dearly love was the one that thought having a concrete block as an anchor for his boat was a good thing.   How was I to know that the laws of gravity would prevail… and a more astute sailor would let go of the anchor sooner.   

I waited a little too long as I tried throwing the anchor overboard in a rocking boat.  I’m not sure if I hit the water first or the anchor beat me by a second or two.    We did both get wet.     Lesson: You have to remember to let go of the anchor!!!

Maybe that introduction was the thing that first got me started thinking about the stages of life. As I have progressed through my own experience I have found at least three main stages: The Anchor, the Buoy and the Balloon.

Letting go of the Anchor…
Anchors seem like a good thing. They certainly are useful in holding the boat in place and serve as reassurance to the mariner.

But since that moment years ago I have remembered how clinging to an anchor can have disastrous results.   For one thing I found that all anchors aren’t cement blocks or heavy metal pointy things!!

My personal anchors have been the type that often held me back, kept me from moving ahead and prevented me from soaring.   And the problem with anchors is that, once in place, they aren’t visible, they are underwater, hidden from view and maybe forgotten, sometimes stuck in the mud, entangled in unseen objects on the bottom of the river, lake or ocean. 

Many of us may have been restrained by the anchors of limited finances, education, fear of public speaking, heights, failure, disease, death, loneliness and the list goes on.

As long as we cling to the anchor, we will not move forward, and… as I quickly learned, may get pulled under!!!

I have likened the Anchor phase to my early experiences, trying to find out who I was, to grow and learn, but held back by self imposed anchors of limited thinking.  Then I moved along to the Buoy stage.

Life as a Buoy…
Imagine the incoming waves, surf high and powerful… and the buoy… bobbing up and down  but well grounded, unmoving, serving its role as boundary, safe keeper of  mariners.  Somewhat anchored, but able to move freely to perform its mission, the buoy, along with the lighthouse, serving faithfully, needing no thanks, no high fives or pats on the back.

In my experience, the Buoys represent the steady daily life of a dad, a husband, a son, a brother, an employee, a friend.     During the Buoy stage, I found inspiration and guidance from The Holy Bible.  This wonderful book can be read as a powerful historical novel,  a record of incredible courage,  battles fought, won and lost, challenges faced and overcome, stories of the power of love, tenderness and healing, true stories of man’s struggle to escape the bonds of a matter based, temporary existence, striving to find the spiritual reality. And, most importantly, the record of the  earthly life of Christ Jesus, who selflessly taught, helped and healed and showed that Life is Eternal.

The Balloon Ascends…   
I am now in my Balloon phase!!   Now to be honest, as we go through the stages, from Anchor to Buoy to Balloon, we don’t entirely leave one phase as we enter another.  There are still vestiges of former stages, lingering and attempting to allure us back, retrograde steps, which we constantly must resist. 

As we step into the Balloon basket, we notice the Anchors, the sand bags that are attached to keep the balloon from ascending.   Yes.  Even when we get to this point the Anchors try to keep us earthbound.    In order to fly, to ascend, to soar, we have to drop those anchors, cut them loose, fearlessly discard the ballast and baggage that seem to safely harbor us to the old and familiar, and prepare to reach the heights.

Rising easily without the Anchors of fear, doubt, resistance, stolidity, anger, revenge, and pain holding us back, trusting the lifting power of our Creator, divine Mind, our thoughts soar, we climb to a greater  understanding of Spirit, eternal life.   

As physical science begins to realize that life is not in matter, as observed by Dr. Einstein, “Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”;   and that behind the electronic vibrations that we perceive as matter “We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.’ as observed by German Physicist, Dr. Max Planck,   and that in reality “all is consciousness as observed recently by Biologist/Physician  Professor Dr. Robert Lantz in his book Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universethe view from the Balloon is exciting.   We begin to drop the idea that we live in matter and lift our thought to the reality that life is in God, Mind.

Religious pioneer Mary Baker Eddy, in the late 1800s, far before physical scientists started observing matter as an illusion, perceived what Jesus was teaching when he taught that life is Spirit.  “God is aSpirit: and they that worship him must worship him inspirit and in truth.”   (John 4:24) 

 In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,  Eddy  gives a sort of translation of degrees of growth spiritually, a journey from belief in the physical universe  with its fear, depravity, sensuality, pride and envy up to the Spiritual understanding where we reflect wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding… LOVE.   I think of what I call  the “Anchor to Balloon experience” as following that pathway.   Here is a link to her book.

The following hymn has helped me on my journey from “Anchor Man” to beginning my Soaring trip as a Balloonist:

From sense to Soul my pathway lies before me,
From mist and shadow into Truth’s clear day;
The dawn of all things real is breaking o’er me,
My heart is singing: I have found the way.

I reach Mind’s open door, and at its portal
I know that where I stand is holy ground;
I feel the calm and joy of things immortal,
The loveliness of Love is all around.

The way leads upward and its goal draws nearer,
Thought soars enraptured, fetterless and free;
The vision infinite to me grows clearer, 
I touch the fringes of eternity.

Christian Science Hymnal   64