Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Universe, Miracles and Paul McCartney

Even though I have been seeking a higher meaning all of my life; even though I study and reflect on spiritual texts; even though I meditate, pray and perform occasional yoga stretches; even though I attend weekly services at a young, vibrant spiritual center; and even though I am an ordained minister; I still cannot adequately explain how the Universe, God Presence, Holy Spirit works OR why.

August 24, 2013, the night before my 49th birthday, my daughter and I decided to celebrate with chicken wings at a local bbq spot. After placing our order, we engaged in casual conversation while music was piped in through the speakers. As we listened to the musical prologue of “Live and Let Die” begin, a song I had not heard in ages, my daughter casually stated “I love the Beatles”. Now, I really didn’t need to correct my daughter’s innocent mistake but before I could stop myself I told her “That is pretty close, dear, but this isn’t the Beatles. It’s one of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and his band Wings”. I did make sure to tell her I was impressed that an 11 year old girl was able to notice the voice singing was one of the Beatles. And the irony that we ordered "wings" was not lost on me.

Later that evening, we watched a movie together on TV which ended at 9 PM. Neither of us was ready to go to bed yet so I began aimlessly flipping the channels to find something else for us to watch. Within a few seconds I stumbled upon the cable music channel Palladia. At that moment, they were just beginning to air the live concert recording from 1976 of Paul McCartney and Wings. I smiled, acknowledged the miracle and expressed my gratitude for the synchronicities in my life.

Now, cynics and skeptics may dismiss this as nothing more than a mere coincidence. And, in my former state of mind, I would have been inclined to agree with them. If that were the end of the story…

The very next day, after attending services at Joyful Gathering Spiritual Center, I took my daughter to grab a quick bite to each for lunch. Imagine our surprise when a Paul McCartney and Wings’ song starts playing at this particular eatery in the short time we were there.

Fast forward to a couple weeks later when my girlfriend and return from a nice evening out September 13, 2013 and sit down to watch some TV together. Again, aimlessly flipping channels to a local a PBS station, we notice the black and white screen and the stylings of American standards being played. We look at each other knowingly as we realize the singer is nobody other than Paul McCartney playing music from his 2012 album “Kisses on the Bottom”. Mesmerized by both the music and the synchronicity continuing to be played out, I silently thank the Universe again.

The very next morning I begin to perform some basic computer tasks while watching a documentary I had recorded on the DVR. Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters wrote and produced a wonderful film about the iconic and hugely influential recording studio, Sound City. So many great records were recorded there in the 70s, 80s and 90s, including some of my personal favorites like Buckingham Nicks, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Dio and Nirvana. However, the analog studio could not compete against the ease and convenience of the digital age and eventually folded. As the documentary winds down, Dave Grohl decides to purchase the historic Neve mixing board used in so many classic records and invites some famous friends to record a new album. Unknown to me prior to watching the film, one of the artists who joins him in the studio is no less than Paul McCartney.
I type this wondering what this all means or whether it means anything at all. People in this world experience greater joys and successes or suffer more pain and losses than my own personal encounters. And yet, for completely involuntary and unintentional reasons, I keep allowing Paul McCartney in my conscious experience.

Maybe I’m amazed.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Spirituality is making your bed in the morning." Vince DiPasquale

...and those were the words I was meant to hear last night.

Vince DiPasquale is the founder and Director of Starting Point, a recovery and twelve step facility in Westmont, NJ. Starting Point also hosts Joyful Gathering Spiritual Center, where I worship, attend classes and serve.

Every Wednesday night, Vince offers free lectures open to the public at 5:30 and 7:00 PM on subjects related to the Twelve Steps. It's been several months since I last attended one of his talks but I felt that stirring within telling me I should go. Whenever I sense that prompting and hear that "still small voice" these days, I tend to listen.

I have been flying high a bit lately, still floating from my experience at the A Course in Miracles conference in Chicago a few weeks ago, the Radical Forgiveness class at Joyful Gathering and my own studies in pursuit of a Masters in Religious Studies. However, I still have my moments of self-doubt and heed the voice of my inner critic (aka the ego/the Liar) more often than I should. And sometimes I feel like I know less than I think but way more than I believe.

Which is how and why I winded up in Vince's lecture room listening to a talk on the subject of "Spirituality" on a late Wednesday afternoon.

Vince began his lecture by explaining the latin roots of "spirituality" as spiritualitas, loosely defined as being animated by God. Or, in other words, Spirit in action.

This is the reminder I needed. Spirituality isn't just about connecting to God through meditation, prayer and devotional study. It isn't just about connecting to like minded people at conferences, classes and services. Nor is it just about recognizing the Christ-consciousness in complete strangers or even finding the ability to forgive the unforgivable.

Spirituality is the attitude, the mindset, the heartlight, in which we perform even the most perceived mundane tasks. Making the bed. Washing the dishes. Doing the laundry. Flossing the teeth. Attending another "pointless" meeting. Finishing a project by the deadline. Catching the next train. Patiently waiting behind the driver who forgot to put on the blinker.

Spirituality is attending a talk I was guided to hear...

and actually listening.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Universe is filled with the most amazing “coincidences”.  Well, I continue to notice my own universe is filled with them. Last week, 3/10/2013, I provided the meditation at Joyful Gathering Spiritual Center. Afterward, a woman complimented me on the quality of my voice. As I was speaking with her, I recognized her as someone I went to high school with 30 years ago. She introduced me to her boyfriend who is someone I also recognize from Starting Point, A Course in Miracles meetings and Vince DiPasquale’s Wednesday night lectures. We talked for a bit before I left for the service. It was nice to catch up with her.

Today, 6 days later, I went to out to do what I intended including going to the gym, do some food shopping and buy beer (Guinness and Banana Bread) for St. Patrick’s Day. My last planned stop was at Sacred Green Earth Bookstore in Oaklyn to grab some candles and incense. As I walked in, the first person I noticed was the boyfriend of my high school classmate I had seen at meditation the Sunday before. We shook hands and greeted each other. Five minutes later as I was browsing the book section, my classmate arrived and walked up to me to say “hello”. It was her first time ever in the store.

Her boyfriend played for a medicine wheel ceremony that took place before I arrived. As we spoke, I learned he plays guitar and performs at open mic nights in the area. I divulged my own interest in playing and how it was a part of my final project for the Foundations class I have been taking at Joyful Gathering Spiritual Center.

A Course in Miracles states “Miracles should inspire gratitude, now awe.” When these types of “coincidences” or “miracles” occur, I instantly feel grateful. Today’s chance encounter with my classmate and her boyfriend could not have been more perfect if we had planned it.
I heard and received the message they were sent to deliver to me. And I went home and practiced my guitar…

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rev. Dennis Flynn, O.M.C.

This afternoon, January 29, 2012 at @4:00PM, I was ordained as a minister through Pathways of Light. This may, and has, come as a shock and a surprise to many people. I have, for the most part, kept this part of my life a secret. The obvious question is, why?

Well, first of all, I considered going into Christian ministry decades ago. Those who know me know I was heavily involved in the evangelical Christian movement for most of my teenage and young adult years. However, I never followed through on that call and subsequently left the fundamentalism of that path far behind me.

However, a few short years ago, I experienced a dramatic turn of events in my life that knocked me sideways. An 8-year marriage that produced a young daughter was suddenly yanked from under me. I felt alone, betrayed, unfairly treated by a legal system rigged against me, financially crippled and I carried a profound sense of guilt and shame to how this was affecting my daughter. Even though I struggled with the rationality of believing in a Higher Power, I turned to God, as I understood Him, for help.

I started devouring books like Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, anything by Wayne Dyer, the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping, etc. Through my readings, the name of a specific book, A Course in Miracles, kept being mentioned or quoted. So I began reading and studying it.

A Course in Miracles is actually a 3-volume set of books consisting of a Text, Workbook for Students and a Manual for Teachers. It is not credited to a specific author. The person who scribed the course, Helen Schucman, claims she received it through the process of an Inner Voice, which she referred to as Jesus. Whether or not this is the biblical Jesus is uncertain, nor do I profess to believe it one way or the other, but Helen did believe it and refused to take credit for the Course's authorship.

What I found in A Course in Miracles has been life changing for me personally. The term "miracles" does not necessarily mean dramatic demonstrations of healing, walking on water or changing water into wine. It describes a miracle as a "change in perception".

So, I began to look for resources to further my understanding of ACIM. It was through this process that I found Pathways of Light, an organization dedicated to helping students understand the Course. They describe themselves as a "church without walls" which I find personally appealing.

Working with my friend and mentor, Rev. Lorraine Merritt, I started taking correspondence courses through Pathways of Light. As I began taking the courses, the more I felt led, inspired and called to also facilitate these courses as Rev. Lorraine had been doing for me. So I decided to continue taking the courses to the eventual conclusion of becoming an Ordained Ministerial Counselor for Pathways of Light.

As I proceeded on this next phase of my life in this new type of ministry, I needed to be certain I was going to follow through with it before I drew any attention to it. So I left announcing it to the timing of the Holy Spirit, or my Inner Wisdom.

That time is now.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Last evening, 1/17/2012, I was driving my daughter Carly home after a quick stop for dinner at Taco Bell in Cherry Hill. We were driving down Mercer Street on our way to get back on to Haddonfield Road. Since the Cherry Hill Police Station is on the same road, I was mindful of the 35 MPH speed limit. Carly was in the back passenger side seat playing on her iPod.
On our approach to the street that would take us back on to Haddonfield Road, we were about ready to cross the intersection of Sherwood Avenue. That is when I noticed on my right a large SUV travelling at a high rate of speed threatening the intersection.
I slammed on the pedal and instantly felt the anti-lock brakes kick in as my car vibrated to a sudden stop. I sat there stunned as I looked to see if I had missed a stop sign on my own side of the road. Cars that were approaching the intersection from Sherwood Avenue hesitated for a moment seeming to wonder why I wasn’t going. As my mind began to process what just happened, or what didn’t happen, I waived the other cars on. Thankfully, no one was behind me.
I didn’t have a stop sign at Mercer Street. The traffic on Sherwood Avenue did. The driver of the large SUV was speeding oblivious to the stop sign and blew right through it. I began to imagine the tragedy that could have occurred. If I was driving just a little bit faster and if I had arrived at the intersection just seconds sooner, the large SUV would have ploughed into Carly’s side of the car crushing her instantly and possibly flipping my car over.
There is no question it would have been a fatal accident. No doubt in my mind at all.
As I proceeded to drive on, I was still in a bit of shock. Carly was listening to her iPod seemingly oblivious to what had just happened. My mind was reeling. We almost died. Carly almost died.
But we didn’t…
It was then that the reality of what didn’t occur also rose to the surface of my thoughts. We didn’t die. Carly didn’t die. We weren’t a few seconds sooner. We weren’t travelling a little bit faster. We were safe. We were alive.
I started to thank God, the Holy Spirit, Divine Love and my Higher Power for protecting us. I asked my daughter to turn down her iPod so I could explain what had just happened. She initially got very quiet, alarmed and upset. But when I reassured her, as I was trying to reassure myself, that we were okay, she told me something that I will never forget.
She said, “I prayed to my guardian angel last night to keep me safe. And I prayed for my guardian angel to keep those who were with me safe.”
The prayers of that little girl were answered for us 1/17/2012 at about 6:20 PM. And I don’t think my life will ever be the same.
When we got home, we spend the night together on the sofa doing her homework and helping her study for a French test. We watched TV and she encouraged me to download an App for my iPod. Expressions of gratitude and thankfulness were on my lips and in my heart and have been ever since.
The next morning when I woke up, I continued to express gratitude to All That Is. I realize and recognize that I have everything I need and I will always be protected and provided for.
Divine Love preserved and saved me that night and allowed me another day of life and breath. Divine Love also protected my daughter and gave her to me again. Divine Love also provided my daughter with the security and protection she needs from her father.
I am so grateful for the Divine Message of Love I received that night.