When a trumpet is blown, listen! – Isaiah 18:3
Wake now for God awaits with the power of all creation
fueled by love and infinite kindness.
Wake now for God awaits with a fullness of experience
surpassing all comprehension.
Wake now for God awaits knowing only you have the ability
to thrive in the vision – only you move freely in this creation.
Wake now for God awaits and the hosts of divine love
have watched over you in the dark night –
ensuring your safety and protection –
waiting for the light of dawn.
Wake now and bring purpose to this universe
finding the essence and center of all that awaits.
Wake now for you too are the God of a new day –
the transformation – the salvation.
Wake now and be reborn.
"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together,” and so goes the lyrics of the Beatles tune I AM A Walrus, which to me clearly communicates in a few words our essential oneness and connection. I begin this opening chapter of my book setting the tone that I am like you and you are like me and, except for some of our individual genetic characteristics, we share very similar experiences in life. One of which, in our modern world, is the daily commute, often long, hard, tiring and unproductive. I do mine on a train and it has changed my life.
This day starts with my iPod alarm clock going off at 5:00 AM. It is Wednesday, March 18th and the day begins. I survey the bedroom and all is well, my partner Ann is sleeping gently, Zephyr our Collie is sleeping on the floor on Ann’s side of the bed and, I like the good male partner, sleep near the door. I have conditioned myself to start off with a positive affirmation I repeat in the morning that I picked up from Ernest Holmes, “Awake in Joy and Live in a Consciousness of Good." My mind moves immediately to the hectic day but I force it back to my affirmation. Not totally successful, I am on the move with Zephyr following me out the door. Zephyr knows it is time for his walk.
After a stop in the bathroom, I put on my exercise clothes and sneakers, turn on the coffee pot, and get Zephyr’s leash and the flashlight. Zephyr is a kind and gentle male dog, fifty-five pounds and looks like, you guessed it, Lassie. When Ann decided she wanted a dog I overcame my dog phobia and said yes, and for this measure of cooperation I got to pick the breed. I picked the gentlest breed I could imagine – a Collie – and we found a breeder and Zephyr came home as a twelve-week-old puppy. Now, at two years old, he is the size of a small horse in my estimation, and like Lassie, a beautiful dog.
Ok, the dog is walked and fed complete with his favorite bone, and I notice it is 5:30 AM and realize that I must shave and shower in thirty minutes - more than enough time for most people, a race for me. From 6:00 to 6:15 AM I dress and then go to the kitchen to make Ann’s tea. At about 6:27 AM I carry the tea to the bedroom, wake Ann up lovingly, telling her how much I love her. At this moment I witness the greatest act of love any person can convey on another, Ann gets up to drive me to the train when she could easily have slept another hour by letting me drive myself. To wake and drive me in the fog, before daylight, is a sincere act of love. I am grateful that Ann wants to spend the time together, since we will not see each other for another 13 hours, when I arrive home on the train at 7:30 PM.
I let her get up, I start the car, turn on the TV for the dog (Zephyr likes to watch political commentary and is a pundit in training). Ann watches Morning Joe on MSNBC along with Zephyr while I get my stuff ready. On the show they are involved in an open discussion on the financial bailout. We leave the dog with the TV on and drive ten minutes to the Fredericksburg train station through the fog. We talk, laugh, and comment on the news story. At the station I kiss Ann goodbye and she tells me to have a joyous day. I blow a kiss as I walk from the car and the commute begins. In two hours and fifteen minutes I will be sitting in my office in Northwest Washington, D.C.
The train station is historic and fits neatly into the ambiance of Fredericksburg, VA – the boyhood home of George Washington and the home to three other U.S. Presidents at some point in their lives, located equal distance between Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and a pivotal piece of real estate during the Civil War. There are two tracks at the station – Track 2 and Tack 3, leaving the location of Track 1 an on-going mystery.
On these tracks the passenger trains run up and down the East Coast, from the Carolinas and Southern Virginia, with destinations set for Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. These are Amtrak passenger trains running alongside the CSX Freight Trains, and the slower Virginia Rail Express (VRE) Commuter trains, which hit every stop - eleven, to be exact, to D.C. I prefer the Amtrak train to D.C., which is faster than the VRE commuter train, making only five stops at Quantico, Woodbridge, and Alexandria, all in Virginia, with the final two stops, both in Washington, D.C., at L’Enfant plaza and Union station. Although I usually take the Amtrak, I do take the VRE when I have to arrive at work for an early meeting, or the Amtrak is delayed.
I make my way on the walkway underneath the tracks, dragging my rolling briefcase up the long ramp to the train tracks - a full story above ground level. This positions the train to cross the Rappahannock River that borders the town. As I reach the upper platform, I can see all of Fredericksburg in front of me, the historic town shines below. I love this town, my home for four years. Quaint shops, stores, and restaurants unfold in front of me – brick sidewalks - street lamps – colonial colors with antique streets. The sun is coming up on the town and I am charmed.
I roll my bag down the platform and stand under a covered area with a group of my follow Amtrak commuters. Names are not important and I do not remember many, but I know their stories and opinions on almost any subject discussable in public. Today, Ron the Architect is discussing his Baltimore office, where those who work on the same floor have not met fellow workers, although they email daily. We discuss how email and Blackberries have replaced face-to-face communication, enabling all of us to avoid personal contact. We joke that the next great business book will introduce these older methods of communication and be titled, “Face to Face – The New Approach to Communication.”
We are waiting for the Northbound Train # 86, due to arrive in Fredericksburg at 7:00 AM, and finally arriving in Washington, D.C. one hour and fifteen minutes later. The platforms are crowded with real travelers this morning, who are on their way up north. There are also close to a hundred high school students, from the local schools, who are taking their class trip to D.C., this will add to the excitement, but surely slow down the commute. The train horn sounds, we look down the track in anticipation, and finally the large blue Amtrak diesel engine comes around the bend pulling ten passenger cars.
The commuters, who are professionals, eye each car to determine where the conductor will open the car door and allow the crowd to enter. The train slows to a stop, one of the back car doors open, and the conductor comes out with a yellow step stool to help us climb up and onto the car. Luckily, the students and most of the non-commuters, board up in the front of the train, so they will be close to the Cafe Car. Experienced riders head for the back of the train, including me.
I step up onto the train and wheel my bag through each car, carefully looking for a quiet, empty seat for my commute, and if possible, one in a more isolated location. My morning commute is dedicated to my daily spiritual renewal, which will include prayer and meditation, so a location where my fellow travelers are not holding a conversation is preferred. Today, I go to the very last train car, locating a sit on the right, about two thirds back in the train car. I sit in the outer seat on the right side row of seats, and place my bag on the floor next to me. The goal here is quiet and no seatmates. I purposely avoid sitting near people I know.
In reality, most commuters are planning to sleep, also preferring not to be disturbed. The train pulls away from the station. I become one with the sound of the train’s rumbling wheels against the track, the train horn, and the power of this amazing vehicle getting up enough momentum to travel on its way. I am at peace, looking forward to this time for me to connect with God. This is my gift to me.
The conductor stops by to say good morning, collect my ticket, and finally places a small white stub of paper over my seat to show that I have paid. The blue comfortable seats of the train are easily adjusted so I can relax and meditate. I turn on the overhead lights, and take a few minutes to look out the window, as the Amtrak train leaves Fredericksburg, crossing immediately over the Rappahannock River that flows along the edge of town.
The chorus of the Who’s rousing rock song of the sixties comes to me, as I begin this chapter, where I hope to let you know who I am, and outline the focus on my life and my spiritual quest on the way to the train. In the end, life is a journey all about finding out the true “Who” of each of us. Who are you? Who Am I? Who are we collectively?
Who Are You!
Well, who are you?
Who, Who, Are You?
I really wanna know
Tell me, who are you?
Cause I really wanna know.
Listen To Who Are You Download Above or Purchase fromFrom iTunes
If I ever write a book about my life, it will be titled, On The Way To The Train, because all I have experienced, prepares me for this train ride with God. I feel it is essential for you to understand who I am, how I have come to this place, and my connection with God. I have found that the story of our journeys, often, relay the real threads of enlightenment. We have all journeyed through life to reach this current now.
As I write this, I want you to be aware I do not regret one second of my life, even the troubled waters make sense to me now, because they have defined and sculptured who I am today. I also believe, success in life, is not measured by what you have accomplished, but by how far you have traveled. I also think of one of my mother’s favorite sayings that still rings true for me, "George," she would say, “God makes the back to fit the burden.” As with any life, there were burdens, but there also was joy, love, and wonder.
THE WAKE UP CALL
I have debated with myself where in time to begin this first chapter of Finding God On The Train, and after much internal discussion, I have decided to focus on my real religious conversion and epiphany at the age of 55 - that brought me to this point - typing these words and thinking these thoughts. I will then, in the next Chapter, go back and provide you with the history that led to my waking up just in time. For I was fast asleep, and God, had to literally bring me to my knees, to get my attention.
It is 2006, Ann and I moved in together, living in Fredericksburg, and we were busy trying to sort out our new life and relationship, including our spiritual life. Still angry at the Episcopal Church over the senseless dispute regarding the ordination of a gay Bishop, that had for me transferred over to animosity for all established religions in general. I had returned to calling myself an agnostic, and after having had been a professed atheist at one time in my earlier life, it was easy to build a case against God. I would sit there and tell Ann, a lifelong Baptist, that I was no longer sure there was a God.
Ann did not run, but when looking back, she honestly believed she could save me, which is what she actually did. In fact, Ann saw me during these early days of our relationship as deeply spiritual, but very lost, full of anger and frustration. Looking back, I have to agree. But I was also starting to wear away at Ann’s belief system. Ann started reading a book on atheism and I was feeling guilty and responsible for undermining her faith.
One nigh,t after a long discussion regarding the book and the existence of God, Ann went into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. In the mirror was the hideous face of a hopeless, lost soul – and this reflection saved her, and probably me at the same time! Ann walked out of the bathroom – declared her belief in God and thru away the book. I admitted to her I did not want to take away her belief and replace it with nothing - which is what I now think atheism has to offer - nothing – no hope – no direction – no way.
Spiritual health seems to mirror or parallel physical health. When you are spiritually healthy you are also more likely to be physically healthy. I was neither, and by August of 2006 I had had been rushed to the hospital with vertigo after collapsing in the house Ann and I were renovating in Fredericksburg. The vertigo was easily manageable, but the MRI revealed an 11 mm tumor growing from my Pituitary Gland.
I was stunned, but I handled it as well as possible, trying not to panic. For the next six months, I spent countless hours with surgeons and specialists to determine a course of action and assess the impact of the tumor. After calculating I had time before it would grow large enough to impact my sight, hearing, or brain function I was given a choice to hold off and operate later.
Let us fast forward just a bit to January 2007, and I am now working as a consultant for a company providing health care to county prison systems. I am spending a great deal of time behind bars, but I am ok with it because it pays well, and I am learning a great deal of what happens on the darker and sadder side of life. As I work and commute back and forth to Baltimore, I notice my left hand feels strange, feels stiff, and will not operate properly. I cannot play the guitar, and eventually, my left hand will not open. It looks like a claw.
I go back to my doctors, but they are sure it is not being caused by the tumor. Around the same time, my left leg is not functioning fully, and I am starting to stumble. Honestly, this had happened a few years earlier when I lived in Maine. I ended up walking with a cane and considering surgery on my neck - to open up the spinal column. While in Maine. I had delayed the surgery, started walking again, and had been ok and fully mobile for the past two years.
By mid January 2007, my left hand was useless, and I was dragging my left leg with the use of a cane. I kept working because I thought I would get better – not a realistic or a healthy life choice. By the third week I was buttoning my shirt first, on the bed, and pulling it over my head – the left side of my body was numb and my breathing was impacted. Ann was sick for a week – worn out from watching me fall apart. I knew what was happening, but refused to deal with it.
On Saturday January 21st, I walked into the hospital emergency room in Fredericksburg. I had called the Neurosurgeon who was working on my tumor the day before and said I thought I needed help. That Saturday night I was transferred by ambulance to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. When I arrived, I was greeted by a young Neurosurgery Resident from India, who did my intake exam and kept shaking his head in disbelief that I had waited too long to seek medical attention.
The first thing Sunday morning I am meeting with one of the top spinal Neurosurgeon’s in the region. He explained that my surgeon had called him last night, and felt he had the expertise to handle this severe a spinal injury. I watched him as he spoke, and was impressed with his confidence and honesty. The surgeon went on and simply told me the discs in my neck were shattered, impacting my spinal cord, and as a result I was paralyzed on the left side of my body. Even with immediate surgery, he said, I should not expect to use my left hand or leg again.
He was planning emergency surgery for later in the morning, bringing in his best team, and if I did not agree to the operation, I would have no more than two days before my right side, aliong with my entire body, would be paralyzed. I would quite possibly die soon thereafter. Trapped and half paralyzed, I realized that there was no choice, more on this later. The surgeon promised nothing except to possibly hold off the paralysis, clearly letting me know this was one of the highest risk operations imaginable, since I had a narrow spinal cord to begin with, and it was already damaged.
Ann who had slept in a chair next to my bed Saturday night, stayed by my side until right before the operation. I told her no matter what happened, I had no regrets and loved her dearly, and enjoyed our time together. Probably not the thing to say before an operation, but I thought it needed to be said. Before she left, Ann reminded me to pray, and we joked that there were no atheists in the foxholes during the war. This was surely a foxhole.
Ann also asked, if I was worried about the operation, and I said that I felt like I would come up “smelling like a rose.” The one positive remark my father said about me in my life, and it had since become my affirmative mantra and my expectation in life. He would say, shaking his head that he didn’t know how I did it, but I always “went down in shit and came up smelling like a rose.” I heard this a thousand times growing up, usually after I had side stepped some possible demise or succeeded at the impossible. Coming from my father, who rarely had anything positive to say about me, I believed it was true, and still do today. For some strange reason, I believe the world is looking out for me and it always does, and I will come out - “smelling like a rose.”
This operation was no exception, and as I prepared for the operation, I knew I would be ok. Ann was forced to leave and begin the five-hour wait alone, but I knew she would be praying for me, and us, and this gave me comfort. I also thought of Eric Ericson; the Freudian psychoanalyst who taught at Harvard and set up the developmental stages of life, starting with the typical Oral and Anal stages but moving on to a final stage of life where we assess how we lived our lives. For the final stage, Ericson defined the key issue as “Integrity versus Despair,” where we determine if we have lived fully, or we despair for having not lived up to our dreams and desires. Knowing this, I had lived much of my life for this moment and was pleased with my life assessment of my accomplishments over my fifty–six years, and although somewhat unconventional, produced no major regrets.
As I was being prepared for the operation and met the surgical team, I did feel a need to talk with God directly, not to plead my case, but to let God know that I expected the operation would be a success, and if it didn’t for some reason, I wanted God to receive me. I just talked directly to God and admitted I had struggled spiritually and was lost much of the time, and I regretted not connecting more fully and becoming what it was that I was meant to become. This notion of, not becoming what I was meant to become, came as surprise to me, and although I did not know what I was referring to exactly, I knew it to be true and felt I had in some way not completed some spiritual mission. I felt a profound sense of failure. I realized, waiting for this operation, and the possible end of my life, that with all my accomplishments, I may have missed the spiritual point of my life.
And although I had learned and studied most of the major religions on the planet, had been both a Christian and a Jew, I knew, at that moment, I had not been truly authentic; I had not done what I came to life to do. I promised and committed to God that if I survived, I would work hard to understand what I was meant to do, and I would focus my spiritual and physical life on accomplishing this mission. As the anesthesia kicked in and I was wheeled to the operating room, I hoped I would be given this second chance.
Five hours later, I became conscious from the surgery as I was being wheeled out of the operating room. I had a Titanium plate and three fused discs in my enlarged cervical spine. The first thing I did was check my left hand and to my amazement it was open - fingers moving. I put my hand in front of my face and watched my fingers move for the first time in a month before my eyes to make sure. Next, I moved my left leg which had been immobile – hours before - and it moved easily – tears came to my eyes and I thanked God – for I was made whole again.
The Indian Neurosurgery Resident who had admitted me to the hospital on Saturday night, was so impressed that he said, as he prepared me to go home, “this is a miracle, a true miracle, I have never seen anything like this, you are truly blessed.” Three days after the operation I walked out of the hospital without a cane and only a neck brace, with my surgeon and medical staff watching in triumph, wonder ,and pride. I understood this was a gift of love from God and I had a promise to keep.
THE FIRST STEPS
One step begins the journey of a thousand miles, and this was the first step. I would take two months to fully recuperate – living night and day in a neck brace, going to physical therapy, and preparing to reenter life. Things began to change rapidly. Two weeks after the operation I had a job interview at a major hospital in Washington, D.C. I went neck brace and all – Ann drove me but I walked and handled the interview, and got the job after a second visit. I received an offer and was able to start in early April. The only down side was the commute which would take over two hours each way, but the good news was that I could take the train instead of driving.
Ann and I both realized we had lost our way in the period before the operation, and we needed to work on our approach to the world, our negative mindset, and developing a more positive attitude. One Sunday, Ann mentioned that In the Sunday Magazine there was a brief review of Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, titled the Little Golden Book of Yes! Attitude, that I mentioned in the introduction. I was interested because Gitomer was a Temple University Alum who, as a salesman, had become a successful presenter and writer. “It’s your thoughts behind the words you speak that create your attitude," guided Gitomer. Both Ann and I read Gitomer’s books, which introduced us to the world of positive thinking and attitude - and we were in turn, introduced us to Earl Nightingale’s - ”you become what you think all day.”
Gitomer’s Yes Attitude is a gem of positive thinking, which I still refer to often. At the time, it set Ann and I in forward motion, inspiring us to continue our positive thinking and attituded studies with the works of such greats as Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, and Russell Conwell. It also led us to rediscover one of our favorites, that we had both read and studied over twenty years prior, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, whose focus incorporated God and faith into the quest for a positive attitude.
Ok, it is late February of 2007, and we are spiritually recuperating, working on positive thinking and positive attitudes, and I am still in the neck brace. We are visiting Ann’s mom, who lives nearby, and she is watching the Larry King show on the television. Larry is interviewing someone who has contributed to a new book about the Law of Attraction titled, The Secret, authored by a documentary filmmaker named Rhonda Byrne.
The Secret, which had been recently introduced on the Oprah Winfrey show, was becoming a best seller. Ann’s Mom, who was always up to date on the latest trends, said she had watched the show on Oprah. It turns out that Rhonda Byrne, who was facing financial disaster, was given a book titled, Science Of Getting Rich, by her daughter, written 100 hundred years ago by a New Thought teacher and philosopher named Wallace Wattles, and as a result, had decided to produce a documentary on the Law of Attraction. The documentary became an internet success, and Byrne published the book to attract a wider audience.
So I am watching Larry King, who is questioning his quest on how our thoughts vibrate, and we can attract what we think about into your lives; like a parking space, money, a new job, or a lover. I said to Ann, it sounded kind of crazy, but it related somewhat to what we were reading. Ann said she had been given a copy of The Secret a month or so before, and she still had a copy at home. When I got home, I opened the book and was amazed - for the first time, I encountered the Law of Attraction.
Little did I know, this reference guide was a primer for New Thought, and would help to change my life forever. Ann and I each bought our own book along with the CD audio version, and we began intensely listening to and reading The Secret. We were introdcued for the first time to an array of New Thought oriented teachers and avatars, as they are referred to in the book, with the most well known, in New Thought circles, being Rev. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, the New Thought Religious Science trained minister, and the founder of one of the largest New Thought churches in the country, the Agape International Spiritual Center.
More than introducing us just to the Law of Attraction, The Secret, exposed us to the world of New Thought with its concept of a loving and kind God, open to assist us all with obtaining an abundant life. The Secret, of course, features the greatest New Thought avatar of all time – Jesus - and the first biblical presence to introduce the concept of the Law of Attraction, by teaching:
Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith,
you will receive. ..Mathew 21:22.,
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer,
believe that you have received
it and it will be yours,… Mark 24.
THE ZEPHYR STORY
So here we are in March of 2007, and I am still recovering from my surgery, weaning from my neck brace, and Ann is talking about her desire to have a dog. Now the addition of a dog to our family was a delicate subject, since I am what some would call a dog phobic, ever since, as a boy, my older sister had a large chunk of her thigh removed by a “friendly” German Shepherd - as the owners watched on. Needless to say, although my sister recovered, I did not, spending the remainder of my childhood, and adult life, avoiding dogs. In my thirties, as a runner, my neighbors would laugh and say I altered my running course based on the dogs I observed ahead in the neighborhood. They were right.
Yet, I realize Ann is serious, and really wants a dog. I also realize in a new relationship, this could be a major issue, so I agree. Ann is ecstatic, and through the tears of joy tells me I can pick the breed of dog I would feel ok with, or as ok as I could feel. As I have mentioned earlier in the chapter - growing up with Lassie on TV, I thought of Collies first, to me at least - a gentle, kind, breed - also willing and capable of pullling me out of a river if needed. So before I could fully say the word Collie, Ann was on the computer looking for breeders.
To Ann’s dismay, and my surprise, after an extensive search there were very few Collie breeders in the country. Ann was not fazed, and located a breeder in New Orleans, who specialized in breeding and showing Collies. After frequent emails and phone calls with the breeder named Mary, Ann came back with the bad news. There was a new litter of six Collie pups that would be ready shortly, but they were already all adopted, with a waiting list of twelve enthusiastic potential future owners on standby for future litters.
Ann was disappointed but kept emailing Mary, who was impressed with Ann’s interest and copied her on the emails being sent to all those who would be receiving the new puppies. Ann looked at the pictures of the puppies, and read the emails, and became even more focused on finding a Collie puppy as soon as possible. Ann, who was reading The Secret along with me, spent countless hours trying to manifest a Collie utilizing the books clear how to steps. Ann felt if this Law of Attraction stuff was true, then she would be able to attract the dog. I was still working on a parking spaces, but to give her hope, I agreed and encouraged her to keep trying. She did.
At the same time, Ann spent hours searching the internet, rescue shelters, and calling breeders for a Collie. She even struck up a friendship with one of the women who was on Mary’s adoption list, preparing for the day when she would be next in line. Still no luck and Ann seemed to be getting slightly depressed and obsessed. When the dreams started, frankly, I began to worry in earnest. Each morning Ann would recount what seemed like a constant dream she would have regarding the Collie she so desperately wanted and had to have now. Ann would tell me the dream and talk about the soft, gentle breeze. Having been a Psych major, and having read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, I knew that dreams were wish fulfillments, providing in dream life what we desire in our actual life. I was not surprised, since by this time in late March, finding a Collie was all that Ann talked about each day. The dreams were always the same –
It is a beautiful summer afternoon with a soft, gentle
breeze, with Ann and I sitting on what appears to beporch overlooking a large manicured yard that rolls
down to a river. Out walking and playing in the sunlight
is a beautiful full grown Collie, with a distinctive white
haired neck, looking at Ann and me, and Ann knows this is
her dog, while feeling a tremendous emotion of love for
Ann watches as the dog’s hair is swept back by
the soft, gentle breeze. The key to every dream is
the beautiful Collie in the sunlight and the hair moving
in the soft, gentle breeze.
Over and over the soft, gentle breeze story was told.
Night after night the dream occurred, and then, started coming to her at work and during the day as a daydream. Needless to say I was worried, because no dog was available and Ann was not taking it well. I convinced Ann to stop reading Mary’s emails to the other potential owners and let it go for a while to gain some composure and space. It was the end of March and this was my last week before I would start my new job in Washington, D,C.
On Tuesday night of this same week, Ann came home from work announcing that this was the day she was going to get her dog. Ann said, “I am going to get it, I am sure, I do not know how, but I am going to get it.” She was holding a newspaper and she quickly looked in the classifieds for a Collie, but no dog. Still she was convinced. I was really worried. I reminded her that this was driving her crazy and she needed to step back to take a breather, and think of something else. We compromised and talked about having enough cash if she did find the dog, Ann wanted to check her bank account so she went on her computer, which was now in the bedroom, and went into her email. She saw an email from Mary and thought of avoiding it, but read it anyway.
I heard a scream from the bedroom and ran to the room in panic. Ann standing in front of the screen crying, laughing, jumping, and screaming - “I have Zephyr.” Ann pointed to the screen and said I should read the email to ensure she was reading it correctly. The email simply said –
Ann, Zephyr is ready for you to pick him up.
I was stunned and confused. Ann was already on the phone calling Mary jumping with excitement. It was true, Mary had decided that day to give Zephyr to Ann - the male dog that had been held back from adoption, to see if he could qualify to follow in his father’s footsteps, and become one of the top show dogs in the country. Zephyr’s potential owner was a man in New Orleans, who was told earlier in the day, he would have to wait until next time. Mary, working on a feeling that Zephyr wanted to come to Ann instead, wrote the email.
I was amazed, Ann was ecstatic, but reality rushed in quickly. We would need to drive to New Orleans from Fredericksburg to pick up Zephy. It was going to be a costly trip. Anyway, I had to start a new job the next week and get ready. That night in bed, we were still debating, when Ann said we should let Zephyr go to the next owner. Not sure why, but I turned to Ann and said, "you have used the Law of Attraction and have manifested this dog, and we have to follow through, or we will never receive in the future." ,Ann was relieved and I know I had made the right decision.
We got out of bed excited by the trip and the experience, and decided to talk about a name for our new dog. The breeders name was Zephyr, but we were thinking of calling the new dog Ralph Waldo Emerson, or some other New Thought icon's name, to commemorate the Law of Attraction. I said that we should first look up what the name Zephyr means, and then if we don’t like it, we can chose another name.
So I pulled out the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, flipped through the pages to the Z’s in the very back, page 1664, looked down the page for Zephyr, and read the definition below, and my entire being shook as the goose bumps covered my body and tears came to my eyes. I said, "Ann, you will not believe this but Zephyr means - soft, gentle breeze, " as I read the following definition over and over again:
zephyr (zef’er) 1. The west wind 2. Zephyrus
3. a soft, gentle breeze.
Zephyrus (zef’ e rus) Greek Myth, the west wind
personified as a god.
We were stunned and joyous at the same time, for God had showed the way, and assisted Ann with cocreating and manifesting us a dog. If there ever was a doubt about our path, or Zephyr, this was our sign, and we would be off to New Orleans the next day, traveling to pick up our soft, gentle breeze. We enjoyed our trip to Mary’s, where Ann met her email friend who adopted another dog in the liter, and drove the very same red Saturn VUE that Ann and I had driven down to New Orleans. We had an authentic Crawfish dinner and our lives were changed forever.
Two years later, on a summer afternoon, as we sat looking over our yard watching Zephyr move gracefully through the soft, gentle breeze, Ann turns to me and says, with a look of awe in her eyes - "this is it, the dream I had over and over. This is the dream," look at Zephyr and the soft, gentle breeze.
ON THE TRAIN
I started work the next Monday with Zephyr safely home, spending my five hours commuting on the train reading one New Thought related writer after the other, Beckwith, Canfield, and Wayne Dyer, whose landmark book, The Power of Positive Intention, set Ann and I off to find a church that would match our newly found beliefs. As I explained in the introduction, this was not easy. We started out with what we had known, visiting most of the Episcopal, Baptist, and Evangelical churches in the area, thinking and hoping that it if we found a positive one, one that did not focus on sin, shame, and guilt, we would join.
At this time, I began fixating on the word Temple, and this led to thinking about Russell Conwell, who was mentioned by Gitomer in his book. After a visit to the Temple website, I discover that Russell Conwell was a New Thought oriented Baptist minister, who gave his popular New Thought speech, titled Acres of Diamonds, based on a Sufi tale of a man who lost his life searching for an acre of diamonds, only to have the largest diamond mine in the world discovered in his own back yard - after his death.
Russell Conwell, in his popular speech, emphasized that God wanted us all to be prosperous and be rich, and it was our individual responsibility to make the most out of their lives. Conwell, the Joel Osteen of his time, gave this speech a staggering 6,000 times across the world between 1900 and 1925, without the benefit of modern transportation, to enthusiastic audiences, who loved his message. Conwell became one of the great New Thought doers of all time, using these funds to build Temple University, my Alma Mater, Temple Hospital, and providing an avenue and opportunity for working class students to reap the rewards of higher education.
Although I never realized Conwell’s New Thought connection until later in my life, in my mid twenties, I was a Graduate Assistant with the Temple Career Development Center while pursuing my MBA degree at the Graduate School of Business. When I received my MBA, I decide to work in Career Development, and I was later asked to become the Director of Career Services for Temple University. My office overlooked the statue of Russell Conwell in Founders Garden, which was the final resting place of this true New Thought humanitarian. For a wonderful insight into New Thought, as it related to abundance, and the wonder of Russell Conwell, I strongly encourage you to read Acres of Diamonds - A Self Improvement Classic which includes the entire speech.
Ann and I during the months of May and June 2007, visited and rejected a collection of traditional, evangelical, and very untraditional churches, one after another, realizing that what we were seeking may not have exised in real life. Each church focused on some version of original sin, guilt, punishment, and salvation. In July, after we had given up for a few weeks, Ann said she had seen a small add referring to a church that talked about abundance and positive thought. We went to our first Unity Church service where they mediated right in the service, talked about connecting directly with God, and did not accept the notion of sin and guilt. We had found a New Thought church, changed our lives, and for now, with all our New Thought thinking, we had a place of worship. More on Unity and New Thought in Chapter 3, New Thought Positive Spirituality - Yesterday and Today. To learn more about Unity, please see my link on the right hand sidebar of my Blog.
Writing and editing this chapter has provided a cathartic experience for Ann and me, as we again realized the miracle of our spiritual rebirth, and our gratitude to Rhonda Byrne, and all of the other New Thought pioneers who have prepared the way before us. We have also realized, that although our spiritual evolution has depended on God, and the Law of Attraction, to bring us to the next spiritual step, life would have been easier if New Thought had been less of a secret. It is now our life mission, through this book and the Blog, to make the road easier and clearer for those who travel with us.
The next chapter - Chapter 2 will focus on my middle years and my exploration of world religions, my early conversion to Judaism, and my life in high tech corporate America. I would like to close off this first chapter of Finding God On The Train with a closing meditative note, I call a note on enlightenment, a positive affirmation, and a short affirmative thought or prayer. I hope you are enjoying the trip!
CLOSING NOTE ON ENLIGHTENMENT
Awake From The Dream, is a meditative note that in a personal spiritual sense, as highlighted by this chapter, signifies for me the many years I was asleep while fully awake, never realizing that I was slowly dying from spiritual malnutrition. When I spiritually drift off to sleep from time to time, I use this meditation guidance as a wake-up call from God. The meditation guidance is also a reminder we are all the conceivers of our own individualized reality, and through our continual interpretation, we give it meaning and form.
AWAKE FROM THE DREAM
Awake from the dream of life,
awake from the illusion and become enlightened.
Awake from the dream of life -
refreshed and full of wisdom and grace.
The dream of life is an illusion -
we have all been fooled by its tangible nature, hard,
physical, seemingly solid - look above, around the side –
look through and see the vibrations –
the pulse held together by a limited perception.
Awake from the dream and see its transitory nature,
a brief encounter during “our” moments of reflection.
We manifest this illusion with all of its beauty -
one thought and creation at a time.
This is a collective illusion, a collective vision authored
by every man in harmony with God.
In this collective illusion of humanity we set our stage,
take our roles, form and reform our parts,
and deliver the lines of our lives.
In this collective illusion we are the screenwriter,
the producer, the director, the hero, the villain or victim,
as we chose, utilizing and partnering with the creative
power of God.
Awake from the collective illusion and develop
your own script, plot line, story, and ending -
not as an extra but as the actor – the director
you were created to be.
Awake from the dream of life, the collective illusion
and be one with the God you were born to be.
NOE 5.8.2009 7:50 AM
Affirmations are positive statements announcing to God – Universal Mind – and to your own subconscious mind, how you view the world, and what you expect to occur during the day, or in your life. It is a powerful way to use the Law of Attraction to frame your reality and set positive expectations.
Let me close this chapter with a spiritual affirmation I wrote during this period of awakening, when I was still searching for a religious home, and a personal connection with God. As with most affirmations, I write as if I already possess what I am seeking. So I began reading this affirmation out loud daily, and in a few months, I had started meditating, found Unity, and began to obtain my spiritual sea legs. As with all the material in this book, and on the blog, please feel free to adapt it to meet your needs.
I am joyful and thankful for a lasting, deep, sincere, and
personal ongoing relationship with God, and for having
found a connection with God through a church and religion
that fosters abundance and self actualization, with faith a
strong component of all that I do and think. Keeping God
informed of what I want and need to be happy. I want all
this or something better.
Affirmations are most effective when you can apply an emotional connection to your affirmative statement. In this affirmation, "joy" - truly one of the most powerful of all emotions – is elicited, and when combined with gratitude, charges this statement with a powerful emotional force. Try adding a line, such as, “I am filled with emotion and thankful for…” when drafting your affirmations, and see if it doesn’t give them more positive force. The final sentence, is a line used by many who write affirmations, and it tells the universe, that although you want this to manifest your life, you are always open to something better.
CLOSING AFFIRMATIVE THOUGHT
I would like to close this chapter, where I am focusing on my own spiritual journey, with what I call an Affirmative Thought. Those who follow my Blog, will know that I write Ann a brief note each morning before I go to work, delivering it with her tea. Ann looks forward to these notes, and has come to expect one each and every morning.
I also enjoy taking a moment to write her this note each morning, connecting with spirit, and jotting down my thoughts whether spiritual or romantic. If I like the note, I make a quick copy on the printer, and often use it later as a daily blog post. Never has someone gotten so much mileage from a brief note! A few days ago I left the note on the printer, and I got a call on the train from a frustrated Ann, saying, “Where’s the note? I cannot find the note?” I directed her to the printer and all was well.
This Affirmative Note reminds us of …….
THE AMAZING GIFT
Today let us live as if there is no tomorrow-
fully present in this moment now – realizing
the amazing gift of life is a miracle to be fully
enjoyed, held sacred, and profoundly lived.
Today let us live with complete passion and
and enthusiasm – awake and present for each
breath – for each step – empowered and ready
Today let us reach out to all we love and hold
dear – touching them with our kindness and
ensuring they know how much we love them!
Today let us live fully!