So what? I found my Prophetic Voice at #WeAreCSL Convention

The last Sunday before I left for the #WeAreCentersforSpiritualLiving 2018 Convention I was pretty sure I was already using my prophetic voice.  We had collected some $120 that day in the plate. After all, prior to ministry I spent 20 years as a lawyer and advocate for universal health care, consumer and working families’ rights in Congress and the California legislature.  After 5 ½ years in ministerial school (and years before that studying and knowing the truth as a practitioner), I felt that my voice was grounded in spiritual truth. I was so sure that I had my voice that I even had the audacity to join the Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement Committee to help advise our Spiritual Leader Dr. Kenn Gordon on his public statements.  I even played a driving role in our decision to lead a workshop at the conference designed to help others find their voice.

At the same time, I heard from the spectacular convention co-chairs Rev. Sunshine Daye & Rev. Josh Reeves that the theme of #WeAreCSL refers not only to our churches, but to our own centers within ourselves.  On Monday I heard from Rev. Abigail Schairer that we at the Centers for Spiritual Living were knocked up with a World that Works for Everyone–that it was coming, no matter what.  On Tuesday morning, I heard from the incomparable Tracy Brown that we were “clumsy midwives,” and that we needed to forgive ourselves and learn more about what and how we were birthing.  On Wednesday night, I learned from marketing genius extraordinaire Treya Klassen that we could be pregnant, and we could be learning, and we could be compassionate, but that if we wanted to birth A World that Works for Everyone on the scale that we envisioned, which would be, well, A WORLD, then every single one of us in this whole movement needed to know not only our vision and our mission, but our purpose, our WHY.  We needed to know why we do this. We needed to understand why we do this. We needed to live and work from this why. On Wednesday afternoon I learned from Dr. David Alexander that our board, at a minimum, needed to understand its covenant with each other and that the purpose of a spiritual leader is to keep the whole organization on covenant—surely a form of purpose, as well.

And with all this, something started to whir, and to rearrange the gears of my mind and heart.  The next day, Thursday, together with Dr. Kenn Gordon, Dr. Kathy Hearn, Dr. Edward Viljoen, Dr. David Alexander, Dr. Jim Lockard and Rev. Abigail Schairer, we brought forth our workshop on Finding Your Prophetic Voice.  I watched and felt as the people in the room re-grounded their voice in the words of Dr. Holmes as brought forth by Dr. Viljoen and Dr. David, and the words of Dr. King as brought forth by Dr. Jim.

A powerful healing took place throughout the movement that day.  We reminded ourselves that we got this. As spiritual scientists, we know how to speak our word with passion and authority.  We know how that conditions have no power over us. We know that our word has power. We visioned, we saw what we needed to release and embrace and then we healed the entire movement by collectively and individually treating to know that we are using, living, speaking, being our prophetic voice.

Three days later, when standing in the pulpit, I found myself voicing the “so what?” that had been lying beneath the surface of my consciousness since I left legislative advocacy to join ministry.  Lately I have been having trouble caring how many people are in the seats on Sunday. I have been having trouble caring how much money we collected. I have been having trouble care about our bold, powerful multi-year vision that sees thousands of people attending the Center for Spiritual Living, Davis online and in person.  I had been having trouble caring because I didn’t understand why I was doing it. “So what?” I said aloud. So what I got ordained at the convention? So what we teach classes and tell people about prosperity consciousness? So what?

Fortunately Dr. Kenn Gordon responded to my “So what?” on the final day of the convention when he answered Treya Klassen’s question about purpose and reminded us that CSL already decided as a community that our purpose is to awaken humanity to its spiritual magnificence in order to reveal a world that works for everyone.  That’s So What. Our task then, as ministers, is to use our prophetic voice to enroll everyone in our congregation in this purpose. Every single person who walks in our doors needs to understand so what. Every decision we make about what event to hold, and what class to teach and who to teach it to, needs to be an answer to so what?

It is an interesting thing to sit with our purpose.  So many people when they walk through the doors of our center are in pain or grief.  They may have relationship challenges, they may have financial challenges, they may have health challenges.  This was certainly true for me. I didn’t walk through the doors of the Centers for Spiritual Living to change the world.  In fact, if you had asked me, I might have said that I left behind my job saving the world so that I could stop feeling that I was a failure as a mother to my chronically ill child.

As a spiritual leader, I may get fooled into thinking that by speaking about our broader purpose of revealing a world that works for everyone, I may be insensitive to the real pain that my congregants are in. I may fret that I may awaken my congregants’ own so what? about the broader issues.  But what I understand now is that this is not the way it works. The truth is that in order to awaken to my own spiritual magnificence, I need to get out of my own pain and care about a world that works for everyone.  And in order to care about a world that works for everyone, I need to awaken to my own spiritual magnificence.  When I remember that I’m whole, perfect and complete and that you are too, when I remember that I am one with all that lives, I can no longer starve or exclude or kill my neighbor (or my ocean, river, animal or tree) because I know that I am starving, excluding and killing myself.  And this awakening quite naturally spells the end to racism, sexism, poverty, environmental destruction and war. That’s so what.