Gathering Chicks

There a lot of parables about gathering that Christ could have used when he stated: “Israel, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings but you would not.” (Matt.  23:37)

He could have spoken of gathering a flock of sheep, or gathering an army as Caesar would have done, or gathering stones as Solomon stated, or gathering the wheat from the tares, as he also spoke of.

But why chickens?

My house mate is an old farm boy and he explained to me that this parable was given in terms people familiar with raising chickens would have understood. When does a hen gather her chickens? When danger is near. Why does she gather them? For safety and protection to ensure their survival, such as when a hawk is circling overhead, or a fox is at the hen house door.

Do the chickens stay gathered under their mother’s wing? No. It is important for the chicks to go about their business of finding food and doing other things that chickens do. If they constantly stayed under their mother’s wing, they would not be free to develop in other ways in which they need to develop. Once the chicks are fully developed many of them will grow up to be hens just like their mother, with chicks of their own to protect. Others will grow up to be roosters, who just go around crowing a lot. But that’s another story.

In what other ways would Christ be like a mother hen to her chicks if only Israel (us) would allow him? The mother hen not only protects her brood, but she loves them and teaches them. The chicks stay near mother, but they are not constantly under her wing.

Christ says “How often would I have gathered your children”. There were many opportunities to gather, not just one. Christ wanted to be their teacher, their protector, and to nurture them as a mother would, but they would not.

Christ is not about to force us to gather unto him. It must be an act of our own free will. It must happen with our full knowledge and agreement and without force or fear. Some political and religious philosophies believe that the end justifies the means. With true followers of Christ, the means is just as important as the end. He said: “I am the WAY.” and “No one comes unto the Father except BY me.”

If we are indeed gathered in the Name of the Lord, He will truly be in our midst. Even now. Even today. Not to discount the evils taking place in the world today, but this is an unconditional promise, and even before the actual appearance of the Christ, we will witness the arising of the Christ Consciousness, and the overshadowing of many disciples.

Collectively, the disciples pray that the door where evil dwells may be sealed. Perhaps they do not realize that they have a hand in accomplishing this. As this Great Invocation states: “From the kingdom known as the race of men, let the Plan of Love and Light work out. And may it seal the door where evil dwells.” That’s us. That’s our part of the plan to work out. And it starts out with letting the Plan work out in our own lives, and sealing our own door where evil dwells.

Moses attempted to gather Israel unto Christ, and he received the following promise:

“For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” Deut 23:14

However, after the people built the golden calf, Moses was instructed to move the tabernacle OUTSIDE of the camp, so that any time Moses needed to commune with God he was forced to leave the congregation of Israel, and go outside of the camp, and attend to his duties in the tabernacle. Every day the children of Israel watched Moses leave them because the Spirit of God could not abide in the midst of their wickedness.

Christ was still available to all, but he was outside the gathering because of the unrighteousness within.

Simply being a member of a group which professes to honor the name of Christ but does not honer the name of Christ in deed will not be privileged, as a group, to enjoy the benefit of being gathered into his Presence which they might otherwise have enjoyed, and those seeking Him will still find him, according to his promise, even if they must seek Him without the camp.

“For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”

Hebrews 13:11-13

Every church that God has ever suffered to exist has had one true purpose in mind, in the mind of God at least, and that was to provide a place for the gathering of the true followers of Christ. Whenever we consider gathering or joining in to Church, we should ask ourselves whether the Christ is there. And as we are reminded in Hebrews, Christ will not always be in the biggest or most popular organization, or what is considered the “camp”. Look for Christ where he is; do not look for him where he is not. Don’t be afraid to look for Him “without the camp”.

Question for contemplation: Why does a chicken coop only have two doors? If it had four, it would be a chicken sedan.

Relationships and Doughnuts

How many of you have seen the statue of Joseph and Emma outside the Visitor’s Center at the LA Temple? How many have seen the statue in the LDS Church Museum in Salt Lake City, of Joseph and Oliver being ordained by Peter, James, and John?

Go see either statue next time you get the chance. Try to notice the looks that pass between “Joseph” and “Emma” in Los Angeles and “Joseph” and “John” in Salt Lake City. Then try to imagine one figure without the other. You can’t.

In both statues the sculptor has shown a special chemistry passing between the two figures. The chemistry is not present with either figure standing alone, but can only been seen when both figures are present.

Another word for this “chemistry” is “relationship”. The essence of this relationship is not something inherent in either figure but is a certain something which passes between them. Therefore, to fully appreciate the full statue, you must not only look at each figure, but also at the air between them. In other words, sometimes we are so busy looking at the doughnut that we forget about the hole, which in reality, is what makes an ordinary bun into a doughnut.

So it is with us as people. When two or more persons are joined together in any kind of relationship (loving relationship, priesthood quorum, Church membership, teacher/student, or business partner), a third entity is created; and that entity is called a relationship.

If you stop and think about it, the Gospel of the Kingdom is really concerned with establishing relationships. We are taught that the “fullness of the Gospel” in contained in the ordinances, which embrace and further the “new and everlasting covenant”. What is a covenant if it is not an agreement or form of relationship between two or more people? For example, there is the “new and everlasting covenant of marriage” mentioned in D&C 132, and the covenant entered into by members of the School of the Prophets (D&C 88:133).

If seen in its proper perspective, the Gospel is nothing more than a system designed to develop and further eternal relationships: between man and God, between man and man, and between gods. This is something we need to teach in this Church. Think about this: the Godhead is composed of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. If we understand the Gospel correctly, we should not only worship the three Beings and become like Them, but we should also worship the relationship that they have between them and seek to become one with one another even as They are One.

The Holy Relationship

Back in the fall of 1985 I cofounded a group of like-minded individuals who gathered for the purpose of studying religion and worshipping God. We brought our questions to God and fully believed and expected we would receive answers. We did. We were directed to organize our­selves after a certain manner and were given specific duties. One of my duties was to continue to receive revelation from God for the spiritual direction of the organization, to receive specific instructions for individuals who requested it, and to teach others in the group to receive this direction for themselves.

A common recurring question was how the Lord felt about sexual relationships, so I put out this question and waited for an answer. Several weeks later while eating dinner the Voice started speaking to me, and I rushed to find a typewriter and some blank paper. I received a vision, a revelation, and a calling.

The vision showed me the world as a maze with each of us trying to find the way out. The maze was laden with traps, pitfalls, false turns, and false answers. However, the Holy Spirit was there to guide us through. Sometimes we listened and sometimes we did not listen. However, I was impressed with the fact that the only sure way out was to constantly follow the Holy Spirit.

The revelation went far beyond a discussion of sexual relationships. It taught me about human relationships in general. It said that our physical relationships were a mere shadow of the spiritual relationships which we could enjoy now and in the world to come. It taught me that every human relationship ought to take in the Holy Spirit as a third partner. It also taught me about the importance of all relationships – not just sexual relationships. Subsequent revelations taught me more about how holy relationships could change the world, the role of the Holy Spirit in transforming these relationships, and more about the nature of the Holy Spirit itself.

The calling was a charge to teach the others in the group what I had learned about relationships.

At this time, I never heard of A Course in Miracles. I was living in Los Angeles and about a week after the above events, I went up to Salt Lake City for a visit. While there I went to a business establishment I had never been before, met somebody I had not known before, was invited to his home, and there on the coffee table a found a copy of A Course in Miracles. Curious, I picked up the book and began to thumb through it. It claimed to be a book of sacred writing, dictated by the voice of Jesus, Himself. I didn’t have any problem with that, since I was also receiving direction and writing it down.

For those not familiar with the book called A Course in Miracles, it is a book that was dictated (“revealed” in Mormonspeak, “channeled” in New Age-speak) in the 70’s to a Jewish woman in New York City, who was a clinical psychologist with a PhD., and an avowed atheist. Nevertheless, the speaker in the book claims to be Jesus, and he describes the way to return to God and how to forgive our brothers and sisters. I find the language of this book to be most beautiful. This article shows how the some messages in this book confirmed revelations about human relationships, then I had previously received.

As I read in the introduction “only minds can join”, and “whom God has joined no man can put asunder”, and “it is only on the level of the Christ mind that true union is possible”, I was thrilled. This was essentially the same information I was receiving. I immediately recognized it as the truth. I realized that truth is truth and though it flows through different channels, it always comes from the same source. I read more of the book and found that I couldn’t put it down. Back in California, I bought my own copy and spent the next several years studying it.

All these experiences changed my life. I had been running around living quite the wild life, but the knowledge I received convinced me to stop doing this and to settle down. I postulated the goal of having a holy relationship. I can’t say I searched for it, because it found me. A year later I found someone whom I have been with in such a relationship for 10 years.

As I continued with our group for several more years, we began to discover that we had different goals and purposes, and so decided to part company. However, I have never lost the feeling that I had a spiritual calling from God. I have been searching for direction on how to fulfill it. So in the following essay, I would like to teach what God has shown me about relationships, and what I have learned from my own experiences, using the words and conceptual framework of ACIM.

First off, I learned from the Course that what happened to me is in no way special. This knowledge is available to all, and we all have a calling to improve our lives and the world around us. In fact, we are told in the Course to bring our relationships to the Holy Spirit, who will transform them into holy relationships.

The most fundamental thing the Course teaches is that we have to set aside our old experiences, prejudices and consider ourselves fools before God. The goal of the Course is to lead us to new experiences. Sometimes we have to be brought to a crisis in our lives which actually forces us to search for a better way. Wouldn’t it be much better if we just decided that we were going to be teachable? “Those who remember always that they know nothing, and who have become willing to learn everything, will learn it”.

Once we are humbled enough to learn, we learn that there are two types of relationships: special relationships and holy relationships. Special relationships are based on separation, loneliness, mutual weakness, and scarcity. They want to keep the relationship to themselves and shut the world out. They say is effect “I am half a person and I won’t be whole until I find that special person who will make me whole.” This whining sounds like the lyrics to a popular song. Special relationships take place only on the physical level. They are concerned with bodies, with all the attendant issues of sex, gender, and sexuality. The course teaches that a special relationship is not a relationship at all, nor is there any need for such a relationship.

A holy relationship is based on love, mutual strength, mutual wholeness, and abundance. Each partner has looked within and realized that they are whole and complete, and thus enabled they are in a position to grant beingness to their brother on the same basis. Those who share in a holy relationship see no differences and no separation. This relationship takes place on the spiritual level, for only minds, not bodies, can join. This relationship would extend itself to all the world.

In a holy relationship there is total love, total agreement, and total communication. Salvation is communication. The willingness to communicate encourages more communication which encourages greater agreement, greater love, and greater inclusion, and greater completion. God’s only need is to have us be complete. And it is within the holy relationship that we experience this completion.

A relationship is like a miracle. A holy relationship IS a miracle, and like miracles, there is no order in relationships. They either are or they are not. Women like to tell Dr. Laura on the radio that a bad relationship is better than no relationship at all. Dr. Laura and the Author of the Course would be ask “What relationship?” The course says “An unholy relationship is no relationship”.

The greatest thing that can be taught about holy relationships is that you take your special relationship and give it over to God and listen to the Holy Spirit who will “teach you the only meaning of relationships. For God created the only relationship that has meaning, and that is His relationship with you.”

The holy relationship is the host holy function we can enter into in this world. The Sonship must be reunited, and this happens two people at a time. “The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world.” The course calls the Holy Spirit “the Redeemer of relationships.” The holy relationship is the key to peace. If we really want peace, we must join with other minds, for that is how peace is obtained. Your holy brother is holding out a gift to you, and you to him. The gift he offers is himself, unconditionally. The gift you offer is yourself, unconditionally. This is the purpose of holy relationships.

Unlike a special relationship which is exclusive, a holy relationship is inclusive.  Does this mean that we can have more than one holy relationship? I believe the Course teaches that the answer is “yes”.  Every form of human relationship could and should be holy.

How to we create a holy relationship? The answer is so simple most people will scoff and not even try it. The answer is to give the relationship over to the Holy Spirit who will transform the relationship and teach you what to do. So all it takes is a willingness to try a different way. To choose again. Beyond that, you need do nothing.

A holy relationship is a foretaste of the relationship we should have with god.

“Two minds with one intent become so strong that what they will becomes the Will of God. For minds can only join in truth.”

“The light that joins you and your brother shines throughout the universe, and because it joins you and him, so it makes you and him one with your Creator. And in Him is all creation joined.”

A holy relationship will make you holy, or to put it another way, you will not remain unholy. It will change you. How can joining with the mind of another not change you? How can being constantly taught by the Holy Spirit not change you? How can entering into the kind of relationship enjoyed by God not change you?

In all this discussion we have only paid attention to the mind. Only minds can really join, and so the body is irrelevant. Minds don’t need bodies to communicate with other minds. To be clear, communication takes place on many levels: bodies communicating with other bodies in the physical realm; hearts communicating with other hearts in the emotional realm; and spirit-to-spirit communication. But, here we are talking about minds joining minds in the mental realm.

In Sunday School I learned that my body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. The Course teaches that the temple of the Holy Spirit is not a body, but a relationship. Ancient Judaism taught that the Holy Spirit was a female figure and that it was her duty and particular delight to hover near and bless those who had invited Her presence into their marriage. It is said that over the Ark of the Covenant are two golden cherubim, locked in erotic embrace and between them dwells the Holy Spirit.

The holy relationship reaches beyond this world and into eternity because it has a timeless quality about it. Herein lies no separate will, nor the desire that anything be separate. They are one, even as Christ and the Father are one. Christ comes to what is like Himself, and what is more like Christ than a holy relationship? This is the closest we can come to heaven here on earth.

Can you imagine two hearts beating as one, two minds working in unison, communicating without the need for bodies, standing in the holy place, together lifting the veil that hides the face of Christ from them? Then will you not share the vision of Christ, the mind of Christ, and the love of Christ, and will you not share His desire that this relation extend out to all?

Is this pie in the sky? Why wait when the Course says we can have this now. “Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all.” Earnest Holmes stated that the light your are searching for is the light you are searching with.

What do we have to do to achieve heaven on earth? Well, first you have to sacrifice all your earthly possessions and go live on a mountaintop. You have to crawl around on your hands and knees for 7 years observing a strict vow of silence save it be the ceaseless repetition of the 9 billion names of God. Then if you are lucky you might make it. NOT!! Well, actually, some have claimed to have done it that way, and who are we to judge? But the Course says its purpose is to save us time, so lets save some time, get off that mountain, and come down to reality.

First it has to start with us as individuals. We need to become complete, whole, and holy and know that we have no lack. This is more of a realization than a task. But we have to become whole with the Christ in us, or we are not truly whole. The Course says all we need is that “little willingness”.

Then we need to transform our relationships with the help of the Holy Spirit. We both need to be whole, complete people, who have invited the Holy Spirit into the relationship as a third partner, helping one another along road to holiness.