My Calling Story, or how a Putz like me ended up here.

Anyone ever wonder how Revvy came to be a minister? A couple weeks ago I was looking through some files on my old laptop getting ready to transfer things to my new laptop and I found an unfinished write up I had done, I guess in ministerial school. It was an overview and left out some key details.

I decided to tell the whole sordid story in detail. Very few people have heard the complete story. Though I brought two journalists to tears with it- one of the writers for Unity Magazine, and and a journalist for a Newspaper when I had a church in Florida, though neither of them published it (The Florida reporter said she had it in the feature on my but her editor removed it.)

So if you ever wondered how a putz like me became a “man of the cloth” here it is. I swear to God on stack of many bibles all of this is true. I still think God was high that day, and I tried to run from it, but I kept getting dragged back to the reality that I was supposed to do this…

(And yes, it’s a LONG story… but 100% true.)

I believe that God reveals itself to us constantly, and the message comes to us in many ways, both grand and subtle. But God has also given us free will, which means we have a choice as to whether or not we are open to receiving Divine wisdom. Or ultimately whether or not we want to accept what the Universe has in store for us.

God also, evidently has infinite patience and will wait as long as it takes for us to “get the message”. And if we ask to be given “a swift kick on the behind”, the Divine is more than willing to oblige. 

I know from experience. It’s how I ended up with the “Rev.” in front of my name, whether I wanted it or not.

It is late spring, 1995, and I am sitting in my therapist’s office about to conclude my final session with her. Neither of us is particularly ready to end our time together, not because I’m not yet able to soar on my own, but because we’ve come to regard our time together as sacred.

She has told me repeatedly that I am not like her other patients in this inner-city clinic, where the bulk of her clients come to work on severe substance abuse issues. I came to this clinic due to the vagaries of my HMO to do work on my suicidal depression, and as Joanne Roth, my angel disguised as a psychologist has told me repeatedly, to reawaken my numbed spirit. She has told me repeatedly that she would wait expectantly for my weekly updates as I rediscovered parts of me that I never knew existed.

I came to her two years before, as I was facing a downhill slide to my thirtieth birthday. And indeed, downhill it truly was, for I had realized, during a “dark night of the soul” that I was planning not to be alive for my birthday. My older brother, and mentor, had attempted suicide after tiredly battling cancer for two years and a month after his attempt I was ready to succeed where he had not, and yet I ended up finding Joanne instead.

There is a saying that goes, “when the student is ready, the master appears” and another that says, “God puts people in each other’s lives for a reason”. Joanne wasn’t just my therapist; she truly was my angel, my savior. She was both a guide and a “fellow traveler” on my journey. It was her who handed me a copy of the poet Robert Bly’s book Iron John and showed me my need to do “Mythopoetic” men’s work. She encouraged me to return to the Church of Today and re-embrace my spirituality. She even discovered a hidden artist/craftsman, buried since childhood, and sent me to an art supply store as a homework assignment.

She looked at the field of psychology as the Ancient Greeks defined it, where “psyche” meant “soul”. She treated both my mind and my spirit.

Now we were sitting across from each other, almost knee to knee. She had taken most of the session to go over specifics in my file. She presented a timeline of my emotional journey, from when I first walked in a broken man until now. She charted the milestones that I had made and shared her observations. As she brought my file up to date she stopped suddenly. I could see her eyes were wet. “Michael”, she said softly, “I need to tell you that in the last two years you really have blossomed. You are becoming an awesome man. I see some really big things happening in your life. I see you teaching workshops, I see becoming a published author, and I see you becoming a minister.”

The thought of me entering the ministry was not something I’d ever truly considered. I really wasn’t sure if I truly believed in all that “God stuff” anyway, so I sort of forgot that part of the story.

A couple months later, I was attending a Wednesday night talk at church given by Rev. Linda Dominick-Lynch. The topic was answering God’s call to service, and also being aware of that “still small voice” or those signs that lead us to just what we are supposed to be doing. Suddenly, during her meditation, my hands became intensely hot, as if I had suddenly grasped a large mug of extremely hot coffee. After my initial surprise I took this as a message that I needed to listen to, I also knew intuitively how to pursue it further.

No matter how hard I try to describe what happened next, the “conversation” with God that occurred in the next few minutes, words fail to describe it. And as many times as I try to put it on paper, it sounds unbelievable, as will the rest of my tale.

But I “swear to God” everything, every word, is indeed true, as out of this world as it seems.

Everything written here is true. No matter how far fetched it may seem. 

What basically occurred was a dialogue where I asked questions about which “career” or profession I was meant to serve in. I also knew in the depth of my being that this was a defining moment in my life, and I was willing to consider pursuing whatever course of action I was led to.

The first question was “Am I meant to continue working in radio/television?” My hands cooled noticeably. “Am I meant to teach?” my hands cooled off, but still stayed somewhat warm. The next question I was somewhat frightened by. “Do you want me to become a doctor?” I worked for the media department of a major medical school, I replaced someone who after years working there decided to enter the program, so it would be the first time one of us jumped to the other side of the lecture hall window.

I absolutely did not want to be a doctor, but I felt I had to cover all bases, and God forbid, I would do it if I was meant to. Thank God, my hands became ice cold. I didn’t have to face that career choice.

“So, am I meant to be a counselor?” I’ve often felt that drawn to the field of psychology or social work. My hands warmed a bit, about the same temperature as when I asked about being a teacher. I was confused, teacher and counselor? What did this mean? Then I remembered Joanne’s parting words and I knew I had to ask. “So, you want me to be a minister?” 

I know, it sounds unbelievable, but my hands became extremely hot, and a peaceful “glow” seemed to infuse my being accompanied by a sense of having a purpose. I sat there basking in this feeling during the meditation, and a little freaked out through the rest of the service.

I was an usher that night, and before the end of service, I shook off the feeling and slipped out of my seat to my position at one of the side doors at the back of the sanctuary. 

At the end of service instead of heading to the usual reception line in the lobby, Rev. Lynch charged to my station, pulled me aside and quite pointedly asked me “what the hell happened to you during my meditation?” She told me that it appeared to her that I was surrounded by a glowing light, and ‘hovering 6 inches off my seat. She gave me a “knowing” look when I told her what had happened and offered to help me anyway that she could.

She immediately took me by the arm to see her husband Guy, the senior minister to have me tell him what occurred. He didn’t seem as enthused by this revelation as she was, of course he hadn’t seen what his wife did from the stage during service and had heard the “I want to be a minister” declaration hundreds of times before. He said he had a “test” to see if anyone really had a calling and wasn’t just enamored with the idea. 

Of course, the irony of the situation was that I was NOT enamored with the idea at all, in fact my mind was screaming “hell no I won’t go” and “God wants ME to be a minister, is he high or what?” And had I not been caught literally red handed (and floating/glowing evidently) it probably would probably have been forgotten or stifled like the proclamation by Joanne that came before.

Guy’s “test” he said was for me to teach Sunday school for a year, and if after that I still felt that way, he’d recommend me. So off I marched to the children’s wing, a place I don’t think I had ever ventured into before and signed up to teach the little ones.

And teach I did, after going through the background check and training I was tossed into a room with another teacher and a gaggle of amazing 5th and 6th graders and proceeded to have both the time of my life with them each week in class and the most terrifying time outside of it trying to keep one step ahead of them in the lessons and trying to come up with creative ways to teach them, all the while maintaining my status with them as “cool.”

I pulled out all stops with them, bringing elements of the experiential work I was involved with in my mythopoetic men’s groups, my love of arts and crafts and even African drumming. It was a heady time, a weekly mix of exhilaration and terror. 

And it was also the perfect distraction from actually thinking about the whole minister thing for a couple of years. 

Something to think about, a lesson from scripture- Adam wasn’t sent forth from the Garden of Eden because he sat under a tree studying truth principles all day. He chose not to listen to God’s message. That’s the amazing thing about free will, it allows us to ultimately choose whether we’re up for the challenge or learning the lesson that God has willed.

That’s why we often keep walking down the same road day after day and stepping into the same pothole. Until we decide to take a different road. Marianne Williamson calls this all too human foible a “Yeah but, God.” The tendency that we have to tell God what our plans are.

In reality I let fear keep me from my path. I talked about going to ministerial school, yet I’d never actually do anything about applying. I was too old, I couldn’t afford tuition, and they wouldn’t want me anyway.

And God was high at the time.

Yeah but, God. I may have held onto the dream, in some dim corner of my mind, but like many others in my life, I probably would never actualize it.

I left the church for a year to assist one of the associate ministers in starting her own church I set up her media department and served on her sermon advisory, or as she called it. “Imagineering,” team. 

I ran from the calling for another couple years and the avoidance of it plunged me into another dark period. 

I returned to COT just in time to greet Marianne Williamson as she joined us as our spiritual leader. In January of 1999 Marianne announced her intention to start a Lay Ministry Leadership/Chaplaincy program. I became one of the first class of fifty to enter the intense program. Once again, the idea of ministerial school was on the back burner, probably forever. Maybe participating in this program at the church was good enough for God. “Lay minister” that’s good enough, right? 

Yeah, right…

Several things happened in rapid succession about 6 months into the chaplaincy program, and the order of them is unclear, but everything came crashing upon me as a spiritual 2X4 in the head.

One Sunday instead of a normal church service Marianne Williamson opted to have a congregational Q&A. I was given a wireless mic and would go around to whoever wanted to ask a question. One of the people who raised their hand, and I went to mic was a tall, striking African American woman. She talked about having moved back to Michigan to care for her elderly mother and was wondering about how to discern what God had in store for her next.

Her voice was powerful and very familiar to us. I can’t recall her name 20 years later, but it turned out she was up until then one of the “voices” of CNN. Where James Earl Jones was known as the male voice, she was the female one you would often hear saying “This is CNN.”

She went on to explain that she had worked at CNN and moved back to Detroit to care for her mother. And now that whatever the situation had passed, she was floundering. She said that she no longer had a desire to go back into the media and wasn’t sure what she was meant to do next. And wasn’t sure how to even figure it out.

The very first thing that Marianne said in response was “Girl, with a voice like yours you should be a minister.”

The woman actually admitted that she had leanings towards that at one point but felt that she was too old, too imperfect, too… 

All the thoughts that had passed through my head over the years and were still making a space in there came out of her mouth. 

For many reasons something about her and her story touched me. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I too had a background in media, having worked all my life in radio, television and media production. So, I felt a kinship with her story.

As Marianne moved on to the next person, I ducked out of the sanctuary and went into the office rooting in the rolodex to find the number of Unity’s Urban Ministerial School here in Detroit. One of the few places outside of Unity Village to train would be ministers. I had actually visited it years before at the start of my “adventure.” 

After writing down the number I also wrote a note to the woman explaining that I was one of the chaplains at the church and had some information for her and suggested we meet after service in the lobby. 

We met up and I told her a little of my own story, and my background, and told her about the Urban School program. We walked out to her car and talked some more. She gave me a hug, thanking me profusely and saying she’d think about calling them.

As I made my way back across the parking lot feeling happy to have helped someone I was overtaken by an odd sensation, a “voice” inside my head that wasn’t my own. But it was a voice I was familiar with, a voice that had often protected me, guided me, and sometimes pushed me into places I sure as hell didn’t want to go, even if I was ultimately meant to.

“Michael, it was really great that you gave her the number to the Urban School, and talked to her about ministry, but aren’t you supposed to make that call yourself? Remember that night with the burning hands?”

“Sigh, yes God… one day.”

I walked back into the church guiltily trying to still that annoying “Still small voice.”

On Sundays after church a group of us chaplains from the first class would usually go out to lunch and to a movie or something. As we finished praying with people we would gather on the central stairway, until everyone was finished and then we’d decide on an activity. 

When I reentered the church, my team was gathered waiting for me. As I walked up to greet them, I heard one of the group mentioning that “It” was happening on Thursday night.

“So, what are we doing Thursday night?” I innocently inquired. Not having any idea what was about to unfold for me, over the next week. 

“The Urban School is having their open house, we thought we’d check it out.”

What the bloody hell? I just get finished telling that woman about the Urban School, THEN get “nudged” about my own calling, and now this? 

“So, we’re all going to go, right?” I asked hesitantly.

“Yeah,” one of them said “we’ll all go, but we won’t sign any papers or anything, we’ll just check it out.”

Sigh, “Ok, if we’re all going, I’m in.” I say resignedly. And we head out for lunch.

More celestial 2×4’s, just what I needed.

So here I was confronted once again with the inevitable truth that I was supposed to succumb to this whether I wanted to or not. Every time I tried to avoid it, something big hit me in the face, and no matter how much I tried to sweep this aside as mere coincidence this was just too in my face to avoid.

At least my fellow chaplains were going. It would just be a visit, a field trip, like when we went to a museum together; we’d just look but wouldn’t touch.

And not commit to anything. Not sign any papers.

I knew myself well enough to understand that I could still talk myself out of it by Thursday, and I also knew that if I did so, the Universe would still keep kicking my ass until I did something about it. I knew that I needed someone outside of myself to hold me accountable to going on Thursday, no matter what.

Back then I was a smoker and would take a morning smoke break outside at the same time every day with two older women who were administrative assistants for a couple departments in the med school. I am not meaning to sound sexists in my referring to them as “tough broads,” actually that was how they often called themselves. They were wonderful women who didn’t take crap from anyone, including the often-arrogant physicians they dealt with on a daily basis.

I knew instinctively that if I asked them to hold me to going on Thursday, they would. And that I’d rue the day on Friday if I didn’t go.

After the usual pleasantries, we got around to the typical Monday “how was your weekend?” catchup. I told them the whole story, starting with the burning hands years before, the years of running from it, and all of what happened on Sunday. And all my doubts, and fears, everything. When I looked at them, both of these tough as nails women were misty eyed. Both of them looked at me and said they thought I’d make a wonderful minister. 

I told them that in the next few days I would talk myself out of going to the open house, and that I wanted them to hold me to it. 

They agreed, saying they’d nag me every day until then. And if I didn’t go Thursday night, not to bother showing up Friday because they’d kick my (then) skinny ass.

Throughout the next week, everyone from the chaplain group backed out going, and every day as my apprehensions continued to grow, my smoking buddies kept holding me to going, just as I requested.

Thursday rolled around and I walked out of work at 5pm to the realization that I would be going alone, and also although I knew where the Urban School was, I had no idea what time the open house was. Having been around Unity Churches for awhile I knew that typically weeknight events began and 7 or 7:30 and figured this would be no different, so I had a couple hours to kill.

The Urban School at that time was in an old mansion near the Boston Edison neighborhood in Detroit, not too far from the medical school. A five-minute drive at most. 

I remembered from being there before that it wasn’t on one of the more gentrified streets in the area, there were still abandoned and burned-out places on the street, it wasn’t an area I necessarily wanted to hang out in my car waiting.

I knew one other thing, that if I went home, I would not leave the house again that evening, and I also knew that if I didn’t go, I would never hear the end of it.

So, I did the only logical thing to do in this situation.

I told God MY plans.

“Ok God,” I said as I walked to my car, “here’s the deal, if you really want me to do this, to become a minister, then whoever I am supposed to speak to is going to be at the Urban School when I get there. If no one is there, I’m turning around and heading home.”

I drove up Woodward Avenue telling myself over and over that if no one was there, God was kidding, and I was going to be off the hook for this whole minister thing, never to concern myself with it ever again. I turned on the side street and pulled up in front of the house next door. I think I registered that there were no other cars around, which just confirmed the fact that this wasn’t meant to be. 

I strode with singular focus up the long walkway to the front door, fully telling myself at that point that if it was meant to be the door would be unlocked or someone would answer my knock and that would be it.

I turned the knob on the large door. It was locked. I knocked and waited, no answer.

I knocked again. 

Still no answer. 

I knew it. It wasn’t meant to be. (Yay!) 

Just as I was about to turn around and walk back triumphantly to my car free of this silly notion that this was anything more than some unrelated series of coincidences that I had read way too much into, I heard a voice behind me.

“Excuse me, are you here for the Urban School open house?”

I turned around and on the street in front of the house there now was a Mary Kay pink car, which must have pulled up while I was knocking and I hadn’t heard, or it just magically appeared (at this point I wouldn’t be surprised.)

A woman was looking at me through the open passenger window.

I walked up to the car and leaned in to talk to her. And I proceeded to, at five hundred words a minute “verbally vomit” my entire life’s story- all the way from my depression to Joanne’s prediction, the hands burning experience, the years teaching Sunday school, the chaplaincy training, the previous Sunday, the women who were going to kick my ass if I didn’t show up, and my demand of God on the way here, that the right person was going to be here when I arrived.

Heck I probably told her the name of my first pet and favorite ice cream flavor.

She looked at me kind of startled at the sheer amount of verbiage I had just tossed at her, then introduced herself and said, “I’m the director of admissions for the Urban School, the open house isn’t until later, I’m scheduled to meet Rev. Ruth, the director here, who is on the way from her church. But I’m going to skip the meeting and have her speak to you instead.”

(Admissions director, shit, really?)

Rev. Ruth arrived, and I was led into a waiting area while the two women talked in an office. After about 10 or 15 nail biting minutes waiting, I heard the door open.

“Michael, would you come in here please?”

I walked tentatively into the office and got what would be the very first of several years’ worth of soul piercing stares from Rev. Ruth Mosely, founder of the Unity School. 

I’ve described Rev. Ruth over the years as being an avatar, a mystic. She was a small woman with a big powerful soul. Her amazing story and the history of the School, the first Unity School outside of the main campus in Missouri has been documented elsewhere. She was a dynamo, a powerhouse and someone who could read you with just one look.

And read me she did. She looked at me with a smile on her face and a look that stripped me to my very soul. As I walked in, she was already standing there with a paper in her hand, she said, “Yes, you’re supposed to be here, sign this.”

I vaguely recall “butting” her and her interrupting me at every argument I tried to make as to why this was a mistake, and she kept saying, “The story I just heard proves you’re supposed to be here. And even without that I KNOW you’re supposed to be here. So, sign the paper.”

And so, I signed the paper and filled out all the other forms, and was already accepted before my possible future classmates arrived for the open house.

I recall vaguely during introductions standing up and saying something like “I’m still not sure I’m supposed to be here” and Rev. Ruth shushing me and saying once again that it was too late, I was already there.

I left the open house, and the first thing I did was call one of my dearest friends and mentors, Rev. John Laycock, an Episcopal priest who I had known since the beginning of my recovery from depression through men’s work. We were part of a group who led an annual men’s retreat. John had also been supportive of my original calling to ministry and knew of my years of doubts and fears. 

We cried on the phone together. 

That next evening, Friday, John, the two other facilitators and I was supposed to go into a mini retreat together. The next weekend was scheduled for our annual “Man Alive” retreat, and our tradition the weekend before was that we would lock ourselves into one of our homes and have a dress rehearsal of the pieces we were going to deliver to our participants, as well as critique the exercises and go over the logistics. 

And this time celebrate my acceptance of my calling after all those years running from it.

I went to work the next day and was hugged profusely by my “tough broads.” Still not sure what the hell I was doing.

I ran home, grabbed my overnight bag and headed to Rev. John’s home a few blocks away for our “lock in.”

We celebrated the first night and went through some of the planning and logistics for our weekend together and for the next week and went to bed.

But that’s not the end of the story…

We were woken up the next morning by John’s phone ringing. It was a member of his congregation letting him know of the death of a family member and asking if John could come over. 

We opted to cancel the rest of our weekend together figuring that we’d been doing this long enough that we could get by without doing the lock in, and I headed home about 10am Saturday Morning. 

As I was unlocking the door of my flat, I heard what sounded like a voice on my answering machine. I pushed open the door and rushed to the phone with my coat still on and bag in hand, but it was too late, the caller had hung up. 

I played back the recording. The call was from a Rev. Sandy Scott, the new associate minister of the Church of Today. We hadn’t even met yet. 

She sounded kind of stressed and a little weirded out on the phone, she said something like, “I know this is going to sound weird but,” she said she was Divinely guided to call me and ask for my help with a memorial service for a family that had been touched by two murder suicides a year apart.

I called the number she had just left, and she was surprised that the return was so quick, she was a little startled still, and said again that she wasn’t sure why she was led to call me, she hadn’t even met me yet.

She had woken up stressed out that morning but with the “message” in her head to call “Michael Copado,” she didn’t even know who I was, she said she ran from her house on the grounds to the office and looked me up in the same rolodex I had found the Urban School info on. And saw I was a chaplain amongst other things.

And had just got back inside her place when I called.

She said again she was freaked out about this service. She told me she had run an AIDS ministry in San Francisco and had lost 90 percent of her congregation, but she felt that for some reason this was the most difficult service she was ever called on to perform, and she not knowing why, begged for my help.

I agreed to help and told her about my entering into ministerial school. She laughed loudly and said “Well maybe that was why I was led to call you,” that this was supposed to be my first ministerial assignment, helping her out.

I jumped into the shower, threw a suit on and went to the church for the memorial.

Sandy met me at the lobby of the church and explained that it was a group of women, and this was the one-year anniversary of the second murder/suicide, and the second year since the first one. She further explained that she told them that I was a student minister, and I would be there to support them, and they were glad I was going to be there.

We prayed for strength and guidance, and blessing on my ministerial school journey, then she said she needed to get her bible out of her office, and for me to go into the chapel. 

I walked up to the door of the chapel and tried to make out through the stained-glass window what was going on. I could make out two rows of chairs with people sitting on each side, and what appeared to be someone standing at the front with their back to the door looking at the altar placed there. 

I gently opened the door, and everyone seated looked towards me. The woman standing by the altar turned slowly around.

It was Joanne, the therapist who started me on the journey all those years ago.

She was the matriarch of this family who had been so touched by tragedy.

She looked at me, and through her tears smiled, she said, “I told you you’d become a minister, didn’t I?” She then laughed, “Life comes full circle doesn’t it? You came to me for support once, and now here you are supporting me.” 

She spent the entire memorial with me holding her.

That’s the end.

I want to reiterate, as unbelievable as all this may seem, this is 100% true. I swear to God. There’s actually a few smaller “God Moments” that also happened during that time, but those aren’t as mind-blowing as these larger events. Every time I have doubts (and I have doubts all the time) and every curve ball that has been tossed my way where ministry is concerned, this is what has kept me going, the sheer craziness of what happened. 

No matter what I tried to do to avoid it, I kept getting dragged back to the reality that I’m supposed to be doing this. 

Revvy.
If you want to read about Rev. Ruth Mosely and the history of Unity’s Urban Ministerial Program check this out here. It’s a wonderful Black History Month story. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let’s get physical, metaphysical that is.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I would be migrating some of the initial video content from Facebook and elsewhere into here.

In Unity and other New Thought Christian traditions we approach scripture (and other things) metaphysically. as aspects of our inner landscape, and our spiritual journey.

In other words, we look beyond the literal details of a particular scripture to understand the deeper, spiritual meaning underlying everything. In this way, every person in a particular scriptural story is an aspect of our own selves in potential. Likewise, each place or thing within the scripture also has a deeper meaning that we can apply in our own lives.

For people who grew up in other Biblical traditions, metaphysical interpretation of scripture is likely very different from what you may have learned in Sunday school. Interpreting scripture metaphysically usually reveals deeper meanings that may have been overlooked by more traditional approaches, especially in ways much more personal and representative of our own Spiritual Journey.

I’ve put together a 2 part video overview of Metaphysical Bible Interpretation. If part one I go over the many ways we approach scripture then dive into the two main ones that I use, metaphorical and more importantly, metaphysically.

In the video I referenced the two primary texts the Unity uses in metaphysical interpretation, the Revealing Word, and the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. Clicking on them will take you online versions of the books. Both are also available on Amazon.

In part two we take a deep dive into Metaphysical analysis of one of the most recognizable stories in the bible, that of Adam, Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden.

Included with this video is a google doc companion guide that further breaks down each of the terms mentioned, and provides their corresponding pages in the Revealing Word and Metaphysical Bible Dictionary.

As a special treat, and to show that metaphysical interpretations aren’t limited to just scripture, and to point out that our spiritual journey is mirrored everywhere if we choose to look;

Join me as we explore the episodes in the very first week of Mr, Roger’s Neighborhood broadcasts beginning Feb. 19th, 1968 from a New Thought/Unity Metaphysical perspective- similar to the biblical interpretation pioneered by the Co-founder of Unity, Charles Fillmore. We will look at all the principal character names, places and things in the story as a symbolic representation of our inner landscape and spiritual journey.The first week of episodes tells the timely story of the cranky leader of a nation who is so fearful of change that he wants to build a wall to keep undesirables out.

See you then,

“Revvy.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

And we’re back! (Yeah, I know… this time it’s gonna be different.)

So here it is the end of February 2021, and who would have dreamed that the world would have tilted off its axis since I last posted on Christmas Eve 2019.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I never dreamed that the world would have literally shut down for over a year, and still with no end in sight, and that tragically hundreds of thousands of souls would no longer be with us including several friends and neighbors of mine.

And that the country I live in and love would be so fiercely politically divided, to almost be on the brink of civil war, and that those of us who are ani-racist and anti-fascist would be seen as the enemy by a segment of the country, (and the irony is that those who say that claim to be the “patriots.”)

And that Christianity in this country would ever be as, and excuse or don’t excuse my French I don’t care, fucked up as it is now. Where there seems to be a “holy war” between worshipers of “Republican Jesus” and people like me, followers of the “real” one.

As tempting as it is to get into all that, this is not what I am here for. Instead, I want to announce to the five people who subscribe to me, that out of Covid, being stuck at home, and due to lots of prayer time, Spirit has led this blog and my ministry into a new direction, or perhaps the same direction, just with more focus.

Let me backtrack a bit. A year ago, just before the start of this Covid insanity, the church I rotated once a month in, The Unity Church of Flint, Michigan, announced that one of the other rotating ministers had agreed to Pastor the Church on a full-time basis, and would be starting in early April. And this meant sadly that the rest of our services would no longer be needed. At the same time, because I guess I had had the longest relationship with them, they offered me the chance to take all the remaining 3 or 4 dates before the new/old guy stepped in.

I figured that it would be a good chance to do something that being a freelance minister I rarely get to actually do; Preach a multi-part sermon series.

So as I was looking at what to preach about, I had one of those “god hits Michael over the head with a 2×4″ moments and decided to put everything I have been working on over the past 2 decades, from when I was a student, working on my “Knowing God, Knowing Ourselves & Knowing Each Other” book and workshop and all the way to the work I have talked about in this on and off again blog, and in a few scattered sermons of the years, into a series on new, or at least different, ways of looking at God.

Things started out with a bang, I did two “knock em dead” sermons, one all about shifting perceptions and seeing the world through fresh eyes, then took that idea into week 2 and discussed the idea of seeing God though new perspectives, taking God out of the box.

The talk honestly blew many of the people in Flint away, it seemed to open up people’s minds and generated some excitement. And we all looked forward to seeing where this all would go. Because I didn’t even know, I rarely know where sprit will lead us, until I’m on the podium on a Sunday.

And then Covid happened at the small church shut down, and admitted they couldn’t afford to pay me to zoom a sermon on facebook. And honestly with everything going, I wasn’t really in a space to want to continue, anyway.

So fast forward to the present, and without going into any detail about the last year here we are, about to “relaunch” of this page, along with a Facebook home a Youtube channel, and other yet to be decided social media platforms.

spokes of a wheel

What we’re about to embark on now is for me, and anyone who joins me, a 20 plus year in the making journey into our personal relationship with God… But not the angry, capricious God of the old testament, and not the anthropomorphic “Father God” of the New Testament either.

A God that is not exclusive to one religious tradition, one nation, or one universe even.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says '"We all have the same God, we just serve him differently. Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams oceans all have different names, but they all contain water. So do religions have different names, and they all contain truth, expressed in different ways forms and times. It doesn't matter whether you're a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew. When you believe in God, you should believe that all people are part of one family. If you love God, you can't love only some of his children" ~MUHAMMAD ALI azquotes.com'

This will be an eye-opening journey for all of us as we look at new ways to think about God, ourselves, and each other and our relationship to the universe in a way that will challenge established and deeply entrenched concepts and “religious” traditions.

And that will talk about things in a way that few “churches” will dare.

It will be about exploring a new spiritual paradigm where quantum physics co-exists with the mystical at the intersection of science and mysticism, spirituality and psychology, art and music, and everything else in between.

Where we will move beyond the simplistic, superstition of faith traditions into a forward thinking, science embracing celebration of the Creation of the universe and of each other.

This isn’t about telling you what to believe, it’s about together exploring concepts and coming to our own conclusions and figuring it out for ourselves.

But above all it’s about taking God out of the 2,000 plus box man has put “it” in and looking at God through “grown up” eyes.

May be an image of text that says 'One of the most beautiful things about spiritual maturity is that you see the divine in all its guises and you stop arguing about which ones are right. ~Adyashanti~'

And having our own relationship with the “God of our understanding,” as has been said by many.

I can’t tell you exactly when we’ll begin this trip yet, there’s a lot going on in life and in the world. And in the midst of it all I’m trying to produce ahead as much of the content before actually launching everything. So that way I can concentrate on connecting with you all on a more personal basis, perhaps through live chats while the videos themselves are streaming on Facebook, Youtube and elsewhere.

Much of the initial stops on this “journey” are based on sermons and articles I’ve done over the last two decades, I’m going through all that now, updating it and (re)producing it in fresh new ways.  

But until then, this is a tease of what you’ll be seeing on here, soon.

I’ll also be migrating some of the content from the FB page here as well.

So, hang in there my friends, it will be worth the wait. And until then please consider sharing this page as well as the Page with like-minded people.

Blessing,

Revvy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stay tuned.

It’s been awhile, but exciting things are about to be happening. If you want a taste check out Facebook page that is a companion to this.

https://www.facebook.com/Towards-A-Grownup-God-A-Journey-Into-Mature-Spirituality-101413055080124/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Contemplation

“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

I know that this time of year we should be focused as “good Christians” on the birth narrative, but sometimes other aspects of Jesus’ life pops into mind when contemplating the greater mysteries.

Sometimes we wonder, not necessarily about whether or not God has left us in the lurch, but what the hell God has meant of us.

I’m having one of those contemplative evenings, the night before Christmas Eve, or in my life “the night before I woke up to a phone call that my big brother was about to cross over the “rainbow bridge.”

You know, died…

So yeah this is always a night of contemplation of the mysteries of life. Usually for this minister (yeah I am one, seminary trained, ordained and all) with a bottle of bourbon and a youtube playlist of the only Christmas song bearable, the original and covers of  the Pogues “Fairytale of New York.”

And the question once again is, “why, why, why?”

Not why God has left me, but really why has God put me in this life experience?  Why the hell am I an almost 55 year old, broke, SINGLE,  half-time minister, who lost his brother on Christmas Eve, his best friend n Thanksgiving, who hasn’t had a normal relationship in God knows how many years?

Why instead  aren’t I a “normal” guy with a wife, 2.5 kids and an IRA , a BMW in my garage and a condo or house with a residence association I am constantly at odds with about the length of my grass and the color of my garage door?

I don’t believe in a literal bible. I don’t believe that God tests us in a Jobian sort of way, holds our feet to a fire to prove us worthy… And yet I don’t understand why I am me… In the life I am living.

Quite frankly why the hell I am alone?

All my life I’ve wanted to be in love at Christmas…And I’ve always been alone…

I don’t get it, was  I such an asshole in a past life that I’m denied the most basic of things that any other human being on this planet is awarded? A family? A partner that I can dote on? Children I can adore?

What did I do? Was I that bad a person?

Or is it that if I had all the things in life that other “normal” people had, then I wouldn’t care enough about my fellow brothers and sisters to want to help uplift them? I’d be so happy that I’d be oblivious to the needs of others?

So I have to suffer so that I can help keep others from doing the same?

I don’t believe in a cruel, capricious God…But still is it too much to ask that I don’t have to suffer through another anniversary of my brother’s death, let alone another Christmas morning by myself?

You know, me being happy is NOT going to preclude me from having the desire to serve you… to help people.

All it would mean is just maybe I’d have a cheerleader to help me press on.

To keep me going.

I don’t need to be always sad and lonely to serve you. And yet, night’s like this I hurt so much… And just wish I had someone to hold me…

Just sayin, my friend….

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taking the “Low” road to Bethlehem- A personal audio reflection based on “Low-An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz. “Episode 18”

This is my reflection for day 23 of Advent based on the book “Low, An Honest Advent Devotional” by John Pavlovitz. The title of today’s reading was “A Real Friend” and the topic presented in his reading was the distinction between Happiness and Joy. One is transient based on external circumstances and situations and the other is something that exists deep at the core of our being.

In my reflection I fumble through with the realization that even though there are times (a lot lately) where I’m not happy, I still am on a deep level, Joyous…. And I offer some ideas as to why that is so, and encourage you to discover the joy in you.

I’m honestly stunned by this revelation… The distinction is something I need to pursue further both in my life AND as sermon fodder.

1) The difference between joy and happiness can be subtle but powerful. What would you say most often impacts your happiness these days, and how might you find a joy that transcends it? How can you be free from needing favorable circumstances in order to be internally peaceful?

2) Recall a time when you last felt joy; the deeper feeling of everything is alright-ness. What makes that kind of feeling so fleeting for so many people, maybe for you too?

3) Reflect upon or talk about some practices you can engage in to cultivate joy internally and to perpetuate it in the world.

Prayer/Reflection/Meditation Word: Rejoice

Posted in Advent, Audio Reflection, Books, Christmas, John Pavlovitz, Low an Honest Advent Devotional, Taking the “Low” road to Bethlehem- A personal audio reflection based on “Low-An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz | Leave a comment

Today’s Sermon, “A Very Meta(physical) Christmas.”

(The church I preach at is over an hour away, so between the drive and the energy put out to preach I am too drained to post a reflection, instead I present to you the sermon and meditation I delivered today. Bless you. Revvy.)

The sermon was presented on Sunday, the 22nd of December at the Unity Church of Flint, Michigan. I begin with a guided meditation that imagines what it would have been like to journey to Bethlehem to pay homage to the new born Messiah. I begin the sermon with an exploration of the history or lack thereof surrounding the life of Jesus and the conflicting narratives around the story of His birth and the surprising evolution of the Christmas holiday, which wasn’t even celebrated until over 300 years after His death.

And yet with all that, the conflicting information and historicity both the life of Jesus and the birth story continue to endure. And real or not there is no one who has influenced life on this planet in one way or another (including on a Geo-political scale) than Jesus.

This is in fulfillment of  the prophecy laid out 800 years before his birth by Isaiah-

         For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
        There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace.
I then explore the metaphysical meaning of the Birth Narrative, looking at each of the elements of the story, as a metaphor for the birth of our own spiritual journey.
Posted in Charles Fillmore, Christmas, Guided Meditation Audio, Jesus, Metaphysics | Leave a comment

Taking the “Low” road to Bethlehem- A personal audio reflection based on “Low-An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz. “Episode 17”

This is my reflection for day 21 of Advent based on the book “Low, An Honest Advent Devotional” by John Pavlovitz. The Title of today’s reading was “All Is Not Well With My Soul” and John encourages us today to be authentic about our emotions, especially sorrow and grief.

1) Though the pressure to be happy is always present, the holidays seem to amplify this—and yet the Bible gives us so many examples of people who were faithful, yet struggled with all sorts of doubt, despair, depression, and “inner demons.” Why is happiness something we chase?

2) Why do you think faith communities often struggle to meet the needs of grieving, depressed, or mentally ill people? Is there a way space can be made for people who struggle with such things; ways churches can include the valley experiences of life along with the mountaintop?

3) How can you make space for your own valley places this season? How can you be okay with your not okayness, and simply come to Advent as you are, resting in the truth that this is a beautiful thing?

Prayer/Reflection/Meditation Word: Sadness

I talked about the importance of making space for all emotions, either in our own head and heart, or in supporting other people; Not stuffing emotions, but feeling them fully.

Or what I often call “Being Real.”

I wrote this 11 years ago for a blog I had on Myspace (yeah, I’m old.)

Being Real Jan 25, 2008

Someone asked me how I took the “measure of a man,” the other day…

I can’t answer for humanity, only what I use for myself….my personal code is that I don’t talk about anything that I haven’t experienced or worked through in my own life first, I don’t just talk theory, or theology…I talk about those things through the story of my own struggle (often quite brutal) with concepts like faith and fear and stuff like that…

Having said that, the true measure for me is my authenticity, or as I call it “being real.”

Okay what do I mean by that? To me it means not wearing masks, or hiding my light or my darkness from the world…or from myself…

It is doing or saying or being true to myself and not caring (too much) what other people say or think about me…Not trying to bend to make everyone like me. And doing what I feel is the right and decent thing to do…Even if people criticize me.

From as young as I remember, until I was close to thirty I bent over backwards to be whatever anyone wanted me to be…what my parents wanted me to be, my older siblings, the kids at school, what TV said I was supposed to be in orderto be cool or get laid or be happy, what society’s concept of”masculinity” dictated I was to be, or what religion said I was, a”sinner”, “dirty” if I was horny (but gee aren’t we all always horny anyway-seems like a natural thing to me) or “less than the worms ofthe dirt”…

Anything but whom I was…or who I wanted to be…

All in order so that people would accept me…not pick on me…like me…

Except inside I hated myself…Primarily because I couldn’t keep all the masks balanced in the air at once, while keeping all my thoughts feelings and emotions stuffed down inside…and when we stuff down…it rots into depression, cancer, illness….or comes out as rage…

Well, in the latter part of my 20’s although outwardly successful working inthe media…had a hip second job at a pretty well known public radio station as a producer, co host and sound engineer…I was in a deep suicidal depression…

It built up to the point where I had a dark night of the soul…I was planning to kill myself on my 30th birthday…

Just before that I made a list of the reasons to live or die, and the”die” list was much bigger….the only thing on my live list was my elderly parents…It would have killed them if I offed myself…so I chose to live.

But if I had to live I couldn’t live the way I was. I had to change. I had to start living my life for myself…no one else.

So I got help. I started doing deep soul psychological work…got involved with men’s issues, spirituality and obviously ended up having a knock down drag out mystical calling story that I ran from for 3 years until god bit me in the ass again and I ended up in ministry…

But mostly I learned some important stuff that I wish I had learned as a kid…

That no matter what I do or say or who I am, there are always going to be people out there who for whatever reason are going to hate me…Because I’m a man, because I’m white, because I allow myself to feel my emotions, because I believe in god, because I’m an American…because I’m ahead of them in the grocery store line…

And there’s nothing I can do about it…that’s human nature…some people just won’t like me…

So my choice in that then is either to hide in a bubble for the rest of my life….or live my life…as transparently and as un hypocritically and unapologetically as possible…as long as I was true to myself, and also didn’t inflict my reality on other people’s…or cause them pain…

In other words not to hide myself…for example to be the minister who has written erotica, who enjoys sex… And not be like a few ministers I know out there who indulge in their sexual pleasures…then go on Sunday and preach that the very things they did on Saturday are bad…

Or for me to stand up as a minister and say hey sex is god’s gift…and that ALL Christians don’t preach intolerance towards gays or are all against a women’s right to choose…

Or to be the minister that is not up on some pedestal, but sitting right next to them at the pub…

In other words to be real and to be a transparent in all things as possible…and accept myself, warts and all.

I have a singer songwriter friend named Karen Taylor Goode who’s won some Grammys. She wrote a song that has been one of the three founding passages that are sort of my personal code of life… The song is called “Real;”

“Last night I saw that movie, the one about the wooden boy
The good news is he could feel no sadness.
The bad news is he could feel no joy.

And it hit me hard…a puppet on the shelf.
So when he wished on a far off star
you know I made the same wish for myself

I wanna be real…real
Drop the act take off the mask and feel…real

Well I’ve been going through the motions
Pulled by invisible strings
And I’ve pushed down the hurt and held back the tears.
And covered up the dreams.

But beneath it all, trying hard to breathe
The me I buried long ago is screaming to break free.

I wanna be real…real
Drop the act take off the mask and feel…real

Let the fear go,
let the heart show
Let the world see me I wanna be real.

And good-bye wooden heart
Goodbye painted smile
I wanna dance in a crowd, I wanna laugh out loud
I wanna act like a fool, I wanna be uncool

I wanna cry when I hurt, I wanna sweat when I work
I want help when I fall
I wanna feel it, feel it all…

I wanna be…real.”

Being “real” is about being comfortable with all sides of my personality…the joy, the sorrow, the depression, and the fear that comes from stepping beyond my comfort zone…

Sometimes, hell, most of the time, being out beyond the fringes can be a lonely and scary place to be…But it sure as heck beats being 6 feet under.

The other lesson I learned is that if I am “Real;” If I show my sexuality, my joy, my sorrow, my fear even my shadow…Then I give other people permission to show that stuff they hide away too… That’s the biggest point to me being a minister….to help people allow themselves to be true to themselves…”

I referenced a sermon I gave in which I talked about the work of the artist and author  SARK, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. She is one of the people who I credit with their work keeping me from killing myself. She transcended incest and sexual abuse to become an inspiration to others.

This sermon was given at the Unity Church of Flint, Michigan on June 30th, 2019. In it I talk about transforming loss and other “negative” experiences into something beautiful; performing what the author SARK calls “inner alchemy.” Much like how the ancients attempted to transmute the base metal lead into the precious metal gold, we too can, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “…be transformed by the renewing power of your mind.” We can find healing and even joy out of the ashes of suffering. I share the inspiring example of my friend Chris, who has managed to create beauty out of the tragic loss of his daughter. 

SARK i080712-SARK-posterss known for her colorful inspirational posters and books such as Living Juicy, A Creative Companion, Succulent Wild Women, Transformation Soup, and Glad No Matter What.

You can find more of SARK at her webiste PLANET SARK.

 

 

Posted in Advent, Audio Reflection, Books, Books I love, Grief, John Pavlovitz, Karen Taylor Goode, Low an Honest Advent Devotional, SARK, Taking the “Low” road to Bethlehem- A personal audio reflection based on “Low-An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz | Leave a comment

Taking the “Low” road to Bethlehem- A personal audio reflection based on “Low-An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz. “Interlude 2”

Busy, Busy Busy!!! Been a day of running around. No time to record and edit.

I had my every 6 month cardiologist visit and pacemaker check/download. I had a congenital birth defected aortic valve replaced 8 years ago after it was damaged by what doctors think was an early bout of what would turn out to be H1N1 so I have to touch base with them regularly and even thought it wasn’t like I had major heart issues back then, and I feel fine,  it’s still scary.  And there was some damage to one of the electrical nodes of the heart from it as well, so I had to have a pacemaker implanted too.

The pacemaker looks good. I have another 4 years of battery life left, which is 2 years more than most people get with them. It paces one of the heart nodes only about 17% of the time.

And I only had 1 “spike” in six months and the tech said it looked like in the middle of the night so I could have had a nightmare or something that had me think I was exerting myself. And the cardiologist looked at the data on that incidence and said it was nothing.

So them I sat down with Doctor Gosselin, the cardiologist and pretty much just shot the shit about medical education with him while he looked over the data . He told me the story of how he ended up in medicine which was a mind blowing story actually.

(I wish he was my primary care doc. and not just a specialist. He has great bedside manner.plus a great Boston accent.)
He looked at the numbers and everything looked fine he said though I do need an echo (the last one got denied by insurance- Thanks Trump you fucker) so they’re going to put it through again, and it’s scheduled for Feb.

What was funny, and I know it’s because he knows I work in medical  education so we always talk shop when I’m there, but at the end of going through everything on the computer and saying it looks good, he stands up, puts his stethoscope back over his shoulder and goes to shake my hand and I just look up at him and say ” Hey aren’t you gonna listen to my heart or something?”

He looks at me, and bursts out laughing and goes, “oh shit yeah, I guess I should.”

He said everything sounded good still, and he reiterated again that when I have to have my valve replaced it’s going to literally be outpatient non invasive surgery that he’s going to do, I guess right in the office.

Isn’t that amazing? In the 8 years since they cracked my chest to put the pig valve in, it’s progressed to literally no more than having a mole removed. And that’s with today’s technology, not in 12 years when I will probably have to have it done. Who knows how it will be then..

He said that 90% of what heart surgeons did when I had my valve replaced, he does in office. He told me he initially thought about being a heart surgeon but he really liked “Interventional Cardiologist” and being with patients. And now he’s doing what surgeons used to do anyway.

Then I grabbed lunch at a one of these mini chains of Michigan based  24 hour “greasy spoons” known for slider style burgers called Travis. It was one that I hadn’t been in in over 20 years I’d say. It was a place where we kids not old enough drink hung out late at night drinking coffee, or when we were just old enough, went after the bars closed to soak up the alcohol with flat top styled grilled onion laced mini cheeseburgers.Most of the ones left from back in the day have been modernized at updated, but this place still looks like it did in 1985. I honestly didn’t know it was still open at that site and just drove there on impulse.

noteSo when the waitress put the check down she had written this on it.

I don’t know is she was flirting with me or not, and I definitely don’t know about  the young man part (she didn’t look much older than me,)  and sure as hell no one has called me handsome in a long time, but the sweet note definitely made my day.

Sometimes it’s these little kindnesses that mean so much when they come at that perfectly necessary moment.

 

 

Today’s readings;

Week 3 Thursday: Waiting Rooms
Additional Scripture: Romans 12:12
1) Most of us grew up with heightened expectations around this time of year. Talk
about or reflect on a time you remember looking forward to something, and when they
waiting was actually the best part.
2) The time between the what is and the what’s to come can be filled with excitement
or fear. Describe a period of waiting or transition you are in, and whether that leaves
you feeling hopeful or anxious.
3) Whether you’re a Christian or not, what do you see happening in these days in
organized religion? How are you and those around you experiencing community
differently?
Prayer/Reflection/Meditation Word: Waiting

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have more time to record, but until then..

May you make someone smile today.

“Revvy.”

Posted in Advent, Books, Christmas, John Pavlovitz, Low an Honest Advent Devotional, Taking the “Low” road to Bethlehem- A personal audio reflection based on “Low-An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz, Uncategorized, Unexpected Kindnesses | Leave a comment

Taking the “Low” road to Bethlehem- A personal audio reflection based on “Low-An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz. “Episode 16”

This is my reflection for day 18 of Advent based on the book “Low, An Honest Advent Devotional” by John Pavlovitz. The Title of today’s reading was “Closing Doors.” This was probably my most naked and candid reflection yet, I was triggered by question 2 in the discussion guide.

1) Given Jesus’ hospitality to so many kinds of people, why do you think so many people still experience rejection and exclusion at the hands of professed Christians?

2) A closed door often comes with the death of something: a person, a plan you had, a dream you held, a future you envisioned. When and where have you faced a closed door and what have you learned about yourself and/or about God in the process?

3) Our desire to know and be known is so powerful. Talk or think about the strengths and the dangers of community: when it is healthy and how it becomes toxic. When has community been a source of healing, and when has it brought pain?
Prayer/Reflection/Meditation Word: Rejection

“Revvy”

Posted in Advent, Audio Reflection, Books, John Pavlovitz, Low an Honest Advent Devotional, Taking the “Low” road to Bethlehem- A personal audio reflection based on “Low-An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz, Uncategorized | Leave a comment