We lost mom last Thursday. Her passing was a serene process. Three years of resisting cancer and a broken hip had taken their toll. She had been on the ventilator for five days and the doctors had said without it she would not last an hour. With her family and husband of 70 years at her side, she lasted forty-one minutes.
I have drawn tremendous comfort from Unity’s teaching on Re-embodiment. My favorite sources for these teachings are in Edna L. Carter’s Preserving the Unity of Soul and Body, Charles Fillmore's Unity Statement of Faith, James Dillet Freeman’s The Traveler and Eric Butterworth’s Unity: A Quest for Truth. I know there are others, but these speak to me.
They all convey the same message: that Spirit and soul are inseparable, that we are not a body that has a soul, but rather a soul that expresses a body, and that life and its purpose can not be comprehended in one lifetime, but only, as Robert Browning wrote, in “the perfect round.” David Brooks recently gave a TED talk about the virtue and wisdom of dedicating one's life to things that may take more than one lifetime to accomplish. Mom dedicated her life to family, and the fruit of her seventy year marriage will certainly span several lifetimes.
It is now 2am Wednesday morning. I woke up thinking about our Unity association and next week's vote on the member assessment proposal. I may be projecting personal sorrow and the analogy may not precisely fit, but I wonder if the direction we choose next week at the People's Convention should not be guided by the same virtue and wisdom of making choices from the perspective of several lifetimes. If TruthUnity does any good at all, it highlights that what we now have in our teaching is the fruit of many unknown and unsung teachers, such as Edna Carter, who began a work that takes more than a lifetime to accomplish. That is our inheritance in Unity. Here is the reflection that has come to me.
I learned from the five days that mom was on the ventilator that a machine that breathes for us is not the I AM that breathes life through us. The ventilator prolongs breathing, it does not bring life. Life is lived from within out, not by external or mechanical support.
This body of Unity that lives beyond several lifetimes has now been entrusted to us by people who gave their lives to Truth, such as Edna Carter, Charles Fillmore, James Freeman, and Eric Butterworth. We now have a choice. The Unity movement can continue to rely on Spirit -- the I AM of Unity -- for the sustaining breath of life through the Principle of giving and receiving. Or, the Unity movement may chose the ventilator, an external device, in the form of a fee-for-service assessment, which simulates breathing and prolongs life, but offers no life of its own.
The issue is not breathing, but commitment. Unity, as a movement, is not committed to it’s association and therefore has begun to shut down its own body. Like my mother's use of cigarettes, many years of poor decisions have taken their toll on the body. Unity's Branding project emerged from cultural blindness and a flawed study. Unity's five year Transformation Experience illustrates questionable ethics and arrogant theology. Unity Worldwide Ministries needs reform, not revenue.
Going on the ventilator is not difficult; it only requires a majority vote at next week’s conference. Getting off of the ventilator, without reform, will be impossible. The Spirit and soul of Unity are inseparable. The present body may perish, but no doubt the there will be several re-embodiments before our calling in Unity is accomplished. So I ask Unity, as we asked for my mother, and as David Brooks asks for us, “how do we wish to live?”