There’s Joy in it…

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Within the first few months of seminary in 2013, I had the pleasure of taking an elective, and I was not quite sure what I was getting myself into. It was simply called the Peace Seminar and the description sounded interesting enough, about how we can create a world that works for everyone. Well, there were enough things happeninShaiff IMG_6723g in the world, that made me go hmmmm…. So how do we, who claim to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, engage in our world in a way that will allow us to shift to a higher way of being, doing, and having that alleviates suffering and the agonizing pangs of not enough-ness? It was a tough, challenging class taught by Dr. Shariff Abdullah, (center of photo) who has made his life’s work and spiritual practice all about inclusivity.  Shariff Abdullah says in his book, Creating A World that Works for All,

“My work is my spiritual practice, and Commonway Institue is my principal vehicle for that practice. The institute’s focus is inclusivity – – teaching the theory, philosophy, and practice of the inextricable linkage between our individual lives and The Other. The links already exist; we just help people become conscious of them…We humans have much more that unites us than separates us. Commonly helps people see that.” (Chapter 3 Inclusivity–Spirit and Practice, page 63)

Little did I know that this class and this work would dig down into the core of me and resonate so strongly, so that years later I am still passionate about what Shariff Abdullah and Commonway Institute are doing. Through much of 2013, 2014, 2015, however, I could not understand the disconnect of seeing symptoms in our society of great dis-ease, fragmentation, and exclusivity driving the actions and reactions in our nation, and on the other hand seeing basically no higher ground operatives ready to meet the challenge of this atmosphere head on.

So here we are in 2017, and I asked myself “what’s changed?” We are all praying, asking what is ours to do, and finding our vehicles for taking action in some form of spiritual social activism in our own way. The headlines continue to be hurled at us ceaselessly and endlessly. I often hear within my own heart, ” do what’s in front of you.” Wherever we are working along the spectrum of healing the world, it is ALL needed.

IMG_8500Maybe this work of inclusivity is not sexy or glitzy enough for everyone to jump on the bandwagon in droves. However, I believe when enough people get sick and tired of being sick and tired…they’ll wake up and realize that instead of hacking away at the symptoms that are manifesting on the surface, we’ll begin to also work the deeper work of shifting our collective consciousness and awareness to the underlying spiritual aspects and qualities of our humanity and our divinity. Then we can find that pearl of great price — our linkage, our spiritual heritage that allows us to live in unified, divine harmony in the beloved community and be as One.

I’ve prayed, I’ve asked what is mine to do, and one thing is to bring people together who believe it’s possible to live, collaborate, dialog and make changes that come from a place of inclusivity and not exclusivity. Are you passionate about taking some action and don’t know where to start? A good place to start would be to engage in Dr. Shariff Abdullah’s Shadow-to-Light workshops. Working on a personal/individualistic level is fine if that is all you can do, however, working on the collective, greater system and institutional level is very much needed as well.

My action and activity over the next 12 weeks is to facilitate Dr. Shariff Abdullah’s powerfully transforming workshops called the Shadow-to-Light (S2L) Program, starting Sept. 5 at Unity of San Leandro in San Leandro, CA. There’s still time to sign up if you want to join in shifting the energy on the planet from the shadows to LIGHT……I will be the local lead facilitator inviting 12 other transformation catalysts to attend who also want to see a world transformed to higher ground. We need people from all walks of life, no matter your race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or political affiliation. For more information and to sign up, go to:  unitysanleandro.org/special-events. We would love to have the synergy of face-to-face dialog, but if you are not near this workshop in the Bay Area or in your area, go to the online version of the workshop: Online Solo S2L Course

Together – Let us embrace and usher in the LIGHT!

Peace & blessings,

Rev. Dinah

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Joy…in the midst of chaos?

FeelthejoyEarlier this week I wrote and got so busy I forgot to post – Hmmm, it feels odd to talk about and be about JOY, when so much is happening in the media that doesn’t seem to represent JOY.  JOY to the world, and goodwill toward all are not just things we should say in December. I was just absolutely speechless when I heard about the violence and death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. “Where is the Joy in that?” I thought. I recognize that Joy is an innate quality of being that springs from divine love and for me that means it is the inner state of mind and heart that is attuned to the spirit of God.  As spiritual beings having a natural experience, we can decide if we’re going to be in alignment with Truth and righteousness or if are we going to break with eternal truth and do something else. There’’s a whole lot of “something else” going on in the world today. But there is a great deal of good that’s going on in the world as well. What will we choose to focus on?
It seems the human race is going through another birthing cycle to evolve to a much higher state. All the seeds of error that have been sown into our collective memory grew into stalks of coarse weeds entangled into our civilization and are now being uprooted. It is like cutting out a cancer and it’s not painless. So, whether it’s a birthing of something new or a surgery that humankind is going through, it won’t happen overnight in the the micro-wave popcorn fashion, like we wish it would. If we choose Joy, we choose the joy of knowing divine justice and divine love prevails in the midst of us.
The invisible, eternal, infinite divine laws of LIFE, FREEDOM, and DIVINE LOVE are mighty in the midst of us and will always show up and show forth in those who seek first the kingdom. We all must set intentions and act upon those God-given intentions. Let us not say, the Light, the Joy, and the Peace came, and we did not see or know it. So, no…I will not take down my Joy signs. Please know that I am not ignoring that the reality that many people are in some very real pain today and hurting, and some are grieving the most incredible losses. May the peace, love, comfort, and strength of the Infinite, All-knowing become fully theirs today. For weeping may endure for a night…Millions are holding you in their hearts today in a good way. May we all rise and see a brand new morning is dawning.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. I John 4:18
Choose Love….Choose Joy….Choose Peace.
Love and joy to you today,
Rev. Dinah

Stay in your JOY

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Today, I had a scary road rage encounter. As I went about my daily errands, stopping by the bank, putting gas in the car, etc., I came to a four-way stop. My usual habit is to notice who gets to the stop signs first, of course. This time I was the last car to reach the stop signs. Two cars were already at the corner. They were not proceeding through the intersection because of two pedestrians in the cross walk. The car behind me began honking his horn at me. I finally took my appropriate left turn and turned into the gas station. The impatient honking driver then raced into the gas station lot and blocked the front of my car. When I proceeded into the gas station to pay for my gas, I noticed he was yelling and swearing at me! At first I was startled, but then I thought, “oh, he is really upset.”
What the upset driver had failed to see were the pedestrians that everyone was waiting for to cross the street. After I realized it was me at whom he was screaming, “I will f – – – you up! I will f – – – you up!” and saying I didn’t know how to drive, all I could think to say was “I love you, God bless you, …I love you, God bless you.” He then threw his car into reverse and raced out of the gas station lot. It could have turned out differently, and I am grateful he left.
I have been thinking a lot lately on filling up with joy, even in the midst of trying circumstances. And if all we are filled up with is love, then that is what should come flowing out of us, even when we’re under pressure. We must stay vigilant in keeping our minds stayed on higher thoughts.  I’m not saying we’re perfect all the time, but that’s our goal. Perfect love casts out fear. Incidents like these  make me wonder why so many people seem to be on edge, feeling fearful and irritated, feeling scarcity, limitation, and lack. But they also make me even more grateful to have the support of my family and friends who supported me and encouraged me after this incident.
I believe now more than ever we must continue to fill ourselves up with the joy and love that God is continually expressing through us and remind ourselves constantly of what is true. So, be safe, use good wisdom, be the light, and don’t let anyone steal your JOY!
In gratitude, love, and joy,
Rev. Dinah

It’s Time…

I am excited to be facilitating my first inclusivity workshop this weekend in Southern California at Unity of the Oaks, Sunday, February 19, 2017, 12 to 2 p.m. See attached flyer. If ever there was a time to engage and heal our world, it is now!

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Bye-Bye, Summer!

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Greetings! As you probably recall, I graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Unity Institute and Seminary and was ordained as a Unity Minister June 9th at Unity Village. It was a joyous occasion! I am so grateful for all the support, encouragement, and prayers as I followed my heart and answered the call to ministry. Thank you to all who attended the ceremony and celebrations and to those who showed their love by sending cards and gifts! I am grateful and I know that I am blessed by your outpouring of true, genuine support.

I am currently working at my home church Unity Church of San Leandro in the northern California Bay Area as Associate Minister. Many have asked if I will continue singing. The answer is “Yes!” As a matter of fact, feedback from so many of you re-confirms for me that music is foundational for my ministry and most likely always will be. I am still available for singing engagements as well as speaking engagements.

Music is such a great part of how I express God’s gifts and the message of love and Oneness. I feel like my creativity is waking up from a long hiatus, which probably has to do with the right-brain research part of me working on overtime through school. Now, that the program is complete, there’s some blossoming and re-surfacing of my imagination faculty going on. HeartMath – TM experts say that when we are stressed our creative side shuts down. So I am doing a lot of walking and contemplating. When we access our hearts, our creative side blossoms!

I feel the joy rising!

So, …the eagle (me) has finally landed…I had to massage my cheeks from smiling so much. OH THE JOY! Again, I am so very grateful for all the outpouring of love. Already, I’ve had several opportunities to speak and sing. It is truly a blessing! Life is good!

The Birdie on the Beach

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On my birthday last year, I sat on the beach watching the waves roll in and out across the white sands of Bermuda. I wanted go some place special for my birthday, and so I did.  I have been divorced for over 20 years, and strangely, I don’t feel lonely. There is a difference between “lonely” and “alone.” I believe life is what you make it, and if we don’t learn to celebrate what’s good in our lives we humans can end up “lonely.”

I don’t have to worry about outrunning “lonely” when I know that I can never really be alone. Everyone who crosses my path, I consider to be some unique manifestation of God’s love. The Presence of God is always surrounding, enfolding, and indwelling me. I did not always feel this way. I had to put some time into developing this awareness – – it took practice, practice, and more practice spending time getting still and quiet enough to receive the love that was pouring into my life. Nowadays, there is so much help to get us spiritually in tune and out of the reactionary, emotionally hijacked states with which we might have been conditioned as we were coming along in our childhoods. For me, spiritual growth has come in many ways and not always in a straight-line progression all the time, but perhaps a curvy line.

So as I took my Bermuda birthday beach walk, I had time to sit and just look at the ocean and the sky. I looked out as far to the horizon as I could, and I felt swallowed up in the vastness of space. I felt so tiny. I felt like I had the whole beach to myself and loved every minute of it. Gratitude welled up in me as I reflected on all the decades of my life, each decade was a huge leap in the right direction with many turns and missteps along the way. But overall, forward progress.

Actually, I spotted about eight of us on the beach that day; I remember two couples and a couple of joggers, and me. And then…I spotted this bird, undaunted by my presence and unmoved by the waves. I watched the bird. The bird seemed very focused on looking for the tiniest bit of seafood in the sand. This led me to focus on God as Infinite Source of everything and  Jesus’ words about considering the lilies of the field  and how they neither toil nor spin. This bird seemed so unconcerned about the possibility of a wave splaIMG_3728shing upon it, or about any joggers coming toward it. Just as a wave would roll in, the bird quickly hopped up just in the nick of time and never got close to being splashed by a wave. “Good instincts!” I thought. Then I thought again, “noooo, it’s more than that; when you know how to fly, you don’t WORRY about the waves!

I think I’ll take a lesson from this little bird and rise up and live as if I have the whole beach of life to myself in joyful freedom and not be worried about the waves of drama, despair, or loneliness. Wow!…all this from a little birdie on the beach. I was in good company that day on the beach.

Classes finished!

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It was three years ago, I left my job. My sister and I drove to Missouri so that I could start  seminary. Stopping at the Grand Canyon seemed to signal to me the vastness of the experience into which I was about to leap. My faith said “You got this!” Holding to that faith and that initial still small voice carried me through all the way. And now…
I am happy to announce as of March 10, I have finished all coursework for my Masters of Divinity at Unity Institute and Seminary!  When I returned to California in December, I went to work right away part-time at Unity Church of San Leandro as Assistant to the Minister. It has been a joy to work in this loving spiritual community. Now, the countdown has begun. Graduation is approaching fast on June 9th, and I will be flying back to Unity Village for the ceremony and celebration. I am also anticipating ordination at that time. My heart is full of so much gratitude for the past three years of my seminary experience. I stand on the shoulders of so many great, wise spiritual teachers! So many prayers and words of encouragement kept me marching to the finish line. Thank you, all!  I have come to realize, a finish line is always the start of something new! I’m excited to see what is unfolding in my life as God continues to reveal each step of the way!
 -DC

Summer 2015 Update – Another Church Internship Completed!

I hope you had a wonderful, restful Labor Day weekend!It’s been a great summer! I really wanted to update my webpage more often, but by now I’ve learned that seminary takes a lot of my time. For 10 weeks, I was doing my church internship at Unity of Washington, DC. It was an amazing experience to shadow my mentoring minister, Rev. Sylvia Sumter, a visionary, who has had over 30 years experience in ministry to share with me. Rev. Sylvia opened the door and let me come right on in! Anything can arise on a given day that call upon her pastoral skills, administrative and financial, or community interfacing. The church is about to celebrate its 95th anniversary as well as Rev. Sylvia’s 30 years in ministry.

It was so valuable seeing their Love-In-Action teams, ministerial support, media team, usher/greeters, music ministry, bookstore operations, youth education, Next Generation Unity, Board of Trustees, and hospitality teams in action. There is truly a sense of community that is woven into the culture of this vibrant, giving community.  I could feel their loving, prosperous, joyous, and spirit-filled passion and their belief in their mission. I had the opportunity to hold sacred space and participate in memorials, christenings, prayer and healing services, and give the Sunday morning message on July 12. I also got a chance to sing a couple of times. I will always treasure their warm, welcoming embrace and the encouragement they gave me all along the way! Unity of Washington, DC – you rock!!! Thank you for the flowers, and THANK YOU, AGAIN and AGAIN!

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Spring 2015 – Update

Greetings from Tulsa, Oklahoma  – Church Internship – April 28, 2015

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This is a long overdue update! I am happy to report that I arrived in Tulsa on March 21 for a 10-week church internship as part of my required course work toward my Masters of Divinity. My host church is Unity Church of Christianity (UCoC) where Rev. Mary Anne Harris is the spiritual leader. I had the pleasure of traveling to Italy with Rev. Mary Anne and several of her congregants in October 2012. italy 2012But we go further back than that! I became acquainted with her in 2001 in northern California at Tri-Valley Unity. So we’ve both moved around a bit but stayed connected. It has been a great learning experience here and I’m sure this stay in Tulsa will serve me well in the years ahead as I launch my own ministry.

The first few months of this year have flown by. Not only was I busy in January with co-chairing the Martin Luther King, Jr. event at Unity Institute and Seminary, but I also went through a series of interviews for the Licensing and Ordination (L&O) process in late January. I am two/thirds of the way to completion of the educational and ordination process. My anticipated graduated date is June 2016 (next year). It was two years ago that I left my corporate10974714_10204516381566838_1064307725718262603_o job and drove to Unity Village, Missouri, to start the ministerial program. I am still happy with my decision!

I did a little singing for Rev. Sandra Campbell at Unity Temple on the Plaza, in Kansas City, MO on February 15, for her Black History Month sermon. Rev. Sandra did an excellent job describing the history of gospel music, and I had a chance to bring out my gospel roots on “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” The fine musical staff, Jerome Johnson, and the choir at Unity Temple of the Plaza rounded out the morning of jubilant musical renditions. 1898136_925634677476655_7078448604364171110_nI was also invited to be the guest speaker at Unity Spiritual Center in Springfield, MO, on February 22. For the most part, seminary has kept me very busy!

So far during my churchIMG_3111 internship, I have been greeted and surrounded by this warm, generous, loving faith community at UCoC who’s had my back and is loving me right where I am. I sang on Easter Sunday, gave the Sunday morning talk on April 19, and was worship leader on April 26. They’re keeping me hoppin’. I love it! I am so very grateful to be staying with one of the congregants in a comfy little room overlooking a pond with a fountain (ducks and all); yay for my room, my bed, and my own little desk to study. (Thank you to my gracious host – Ms. Diane Pinsart and her dog Bailey…for sharing their space with me.)

I do miss singing – – so, every now and then when I feel a song coming on, I just let it come on out (LOL). By trusting the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am finding the right and perfect balance of my gifts in ministry. THANK YOU GOD!

ALSO, THANK YOU for your love, support, encouragement, and prayers as I continue to shape, hone, and cultivate the ministry to which I believe I have been called. I am in high gratitude! Have a blessed day all day!

More later….

Love & blessings,

Dinah

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Greetings,

Wherever you are, please know that I am wishing you the very best throughout Thanksgiving Day and the weekend and sending you love and peace.

Thank you for being a magnificent part of my life’s journey! May you live well, enjoy laughter, and be fulfilled with your heart’s your most earnest desires and dreams. Be blessed. If you are traveling, safe journey!

In deep appreciation and love,

Dinah Chapman