The Miracle Standing Before Us

We have come to my favorite time of the year. The coming of fall means it’s time for Adventure in Faith (AIF) and then soon, the holidays. My heart goes pitter-patter in anticipation of it all. This is the perfect time to come back from your summer travels and busy-ness and give yourself the gift of being spiritually fed and inspired each Sunday at Unity of Tustin. This year, our AIF book is The Creative Life by Eric Butterworth (available in our Timeless Wisdom Books & Gifts Store) and I’m finding it is becoming one of my favorite Unity books. We’ll also be tying in each chapter to a site in our Meditation Gardens.  Modeled on the book of Genesis, our gardens are a living template of and for creation. I love that we’ll be working so deeply with this material and that you get to apply it to your life so powerfully.

As you begin your own journey in The Creative Life, there might be something you would like to hold in consciousness – a Divine Idea that is feeling ripe to you. To bring this idea into manifestation, we’ve created an AIF Passport for the Journey. This is a guidebook of spiritual teachings, a journal with space for you to record your own creative process each week. AIF is more than a personal study of a book. AIF is an opportunity for you to connect with your community in a meaningful way. Thich Nhat Hanh said “The next Buddha will be a sangha.” A sangha is a community of spiritually oriented people. AIF is our way of cultivating a stronger tie to our spiritual life and to our community.

There are several ways that we accomplish that vision. There will be home groups for you to attend, services and fun activities to participate in, and an opportunity to set your commitments to our spiritual practices both at the beginning and end of AIF.

Over the years I have noticed that the word commitment can bring up a variety of responses. I have a home loan. I have committed to pay off a part of that loan every month. I have friends. I have committed to being there for them in times of joy and sorrow. Some of our commitments are formal, others not. But the fact remains that we are constantly setting and following through (or not) on our commitments because we are constantly in relationship. Without commitment, the fabric of society falls apart. No Divine Idea can come to fruition without a commitment

Just as we are in relationship with the world, we are also in relationship with the Divine. During AIF at Unity of Tustin, we have created a comprehensive commitment form that encompasses the six spiritual practices that sustain us on our spiritual path. It is your way of consciously considering how you want to be in relationship with the Divine through practice.

For the first time we will be setting our commitments on week one of AIF so that we will have all seven weeks to consciously practice our commitments together. Considering how we want to be in relationship with the Divine is a valuable part of the spiritual journey. It helps us be aware of how and where we want to place our energy and intention. One of those practices is tithing. AIF is the perfect time to practice and put the spiritual law to the test. There is something important about giving consistently, participating in the on-going flow of abundance in your life. A great way to stay consistently in the flow of abundance is to sign up for automatic giving. Go to our website, click on Donate Now and set up your recurring donation.

Tithing at Unity of Tustin allows you to join with your community in transforming lives and realizing God. We are a community and sacred grounds that require the circulation of our good and blessing in the form of financial abundance. As you engage in the sacred practice of tithing, you are truly part of the stewardship of our sacred community, ensuring sustainable funding for our programs, people and gardens.

On October 2, we’ll begin our journey in conscious commitment to our spiritual practice and demonstrating our devotion to Unity of Tustin. On the last Sunday of AIF, November 13, we will have our third annual Spiritual practice commitment ceremony at the 9 and 11 am services.

What miracles might be standing before you, waiting to unfold through the creative process? Let’s find out together…


Much Love,

Rev. Carolyne

The Chaos Before the Butterflies

Rev. Carolyne Mathlin, Senior Minister

I recently discovered that some of the leaves on my geranium plants had been chewed up. When I first noticed the issue, there were only a couple of leaves that had been chewed. I dismissed it as evidence of a caterpillar’s one-time meal and didn’t think much of it. Over the next couple of days, however, it was obvious that all three of my plants had been the site of a major feast. When I realized the extent of the destruction, I first wanted to search for the culprits – and kill them. Since I couldn’t easily find any and I was needing to leave the house, I gave them a stay of execution. But I kept pondering my new houseguests. I began to wonder if those caterpillars were in fact the kind that would turn into butterflies. Not everything that munches on my leaves will turn into the elegant creatures that I love to watch gliding around my back yard, but there is a chance.
Depak Chopra says “all great things are preceded by chaos.” There seems to be a lot of that chaotic energy in the air recently. Whether I’m looking at my personal life and the technological chaos I’ve experienced recently. Or the changes at church over the last several months, most recently with our full staffing plan review and the impending departure of Mary Jeanne Hawes from her role as Director of Ministry Operations. And even national and international events that continue to weigh on my heart and mind. Just like my curiosity if the caterpillars will turn into butterflies, I wonder if all this chaos and change is in service to something clearer, purer and an even more brilliant expression of love and wisdom. But what to do in the mean time?
I look back at my first response upon realizing the extent of the damage to my geraniums. I wanted to kill the culprits. When we notice change or chaos, how often is our first response to try and control it, to “fix” the problem, even if the action is drastic. Yes, there are times when a quick fix is the answer. There are many other times when there is no quick fix. Wisdom helps us distinguish between the two categories. Plus, if you do try and fix something and it doesn’t work, or makes the situation worse, there’s a high probability you are in the middle of a process, not a problem to be fixed.
We are all attuned to energy, some of us more than others. Conscious or unconscious, we are all influenced by our environment, whether it be the planets or our physical location in any moment. Identifying who or what we can blame and trying to eliminate that element is rarely the long-term solution because it disregards the more subtle (and powerful) patterns at play. The ability to witness these patterns and work directly with them through shadow work, spiritual direction, and spiritual study are where the true transformation will begin to take place. The seeming chaos and destruction will continue to show up until we see and behave differently. For example, have you noticed in your own life that if you have an issue around rejection you’ll experience that over and over again throughout your life? The situations, the people, the decade might change, but the pattern remains. At some point we hopefully realize that there is something else going on. It’s not just everyone else doing this to us. We are holding a thought or perspective that is seeing rejection and until we address that subtle thought the pattern will continue. Our previous experience hasn’t been wrong and our coping mechanisms have served a purpose, but when we have the eyes to see the pattern itself, there is an opportunity for something new to be realized.
That’s why killing or using a person/situation as the scapegoat doesn’t really work. It’s not actually about them. There are energetic patterns at play that require our consciousness to see and work with them at metaphysical and spiritual levels. Chaos has the potential to birth great things, but it is not guaranteed. It takes our conscious willingness to choose to see what is happening at the energetic level.
This is one of the reasons I’m so excited to welcome Terry Patten to Unity of Tustin. He is one who holds the perspective of integration where we work with all that is arising in our life and in the greater world with “profound, inclusive, caring intelligence and commitment, not mere calculation. Only mighty, multidimensional, whole-being intelligence, anchored in the heart, has a hope to meet the challenges of our time” ( The core of Terry’s work is around the Integral Heart. He says the Integral Heart “Explicitly emphasizes the connection of consciousness, care and embodiment. It stands in the inseparability of the intelligence of the Integral impulse with the unified, awakened feeling awareness associated with the heart and the body.” I highly encourage you to mark your calendars and get your tickets for all three days he is here so you can experience the fullness in your own life of what Terry is offering.
Ultimately everything is included. Transformation is in process if we can see it as that, if we can consciously participate in it. When we see the destruction and chaos in our lives as things to control to fit our view of reality, we fundamentally retard the process of transformation and our ability to be with what is actually happening. This part of the process has been called the great undoing. It is about surrender and creation.
As I have continued my inner exploration I have begun to see the destruction to my geraniums with new eyes. So I’ve decided to let the process continue, chewed up leaves and all, in hope that there will be butterflies. Most likely I will never know if those caterpillars in my geraniums really turned into butterflies or not. I might be able to track their life cycle and search for signs of the pupa stage. But really, in this case, and in the changes at church and in the world, what is most important is that I stay present to the process, constantly checking in on the patterns at play and the choice points along the way. It is fruitless to lament the past, wishing things were different. The invitation in the midst of the transformational process is to be truly present with an Integral Heart. And then, watch for the butterflies…