I was in the office restroom crying my eyes out when a woman I didn’t know walked in. She couldn’t miss my large, pregnant belly. Joann Franklin hugged me and asked me if I knew how beautiful I was. I didn’t. She said she had a book she’d like me to read if I was interested. Of course, I was. At this point, I would try anything.
The next morning, she handed me a copy of Hidden Power for Human Problems (DeVorss, 1957) by Frederick Bailes. I was so hungry for a lifeline that I read almost all of it before falling asleep that night. She was totally surprised when I returned the book so quickly and shared some of the things I learned from it. I was so hungry and thirsty for Truth that I asked for more.
Joann invited me to a weekly meeting at her neighbor’s home where a small group sat in a circle and discussed Unity principles and metaphysical interpretation of scripture. I was fascinated by this new language and its relevance to real life.
When the baby came, my two children and I joined Joann and her two daughters on Sundays at Unity in downtown Kansas City, where Rev. Mauritz Erhard was the minister. I was like a kid in a candy store, and the lessons, books, publications, and discussions were the sweet nuggets of Truth I had been seeking. As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
This set me, at 21, on a personal mission to heal my life. My children feasted on Wee Wisdom® and I made Daily Word part of my daily spiritual practice. This was the manna from heaven and living water of which Jesus spoke.
Two years later, the baby passed away suddenly. I thought I was pretty much grounded and invested in Truth, but this experience rocked my world. In selecting the music for the funeral, I chose “Come Ye Disconsolate” simply because of the last line: “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” I knew that the Unity philosophy was “words have power and thoughts are things.”
Right after the song, Rev. Erhard invited everyone to listen as he spoke directly to me. Standing there in front of that tiny casket, he reassured me that I was not “disconsolate,” and that my son was here for a purpose and that there will always be a connection between us.
That was in 1974, and all these years later, the words he spoke that still resonate with me are: “Don’t look at what you have lost; look at what you have left.” With that simple statement, I began to slowly change my focus. I had a healthy, 6-year-old daughter craving my affection and love who was also grieving her brother’s passing.
A few months later, as I was reading a Unity publication, the following message leaped off the page: “I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). That message, too, has kept me looking forward to the good that I know is already there for me to recognize and claim. Several years ago, during my first licensing and ordination interview as a student in Unity Urban Ministerial School, I was asked what scripture I was using in my five- to seven-minute talk on my call to ministry. It was a no-brainer for me as I thought back throughout my life’s events—and particularly the times when I felt I was at my lowest points. I believed with all my heart that someday God would restore to me the years that the locusts have eaten. In today’s vernacular, I would say that God has enabled me to turn my mess into my message.
Joann Franklin made her transition many years ago. The beauty she saw in me and the wisdom she gave me will live on in my heart forever. Today I focus on what is before me. I am so grateful that this student was ready when Unity appeared.