Some of my first memories are of attending early morning Catholic Mass with my mom and grandmother. It was such a special time: quiet and sacred. I loved being in church and the feeling of God’s presence. But as the years went on, our family went through some difficult times and fell away from the Church.
It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I began to look for God again. I tried to go back to the Church, but I no longer received the inspiration and guidance I was looking for, so I began to explore Eastern religions. They all offered some amazing teachings, but something was still missing for me. I just couldn’t find that same connection I had felt as a child. Then when I was in my mid-forties, a friend suggested Unity of Oak Park (UOP), just outside of Chicago.
Finding Peace in a Spiritual Community
I had never heard of Unity before, but I decided to go to a Sunday service and see what it was about. There, I found the missing pieces I’d been seeking, the combination of Jesus as teacher and brother and the power of the presence of Spirit. I had not heard this kind of teaching anywhere else. For many months I just listened to the two amazing ministers. Every Sunday they spoke of Jesus as the Master Teacher and taught a transformational perspective of the Bible.
I have always loved Bible stories, and to hear the historical context and the life lessons of scripture was perfect for me. Learning more and more each week about the teachings of Jesus and how to apply his teachings to my life was absolutely radical. I had no idea that Jesus was telling us about states of consciousness and giving us a blueprint for how to live life. I had no idea that I could change my thinking and create a better life filled with love and purpose.
Spending time at church became a peaceful reprieve from the stresses of life.
The ministers and teachers at UOP provided so many ways to participate and to learn, offering classes and opportunities to volunteer and become part of the community. Their faith, love, and wisdom helped me see that I had great gifts to give. It was such a warm, friendly environment. I watched as members volunteered to be chaplains, work in the book room, help staff the kitchen, and so much more. I was welcomed in.
Becoming Involved and Making Connections
I had been a meditator for many years, but my practice really expanded when I began to join the prayer and meditation group on a regular basis. The combination of wonderful readings and coming together as a group to meditate and send out love and peace to the world was very powerful. Attending that group allowed me to fully open up to the experience of Unity. I became a member of the church, which deepened my commitment, and I began to volunteer—first in the book room and then by becoming a prayer chaplain. I made wonderful friends who provided love, support, and acceptance whenever I experienced challenging circumstances. Spending time at church became a peaceful reprieve from the stresses of life.
Unity has allowed me to grow in so many unexpected ways. I have become certified as a meditation teacher and a transformational life coach. I wouldn’t have had the courage to pursue these paths if it hadn’t been for the teachings and experience I received at Unity, along with the encouragement to stand up and say yes to opportunities, leading meditations, and becoming a leader in my church community. After 25 years I know that both UOP and I have gone through a lot of challenges and changes, but we always know that the presence of God is with us and all is well. The Unity teachings and the UOP community perfectly brought together all the missing pieces I’d been searching for all along.
This article appeared in Unity Magazine®.