Notes from the edge
Circle’s Edge Religious Science
You know, there are certain drawbacks to being the blind man who’s trying to describe the elephant through the chance placement of his hands. I go into these places ignorant, for the most part. Sometimes, I’m able to shine some light for readers. At any rate, a month and a half ago or so, Holly Wilson, invited me to the Circle’s Edge, and we landed on this as a good week to experience the service. She left a message last week to remind me of my promise, but to mention she was going to be unable to attend.
I arrived at the old Truckee River Lodge as three cops were getting yelled at by some homeless guy from across the street. I walked in the front door and followed the signs to the second-floor room that houses the Circle’s Edge Religious Science group. It was near the Pneumatic Diner, so my nose and stomach were reminding me that while man doesn’t live on bread alone, a little bit of toast never hurt anyone.
At any rate, I was greeted by at least four ebullient people at the entrance. They handed me a bulletin and invited me into the sanctuary. Guest singers, Valerie and Jonathan Williams from Canada, were leading the congregation in some songs and chants. The room, apparently a former convention facility, held about 100 black metal chairs with dusty rose-colored seats and backs.
The visiting performers were accompanied by piano. At the front was a purple backdrop with a Circle’s Edge logo and a clear, plastic lectern, which speakers didn’t really try to hide behind. There were about 70-80 congregants.
“Turn to your neighbor, and say, ‘God is looking good in you,'” Valerie Williams said. I immediately went into shy mode, but I did my best.
Pastor Rev. Dr. Sandy Jacob took over after the music. She led the congregation in what felt very like a guided meditation visualizing peace and love and getting connected to the “godspark” that exists in every atom in the universe. “This is the divine presence doing what it does best,” said Rev. Jacob.
The title of the day’s message was “What, Me Worry?”
Dr. Jacob began by reminding us humorously of Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine fame. Surely, if he was the irresponsibility icon, then worry must be responsible, said the reverend. Many religions use worry—take guilt for example.
But worry is more than something to occupy our minds, it’s actually a spiritual issue. According to Jacob, worry acts as a spiritual block to the flowing divine presence of God. In other words, when you are worrying about unimportant things, the mind is unable to seek the more important things.
Jacob took a bit of a detour to discuss “spiritual mind treatments,” a sort of prayer promoted by Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science. I say “sort of prayer” because as I understand it, it’s not a prayer to God, but a prayer to self, in that people are ultimately responsible, metaphysically and actually, for making their own prayers come true. The spiritual mind treatment has five stages: recognition, unification, realization, gratitude and release. These stages basically describe the individual’s relationship to the “godspark.” (By the way, that’s my word trying to describe the concepts brought up in the service.)
At any rate, Rev. Jacob didn’t just describe the state of worry, she also offered advice on how to get over it: Think different thoughts ("Choices are our most powerful tools."); meditation is another valuable tool ("It resets the blueprint of the mind."); use the power of gratitude; and finally, quoting Dr. Holmes, “Faith must overcome fear.”