by Arlene Arnold
We all have dreams, and sometimes they seem out of reach. Does your dream seem so impossible that you dismiss it? Are you afraid to even consider it for fear of being disappointed? Mary Manin Morrissey encourages you to begin "by paying attention to your own discontent and your own longings. That's how life speaks to us." We know we are being called forth to our dreams when "we begin to feel hemmed in or closed down, or not so alive; we're just skimming the surface." Life gives us a choice. "We can build our dreams, or we can continue to build what we have known."
I had been introduced to Mary's ministry through a friend who encouraged me to watch her Sunday morning TV program. From the beginning, I had been struck by her ability to bring powerful concepts into a form that I not only understood, but also became inspired to live. I wondered what she would be like in person. As we chatted in her office at Living Enrichment Center in Wilsonville, Oregon, I found myself sharing what was on my heart that day. She listened intently, and it was clear that ministering, drawing people out, and helping them see deep within themselves is a way of life for Mary.
With such a huge organization around her and a ministry that spans the globe, one might be tempted to think that fulfilling her dreams came easily to Mary. Not so. In her book Building Your Field of Dreams, Mary candidly shares her life story. In a day when pregnancy out of wedlock was taboo, Mary found herself pregnant, not allowed to attend regular school, feeling that her life was over. Later on, she nearly died from kidney disease, losing a kidney in the process. Her life journey includes challenges that would stop the hardiest of souls, but Mary could not stop. Her "discontent" would not allow her to settle for less. She could choose to end her life, or she could go forward and learn from her own process. Obviously, she chose the latter. From her own experiences and from those of others beside whom she has walked, Mary has created a template for building dreams.
Here's how that template works: Once you are willing to pay attention to your discontent and your longings (and that in itself can be a major accomplishment), "then you test the dream to be sure it's worthy of you." Is it worthy of your life energy? "If it passes the test, then you make a decision for the dream. Then, you open up to the dream that is bigger than yourself."
You then are confronted with your own sense of deservedness. This gives you an opportunity to work through all of your self-esteem issues, until you reach a place where you begin to accept that you really can be part of bringing forth this dream. By working with the three dream-killers - fear, withholding, and lack of forgiveness - "you begin to clear a space...for that dream to grow in the life energy you have. Then you begin to nurture that dream."
If it's a really good dream, you don't know how to bring it about. That's because it's coming from Spirit. You "need to partner with Spirit" through listening to that inner voice from which guidance comes. When left to our own devices, we will turn to the mind to build the dream, but bringing forth a "big dream" means that we must partner with Spirit and others who believe in our dream.
Says Mary, "Learning how to bring alignment between the personality and the soul so that we can experience the power of the soul through the personality in the form of our own lives becomes our work." Along the way, we will be tempted to contract into the familiar. "We get scared. There's huge inertia to go back to the way we've done things before. That's when we really need other people to believe with us and for us...Then, we experience that power [of Spirit] as being bigger than the problem. We stretch, we grow, we expand in consciousness and experience." We learn how to accept the good as it begins to flow.
"Test the dream to be sure it's worthy of you."
I was struck by the story of Judy. She is a single mother with two children who lived in a shoebox of an apartment. Her dream was to live in a house with a yard and flowers. The dream was so real that she could see the arched door, three bedrooms, and a white fence. Reality would say that her dream was impossible. She was earning $1000 a month and paying $500 a month rent as it was. Judy joined three other congregants from Living Enrichment Center as "partners in believing." When doubt set in, the group asked, "If you didn't believe it was impossible, what would you do?" Judy decided that if she really believed that her dream was possible, she would start looking for the house of her dreams.
After several months, Judy became discouraged. Her partners helped her practice "bigger believing," reminding her that all things are possible with God. She kept after the real estate agent to find the home of her dreams. "It took Judy a long time to shift from feeling denied and shortchanged to feeling grateful for all she had - for her two healthy children, even for the idiosyncrasies of the shoebox. But as she did so, she began to recognize her inner genius. She began to believe in God as the great genius who orchestrates the universe, and she wanted to tap into that power."
One day, her real estate agent called. She had found the exact home of Judy's dreams, but it rented for $775 a month, far more than Judy could pay. Again, her partners in believing asked her, "If you didn't believe it was impossible, what might you do?" After some discussion, Judy decided to write a letter to the landlord. In it, she described her dream, how she would care for that home and love it. She offered to pay $500 a month, which was what she could afford.
In the end, not only did her landlord agree to lease her the house for a year at the lower rate, but by year's end, Judy had found a better job that allowed her to pay the increased rent. "By the third year, Judy worked out a purchase plan with the owner. She bought the house she had grown to love so dearly. The home she had longed for had become her own."
Creating a template for bringing dreams into reality has been a lifelong process for Mary. The process she shares, she has lived. Living Enrichment Center stands as proof positive that her template works. What began as a longing, as a restless desire to live fully her potential and calling, has become a full-scale operation involving many others as well as herself. Living Enrichment Center serves over four thousand people locally, reaches about 12,000 through the Internet, and inspires many more through its Sunday morning television ministry on the west coast as well as through Radio for Peace International (short wave radio), which has reached two hundred countries twice a week for almost ten years. The organization encourages and trains leaders of Living Enrichment Center Circles that gather all around the country to listen to the Sunday message and help each other live the principles being taught, and has started an elementary school that is developing a curriculum for the 21st-century child.
In addition to all she does through Living Enrichment Center, as president of the Association for Global New Thought (2500 like-minded churches that work together), Mary was invited by Tibet's Dalai Lama to join about fifty socially active, spiritually motivated scholars from such fields as politics, science, medicine, and education to consider the major concerns facing the planet today. Who knows what great impact may result from this gathering?
Each of these activities and concerns represents a form of what Mary calls "the common work." This work emphasizes "universal spirituality that honors all of the many and varied paths to God, and within that, recognizes that every one of us is a co-creator, that we are endowed with creative capacity." We each have dreams. We each can make a difference. By sharing her experience and her dream template, Mary is truly living her greatest dream "helping other people build their dreams." In February, she will be doing just that at the Women of Wisdom Conference in Seattle, which The New Times is proudly cosponsoring.
We can all touch "a dream within that is bigger than ourselves." As we have the courage to step into that dream and to call upon our own resources, the help of others, and that greater partnership with Divine Spirit, we can make a huge difference - beyond anything we can imagine. Mary Manin Morrissey offers us a personally tested process that works!
To learn more about Living Enrichment Center, join an LEC Circle, or find out the time and channel for the TV broadcast in your area, call (800) 893-1000, or visit http://www.lecworld.org, where you can listen to a weekly webcast.
Arlene Arnold is a writer, teacher, and counselor who explores our ability to bring our perception of separation back to its inherent wholeness through "spiritual tools." She is the author of Colorcards: A Guide to Your Inner Knowing and Meditation Tools Made Simple: Techniques to Awaken the Spirit Within. She may be reached at (206) 781-5791 or firstname.lastname@example.org.