The Collective Heaven

Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation

(Previn Hudetz offered preservice music on piano. He then sang his original song, “Fly Free,” accompanying himself on piano.)

Thank you, Previn. “How could I ever cry on a day like today?” This is a very beautiful day; I anticipate this being a beautiful hour.

It is always our intent at these times that it be a time, or period, of radiance. A lot has been going on in our worlds. One aspect of these times together, for me, is to let all of that be brought together, lifted up and released, to make space for whatever it is that is to come next. So there is a radiant current that moves out, we don’t really know to where. We might have some experience of something coming back—sometimes it’s quite wonderful; sometimes it’s quite challenging. But then we have another opportunity to present ourselves, let all of that be uplifted, be returned to where it needs to be returned, and be ready to make space for what is then to come next.

I have thought a lot in the last few days about what I would describe as a collective heaven. There is the personal aspect of that. If I’m not experiencing it personally, there’s no possibility that I might in any way participate in a collective expression of that heaven. And when I use the word “heaven,” I’m not talking about someplace other than right here where I am, and where we are. That sometimes has been a notion or a belief—that heaven was somewhere else. But it is my belief that the whole purpose for my being here is to provide a heavenly space for the things of God to appear in this earth—in THIS earth, in a collective earth. And to be very blunt about it, there’s not too much else at this point in my life that really interests me.

Relative to the factual experience of a collective heaven, there is something that I believe could be described as a buying in. I need to buy into that experience. And what do I use to buy into that? I would use one word—a word that has many meanings, or many aspects to it—Love. I buy into it by reason of my own expression of love.

There are numerous words that have come to mind in the last few days that describe different aspects of what that means. There is loyalty, commitment, dedication, honesty. As I say, there is a buying in, and as I buy in, something is asked of me. I require of myself that I be as honest as I might be, that I be as clear as I might be, that I express loyalty. Not loyalty to people, per se—that is part of it—but loyalty to the truth of what I know of myself, up to this point in time.

There is a very personal aspect to this, but if it was just the personal and there wasn’t a collective element to it, I suppose I could imagine other places where I would rather be to do that, if that’s all there was to it—maybe create a surround around myself that was a little more pleasing, perhaps a little less challenging in various ways, and just do it on my own. I think that has been a fantasy for a lot of people.

But what I want to speak to this morning is the collective aspect. There is a collective heaven that I feel requires my buying into it. And I do that by the expression of my love into the process, through me, to those who are also involved in this process. I offer my love, my support, my dedication, my commitment, above everything else.

As I’ve thought about this, it’s very easy to go to the Bible, to use religious language. I love that—I love the poetry of the Bible. I know that some are at times challenged by it. I would say that I’m not willing to surrender that field of poetry or poetic expression entirely to those who might have only partially translated what is there to be translated. But, having said that, I would use another range of expression this morning: expressions from popular music. These words convey something of what it is I would like to share with you about commitment and a buying into a collective process, a collective experience of letting heaven express through a collective body of human beings on this planet.

The first words are from Roy Orbison:

Anything you want, you got it.
Anything you need, you got it.
Anything at all, you got it.

To me, there’s something very unifying in that attitude: Anything at all, you got it. I am committed to this, whatever it takes.

The other song is a Lennon/McCartney song. I have been humming and singing it for several days:

If there’s anything that you want
If there’s anything I can do
Just call on me and I’ll send it along
With love, from me to you.

I think there are many opportunities in our days where our friends might call out to us. What do we send back? What song are we singing when someone calls? Sometimes the request comes very specifically—it might be a verbal request. How busy are we? How full is our time? Can we make space? All those questions come up. The larger question relates to the quality of atmosphere I am living in and expressing out of. What is my experience? What is the message that I’m conveying to my world and those close to me, when they call? I often do not receive that call in a verbal way, but in a momentary way, something comes—what is that being met with?

In our men’s meeting earlier this week, Mice Puharich used the word “terroir.” It relates to a quality in some wines—the elements of climate and soil and topography that affect the grapes, and thereby affect the wine. He used the word in reference to those who have participated in this ministry for a longer period of time. He noted there is something, a particular quality, there in some people. This could open the door to a very poetic conversation about vines and the earth and the water and the setting and the mountains and the sun. Within any vineyard there are vines that see the earliest morning sun; maybe they see the sun before the air is really warmed up. And there are other vines in the other parts of the vineyard that don’t see the sun until the air is a little warmer. And so all of these unique, varied experiences within one vineyard add character and quality to the wine.

I see people sitting in this room now who welcomed me when I first came here in 1972. There is something about mature vines, planted in good soil, bringing forth good fruit year after year after year. To what end? That all the wine can be consumed by us? I don’t think so. There’s a larger purpose and a larger mission.

There is also a Spanish word, “terruño,” that represents the same thing as terroir. Perhaps a feminine and a masculine expression of the same quality—terruño.

I am reminded of a consideration we had in our service a few weeks ago, about the story of Samuel. Samuel was with Eli, and you could say that Eli was Samuel’s mentor. Samuel heard a voice. He thought it was Eli, and when he went to him, Eli said, “I called not.” This happened three times, and fortunately Eli realized what was going on. He told Samuel the next time he heard the voice to answer and say, “Speak, LORD, for thy servant heareth.” Eli realized that Samuel was awakening to his own inner reality.

The reason I wanted to recall the story of Eli and Samuel is because I feel both of these relationships are going on in our lives, going on in my life. There is the mentoring element, where I offer respect and care and concern to those whom I still have a lot to learn from. And that is intermingled with my knowing, to some degree, who I am. As I am awakening to the truth of who I am, I haven’t found it necessary to be disrespectful or uncaring or unloving or unsupportive of those who have played mentoring roles in my life. I put my arms around them in love. There is a personal aspect to it, but it’s beyond that. If there is a unified field of expression, a unified heaven, the medium of expression in that heaven is love—nothing else, just love.

I don’t know about you, but this is what is increasingly being asked of me: Can I stand clear, flying free, in a spirit of love, dedicated and loyal to this mission that we share, letting everything else find its rightful place behind that?

I am very thankful for the opportunity to present myself here this morning in this place, letting all that has happened prior to this moment recede into the background, ascend, be released, whatever; and letting a radiant current of love move out, letting it have its effect, knowing that it will, and knowing that there are things that will come to me by reason of what we do here this morning. Not to take me out of this moment, but I would welcome that, whatever it is that comes, that a fuller expression of God, angelic expression, might be present on earth because of me and because of us.

Steve Short
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