In the Driver’s Seat
by Nancy Dales, Bookstore Team Leader
LBJ Freeway in Dallas sometimes holds surprises. All set for their favorite Dim Sum, Chuck and Betty instead found themselves in a vehicle that had decided to suddenly immobilize itself in bumper-to-bumper traffic near the Montfort Drive exit across from the Valley View Mall. Chuck turned the key multiple times… nothing. No way to even move to the shoulder of the road. Shrill horn blasts from the vehicle directly behind them reminded the two that others did not have an appreciation for their situation. Chuck glanced in the driver’s side mirror to see a woman erupting from her car. Her face contorted into a scowl, she charged up to his window and rapped sharply on the glass, asking the famously unanswerable, “Just what do you think you’re doing?!” Chuck thought for a moment, smiled and responded calmly, “We’re waiting for a package from Valley View.” The ball of fury at the window softened. Maybe it was Chuck’s teddy bear demeanor. Maybe it was his magic ingredient. Maybe his acceptance of the situation was contagious. Whatever it was, the woman took the cue and walked back to her vehicle to wait in the sparkling metallic sea of others similarly situated.
Betty always admired Chuck’s ability to diffuse a situation. She once told me, “I never have seen Chuck get angry. He seems to accept whatever is happening in the moment.” Chuck and Betty were co-workers in the bookstore at Unity Church of Dallas on Forest Ln. This was in the early 1980s. I don’t know the exact outcome of their freeway adventure except that they had a memorable and magnificent lunch, in spite of the fact that they had to forego Dim Sum.
This was my first experience with “Unity People”. Betty was special to me. She was real… someone I could share anything with. In our relationship I could let my fears about whatever was the discomfort-de-jour slip quietly away. She enjoyed giving gifts. Her children having long since left the nest, she converted a small bedroom in her home into her “General Store”. This was her loving inventory of little odds and ends… all beautiful in their sweetness and waiting for just the right moment and just the right recipient. Also in her store was the most magnificent collection of books she had accumulated during her years as a volunteer in the Unity Bookstore. It was there she found fertile ground that nourished her spirit and allowed her to discover even more ways to share herself with the world. At that time, I was often full of my problems and full of myself. But Betty always carried the antidote to whatever ailed me, speaking kind words or producing a book for me to read that was spot-on. Sometimes the healing was instant. More often, however, it took years.
Decades passed. So did Betty. I believe on some level that when someone we love passes, we not only have fond memories of that person…we gradually “become” a bit of that person. Their goodness is paramount in our minds and in our hearts such that we want to perpetuate their essence, allowing the universe to once again relish their presence. Of course, we can never repeat their actual life performance, nor would we ever want to. Through our admiration of the good that once emanated from that person, our own unique incarnation becomes a reinforcement of something astonishingly brilliant.
When I attended Unity of San Antonio for the first time several years ago, I thought about my old friend Betty. I saw her in the people sitting next to me in the service and greeting me in the Community Center. I soon learned that there was an opening in the bookstore, and my role at UCSA announced itself to me immediately. For a while I was a little nervous. I had no idea what books people might want to read, no clue what gifts they would choose for themselves or for others. Eventually I realized that perfection in purchasing books and items for the store was probably not going to be realized. Not only that… the bookstore was more than just a store. It was a place to tell stories, talk about kids and spouses, about spirituality, and about life in general. I was comforted by the diversity of this new community of which I was becoming part. In fact, diversity was its strength. People seemed to understand how to transcend their differences. With this in mind, I became more open and willing to bringing new types of books into the store. In addition to the wonderful reads for the ongoing book studies, we began experimenting with new titles and authors while retaining the core Unity offerings. This is continued as we moved into our new space in the Community Center this past year.
We are now in a period of transition at UCSA. We have released our beloved Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett to share her tremendous talents with the greater Unity world as we reflect on what is ours to be and to do together. I look forward to the changes and know that there will be growth. To me uncertainty and infinite possibility walk hand in hand. We are sitting on the edge of much opportunity. The bookstore can be part of this wonderfully juicy uncertainty. We at UCSA can be more than we were before.
I just read an article titled “Create a Living Faith” by Jan Phillips, a contributor to Spirituality & Health magazine. In that article she says, “Your spirituality, your faith, is something you create based on your commitments and ultimate concerns.” What are your ultimate concerns? What are you willing to take on as commitments so that those concerns might be fulfilled? I am willing to help grow the bookstore at UCSA so that it is a fitting representation of the strong, diverse, and vibrant community we are evolving. I invite you to join us in the journey as we put together our ideas about the package we expect the universe will be delivering to us. We will attempt to avoid the traffic jams and enjoy the Dim Sum along the way!
Namaste, my beloved friend Betty. You saw the light in me when I could not see it. Now that same light sees the light reflected everywhere in our loving congregation. Namaste, All.
Make new friends, learn about the latest and greatest Unity and New Thought books and other publications on the Bookstore Team! Nancy and Gary Dales have loveingly created an inviting space for obtaining materials to support our CommUNITY’s spiritual growth. We truly appreciate their dedicated service. Come be a part of what they have created! If you are interested in Sacred Service with our Bookstore Team, please contact us. And when you see them, please let Nancy and Gary know how much you appreciate their work and dedication.