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In Service of Love

Zarah Dovell stood on the steps of the little church, the Center of Spiritual Enlightenment, and looked over at the huge, imposing home of her parents, Rev. and Mrs. John Jones. She could see the balcony of the upstairs bedroom where she used to sit and listen to the service from this little church. It was the sermons by the young minister, that she now knew as Rev. David, that changed her perspective on God. Through secretly listening to his sermons, she had found the courage to complete her degree in social work; get a job that she loved; and move from the domineering atmosphere of her parents’ home. The greatest wonder to her was that she found the courage to leave her father’s church and join the
Center of Spiritual Enlightenment.

Her family had been stunned at her audacity to move from her parents’ home.

“Move out??!! Have you lost your mind? Why are you doing this?”, her mother had demanded to know.

“How are you going to live?! You have no husband to take care of you!”, her sister, Jennifer, said to her with a roll of her shoulders in disdain.

“The men of our religion want an obedient wife, not a willful career woman! The man is the head of the marriage and the wife is not an equal!”, her brother-in-law, Rev. Mark Prescott shouted, shaking the bible at her.

“Zarah, James wouldn’t want you do this. He would want you to remain in my care until I found you another suitable husband’, her father told her in the stentorian voice of authority that he used in his Sunday morning sermons and with his congregation. James was her deceased husband and had been gone for four years.

“The world has changed. I’ve changed,” was all she had replied to them.

She had moved out amid angry predictions of dire circumstances for her for being so stubborn and willful. Then, she had done the unimaginable, she had joined the Center of Spiritual Enlightenment. Her father had declared her several kinds of Jezebels and worshipper of the devil. Her family completely disowned her. Her father had declared her dead to them. Their actions made her feel sad for their lack of compassion and non-judgment. She shook her head, smiled, and walked up the steps and into the sanctuary of unconditional love that was now her heart home.

Today was a special day for her. In joining the church, she had eagerly begun to take the classes that Rev. David taught about the religion’s philosophy that saw God as a loving God and everyone as a part of God. God was not a judgmental, punishing God to humanity as her father’s denomination taught. At first, she struggled to understand what was being taught. The lessons were so vastly different from those that she had been taught since childhood. In the beginning, she simply couldn’t comprehend such things as you personally determined the path of your life; change your thinking and change your life; and loving everyone unconditionally. She almost gave up because she felt so confused and judged herself as too stupid to understand. The loving patience of Rev. David and the Prayer Guides helped her to begin to understand the philosophy of the religion.

Finally, she felt that she was beginning to understand and wanted to immerse herself more deeply in knowledge of the philosophy. She wanted to live her life in God differently from what she had been taught in childhood. The more she learned, the more she wanted to learn. The more her mind and heart expanded, the more her thinking changed and the more she began to feel and see herself and others differently. She felt herself becoming compassionate of people and non-judgmental of the way things appeared to be. She decided to enter the Prayer Guides program, at first, just for her own self-knowledge. The Prayer Guides course wasn’t easy. Each time she thought about dropping out, something beyond herself pushed her to keep going. The changes that took place in her life while she was studying and applying what she learned were miraculous.

She had wanted to study for a bachelors’ degree in psychology and a masters degree in social work but the cost was prohibitive for her. She received a scholar that would allow her to do both. She had been promoted on her job to a position that allowed her to work with children with learning disabilities. She prayed that she would share her love and compassion with them and make a positive difference in their lives. She had just closed escrow on a small house that she had driven past for the last two years and had dreams of buying. There had been some downs, too, over the last three years, but she hadn’t allowed them to control her life. The greatest sadness that she prayed constantly about was her family. She had learned to love them unconditionally despite the ways in which they behaved. She prayed that they would learn to love themselves.

She smiled as she put on her graduation robe. There was a mirror in the room and she blew a kiss to her image in the mirror. She felt that she had come a very long way in the last three years, but there was still more for her to learn.

“Hurry, we don’t want to be late marching in!”, her friend Paul, who was graduating with her, said to her.

“Yeah, they’re lining up now for the processional!”, Janice, another friend and student called out as she
ran from the room.

Zarah gave a giggle as she ran to join the others to line up for the processional. She was finally beginning to truly understand what Love was. She also understood that service to people was service to God and was service in Love.

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