We Inspire People to Live Better Lives


Roll with the Changes

Sunday, May 3, 2020
Featuring: Rev. Richard Maraj

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Rev. Richard Maraj: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center’s virtual Sunday worship celebration. I’m Richard Maraj, Senior Minister, and it is a joy to have you join us. And it’s our joy to be able – even in this situation – to continue to serve you and support you with our Sunday services.

Today Rusty Ferracane’s going to do an amazing rendition of the song, The Prayer; you are absolutely going to be touched and deeply moved by it. We have a great talk today – I’ve got a great message that’s kind of relevant, I hope, for what’s going on right now. But right now, we are going to begin with a time of prayer and meditation as Rev. Lori leads us in this sacred worship time.



Rev. Lori Fleming: I invite you to close your outer eyes. To take in a deep, cleansing breath and release it slowly, beginning to move your awareness within. Away from the busy-ness of the outer world to that quiet, still space within. Away from everything that’s happening in the world that maybe we’re feeling a little bit afraid, a little uncomfortable. We can always go within to that quiet, still place where we are one with the Divine. To that place of peace where, no matter what is happening on the outside, on the inside we are one with God, our Source.

And so let go of everything in the outer; just gently release it, and move more deeply into your soul: into the very center of your being. As we take some time away to release and let go and be one with God. In this quiet, still space are all of the answers to all of life’s challenges. As we listen to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit resonating in our hearts and our minds. With new solutions, new ways of doing things that serve us and serve each other. For, truly, we are one. And because we are one, we can reach out across the planet in prayer, uplifting all of humanity. In this time of this pandemic, we pray for each and every person on this planet for health and for wholeness. For all of the animals and all of the plants. For the whole world to be lifted up into a higher consciousness: into a state of health and wholeness. Into a new beginning, where we recognize that we need each other; that we care about each other. That we are truly one. And that the way to health and wholeness is to be healthy and whole for ourselves and for each other.

And so, God, we send our prayers out across the planet for wholeness; for people to have the food that they need to eat; for medicine. We pray for all of the doctors and nurses and all of the emergency people: all the people who are taking care of people who are sick right now. We lift them up in our prayers, knowing that each and every person is filled with God’s light and love and peace and joy. And every cell returns to wholeness.

And so, God, we take just a few moments to move more deeply into the silence as we feel our oneness with You, our Source.


And so, Mother/Father God, we say “thank you” for this time together. For affirmative prayer that lifts us up out of the old. That visions the new and creates a new way to live. Thank you for all of our blessings. For all the people we love and care about across the world. Keep us healthy. Keep us safe. Keep us loving. And bring peace to the world. Thank you, God; thank you, God; thank you, God! And it is so. Amen.



Rusty Ferracane: ‘The Prayer’ (accompanied by Craig Bohmler on piano)

I pray you'll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don't know

Let this be our prayer
As we go our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your Grace
To a place where we'll be safe

I pray we'll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When stars go out each night
Eternal star you are

Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our days
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your Grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe.

(In Italian))
Sognamo un mondo senza piu violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace e di fraternita

We ask that life be kind
And watch us from above
We hope each soul will find
Another soul to love

Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Needs to find a place,
Guide us with your Grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

(In Italian)
E la fede che
Hai acceso in noi
Sento che ci salver





Rev. Richard Maraj: [Applauds] Woo! Wasn’t that fabulous?!? Rusty, thanks for the great job! Craig, you guys are absolutely amazing! Thanks so much!

Alright! Good morning again, everyone! And so did you hear about the pessimist who was afraid of German sausages? The pessimist afraid of German sausages? He always feared the “wurst.”

Okay; by the silence I’m hearing, I could tell you didn’t think it was funny! But I think it’s kind of clever… so here’s some more “clever” ones. When you dream in color, is it a “pigment” of your imagination?

Why can’t you trust atoms? Because they make up everything!

What did the judge say when the skunk walked into his courtroom? “Odor in the court! Odor in the court!” [Laughs]

You know what that odor is? Those jokes stinking! I think we kind of all agree with that! Something else I think we’d all agree with is that every single one of us wants to have a happy life. Every one of us is seeking a better life in some way or the other. We all want lives with greater peace. Loving, supportive, harmonious relationships. We want work that is meaningful for us. And we want health and energy and vitality. I mean, every one of us wants to live a good life! Everyone wants to live a great life.

And today, I want to talk about what I think is a key element in living the kind of great and wonderful life that we want: something I think that is absolutely crucial, and makes the difference between a joyful life and a frustrating life. A life of ease and “in the flow,” and a life of feeling stuck and always having something difficult to move through. And that thing is: how well we handle change.

How well we deal with change; how well we roll with changes in our lives is absolutely the key difference in making our lives happy. It is a part of spiritual maturity, and it is a part of feeling a level of fulfillment and developing self-mastery.

So the question is: How well do you deal with the changes that have happened and are happening in your life?

You know, change is something that happens consistently and constantly in our lives. And if we want to have greater joy and greater peace, how we deal with change is a vital and crucial and important part of a fulfilling and happy life.

Many years ago I read a book called Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson and Kenny Blanchard, who wrote The One-Minute Manager. And I’ll give you a little synopsis of it. And it’s a little fairy tale, but I think it yields some good points and lessons in how to deal with change. It happens in this maze with two mice named Sniff and Scurry and two little human beings named Hem and Haw. And they’re going through this maze looking for their cheese. And the maze really represents life: all the different paths and all the different choices and decisions we could make. And their cheese really represents what makes them happy: something that is fulfilling and meaningful to them, like their job or their career; relationship. Maybe it’s money; maybe it’s status. Maybe it’s their home. Maybe it’s their lifestyle or their level of travel. So their cheese is really what is it that they find meaningful and brings them greater joy and happiness.

And so these characters go through the maze and they find their cheese. And their cheese is something that they’re happy with – they’re proud with. It’s kind of like their foundation. They introduce their friends. They build their social life. They move closer to be able to enjoy their cheese; they build their lives around it, and they absolutely enjoy it. And they feel fulfilled. They feel good.

And then one day, they come to the place where their cheese is, and their cheese is gone. And they look around, stunned, asking, “Who moved my cheese?” They are so shocked with something they depended on and enjoyed and relied upon. Like the sun rising every morning, they expected that their lives would be this good all the time… and then, suddenly, it was gone.

And so, when they arrived, the two mice looked around; they saw their cheese wasn’t there, so they just moved on and started going through the maze looking for cheese again. But Hem and Ham, the two little humans, just stood there in disbelief, being angry, wondering who moved their cheese. Why did this happen? Who’s responsible for this? “We’re going to get to the bottom of this, ‘cause this isn’t right! This isn’t fair!”

So Hem and Haw kept hemming and hawing and standing there. And, in fact, they were in such disbelief, they came back the next day thinking that the cheese might be there: that it might reappear. You know, this was just some bad joke! Maybe… They just wanted life to go back the way they wanted it.

And so they’re hemming and hawing and, meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry are still going through looking for new cheese, finding little bits here and there. And they’re moving through their process to move toward new cheese. But Hem and Haw are stuck; they are so down. They are depressed; they’re hopeless, because they’re “cheese-less.” It feels like something is missing in their lives, and they don’t know how to go on. They feel like a lot of their happiness is just gone forever. Day after day going back. Day after day looking for it. Day after day hoping that it will all change and go back to the way they really wanted.

Haw finally realizes that, sometimes, things change in life, and they don’t change back. That life moves on, regardless of what change. And realized that they had to move on, and to move towards finding new cheese.

And that’s the thing about change: it gives us two choices. You can stay stuck in the hopelessness of “cheese-lessness,” and think you’ll never be happy again. Or we move on with our lives… and we move on to find new cheese. And even though they were scared about going back into the maze – scared that they may not find cheese; scared that they still “had it”; scared that they’d look foolish – they went back into the maze, and did the work and started looking for new cheese. And it seemed like they might have found some, and it didn’t work out. But eventually in that process, they found new cheese. They found happiness and peace and joy again. And, in fact, the cheese was even better! Things worked out in a great sand wonderful way.

And one of the realities that story is trying to tell us is that we were all have our cheese moved. That every single one of us is going to experience a situation in life has changed something we relied upon: something we really loved and enjoyed. And for us to really find that joy again – and find cheese again – we need to move on. We need to go in search – and move through a process of rediscovering something new that is fulfilling and joyful.

You know, the thing about dealing with change – why I say it’s so important – is because, if you can’t deal with change, then there isn’t growth. If you can’t deal with change, then there isn’t overcoming and transformation. Because life is change! And if we can’t deal with change, then we can’t experience life as fully, as freely and as joyously.

So this morning, we’re going to talk about: How can we improve the way we work with change? How can we learn to roll with change in a better way?

The first one is that we need to honor and understand that change is an important and vital part of life. Do you know from the moment we are born until the moment we die, our bodies are changing every single day? And so we experience change in our bodies every single day! Change is constantly going on all around us for our entire lives. We have gradual changes; sudden changes; expected changes; unexpected changes; fun changes; painful changes; changes that we want and like; and changes that we didn’t want and we don’t like.

You know, we face so much change in our daily lives – being human beings – that we should be masters of change! We should have our PhDs in change, because we experience it so much! And yet, many people are in fear of change. We resist change; we fight change. We hate change.

And the question is: Why do we hate change so much? I think part of the reason is because we feel like we’ve lost control of our lives. We’ve moved from what’s familiar and stable to unfamiliar and unstable. We feel powerless; we feel disoriented. And worse is that we feel really vulnerable.

One of the other reasons we have a tough time with change is because change represents something ending in our lives. And we human beings don’t do endings so well. Endings feel like failure. Endings feel like the end of our happiness; the end of our joy. They make us feel quite uncomfortable.

You know, the interesting this is that I think we understand that change is an important part of life. I think spiritually and philosophically we get that things change. The seasons change. You know, times change. Fashions change. There’s a planting season; there’s a harvest season. We get that the old has to go so we can be born to the new. We get death and birth. I think we understand beginnings and ends. And the thing is: change is important for us to be able… for life to unfold. For things to grow. For things to expand.

There’s a wonderful Scripture in the Book of Ecclesiastes, and it says this: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to harvest; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” And I think that Scripture speaks to the dynamic, changing, unfolding nature of life. That the thing about change is that it is important because it really brings renewal. It brings transformation and expansion.

Listen to the fabulous words of Ernest Holmes, who’s the founder of Religious Science. He says this: “Nature will not let us stay in any one place for two long. She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancement of our soul. This is a wise provision, for should we stay too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible. Nature demands change in order that we may advance.”

Change is always happening, and often change doesn’t always happen on our own terms. And we have to actually come to terms with the changes in our lives. You know, many things that we can’t control: like the loss of a loved one. It’s a huge change that we have to come to terms with. We have to come to terms with the changes that come with aging. And sometimes the diagnosis of cancer or some other terminal illness. Coming to terms with economic challenges or family conflict that has created division and estrangement. With the loss of a job. All these aspects of change are things that are important for us, but not always easy.

You know, I really think that change happens in our lives sometimes to give us a “wake up” call. Sometimes to wake us up out of our slumber, and ways that we’ve kind of gone to sleep or are stuck or rigid: aren’t fully alive and feeling connected. I heard a quote once somebody once said: “When my life was shaking at its foundations, I went to God, only to find out God was doing the shaking!” That sometimes these challenges shake us up and wake us up to say: “Is this the way that I want to be living?” They help us reawaken to parts of us that we haven’t allowed to develop or unfold. Or talents and abilities that we’ve allowed to go dormant.

You know, all change is about advancing our soul. It is about helping us grow. And we should be excited about it, but often we don’t want things to change! We think it’s more secure for everything to stay the same. You ever had a time in your life that was going so well you thought, “Oh, I hope this never changes!”

I remember my little nieces – my twin nieces – they were do adorable, these little kids. And at four years old, their hair wasn’t growing, and my brother and his wife decided to shave their little heads. And they looked like the most adorable little twin Hare Krishna kids! They were so adorable and cute! And even I thought to myself, “Oh, they’re so adorable! I wish they could stay like that forever!” Of course, that was ridiculous; of course, it doesn’t happen. In fact, they have grown in incredible ways that they are now the moms of little Hare Krishna bald babies just like themselves! And it’s been wonderful to see; it’s wonderful to experience all those things.

And one of the things I like about change is that, it not only makes us grow in different ways, but it makes us cherish what we have. Because it won’t last forever means to cherish and appreciate and enjoy it. It’s such an important part. Life is changing to advance our souls, but it’s also changing to remember to live and cherish all these experiences and all of these moments. Because they’re important. They’re valuable. And they are precious.

So first step is to understand change – it’s important – and to honor it… you know, by being present and cherishing what we’re going through.

The second one is that we need to adapt and adjust to the change that’s going on. In the book it says the quicker you let go of the old cheese, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy the new cheese. And I think one of the things we do is keep holding on to the old for a long, long time. We waste time; we waste our energy. But here’s the important thing about adapting is: It’s important not to wallow and hold on to the past, but I think it’s important to not run too quick to the future. Sometimes we can just skip over the pain and think we’ll just go right to that new thing, and everything will be fine. You know, one of the things about grief and endings is that they do bring up sadness. They bring up emotions. When we’ve cared for someone and they pass, it’s important to honor our feelings: to feel our feelings. If a job has ended – or something that’s important – we can’t pretend we didn’t have feelings. We have to actually let ourselves process and feel these. Not get stuck! Not go too fast! But just allow ourselves to feel them and process them, so we can move through those situations in the healthiest way possible.

You know, things end and then they start. But that middle I think is absolutely important: that we honor our feelings in that wilderness, in that empty space of where something has ended, and something hasn’t yet begun.

Like, even with this new situation of the social distancing. In the beginning, I was a little resistant. I was a bit frustrated: felt trapped and stuck at home. I felt a little sad. I have felt a bit lonely. You know, it’s not my favorite thing to do a talk in front of an empty room filled with 800 empty seats. The Zoom thing… you know, I’m not “Mr. Techie,” so that’s not my favorite thing, either. And so… But this has been a change that we’ve needed to do. And we need to learn how to adapt to it and adjust to it. And we also need to just be okay with our feelings. Just let ourselves feel some of those feelings so we can move beyond them to be fully engaged and present to that next step.

Another important thing about adapting… So adapting is allowing ourselves to feel our feelings. And adapting also is about knowing that there’s more cheese out there, even though we can’t see it yet. To open our minds to new experience and new possibilities. There are all kinds of cheeses out there: Brie; Camembert; Cheddar; Gouda; Swiss… They are all kinds! God has an unlimited amount! And so, even though we just lost something, there’s still more experiences, opportunities, relationships, love, joy, jobs! There’s more of all of those things!

So it’s important to just begin to at least open our minds to new possibilities, new experiences and new situations. Being curious, being excited. Even starting to shape what we might want: our new cheese, our new life, our new experiences to look like. New cheese requires new thinking. New cheese requires some new actions, and being open to new possibilities.

And the last thing I want to talk about is to make sure we allow the whole journey to really be considered an adventure. You know, Helen Keller once said that life is either a daring adventure or nothing. And to really live life, we have to live boldly. We have to live daringly. We have to live joyously and consciously. We have to put our heart and our soul and our spirit into all the things that we do.

You know, the thing about living daringly isn’t necessary about what you do, but how you do it. It is the investment of our spirit and our creativity and our joy into whatever it is that we are doing. Like, we can make this experience of this time at home an adventure! I hear people saying going to the grocery store is quite the adventure. Finding toilet paper is an adventure! You know, a friend of mine has been using her time at home to really get into cooking. She is trying more recipes and more techniques than she ever has before, and is loving it! She made salt-encrusted branzino the other day; she videotaped it, so I got to see it… Didn’t get to taste it, but I got to see it! And she is just absolutely loving that experience! I have another friend who has never worked at home; he loves not having to get dressed to work! And he loves growing a beard and not having to shave! That has become an adventure for him. I know other people who are taking up writing; they’re writing poetry. And this has been an adventure in that experience.

Tomorrow my family and I are going to have a birthday dinner party by Zoom for my sister’s birthday! And this will be my first adventure in a dinner party birthday by Zoom! I mean, all these things are happening, and why not make it an adventure? Because this might be the only time in our lives we’re ever told we have to stay home like this. So why not make it an adventure and make the most of it?

The thing with Hem and Haw – what they found – is at the end, when they found their cheese, they realized there was still more cheese. And the cheese was even better than it was before for their new age, stage and context of where they were in life. But even more importantly, they liked that they became a better version of themselves. That the process of change led them to do some introspection, some learning about who they are… About growing and overcoming… And now they were even happier with their life, because they have grown and expanded in new and amazing ways.

Change is giving us an opportunity to advance our souls. To discover new gifts and to expand our level of joy and happiness and fulfillment. There is no question our cheese has been moved! And our cheese – in various forms and various ways – will continue to be moved as we move on in our lives. And it’s not an easy thing. But it can be an amazing thing – and a powerful thing and an adventurous thing – if we are willing to roll with the changes.

God bless you all!



Rev. Lori Fleming: It’s that time in our service to give of our gifts and our tithes and our offerings. We’re so grateful to all of you who’ve sent checks in; who are contributing online; for all the ways that you’re keeping this ministry growing and growing, and being there for you when we can’t all be together. Some day soon, we will be together… but, until then, just know we’re so grateful for the way that you’ve supported our ministry.

Our offering blessing is: “Divine Love, through me, blesses and multiplies all that I have, all that I give and all that I receive.” Will you affirm that with me? “Divine Love, through me, blesses and multiplies all that I have, all that I give and all that I receive.” And so we say, “Thank you, God!” for all of the gifts and tithes and offerings. We know they are given in love; they are received in love; and that they move through this ministry with the energy of Divine Love out into the world as good. And that each giver is blessed, heaped up, pressed down and overflowing, for that is the Law. And so it is. Thank you, God! Amen.



Rev. Lori Fleming: And now will you join me in the Prayer for Protection? “The light of God surrounds us; the love of God enfolds us; the power of God protects us; the presence of God watches over; wherever we are, God is.” And all is well! Thank you so much for being with us! Have a great day!


Copyright 2020 Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center/Rev. Richard Maraj

Location and Contact Information

Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center

1500 E Greenway Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85022
Phone: (602) 978-3200

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