For most of my 58 years, Unity has been a major part of my life. As a child, I started most Sunday mornings at St Paul’s United Methodist Church (because my mother wanted me to attend Sunday school, which our local Unity church didn’t offer then). But when Sunday school was over, my family would make the 10-block drive to attend services at Unity Center of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
As a youth, I listened to and accepted the Unity principles as absolute Truth, but I didn’t actively use the teachings until I was in college in London in 1977. A couple of days after arriving on campus, I was recovering from jet lag and feeling very alone. I wondered for a moment if I had made a mistake going 4,000 miles away from home for a year to study abroad. During this challenging time, I picked up a telephone book and looked for a Unity center near me. I found one and called to ask if it was affiliated with Unity Village in Missouri. It was. I began attending regularly.
Also, I bought a copy of the late Rev Eric Butterworth’s Discover the Power Within You (Harper & Row, 1968). I devoured that book, which taught me what I knew intuitively: I had no need to fear or feel alone—I already had all the resources I needed in God. God had a divine plan for my life, and that included being a student in London. I ended up having a terrific college experience.
While I continued to attend Unity centers and enjoy retreats at Unity Village, I was presented with another opportunity to apply the Truth principles taught by Jesus and so beautifully articulated by Unity. In 2007 I was diagnosed with a serious form of melanoma. While the diagnosis and its average survival rate was sobering, I thought of Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore and her journey back to perfect health.
During the treatment (which required two surgeries), I meditated with discipline and commitment on the same Truth Myrtle had held in mind: I do not inherit sickness; perfect health is my destiny. I felt at peace.
Just as I had in college, I reached for Unity. I did daily prayer work. I read Butterworth’s Spiritual Economics (Unity Books, 1993), substituting the words health and healing wherever the text talked about prosperity. I held fast to the book’s theme— that you can change your life, and your experiences, by altering your thoughts. Butterworth emphasized the importance of discipline and commitment in holding to the Truth and rooting out error thinking. Whenever I would sometimes feel fear in the middle of the night, I’d remind myself that this was the error thinking Butterworth described. My goal became to focus on the outcome that I knew was my destiny—a long life with my wife and two children.
That was eight years ago and I am now fully recovered. My oncologist told me, “You used to have cancer, but there is not a trace of cancer in you now. That is in your past!”
To me, the collection of spiritual resources Unity offers is like a toolbox I can use in my everyday life to get, as we say in Unity, “prayed up.” Just as Jesus regularly went to the mountaintop to remind himself of the Truth, and as Butterworth regularly reread his own books and radio talk transcripts to stay in tune with spiritual principles, I know I need to pray, meditate, and study daily to keep deepening my awareness of God. I follow Butterworth’s teaching about committing 15 minutes before I start my day and 15 minutes before I go to bed to prayer and meditation, as they are the most influential 30 minutes of our entire day. For me, that’s a minimum.
While I still occasionally attend Sunday services at Unity Center of Cedar Rapids (UCR), I consider my home church to be a combination of UCR; Daily Word (which my company has printed for more than a decade); Silent Unity (both the telephone prayer ministry and the prayer services at Silent Unity Chapel when I can attend); books, tapes, and CDs by Unity authors (Butterworth’s books are mainstays on my nightstand and I listen to his CDs in my car); Unity retreats, workshops, and events (such as World Day of Prayer); and mastermind groups (a concept created by the late Napoleon Hill to help us navigate challenges using collective intelligence and prayer).
If it weren’t for Unity, my spiritual toolbox would be rather empty.
By Martin Fisher, as told to Annie L Scholl
Reprinted from Unity Magazine, January/February 2016 issue with permission.