Light of Love Day

According to tradition, Joel delivered his annual Light of Love Day talk December 25 on Love and Compassion.

This year's talk presented contemplative experiments for cultivating compassion, inspired by a Buddhist practice called sending and taking. This practice involves imaginatively taking on suffering and sending out compassion. It begins with taking on the one's own suffering and sending oneself compassion. The next step is to do sending and taking with a friend or loved one. Then, one practices it with a stranger, and finally with an enemy. Joel guided us through a simplified version of sending and taking in which we open up to and deeply experience the suffering of oneself, friends, strangers, and enemies. In addition, with each of these people, we also allow ourselves to experience the longing of that person to be free of their suffering, and to experience compassion for that person and the wish for them to be free of the suffering and experience joy. We then radiate this out to all beings. Joel's presentation of this practice was punctuated with offerings from the community, including poetry and songs.


Jane with a sketch

Gratitude for Life Celebration with Jane Sanford Harrison

CSS member Jane Sanford Harrison was diagnosed with brain cancer just over a year ago. Instead of a memorial after her death, she decided to have a celebration of life while she is still living.

Jane's pagoda

Her sons Sean and Jim organized a gathering of many friends and family who attended both in person at the CSS building and remotely via Zoom. Joel opened the celebration with some brief words, which were followed by heartfelt sharing by a few of Jane's closest family and friends.

Jane shared some of her wisdom of Leaning in to Uncertainty and her practice of gratitude that involved making a gratitude sketch every day for five years. Watch a brief video of it here: Jane shares her wisdom.

Merry Song recently interviewed Jane, and they had an in-depth conversation about Jane's life and her insights. Watch it here: Interview with Jane.


Devon Cordes

Todd Gives Sermon at Memorial for Devon Cordes

Devon Cordes, the daughter of CSS member Deanna Cordes, died unexpectedly in January 2023.

Her family organized a memorial which was hosted by CSS.

Family and friends gathered to share their memories of Devon. Todd Corbett delivered a moving sermon, which you can listen to here: Todd's sermon


image Wisdom Revealed in Broken Hearts image

This winter, Merry Song led a four-week writing workshop on Zoom with a group of thirteen participants.  It was a large group, but it became intimate as the participants delved into the topics of Disappointment, Heartbreak, and Freedom.  During the session on Heartbreak, Merry Song gave the following spontaneous writing prompt:  “When you collect the pieces of twenty-four broken hearts, you can…”  With less than three minutes to write and no time to edit, the writers then read their stunning poetic wisdom to end the two-hour session.  Enjoy their offerings below.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts you can create a gorgeous stained glass bird out of them that glows and reflects the morning light and hangs quietly in the light of stars.  You can attach sacred memories to each piece, honoring the hearts, honoring the drops of sorrow, expanding out into the night sky like a million fragments of a comet shooting across your vision, shining down on all hearts, reminding you how deep love is and that love never dies.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts, you can imagine that you might be able to assemble just one…one strong heart…a heart that would be able to withstand any rogue forces intent on breakage. You can line up those pieces as you would those of an elaborate jigsaw puzzle and fantasize that you hold the powers of a brilliant Dr. Frankenstein, capable of improving on original nature and creating the Heart That Can Never Be Broken. 
But you would be wrong; you would be tragically misguided; you would be missing the point of heartbreak, entirely. 
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts, you can tell me not to cry over my last heartbreak. But until you’ve known heartbreak, it’s best you don’t try to stop me from having mine. You might be tempted to say, “But that was just your cat, Smokey,” and forget that this beautiful, fluffy, green-eyed cat came a stranger to our house and sat every day at the foot of my bed for a week when I had tonsillitis and was my most faithful friend for 16 years. He showed me that heartbreak has a life of its own. It brings a deep grief that can’t honor anyone else’s timeline for its departure. “Just get over it” doesn’t work. It lives deep in the heart, like a heavy bag of sand that weighs you down and won’t be mollified. No one else can manage your heartbreak for you, no one else can help dispel it or relieve it. It lives with you until it’s done with you, and then it will return when you’re least expecting it. It’s a gift, this broken, open heart.
When you collect the pieces of twenty-four broken hearts you can begin to see a pattern. Like the ceramic bowl put back together with gold, beauty arises. Is it because the brokenness adds character? You wish for perfection and hope that healing will return your heart to its previous state and yet, you’ve seen those hearts that are enclosed in armor and they don’t have the fragile beauty you long for.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts, you will have a confusion of pieces searching for their new pattern.  Each part will offer something: love, gratitude, despair, fear, joy, etc, and when finally put together, they will make a heart that is more beautiful, bright, and full than you have ever seen.  Each heart segment contains a depth unknown to a heart that has never been broken.  Each fragment treasures the other pieces as glimpses of a richer way to be.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts you can start to get to know their pain.  You will go through the excruciating pain that knocks you down, the inability to stop the tears throughout the day.
But you have now also begun to see the blessings they have brought…the lifting of their weight also begins to arrive.  Sometimes you feel it will never go, yet here it is…a deep breath without a sob, a lightness of heart…a glance at the beautiful flower blooming outside your window…the concerned look of your loving dog.
Yes, the armor has begun to crumble, letting in joy, once again.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts you can have trouble knowing who to give the pieces back to.  This piece is missing a lost grandparent — whose is it? All hands go up. This piece is no one to go to an event with — all hands go up. This piece is not getting a job you wanted — all hands go up.  All 24 people will need to just divvy up the pieces and get back to living, because all the heartbreak ended up being the same. Stories about things you loved whose time was fulfilled — the love undiminished — the object gone from anything but memory hanging on now to all that is left, the story of what was.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts, you can…
reassemble them in a new manner entirely since it’s probably impossible to put them back together as they once were. It’s a chance to discover and create something new and unexpected, something that would’ve never occurred to you without the hearts breaking asunder. Who would’ve guessed that something beautiful could arise out of severed organs? The mystery is that it can and did. You thought those hearts would never beat again, and you are shocked into delight that they do.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts,
 you can put them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Though the hearts belong to many people,
they are made of the same material.
There is enough commonality that some will fit snugly
into another's concave space.
There will be a projection triangular from one piece that fills—
just so—the sharp edge of a broken piece.
It takes a while to put it together.
Gradually a recognizable image begins to emerge from the bits
and we see all of this pain is lessened when joined together again
from the whole heart from which we came.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts you can feel all the suffering in the world. 24 broken hearts--thousands of pieces--you might think they will never be reassembled--trying to sort them into 24 piles.  But the hearts know which pieces are theirs--and slowly the puzzles reassemble into 24 hearts--once shattered and broken, now whole and broken. 24 hearts living this human life.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts, you can weave them like golden threads of love into an amazing story which includes a piece of each heart. Taking a thread of each broken heart and threading each delicate strand in such a way that when viewed it appears only as one heart...because after all it really is just one story of many colors, many fabrics, and textures all coming together in such a way that the final picture creates the most beautiful piece of art.
When you collect the pieces of 24 broken hearts you can…
Love so deeply
You’ve never known
Each One Sacred
Precious to the owner
You collect them
As your own
You see your own 
Broken heart
In each One
And yours now
Is among the collection
Oh how I wish
I’d been by your side
When you died 
Oh the agony
And yet
You spoke to me
From timeless realms
My broken heart 
Into your essence
I thank you Mama
For the gift of your
Gracious precious 
Timeless spaceless 
For I can feel
More deeply
And know
Our shared
As I shall pass
Are each of the pieces of broken hearts in the shape of a heart, like a hologram? Or are they like little prisms, through which one can see the infinite?



Merry Song leads spiritual writing workshops for the Center for Sacred Sciences.
She may be contacted for more information at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Artwork of the “Stained Glass Bird” by Nancy Miller, known here as HeartSong.


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"His Tesla is Gone!" by Wesley Lachman

As Connie snuggled up to him, Craig completely forgot about his new automobile. At that very moment, his white Tesla disappeared from the world as we know it. It was nowhere. No one on the block was looking at it or remembering it. Certainly no one was driving it. There were 7,973,413,043 people on earth that evening, and not a single one was seeing Craig’s Tesla or thinking about it, not even Craig.

So, where was it?

Craig's Tesla

It had completely vanished from the known world. But when Craig came up for air ten minutes later, he remembered his Tesla again, and it reentered his world. He peeked out the window, and it was there. Say, he thought to himself, that’s what the teacher in my Zoom class said to watch for: Everything comes and goes except for one thing. Huh? The rest of the world disappeared just now while I was kissing Connie, not only my car. So maybe everything really does disappear, but what is always here?

Connie poked him in the ribs, “Hey, where you off to? I’m still here, remember?” Craig gave her a little squeeze and tried to explain. Failing to do so, he substituted a fond caress, and Connie snuggled in closer again.

They watched a favorite video. Then Craig gave her a final smooch and headed out for his apartment. He had to arise at 6:30AM to be on time for work, looking sharp. He had driven for about 10 minutes while admiring the good looks and ergonomic placement of the Tesla’s controls and readouts. Suddenly he realized that his body was gone. Holy cow! He had felt his hands and some muscles in his forearms, but the rest had vanished. Right now he could feel his body; it was back where it belonged. Weird. So everything comes and goes except for one thing. But what could that one thing possibly be?

The question got under Craig’s skin. It wouldn’t go away. What could the answer be? He arrived home and hit the sack totally baffled. His sleep was fitful. His alarm clock went off, but was only successful in arousing him into a barely-conscious state.

But in the next moment he woke up. He became fully alert. He could see and feel and hear and so on. But nothing was appearing: no sights, no sounds, nothing. His view widened, wide as the sky, all around him. Still nothing. So maybe this is the one thing, he thought, this spacious emptiness. Sure, how could I see or hear anything at all unless this endless stage was open here to receive it. It’s always here when I am here. Awe was spreading all through him. It made him shiver, but he relaxed into it. Hey, he wondered, is this me in God, or is it God in me?


Mission and Programs of the Center for Sacred Sciences

The Center for Sacred Sciences is dedicated to the study, practice, and dissemination of the spiritual teachings of the mystics, saints, and sages of the major religious traditions. The Center endeavors to present these teachings in forms appropriate to our contemporary scientific culture. The Center also works to create and disseminate a sacred worldview which expresses the compatibility between universal mystical truths and the evidence of modern science.

Among the Center’s ongoing events are Sunday public services with meditations and talks given by the Center’s spiritual teachers; and — for committed spiritual seekers — weekly practitioners groups and periodic meditation retreats. The Center is accessible. We are a welcoming and inclusive community.

The Center maintains an extensive lending library of books, audios, videos, and periodicals covering spiritual, psychological, philosophical, and scientific subjects. In addition, the Center provides a website containing information and resources related to the teachings of the world’s mystics, the universality of mystical truth, and the relationship between science and mysticism. The Center also publishes this newsletter.

The Center for Sacred Sciences is a non-profit, tax-exempt church based in Eugene, Oregon, USA. We rely chiefly on volunteer staff to support our programs, and on donations to meet our operating expenses. Our spiritual teachers give their teachings freely as a labor of love and receive no financial compensation from the Center. 


About the Center Community News

The Center Community News is published on the CSS website several times a year. Its primary purpose is to help foster a community of spiritual practitioners by sharing original teachings, experiences, reflections, artistic expressions, and reports among members of our community.

To submit your original spiritual reflection, report, poetry or art to the newsletter for publication, please use the newsletter submission form

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Center for Sacred Sciences • (541) 345-0102 • General contact form
Mailing Address: 1430 Willamette St. #164, Eugene, OR 97401-4049 USA
Meeting Address: 5440 Saratoga St., Eugene, Oregon, USA