Circle of Miracles Ministry will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on Thanksgiving Weekend in November 2020. At the Circle Of Miracles 15th Anniversary Celebration … “How it came to be” was presented by the founder and subsequently edited for sharing. It follows below.
“As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of Circle Of Miracles. Three of our beloved Circle friends, who attended the very first Celebration, have left this dimension: Francesca Pace, Bernice (Harshida) Alterman, and my sister Ruth Siekmann. I am grateful for their contributions and their love. I miss them. However, I’m sure they are here today in Spirit, celebrating with us, cheering us on to continue creating miracles.
First of all, what is COM?
Circle Of Miracles is community that comes together to share with each other the many interesting ways we can walk the path Home, a place, A Course In Miracles says, we never really left.
“Do you know the best way home?” we ask each other, and some raise their hands claiming: “I think I know! I think know!” What we don’t know is that we were never lost. All paths lead Home and we are just coming together to share, support, encourage, and love each other, helping to navigate the many possible ways.
The name implies Miracles. Indeed, Circle is built on a long string of Miracles: Circumstances that are orchestrated in another dimension and put into being in this one. At first glance some of these circumstances seem to be disastrous, bad, or at least inconvenient. Our typical human reaction is: “NOW WHAT?” In retrospect, I know that they are always miraculous.
How did Circle and the Butterfly logo come to be? Here is a series of 35mm mental slides:
Let’s start with the stack labeled: THE COCOON
Once upon a time, there was a little girl in a far, far away country, Germany. She’s born at the beginning of the 2nd world war, and narrowly and miraculously escapes death during bombing raids several times. On her first Holy Communion day, April 1, 1951, she has an emotional, spiritual experience in church and vows to dedicate her life to God. Of Course, this being her Communion and also April Fools Day, it’s a busy and exiting day. There are April Fools pranks to play, gifts to open, cake to eat, and the promise is soon forgotten.
Life marches on, and shortly after her 18th birthday, in February 1957, the girl and her parents immigrate to America.
It is 1979. She now has three children (two of college age), an alcoholic husband, a mortgage, and a fine courier with a major corporation. Just before Christmas, the corporation that employs her and her husband gives notice that it is about to close the division they work for, potentially leaving both without jobs. Now what?
Look for another job, of Course! So she goes on a particularly promising interview. She really wants this job, but during the interview she says something totally unintended and thoughtless. The faces of the interviewers show the result… no job offer. Now what?
However, miraculously, instead of laying her off, the corporation decides to transfer her to another division. What a relief! What a miracle!
Great job, until a huge injustice occurs. She’s assigned a different position to make room for a high corporate manager’s young son. Questioning that re-assignment, she’s told: “Broads really shouldn’t be in your position… yours should be a man’s job”.
So, the young man moves into her job – with a higher salary than hers. Indignant and outraged, she reports the incident to her former headquarter chief, who is now the corporate division’s President. He is equally indignant, and perhaps somewhat concerned about a lawsuit. The offending district manager is called to headquarters, and “retired”.
A new district manager is assigned. Miraculously, he comes with a 20% raise in salary for her. His name? Bob Goodwin.
She divorces her husband in 1984, and in 1987, marries Bob Goodwin. They celebrate their marriage with two close friends at the Wycombe Inn. What a beautiful community Wycombe is! Wonder if there are any homes for sale? None. It seems, that everyone who lives in Wycombe, stays in Wycombe. So they stay in their small townhouse in Newtown to live happily after. Or so they think.
One day, the corporation decides to sell the division she currently works for, too. The new owners offer her a transfer to their headquarters in Wilkes Barre. Instead of accepting, she decides she has worked long enough and stays home. Bad decision. Money becomes really tight.
She applies for a light job at a local newspaper to supplement their income and is told she’s “overqualified” (did they mean too old?). They don’t want to hire her. Now what?
A few days after the disappointment, a daily newspaper is delivered to her front door, unsubscribed. Curious, she opens the Want Ad section. And there it is, the miracle! It’s a small ad, describing all her special skills, as if someone had condensed her résumé to a few lines.
She applies for the job, is not overqualified, and begins a courier with a German corporation, who is establishing a new branch in the US, two miles from her home. Little did she know how really miraculous this new job connection would turn out to be.
Her new manager, Bodo, is German, of Course. One day he mentions that he would love to buy a home for himself and his young family. Unfortunately he has not yet established credit in this country. Although she and Bob don’t have any extra money, they do have good credit. So they decide to take out a mortgage on their little Newtown home as down payment and buy a townhouse for Bodo and family. He promises to pay them rent and all expenses incurred. No contract, just a handshake.
About a year later, she and Bob do a favor for her sisters. In gratitude, the sisters treat them to lunch at Zoto’s diner. As she does routinely everywhere she goes, she picks up one of the real estate booklets in the lobby. Thumbing through, there it is:
THE Miracle! A property in Wycombe! 13+ acres, some wooded. Expensive, but sub-dividable. Very exciting.
She shares the exciting discovery with Bodo at work. They take a ride during lunchtime to look at the property, and he says: “I love it! You subdivide, sell the townhouse you bought for me, and I will buy three acres and the original house from you. You can build the house of your dreams on one of the subdivided parcels.”
She responds: “Are you kidding? It’s a slow real estate market. How are we going to sell both yours and our townhouses and buy the new property at the same time? Do you know how much it costs to sell your house? We just bought it!” He says: “No problem. Put it on the tab. I want the house in Wycombe”. No contract, just a handshake.
She and Bob decide to sell both homes and purchase the Wycombe property.
Miracle: Both townhouses settle on the same day, and the Wycombe property is purchased the next day.
But they do need a place to live during the subdivision of the property and construction of the new house.
Miraculously, a recently widowed man Bob met at a local restaurant happens to be looking for a house sitter. Perfect. She and Bob move in for however long it takes to subdivide the property and build their new home. No contract, just a handshake,
Everyone tells horror stories about long, long subdivision delays. Not for the miracle couple. Using a newly learned method called Reiki, she sends energy to the process every day. Miraculously this turns out to be the shortest subdivision in the history of Wrightstown Township.
Their new home and property are lovely, fabulous surroundings for teaching Reiki and other courses, and perfect for holding retreats.
This is the end of the little German girl and the beginning of Hannelore’s public life, her “coming out of the cocoon”. The butterfly had emerged. “Healing Alternatives”, the forerunner to Circle Of Miracles was born.
New stack of slides labeled:
The Butterfly (Evolving Free Spirit):
I, Hannelore knew, that very organization needs a logo. Playing with free clip art on the computer, I became intrigued by an image of a little boy, joyously riding on top of a butterfly, waving a bunch of flowers over his head. It spoke to my heart, to every cell of my body. It personified a joyous feeling of freedom. This is it! I made a few changes and let that became the perfect representation of Healing Alternatives.
Reiki classes were happening in Wycombe. A large room with window walls looking into the woods was added to host the workshops. My new age friends suggested that we place a crystal grid under the floor. Mike Wanner appropriately named the new space “Energy Room”. It fit, in the truest sense of the word.
The first “outsider” to occupy the Energy Room was a channeling group headed up by Wayne K. He would become one of the most influential miracles in the history of COM.
A girlfriend was taking Landmark Education courses and persistently invited me to come with her to sample a class. No way! Not getting involved! Famous last words…
Initially strongly resisting the process, I eventually gave in and signed up for the Landmark Forum, followed by the Advanced Course, and then, in April 1995, the SELP (Self Expression and Leadership Program).
To pass this Course, each student had to develop and execute a project serving mankind. It was to involve any person who wanted to participate. The project had to be self-sustaining, which meant that after it was put into life, it could continue on its own, being run by another person or persons. But what project could I do?
Some time ago, I had studied to become a metaphysical minister and was ordained. So my Landmark SELP classmates suggested it would be a great idea to plan a Spiritual Celebration. I should write the program, based on nothing that ever existed. Again resisting, I did begin to plan and write an outline.
One evening, as I was sharing my progress with the class, my mind suddenly flashed back to the young girl in Germany and remembered the promise I made on my First Holy Communion on April 1, 1951… dedicating my life to God. Little did I know what that meant!
What to name this Spiritual Celebration? I held a contest among friends and family.
The winning name?
“Evolving Free Spirit, A Non-Denominational Spiritual Serenity Service”.
The project deadline was the end of July 1995. With the help of my friend Pam Reppert who initially involved me in Landmark, I sent out invitations, printed programs, chose music, set up the Energy Room, bought flowers and refreshments. It was Saturday afternoon, July 22. The Service was to begin at 2:00PM and end at 3:30. Hearts pounding, We waited for attendees. What if no one shows up?
In addition to my friend Pam, Wayne, Bob, and my two sisters, ten guests showed up. What a relief! The Service went smoothly, ending with a “Light Treatment”, in the form of hands-on Reiki for everyone who wanted it.
Done! Lots of work, but project completed. I could now graduate from the Landmark SELP with integrity. Will never to that again! Right…
That’s when Spirit in the shape of Wayne K. stepped in. He thought that Wycombe had become a spiritual home for many and that this “Prayer Service” needed to continue on a regular basis.
“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” was my reply. He persisted, and persisted, and promised to help. He even offered to be the speaker every Sunday.
And one night, after his Channeling Group, he flatly refused to leave my office until I agreed to continue the Service on a regular basis. It was late, it seemed to be 2am, but I could be mistaken. I was tired. So I gave in. “OK, let’s do it.” The date for the first continuous Service was set: Thanksgiving weekend, Sunday, 11/26/1995.
Deeply intrigued by A Course In Miracles, it had become my spiritual philosophy. And so we renamed the revived service Circle Of Miracles. Again, in addition to Bob and Wayne, my brand new co-facilitator, ten people showed up, five of them family.
Slow start. But we had a great marketing technique: We served cake, cookies, cheese n’crackers, tea, and coffee afterwards. That seemed to appeal to people. The junk food table soon grew to huge proportions.
Attendance picked up and we now had a parking problem. Paving the driveway and enlarging the parking area worked somewhat for several years. Guests would even park on the grass, which was often muddy, their cars getting stuck.
And then there were the winters with snow and ice on the 800 foot long, steep driveway! Bob served as parking police for a while…
In 1996, Wayne resigned as co-facilitator and John Walther graciously stepped in.
The butterfly was evolving again. I added two simple curved words over the little person waving the flowers: “Spirit Emerging”.
Slowly, something else was emerging: An inner directive to create a Circle Of Miracles Ministry School. As the inner urges became stronger and stronger and could no longer be ignored, I mentioned the idea to a few Circle teachers.
Miraculously, instead of discouraging me, their eyes literally sparkled as they agreed to become part of the School’s foundation. Training ministers would be a way to expand Circle without the necessity of acquiring huge buildings. The nondenominational philosophy of the Celebration could be brought into any living room, rehab center, retirement home, even prisons.
The time had come to become “legal”. We incorporated Circle Of Miracles Ministries as nonprofit organization in January of 1999, and began teaching the first ministry class in the same month. Since then, Circle has graduated about 120 ministers and is well-respected as a joy-filled, yet deeply life-changing School.
Fast forward to 2007. The Energy Room was at full capacity. We knew we had to take our Circle to a more official place, but did not put much energy into the search. Then the Universe in the form of Wrightstown Township stepped in. On August 10 1007, a letter arrived asking us to stop our activities immediately until we had a permit from the township to continue. Translated that meant: To get this permit, put in a sprinkler system, handicap ramp, handicap-accessible bathrooms, adequate parking, etc.
NOW WHAT? It was Friday, and what was to be our last Sunday Celebration (8/12/2007) in Wycombe was approaching. I made frantic calls to anyone I thought could offer space for COM. Nothing! The end?
With a heavy heart I wrote an email to our Sunday Circle guests. Some regular attendees didn’t have email addresses, so I began making calls to inform them of the news. I dialed Meera. No answer. I dialed Mary Pat. No answer. The third person answered. It was Eshowe. She said, oh, you need a place for Sunday Celebration? I have a house I’m not using. You are welcome to it until you find a permanent place. . HUGE MIRACLE!
We held our Celebrations at Eshowe’s for two months. What a fabulous place in the midst of a park-like setting! I’ll always be grateful for her incredible generosity.
One day, a friend called me. She said, you know, there is a place for rent in New Britain on the corner of Route 202 and Beulah Road. Why don’t you check it out? The address sounded faintly familiar. And then I remembered: One of our graduate ministry students had occupied this place, gave workshops there, and held Sunday Celebrations. I always liked the location and the space. We checked it out, and it was perfect!
The rent was affordable, although it was scary to have to pay rent. The landlord was kind, and generously offered to replace the stained brown carpet with a new one of our choice. He also allowed us to move in and set up before he officially began charging us rent.
My friend, Denny Daikeler, a fabulous designer’s designer and author of two books miraculously and generously offered to donate her time and help design Circle’s new home- despite her busy schedule.
One of her suggestions was to place a huge six-foot round mirror on the wall. It was to have a one-foot frame, which we planned to decorate with icons of major world religions. Easier said than done! I searched the Internet with no results. One place in Philadelphia said they could create one. Problem would be the weight and how to suspend all that weight. Price? Over $1400 plus delivery and installation!
Almost giving up, I happened to talk with one of Circle’s graduate ministers, Phil, and told him of our plight. He said, “NO PROBLEM!” and quickly created a lightweight six foot round mirror with a one-foot frame. Exactly as planned. For FREE. Major MIRACLE! Nancy Schmidt and her husband, Chuck, generously installed the mirror and placed rope lighting behind it, giving it a “floating” appearance.
The religious icons you see on the back wall of our sanctuary were created and donated by some of our talented artists: Eshowe Pennink, Nancy Schmidt, Mary Pat Mollé, Karen Hoffman, Connie Marino, and Marie Bender. Rather than placing them on the mirror’s frame as initially planned, the frame was kept blank, leaving elegant space. Instead, they were installed on the wall opposite the mirror. Now, when you look into the mirror, you see their interesting curved reflections in the top part of the mirror, creating the illusion of a part-circle.
Why a mirror, you ask? It reminds us that we are all mirrors for each other and that we are responsible for what we see “out there”. Someone once said: “If you look into a mirror and see a spot on your face, you need to wipe your face.” And A Course In Miracles states: “What you see reflects your thinking, and your thinking but reflects your choice of what you want to see.” It is a beautiful teaching tool.
What I love best about this mirror was unintended by Phil, but turned out to be a little miracle: The mirror’s surface is slightly curved, distorting the image a bit… perhaps reminding us that we don’t see the real truth in ourselves and each other… yet.
Circle has been in existence for 15 years now: 12 years in Wycombe, three in New Britain. It has changed my life. Perhaps it has changed yours as well. I believe that Circle, like a pebble tossed into a pond, has birthed endless circles of miracles because of you, who carry the love and freedom you experience here, into the world. I love each one of you!
Intense gratitude, and unending blessings, Hannelore Goodwin