Joy and Justice for All of Us

Two divine ideas flowing from the same heart…

Flashback! About a year ago, I created and posted this simple diagram on Instagram (May 3, 2021). I had been contemplating these two divine ideas of joy and justice. It seemed like there had been so much chaos and confusion, but thankfully in May 2020 I ran across this beautiful book, Joy Unspeakable - Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, by Dr. Barbara A. Holmes, that helped me reclaim the kind of joy that is, as she says, “as comfortable in the shout as it is in the silence."1 

In 2020, it seemed like so many people were trying to be joyful through the pain of everything that was going on, a pandemic, a nasty election cycle, the murder of George Floyd, and so much more, including our own personal losses.  It seemed like some folks just wanted to escape (to the pink fluffy cloud) - and some wanted just an absence of the tension (no noise at all).  For me, this was the perfect season to continue to focus on the sustaining power of joy, not to ignore what was going on around me, but to draw upon the inner strength of joy. Though it very much felt like a season of turmoil, grief, rage, and division (and still does), I anchored myself in faith and the richness of unspeakable joy that celebrates the truth and the light regardless of appearances to the contrary. On my morning walks, I would contemplate joy.

I recall thinking early in 2020 how much kinder and wiser we all were going to have to become with what was coming in the days and months ahead. I felt like it was the quiet before the storm. Now as I look back, the storm billowed and rolled! We might have been tossed and disheveled. But somehow, by the grace of God, joy was there all along…ever present, and we are still standing!

I’ve been a collector of joy - all things joy - for quite some time, posters, cups, shirts, etc. These are reminders to keep my own joy stirred up. And I do that by centering myself daily in prayer, affirming that divine love and joy is a part of who and what I am, no matter what; we are created with it and wondrously made. Two and a half years into a pandemic, lots of folks want joy now! But guess what...Are we willing to know the source and giver of true joy?

One thing I’ve come to realize is that there’s no “pursuit of joy”…we already have it. But we need to access it and activate it, and this is an act of our will. Oh yes, plenty has been written on how to get “happiness” from outside ourselves. But really, joy is an inside job. It must be released from the innermost reservoir of our own hearts. The good news is there are plenty ways to access it: prayer and meditation, walks in nature, sitting by the ocean, music, rhythm, dance, poetry, performing arts, spoken word, gatherings, etc. - these of some of the ways that help us reconnect with our joy. Again, if we are willing.

And if there’s one thing I’ve witnessed and felt in my very bones, my ancestors knew real joy. They HAD to know real joy to sustain them through an outer society that wanted to make us “the least” in society. My ancestors knew better. They knew their real value and true worth was rooted in joy…the joy of knowing who we really were all along… God’s very own! That’s why we used to sing this song as I was growing up in the church:

	This Joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me
	This Joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me 
	This Joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me
	The world didn’t give it, the world can’t take it away.

This joy is powerful. It is our God-given birthright, the fruit of the Spirit. It can loose the chains, ward off despair, and break down walls. It is rooted in divine love and it is our choice whether we want to cultivate it, stay in the life-giving stream of it, or not. I believe when we embrace it, we can change the world for the better. We can create the beloved community. I believe all justice movements that truly seek to create a world that works for all will find joy to be a restorative, relational, renewing force for good.

I say let’s get in the stream of it together and DANCE! Let’s see what wondrous things can be re-imagined and brought into fruition in our lives and in our world. More love & joy to come. Don’t despair, my beloveds. Let’s get into the presence of deep inner joy. ASK, SEEK, KNOCK…joy is always ready to rise up and answer.

“You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy…”
- Psalm 16:11

Peace & blessings,

Rev. Dinah

1 Barbara A Holmes, Joy Unspeakable—Contemplative Practices of the Black Church (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 2017), 200.

My Summer Sabbatical

Well, in April I decided to put myself on a “summer sabbatical” to reflect, to be still, and to listen to my heart. Yes…I gave myself permission to not take any speaking or singing engagements this summer 🙂 However, I’m still working my day job. So, the weekends are filled with opening myself up to whatever I’m inspired to do that feeds my soul.
Easter Sunday, April 21, was my final service as the minister of Unity of Tri-Valley, after serving for 14 months in a labor of love with a lovely spiritual community. It was bittersweet but necessary for me to do some truth-telling to myself and step aside. Prior to that, I served as associate minister at Unity of San Leandro in Northern California for two years. And prior to that, I worked to earn my Masters of Divinity at Unity Institute and Seminary from 2013 to 2016 and was ordained in 2016. I am grateful for the privilege of serving and learning so much in church ministry! Now, it’s time to shift my focus a bit.
Over the past few weeks and after several long walks, I’ve come to realize I’ve been going full speed in various ministry endeavors for quite some time. I made a decision in 2005 that I would live the next decades of my life a lot differently than the first few decades of my life. #1- I would live intentionally in alignment with a vision for my life and in alignment with my values. So, I had to do the work of asking myself those hard questions and writing down what I wanted in life and then begin to think/act/behave in alignment with those things. The most important things for me were spiritual growth and to being in integrity with myself.
One thing that was out of whack was my finances. I found myself in over $100,000 worth of debt in 2004. By putting Truth first in my life and gaining a greater awareness of abundance, I began to manifest an abundance consciousness and things began to turnaround. From 2008 to 2012, I studied to become a Licensed Unity Teacher, diving deeper into the spiritual teachings that had helped save me from spiraling into depression. They helped shift me into greater fulfillment, abundance, emotional healing, and a sense of purpose.
This particular spiritual path was working for me; I could see and feel the change; I felt more peace, more satisfaction, and more love and compassion for myself and others. By 2009, I was completely out of debt! It took a commitment to my spiritual practice, discipline, forgiveness work, and greater self-awareness to leave behind the judgmental, critical, self-defeating mental habits that were leaving me feeling empty. 
I’ve come to realize that our thoughts lead to our emotions and our actions.  One of the key principles I discovered says, “thoughts held in mind produce after their kind.” I took it to heart and focused on Spirit. Somehow, a renewed sense of resiliency began to surface. I watched myself like a hawk. I focused on loving life, loving God, and every day being a clear transparency for God’s love to flow through me. I had to face myself and “do my work,” which is still my continual work, to release and let go of that which no longer serves me in a positive, constructive way and make room for new, expanded ways of expressing. I think we all want to grow, get better, and expand. When we do, we give others permission and encouragement to do the same.
So, I just wanted to check in, catch you up, and give you a few highlights of my summer. In a nutshell, I’ve been walking, getting out into nature more, keeping up my regular contemplative prayer practice and meditation work, reflecting, reading, re-connecting with friends, enjoying podcasts (like the Home-brewed Christianity’s Radical Theology summer series with Jack Caputo and Tripp Fuller), spending time with family, and working on improving my sleeping and eating habits.
Slowly, as I roll out of sabbatical mode this fall…I will ramp up my on-line presence for Unity JOY Abundantly Expressing Ministries, and sharing JOY in our world wherever I can. Since its inception in January 2018, I’ve had other priorities that needed my attention:) But this desire to share my JOY has never left me! I plan to continue to my singing and speaking talents as I am led by Spirit. More to come!
For now, I will enjoy the rest of this summer cozying up with one of my favorite books, Sabbath, Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. I love this quote from it:
“Sabbath is more than the absence of work; it is not just a day off, when we catch up on television or errands. It is the presence of something that arises when we consecrate a period of time to listen to what is most deeply beautiful, nourishing, or true. It is a time consecrated with our attention, our mindfulness, honoring those quiet forces of grace or spirit that sustain and heal us.”
I am so grateful for all my life lessons and how important it is to be authentic and to be true to myself.  If we don’t do this, we will never be happy (at least that is my experience). I encourage you to do the same; hang around those who will support you in being your highest, best self. BE JOY, BE LOVE, BE PEACE…and BE the force of good that you want to see in the world. We need YOU. We need the unique light and the JOY you bring! Please know that I am so very grateful for YOU and the love you bring. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Love & joy,
Rev. Dinah

Joyful Travels – China in 2019

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 9.58.58 PMCome go with us Oct. 29 – Nov. 13! This time we’re heading west. Download the brochure.

See the brochure for details and order form. Sign up and send in deposits right away. I am looking for at least 7 more people to go with us. It is the trip of a lifetime.

We will be joining my friend and mentor Rev. Mary Anne Harris, an experienced tour coordinator. The trips I’ve taken with her to Italy, Spain, and Portugal were high quality and well planned (through NAWAS- -she deals with the best companies). Join us! And check out her photo gallery of the other trips she’s led at the Harris House website.


Announcing…More JOY!


Great News to Share!

I am delighted to announce that Unity-Joy Abundantly Expressing Ministries has been approved as an alternative Unity ministry by the Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM) Board of Trustees! Stay tuned for more news as I embark upon exciting ways of sharing and connecting with others as we all awaken to our spiritual essence of JOY and discover our own joyful expressions of this magnificent quality of being. A host of opportunities for you to join in are coming soon! I am inviting you to be a part of keeping the JOY going….so stay tuned… If you haven’t already done so, I would love for you to join my mailing list at dinahchapman.com to start receiving updates and the latest news on the launch of this NEW ministry! Let’s share more JOY and let JOY rise in our world!

Blessings always,

Rev. Dinah Chapman, M.Div.



There’s Joy in it…


Within the first few months of seminary in 2013, I had the pleasure of taking an elective, and I was not quite sure what I was getting myself into. It was simply called the Peace Seminar and the description sounded interesting enough, about how we can create a world that works for everyone. Well, there were enough things happeninShaiff IMG_6723g in the world, that made me go hmmmm…. So how do we, who claim to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, engage in our world in a way that will allow us to shift to a higher way of being, doing, and having that alleviates suffering and the agonizing pangs of not enough-ness? It was a tough, challenging class taught by Dr. Shariff Abdullah, (center of photo) who has made his life’s work and spiritual practice all about inclusivity.  Shariff Abdullah says in his book, Creating A World that Works for All,

“My work is my spiritual practice, and Commonway Institue is my principal vehicle for that practice. The institute’s focus is inclusivity – – teaching the theory, philosophy, and practice of the inextricable linkage between our individual lives and The Other. The links already exist; we just help people become conscious of them…We humans have much more that unites us than separates us. Commonly helps people see that.” (Chapter 3 Inclusivity–Spirit and Practice, page 63)

Little did I know that this class and this work would dig down into the core of me and resonate so strongly, so that years later I am still passionate about what Shariff Abdullah and Commonway Institute are doing. Through much of 2013, 2014, 2015, however, I could not understand the disconnect of seeing symptoms in our society of great dis-ease, fragmentation, and exclusivity driving the actions and reactions in our nation, and on the other hand seeing basically no higher ground operatives ready to meet the challenge of this atmosphere head on.

So here we are in 2017, and I asked myself “what’s changed?” We are all praying, asking what is ours to do, and finding our vehicles for taking action in some form of spiritual social activism in our own way. The headlines continue to be hurled at us ceaselessly and endlessly. I often hear within my own heart, ” do what’s in front of you.” Wherever we are working along the spectrum of healing the world, it is ALL needed.

IMG_8500Maybe this work of inclusivity is not sexy or glitzy enough for everyone to jump on the bandwagon in droves. However, I believe when enough people get sick and tired of being sick and tired…they’ll wake up and realize that instead of hacking away at the symptoms that are manifesting on the surface, we’ll begin to also work the deeper work of shifting our collective consciousness and awareness to the underlying spiritual aspects and qualities of our humanity and our divinity. Then we can find that pearl of great price — our linkage, our spiritual heritage that allows us to live in unified, divine harmony in the beloved community and be as One.

I’ve prayed, I’ve asked what is mine to do, and one thing is to bring people together who believe it’s possible to live, collaborate, dialog and make changes that come from a place of inclusivity and not exclusivity. Are you passionate about taking some action and don’t know where to start? A good place to start would be to engage in Dr. Shariff Abdullah’s Shadow-to-Light workshops. Working on a personal/individualistic level is fine if that is all you can do, however, working on the collective, greater system and institutional level is very much needed as well.

My action and activity over the next 12 weeks is to facilitate Dr. Shariff Abdullah’s powerfully transforming workshops called the Shadow-to-Light (S2L) Program, starting Sept. 5 at Unity of San Leandro in San Leandro, CA. There’s still time to sign up if you want to join in shifting the energy on the planet from the shadows to LIGHT……I will be the local lead facilitator inviting 12 other transformation catalysts to attend who also want to see a world transformed to higher ground. We need people from all walks of life, no matter your race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or political affiliation. For more information and to sign up, go to:  unitysanleandro.org/special-events. We would love to have the synergy of face-to-face dialog, but if you are not near this workshop in the Bay Area or in your area, go to the online version of the workshop: Online Solo S2L Course

Together – Let us embrace and usher in the LIGHT!

Peace & blessings,

Rev. Dinah


Sunday Morning at Unity of San Francisco – Dec. 4th

Rev. Sonya Milton and me

I was up and at ’em early last Sunday morning to arrive at Unity of San Francisco early enough to do a sound check before the service. I received a warm welcome and was embraced by this  jubilant congregation. Thank you, Cinder Ernst and Uma Maedke for helping to make this singing opportunity happen for me. During her talk, Rev. Sonya Milton reminded us to think on being filled with that hope and expectancy in the coming weeks that something wonderful is happening within us.  “Something truly worth waiting for” is the realization of our Oneness with GOD. The dawning of this LIGHT in our minds and hearts is happening all the time. That light within us is the CHRIST light… oftentimes, just awaiting our recognition of it.

My heart was truly overflowing with gratitude to be able to deliver my message in song, which is… we are loved with a HUGE MAGNIFICENT LOVE that is everlasting and connects us all in a beautiful way. “Beloved,” which is track 9 on my CD “Rivers of Living Waters,” is fast becoming a favorite of many. It speaks of the unique, rare quality that we all have.

We all have gifts we have been sent to share with the world. Our LIGHT shines so brilliantly for the entire world to see and to share. I encourage you to LET your LIGHT shine. YOU are the one we all have been waiting for. Your gifts are the blessed heavenly gifts that we all have been waiting for. So SHINE ON, my beloveds! YOU ARE the BELOVED child of GOD. Do you know how special you are? Has anyone told you lately? If not, please find a nice quiet spot and let me sing it to you…. Love and infinite blessings to you this week and throughout this joyous season!

Love, peace, and joy!

– Dinah

Uma Maedke and Michael Grossman



Exciting News and BIG fun in Thousand Oaks!

On November 5th, I flew into Burbank and hopped on over to Unity of the Oaks in Thousand Oaks, CA, just in time for an all-day retreat/workshop on self-care. It was just what I needed!  We learned how to take care of ourselves – – everything from mindful eating, prayer and meditation, to restorative yoga. Americans are busy folks, and we need to learn to slow down and take time out to sooth the soul and body. It was perfect timing. After a lovely dinner at the home of my friends, Marti and Dom, I turned in for some good ol’ sleep so that I could be up and at ’em on Sunday morning to do a sound check at 9 a.m. before the Sunday service. My heart is still overflowing with gratitude, and I am still floating on a cloud of love thanks to all those good vibes from the Unity of the Oaks congregation. Thanks again to Rev. Molly Rockey, Senior Minister, and my musical support team at the Oaks, Zach and Brynn Spencer.

More Exciting News! I have been on two Unity.FM internet radio programs in the past couple of weeks. On November 1, 2011, I joined Rev. Paulette Pipe on “Touching the Stillness,” and on November 10, 2011, I was guest on “Receive your Life” with Janice Campbell. You may check out both programs by going to Unity.FM  and downloading the podcast (type Unity.FM in your browser and scroll on the right to locate the programs).  Both programs played songs from my new CD, “Rivers of Living Waters.” I am so blessed and so very grateful for these awesome opportunities. Please tell your friends. Spread the word. Thanks, Rev. Paulette! Thanks, Janice! 

Blessings to you all – – Peace & Love,

    – Dinah

(Photo L to R – Rev. Molly, me, Zach, and Brynn)


“Touching the Stillness” – The Backstory on the Song

This is the story of how the song “Touching the Stillness” came about. It is Track 2 on my new CD:

I met Rev. Paulette Pipe during one of my trips to Unity Village to take S.E.E. (Spiritual Education and Enrichment) classes. She is the founder and host of an internet radio program called “Touching the Stillness” on Unity.FM.  I LOVE her pioneering spirit that calls us to come apart from our daily activities to focus on stilling our minds and having quiet time to go within.

One day last summer while I was out for a walk, a little melody popped into my head as I began to turn my walk into a meditative walk. I began to think on how much meditation means to me, and words began to flow out of me that reflected my experience with meditation.

My deepest heart’s desire was just to sing and share a soulful, spirited ballad about my personal experience that would in some way call others into this beautiful, sacred experience of meditation. I knew the title was not original, but I always believed that there was an instant connection when Paulette and I met. And I believe this song came “through” me as an expression of a shared joy and appreciation for meditation.

Personally, the biggest leap in my prayer life came when I learned to meditate. I felt it deepened my prayer life tremendously. It was the mid-80s, and I was coming to a crossroads in my life. Everything was falling apart it seems. But that’s when I knew I was headed for a break-through to another level. Prayer and meditation carried me through it all. Meditation was all new to me back then. I didn’t really know how to get quiet and still the incessant mind chatter that was going all the time. The grieving of a divorce, having to start all over, finding new employment and a new place to live was all given over to the living, indwelling Presence within.  Somehow my darkest days turned bright as I just let go and sat in the Silence, and just listened for the still small voice guiding me, loving me, and strengthening me. Old patterns started to break up, and I started to see the reality of Truth living in, as, and through me, instead of me trying to pray and make things happen. I started to love myself more and started to see the radiant, brilliant light of God’s Love even more by meditating. By spending quiet time, my sense of worthiness grew. I could see the pattern of “looking for love in all the wrong places” was starting to wane.

Each and every moment is so precious in meditation. Contemplating God’s infinite love was how I began, if only for 5 or 10 minutes….and then I moved into sitting quietly acknowledging my Oneness just as Jesus did (I and the Father are one), not asking for anything (15, 20, 30 minutes….or whatever; it’s not about quantity but quality)….just being there, being fully present made all the difference. What was significant was to just DO it; it felt weird at first, just sitting and doing nothing??? But after a while, things started to shift and unfold. I knew something greater than my little ‘self’ was working and creating my NEW life, renewing me, re-shaping, re-inventing, etc., and it’s STILL going strong!

So, this song is not about some fad or passing fancy, but it’s about something I have lived for over 20 years now. And it has made all the difference in my life. No matter where you are and what you are experiencing, there is a place you can go….within yourself… and find peace, love, and the true joy that’s always been there waiting for you to tap into it. I pray that this song, “Touching the Stillness,” will be a blessing to you and a blessing to the world! May your life blossom and spring forward as never before!

Love & infinite joy,