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I Come to the Garden: The Spiritual Quest of Dorothy & Russell Flexer

I Come to the Garden

This is a record of the Quest of Dorothy and Russell Flexer, to understand the key elements of Metaphysical thought in their search for a Spiritual Truth.

I Come to the Garden: The Spiritual Quest of Dorothy & Russell Flexer

I Come to the Garden: The Spiritual Quest of Dorothy & Russell Flexer

By Gerald O'Hara

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This is a record of the Quest of Dorothy and Russell Flexer, to understand the key elements of Metaphysical thought in their search for a Spiritual Truth. Destined to become Outstanding Mediums, Healers and Teachers, their determination to pass these ideals on to others by the founding of churches enabled lives to be shaped by their loving support of each other in a community and adherence to the teachings given by evolved Spirits and Masters through Dorothy's trance and Direct Voice trumpet mediumship.

This story is a tribute to the work they did in Tampa and Sarasota in Florida, with the foundation of the Shrine of the Master Churches eventually forming a way of life and a philosophy known as the Church of Metaphysical Christianity.

For 50 years, from 1946 to 1996 Reverend Dorothy demonstrated an extraordinary gift of mediumship that was literally witnessed by hundreds of people. Developing her gift with some of the best teachers in the 1930s at Camp Silver Belle in Pennsylvania, she was later to work there as a Direct Voice and Materialization Medium.

To the people of this book the experience of such extraordinary mediumship changed their lives. They found the answers to life's questions in Dorothy and Russell Flexer's work, learning to work together with love, positivity and care for all.

The changing years have brought a reduced emphasis on Christianity and as there are truths in all religions and modes of Spiritual thought, in 2011 it was decided to change the philosophical emphasis to Metaphysical Spirituality so as to be more inclusive and today the 'Church' Quote 1 from I Come to the Garden: The Spiritual Quest of Dorothy & Russell Flexer at Sarasota, founded in 1949, thrives under the name of the Sarasota Center of Light.

The book contains over 90 photographs from the Flexer family archive as well as from long-standing members and families of the Center.

Throughout the book there are small, delineated boxes of quotations – some of them well known - but mostly given by the evolved spirit teachers speaking through Dorothy’s trance mediumship.

Product Details
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Saturday Night Press Publications (27 March 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908421241
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 H x 19.1 W x 1.1 thick (cm)

Dorothy and Russell FlexerNo one knew Dorothy and Russell better than they knew themselves and the couple cannot tell us who they were; their voices are stilled. Nevertheless, we are going back to their yesterday to understand the people that they were and determine what their legacy is. Yesterday was different; we are not the same. The truths of yesterday may be enhanced by the perspectives of today. It is up to the present to determine the meaning of Russell and Dorothy's life. Though their lives were lived and ended recently, nevertheless, the meaning of their lives remains to be understood. We will appreciate the Flexers on their own terms and assess what influences, actions and what motives come together in the final narrative to say, this is who they were.

There are still many who knew Dorothy and Russell, and they contribute their appreciation. Those who have come along after their story is over must rely on the serendipity of the records that are left behind. The records that are discovered may be contradictory, they will be incomplete and may conflict with the lengthening memory of others. Such is the material with which we shape the portrait. In the keeping of archives the present seldom takes thought of tomorrow and chance dictates the shape of our heritage.

What is written is an interpretation, albeit an interpretation based upon the records, memories and the author's empathy with the Flexers. If this is a good biography, the writer will have an intuitive insight into the couple's life. This is a portrait in ink; what is written is crafted in truth and acceptance of mediumship, for to do less would devalue the biographical process. Much of the routine of living, the setbacks, the hard work and disagreements are forgotten and went unrecorded. As such an ideal portrait belongs to these narrated events and not to those that live life. Nevertheless, you may have once seen a now vanished hand, yet still describe the fingers. In so far as we can empathize with the subjects, so may the portrait be truer. In so far as the writer can be objective so might the impression be more accurate. It is for the author to be Dorothy and Russell's envoy and to give new breath to their life. We are going back to yesterday and yesterday was different; people were different.

Dorothy and Russell devoted their life to Truth, and the truth is the goal of these accounts. One-sided views can never be exhausted because they are sectarian. The essence of the Truth for which Russell and Dorothy dedicated their lives was the 'Science of direct experience of God.' This work is intended to be factual and to be above factions in order to be acceptable to all. The hope is that this book will be part of a healing process.  In so far as these narratives can be shaped without becoming embroiled in partisan views, so will the book create something that will stand as a living legacy and inspiration. In so far as these aims are realized, is for you to decide. …

Quote 2 from I Come to the Garden: The Spiritual Quest of Dorothy & Russell Flexer…Subtly, there are several themes that run throughout the book, some themes are questions, and others are themes to think about as you read the text.  Such themes are explored rather than answered directly. Answers emerge as the work progresses. 

Firstly, the book is a photographic record of the people and the society that formed around the Shrine of the Master. These portraits of a community reveal who they wanted us to see and the activities that they were engaged in. Pictures reveal only so much but nevertheless are an invaluable record of activity. Some services such as christenings and weddings leave little in the way of written records. Images can often convey a mood and suggest a sense of what was occurring in the hearts and minds of the participants.  This author agrees with Lewis Carroll's, Alice in Wonderland who said: "And what is the use of a book, without pictures or conversation?" The photographs in this book are chosen to complement the understanding of the narrative.

Another theme of this work is the character and personality of the Flexers. Dorothy is well remembered for having a decisive manner. There was 'only one way to peel potatoes!'  And there are those who remember Reverend Dorothy not always suffering fools gladly. Dorothy Flexer was quoted as saying "don’t let the door hit you on the …on your way out!"  However, you can believe that the Reverend Dorothy never swore or used bad language. For nearly fifty years, Dorothy proved an able executive; there was direction and authority but also a capacity to engage support. Neither Russell or Dorothy were egotistic, and there was no sense of narcissism in their characters, such flaws of character are divisive and counteract the building of community. The theme of how the character and personalities of the Flexers contributed to the building of their elective or voluntary community is explored throughout the book. As Florence Strauss put it in 2015, with admiration and directness, "Reverend Dorothy was nice, she was something else."

Shrine of the Master Church SarasotaThe Flexers were not saints, but they were loved.  Dorothy and Russell Flexer knew suffering, work, and hardship, indeed when Dorothy lost her husband, Russell in July 1977, Dorothy grieved and carried on with the mission of building the Shrine of the Master until Reverend Dorothy Graff Flexer died on 26th August 1996. As some have said, Dorothy was possessed of an inner illumination, it was the dedication, generosity, adherence to high standards and love of the spirit world that shone through. Such happiness as the Flexers showed was born of linking their lives to something greater and outside themselves.  And those who have come along afterward, speak as those who knew them do; that they were happy for having this couple in their life.

Chapter One

Reverend Dorothy Flexer… Dorothy herself was a physical medium. As we will see Reverend Dorothy, would do what was necessary, then do the possible and finally achieved the impossible in becoming a Trumpet medium for other worlds. Through this mediumship, evolved masters found physical expression in this world. The Flexers founded a new center of excellence, which twenty years after her passing, still functions.

Dorothy and Russell were schooled in Bible studies and the experience of meeting materialized spirits, would have been a confirmation of what St Paul had written in 1 Corinthians 15:20 "But Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has come through a human being. For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive [in Christ]."

'The Truth' was to be a major theme of Dorothy's life. The meeting with spirits confirmed the truth of scriptures with which the couple were familiar. We have seen that as a teenager Dorothy had 'learned the Truth', and what was meant by that is crucial to understanding the future that Dorothy and Russell created. The evidence from the mediums of which Dorothy spoke elsewhere indicates that 'the Truth' matched reality and was in agreement with the facts as Dorothy understood the world. Personal survival of death and communication were a fundamental part of that Truth. The meeting with the materialized spirit of her father, with other family members present, was that unique thing in life: an experience that changes everything. This was a conversion experienced by Dorothy that is expressed in John 8:32 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

Further, Dorothy realized that mediumship and therefore communication could be a vehicle for further revelations of 'the Truth'. In the manner of Old Testament prophets, spiritually evolved masters could teach and provide a direct link to the Divine. Revelation was not ancient but an on-going tradition. That is the revelations of yesterday may be enhanced by the perspectives of today. Each age has the same quota of intelligence as we have, yet each period of Man sees the evolution of the self, we are not the same as the ancients. Our field of vision increases as does our scope of inquiry. Further revelation enhances the breadth of the Truth. In terms of religion, further revelation is unorthodox as it requires the reassessment of what we understand to be the truth. No church's approval is required. Such revelation was a threat of anarchy to established faiths. Revelation to such religions was safely in the past. In this sense, Russell and Dorothy were rebels against orthodoxy.

Quote 3 from I Come to the Garden: The Spiritual Quest of Dorothy & Russell FlexerNevertheless, Dorothy and Russell's metaphysics was firmly rooted in biblical tradition. As Dorothy was to say Spiritualism or Metaphysics as an approach to religion was not new, but it was arrived at by Dorothy and Russell themselves through experiencing other mediums' work. Dorothy was following in the steps of the Master Jesus' teachings given in 'The Sermon on the Mount' when he said: "Enter into thy closet and when thou hath closed the door, pray to the Father which is in secret, and the Father who sees in secret will reward thee openly."

It was the going inward and the development of personal consciousness that was the key to the 'Quest' for Dorothy's relationship with the Divine. …

Chapter Two

…. On that evening another US President made his presence known. As Dorothy Parker once said of Calvin Coolidge's death, "How can you tell?" Coolidge (1872-1933) was a reserved man known in some circles as 'Silent Cal', his voice was once again heard on 6th May 1952. Without any introduction, a voice spoke, "This is Calvin Coolidge speaking." Coolidge was to warn the class that the current President Truman 'effort' at raising the wages of labor would thereby bring about inflation in the economy and devaluation of the currency. He went on to encourage the citizens of Florida to vote with the north and elect a President who would bring harmony, guard the constitution which was the "rock of Liberty and would be in defiance of tyranny." The late President is referring to the 'Solid South' which voted Democrat as a block. The old Confederacy was referred to by Coolidge as "I love Florida and the entire south and I am sorry to note that there is still a division which precludes a harmonious balance of the nation."

By implication, the late President is deploring the racial segregation that lingered in the dark corners of the old southern states.

Finally, Coolidge once again appealed to them, "to be ever on alert to guard against subversive elements in our government," and as "good citizens to vote intelligently and at all elections." He followed on with, "…that you urge and support courses in patriotic training in every school and college in the United States of America."

It is relatively rare for the departed to express themselves on more than spiritual topics in séances or classes. It underlines the troubled times and fear of Communism of the early 1950s that political figures should come forward and express themselves on matters of current interest.

Chapter Four

Quote 4 from I Come to the Garden: The Spiritual Quest of Dorothy & Russell Flexer… The usual routines were varied for special occasions such as Christmas and New Year. Florence and Karen Strauss recalled that the sitters would bring a little present for the spirit children. Tom Newman added that no battery toys were allowed because of the light that such toys would make. Dorothy would sit at the head of a table for the classes with the room in darkness the spirit children would open the wrappings and play with the toys. When the lights went on the wrappings would be found in all parts of the room. Reverend Tom Newman remembers that sometimes the presents were not wrapped and were placed in the center of the table and, when the lights went up, they would be found all over the Chapel. The spirit children enjoyed playing with the toys which were chosen for the noise they would make when played. Drums would be banged, toy pianos played, bulbs were taken off the Christmas tree, and toy horns would be blown.

Several members remembered the Master of Bells at Christmas would give a talk and play the hand-held bells that were on a table in the corner of the room or Chapel. Doorkeepers of the sitters would materialize and play the musical instruments and the bells made a "terrific din". Reverend Tom Newman who sat with Dorothy in classes for nearly thirty-three years tells of how at New Year the Master of Light would come through and give personal messages as well as predictions for the future. These messages were about personal growth, and it was also an opportunity to ask questions about the state of the world. ….

Reverend Tom Newman referred to Dorothy as "the truth teller" meaning that Dorothy would "set you straight" and privately advise what would be best for your improvement. Such confidences would not be shared with others. No special day was set aside for such sessions but given as and when it was convenient. Karen Strauss said the same of Dr. Russell, and that he would draw you aside to talk privately regarding personal matters.

In 1977, Sally Newton wrote, "Reverend Dorothy once gave me the best private sitting I ever had; for it was, word for word, about my life." Another story also from 1997, this time from Livia Raynes who was facing terminal cancer and was very afraid of the ordeal said, "Upon entering the room I sat and faced Reverend Dorothy and all was calm. During the reading, she looked at me and said, 'there is a strong message that I am supposed to give you and it is this. You are going to live a long life.'" Livia added, "It was as if a dam had burst inside me and with those eight simple words my whole life had changed to one of hope."

Reverend Dorothy Flexer in later lifeThe last Word

Reverend Dorothy Graff Flexer -
"Wherever I may be; I may not know the people who will brush past me this day. But I will never forget that they too, are creatures of the same God Spirit as I and deserve prayers of healing, abundance, understanding, love and peace. I dedicate my life to doing worthwhile things, saying uplifting and comforting words and most of all, to being an example of true discipleship."

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