Bowing to Our Adversaries

Coleen O'Connell

Coleen O’Connell

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Coleen O’Connell

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey:

Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? If so, you will relate to this. It seems every week I start this writing with a similar phrase – “it is a rainy, gloomy day” (Monday). Yikes… will this ever end?!

In spite of the rain today, Sunday was quite a nice day. We had a great speaker, Coleen O’Connell. Coleen shared the deep concern she has for our planet from her perspective as an ecological and environmental educator. Considering the factual data she has gleaned over the years, the decision made by the current administration to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement was very disheartening to her — as it was to many of us. So, what do we do with our feelings of frustration, anger, pain? She led us through a beautiful practice, called “Bowing to Our Adversaries” that can shift not only our own experience but place positive energy into the space. It is a gratitude exercise. It is done easily and comes from a Buddhist tradition.

You begin with celebration and gratitude for those who have impacted you in a positive way. It starts with the carrier phrase — either “I bow to” or “we bow to” — then you complete the phrase, ending with a bow:

We will begin by bowing to the Earth, in gratitude for life itself.

  • We bow to our ancestors who have paved the way and set us on our path.
  • We bow to our teachers and mentors who have guided us and been with us on our journey.
  • We bow to each other, our faith community, for showing up and being present for each other.
  • We bow to future generations who will inherit the good work, and the work left undone by our generation.
  • We honor you for the hope you give us in hard times.  We bow to you in gratitude.

Next, we bow to our Adversaries:

  • You who destroy the natural world for profit, you show me how much I respect and honor our abundant and beautiful planet home.  I bow to you in gratitude.
  • You bring forth in me the love I feel for this life-bearing land – its soil, air and waters – and for the community that rises in its defense.  Because of the strength with which I resist your actions, I learn how strong my love really is.  I bow to you in gratitude.
  • Because the pain I feel when I witness the pain of the world is no less than your pain – you who perpetuate destruction by cutting yourself off from the web of life, I bow to you in compassion.
  • Because the pain of greed, alienation and fear is not less than the pain of sorrow for what is lost, I bow to you in compassion.
  • For the power of my anger, arising from my passion for justice, justice for refugees that have suffered war and climate disasters, for immigrants who are treated as second class citizens or worse, I bow to you in gratitude.
  • Because we all want to feel happy, to feel intact and part of a single whole, for that shared longing of community and contribution, I bow to you in compassion.
  • Because your actions challenge me to see the limits to my own understandings, and free me from holding my view as the only correct one, I bow to you in gratitude.
  • You who teach me that the mind is a miracle, capable of manifesting as love, as forgiveness, as greed, as fear, as clarity or delusion, you who show me what I myself am capable of when I am governed by fear and greed – O Great Awesome teachers, I bow to you in gratitude.
  • Understanding that we all belong to the web of life, whether we believe it or not, and with love in my heart, I bow to you in gratitude.

Done as a congregation on Sunday, this was an incredibly powerful exercise. Should you choose to hear the whole message, use the player above.

Have a blessed week!

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey

Green Faith – A Call to Act From A Christian Perspective

Susan MacKenzie, PhD

Susan MacKenzie, PhD

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Susan MacKenzie.

A spiritual director for two decades, Susan works with those who seek to embody their faith and to become more attentive to their spiritual gifts. Susan leads retreats on topics including prayer, nature, environmental justice, and sustainability to faith-affiliated groups throughout the Northeast. A master naturalist, she leads kayak, hiking and snowshoe trips to help people reconnect with nature. Susan belongs to the Pleasant Street United Methodist Church in Waterville Maine; teaches in the Environmental Studies program at Colby College; and serves on the Board of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the state’s largest environmental policy advocacy organization.

Related message from Rev. Pat Bessey: Life is never dull when you are part of the Unity of Greater Portland community, and I like it that way. This past Sunday we welcomed guest speaker Susan MacKenzie as part of our Season for the Earth. Susan gave us a historical perspective of our evolution as a species and how it ties to the earth and our Christian roots. She shared so much with us that to recap it would not do justice. Listen to it by using the audio player above. I am going to listen again as well, because it was so impactful.

Going along with the theme for the earth, Saturday was “cleanup day”; a mighty thank you to those who participated. It was impressive to see the busy worker bees sweeping the sand from the parking lot or weeding the gardens around the memorial garden, covering the roof on the small shed, creating an herb garden right outside Unity Hall. Then there was trimming bushes and putting a mixture of loam and compost into places that were calling for it. Thank you John Michael Roods for holding the vision for pockets of beauty throughout our property and continually working at bringing back more of our land into lawn and gardens. Thank you Matt Purinton for organizing the day so anyone who showed up had an assignment. They didn’t have to stand around wondering what needed to be done. Lastly, but not least, to all who took on the assignments: Michael Wozich, Pat Bartke, Yaeko Collier, Todd Glacy, Sue Vittner, Yvette Nadeau, Steph Plourde, Ken Lloyd, LeRoy Lowell, Mary Ellen Doyle, Karen Bailey and Kelly Cimino. Thank you all.

UGP Community Spring Clean UP Crew - May 14

UGP Community Spring Clean UP Crew – May 14

I tell you often that change is a natural progression to life and we are not exempt from it. So change is happening again at Unity of Greater Portland. For the last several years we have been doubly blessed by having Ingrid Avery preparing delicious lunches for us after the services on Sunday. Many of you know that Ingrid has stepped into a care-giving role for her mom and dad, which has caused her to rethink her commitments at this time. She sees that there will be times when she will be needed on the spur of the moment to tend to her parents and so has made the decision to step down in her full time role as our chef extraordinaire. This was not an easy decision as this is a passion for Ingrid. She shared that many have told her she needs to open a restaurant; however, she always has seen Unity as her restaurant. She will be in the background supporting the ongoing of this team by sharing recipes and knowledge, when asked, and an entree ever so often. So how do we honor someone who has been serving so graciously for so long? We get to do that on June 5. It will be Ingrid Avery Day, and it just so happens to be potluck Sunday as well. What better way to show our love as Ingrid has for so long, by bringing your favorite dish to share? Just so you know, Ingrid is vegetarian and doesn’t do refined sugar, but that doesn’t mean everyone shares that diet. Also, you will find in the seat pocket in front of you on Sunday mornings a card in which you can share with Ingrid how much you appreciate her. Once you have written your thoughts on the card, place the card in the offering basket when it comes to you during the service.

So you might now be wondering what is next. I shared on Sunday that God always provides and that is true here. Recent newcomer Maria Lundy has blessed us by immediately stepping into the kitchen role her second week at service by signing up to help with the Seder meal. She has been in the kitchen ever since. So with her help and others, the Sunday lunch will continue without interruption. We are always inviting new folks to join the team, which would be to either set the tables and prepare coffee before the service or in serving and cleaning up after the service. Another way to honor Ingrid is by serving and making sure this meal continues as it has for the past five years.

Service is making a sacred commitment to soul growth. When you say “yes,” you are setting an intention to grow. The spiritual journey is about reaching in to reach out and here is an opportunity to fulfill our mission.

Join Rev. LeRoy this Sunday as he shares our core value on being Soul-centric.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey

P.S. I have heard from some folks that they are using the PayPal donate button on our website to make their Sunday donations when they are unable to attend and it works really easy. Just planting the thought that when you are unable to be with us on Sunday you can still choose to support Unity of Greater Portland easily and effortlessly.