The I of The Storm: Filling The Gaps

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey —

Oh my gosh… I think we are finally getting the weather we have all been waiting for! May is my all time favorite month as it calls forth my desire to awaken to all that I have come here to be. I want to be like the daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and the blooming bushes who show their beauty unabashedly. They know who they are, and they have no problem letting their beauty express.

We have great events happening over the next few weeks. It begins with a Kirtan concert on Friday night at 7. Join Ashok and his group, Swan Kirtan, as they perform for us and express their beauty through music.

I am continuing the Sunday messages with my all-time favorite book I of the Storm. This past week was about filling in the gaps. We are meaning- making machines and if we don’t have all the information – and most of the time we don’t – we fill it in with our own perceptions and experiences to make it mean something for us.

I told a couple of wonderful stories that I know you will be able to relate to and will probably see yourself in them. They illustrate just how we do this. So, in these stories there is potential for conflict to arise. I want to take a moment and look at conflict from a different perspective. If I were to ask you on a scale of one to ten, one being, “I don’t do conflict at all” and 10 being “I love conflict,” most of us would be in the low numbers. We don’t like conflict and we most often avoid it at any cost. So here is a different way to see it.

Conflict is a signal that our soul is reaching for something higher. Conflict takes us to the edge of our resourcefulness. Conflict encourages us to try it a different way. We all know the definition of insanity,
“Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.”

Conflict places us in relationship with the parts of ourselves that are not connected to who we are as spiritual beings. Gary Simmons, author of the book, writes: Our soul moves us into areas of unrealized potential, i.e. our soul knows what we need to learn.

We sometimes use the phrase “they’ve conspired against me.” Conspire comes from the Latin meaning “to breath together.” In effect, when you are in conflict with someone, you are breathing together with that person with the intention to move into a more authentic expression of God. In other words, conflict motivates you. Whatever is going on in your life is there to bring you into greater alignment with the Truth of who you are. What do you think – does that change how you view conflict?

Our darkness and insecurities reveal themselves – not as weaknesses, but as areas of potential. Conflict leads to rebirth and transformation. It leads to us being the beautiful children of God that we have come here to be.

Much of what I have written here is not in the message I gave on Sunday, so listen to the message for more good stuff from I of the Storm.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and we have two very special guests with us to share from India. Mangesh and Soni are from Sr. Lucy’s organization “Maher” (in the Marathi language) means “Mother’s Home”: a haven of hope, belonging and understanding. Their mission is to help destitute women, children and men from all over India exercise their right to a higher quality of life, irrespective of gender, caste, creed or religion. Come and hear the stories of these two young people who have overcome odds that many of us will never experience in our lifetime.

One last request: If you have some time on Saturday to attend our “clean-up day,” that would be wonderful. It begins at 9 and ends at 1. Come for as long as you are able. Many hands make light work.

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

White Stone Ceremony

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

I know that we Mainers are tough and many of you proved it on Sunday by showing up when the temperature was well below zero. As I drove down River Road on my way to the 8 a.m. service my car thermometer was registering -24… yikes… but you all showed up!

What may have motivated you was the service which is always the first Sunday of the new year, the White Stone Ceremony. I love this service because it is a reminder that we have a clean slate in which to create our life… it represents freedom.

This is a quote from John Selby’s book, Seven Masters, One Path: “We can’t hold one thing tightly in our grasp, and at the same time reach out and take something new. We must let go of and put aside what we are grasping, in order to be able to receive something that we want or need much more. All spiritual and psychological growth requires a letting go of a limited belief in order to open up and receive a more expansive belief — or even better, a direct experience of reality that makes all beliefs unnecessary.”

The Burning Bowl ceremony we do on New Year’s Eve and this ceremony set us up to release and then receive or take in the wonders of life.

This ceremony evolved from the book of Revelation 2:17. It reads, “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”

The source of the white stone is from the time of Jesus. When a prisoner was released he was given a white stone to symbolize his freedom and to prove that he had been let go from prison. As long as he had his white stone, he was assured his freedom. It is a symbol of overcoming adversity or an external challenge. And when we overcome there is a shift in consciousness — we grow, we change, and our lives become richer. We become blessed and nourished by new things. A new name is written on it — our experiences of life will be changed because of our new intentions and our new thoughts and beliefs — our shift in consciousness.

If you were not present on Sunday, you can pick up a white stone this Sunday and find your new name.

Listen; listen to what your Spirit is telling you to write on your white stone. What are you hearing or feeling or knowing? What are your intentions? What if Spirit was writing on your white stone? What is it that Spirit will write? Ask, right now. Ask what would be the most helpful name, or what would be the most helpful word to take into this New Year?

Once you receive your word keep this stone as a reminder of this moment and your choice to be free. God bless you and have a new year of renewal and freedom.

Before I end I want to bring to your attention to the Heart-Based Meditation workshop on Thursday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., facilitated by Dr. Paul and Sandra Dugliss. They are returning by popular demand. I look forward to seeing you there.

The following Tuesday evening, the Women Empowering Women group will go in a new direction using the material in the book Traveling with the Turtle. This is an opportunity to deepen your spiritual life and to live a nonviolent life. It will meet the third Tuesday of the month from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. for 13 months. Please join me and others who are on the journey traveling with the turtle.

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

Let’s Get Real About… Personal Transformation

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey.

The reviews are coming in on our awesome Kitchen Team and the fabulous meal that was prepared for us on Sunday. The food was delicious, there was a plethora of pies and the tables were decorated beautifully. It was truly a time of thanksgiving. I looked around the room and the tables were full (Maria told me that 63 meals were served) and the buzz of conversation was electric. Our kitchen team under Maria Lundy’s leadership goes above and beyond each week. They embody our core values of loving, accepting and welcoming.

I’d like to give a shout out to Todd Glacy as well for the wonderful concert he gave on Friday evening: Todd, you are a class act and we are blessed to have you in our midst!

As November is gratitude month, I would be remiss without mentioning our Children’s Ministry under the leadership of Leah Rush. Thank you to that team of dedicated teachers (of which there are openings) who create an energy of love and welcoming each week for our little friends. They share what they learned when they come back into the service and it is always aligned with Unity’s teaching. The lesson is subtly embedded in whatever fun activity they are engaged in — it is a win-win for the children. A high five to Leah and her team.

Without our dedicated volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do what we do at Unity of Greater Portland. THANK YOU to all of you!

This past Sunday ended the series on “Getting Real.” We looked at getting real about personal transformation. We want to experience transformation; however, many of us want it without having to change. In reality, though, change is going to be occurring whether you want it or not. This is probably a phrase you have heard and maybe have even said yourself: “Change is inevitable; growth is optional.”

There are two things certain in life and it is not “death and taxes,” as many of us learned; it is “change and God,” and God is changeless.

Read from Ernest Holmes, founder of Science of Mind, in A New Design for Living:

“We are all living in a world of continual change, a world in which thought, things, and experiences are all in a constant state of flux. It is the very nature of the universe that there should be continual change and variation. It is a living world, the creation of a living creative Intelligence, not a static world. But behind that which changes, behind that which causes the change, we have found that there is something stable and changeless. Something eternal upon which all of the external events depend for their very existence. Behind the endless process of change and the infinite variety of experience and expression there is That which does not change.”

Unity writer Martha Smock wrote in the Unity pamphlet Listen to the Christ:

“In Christ you are calmed and quieted; you rest in His presence and feel strengthened and upheld. Remember that though things change, God is changeless, enduring. God’s love is eternal.”

So, yes, change is inevitable, but behind it there is a solid foundation, which can lead us to the second part of our theme phrase: growth is optional. Again from Dr. Holmes: “Nature will not let us stay in any one place too long. She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancement of the soul. This is a wise provision, for should we stay here too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible. Nature demands the change in order that we may advance. When the change comes, we should welcome it with a smile on the lips and a song in the heart.”

And let us remember: In any change, whatever the magnitude of it is, when one door is shut, another opens. When a door closes, and locks shut, we have an opportunity, with the Spirit of God within us, to find an open door. There always is one. When we have patience, faith, and love to look for the open door, we will always find it – and that is where personal transformation occurs.

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

Vital Signs: Discovering and Sustaining Your Passion for Life

Gregg Levoy

Gregg Levoy

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Gregg Levoy

Message from Rev. Pat: It was another great Sunday at Unity of Greater Portland. We hosted Gregg Levoy, author of Callings and more recently Vital Signs. Gregg has such a wonderful presence. He is both knowledgeable and witty. His topic, no surprise, is passion. The first point he made is that passion can be cultivated. It is not something you either have or don’t; it can be turned on as well as off.

The second point was that passion is in the risk. You move from the sidelines onto the field. Actually, the risk often happens before you feel the passion. Gregg defines “risk” as whatever scares you. Risk is entirely relative – not to be compared with others. He identified a lot of small risks you can make. One that Rev. LeRoy and I took today was changing where we sat at the dinner table. It was fun to change up what we always do.

The third point was passion is not just about exuberance; it is also about endurance. He gave the quote from Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point: “Mastery in any field of endeavor requires a minimum of 10,000 hours of dedicated practice.” Passion requires shoulder-to-the-wheel endurance.

Lastly, the fourth point is that passion breeds and inspires passion. Conversely, disinterest breeds disinterest. Lacking passion in your own life will impact your relationships; your passion is critical to others’ engagement with you.

Our regular school year for our children’s program is quickly coming to a close, as summer is almost here. We have a more relaxed program for the summer for the children and the teachers. Here is an opportunity for you to engage with our children by bringing an activity to them on a Sunday morning. The teachers will be present and your role is to have fun with the children as you help them complete the project you have brought for them to do.

We will have a signup sheet on the bulletin board for you to select the Sunday that would work into your summer schedule. I invite all who are reading this to come into agreement with me and the teachers that we will have a full schedule of folks like yourself that are just now thinking of what they would like to do with the children.

While I am mentioning signing up, have you signed up for the daylong event on June 3 with Coleen O’Connell? This is a not-to-miss experience. Do not let the cost of the event be a factor. There is scholarship money available for partial scholarships.

This coming Sunday, join me for the message, “I Am the American Flag.”

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

The Transcendence of Motherhood

Ingrid Avery

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Ingrid Avery

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey: As your minister, it is my responsibility to provide a sound spiritual message on Sunday mornings. When I am not giving the message, it is my responsibility to find those who I believe will deliver a message that has substance and truth, so you all walk away with a teaching that will support you in living your life. It is truly an act of surrender when I turn the platform over to someone else, as I do not have the details of what they will be sharing, only the topic. I want to say from the feedback I have received — and in listening to the message of the 10 am service online from Sunday — mission accomplished. A shout-out goes to Karen Bailey for doing a superb job at the 8 a.m. service and to Ingrid Avery for also doing a wonderful talk at the 10 a.m. service. Thank you both for sharing and blessing our community.

My time away was wonderful and spiritually nourishing. Rev. LeRoy was the Retreat Director for a men’s AA retreat in St. John, New Brunswick. I went along for my own spiritual renewal. We stayed at the Villa Madonna Retreat Center, which was absolutely lovely. It had walking paths through the woods, which I happily took advantage of. Thanks to all the Sunday staff at UGP that make it possible for me to be away and know that all is well back at 54 River Road.

While I was away, the annual Spring clean-up day took place. My deepest thanks to all who came and took away the remnants of winter and prepared our beautiful grounds for new life. Each time I drive into the parking lot my heart swells as I look around at the beauty. It takes many hands to do the upkeep and I would be remiss in not giving special thanks to John Michael Roods and Bill Taylor. They are out working around the grounds during the week: mowing, clipping, trimming dead branches and anything else that is calling to them. We are so blessed by their dedication and service.

For the last few weeks I have been mentioning the gardens that our Season for the Earth team are preparing. This endeavor is being championed by Anna Richie and Ginger Dowling. They have a big vision for the gardens and invite you to support the vision by giving a couple of hours a week through the summer to this project. On the bulletin board is a sign-up sheet for different tasks that need to be done, such as planting, watering and weeding. There is a wonderful saying that “many hands make light work.” This would apply here for sure.

This Sunday we are honored to have with us Gregg Levoy. Gregg is the author of Callings and Vital Signs and has been a keynote speaker for Unity Worldwide Ministries conferences in the past. I know that you will enjoy hearing Gregg at the 10 a.m. service and then, following lunch, he will be presenting his workshop, Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion.

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday…

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