A Salute to Fathers

Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Father’s Day Message by Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey:

We are nearing the end of June and school is out and summer officially kicks into gear today. Rev. LeRoy and I returned from the Unity People’s Convention in San Antonio, as did our Board President, Matt Purinton, and we had a great time. It is extra special when we have members of our community at the convention with us. Mark your calendars to come with us next year to Unity Village and Olathe, Kansas from June 11 – 15, 2018. If you can’t make that, then you might want to come to the Eastern Region Conference this fall at Ashworth by the Sea in Hampton, New Hampshire from Sept. 25 – 28, 2017.

A huge thank you to Steph Plourde and Rev. Amy Cousins for sharing their messages with you on June 11. I got several comments of how good the messages were. This is always music to a minister’s ears when they are away.

Sunday Rev. LeRoy spoke and the Father’s Day message was about his relationship with his father. He shared how our perception of how we think people should act keeps us from the love that is always there for us. He shared about doing the forgiveness work that was necessary for him to reach out to his father, whom he had been estranged from for several years.

There is a lot I want to share with you; however, I also know that this needs to be brief, as I will lose you if too long. The theme for this year’s convention was “Keep Unity Wide Open: Freed by Truth, Moving with Spirit.” The keynote speakers were Rev. Sylvia Sumter from Unity of Washington, DC; Fr. Gregory Boyle from Los Angeles, CA; and Sharif Abdullah from Oregon.

Each of these speakers called us into service. They called us to get off the sidelines and take action to bring into creation a world this is spiritually transformed and works for all.

Rev. Sumter is noted for her uncanny ability to take the most fundamental teachings and principles of spirituality, and many of life’s experiences to develop her messages. Her call is to inspire individuals to transform their lives through an awareness of their innate divine potential.

The Rev. Gregory J. Boyle is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. The website is www.homeboyindustries.org.

Shariff Abdullah is a consultant, speaker, author and advocate for societal transformation. His mission is to bring currently dysfunctional systems and structures into alignment with our common human and spiritual values, to create a world that works for all living things. His website is www.commonway.org.

Although each speaker had a different message, the underlying theme was we must awaken and become spiritually mature. We are in the most interesting of times and we must keep our minds and hearts open to walking our talk as Truth students. What was interesting was to hear a call to action in ways that we at Unity of Greater Portland are already doing.

Here is a joint statement on Social Action Position between Unity Worldwide Ministries and Unity Worldwide Headquarters: “Any proposal or action that seeks to discriminate against individuals or classes of individuals based on prejudiced, stereotypic profiles of national origin, class, creed, race, ethnicity, physical ability or sexual orientation is in opposition to the core beliefs and values established by our founders.

We choose Unity. In harmony with the divine Spirit we stand, so we may live in a spiritually awakened world that is continually evolving. This is our prayer and our decree. Through our actions, we let it be.”

It was nearly four years ago that we began implementing the Season for Non-Violence and that was followed by the Season of Interfaith and Intercultural Celebration and then the Season for the Earth. Each of these Seasons are designed to inspire, educate and create a larger community experience. They are also aligned with this recent joint statement from UWM and UWH. So, my friend, you can see we are ahead of the curve. It is my greatest desire that we continue evolving and educating our community so we are recognized as a beacon of light in the Greater Portland community.

Fr. Boyle said, “Our kinship with each other quenches God’s thirst.” Let us work together in our little corner of the world to make it a place where we are “freed by truth and moving with Spirit.”

Join me on Sunday as we continue with this theme of community and teachings from the book The Altar of the World written by Barbara Brown Taylor. We will explore The Practice of Encountering Others: Community.

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

I Am the American Flag

flagsSunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

In just a few short weeks it will be officially summer, and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen spring! I am writing this on Monday, Memorial Day, and it is cold and gloomy. I did get some annuals planted yesterday, and the beauty they create in my yard always makes me happy. However, it wasn’t without help from the black flies and mosquitoes!

Memorial Day is a time for us to remember those who sacrificed their lives in service for our freedom. Many of us have family members or close friends that we have lost, and we have the opportunity to honor them on this special day.

Memorial weekend also kicks off the summer season for many. It means opening up summer cottages and camps, gearing up for vacations, and attending graduations and weddings. And those of you from my generation will remember this — it is now appropriate to wear white shoes (smile).

On Sunday I chose to do a reading called “I Am the American Flag.” It has three requests of each of us.

The first is to “be proud of our country.” There is so much about her that is beautiful, compassionate, tender, powerful, yet gentle.

Second is to “be humble.” Look not at the mistakes that still remain. Settle for nothing less than to make a commitment to what you can do, where you are, with what you have to clean up the error and the shame.

And the third is to “be renewed.” Yes, renew your faith in God. Renew your pledge to follow the spiritual path.

The American Flag has a lot more to say. so I invite you to listen to the message.

I am very excited to meet and learn from our special guest, Coleen O’Connell, this coming weekend. We are celebrating the Season for the Earth, and Coleen is perfect fit for us. Here is a little bit about who she is and what she’s done.

O’Connell, director and founder of Lesley University’s Master of Science Program in Ecological Teaching and Learning, has been named 2013 Eberhard Thiele Environmental Educator. The award, bestowed by the Maine Environmental Education Association, recognizes her distinguished work and enduring contributions to the environmental education field, and lauds her creative and innovative approaches to environmental education programming.

“Anytime you’re recognized by your peers, it’s a wonderful thing,” said O’Connell, whose career in environmental education and ecology studies spans 30 years. “In a sense, this award really recognizes that commitment and that passion of the last 30 years of my life.”

You do not want to miss this on Saturday. This is a critical time in our country’s history, as well as that of the planet. We are being called into service — Coleen will help guide us as to what we can do in our corner of the world. Lunch will be provided. The cost is $60 for the day; however, we never turn anyone away. Whatever you can contribute will be accepted. She will be speaking on Sunday morning and doing a two-hour presentation following lunch on Sunday.

Speaking of lunch… this week will be Potluck Sunday, so your contribution to providing a treat to share will be greatly appreciated. And lastly, I want to extend a special thanks to the angels who gifted us with a brand new grill. This will be perfect for our vegan BBQ potluck on June 30.

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

The Practice of Getting Lost – Wilderness

Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Sunday Message by Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey: A big shout-out to all who brought food for the potluck on Sunday. Although I wasn’t there to enjoy it, I heard it was outstanding. The intention for the potluck on the first Sunday of the month is to give our Kitchen Team an opportunity to catch their breath. They are in service to us at least three Sundays a month, and this is our chance to say, “Thank you and we love and appreciate you” by providing the food. Well done!

I am so blessed to have a husband that not only supports me in my personal life but also supports me by speaking on Sunday when I am off playing! This past weekend was my semi-annual cousin’s weekend. It is the time when my first girl cousins on my father’s side of the family get together for the weekend. It is always a fun time, and this was no exception. There were eleven of us and we laughed and cried together as we shared stories from our childhood right up to where we are today.

Rev. LeRoy’s talk was from the book An Altar in the World written by Barbara Brown Taylor. He talked on “The Practice of Getting Lost.” Just an aside here — this is not new territory for him. I am the type of person who sees the quickest way from point A to point B and that is the route I take. Not LeRoy: He loves to explore, and often times it results in us getting lost.

Meanwhile, back to the message on Sunday: The author first issues an invitation to admit and accept that there will be times when you will be lost. It may be physically being lost because you took a road that didn’t lead to where you wanted to go. However, the type of “lost” that is more disconcerting to me is the feeling of being lost, of not knowing what I am expected to do next or what it is that seems to be hiding itself from me.

The second invitation she makes is to move from accepting being lost to actually choosing it when it happens. This is where my learning really needs to come into play. I must choose to not resist it, see that I have chosen it, and then follow the next sign in front of me.

wooded pathThe author writes: “At this advanced level, the practice of getting lost has nothing to do with wanting to go there. It is something that happens, like it or not. The advanced practice of getting lost consists of consenting to be lost, since you have no other choice. The consenting itself becomes your choice as you explore the possibility that life is for you and not against you, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.”

After accepting that getting lost will happen, and then daring to choose it, Taylor invites us to stop fighting the prospect of getting lost and to engage it as a spiritual practice. In essence, to see it not as a detour, but as the path; not just a wound, but as a gift; not a place where God is absent, but as a place where God is.

She says: “God does some of God’s best work with people who are truly, seriously lost.”

“Popular religion focuses so hard on spiritual success that we do not know the first thing about the spiritual fruits of failure/loss. When we fall ill, relationships fail, lose our jobs, we alienate or are alienated from loved ones, we are left alone to pick up the pieces. Even if we are ministered to by brave friends it can be hard to shake the shame of getting lost in our lives. Yet when we look in our lives to see what changed us for the better, a lot of those times would be wilderness times. When the safety net has split, resources are gone, the way ahead is not clear, the sudden exposure can be frightening and revealing. We spend so much of our time protecting ourselves from this exposure that a weird kind of relief can result when we fail. To lie flat on the ground with the breath knocked out of you is to find a solid resting place.”

To hear of Rev. LeRoy’s experiences, I suggest you listen to the talk.

plantingOn another note, if you haven’t noticed, the Season for the Earth team is starting their work and can use your help. There is a signup sheet on the bulletin board offering different opportunities for you to serve. It is the intention that the raised gardens will bear fresh vegetables and herbs for the use for our Sunday lunches as well as vegetables to share with the community. If you can give a couple of hours a week to planting, weeding or watering, please sign up and a member of the team will contact you.

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

The Practice of Waking Up to God-Vision

azaleaSunday Mesage by Rev. Pat Bessey

Welcome to May! May is my favorite month – and it might be because I was born in May – however, I love how everything in Maine starts to come to life. In ministry, a sense of new life happens once we have our annual meeting and the election of a new Board of Trustees. At the service on Sunday we installed our new board. They are folks from the community that have made the commitment to membership and to service in this ministry.

Our new board members are Matt Purinton, President; Pam Mills, Vice President; Sandy Hobbs, Treasurer; Barbara Kowalska, Secretary; and Peter Clark and Nikki Pulsoni, Members at Large. We have two alternates as well: Betty Gates and Amy Cousins. We are so grateful for this group of individuals who are now leading us into a new year of growth and transformation.

Statistics show that people live longer and are happier when they are in active service. We have great examples of that in our community. We have both Bill Taylor and Louise Flynt who are in the ninth decade of their lives and still serve this community. Bill is at church every Sunday at 8:30 getting coffee ready and during the summer does most of the mowing on our riding lawn mower. Louise over the last few weeks has been teaching our Uniteens the 5 basic principles of Unity as well as greeting and leading the 9:30 meditation on a regular basis. I share this with you as an example that living a life of service is a natural extension of who we have come here to be.

This community exists because of folks like Bill and Louise who have said “yes” to serving. We have opportunities for you to say “yes” as well. Our bookstore has immediate openings for a couple of people. The bookstore has been in existence for about the last 25 years and it has an important role as a place of connection and safety. This is the place that new people gravitate to when they come for the first few times as they are getting a feel for the community. It is safe and a neutral environment.

Our children’s ministry has openings as well. You do not have to be the lead teacher – you can be the teacher’s aide. It is our policy to always have two adults in with the children. This creates safety for both the children and the adults. With summer fast approaching, we are also looking for adults who would like to offer an activity for our children one Sunday during the summer. This is a great opportunity for your inner child to have some fun.

It goes without saying there are many other opportunities to serve in this community. If you hear the call, please contact our Sacred Service Coordinator, Steph Plourde by speaking with her on Sundays, or by calling the office at (207) 893-1233 or by using this form. And I am always available as well.

The message on Sunday was The Practice of Waking Up to God… Awaken Your Spiritual Vision.

“The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God and God in all things.” ~ Mechild of Magdeburg

The message was based on the story of Jacob and his dream where he saw a ladder that went from the ground up to the heavens, with angels of God ascending and descending. The focus was on what happened to Jacob as he woke up from the dream and how his life was forever changed.

In that dream God said to Jacob, “Remember, I am with you… I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

What Jacob did next was to mark where he had encountered God. He created an altar to signify that something extraordinary happened in that place.

Do you think that Jacob could convey to you or me the experience that he had? Do you think that he could in words describe his encounter with God? I hardly think so!

You see, there are no words to describe God, the Divine, and the more we try the more diluted and unclear things become. The Upanishads describe God as “Thou Before Whom all Words Recoil.”

Anything I say, or you say about God, will be inadequate. The only thing I can describe with any accuracy is my own limited experience of what I think God might be… the More… the Really Real… the Luminous Web that holds everything in place.

I hope this intrigues you enough to listen to the whole message…

plantingLastly, we have yet another service opportunity – it is to help with preparation for our vegetable and herb gardens that are part of our Season for the Earth. There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board if you are available to either help plant, water during the summer, weed or engage in other tasks needed for us to have a lush crop to source our Sunday lunch and to also share with you. You will be contacted by a member of the Season for the Earth team to discuss with you what you are able to do.

Next Sunday, join Rev. LeRoy as he shares with you “The Practice of Getting Lost – Wilderness.” There is no one more experienced on this topic than Rev. LeRoy.

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

As She Is

Megan McFeely

Megan McFeely

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Megan McFeely

Filmmaker Bio: Megan McFeely, Director/Producer of AS SHE IS, follows the path of Sufism and has been on a journey toward what is natural, essential and authentic for most of her life. The question, “Who are we as human beings from the inside of ourselves?” has been at the center of her inquiry. She spent more than 25 years providing strategic communications counsel for media and technology companies, authors and non-profit organizations.

Heart Thoughts from Rev. Pat Bessey:

Happy post Easter! I missed connecting with you last week as Rev. LeRoy and I went to a minister’s retreat that was hosted by our mentor, Rev. Edwene Gaines. It was the spiritual injection that I needed. I am so excited as we move fully into spring and summer.

Season for the EarthSeason for the Earth

This past Sunday was the kickoff for the Season for the Earth. If you have been in Unity Hall in the last couple of weeks you have seen sprouting plants on the windowsills. Stay tuned here for the dates for preparing the raised beds for planting. If you like to play in the dirt but find that either you don’t have the space where you live or the time to do all that is required for a garden, we have the perfect solution. You can give as much or as little time as you have available to nurture and water these gardens over the summer and reap some of the fruits. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more information about this exciting endeavor.

At last Sunday’s 8 a.m. service I shared a talk focused on Earth Day. Here are some quotes that I loved and found appropriate for our Season of the Earth.

Exploring our relationship with Nature

We inter-breath with the rain forests, we drink from the oceans. They are part of our own body. — Thich Nhat Hanh

You didn’t come into this world.  You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.  You are not a stranger here. — Alan Watts

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. — William Shakespeare

wooded pathValuing Nature

For the 99 percent of the time we’ve been on Earth, we were hunter and gatherers, our lives dependent on knowing the fine, small details of our world. Deep inside, we still have a longing to be reconnected with the nature that shaped our imagination, our language, our song and dance, our sense of the divine. — Janine M. Benyus

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. — e.e. cummings

Experiencing Joy in Nature

What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness! — Helen Keller

Healing Through Nature

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature… I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. — Anne Frank

Discovering Wisdom in Nature

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness.  This mysterious unity and integrity is wisdom, the mother of us all, “natura naturans.”

There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fountain of action and joy.  It rises up in wordless gentleness, and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being. — Thomas Merton

Learning from Nature

Look!  Look!  Look deep into nature and you will understand everything. — Albert Einstein

Teaching Children Through Nature

As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen un-selfconsciously to the soughing of the trees. — Valerie Andrews

plantingInviting Nature in Through Gardening

Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising than the planting of a seed in the blank earth and the result thereof. — Celia Thaxter

Connecting with Other Beings

The purpose of life is undoubtedly to know oneself.  We cannot do it unless we learn to identify ourselves with all that lives.  The sum-total of that life is God. — Mahatma Gandhi

For the 10 a.m. service we were blessed to have as our speaker Megan McFeely, director and producer of the documentary “As She Is.” Megan shared what happened in her life that drove her to find the voice and experience of the feminine within. Don’t miss listening to her story.

We viewed the film after lunch and it was followed by a deep, moving conversation with those present. Here is what Bill Plotkin, author of Soulcraft says about this film:

Moving and inspiring… and troubling in just the right ways… this artful film gracefully blends story and conversation, taking us along on Megan McFeely’s personal journey as she rediscovers and reclaims the feminine qualities of the human psyche, qualities neglected and suppressed in the West for millennia and yet essential for our survival and wholeness.

Find Megan on Facebook at As She Is and see the trailer to the film.

Next week, join me as we continue with the Season for the Earth. The talk title is “The Practice of Waking Up to God – Vision.”

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