Listening Is An Act Of Love

Elaine M. Bourne

Elaine M. Bourne

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Elaine Bourne

Elaine M. Bourne is Director of the Community Mediation Services Program (CMS) of Volunteers of America, Northern New England (VOANNE); a state-wide program designed to transform conflict and preserve relationships. She is an experienced mediator, facilitator and conflict resolution trainer and consultant. She leads a diverse team of individuals providing mediation services for members of the agricultural community, veterans and military families and a full-range of community-based conflict resolution services, training programs and skill-building sessions.

Elaine is a member of the Board of Governors of the Maine Association of Mediators and is active with other organizations, including the Beginning Farmers Resources Network Council in Maine. Prior to joining VOANNE, Elaine worked for more than 15 years with law students, developing extensive experience, and a national reputation, as a leader in legal education administration – student services, including admissions and career development. Institutions she was associated with include the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Boston University School of Law, and the Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University. She holds a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a B.A. from Eisenhower College of the Rochester Institute of Technology.


Message from Rev. Pat Bessey

Happy Valentine’s to you… God loves you and so do I!

This Sunday is our Annual Meeting and everyone is invited. It is a time for us as a community to come together and discuss the health and support the mission of Unity of Greater Portland as we look at the past year and the way forward. Your voice and presence are important to us – it takes all of us to make this community.

This past Sunday we had as a guest speaker, Elaine Bourne, a trained mediator with Volunteers of America. She shared the importance of listening and good communication skills. Did you know that the very same letters are found in “listen” and “silent”? It stands to reason then we must be silent in order to listen. Listening is both a skill and art that many of us have not learned very well. If you are anything like me, you are formulating a response rather than being fully present. This doesn’t happen in every interaction; however, it is pretty common. Multitasking is another deterrent from being fully present. I am watching myself as I am typing this that I am also half listening to a comment from Rev LeRoy. I can just imagine that you might do the same thing.

In her talk, Elaine showed a slide that broke down the components of the Chinese symbol for listening. The symbol for that one word is comprised of symbols for ears (to hear), heart (to feel), eyes (to see), mind (to think), and undivided attention (to focus). This demonstrates the complexity and richness of good listening.

Elaine gave great tips on better communication skills which everyone of us can benefit from.

I will leave you with this quote, and look forward to seeing you at our Annual Meeting on Sunday.

“We should all know this: that listening, not talking, is the gifted and great role, and the imaginative role. And the true listener is much more beloved, magnetic than the talker, and he is more effective and learns more and does more good. And so, try listening. Listen to your wife, your husband, your father, your mother, your children, your friends; to those who love you and those who don’t, to those who bore you, to your enemies. It will work a small miracle. And perhaps a great one.” — Brenda Ueland

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

Teachings for Better Decision-Making

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

“The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount are Jesus’ blueprint for peace. I urge everyone to study John Dear’s beautiful reflections and join his campaign of peace and nonviolence.” — Jimmy Carter

Fr. John Dear

Fr. John Dear

On March 18, Fr. John Dear will be our guest speaker and workshop presenter as part of our Season for Nonviolence. He will be sharing from his book, The Beatitudes of Peace. John Dear affirms that the God of peace is alive and at work among us, calling us to be his sons and daughters who work for true, lasting peace.

Elaine M. Bourne

Elaine M. Bourne

This coming Sunday, we are blessed to have Elaine Bourne as our guest speaker; she is one of the daughters that John is referring to. Elaine is a good friend of mine and the Director of the Community Mediation Services Program of Volunteers of America, Northern New England, a state-wide program designed to Transform Conflict and Preserve Relationships. She is an experienced mediator, facilitator and conflict resolution trainer. Don’t miss her message and workshop, Listening is an Act of Love. No coincidence that this is coming just ahead of Valentine’s Day.

On Sunday the message was taken from the Bhagavad Gita. The 700-plus verses that Krishna taught Arjuna on the battlefield that makes up the Bhagavad Gita is looked upon as the “manual of life.” Today it is used by many organizations for better management and is even included in the syllabus of some business schools.

Here are some of the lessons that Lord Krishna taught to Arjuna:

“Think with a calm mind: Undoubtedly, O Arjuna, the mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by any constant vigorous spiritual practice — such as meditation — with perseverance, and by detachment, O Arjuna.” (6.35)

“Our mind should be our friend: our mind is our enemy if we do not know how to control it. The first step to gain control on any situation is developing a clear, calm and collected mind.”

“Give up on results: You have control over doing your respective duty only, but no control or claim over the results. The fruits of work should not be your motive, and you should never be inactive.” (2.47)

“Doing our work sincerely and removing the expectations or attachment to results will make our life peaceful. Most of our decisions get affected because we wonder about their outcomes and consequences.”

“Treat everyone equally: A person is considered superior who is impartial towards companions, friends, enemies, neutrals, arbiters, haters, relatives, saints, and sinners.” (6.09)

“But that’s exactly what Lord Krishna says, treat everyone with the same lens of impartiality.”

Here are the rest:

• Be ready for change
• Act with conviction
• Say no to feelings of uncertainty
• Set high standards
• Achieving perfection
• Everything happens for a reason
• Trust your conscience

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

Prayer: The Ultimate Lifestyle

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Hello friends! Spring is just 49 days away — how does that sound? This past weekend we saw a January thaw, and for that I was grateful.

The topic for the message on Sunday was prayer. There is no right or wrong way to pray. Here I’ll offer some thoughts that I shared from Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, and Rev. Eric Butterworth, author and Unity minister.

Fillmore defines prayer as “communion between God and man. This communion takes place in the innermost part of man’s being. Prayer is the most highly accelerated mind action known. It steps up mental action until man’s consciousness synchronizes with the Christ Mind. It is the language of spirituality.”

The goal of prayer is to be One with God, to have a transcendental experience, to rise above the five-sense world, to experience the Divine, to be changed at depth. Notice it is to be changed at depth. Prayer is not about changing God, but it is about changing us.

Butterworth writes: “It is turning the focus of your consciousness away from the problem to your center of being in God and giving way to the creative flow which will stream forth . . . from within your innermost self.”

He further describes this as “resting in the divine flow.” Resting in the Presence. Jesus described it like this: “The Father and I are one.” He’s describing our relationship with God. It’s like stepping into a river and becoming one with that river.

The first step in prayer is to begin where you are. You may have a lot of information on prayer, but what is most important is to take action and pray from right where you are. We are a praying people. We are wired for prayer. Butterworth says the human creature is a “praying animal,” that prayer comes naturally to all of us.

The next step is to be absolutely honest with God when you pray. Prayer is not something you do for God, but rather you do it to uncover God in yourself, to discover God’s presence in your life.

There’s no one to pray to, only a universal flow to get into, a spiritual energy to pray from. Butterworth writes, “Prayer is not something we do to God, or a ceremony we perform for God. It is an experience of our own God-potential . . .  we do not really pray to God, rather we pray from a consciousness of God. Prayer is not conditioning God with our needs but conditioning our lives with the activity of God.”

And how much time should you spend in the practice of the presence of God? Eric says: “All the time!”

And the final step: Continue the conversation all day long. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Pray without ceasing.” Every moment should be spent in the awareness of the Divine at work in every aspect of our life. If we were aware of God flowing in our life at every moment, we would always know what to do and what to say, where to go and when. There would never be any questioning as to what we were to do next.

May prayer reveal to you a wonderful and awesome God, and may prayer also allow YOU to truly, truly know how magnificently and wonderfully YOU are made!

Step into the Divine Flow. . . TODAY. . . in prayer!

Fr. John Dear

Fr. John Dear

I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to Fr. John Dear, who will be with us in March. Fr. John has an extensive biography as an author and nonviolent activist. Here is a little bit about him:

John is an internationally recognized voice for peace. “John Dear is the embodiment of a peacemaker,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote a few years ago when he nominated John for the Nobel Peace Prize. “He has led by example through his actions and in his writings and in numerous sermons, speeches and demonstrations. He believes that peace is not something static, but rather to make peace is to be engaged, mind, body and spirit. His teaching is to love yourself, to love your neighbor, your enemy, and to love the world and to understand the profound responsibility in doing all of these. He is a man who has the courage of his convictions and who speaks out and acts against war, the manufacture of weapons and any situation where a human being might be at risk through violence. For evil to prevail requires only that good people sit on the sidelines and do nothing. John Dear is compelling all of us to stand up and take responsibility for the suffering of humanity so often caused through selfishness and greed.”

To attend the March 17th daylong workshop at St. Joseph’s College, register now.

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

Kindness: Gotcha

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

While I was getting ready to leave on a recent Sunday, a woman who had been at the Course in Miracles (ACIM) group told me something that was music to my ears. She said, “This is a really happening place. I came here several years ago, and it wasn’t like this.” It is a happening place — and almost every Sunday after service a program or meeting is taking place. This past Sunday in Unity Hall there were groups of people visiting at different tables and at one table there were four folks playing cards.

This Sunday will be no different. After the service, per usual, the ACIM group will be meeting. We will also have the workshop “The Courage to Forgive,” facilitated by Rev. Amy Cousins. This workshop will invite you to have the courage to take the idea of forgiveness and change it into the action of forgiveness. Rev. Amy is a skilled facilitator and is passionate about supporting people to be their highest self. Also, you will have the opportunity to learn about becoming a part of the Prayer Partner Ministry. If you are interested, Team Leader Barbara Kowalska will be available to talk with you and answer questions.

Do you know what the side effects of kindness are? We know it feels good to be kind, and kindness is one of the most important ingredients for us to possess if we are to live a spiritually transformed life.

Mother Theresa said, “Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier.”

I found the 5 Beneficial Side Effects of Kindness on a website by David Hamilton Jr.,Ph.D. Here they are:

1. Kindness makes us happier.
2. Kindness gives us healthier hearts.
3. Kindness slows aging (this is my favorite).
4. Kindness makes for better relationships.
5. Kindness is contagious.

To hear the expanded side effects, listen to Sunday’s talk.

If you were at the Burning Bowl Service, you’ll remember I invited you to log at least 5 acts of kindness you either extended or received daily each night. I am again extending that invitation; knowing of all the health benefits, why wouldn’t you want to extend kindness and stay healthy!!!

This Sunday, join me for “Prayer: the Ultimate Lifestyle.”

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