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

Sacred Service

Amy Cousins

Rev. Amy Cousins

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Rev. Amy Cousins

Follow-up message from Steph Plourde: This week’s letter is coming to you from me, Steph Plourde, as Revs. Pat and LeRoy are away at the Unity People’s Convention in San Antonio, TX.

This past Sunday, I did the 8 a.m. talk on Edwene Gaines’ Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity. These laws are: tithing, goal-setting, forgiveness, and living your divine purpose.

If these principles had not had a profound impact on my life, I wouldn’t feel nearly as compelled to share them. All of the information below is directly from her book.

For starters, it’s important to define prosperity. Edwene’s definition, to me, reflects the scope of the abundance we hope for:

  • A vitally alive physical body to provide a comfortable worldly home for the spiritual beings that we are
  • Relationships that are satisfying, nurturing, honest, and work all the time
  • Work that we love so much that it’s not work, its play
  • And all the money we can spend

The spiritual laws Edwene outlines for us, she explains, “are just as much a force in life as is the law of gravity. They are very simple laws, but none of them are optional, and it does not matter a whit if you believe in them or not. They play a powerful role in your life regardless.”

Law One: Tithe. The law of tithing says you must tithe 10 percent of all that you receive to the person, place, or institution where you have received your spiritual food. What is “spiritual food”? Anything that inspires us and causes us to remember what we are – children of the living God with infinite possibilities for expression and with no end of joy in our lives.

Charles Fillmore says that when we begin to tithe, out faith increases a thousand-fold. He says this giving is based on a law that cannot fail, and “it is the surest way ever found to demonstrate plenty, for it is God’s own law and way of giving.”

Edwene explains that tithing represents “a dynamic act of courage. When we tithe, our faith and ability to stretch, to move forward, and to expand your vision of yourself and your life increases a hundred-fold.”

Law Two: Set Goals. You must set clear-cut, tangible goals. Setting concrete and practical goals creates a vessel with which you can catch the new wealth and good fortune that tithing brings you.

We are invited to imagine what our life would be like if you could do anything we wanted without any constraints or limits. Without worrying about how, because God knows how.

Once the message has been sent, ask in earnest: is there anything I could or should do. Listen. Stay in tune. Setting goals is directing faith.

Law Three: Forgive. Edwene says, “You must forgive everyone all the time, especially yourself”. Unity teaches that we are all original blessings – innocent in the eyes of God. If it is true that one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given is the power to choose our thoughts, then we must remember, as A Course in Miracles reminds us, that we can choose peace instead.

Edwene goes on to say, “On a spiritual journey, we are aspiring to a forgiveness that’s so deep, full, and complete that no traces of any bad feeling at all will remain in us. Very gently and very lovingly, we open our hearts so there is truly no condemnation in us. Even toward the people who do truly bad things. We must strive to feel no disapproval. You can get on a train ride of condemnation, finding fault, and assigning blame, but you don’t want to be on that train. Because riding that train will make you sick, and you don’t want to be sick. You want to be well.”

Unity Minister and Prosperity writer Catherine Ponder offers another perspective: “Since other persons are children of God, there is really nothing to forgive. If they have crossed our pathway, it was because they needed and wanted our blessing. They were unconsciously looking to us to be steadied and set right. Our progress has not been hindered, no matter what they did or did not do. They did not, they could not, keep our good from us. They crossed our path by divine appointment, even though they seemed to hurt us for a little while. When people bother us in any way, it is because their souls are trying to get our divine attention, and our blessing. When we give them that, they no longer bother us. They fade out of our lives, and find their good elsewhere.”

Law Four: Commit to Finding and Fulfilling Your Divine Purpose. Seek, discover, and follow your divine purpose. Every single one of us has some special gift, some special interest, some special talent, and some special way of impacting this world so that it becomes a better place for everyone. We are asked to hold fast to our divine purpose prayerfully, persistently, and patiently.

The premise here is that when we make 100 percent commitment to do or be something, and take every step with integrity, the universe will open up a way where before there was no way at all; the universe will rush in to support you. We find our great spiritual commitments by following your passions, by seeking to identify the one thing that you really, really are committed to changing for all humanity.

After looking carefully at the world, we must pick out one thing that we feel needs transforming, something that would be fun for us to get involved in repairing, shifting, restructuring, fixing, and perfecting. Edwene says this should be fun! It isn’t about martyrdom or great personal sacrifice. It’s about focus, joy, and a sense of purposeful possible achievement. Once we’ve identified it, we must take a bold step and make a 100% commitment to “fixing” the problem we have identified, followed by devoting our energies, time, talents, skills and money to transforming that one piece of the earthly puzzle.

I cannot recommend this book, these teachings, and their affiliated practices highly enough. I truly hope you will find in here a nugget that resonates with you!

Rev. Amy Cousins did the 10 a.m. talk on Sacred Service. She did a beautiful job of sharing her personal experience and passion for service, and inspiring us to find the same within ourselves.

This coming Sunday, Father’s Day, Rev. LeRoy will be sharing a special message about fatherhood.

Please join us!
Steph Plourde
Sacred Service Coordinator

 

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

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

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