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

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

The Non-violent Jesus

Palm Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Oh, my gosh! So often my thoughts to you start out with another storm has just hit or we have just had it; however, today it is bordering on 70 degrees. That calls for a “halleluiah” — which some were shouting as Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a colt on Palm Sunday.

palm

The Palm Sunday Service was very meaningful for several people who shared their thoughts with me at the end of the service. In addition to Sunday’s message, we gave those attending the opportunity to receive a blessing through a Spiritual Baptism. I was pleased with how many accepted the invitation. Following the message was the Palm Walk that has become a ritual on Palm Sunday.

The message was about the Nonviolent Jesus. I talked about the political Jesus and that the Gospels are political as well. They are political if you understand that “political” in part refers to the affairs of the city and the role of influencing other people on a civic and individual level. Both the Roman Empire and Jesus were influencing folks. Jesus did so by preaching that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now and not somewhere you go after you die. He was impressing that heaven is a way of life, and it was to be lived now. He taught it clearly to his disciples when he said, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Roman Empire’s message was that the way to peace was through the politics of power, coercion and violence.  They believed that spreading peace was done through spreading violence.

As Fr. John Dear points out, “We’re so used to that word ‘Gospel,’ that it’s lost its original meaning. But in those days, when the Roman empire went off and conquered another land in the name of their god Caesar, and killed all the men, raped all the women, and destroyed all the homes, the soldiers would come back parading through the land announcing ‘the Gospel according to Caesar,’ the Good News of the latest victory of Caesar, that another land has been conquered for their god Caesar, and that Caesar’s enemies have been killed.”

However, the politics of Jesus were in stark contrast to that. That Palm Sunday morning he rode into Jerusalem riding on a colt with no shiny brass or pomp and circumstance to the cheers of many who were expecting the messiah. At the other end of the town, the Roman Empire was riding in to a large fanfare and parade.

The Gospel of Jesus subverts the politics of violence because the Gospel is the politics of humility, service, forgiveness, and a nonviolent love that embraces all people, but especially those we call our enemies. Tragically, we tend to live by the politics of Rome, not the politics of Jesus.

JesusThe politics of Jesus makes sure everyone has daily bread, it seeks to forgive debts and sins, it avoids the temptation to commit evil against our neighbors, and it calls us into a life of forgiveness.

But this is risky. We know that the politics of Jesus led him to Good Friday, where he suffered and died. And yet he stayed true to the Kingdom of God, speaking words of forgiveness even as he was murdered, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The Kingdom of God is not just a call to a personal ethic; it’s a political ethic. Indeed, the politics of Jesus seeks to influence our personal lives, but it also seeks to influence our political lives. Wherever personal or political systems use violence, power, and coercion to be triumphant and victorious, Jesus beckons us to follow him into a different kind of politics — into the Kingdom of God that lives and dies by love, service, and forgiveness.

Join us this Thursday evening for our Holy Thursday service, Saturday is our regular Silent Saturday and a great opportunity to be in prayer as we move into Sunday for our Easter service, which includes our flower service. The children will have their traditional Easter egg hunt at the 10 a.m. service.

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