Unity Practical Christianity: Healing

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Greetings to you. Our thoughts and prayers go out to families and friends in Florida. As we enjoy the beautiful weather here in Maine we do not lose sight of those who are experiencing the aftermath of Irma, as well as those in Texas still displaced by Harvey. As much as our electronic devices can be a hindrance in times like these, seeing a post or getting a text from a family member, friend or colleague that they or their families are safe is such a source of comfort.

This past Sunday I continued the series of Unity Practical Christianity lessons from the Unity Correspondence Course developed by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. The topic was healing. It was a very powerful message, of which the crux is that when we experience illness we all too often treat the effect and not the cause. Fillmore says, “The fault with all the healing systems of men lies in the fact that they have tried to cure disease without removing the cause of it. Causes are not remedied merely by dealing with effects. This is a simple proposition, and one that easily appeals to our reason. Then we shall go first to causes. If a cause is removed its effect disappears. This is the right and only sure method of wiping out the appearance of disease. And it should be remembered that disease is only an appearance. There is no power nor reality in it.”

He goes on to say, “Health is real, abiding, eternal, unchangeable. If mental and physical discords were real they could not be healed. It is very important to remember this, because the thought of man has so built up the belief in the power and reality of sickness and disease that they seem like impregnable fortresses of evil. This is especially true of those forms of error upon which the stamp ‘incurable’ has been placed. There are no incurable diseases. Every seeming ill has a cause, and that cause can be remedied; then the effect will disappear. The belief in the power and reality of disease is itself one cause of its appearance” (my emphasis here).

I ended the talk with an affirmation and I invite you to repeat throughout the day and week, “My body is the temple of the ‘Living’ Christ!”

Remember, you are blessed today and always because you are the living expression of the I AM. Claim It!

Next week we will look at what the Fillmores have said about “Prosperity.”

Join us Thursday evening for Unity’s 23rd World Day of Prayer at 7 p.m.

On another note: This Sunday your Board of Trustees, our dedicated Children’s Ministry teachers and our valued parents will be meeting at noon to envision a way forward for our future leaders and our children. If you would like to join us please feel free to do so. In support of this we are having a “trunk sale” on September 30 to seed the vision for moving forward.

This is an opportunity to declutter and support our children. You will be responsible for selling the items out of the trunk of your vehicle. This is a labor-free way for us to have a yard sale. All proceeds go to the Children’s Ministry expansion fund. Oh, and remember to bring enough cash so you can make change. In addition to the “trunk sale” there will be a bake sale, 50/50 raffle tickets, and the Book and Gift Store will be open.

Enjoy the fall and this beautiful weather!

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

Unity Practical Christianity: Silence

First in a series of Sunday messages by Rev. Pat Bessey

As I write this, my prayer is that you are enjoying a happy Labor Day Monday. We know that once Labor Day arrives we say goodbye to summer and welcome fall. With fall comes new classes at UGP, including two Unity classes beginning soon. They are Bible Interpretation: Hebrew Scriptures with Rev. Airin and The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity from the book written by Rev. Edwene Gaines, being taught by Steph Plourde. I encourage you to enroll in one or both as they will feed you spiritually.

I have a couple of shout-outs from this past Sunday. The first is to all who contributed to the potluck. What a beautiful array of delicious food. Thank you! And the second is to the Healing Service team. This team has been meeting for several years now and they quietly do their mighty work. The Healing Service takes place the first Sunday of the month, and in the words of someone who attended this past Sunday: “I felt cherished and bathed in the love in that room.” If you haven’t experienced their healing touch, I invite you to next month.

Charles & Myrtle Fillmore

Charles & Myrtle Fillmore

I have begun a new talk series based on the teachings of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. I am calling it “Unity: Practical Christianity.” These talks come from what was the Unity Correspondence Course. This correspondence course came from a request, and here is some of what was written by the Fillmores to describe this course:

“In response to a wide-spread demand we have arranged to give lessons in Christian healing and the true science of Christianity:

  • This teaching is not theology, nor is it founded on any written authority. It is the Science of Mind and when once understood reveals to the student the Truth lying back of all religions.
  • The teaching given by this school is called Practical Christianity and Jesus Christ is the head and only Leader.
  • The Spirit of Truth is recognized as the one authority.
  • Truth may be recognized in two ways – in intellectual understanding or spiritual understanding. The intellect gets its knowledge from without, from books, from teachers. It merely stores facts up. But spiritual understanding comes from within, the Spirit quickening the intellect, illuminating the whole consciousness with an inner knowing. It is the object of these lessons to quicken the spiritual understanding and those who study them in prayer and spiritual meditation will find the light within.
  • Hold this thought daily: “The Spirit of Truth quickens my understanding and leads me into all Truth.”

Sunday’s message was on the “Silence.” Here is my favorite line from the talk: “Silence gives thought discipline.” Leading up to this line was the following:

In the Silence we feel after God, and great is the blessing when we get so still that we feel his presence filling and thrilling us with his life and love. We will then care little for the things of the world. They lose their seeming importance and we know what is meant by the command and promise, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33

And then following the line: “Silence gives thought discipline” is this: “power to direct and control thought comes not from the personal will, but by centering within, in I Am. Thus, poise and self-control are attained.”

Next week we will look at what the Fillmores had to say about “healing.”

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

SisterHeart: The Story of an Indian Nun and Maher

Sister Lucy Kurien

Sister Lucy Kurien

Sister Lucy Kurien, Founder of Maher Ashram, spoke at our 10 a.m. service and presented a workshop at noon.

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey:

I want to give a high five to the awesome team that keeps Unity of Greater Portland running while I am away. Special thanks to Steph who did triple duty: speaking at the 8 a.m. service, facilitating the Prosperity Plus II class, and keeping all the ducks moving in the right direction.

Rev. LeRoy and I had an incredible time at Chautauqua Institute. We were the Unity representatives for the week. Chautauqua Institute has been in existence since 1874, when it was founded by inventor Lewis Miller and Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent. It was started as a teaching camp for Sunday school teachers. It has developed into a 9-week season of programs that offer lectures and classes in the arts, education, religion and music.

We represented Unity of Chautauqua by speaking at their Sunday service, holding an 8 a.m. Daily Word Meditation each morning, and doing a one-hour class on Wednesday night. There were so many wonderful offerings it was difficult to decide what to partake of. We have already made a commitment to go back next year.

This week many of our children and teachers head back to school. Our love and prayers are with you all as this is a big adjustment.

Now on to Sunday — what a powerful service we had with our special guest, Sister Lucy Kurien.

Here is some information about Sr. Lucy and the Maher organization:

  • Sister Lucy is an Indian nun dedicated to service to the destitute, abandoned, abused of India. “Love is my religion. … It is not we who do seva/service, rather the Divine who does service through us.”
  • Founder of Maher (which means “Mother’s Home” in local language) despite no formal training, no funds of her own (she lived in convent) – a living example for what one person can do with Love as your only resource.
  • Maher celebrated 20 years of service this year, has directly helped over 4,000 women and 3,100 children, many living at Maher for all their years of schooling, and/or continue on as staff, in 3 states of India.
  • Maher was recently awarded the coveted “Consultative Status” at the UN.
  • Inaugurated “Maher Interfaith Association” during World Interfaith Harmony
  • In addition to homes for women, children, mentally disturbed, and the aged, Maher organizes local self-help groups (mostly micro-finance) and does Village Outreach on topics ranging from hygiene, value of educating girls, alcoholism, anger management, AIDs awareness, and much more.
  • Maher is a values-based organization: steadfastly interfaith, caste-free, no bribesever, supporting the environment.
James Dillet Freeman

James Dillet Freeman

In the 8 a.m. service the topic was prayer. I closed with the long version of the Prayer for Protection. Most don’t know this version exists. It was written by James Dillet Freeman, Unity’s Poet Laureate, for all soldiers during World War II. I think it is just as relevant and powerful today as it was when written.

“The light of God surrounds me,
The love of God enfolds me,
The power of God protects me,
The presence of God watches over me.
The Mind of God guides me.
The Life of God flows through me.
The Laws of God direct me.
The Power of God abides within me.
The Joy of God uplifts me.
The Strength of God renews me.
The Beauty of God inspires me.
Wherever I am, God is.”

Next week will begin a short series, “Unity Practical Christianity: The Silence.”

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


Living Future Pull

Rosie Deer Heart

Rosie Deer Heart

10 a.m. Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Rosie Deer Heart (audio)

This week’s message is coming to you from me, Steph Plourde, as Revs. Pat and LeRoy are away ministering to others in New York.

This past Sunday at the 8 a.m. service I shared a message about the gift of listening with empathy. Nearly all of what you find here is based on Paul Chappell‘s brilliant work.

It is clear that the issues that have troubled human beings for millennia have to do with our relationships to one another, and the struggle to understand, negotiate, connect, and forgive. Paul reminds us that “interpersonal conflict arises naturally because human beings see the world from different angles. Learning to resolve conflict well brings us closer together; resolving conflict poorly drives us apart… we can see conflicts as opportunities as they are manifestations of deeper, underlying problems. Every conflict is an opportunity to gain greater understanding and clarity.”

Paul understands deeply and teaches a few very important things that can help us connect with people. First, we all have the same basic needs. These needs are: Purpose & Meaning; Nurturing relationships; Explanations; Expression; Inspiration; Belonging; Self-worth; Challenge/mastery; Transcendence. Listening with empathy helps us to listen for how and where these needs have not been met – first in us, then in others.

Paul Chappell

Paul Chappell

A second, critically important point Paul makes is that feeling disrespected is the most common cause of conflict. While different cultures convey respect in different ways, there are three universal respect behaviors. Listening is at the top of the list. Feeling disrespected can lead to verbal and physical assault, even to murder. It’s important to take a closer look at what feeling disrespected may feel like for someone. We may feel betrayed, humiliated, ignored, gossiped about, judged, insulted, not listened to, stereotyped, looked down on, or dehumanized, guilty.

Lastly, it is important to understand that aggression is really something else underneath. Empathetic listening helps us get to the root of issues. Paul describes aggression as the heat coming from an underlying fire – good listening helps to uncover the fire. These underlying fires may be fear, frustration, insecurity, humiliation, betrayal, shame, confusion, guilt, physical discomfort, trauma, loneliness, alienation, low self-worth, disappointment, despair, lack of meaning, rejection – the list may go on. He emphasizes that aggression in us, or in others, is a distress response – an expression of pain. It is a way of communicating discomfort.

The willingness to seek understanding doesn’t mean we let people walk all over us. It doesn’t mean we tolerate injustice, but it better allows us to get to root causes of pain that sustain injustice.

As we continually navigate our challenges with one another in conflicted situations or conversations, Paul offers these guidelines:

  • Give people the benefit of the doubt. Do not act/react from a position of ignorance. Seek clarification.
  • Don’t personalize it. Personalizing something puts us at the center of the universe and at the center of the conflict. Instead, put the conflict at the center. Many factors may orbit around this conflict, and we are one of the factors. This can help calm us down and breathe more deeply.
  • Keep everything in perspective. Train your mind to appreciate the other person. Make a list of 10 things you appreciate about the person – mentally or in writing – before going further into conflict.
  • Maintain empathy.
  • Listening with kindness – offering space – to ourselves and to others truly is a gift and a skill to be cultivated. Our peaceful future just might depend on it!

In closing, I want to share with you that next steps in our plans to build a new space for our children is to purchase a new shed. To raise money, we will be holding a trunk sale on Saturday, September 30, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to clear out some old or unused items you no longer need and support our wonderful Children’s Program. Bring your items and sell them from the trunk of your car; proceeds will go to UGP to support our vision. We will also be holding a bake sale and raffle to support this cause. Please come lend your support. A signup sheet for participation is on the bulletin board!

— Steph Plourde

Shady Ladies of the Bible: Wicked Wives of the Bible

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Centered in Divine Love, let us pray together that peace prevails in Charlottesville, that peace prevails in the United States, and that peace prevails in our world.

I may have told you in the past that I generally write this article on Monday mornings, as is the case right now. I have time to reflect on the past week – especially the Sunday service – and gather my thoughts as to what I am guided to share with you.

The tragedy in Charlottesville this past weekend furthers my resolve to bring constructive programs to our community that teach and train us in peace and nonviolence. It is my belief that until we have a critical mass that is educated in peace literacy, and until we have healed the trauma in our own lives and the collective trauma of our world, we will not experience peace.

This Sunday I completed the series Shady Ladies of the Bible with the story of Lot and his wife (who looked back and turned into a pillar of salt) and the story of Joseph and Potifer’s wife. In the five weeks of this series, it is clear that for thousands of years human beings have been engaged in a culture of hate, revenge, deceit and war.

The statement I heard over and over this weekend is, “This has got to stop.” How I interpret this statement is that what needs to stop is how we are treating each other. I agree it needs to stop, but also understand it won’t end until we learn a new way of being with each other. So my commitment is to bring teachings, presenters, and workshops that support a culture of love, kindness, respect, compassion, empathy and whatever else is needed to bring us a culture of peace.

In my talk on Sunday, both Lot’s and Potifer’s wives, neither of whom we have names for, were living from ego and self-will. They are examples of what it looks like when we are not in our highest consciousness and not expressing our divine identity. It doesn’t make them less a part of God than anyone else. And here’s where we take a breath: If we believe that everyone is inherently good and sometimes showing up as who they are not, then that is also true of all involved in the Charlottesville event. We have been given free will, and we get to have the choice as to the level of consciousness with which we live our lives.

Just as these two women made unwise choices – and there isn’t a one of us who hasn’t done that a time or two – we are all good people, divine beings, and we are still free to make unwise choices. We must look at the shady side of ourselves, the shadow side. That is the redeeming feature of these shady ladies: These thousands of years later, they still speak to us and they call us out. They challenge us to look at ourselves – not if we are like them, but when we are like them.

The reason we look at these shadows in ourselves is not because we need to be forgiven for missing the mark; it is because we want to make different choices. We want to live more consciously as the divine beings we truly are. That is how we create the kingdom of heaven on earth: choice by choice. So as you go through this week, choose wisely.

And let me close with this thought that I know you will use wisely: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”