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What is Ours to Do to Bring Change

Vaishali Mamgain

Vaishali Mamgain

Vaishali Mamgain shares with us how paying attention to our physical responses to events like the Capitol attack can help white people better understand the experiences of Black-, brown- and queer-bodied folks.

Vaishali received her PhD. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Southern Maine and the Director of the Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We are just three days away from the Spring Equinox and the official beginning of Spring. It has been a long winter… it has been a long year! I am looking with great anticipation to the time when we can be together again. Join us on March 28 at our Community Meeting and your Board of Trustees will share our plans for moving forward.

On Sunday we were blessed with the wisdom shared by our speaker, Vaishali Mamgain. We experienced some technical difficulties in the beginning; however, we worked them out and the technology gods were with us as Vaishali didn’t experience any internet disruptions.

The talk title was “What Is Ours to Change.” She begins by telling a story of Fr. Daniel Berrigan, a Catholic priest who along with others called the Catonsville Nine burned files of young men who were going to be drafted for the Vietnam War. They justified doing this by saying “better the files than bodies of children.” This action was not just for the Vietnam people but was directed at Catholics as well as all Americans.

Coming back to the question “what is ours to change,” Vaishali invites us as spiritual people to ponder this question in this historical moment of time. She highlights the racial, social, environmental justice and the serenity of indigenous people. She gives us some important information on these issues; however, she then quotes Fr. Berrigan again. He said: “Don’t just do something stand there.” In other words, don’t run out to fix things but develop a spiritual practice. A practice of prayer and meditation. A practice that allows us to tune in, to become self-aware and know what our motivation is to act. Am I ready to go out into the world in this way? This requires deep listening, which only comes through our practice.

She shared three Zen peacemaker precepts from her teacher roshi Joan Halifax. They are 1) not knowing 2) bearing witness 3) compassionate action.

I look forward to working closely with Vaishali on issues that affect all of us. And as Lilla Watson says, “If you have come to help us you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound with ours, then let us work together.”

Join us next week when we host Bukeka Blakemore as our guest musician. Bukeka was cited in Kansas City Business Magazine as Most Influential Women Class of 2013. She is an award-winning singer/songwriter, and she will be with us next Sunday.

The message from the book Living Originally by Unity writer Rev. Robert Brumet is titled Radical Self-Awareness.

The Nonviolent Practice this week: Week 3-Dreaming, Mission

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a great dream. What is your dream for peace? Write it down. What is one thing you can do to honor your dreams? Do it each day this week.

“My life is my message,” says Gandhi. Write down what you want to stand for in your life. Note at least one way you can show, through action, that you stand for your beliefs. Take action each day this week.

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

 

March 7 Sunday Service with Gregg Levoy

I sit before a clean slate waiting for me to put words to thoughts that are ruminating in me. It is Monday that I am writing this and just an hour or so ago the CDC came out with new guidelines relating to COVID-19. They have said that if you have had both vaccine shots you can safely interact with others who have been safely vaccinated as well. Immediately my mind went to many of you who I know have had both shots and thought, wow, we can get together for a meal or the book group. Then I thought, but what about those who haven’t gotten both, are they excluded?

Gregg Levoy

Gregg Levoy

My thoughts then went to the workshop with Gregg Levoy on Sunday. If you didn’t attend the workshop, it was focused on the pandemic. He asked us some interesting questions that were personal to each of us. I am going to share a few with you and my answers to them. You might answer them for yourself.

What have I discovered about myself during this last year? I discovered my desire to learn and grow; I am more inner focused than when I was distracted by the worldly things in the outer; I am grateful for my home and find it to be my sanctuary.

What has changed dramatically for me through this? What have I said “no” to that I am saying “yes” to now? The greatest change for me is entering into the age of technology. Sunday services, classes, and meetings via Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube. My only regret is I didn’t do it sooner.

What silver linings have come from the pandemic? Without question, doing Sunday morning from home. Seeing our doctors via telehealth rather than driving to an appointment.

Has this year been one of the best? In many ways yes, I have stretched in ways I never thought possible. I have learned that I am resilient and that less is better. It has shown me how little I really need to live a great life. I have a deeper appreciation of knowing when I need alone time and when I need connection.

What has the meaning of the pandemic been for me? I am stronger than I imagined; that I am given everything I need when needed; and most importantly that LOVE trumps everything else.

If you joined us on Sunday morning you had a chance to experience Gregg. His message was one of braiding science and spirituality together. He shared his theory of chaos and how biblically chaos was before creation. He is very engaging and if you missed it or want to listen to him, you can watch the video above.

This coming Sunday we hear from another person who I hold in high esteem and it is Vaishali Mamgain. Vaishali is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Southern Maine and the Director of the Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion, also at USM. She will be sharing her experience of being a person of brown skin and how viscerally she experienced the event of January 6 at our nation’s Capital. Vaishali will join us for Coffee Hour following so you can ask questions or share your ideas on what she shares with us.

Nonviolent Practice: Week 2 Creativity

The worst thing you can do to a human soul is to suppress its natural desire to create. Identify at least five ways in which you express your creativity every day. Each day this week, allow something unpredictable and joyous to express through you.

Mark your calendar for March 28 and join us on Zoom for our Spring Community Meeting directly following the Sunday Celebration Service.

TURN YOUR CLOCK AHEAD SATURDAY NIGHT…it is time to Spring Forward!

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

The Gifts of Winter

History has been made today with the inauguration of our first female ever to be elected in the second-highest office in our country. I for one am grateful to be living to witness this historic moment. This to me is not about politics but about gender equality. Think about a collage of presidents and vice presidents over our country’s history, including our newest, and you will see only ONE woman amongst them.

Why is this significant for me, because I am fortunate enough to be in a profession that has historically been predominately men. Unity was progressive from its inception and women have always been among those who have been ordained as Unity ministers. In fact, there are probably more women ministers in Unity than men. So, with Kamala Harris as our vice president, women have taken a huge step forward.

The message on Sunday began a series that hopefully will bring a lighter tone in what can be seen as a dark time in our county. It is called “Our journey through the Gifts of Winter”. A packet with some fun and educational material was sent out to all who contributed financially during the months of October through December and I have heard that the mail has been extremely slow, and many have not received their packet. Hopefully, by the time you get this, it will have arrived. A couple of corrections on the calendar. The time for the Sunday service is incorrect; you are aware hopefully that we begin at 10 a.m. Also, I will be opening a Zoom call on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 during the weeks of this series for anyone who would like to chat about what impacted them in the message on Sunday. 

Some of the highlights of the message was the need for rest during the winter months. Just as nature needs a rest, so do we. This period of rest is a letting go just as the leaves let go of the trees, we let go of what no longer serves us both in the physical and in our minds.

In Chinese, medicine winter is associated with water. A balanced Water element allows fluidity and flow, an ability to rest and nourish oneself and others, to guide perception and reflection, and have a ready expression of feelings such as love.

In the Hindu tradition, they teach of four cycles of life just as nature has four seasons. The four cycles of life are student, householder, retirement, and lastly, after letting go of all that no longer serves, we attain the bliss of emptiness. 

I am excited that the talk on Sunday has stirred a few of you and, with your permission, I am sharing.

An email from Betty Gates said this: “I love Maine winters! I did some research before I moved to Maine 33 years ago and found that there are more days of sunshine in the Portland area than there are in Houston, Texas. It’s true!”

And from Carol Holt, a poem she had written several years ago:

S O L I T U D E

Summer seashore cluttered
with umbrellas
and gaudy beach towels
gives me no peace
no sense of Solitude.

I long for winter
The hush of snow falling
Listening for the silence
Between the heartbeat
of the waves.

From Elizabeth Peterson’s poem, who says she is wanting to see winter differently this year:

Ode to Winter

The barren trees
The icy ground…frozen to the core
Where is the warmth…
the beauty that sustains me/that fills my soul
“shhhhhhh….listen. I am resting.
Come with me for just a bit.
Rest in the quiet with me.
Be filled in this moment of bleakness.
Find the beauty in the Stillness
of this stripped-down version of the quiet.
Of me….your friend Winter.
I am beauty. I am love. I am peace.
I am the sleeping yet emerging light.
Look deep. There I Am.
Acknowledge the Sacredness of THIS time too.
Enjoy the Quiet. Find the Beauty
where before you thought none existed.
Find me…your quiet friend winter. shhhhhhhhhhh

Join me next Sunday as we explore The Joy of Rest.

Before I sign off, in just 10 days, the Season for Nonviolence begins. You will be receiving information on the specifics next week; however, this past Sunday I left you with a practice that you can begin right now.

Nonviolence begins by learning how to be less violent and more compassionate toward our own being and allowing that evolving self to act in the world with mature understanding. In learning to speak and act with self-respect, honor, and reverence, we find the courage to lift those who are underserved or unrepresented — in the name of justice for all.

Practice: Believing

Author Wayne Dyer writes about the impact that our beliefs have on our daily lives. Each day this week, believe you have all the resources to move your life in the direction of peace. Be aware of simple demonstrations of peaceful responses you receive.

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

P.S. On Thursday evening at 7 p.m., join me for the Spiritual Exploration group. We will be discussing an article that appeared in the Portland Press Herald written by our friend of Unity, Vaishali Mamgain. 

For your safety, continue to social distance and wear face masks. The church building remains closed for gatherings of all services and group meetings. All business with the church office needs to be via telephone or email.

LET’S STAY CONNECTED

 

Mirabai Starr

All events with Mirabai Starr have been postponed Book Signing and Conversation Friday, March 13, 5-7 p.m. This event takes place at the Glickman Family Library at the University of Southern Maine. Register for this event.  Join Mirabai Starr and Dr. Vaishali Mamgain, Director of the BCB Center for Compassion, as they…

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