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

Christmas: A Season of Love

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

The countdown is on! Only four more days until Christmas Eve. We have a special service planned for 10 a.m. and our traditional Christmas Eve candle light service at 7 p.m. There will not be an 8 a.m. service, and following the 10 a.m. service coffee and tea will be provided and you have an opportunity to share with us some of your favorite holiday cookies and pastries.

This past Sunday, “Love” was the word for advent — and both services were filled with love. Our children performed a play titled “A Celebration of Interfaith Traditions,” which was both entertaining and educational! I want to give a hearty thank you to Elizabeth Peterson for writing and directing the play and to our Youth Education leaders and parents for supporting the rehearsals and making it such a memorable experience.

In keeping with the theme of love, here is an acronym for you to apply in your day-to-day life and especially during the holidays. It is a gift that keeps giving:

L – LISTEN intently to the people with whom you are interacting with… Listen deeply; it is a great gift.

O – OPTIMIZE the time you have with your loved ones. The truth is, we do not know our last hour; don’t postpone giving your love.

V – VALUE the people in your life; really notice their goodness.

E – EXPRESS your gratitude, appreciation and praise.

Along with living the acronym for “love,” here is another practice for you from New Thought writer Joel Goldsmith from his book Practicing the Presence: What is the principle? “Love they neighbor as thyself.”

In obeying this commandment, we love friend and foe; we pray for our enemies; we forgive, though it be seventy times seven; we bear not false witness against our neighbor by holding him in condemnation; we judge not as to good or evil, but see through every appearance to the Christ-identity – the one Self which is your Self and my Self.

This holiday season and clear into 2018, let us see the Christ in every person we encounter!

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

We Are Loving

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Another week rolls by, and it seems like just a blink of the eye since my last post. So, what is the news for this week? Our new youth program is underway. We are experimenting with a new process. Like anything new, it doesn’t come all neatly packaged. We have to try things out and find what works and what doesn’t. So patience and prayers are welcomed. That being said, on Sunday we celebrated Rev. Elizabeth as she has stepped away from the role of heading up our youth ministry after nearly four years. Elizabeth shared with me in an email a reflection from her time at Unity of Greater Portland, and I have asked her permission to share a portion of it with you that pertains to our program.
Words from Elizabeth

“I started coming to Unity on a weekly basis in May of 2005. I had come a couple of times in 1997/1998 and been reading Silent Unity since 1992 but did not call Unity my home until 2005. I had not thought of it before this process, but I have been in a position of service since first coming to Unity. When we started, Jordan was 2 years old. He did not feel really comfortable around people he did not know, so Tom and I would help out with the youngest children. At that time, we were in the music office and just sat and played with the children. No program existed for that age group at that time.

“As my role here changes (and I am not exactly sure of what that looks like at this moment), I want to take a moment to ask you to hold a vision with me. As Rev. Pat mentioned yesterday, this children’s program has grown so much in the past 4 years. We now have a service for each one of the age groups. This is HUGE! As Rev. Pat also mentioned, these children are our future. Not just at Unity but in the world.

“Many of us have watched Jordan and Ashley grow up. As I mentioned, when Jordan came to Unity at 2 years old, he was very shy with people he did not know. He hardly ever spoke at church. People would ask me if he spoke at home and I would laugh as he has ALWAYS talked a lot at home. I am sharing this with you so that you can see the importance of this program. For those of you who do not have children, the children’s time at the end of the service may seem tedious. But Jordan has grown from a small child not wanting to talk to anyone but his parents to the young man who is a leader within the children’s team and this community.  The love, support and encouragement he has received from this community allows him to be so sure in himself and function in the larger community with ease. It is so easy for him to speak in front of large groups of people, to lead a project and be in service in the world. THIS ALL BEGAN AT UNITY OF GREATER PORTLAND with the encouragement and love of this community.

“May we all continue to BE that LOVE in the world. Support each other and our children’s program.”

This past Sunday, I started a series on our core values. Unity of Greater Portland’s vision, mission and core values are the result of a workshop that took place in November of 2012, and they help us answer these questions: “Why are we doing what we are doing?” “Who are we?” “What is most important to us?”

Core Values affect decisions, goals, change, priorities, conflicts, and spending. They motivate people to create a meaningful ministry, touch the heart of those within the ministry, and stir people into action.

Each of our core values has a definition as well as behaviors for us individually, as well as a community to live by. Every Sunday we speak them as a community and I most always end by saying this is who we say we are… and we must live them.

So our first core value is loving. The dictionary definition of loving is: Adjective: feeling or showing love or great care; Noun: the demonstration of love or great care.

Unity of Greater Portland’s definition of loving is: The attracting, harmonizing and unifying power of love enables us to live in Oneness with all.

Individual Behaviors

1. I see all others as a reflection of myself and hold them and myself in love.

2. I love UGP and if I see something that needs doing, I do it, like picking up trash, cleaning up a spill, putting chairs back in their place, helping in the kitchen and yard work.

3. During our Sunday service greeting (Namaste) I make eye contact with others and give a hug, handshake or bow as appropriate.

2godislovehands copySpiritual Community Behaviors

1. We welcome and greet everyone lovingly.

2. We teach the power of love to overcome every situation.

3. We express love in the world through sacred service.

4. Our programs support our children and adults as the perfect creations of God that they are.

New Thought writer and author Emmet Fox says this about love: “There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer: no disease that love will not heal: no door that enough love will not open… It makes no difference how deep set the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. If only you could love enough, you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world…”

So as you go through your week, practice being the love you wish to see in the world, knowing that love is the healing balm to all of our difficulties.

Join me this Sunday for our next core value, which is “Accepting.”

The I of the StormYou are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey

P.S. Mark your calendar to join Rev. LeRoy and me on Wednesday, April 13 for The I of the Storm class. This is a class in Peace Literacy. The book and workbook are available in our bookstore.

Sing to Me and I Will Hear You

Elaine McGillicuddy

Elaine McGillicuddy

Guest Speaker Elaine McGillicuddy

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey: I am writing to you on this added day to the calendar… February 29. When this arrives in your inbox, it will be March. We will be ready for longer days of light and spring our clocks forward an hour on March 13.

This spring we will enter into the Season for the Earth for the first time. This is the third of four seasons that the Association of Global New Thought offers. We are in the Season for Nonviolence now and we will have the Season for Interfaith and Intercultural Celebration again this fall.

As a sneak preview of the Season for the Earth, we have three excellent speakers lined up to be with us during the months of April through June. We plan to expand our raised gardens in the back of the church and grow food for our Sunday meal and to share with others. There will be many opportunities to help with this project. The frames for the raised gardens need to be built, the soil prepared, and the plants planted. Master Gardener Cynthia Froehlich, will oversee these activities and is supported by Rev. LeRoy. Cynthia is also leading a nature walk during this time. You are invited to participate wherever you feel called. As I said, more details forthcoming.

In the spirit of the Season for Nonviolence, we hosted Elaine McGillicuddy on Sunday. Elaine shared her love story with us as well as her involvement with the peace movement, which happened over 40 years. Elaine, a certified instructor of Dances for Universal Peace, led us in these dances following lunch. It was a fun and prayerful experience. You can hear Elaine’s moving message again, using the media player at the top of this page. You can also visit Elaine’s website.

Paul K ChappellI want to draw your attention to our next guest for the Season for Nonviolence, Paul K. Chappell. Paul is with us on March 11 – 13. He is leading a two-day training for Peace Leadership. We are offering this training on a donation basis and lunch is included. We are making it affordable to demonstrate our commitment to our vision of a spiritually transformed world. We see this work as a way to experience it in our lifetime.

Paul K. Chappell graduated from West Point in 2002, was deployed to Iraq, and left active duty in November 2009 as a Captain. He is the author of the Road to Peace series, a seven-book series about waging peace, ending war, the art of living, and what it means to be human. The first five published books in this series include: Will War Ever End?, The End of War, Peaceful Revolution, The Art of Waging Peace, and The Cosmic Ocean. Chappell serves as the Peace Leadership Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Lecturing across the country and internationally, he also teaches courses and workshops on Peace Leadership and Peace Literacy. To learn more, visit his website.

Paul is also very committed to Peace Literacy and I know that once you read what he has written you will see the importance of this as well.

So, as we move further into March, we have another event I want to share with you. As you may already know, Easter is early this year. Palm Sunday is March 20 and Easter is March 27. On Holy Thursday, March 24, we are offering a Seder Dinner 6-8 p.m., which emulates the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples. Reservations are required, as we have limited seating. The cost is $10. Make your reservation by calling the office at 893-1233 or use the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board. The deadline for reservations is March 20.

We have so many great events happening… thank you all for your support to Unity of Greater Portland.

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

Creating Functional Relationships – Beneath The Surface

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

It is September 9, and I wonder how did we get to this date? I remember hearing as a young person that the older you get the faster time goes, and oh, my gosh! It is true! In reality we are one third of the way through the month. It is a very full month as well. Thursday (tomorrow) evening we will be celebrating Unity’s World Day of Prayer. The service will begin at 7 p.m. Please join us for an evening of prayer, music, and drumming. We begin live streaming from Unity Village’s service at 8 p.m.

Friday evening is the start of the Rhythm of Your Soul Women’s Retreat. We have a total of 32 participating in this weekend event. It will be educational as well as a time for creating community and deepening our own soul experience.

Martha Creek

Martha Creek

Please check out our website for additional activities this month. Martha Creek will be with us. If you know folks who are interested in Byron Katie’s “The Work,” Martha has studied with her and will be presenting that material in a workshop the afternoon of Sunday, September 20.

The talk series “Soul Relationships” continued this past Sunday. The title was “Beneath the Surface,” and we looked at the relationship of Samson and Delilah from the Old Testament.

The four key points from this talk were:

Point One: Selfishness can destroy a relationship.

“The purpose of a relationship is not for two incomplete people to become one, but rather for two complete people to join together for the greater glory of God.” – Marianne Williamson

Stephen Levine said, “In order for a relationship to be really successful in the widest sense of the term, you have to want God more than you want your partner.”

Four important ingredients for a successful relationship:
1.    You – what commitment do you bring to the relationship?
2.    Your partner – what commitment does he or she bring to the relationship?
3.    The relationship itself – what importance do you both place on the relationship?
4.    and, most importantly, GOD.

If you are in a relationship or want a relationship, it is best if you are willing to look and see if you have any unhealthy beliefs about relationships and change your perception about them.

couple at sunsetQuestions to ask yourself:

•    What can I become in this process?
•    As a committed partner in this relationship, what am I discovering about myself?
•    Where do I need to grow?
•    What biases, prejudices, or distortions do I have about myself, my partner, or this relationship?

Point Two:  Do not use your partner’s vulnerability to hurt them.

Samson’s hair was his weak spot and Delilah used it against him. All of us in close intimate relationships have learned our partner’s vulnerability. And if we haven’t, it is not a close relationship.

A ground rule for fair fighting: I do not use my partner’s vulnerability to hurt them.

Point 3. Congruency between our words and our actions.

The words “I love you” don’t mean much if they are not followed by loving action. The words “I love you” are very difficult for some people to say, especially if there is history of incongruence between the words and actions.

Point 4. Relationships are only as strong as the depth of what is shared in common.

What I have come to know is that it almost doesn’t matter how much you share in common. What really matters are that the deepest things that are important to you are equally important to your partner. For example, if family is deeply important to you, it needs to be shared by your partner. If your spirituality is really important to you, you won’t have the deepest, most close relationship if your partner does not share their own quest for a spiritual life. It’s more than your parter just being okay with it. He or she has to want it too.

Relations are deeply important and they can be challenging as well. What carries us through is our commitment to God and to the relationship. Today, make a commitment to experience your relationships beneath the surface. In loving partnerships, we can flourish and grow and be so much more than what we ever imagined. That kind of energy can change the world.