Peace Literacy

This week’s note is coming from Steph Plourde at the Peace Literacy Training at Saint Joseph’s College with Paul K. Chappell.

It is difficult to pull out one piece to share, because all the content is so powerful. The piece I am finding most helpful is the understanding that every human being has the same basic needs: Purpose & Meaning, Nurturing Relationships, Explanations, Expression, Inspiration, Belonging, Self-Worth, Challenge, and Transcendence.

When I view human behavior through the lens of human needs (i.e. what human need is this person aiming to meet right now?), I foster curiosity, greater understanding, and deeper empathy. Further, it’s important for me to understand that when a person experiences trauma and these basic needs aren’t met they become distortions of the original need. For example, the unmet need of Expression becomes Rage; the unmet need of Belonging becomes Alienation. When these “distortions” manifest as aggression, we may rightfully see them as signals of distress. Imagine – seeing aggression as a signal of distress. How differently might we respond?

There will be much more to share after the training – including some incredible learning about metis. Don’t know what metis is? Neither did I… but boy, oh boy, is this a cool framework for understanding the muscles we need to develop in order to make good decisions and move forward into a peaceful future together.

Much love to you all,


Love and Courage in a Time of Change

Summer is in full swing and it is the 4th of July – I hope you are enjoying it in whatever way brings joy and happiness.

Rivera Sun

We had another amazing Sunday with our special guest Rivera Sun! From all the comments that I heard folks were enthralled with her and her message. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get it recorded; therefore, there will not be a link for you to listen. This brings me to a request: If you or someone you know might have the talent and/or desire to hold this position, please direct them to us.

Rivera gave us the tools and the guidelines that will help us as ordinary people make extraordinary changes in the world. People around the world over the years have worked for justice, equality, and freedom by using the tools modeled by Jesus, Gandhi, Dr. King and others. She gave us strategies to apply in the coming months as we continue with the Nonviolent Action group and determine the nonviolent actions that we as a community can do together during the week of Campaign Nonviolence in September.

Along with her work, Fr John Dear’s and what we will be receiving from Paul K. Chappell in his week-long training in August (please give yourself the gift of being at that training), we will be poised to fulfill our vision of seeing a spiritually transformed world. Join us for this incredible adventure that will not only feed your soul but will make a difference in the world. Stay tuned!!!

I’ll close with a quote from Rivera’s The Dandelion Insurrection:

“We live in a pivotal juncture in time – a time when it is essential that we grow out of our adolescent, egotistical, and destructive ways, and blossom into the kind of people we have always yearned to be.”

Next week we return to the new series of talks based on the book Divine Audacity. See you then!

You are a blessing in my life.
Rev. Pat Bessey

Walking In Circles: How a Spiritual Leading Called Me to Civil Disobedience

Rob Levin

Rob Levin

Guest Speaker Rob Levin

— For Quakers, a ‘leading’ is a sense of being called by God to undertake a specific course in life. A leading often arises from a concern. What does your faith call you to do in the world? How do you discern when you are following God’s path, or following your own ego? (And what if it’s some of both?) What kinds of fears and doubts hold us back when we feel impelled to turn our faith into action? Explore these and other questions with Portland Quaker Rob Levin. This workshop promises to provide more questions than answers, but it’s in the questions where the richness of life lies. Learn more

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey:

I know you can relate to this — someone comes into your awareness and although you don’t know them you have an intuitive thought this is someone who has a powerful message to share. Back in early December I got an email from Rob Levin telling about a vigil he was organizing that would take place on December 11 called 196 Rounds: A Walking Vigil for Climate Hope. I received subsequent emails that piqued my interest in this man and reached out to him to ask if he would speak to our community of his experience. I want to share one sentence from his email when he accepted my request: ”I had a powerful faith experience, and I think I have something useful and interesting to share with others.”

After hearing him speak yesterday we concur that he has a great story of faith — and doubt — to share with us. He walked to the edge of the cliff, jumped and found a solid landing place. He is not advocating that we get ourselves arrested for civil disobedience; however, he is advocating for everyone to follow their individual call. There were many take a-ways from Rob’s talk and one that I really liked was what he called his Clearness Committee. This was a group of Friends that he confided in and shared his ideas and listened to their thoughts on his ideas. He said “I wanted to know if I was really crazy or that this could be a good idea.” I hope you are intrigued enough to listen to Rob’s complete message.

The calendar moving forward has some fun things for all of us. On April 22 we will have Dennis Warner doing sermon and song at the 10 a.m. service. Dennis performs in over 100 cities each year as an Americana/Folk/Acoustic musician and his passion is teaching kids about the negative effect of bullying and the positive effects of recognizing our connectedness with each other. Beads on One String is what he will be sharing with us.

On Sunday, April 29 is our Unity God Talent show. This is the opportunity for talented people in our community to entertain us. Thank you, Elizabeth Peterson, for organizing this and designating the love offerings to our Kid’s Cottage. They have a wish list of items they would like to have in their new space. Here are a couple of things on the list: a new table that has a surface that is also a chalk board, and a large-screen TV so they can watch DVDs and YouTube videos to complement their curriculum.

Stay tuned for more to come…

This coming Sunday I will be starting a new series on I of the Storm. The first week is focused on “One Presence and One Power.” See you then.

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

Walking the Way: Following the Nonviolent Jesus

Easter Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey —

Easter as always is a very special day on the Christian calendar. And, since every Sunday at Unity of Greater Portland is special, we make Easter a little more special. A great big thank you to Bonnie Dalrymple, Christine Wolf, Jaclyn Ashla, Patti Lacombe and Randall Sawyer who helped to make it special by acquiring and preparing the flowers for the flower ceremony.

Easter was early this year, and now our focus turns to Spring and hopefully warm weather. It also is the time to think of the earth, planting and new life. For the calendar at Unity of Greater Portland it is the Season of the Earth. We introduced this season in 2016 with speakers and classes, and last year we expanded with planting of flowers, vegetables and added raised gardens. We had fresh vegetables for our Sunday lunches and with excess that was available for folks to take home. This year we would like to again have vegetable gardens and flowers; however, we need a strong team to make it successful. If you are interested in joining this team and being in for the long haul which means the planting, watering, harvesting and turning the stalks back into the ground in the fall, then please contact us. Both Anna Richie and Ginger Dowling are on board to help again this year, and they learned a lot of valuable information to bring to us from doing it last year.

Our guest speaker next Sunday, Rob Levin, is an attorney and Quaker who organized a walking vigil for climate hope in December. Rob brings the Season for Nonviolence to its conclusion and kicks off the Season for the Earth. He recently led a nonviolent demonstration and was arrested for civil disobedience as he and other pro-solar demonstrators stood up against Central Maine Power. He will be speaking on how this has led to a spiritual experience for him. Following the service, Rob will conduct a workshop called “Walking in Circles…When is a Leading a Leading?” A question in his description of the workshop grabbed me and might you as well… here it is: “What kinds of fears and doubts hold us back when we feel impelled to turn our faith into action?” This might be a question on your heart, and we are offering you the opportunity to explore how your faith might be calling you into action by attending the Nonviolent Action Group at 2:30 p.m., following Rob’s workshop.

Every Sunday, Unity of Greater Portland hosts A Course in Miracles discussion group at noon, facilitated by Matt Purinton. On that note, we are happy to announce that Jon Mundy, publisher of Miracles magazine and author of books focused on A Course in Miracles, will be back with us on June 3. Mark your calendars!

As you can see, there is a lot happening at Unity of Greater Portland, and we hope you take part in many of the events — and maybe even consider inviting your family and friends to join you.

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

Walking The Way: Continued 2

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey —

We are in the week that changed the world! Over 2000 years ago the nonviolent Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to fulfill the scripture from Zechariah Chapter 9: 9 – 10: “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He shall banish the war chariot of Ephraim, and the war horse from Jerusalem. The warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

So Holy Week begins with a peaceful march on Palm Sunday. Peace is a beautiful gift to have in life, and it is particularly treasured by those who have known violent conflict, war, famine, disease and poverty. I believe that peace is a basic human right for every individual and all people. The nonviolent Jesus was the Prince of Peace.

Jesus also was the embodiment of Love. Love for others and respect for their rights and their human dignity, irrespective of who or what they are, no matter what religion – or none – that they choose to follow, will bring about real change and set in motion proper relationships. With such relationships built on equality and trust, we can work together on so many of the threats to our common humanity.

Violence begets violence, as we witness every day on our television screens, so the choice no longer is between violence and non-violence; it is nonviolence or non-existence as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said. For me nonviolence has my vote over non-existence, so what am I going to do to ensure there is a place for those coming after me? As I told folks on Sunday, I feel compelled to keep nonviolence in front of you through education in various forms: Sunday talks, classes, by bringing in people like Fr John Dear and Rob Levin, a Portland attorney who will be sharing with us on April 8 how a spiritual leading called him to Civil Disobedience.

Because of Fr. John’s recent visit, a group met this past Sunday to discuss this exact issue and to look at what is percolating within folks regarding nonviolence and to start the conversations to address some of the violence using nonviolent methods. This group will be meeting again on April 8 at 2:30 p.m. if you want to join them. It is through coming together as a community that we deepen our nonviolence, our faith and trust in God and our compassion for others, even those who would harm us.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he was revealing that the reign of God is in stark contrast to the reign of Rome and every other political system that seeks triumphant victory by influencing people through violence and coercion.

The Gospel of Jesus subverts the politics of violence because the Gospels are the politics of humility, service, forgiveness, and a nonviolent love that embraces all people, but especially those we call our enemies. He called it “The Kingdom of God.”

The 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. 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 at 7 p.m. and Sunday for our Easter services, which include our flower service at 10 a.m. The children will have a great Easter service as well at 10 a.m.

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

P.S. An update on Rev. LeRoy: He is home and other than being weak is doing well…thanks so much for the prayers, cards, calls, text messages, gifts…you were our rock during these long five months. It is his intention to be at the 10:00 a.m. service this Sunday.