See No Stranger: Breathe and Push – Loving Ourselves – Transition

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Tomorrow many of us will be having a quite different Thanksgiving than we have had in the past. With the rise of COVID-19 cases in the state and in the country, we are being advised to not travel or open our homes to family and friends that we have not been in close proximity to on a daily basis. I like what Dr. Shah from the Maine CDC said on a recent broadcast, something like “I am not using the word cancel. I am thinking more as postponing until a later date.” For me, that works. I will still cook a Thanksgiving dinner for LeRoy and me. I will also be incredibly grateful for the many blessings we do have in our life.

I will be hosting A Thanksgiving Gratitude Gathering at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning on Zoom. 

On Sunday I concluded the series based on See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur. I shared a keynote that she gave at the Bioneers Conference in 2019. It really summed up the entire book and why she needed to write it.

Revolutionary Love is paramount to her work, and what is revolutionary love. It is a choice we make to enter into labor for others, for our opponents, and for ourselves.

It is the first practice of See No Stranger: the idea we are interconnected and interdependent… that we can look upon the face of anyone or anything and say as a spiritual declaration and a biological fact, “You are a part of me I do not yet know.”

When you watch the service, you will hear about neuroimaging and how it informs us that the mind sees in terms of us and them.

The last chapter in the book is on transition.

Valarie writes: “You see, the stage called transition, it feels like dying, but it is the stage that precedes the birth of new life. And so, birthing as a metaphor has begun to fill my imagination… I began to wonder if the metaphor of birthing may have something to offer all of us.

What if the darkness in our country right now, in the world right now, is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead, but a country still waiting to be born?”

Our vision statement is “Centered in Divine Love we celebrate a spiritually transformed world.”

What if this is our time of great transition? Statistics tell us within the next 25 years people of color will exceed the number of whites in this country since colonization.

Could we birth a nation where power is shared and where we strive to protect the dignity of every person? I believe that the only way we will survive is if we show up to the labor the way our ancestors showed up.

We are community… we are the peace builders.

We are the midwives in this time of great transition, tasked with birthing a new future for all.

Let us ask ourselves: Who do I need with me so that I can stay in the labor of transition? Who can I support so that they can transition too?

I enjoyed sharing this book with you and I hope your mind was expanded, as mine was.

This coming Sunday begins the Advent Season. How can that be possible… well it is!

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

P.S. Giving Back Week… is the opportunity for you to express through your giving how much you value the offerings that our community offers during the month.

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

 

See No Stranger: Breathe and Push – Loving Ourselves – Push

This past weekend your new Board of Trustees met for a retreat and came away with a great plan moving forward. Of course, what was an obvious topic was COVID-19 and reopening the building. With Maine spiking in cases along with the rest of the nation we strongly felt the decision we made earlier about waiting until 2021 was a good decision. We are staying with looking at a soft opening in early 2021 if appropriate. We unanimously agreed that we would follow the State of Maine’s CDC recommendations. We are meeting again in mid-December to review the situation.

When I arrived as the new minister at the church back in August of 2011 one of the first things, I heard was the need to refurbish the women’s bathroom. Other improvements to our facility demanded our attention so it hadn’t reached the top of the list. I am so excited to say it has now. We spent a lot of our time discussing every aspect of this project down to having touchless faucets. The timing is perfect to do this as COVID is having us be more aware of the changes that will facilitate a healthy and safe environment.

Giving Tuesday is less than two weeks away, December 1, and we feel with your support this can become a reality. We have heard from a couple of donors who are willing to put up half the money we want to raise which will be $7,500 with the community raising the additional $7,500. We can do this because last year we raised $10,000 without a large amount coming from any one person. I am reminded of a quote from our co-founder Charles Fillmore: “The Inexhaustible Resource of Spirit is equal to every demand. There is no reality in lack. Abundance is here and now manifest.” We can do this!

At the retreat, board officers were selected and it was unanimous to go with our current officers: Matt Purinton, President; Barbara Kowalska, Vice President; Erin Conway, Secretary; Carolyn Sanford, Treasurer; Kim Cowperthwaite and Michelle Neas, members at large. Our new elected members Pat Paine and Jack Cole are the alternates.

Sunday’s message was bringing us to the near end of the book See No Stranger: The Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur. The topic was “push.” What does the midwife say as a baby is waiting to be born… breathe and push!

These are the words of Valarie in the opening paragraph of the chapter on push. “When I was ready to love myself, I had learned how to breathe and push through my grief, rage and trauma. On the other side, I found what seemed utterly impossible before: healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Later in the chapter, she says: “Healing is the long journey of returning to our bodies. It is a kind of labor that requires breathing and pushing – resting and then going deeper. We must be willing to notice and befriend sensations, including pain and discomfort.”

She shares some stories on forgiveness and I did as well. I told of how forgiveness happened for me during Ministerial training around my mother.

Valarie reminds us about loving others and our opponents as she learned from Gandhi and MLK; however, she goes on and adds another level of love that neither of these men taught and this is a feminist intervention loving ourselves.

To find the courage to love others, to find the strength to love even our opponents, we first find grounding in loving ourselves.

Love After Love
By Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Today, may you greet yourself in your own mirror, with a smile. May you take the time to hear your own voice still and small, deep inside all, singing.

Then, draw the circle wide. Like a drop in a pond, may your peacefulness, your love for the world, ripple out, in circles growing larger and larger, eventually embracing all.

Until we See No Stranger.

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

 

See No Stranger: Breathe and Push

November 8 Sunday service with Rev. Pat Bessey

I have a myriad of directions I can go with to start this article… so rather than pick one I will go with several.

I want to send love and blessings to Steph Plourde and Dee Capoldo on their marriage that happened on October 31. These two individuals are near and dear to many of us in our community. May your love grow with each passing day.

I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Deana Gurney for her always finding the right music to support the Sunday message. She is part of the dream duo on Sunday morning. The other member of the duo is Chris Purinton. Chris is the steady hand that runs the service and troubleshoots when needed. Thank you both…

Lastly this coming Friday and Saturday your Board of Trustees will be having our annual retreat at Marie Joseph’s to set the direction for our community going forward. As you know 2020 has been a year unlike any other. We will look to the future with a hopeful eye that we will be together in our sanctuary in 2021.

Over the last several weeks we have wondered, grieved, fought, raged, listened and reimagined. This week we breathed together. This is the path we have taken in the series based on the book See No Stranger – A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love written by Valarie Kaur.

The main theme in this week’s message was the importance of loving ourselves and the beloved community. “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” This quote is from Dorothy Day, a social activist in the 20th Century.

Valarie makes a distinction that I never gave thought to before… she talks about self-care as individual, private and separate from others. She shifts the focus to loving ourselves, which happens in community.

Community comes into this when we see that care is labor that we all do for one another, in seen and unseen ways. Our job is to have each other’s back.

In a sermon delivered in 1630 by John Winthrop, he said: “We must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together – always having before our eyes… our community as members of the same body.”

Take a break… give yourself the time to watch this service and hear of the Roseto effect.

As you go about your week stay mindful of your breathing. Are you taking full deep breaths or shallow upper body breaths? Is prana increasing or decreasing?

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

A Life of Service

November 1 Sunday service with Sr. Lucy and Rev. Pat Bessey

The service on Sunday was just what I needed. Our guest for the service was Sr. Lucy Kurien from Maher. Sr. Lucy is no stranger to our community, and it was wonderful seeing her at home in Maher in Pune, India. The children did a song that was a prayer; here are the words in English.

PRAYER FOR HUMANITY

This is our humble prayer, and this is our request.
Though the darkness around us is sad, the sun is sure to rise tomorrow,
Let religion, caste, region, language, hatred all come to an end.
Give one loyalty, one hope, one color and again spread the moon of purity of the mind. Let us focus only on love and let all differences we find within humanity come to an end. Our dream is to let all mankind be one and let there be equality within us.

Sister Lucy Kurien

Sister Lucy Kurien

This prayer out pictures what is taught to the children of Maher. In talking with Sr. Lucy during coffee hour, the question was asked about adoption. She said they don’t have the authority to offer adoption and wouldn’t want them to go anywhere. They are our family, we love them, as she held a little one that was maybe three and had been there since she was born.

Another question posed to her was, are those who come to Maher expected to follow a certain faith tradition, especially since Sr. Lucy is Christian? The answer was they are encouraged to follow their own faith tradition and so prayers are said to the Divine rather than invoking any particular name or form of God to the exclusion of others. They are taught to respect and love all religions.

I encourage you to take the time to watch the message… give yourself the gift of watching a truly remarkable woman who is making a difference in the lives of so many people.

Speaking of making a difference in the lives of people, please respond to our winter blanket and clothes drive.

Join me this Sunday for the message titled “Breathe and Push” from See No Stranger.

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