Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 5

Leadership Series for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 5: Inspiration
with Rev. Pat Bessey

A huge thank you to all who attended our Annual Meeting on Sunday. To those who were unable to attend because of an incorrect password, my apologies. Here are the minutes from the meeting for you to see what was discussed. 

As you will see, it was asked when we would bring the children’s program back. Although this is discussed at each board meeting, what we do have to have in place before that can happen are volunteers who are willing to teach. Also, someone to take the lead. If you are inspired to work with our little people, please let me know. This is a great opportunity to give of your time and be the role model that Paul refers to when talking about the children.

I think all who attended would say that the meeting energy was a 10. A lot of gratitude was expressed for how well our community has made it through the pandemic so far. Matt Purinton, Barbara Kowalska and Pat Paine stepped off the board and each was honored for their leadership during these extraordinary times. We enthusiastically welcomed Sue Vittner, Betti Lu Lewis, Carol Holt, and Jack Cole to take us through the next year and beyond. Please stay connected as we navigate the shifting landscape going forward.

To those of you who are members, it is time to renew your membership. 

I hope you are enjoying the series on non-physical needs as much as I am. This past Sunday was the non-physical need of “inspiration.”

I shared the story of how Unity got its name. It was a moment of inspiration that came to co-founder Charles Fillmore. Here is what happened… In the spring of 1891, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and a few students met together one evening to pray. As they were sitting in the silence, suddenly into the mind of Charles Fillmore flashed the name UNITY. At the moment, he had not even been thinking about a name and when it came to him it startled him. “That’s it!” he cried out. “UNITY!” he told the others. “UNITY! that’s the name for our work, the name we’ve been looking for.” Later he told friends the name came right out of the ether, just as the voice of Jesus was heard by Paul in the heavens. “No one else heard it, but it was as clear to me as though somebody had spoken to me.” Then and there the name UNITY was adopted. (James Dillet Freeman, in The Story of Unity, p. 61)

Paul K. Chappell, who is the author of a book about these non-physical needs, gives us an exercise to do. Here is what he suggests… As your exercise for this week, think of a time when someone inspired you because their words or actions expressed one or more of the following: realistic hope and high ideals, appreciation and stewardship, conscience, reason, discipline, curiosity that enhances learning, imagination and vision, language and skilled truth-telling, or empathy and solidarity. This week you can also exercise your muscle of appreciation by expressing your appreciation to this person for inspiring you. If this person is no longer alive, express your appreciation by writing something about this person.

On Sunday afternoon I got an email from Deana Gurney, our music director, and she told me she is inspired to offer the Friday Night Sing-Alongs once again. They will begin on Friday, October 29.

This is how inspiration works.

Next week the non-physical need we will be exploring is “belonging.” See you then!

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

Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 4

Leadership Series for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 3: Expression with Rev. Pat Bessey

Unity Center for Spiritual Growth will be holding its Annual Meeting this coming Sunday, October 17, 2021. This meeting happens yearly as it fulfills the requirement in our bylaws of Section 1. Annual Meetings. There shall be one annual membership meeting each year.

At this meeting we review where we are as a community and what we foresee going forward. We also elect new board members. This is also the time to review the finances for the last year along with the budget the board has proposed for the next six months.

This meeting will be held in person as well as on Zoom. 

I have heard from some of you that you are enjoying this series on non-physical needs… I am as well. On Sunday the need was “expression.”

Paul offers this exercise for the week…  think of the many practical ways that a workplace (or virtual workplace) can improve if a leader helps people meet their need for expression by being very skilled at listening, which requires empathy. You can also expand that to your family, peers, or other communities you are connected to.

Exploring the following four questions can help you reflect…

1. When a leader helps people meet their need for expression by listening with empathy, in what ways can this benefit the employees in that workplace?

2. When a leader helps people meet their need for expression by listening with empathy, how can this make the leader more informed and aware? How can this make the leader more effective at problem-solving? How can this make the leader more effective at motivating people to work together toward a shared goal?

3. When we listen with empathy, we can help people meet their non-physical need for expression. When we listen with empathy, how can we also help people meet their non-physical need for purpose and meaning, along with their non-physical need for nurturing relationships (trust, attention, compassion, etc.)? How can listening with empathy lead to more accurate explanations?

4. Empathy is one of the muscles of our humanity discussed in our Peace Literacy curriculum. What does it mean to listen not only with empathy, but also with other muscles of our humanity such as appreciation, conscience, curiosity, reason, discipline (focus and concentration), and imagination? When working out, compound movements such as the bench press, squat, and deadlift require the cooperation of many muscles. Listening is a compound movement that requires the cooperation of many muscles of our humanity. Empathy is essential for listening, but empathy alone is not enough.

I hope you will take some time to work with these questions.

This coming week the non-physical need will be “inspiration.”

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

Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 3

Leadership Series for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 3: Explanations with Rev. Pat Bessey

Those of us who live in Maine know that fall is fair time. Last year was the exception to the rule as the pandemic shut down fair season. This year the fairs are happening. This past week was the Cumberland Fair, and this week is the Fryeburg Fair. Why am I telling you about the fairs it is because one of our members, Nancy Burnette won a first-place blue ribbon in the apple pie category at the Cumberland Fair. Congratulations Nancy… we have been blessed to benefit from your baking and hopefully sometime soon we can try that prize-winning recipe.

I began the talk on Sunday asking if you were familiar with the words cisgender and people-first language. Here are the definitions from Webster’s dictionary. Cisgender: of, relating to, or being a person, whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. People-first language: People First Language (PFL) is a way of communicating that reflects knowledge and respect for people with disabilities by choosing words that recognize the person first and foremost as the primary reference and not his or her disability. You will see by the theme why I asked if you were familiar with those words.

The theme of the talk was “explanation” as I continue the series A New Peace Paradigm: Our Human Needs and The Tangles of Trauma based on the book of the same name by Paul K. Chappell. Paul says our need for explanation starts when we are very young, and it is as old as humanity itself.

Also, to take into consideration when accepting or rejecting an explanation says a lot about our worldview. Paul writes: Many people would rather die than lose their religion, which comprises a large part of their worldview. As John Steinbeck says in The Grapes of Wrath, “Human beings are the only species on the planet that will die for an idea.” We cannot understand our modern political and social problems unless we understand our human need for explanations and a worldview, because this basic need is behind so many of these problems.

Our worldview plays a major role in what we believe, and subsequently how we act and how we live our life.

I offered some questions to help inform you of your worldview. Here they are:

• Is there a power greater than you at work in your life?
• What does it mean to be human?
• Are all people inherently good?
• What is true?
• What is the point of all of this?
• Will justice for all prevail?

Paul offers this exercise for this week: You can work on building trust (part of nurturing relationships) by offering kindness, compassion, and attention when you offer an explanation; you can reflect on how inaccurate explanations can support injustice and more accurate explanations can resist injustice; and you can use explanations to call yourself and others to a higher purpose.

Next Sunday we will explore the fourth nonphysical need, “expression.”

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


Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 2

Leadership Series for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 2: Nurturing Relationships with Rev. Pat Bessey

A shout out to Joany Grady, who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Joany comes in weekly and makes sure everything is in order for Sunday morning. Over the summer she would put little bouquets of cut flowers throughout the church. This week it was decorated for fall. What I learned from her is that her previous career was as a floral designer, so she is enjoying having a place to do something she loves, and we are the recipients of her creativity. Don’t you just love that! Oh, and did I tell you that for two years she decorated the Victorian Mansion parlor for Christmas.

This was the second week of the series on non-physical needs based on the work of Paul K. Chappell… it is A New Peace Paradigm: Our Human Needs and the Tangles of Trauma.

Paul sees trauma as a teacher. In his book Cosmic Ocean, he lists seven factors that increase trauma:

  1. Cause – trauma increases when an injury is caused by a human being. 
  2. Intimacy – trauma increases when an injury is personal and intimate.
  3. Age – children are more vulnerable to trauma than adults.
  4. Helplessness – being unable to protect ourselves or those we love from an injury increases trauma.
  5. Unpredictability and Period of Time – living in a dangerous and unpredictable environment for a long time increases trauma.
  6. Rupturing of Trust – betrayal or an incident that damages our trust in human beings increases trauma
  7. Lack of support network – lack of counterbalances increases trauma. (counterbalances are loving and trustworthy human beings in our life to counterbalance the trauma by those who hurt us). pg 45One essential step is learning how to meet our need for nurturing relationships in healthy ways, which is the second non-physical human need on our list.

    Nurturing relationships consist of
    • being listened to,
    • respected, and
    • treated with kindness and compassion.

    The foundation of nurturing relationships is trust… a vital way to nurture each other and build trust is by giving people our attention. Trust, attention, and other aspects of nurturing relationships are so important. Trust may mean different things to different people —particularly across differences.

    Researcher and educator Brené Brown emphasizes the importance of breaking down the concept of trust into specific qualities and behaviors so that it can be more easily understood.

    Brown offers the acronym BRAVING to share qualities that contribute to building and sustaining trust in relationships with partners, friends, family members and co-workers:

B – Boundaries
R – Reliability
A – Accountability
V – Vault
I – Integrity
N – Non-judgment
G – Generosity

To explore these deeper, watch the video (above) of today’s service.

Next week’s non-physical need will be “explanation”.

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