White Stone Ceremony

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

I know that we Mainers are tough and many of you proved it on Sunday by showing up when the temperature was well below zero. As I drove down River Road on my way to the 8 a.m. service my car thermometer was registering -24… yikes… but you all showed up!

What may have motivated you was the service which is always the first Sunday of the new year, the White Stone Ceremony. I love this service because it is a reminder that we have a clean slate in which to create our life… it represents freedom.

This is a quote from John Selby’s book, Seven Masters, One Path: “We can’t hold one thing tightly in our grasp, and at the same time reach out and take something new. We must let go of and put aside what we are grasping, in order to be able to receive something that we want or need much more. All spiritual and psychological growth requires a letting go of a limited belief in order to open up and receive a more expansive belief — or even better, a direct experience of reality that makes all beliefs unnecessary.”

The Burning Bowl ceremony we do on New Year’s Eve and this ceremony set us up to release and then receive or take in the wonders of life.

This ceremony evolved from the book of Revelation 2:17. It reads, “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”

The source of the white stone is from the time of Jesus. When a prisoner was released he was given a white stone to symbolize his freedom and to prove that he had been let go from prison. As long as he had his white stone, he was assured his freedom. It is a symbol of overcoming adversity or an external challenge. And when we overcome there is a shift in consciousness — we grow, we change, and our lives become richer. We become blessed and nourished by new things. A new name is written on it — our experiences of life will be changed because of our new intentions and our new thoughts and beliefs — our shift in consciousness.

If you were not present on Sunday, you can pick up a white stone this Sunday and find your new name.

Listen; listen to what your Spirit is telling you to write on your white stone. What are you hearing or feeling or knowing? What are your intentions? What if Spirit was writing on your white stone? What is it that Spirit will write? Ask, right now. Ask what would be the most helpful name, or what would be the most helpful word to take into this New Year?

Once you receive your word keep this stone as a reminder of this moment and your choice to be free. God bless you and have a new year of renewal and freedom.

Before I end I want to bring to your attention to the Heart-Based Meditation workshop on Thursday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., facilitated by Dr. Paul and Sandra Dugliss. They are returning by popular demand. I look forward to seeing you there.

The following Tuesday evening, the Women Empowering Women group will go in a new direction using the material in the book Traveling with the Turtle. This is an opportunity to deepen your spiritual life and to live a nonviolent life. It will meet the third Tuesday of the month from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. for 13 months. Please join me and others who are on the journey traveling with the turtle.

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

Let’s Get Real About… Personal Transformation

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey.

The reviews are coming in on our awesome Kitchen Team and the fabulous meal that was prepared for us on Sunday. The food was delicious, there was a plethora of pies and the tables were decorated beautifully. It was truly a time of thanksgiving. I looked around the room and the tables were full (Maria told me that 63 meals were served) and the buzz of conversation was electric. Our kitchen team under Maria Lundy’s leadership goes above and beyond each week. They embody our core values of loving, accepting and welcoming.

I’d like to give a shout out to Todd Glacy as well for the wonderful concert he gave on Friday evening: Todd, you are a class act and we are blessed to have you in our midst!

As November is gratitude month, I would be remiss without mentioning our Children’s Ministry under the leadership of Leah Rush. Thank you to that team of dedicated teachers (of which there are openings) who create an energy of love and welcoming each week for our little friends. They share what they learned when they come back into the service and it is always aligned with Unity’s teaching. The lesson is subtly embedded in whatever fun activity they are engaged in — it is a win-win for the children. A high five to Leah and her team.

Without our dedicated volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do what we do at Unity of Greater Portland. THANK YOU to all of you!

This past Sunday ended the series on “Getting Real.” We looked at getting real about personal transformation. We want to experience transformation; however, many of us want it without having to change. In reality, though, change is going to be occurring whether you want it or not. This is probably a phrase you have heard and maybe have even said yourself: “Change is inevitable; growth is optional.”

There are two things certain in life and it is not “death and taxes,” as many of us learned; it is “change and God,” and God is changeless.

Read from Ernest Holmes, founder of Science of Mind, in A New Design for Living:

“We are all living in a world of continual change, a world in which thought, things, and experiences are all in a constant state of flux. It is the very nature of the universe that there should be continual change and variation. It is a living world, the creation of a living creative Intelligence, not a static world. But behind that which changes, behind that which causes the change, we have found that there is something stable and changeless. Something eternal upon which all of the external events depend for their very existence. Behind the endless process of change and the infinite variety of experience and expression there is That which does not change.”

Unity writer Martha Smock wrote in the Unity pamphlet Listen to the Christ:

“In Christ you are calmed and quieted; you rest in His presence and feel strengthened and upheld. Remember that though things change, God is changeless, enduring. God’s love is eternal.”

So, yes, change is inevitable, but behind it there is a solid foundation, which can lead us to the second part of our theme phrase: growth is optional. Again from Dr. Holmes: “Nature will not let us stay in any one place too long. She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancement of the soul. This is a wise provision, for should we stay here too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible. Nature demands the change in order that we may advance. When the change comes, we should welcome it with a smile on the lips and a song in the heart.”

And let us remember: In any change, whatever the magnitude of it is, when one door is shut, another opens. When a door closes, and locks shut, we have an opportunity, with the Spirit of God within us, to find an open door. There always is one. When we have patience, faith, and love to look for the open door, we will always find it – and that is where personal transformation occurs.

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

Vital Signs: Discovering and Sustaining Your Passion for Life

Gregg Levoy

Gregg Levoy

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Gregg Levoy

Message from Rev. Pat: It was another great Sunday at Unity of Greater Portland. We hosted Gregg Levoy, author of Callings and more recently Vital Signs. Gregg has such a wonderful presence. He is both knowledgeable and witty. His topic, no surprise, is passion. The first point he made is that passion can be cultivated. It is not something you either have or don’t; it can be turned on as well as off.

The second point was that passion is in the risk. You move from the sidelines onto the field. Actually, the risk often happens before you feel the passion. Gregg defines “risk” as whatever scares you. Risk is entirely relative – not to be compared with others. He identified a lot of small risks you can make. One that Rev. LeRoy and I took today was changing where we sat at the dinner table. It was fun to change up what we always do.

The third point was passion is not just about exuberance; it is also about endurance. He gave the quote from Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point: “Mastery in any field of endeavor requires a minimum of 10,000 hours of dedicated practice.” Passion requires shoulder-to-the-wheel endurance.

Lastly, the fourth point is that passion breeds and inspires passion. Conversely, disinterest breeds disinterest. Lacking passion in your own life will impact your relationships; your passion is critical to others’ engagement with you.

Our regular school year for our children’s program is quickly coming to a close, as summer is almost here. We have a more relaxed program for the summer for the children and the teachers. Here is an opportunity for you to engage with our children by bringing an activity to them on a Sunday morning. The teachers will be present and your role is to have fun with the children as you help them complete the project you have brought for them to do.

We will have a signup sheet on the bulletin board for you to select the Sunday that would work into your summer schedule. I invite all who are reading this to come into agreement with me and the teachers that we will have a full schedule of folks like yourself that are just now thinking of what they would like to do with the children.

While I am mentioning signing up, have you signed up for the daylong event on June 3 with Coleen O’Connell? This is a not-to-miss experience. Do not let the cost of the event be a factor. There is scholarship money available for partial scholarships.

This coming Sunday, join me for the message, “I Am the American Flag.”

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

The Transcendence of Motherhood

Ingrid Avery

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Ingrid Avery

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey: As your minister, it is my responsibility to provide a sound spiritual message on Sunday mornings. When I am not giving the message, it is my responsibility to find those who I believe will deliver a message that has substance and truth, so you all walk away with a teaching that will support you in living your life. It is truly an act of surrender when I turn the platform over to someone else, as I do not have the details of what they will be sharing, only the topic. I want to say from the feedback I have received — and in listening to the message of the 10 am service online from Sunday — mission accomplished. A shout-out goes to Karen Bailey for doing a superb job at the 8 a.m. service and to Ingrid Avery for also doing a wonderful talk at the 10 a.m. service. Thank you both for sharing and blessing our community.

My time away was wonderful and spiritually nourishing. Rev. LeRoy was the Retreat Director for a men’s AA retreat in St. John, New Brunswick. I went along for my own spiritual renewal. We stayed at the Villa Madonna Retreat Center, which was absolutely lovely. It had walking paths through the woods, which I happily took advantage of. Thanks to all the Sunday staff at UGP that make it possible for me to be away and know that all is well back at 54 River Road.

While I was away, the annual Spring clean-up day took place. My deepest thanks to all who came and took away the remnants of winter and prepared our beautiful grounds for new life. Each time I drive into the parking lot my heart swells as I look around at the beauty. It takes many hands to do the upkeep and I would be remiss in not giving special thanks to John Michael Roods and Bill Taylor. They are out working around the grounds during the week: mowing, clipping, trimming dead branches and anything else that is calling to them. We are so blessed by their dedication and service.

For the last few weeks I have been mentioning the gardens that our Season for the Earth team are preparing. This endeavor is being championed by Anna Richie and Ginger Dowling. They have a big vision for the gardens and invite you to support the vision by giving a couple of hours a week through the summer to this project. On the bulletin board is a sign-up sheet for different tasks that need to be done, such as planting, watering and weeding. There is a wonderful saying that “many hands make light work.” This would apply here for sure.

This Sunday we are honored to have with us Gregg Levoy. Gregg is the author of Callings and Vital Signs and has been a keynote speaker for Unity Worldwide Ministries conferences in the past. I know that you will enjoy hearing Gregg at the 10 a.m. service and then, following lunch, he will be presenting his workshop, Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion.

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday…

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

Opening to the Power of the Black Madonna

Meghan Don

Meghan Don

Guest speaker Meghan Don

Message from Rev. Patricia Bessey:

Over the last week we have had two powerful experiences that I want to highlight… last Wednesday we had two delightful young men come and share their experience of living in the Maher community in India.

Then this past weekend Meghan Don gifted us with her wisdom at the service Sunday morning, and afternoon workshop and Tuesday evening at the women’s group.  Meghan shared for us her thoughts on the Dark Face of the Feminine and Her Healing Power.

We are in a time of great birthing in our world, and yet, the birthing of new energy and new life begins with the dissolution of the old. It is how this dissolution is lived out and re-birthed that becomes the vital key to elevating our world and its soul.

The Dark Face of the Feminine – also known as the Black Madonna, the Dark Mother, Kali, the Black Tara, or Lilith, to give a few of her names – is a deeply transformative energy. This Black Mother is not simply a mythic figure out there in a statue or painting, but she is a very real energy that lives within each one of us, and we are called to experience her, and our, transforming power, and to access it for the healing of our world. Our spiritual and inner journey is no longer simply about us and our own personal transformation, but we are being called to access this energy for that of other beings, our earth, and the world evolution itself.

On a personal level I have experienced this Black Mother ever ready to take in my pain, my confusion, my inner and outer chaos, and transform it in her cosmic being, returning to me the great gift of peace. In the Jewish mystical tradition there is the teaching of tikkune ha-olam, which means restoring or healing the world, and we are the ones who are asked to do this. Specifically, at this time we are being asked to help restore the feminine soul of the world, and we can do this by coming into our own feminine soul, feeling deeply our soul needs and wounding, allowing them to be transformed and emerge as a wisdom to be embodied and shared with others on this earth.

When we experience a moment of liberation, we can also pray for all beings who are experiencing the same difficulty we have just been released from. In this way, we can enter into and live the statement, “Your liberation is my liberation, and my liberation is your liberation; your pain is my pain, and my pain is your pain.” Each of us will find our way for this prayer to come alive, whether it be through physically helping another, financial donations, a kindly gesture to a neighbor, working at an animal shelter, or simply moving through our day spending less time thinking about ourselves and more time opening to the life that the divine mother wishes for us to live. We are all called to participate wherever our soul feels stirred, wherever our voice is both weak and strong, for this is where the transformative power of the Dark Mother is at her best. She will deliver if we come and ask, if we are willing to find the strength within our fear. “I am strength and fear… I am she who exists in all fears and boldness in trembling.”  – Thunder, Perfect Mind.

This Divine Dark Mother has also shown that in reaching fully into the darkness of our nature we will encounter a wisdom and creative force of vast and wide proportions. Here this Mother shape shifts into the Grandmother or Crone, bringing forward a great cosmic birthing and dying, with the energy of dissolution being her favored garment. We are in a time of great dissolution of our world paradigms, whether they be of the worldly or religious/spiritual nature. She also leads us into our personal mystical death, over and over again, keeping our liberation and the ultimate divine plan as the most important and utmost focus.

The Divine Mother in her infinite array is multidimensional, and so are we. This is what we are all called to know. In journeying through all the light and dark faces of our feminine being we are given the opportunity to bring them into a unified whole, and with time and practice we then have the potential to enter into our pure radiant awareness, the truth of our enlightened nature. This is what we are called to embody and to bring alive. Unworthiness no longer has a bed to lie on, lack of belief in one self is revealed for the lie that it is, our voice becomes strong, and we stride into the world with an assuredness of our true nature.

The New Divine Feminine: Spiritual Evolution for a Woman’s Soul takes you on an initiatory journey into the Light and Dark Faces of the Feminine, bringing them into a unified whole and the pure radiant awareness and true nature of being.

For those who were at the Tuesday evening event, here are the chants from Meghan:

  • Kali Imma (Car-lee Ee-ma) Black Mother (used at Sunday workshop)
  • Amma Elohim – The Mother and Feminine Spirit of Creation (used at Women’s Group)

A huge thank you to Meghan, and we look forward to her return in the future.

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