Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 6

Leadership Series for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 6: Belonging
with Rev. Pat Bessey

I never know when someone is going to make a comment that moves me to action. It happened on Sunday after the service when in a conversation with Michelle Neas and Bonnie Dalrymple. We were talking about a book and Michelle said, “you should have a section in Heart Thought of what the Rev. reads.” I really liked the idea, so look at what I am recommending below.

Words to Live By, the daily book by Eknath Easwaran is a favorite. Gandhi was a teacher of Easwaran. This book includes commentaries on the great saints and sages of the world’s traditions. I love the way he writes and how he explains spiritual principles. For October 14, Eknath writes: “There is nothing easy about learning to love.” This sets up the reading and further down he writes:

Even on the honeymoon there may be difficulties. You open Pandora’s box expecting a lot of doves and out come a couple of bats instead. You have to be ready to say, “The doves are there; they are simply lying low. Why don’t we get to work and shoo away these bats?” Rather than dwelling on the negative, try to respect the potential in the other person and help him or her to realize that potential through your support. If you want a relationship to get deeper and deeper with the passage of time, you will go on strengthening it all your life.

During the message this morning I mentioned an email that comes in Sunday mornings written by Maria Shriver that I enjoy. You can get a free subscription here.

“Belonging” was the non-physical need that was highlighted on Sunday.

Here is the exercise for this week from Paul K. Chappell. Explore these three questions:

  • How can the nutrient of truth (that helps us understand root causes of problems), the nutrient of justice (that helps us build trust and fairness), and the nutrient of beauty (seeing beyond what our eyes can see to help us perceive dignity in others and ourselves) contribute to healthier forms of belonging in a family, workplace, community, and our broader society?
  • How can the nutrients of truth and justice help us heal tangles of trauma in ourselves and in our broader society?
  • When people try to feed their non-physical needs in ways that are deficient in the nutrients of truth and justice what can this look like?

Just as we can feed our hunger for food in healthier ways or unhealthier ways (what is “healthy” exists across a continuum and depends on context), we can also feed our hunger for belonging in healthier ways or unhealthier ways. And just as unhealthy sources of food and water can kill millions of people, unhealthy ways of feeding our non-physical needs can be lethal to individuals, societies, and as we will discuss in the remaining entries in this series, all of humanity.

Questions to ponder and journal:

  • What makes you feel like you belong somewhere or to a group?
  • How do people help you feel like you belong?
  • In what ways can we help other people feel like they belong?
  • What kinds of behaviors can make people feel like they don’t belong?

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

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

The Rev’s Reads

Life Is Yours by Linda Martella-Whitsett and Alicia Whitsett
Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic by Matthew Fox
Words to Live By: Short Readings of Daily Wisdom by Eknath Easwaran


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