Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 7

Leadership Series for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 7: Self Worth
with Rev. Pat Bessey

Giving Tuesday is November 30 this year. It follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and, because Thanksgiving is early, so is Giving Tuesday. This is the third year we will be participating in Giving Tuesday and once again we know that

“The Inexhaustible Resource of Spirit is equal to every demand. There is no reality in lack. Abundance is here and now manifest.”

Last year we raised $15,000, and we have benefited from your generosity every week when we are in the building and use the beautiful, refurbished restrooms. This year once again we are asking for your financial support of $15,000 to redo the front roof of the building. We are in the process of acquiring quotes and, although we have received quotes higher than $15,000, we know that we will get a quote to match the money we raise.

Once we redo the roof there will no longer be any major renovations needed for several years. We have been excellent stewards of our property.

The service on Sunday got a lot of comments on how much folks needed to hear what I had to say. We were on the seventh non-physical need, “self-worth” I began the talk with a poem called My Body by John Roedel, who is a brilliant poet. Check out some of his other poems at I concluded with another great poet, John O’Donovan, and his poem For Solitude.

I don’t usually encourage you to review the talk if you have either been in person or online on Sunday; however, this is a strong suggestion that you can watch it above.

Here is the exercise from Paul for this week as you explore self-worth.

1. What are some ways to develop secure and reliable self-worth within ourselves? In what ways can people feed their need for self-worth in ways that are less secure and less reliable?

2. What specific practices can we use to help reinforce the ground of self-worth in others? How can these practices be used by leaders, parents, and friends?

3. Our non-physical needs are interconnected, similar to how our organs in our body are interconnected. Our non-physical needs can be thought of as metaphorical organs that need proper nutrition and can affect each other. How can our other non-physical needs, such as purpose and meaning, nurturing relationships, explanations, expression, inspiration, and belonging, affect our non-physical need for self-worth?

I also offered a teaching from Unity on the three phases of mind. Here are definitions that may help you have a greater understanding.

“In Truth there is but one Mind; in it all things exist. Accurately speaking, man does not have three minds, nor does he have even one mind; but he expresses the one Mind in a multitude of ways.” (Charles Fillmore, Christian Healing, p. 97)

“When we seek the superconsciousness and make conscious connection with it we harmonize all the forces of mind and body; we lift up the subconscious until a complete, conscious unification of the three phases of mind is affected and we become established in ‘singleness of heart.'” (Keep a True Lent, p. 92)

“Conscious mind — The mind that makes one know of one’s mental operations and states of consciousness; that phase of mind in which one is actively aware of one’s thoughts. The mind through which man establishes his identity.” (The Revealing Word, Conscious, p. 41)

“The subconscious mind is the vast, silent realm that lies back of the conscious mind and between it and the superconscious. To one who does not understand its nature and its office, it is the ‘great gulf fixed’ between his present state and the attainment of his highest desire, his good.” (Keep a True Lent, p. 87)

“Superconsciousness is the goal toward which humanity is working. Regardless of appearances there is an upward trend continually active throughout all creation. The superconsciousness is the realm of divine ideas. Its character is impersonal. It therefore has no personal ambitions; knows no condemnation; but is always pure, innocent, loving, and obedient to the call of God.” (Atom-Smashing Power of Mind. p. 36)

Next week the non-physical need will be “challenge.”

November is gratitude month, so you will find a gratitude quote on our Facebook page every day leading up to Thanksgiving. I suggest you create a gratitude journal to record in daily.

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

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


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

Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 1

Leadership Series for Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty and Crisis, Part 1: Purpose and Meaning, with Rev. Pat Bessey

Sunday’s message was about purpose and mission. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention someone who has purpose and mission in his life and that is Bill Taylor. Sunday after Sunday when I arrive at church Bill is already in the kitchen making the coffee for Coffee Hour. To those who do not know Bill, he is a beloved congregant at the young age of 99. Up until two years ago Bill kept the lawn mowed at the church. He did have to give that up when he was no longer able to drive himself. Bill reminds me often that his purpose and mission is “to keep moving and be grateful.” I would also add and “be of service.”

A question for you… what is more important, food, or purpose and meaning? The overwhelming response to this question is purpose and meaning. Think about this: We are the only species on the planet who can commit suicide even when all our physical needs are met.

This series of talks I will be doing for the next eight weeks will be addressing our non-physical needs that take precedent over our physical needs. This comes from the work of Paul K. Chappell of

Paul makes this suggestion as an exercise for this week: Invest some time in reflecting about one or more of the following questions (journaling might help), or discuss these questions with your friends and family.

  • What is your higher purpose in life?
  • Do you have more than one higher purpose?
  • How can your higher purpose strengthen the relationships and communities that you are a part of?
  • If more people in the relationships and communities that you are a part of had a greater sense of higher purpose, what would be the advantages of this?
  • Are the purposes in your life connected to a higher purpose? If so, in what way?
  • If someone has more than one higher purpose, can these higher purposes conflict with each other? What are examples?
  • If you are in a leadership position, how can you inspire in others a sense of higher purpose?

Next week the focus of another non-physical need will be “nurturing relationships.”

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

Fruits of the Spirit

I am returning from a week’s vacation and so grateful for the time to unplug. What I noticed was how I didn’t know I needed the rest until I stopped. I bet some of you can relate to what I am saying. I haven’t returned filled with new ideas and programs to implement because, quite frankly, I didn’t think of work. Yay for me! This is new behavior and I like it.

A shout out to Matt Purinton, Kim Cowperthwaite and the rest of the team that made my vacation possible. Matt’s talk was called “The Fruits of the Spirit.” You can view it above.

Rev. Todd Glacy

Rev. Todd Glacy

I do want to draw your attention to a new workshop, “The Gift of Grief,” facilitated by Rev. Todd Glacy. Todd is no stranger to us; he is a member of the community as well as a performer and speaker from time to time. In this workshop we will see another side of Todd. This workshop is to give us the opportunity to mourn the losses we have and are experiencing as a result of the pandemic.

Common reactions to grief include shock, disbelief, denial, anxiety, anger, sadness and loss of sleep or appetite. Are you noticing any one or a combination of these feelings? Identifying grief is often the first step. When we name it, we will have a sense of relief and we can put it into context. So, register today and invite a friend to register as well.

A reminder: This Thursday is the Spiritual Exploration Zoom call at 6:30 p.m. It is a time to explore racism, white privilege, and allyship. Join in the conversation to expand your understanding and to bring your thoughts and ideas forward.

This Sunday I am starting a new series based on the work of Paul K. Chappell and his teachings of peace literacy. The series is “A New Peace Paradigm: Our Human Needs and The Tangles of Trauma.” We will be exploring the nine non-physical needs of us as humans. This week will be the first, our need for purpose and meaning.

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

The Four Agreements: Always Do Your Best

There is some sadness in completing The Four Agreements as they have been transformational for me. I am being more impeccable with my words, remembering to not take things personally, to ask questions and not make assumptions and when I am doing all of these then I am always doing my best. 

Don Miguel Ruiz says, “This last agreement allows the other three to become deeply ingrained habits. Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good. When you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning, our best will be better than when you are tired at night.” “Doing your best” is not synonymous with “being a perfectionist.”

Perfectionism is that insidious element, when allowed into our mind set causes pressure and stress that can lead to guilt, shame and feelings of failure.

Doing your best means to relax, let go and let Spirit express “your best” through you.

“Doing your best, you are going to live your life intensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself, because you will be giving yourself to your family, to your community, to everything, but it is the action that is going to make you feel intensely happy.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

When you do your best, it requires you to take action.

Doing your best is in alignment with our Unity teachings. We teach that we must take action in order to see a demonstration in our life.

“The first three agreements will only work if you do your best. Don’t expect that you will always be able to be impeccable with your word… but you can do your best. Don’t expect that you will never take anything personally; just do your best. Don’t expect that you will never make another assumption, but you can certainly do your best.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

Next week I will be taking time off and Rev. Matt Purinton will be speaking on Sunday. Please join him either in person, on Facebook Live or YouTube.

Have a great week!

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