Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey
Once again, I begin this message talking about the weather. In less then 30 days it will be Spring, according to the calendar. On March 10, we move the clocks forward and begin daylight savings time. As a result of the storm on Sunday, we moved the Annual Meeting to this coming Sunday. I do hope you can join us.
The Annual Meeting is a time to remind us of the commitment we have made to this community by becoming a member and we have ownership in the ministry. With ownership comes being accountable to the wellbeing of the ministry and we can ensure that wellbeing by our attendance, sacred service, prayer and financial support. You are the channel in which Spirit sources Unity of Greater Portland and without you we wouldn’t exist.
The chapter for my talk this week was the Muscle of Conscience from Peaceful Revolution by Paul K. Chappell. I open the talk with a great story about a Buddhist Monk and his students. Don’t miss listening to it.
In this chapter Paul shares of his struggle to be deployed in Iraq when he had volunteered to go and then began to question his motives. He said that each of us needs to look at how we can be a force for good within the circumstances that surround us.
He was trying to find justification for volunteering to go to Iraq and to participate in a war that broke the Charter of the United Nations and thereby violated the U.S. Constitution, which states treaties are the “supreme law of the land.”
Paul states: “When our conscience does not find adequate justification for our actions, we become prey. Its arrows are made of guilt and their maddening sting can drive us to suicide.”
Our country is dealing with high suicide rates of active soldiers and veterans; could this lead to the cause? We hear over and over about “survivor guilt.”
There are three ways to escape the wrath of a guilty conscience.
1. Hide in ignorance…unaware of our wrongdoing…how our actions hurt others…then guilt loses its sting
2. Decrease our empathy…heart turns to stone…hardened heart deflects the arrow of guilt…lack of empathy little reason to feel guilt (in war it is why you see dehumanization of the enemy)
3. Give our conscience what it wants…being honest with ourselves…this becomes our greatest ally in the quest for a more humane and peaceful world.
Paul writes: “When we stop running from our conscience, it guides us on the road to inner and outer peace. When we cooperate with rather than fight our conscience, it becomes a moral compass pointing us toward ethical decisions to help rather than harm…my conscience was not content with the path I had chosen. And as long as my conscience was not at peace, I would never be at peace.”
I included an excerpt from a talk given by Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, called “Christ Conscience.” Here is a part of it.
“There is a divine goodness at the root of all existence. No man nor woman is so low but what it may at the touch of its secret spring be brought to light in them…It sleeps in the recesses of every mind and it comes forth when least expected. Many hushed it up for years, maybe for ages, but its day comes and it is a day of reckoning.
“Men and women are loathed to admit that there is within them a monitor with which they have sooner or later to cope, and they put off the day of judgment just as long as possible. They love not to deal with this leveler of the Spirit. It is too exact; it vents justice to the very limit.
“Whoever has felt the prick of conscience has been spoken to by the Spirit. Whoever has sat at the feet of his own inner convictions has caught sight of God.
“Man is never without a guide, no matter how loudly he may cry out for leading. There is always at hand a sure torch-bearer if he will but follow its light. It is too simple, too easy. Man has formed in his mind a far-off God who talks to him from some high mountain, or in the invisible depths of space. By thus looking afar for his God he ignores the one and only spark of divinity ever shining in his own soul.
“Herein is man fooled into believing that he can do those things which are not in harmony with truth and yet escape the consequences. He presumes upon God being too far away to ever behold his shortcomings, and ignores the God monitor within his own soul.
“This is the meaning of that old saying that a man and his conscience are always good friends so long as the way is smooth, but when it grows rugged, they fall out. They fall out because man has reached a point where he begins to consider his ways and look carefully over the life he is leading. This brings him to a beholding state of mind. He sees that what he considered right in the clear light of the divine good is not up to its standard. Here is where the divergence takes place between man and his conscience. They were friends in appearance only before or during the period of license. The conscience may seem to assent to the shortcomings of men, but it is ever the inner protestant that keeps knocking at the soul until the steps are arrested.”
“No matter what we do, we always have a part of ourselves that is quietly watching, and that knows right from wrong and can guide us if we listen.”
My Moral Compass
The compass I carry deep down in my soul
Points to the moral directions I know I should go
The needle always points in the direction of truth
The journey I’ve cherished since the time of my youth
Empathy and kindness appear on its face
Footprints in the path I endeavor to trace
Charity completes the compass’ leads
So, whomever I meet I can help with their needs.
Join me next week as we explore the Muscle of Reason.
You are a blessing in my life.
Rev. Patricia Bessey