September 20 Service: See No Stranger: Loving Others – Grieve

You still have time to register for the One Planet Peace Forum. It will begin on Friday, September 25 at 3 p.m., continuing Saturday and Sunday as well. Peace needs to be a priority in our lives at this time. This is a free event.

The program will integrate short keynote talks, panels with discussion, contemplative practice, and sacred performance to create a safe place for collaboration by applying universal principles, values, and tools, such as truth-telling and unitive justice, to find common ground through interfaith and interdisciplinary dialogue and action. One Planet Peace Forum will be an annual event offering a universal platform for people of all spiritual and secular expressions to co-create solutions to the most challenging issues facing humanity today.

I opened the message on Sunday with the following quote:

“Those who love us never leave us alone with our grief. At the moment they show us our wound, they reveal they have the medicine.” ~ Alice Walker

“Love is dangerous. If I see you as a part of me I don’t yet know … then I must be willing to fight for you and feel grief.” ~ Papa Ji

The message this past Sunday was focusing on the story Valarie Kaur is telling in her book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love. There is so much of her personal story in this book that I can’t cover every Sunday; I encourage you to get the book. It is an eye-opener of how people of color experience life in this country even when they are born and brought up here.

This week “grieve” was the topic. The message began with how the trajectory of Valarie Kaur’s life changed on the day of Sept 11, 2001. There isn’t a person who was at least the age of eight on that day doesn’t remember with clarity the impact that event had on their lives. Many of the freedoms we experienced up until that day are no longer available to us.

Valarie’s life changed as a result of the first death that occurred on September 15, 2001 to a Sikh man named Balbir Singh Sodhi in Meza, Arizona. Balbir had gone outside in the driveway of his gas station to plant flowers when a man shot him five times in the back.

This was the first of 19 hate crimes to take place in the aftermath of 9/11 and all on people of color. Valarie knew that these hate crimes needed to be documented for any intervention to take place.

She was in college at the time and talked with her advisor and told her of the plan she had to take a camera and interview all the families of those who had died. She was advised to write a proposal and present it to the college for a grant. The grant was provided and along with her cousin Sonny, and her Honda Civic, they headed across country to film and talk with victims’ families.

In my talk I told the story of Balbir Singh Sodhi’s wife Joginder and the interview Valarie had with her in India and her response when asked what she wanted to say to the people in America.

These next words I invite you to take in and let your heart respond… Grief is the price of love. Loving someone means one day, there will be grieving. They will leave you or you will leave them. The more you love the more you grieve. Loving someone also means grieving with them. It means letting their pain and loss bleed into your own heart.

When you see that pain coming, you may want to throw up guardrails, sound the alarm, raise the flag, but you must keep the borders of your heart porous in order to love well. Grieving is an act of surrender.

Spiritual Action Step this week:

Who do you feel the need to pay attention to in this moment? Is there someone close to you that may be grieving…Be willing to ask them, “What do you need?”

It may be you grieving others…send messages of love, find others grieving as well and join them either online or at rallies…find what you need to…is this a call for you to live a more meaningful life.

“Unresolved grief inside a person is tragic; unresolved grief inside a nation is catastrophic.”

These words from Valarie:

“Revolutionary love is a well-spring of care, an awakening to the inherent dignity and beauty of others and the earth, a quieting of the ego, a way of moving through the world in relationship, asking: ‘What is your story? What is at stake? What is my part in your flourishing?’

“Loving others, even our opponents, in this way has the power to sustain political, social and moral transformation. This is how love changes the world.”

Next Sunday is “fight”…what are you willing to fight for?

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

For your safety, continue to social distance and wear face masks. The church building remains closed for gatherings of all services and group meetings. All business with the church office needs to be via telephone or email.


Here are some ways we can do that:

On Zoom: Coffee Hour, Book Group, Spiritual Exploration discussion group, A Course in Miracles and other offerings coming up… Check our calendar for details.

In Person: Bring your own dinner to Unity between 5 – 6 on Friday night when weather permits.


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