Sunday Audio & Video Files

Sunday Audio & Video Files

 Watch previous Sunday talks here. Rev. Pat Bessey’s follow-up messages, published with the video files, provide additional insights and news about Unity Center for Spiritual Growth. 

Unity Center for Spiritual Growth welcomes your financial support for our digital outreach.


March 7 Sunday Service with Gregg Levoy

I sit before a clean slate waiting for me to put words to thoughts that are ruminating in me. It is Monday that I am writing this and just an hour or so ago the CDC came out with new guidelines relating to COVID-19. They have said that if you have had both vaccine shots you can safely interact with others who have been safely vaccinated as well. Immediately my mind went to many of you who I know have had both shots and thought, wow, we can get together for a meal or the book group. Then I thought, but what about those who haven’t gotten both, are they excluded?

Gregg Levoy

Gregg Levoy

My thoughts then went to the workshop with Gregg Levoy on Sunday. If you didn’t attend the workshop, it was focused on the pandemic. He asked us some interesting questions that were personal to each of us. I am going to share a few with you and my answers to them. You might answer them for yourself.

What have I discovered about myself during this last year? I discovered my desire to learn and grow; I am more inner focused than when I was distracted by the worldly things in the outer; I am grateful for my home and find it to be my sanctuary.

What has changed dramatically for me through this? What have I said “no” to that I am saying “yes” to now? The greatest change for me is entering into the age of technology. Sunday services, classes, and meetings via Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube. My only regret is I didn’t do it sooner.

What silver linings have come from the pandemic? Without question, doing Sunday morning from home. Seeing our doctors via telehealth rather than driving to an appointment.

Has this year been one of the best? In many ways yes, I have stretched in ways I never thought possible. I have learned that I am resilient and that less is better. It has shown me how little I really need to live a great life. I have a deeper appreciation of knowing when I need alone time and when I need connection.

What has the meaning of the pandemic been for me? I am stronger than I imagined; that I am given everything I need when needed; and most importantly that LOVE trumps everything else.

If you joined us on Sunday morning you had a chance to experience Gregg. His message was one of braiding science and spirituality together. He shared his theory of chaos and how biblically chaos was before creation. He is very engaging and if you missed it or want to listen to him, you can watch the video above.

This coming Sunday we hear from another person who I hold in high esteem and it is Vaishali Mamgain. Vaishali is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Southern Maine and the Director of the Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion, also at USM. She will be sharing her experience of being a person of brown skin and how viscerally she experienced the event of January 6 at our nation’s Capital. Vaishali will join us for Coffee Hour following so you can ask questions or share your ideas on what she shares with us.

Nonviolent Practice: Week 2 Creativity

The worst thing you can do to a human soul is to suppress its natural desire to create. Identify at least five ways in which you express your creativity every day. Each day this week, allow something unpredictable and joyous to express through you.

Mark your calendar for March 28 and join us on Zoom for our Spring Community Meeting directly following the Sunday Celebration Service.

TURN YOUR CLOCK AHEAD SATURDAY NIGHT…it is time to Spring Forward!

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

Living Originally: A Courageous Shift in Identity

This coming Sunday we will be welcoming back to Unity Center for Spiritual Growth Gregg Levoy. Gregg is the author of Callings and Vital Signs. He will be doing an afternoon workshop on Zoom and here is what it will cover:

In the central creation story in the Western world (Genesis), Chaos with a capital C is described as the condition of the Earth before it was formed. i.e. Chaos precedes Creation.

The vaccine that’s finally arrived for the coronavirus works on the same principle: We introduce a little chaos into the body in order to strengthen it, shake it up for the sake of helping it grow and evolve. And the “chaos” of the pandemic year has the potential to do the same thing, and this Zoom service and webinar is an opportunity to explore how your own life might grow and evolve as a result of it, whether creatively, professionally, interpersonally, or spiritually.

Gregg Levoy

Gregg Levoy

Through self-reflective questions, small-group work, sharing, and discussion, you’ll clarify:

  • What wants to emerge or awaken for you?
  • What’s been given an unexpected entrance cue, or been called-for from you, during these unsettling times?
  • What you’ve discovered about yourself?
  • What the takeaways have been for you this past year?
  • And what you want your new-normal to look like once the pandemic is in the rearview mirror?

Don’t miss joining us for the workshop. What Gregg is offering aligns beautifully with the new series I began this past Sunday: Living Originally by Unity minister Robert Brumet. The title of the talk was “A Courageous Shift in Identity.”

Brumet writes: To live originally is to live consciously from the ever present origin of life; it is to live from the very source of all that is. This ever present origin is centered within each of us. We all live from that origin, but the vast majority of us are not conscious of this. Most of us live unconsciously because we have become identified with a false self; we live from a mistaken identity. This false self is the product of our conditioning; it is a manufactured sense of self. It is unoriginal.

Living Originally requires one to have a transformation of consciousness.

Here are some key points that I didn’t cover in the talk:

Right intention: Does this intention arise from the authentic self or from the ego?

Desire: Discernment of desire is essential…desire for transformation is necessary to provide the motivation to engage spiritual practice.

Surrender: not to anything or anyone outside of yourself; it is surrendering to our own authentic self.

Resistance: from our subconscious arises and we see the myriad of ways we deceive ourselves. We begin to see that resistance and deception are the foundation of the ego itself.

Honesty: It takes brutal honesty to see the ways we deceive ourselves and others as well. True surrender can’t occur without complete honesty, and complete honesty can’t occur without genuine right intention.

Personal will: Transformation doesn’t occur simply through willpower; however, we must be willing to allow transformation to happen. We must have the will to surrender our will, but not force it to happen.

Awareness, trust, and appreciation are all attitudes that ripen us for transformation.

In the next few weeks, we will be putting our attention to the process of cultivating the soil for transformation by way of spiritual practices.

Have a week of living originally…from the center of your being to the circumference of your life.

Nonviolent Practice: Week 4 – Kindness, Graciousness

Every day we hear of random and senseless acts of violence. Participate in the counter-revolution of kindness started by Anne Herbert. Perform three random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty each day this week.

When you are out driving this week, slow down, and let the other person in front of you. Stop and let pedestrians cross the street.

Have a great week and stay safe and healthy.

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

Letters from Prison: The Language of Resistance

Sunday Service with Guest Speaker Susan Stein

I often use this writing to highlight someone in the congregation that we have reason to celebrate or be grateful to for their good works. This week is no different. This week I want to celebrate and be grateful for all of you who have been and continue to support and be connected to Unity Center for Spiritual Growth. Every Sunday it brings me great joy to read the comments in the chat box and to see who is joining us. Although we would love to meet in person, this is the best we have for right now. So thank you for staying the course with us and for your financial contributions. We look forward to being together soon!

This past Sunday we hosted Susan Stein, well known for her work with Etty Hillesum, the Dutch author of letters and diaries describing her religious awakening and persecutions of the Jewish people during the German occupation.

Susan masterfully gave a glimpse into Etty’s letters and Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham jail. Her ability to bring both of these individuals alive during her message was mesmerizing. I don’t think I was the only one left spellbound when she finished.

Susan joined us for Coffee Hour, and the energy was such that it was decided to have the workshop. She gave us this letter to read and pick out phrases that stood out for us and we each read a phrase without any discussion or interruption and we created a mosaic for us to hold this in. Here is the letter from Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork. The diary is from 1941 – 1943 and the letters begin in November of 1942.

This letter I am sharing is from Tuesday, June 8, 1943 at ten o’clock.

My dear people,

Not much health is left now inside the barbed wire; more barracks are always being added. Only a little piece remains in the farthest corner of the camp, and that’s where I’m sitting now, in the sun under a glorious blue sky, among some low shrubbery. Right across from me only a few meters away, a blue uniform with a helmet stands in the watchtower. A guard with an enraptured expression is picking purple lupins, his gun dangling on his back. When I look to the left, I see billowing white smoke and hear the puffing of a locomotive. The people have already been loaded onto the freight cars; the doors are closed. There are many green police, who sang this morning as they marched by the side of the train, and the Dutch military police are out as well. The quota of people who must go is not yet filled. Just now I met the matron of the orphanage, carrying a small child in her arms who also has to go, alone. And a number of people have been taken out of the hospital barracks. They are doing a thorough job here today; big shots from the Hague have come on a visit. It’s very strange watching these gentlemen at work from close quarters. I’ve been up since four this morning dealing with the babies and carrying luggage. In a few hours you can accumulate enough gloom here to last a lifetime. The nature-loving policeman has gathered his purple bouquet now, perhaps he’s off to court some farmer’s daughter in the neighborhood. The engine gives a piercing shriek. The whole camp holds its breath; another three thousand Jews are about to leave. There are babies with pneumonia lying in the freight cars.

Sometimes what goes on here seems totally unread. I haven’t been given any particular job, which suits me very well. I just wander about and find my own work. This morning I had a brief talk with Vught, who told me her latest experiences in three minutes. How much can you really tell in a few minutes? When we came to a door, and I wasn’t allowed to go any further, she embraced me and said, “Thank you for being such a help.”

Just now I climbed up on a box lying among the bushes here to count the freight cars. There were thirty-five, with some second-class cars at the front for the escorts. The freight cars had been completely sealed, but a plank had been left out here and there, and people put their hands through the gaps and waved as if they were drowning.

The sky is full of birds, the purple lupins stand up so regally and peacefully, two little old women have sat down on the box for a chat, the sun is shining on my face – and right before our eyes, mass murder. The whole thing is simply beyond comprehension.

Love,
Etty

Etty’s last letter was September 6 and 7, 1943 and she died in Auschwitz on November 30, 1943.

Here is a website that may be of interest to you: classroomwithoutborders.org. Susan will be teaching along with others on March 3.

A new series will begin on Sunday, February 28; it is called Living Originally and is based on the book with the same title, written by Unity minister Robert Brumet.

This week’s Nonviolent Practice: Week 3 – Caring, Compassion

According to Peter McWilliams, “Nonviolence toward the self is caring for oneself. It is what the Greeks call reverence for the self.” Real caring is not just what we say, but what we do. Make a list of at least five ways you can take better care of yourself. Practice at least one each day this week.

Mother Theresa implored us to “find someone who thinks he is alone and let him know that he is not.” Each day this week, do as Mother Theresa suggests.

Have a great week and stay safe and healthy.

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

 

The Sounds of Silence

I am excited that Susan Stein will be our guest speaker this coming Sunday, February 21. Susan was introduced to me several years ago when she presented her one-woman play “Etty Hillesum” to the Unity Eastern Region Conference. I was left speechless and it has stayed with me all these years. The story of Etty Hillsum is a story of love and forgiveness. We all need to know more about both of those topics. Please, right now, register for the workshop she will be presenting at 1 p.m. on Sunday. You will be glad you did… she has some reading for you before the workshop, so it is important you register. We have invited Susan as part of our Season for Nonviolence. Her website is www.ettyplay.org.

Here is a testimony from one of her events:

Susan Stein

Susan Stein

Susan brought Etty to our playwriting workshop last spring. I can still remember the way in which the room was immediately transformed the moment Susan stepped into Etty’s shoes. A room of women diverse in age, background and interest became intimately involved in the life and struggles of a woman we never knew. We watched Etty as she saw a Nazi solider picking yellow flowers. We thought about our own beliefs as we heard Etty questioning her faith in God. It was more than a performance — it was a shared experience. We were invited into the private places of Etty’s suitcase and Susan’s writing process and because of this we asked deeper questions of ourselves, and of each other. In this room full of writers, ranging from 13 to 70 years old, I saw emerge in all of us the courage to share both our writing and our doubts, taking our cues from Etty.

I am a little sad that the series Journey Through the Gifts of Winter completed this past Sunday with the final talk “The Sounds of Silence.” Every week was another opportunity to view winter through a new lens. As I write this, we have another winter storm coming, and rather than dreading it, I look forward to it as it is a time for me to spend time with the silence.

Kenneth Leech says: If you love truth, be a lover of silence. Silence, like the sunlight, will illuminate you in God, and will unite you to God. Love silence: It brings you a fruit that tongue cannot describe. In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. But then there is born something that draws us to silence. May God give you an expression of this “something” that is born of silence. After a while, a certain sweetness is born in the heart, and you are drawn almost by force to remain in silence.

It is delicious to think of the sweetness that is born in our heart that keeps us in the silence.

Today begins the next 40 days and 40 nights of Lent. The message I gave on Sunday has some great practices to incorporate into Lent. I shared with you the importance of spending an hour a day in the silence. I also shared information from an article written by Carolyn Gregoire and she gave four reasons how the silence benefits us physically. Silence relieves stress and tension, replenishes our mental resources, taps into the brain’s default mode network, and can regenerate brain cells. She gives a practice for daily sitting in the silence for one hour.

Simplicity and solitude were also topics I touched on. Simplicity is all about focusing on what’s most important to you and letting go of the rest. A simple life provides freedom. There are some good practices for you in this section as well.

In Anam Cara, John O’Donahue says one of the things that is essential is silence and then adds the other is solitude.

He writes: Solitude is one of the most precious things in the human spirit. It is different from loneliness. When you are lonely you become acutely conscious of your own separation. Solitude can be a homecoming to your own deepest belonging.

My friend, give yourself the gifts of silence, simplicity, and solitude. 

Beginning February 28, I will start a new series on the book Living Originally by Unity minister Robert Brumet. This too will bring you lots of good information.

Have a great week and stay safe and healthy.

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

 

Embracing Our Shadow

Are you challenged with Zoom and would like to know how to navigate it more? My friend and colleague Rev. Beth Head is doing a Zoom class that is sponsored by our Unity Eastern Region on Wednesday,, February 17 at 10–11:30 a.m. and again on Thursday, February 25 at 6:30–8 p.m. (same material at both dates). If you would like to learn more of the basics then I encourage you to sign up. The cost is just $10. Contact me, and I can help you get registered.

I want to give a shout out to Kate Brown. If you have had a birthday recently and we have it in our database, you have received a birthday card from the ministry. Kate is the one making that happen. We are so grateful for her and for the service she is providing.

This past Sunday was the fourth talk in the series Our Journey Through the Gifts of Winter. It was Embracing the Shadow. This is not a topic that you hear often in a Unity message; however, I believe it is a missing link that is important to embrace for us to return to our “wholeness.”

I used much of the material from Bill Plotkin’s book, Wild Mind. There is much I want to say; however, that would involve giving you the whole talk, which I am not going to do. What I am going to do is give you a few of the quotes beginning with this from Daniel Goleman: “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

Carl Jung identified the shadow as an archetype: “Everyone carries a shadow and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions… One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

This is Plotkin’s definition of the shadow: “The shadow is not what we know about ourselves, don’t like and keep hidden. Rather, the Shadow is what is true about us that we don’t know – don’t know at all – and if accused of it, would adamantly and sincerely deny.”

Robert Bly writes that we have a long bag that we drag behind us. We have spent the first 20 years of our live stuffing 90 percent of our wholeness into it and the rest of our life attempting to retrieve those items. So how do we retrieve those items and take back our wholeness…by descending into those dark places to retrieve the lost pieces of ourselves.

As Carl Jung said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

And lastly from Brene Brown: “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

I hope I have given you enough that you will watch the service from Sunday here… and get all the information that goes in between the quotes. It is really good stuff.

Next week will be The Sounds of Silence.

Susan Stein

Susan Stein

I want to encourage you to register for the workshop with Susan Stein on February 21. Here is a little of what you can expect from Susan as she shares with us Etty Hillesum. This is taken from a one-woman play Susan toured the country performing:

“Using only Etty Hillesum’s words, Susan Stein’s adaptation brings us to 1941 when Esther ‘Etty’ Hillesum, a young Dutch Jewish woman, is living in Amsterdam. Upon the recommendation of her therapist, Julius Spier, she began a diary on 8 March 1941 to help her with her depression. Hoping to become a writer, the diaries take on their own literary life, presenting both Etty’s growth as a writer and spiritual transformation. As deportations begin, she prepares for the three-day journey eastward, she digs deeper into her soul to understand this piece of history and root out any hatred or bitterness, believing that humanity is the best and only solution for survival. Etty’s words, insights and beliefs reach out from the Holocaust and allow us to see the power of hope and individual thought in the most extreme circumstances. In her gentle yet forthright way, Etty asks us not to leave her at Auschwitz but to let her have a bit of a say in what she hopes will be a new world.

“The mission of finding-etty is to use the writings of Etty Hillesum to promote social justice, to challenge prejudice by examining the consequences of genocide and to enable participants to explore their own personal stories alongside Etty’s, as they consider their role in the struggle for human rights.”

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