See No Stranger: Breathe and Push – Loving Ourselves – Push

This past weekend your new Board of Trustees met for a retreat and came away with a great plan moving forward. Of course, what was an obvious topic was COVID-19 and reopening the building. With Maine spiking in cases along with the rest of the nation we strongly felt the decision we made earlier about waiting until 2021 was a good decision. We are staying with looking at a soft opening in early 2021 if appropriate. We unanimously agreed that we would follow the State of Maine’s CDC recommendations. We are meeting again in mid-December to review the situation.

When I arrived as the new minister at the church back in August of 2011 one of the first things, I heard was the need to refurbish the women’s bathroom. Other improvements to our facility demanded our attention so it hadn’t reached the top of the list. I am so excited to say it has now. We spent a lot of our time discussing every aspect of this project down to having touchless faucets. The timing is perfect to do this as COVID is having us be more aware of the changes that will facilitate a healthy and safe environment.

Giving Tuesday is less than two weeks away, December 1, and we feel with your support this can become a reality. We have heard from a couple of donors who are willing to put up half the money we want to raise which will be $7,500 with the community raising the additional $7,500. We can do this because last year we raised $10,000 without a large amount coming from any one person. I am reminded of a quote from our co-founder Charles Fillmore: “The Inexhaustible Resource of Spirit is equal to every demand. There is no reality in lack. Abundance is here and now manifest.” We can do this!

At the retreat, board officers were selected and it was unanimous to go with our current officers: Matt Purinton, President; Barbara Kowalska, Vice President; Erin Conway, Secretary; Carolyn Sanford, Treasurer; Kim Cowperthwaite and Michelle Neas, members at large. Our new elected members Pat Paine and Jack Cole are the alternates.

Sunday’s message was bringing us to the near end of the book See No Stranger: The Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur. The topic was “push.” What does the midwife say as a baby is waiting to be born… breathe and push!

These are the words of Valarie in the opening paragraph of the chapter on push. “When I was ready to love myself, I had learned how to breathe and push through my grief, rage and trauma. On the other side, I found what seemed utterly impossible before: healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Later in the chapter, she says: “Healing is the long journey of returning to our bodies. It is a kind of labor that requires breathing and pushing – resting and then going deeper. We must be willing to notice and befriend sensations, including pain and discomfort.”

She shares some stories on forgiveness and I did as well. I told of how forgiveness happened for me during Ministerial training around my mother.

Valarie reminds us about loving others and our opponents as she learned from Gandhi and MLK; however, she goes on and adds another level of love that neither of these men taught and this is a feminist intervention loving ourselves.

To find the courage to love others, to find the strength to love even our opponents, we first find grounding in loving ourselves.

Love After Love
By Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Today, may you greet yourself in your own mirror, with a smile. May you take the time to hear your own voice still and small, deep inside all, singing.

Then, draw the circle wide. Like a drop in a pond, may your peacefulness, your love for the world, ripple out, in circles growing larger and larger, eventually embracing all.

Until we See No Stranger.

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


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