Sunday, October 18 Service: See No Stranger: Loving Opponents – Listen

Have you noticed how many things are happening that are unprecedented in these uncertain times? On Sunday we had the first-ever Zoom annual meeting for Unity Center for Spiritual Growth. The number attending fluctuated between 28 and 30. Interestingly last year we had 30 when we were meeting in person.

The bylaw changes that were needed got passes unanimously as did our new board members. Michelle Neas will be doing a three-year term and Pat Paine and Jack Cole as alternates will be doing a one-year term.

Other information that was shared that we are excited about is we have received a grant sufficient enough to upgrade our AV system so that when we return to in-person services, we will still be streaming the service at the same time. COVID pushed us to make this happen and this is exciting.

Two other important updates that I know you will be happy to hear about. One is the men’s bathroom is getting a new look. The board approved up to $3,500 for the remodel. Under normal times we would have held a fun-raiser over the summer to raise the money. However, we are not in normal times, so we are asking for your help to support this upgrade of our facility by giving in addition to your normal tithe or offering. If you do it online, please indicate men’s bathroom. We thank you in advance for your generosity and we know that you know as you give so shall you receive.

The second update goes along with the first. We certainly can’t upgrade the men’s bathroom without moving forward with renovating the women’s bathroom. To do what we vision and to make it beautiful and functional we are looking to spend in the vicinity of $10,000. Giving Tuesday is December 1 this year, and we are setting the goal to raise $10,000 or more. We know we can do it because we did it last year. So again, join us in holding the vision of a newly renovated women’s bathroom and help us to reach our goal.

The comments we heard over and over from those attending was how grateful they are to be connected to such a loving community. I know I speak for the board as well as myself how grateful we are for the support we receive from you in your emails, comments on Facebook Live and other ways you communicate to us as well as in your giving.

Sunday’s topic was on listening. I am continuing with the series from the book See No Stranger written by Valarie Kaur.

The chapter in the book on listening begins with this quote from bell hooks: “How do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”

I shared two stories from the chapter. One was with her grandfather Papa Ji which is a touching story and if you are having difficulty with a parent, sibling or child this story has some valuable teachings for you.

The other was an interaction that Valarie had with a group of white men who were making derogatory statements about brown-skinned people of which Valarie is. She mustered up the courage to interrupt their conversation to share her viewpoint. While she thought she was making headway with them she found out that wasn’t the case.

This is how she felt at the end of the exchange: Deep listening is about drawing close to someone’s story. It turns out it is extremely difficult to draw close to someone you find absolutely abhorrent. How do you listen to someone when their beliefs are disgusting? Or enraging? Or terrifying?

How do you keep listening when the words are so offensive and dangerous that it seems that the only rightful response is hostility?

When you listen to the message, you will find the answer and also find the spiritual practices for your homework.

Next week the chapter is on “reimagining.”

Here is some food for thought for next week: Imagine, collectively, the world that you want to see. What does this world look like, feel like? What do systems of care, governance, justice, education, and healing look like?

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.



Comments are closed.