Author Archives: Cheryl Petersen

Walking on clouds

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”— Nelson Mandela

My granddaughter walked on clouds, through a puddle.

walking on clouds j

Planting good seeds

Springtime planting is a favorite of mine.

Although I’m not a fan of the weeds that grow alongside the fruits, flowers, and vegetables, it’s worth the effort to weed and enjoy the beauty and bounty.

Last weekend, our granddaughter came flower and seed shopping with me. The trip was enchanting as she selected colorful flowers and pulled them around the garden center in a wagon.

She also selected seeds. Sunflower seeds being an eye catcher.

Fortunately, the seed packets contain sunflower seeds, not seeds of ragweed or thistle plants, but sunflowers.

While fulfilling the project of purchasing and planting, I considered purchasing and planting seeds of patience, joy, and honesty. I weeded out thoughts of annoyance, especially when our chickens ate the seeds we planted.

It was a glorious spring day.

flower getting sunflower seeds

Olive: another chapter from new book

My new book, Religion is Numbered, is nearing completion. Here is a chapter from it:

Olive

Olive turned to look at me and started giggling. The sunshine fell on her white hair and pink-lipsticked smile as I wheeled an office chair outside to her hatchback car. On the chair was perched a sizeable box.

“I knew you’d know how to get that heavy box to my car,” Olive said. “It’s full of books.”

An octogenarian, Olive radiated appreciation. When she told me she wanted to get rid of some stuff in her house, I offered to help.

We’d only known one another about three years. She started coming to the Kennewick Church after her husband died, and though polar opposite to me in demeanor, we hit it off from the start. Olive was prim and proper. She wore expensive, tailored dresses and sat upright with her legs together and feet perched in modest high heels.

I was still a tomboy. I wore the cleanest clothes I could find in the morning, aiming mainly for the clothing not decorated with children snot or ketchup. I sat in a constant state of readiness to turn into either instant monkey bars or a cradle for any child.

It took me a few months to realize Olive was of the brand that didn’t age while maturing, like Bill. She didn’t treat me as if she felt obligated to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Our personalities blended to bring out the best in one another. The girls, school-aged now, and I would invite her to the house for lunch, using it as an opportunity to practice cooking and eating with manners. We’d set the table formally and just before Olive arrived, we exchanged our work clothes for the nicest outfits we had. Olive, true to form, came dressed to the nines.

The luncheon conversation lacked gushy pretense. Without talking down to Leah, Olive asked, “What subject are you studying in school now?”

“The ocean,” Leah said through her shyness.

“I’ve seen parts of the ocean before. It’s very big. One time, Everett and I took a trip to Fiji, an Island in the South Pacific Ocean and we saw a turtle that was 70-years-old,” said Olive. “Have you seen a turtle before?”

“Yes, once at Aunt Denise’s. We have chickens,” said Leah.

“Oh my, do your chickens lay eggs?”

“Yes,” said Leah, more secure with her own input.

“Do you cook and eat the eggs?” asked Olive.

“Mom cooks mostly, we eat the eggs. See that,” Leah said as she pointed to a bowl full of egg salad on the table. “I mashed the boiled eggs for that. I used a fork.”

As if she was dining on a culinary delight, Olive exclaimed, “I just ate some of the egg salad. It’s delicious.” Eyeing Carly, she continued, “I can see you both help your mother.”

Olive’s sight zoomed in for a close-up of Carly and she asked, “So, Carly what book are you reading now?”

Beauty and the Beast,” Carly joined in.

Beauty and the Beast. Let’s see, does that have a scary beast in it?” said Olive.

“It’s scary at first, but it turns nice when Belle isn’t a-scared of it,” explained Carly.

“I sure like the blue dress you are wearing,” said Olive.

Silence.

“This is a good time to say thank you,” I said quietly to Carly.

Carly’s eyes stirred with comprehension. She looked at Olive and said, “Thank you.”

A little more silence allowed Carly to gain pluck. She pointed and said, “I put the pickles in that bowl.”

“Well, could you please pass me the pickles? I think I shall like to try one,” said Olive as the conversation ambled from pickles, to building forts, to feeding Shep the dog. I watched time wrinkle until I could no longer see a senior citizen and two children, but a room full of wholesomeness, newness, and wisdom—intermixing as one.

Only when I was alone with Olive did she speak about herself. Olive told me she learned how to weld metals, work in a factory, and build ships during World War II, when all the men had gone to Europe to fight.

After the war, Olive married Everett, who introduced her to religion #212. The two of them had one daughter, Jacqueline. Olive told me, “After Jacqueline grew up and was living on her own, Everett stopped attending church. He couldn’t tolerate the pettiness that distorted the religion.”

She was raised in church #5,444 and explained, “The model of a punishing God was instilled in me. It was a menacing way to live. When I learned about a loving, healing God through #212, the liberation was unforgettable. It made it easier for me to overlook the pettiness in church.”

On the day when we cleaned stuff out of her house, we finished the job and sat down at the kitchen table to rest and talk.

“What do you think about this ‘spiritual but not religious’ trend?” I asked her.

Olive smiled before confirming what I’d been concluding, “The trend is not very original. The people who identify themselves as spiritual, but not religious, will soon be forming communities and battling the same turmoil that plagues religious organizations today. We are social creatures. And, sadly we are human beings susceptible to repeating our mistakes.”

She offered me a sugar cookie and cup of coffee.

“No thanks,” I said.

While she got up to get a cookie and cup of hot coffee for herself, Olive said, “Cheryl, you are too young to know, but many of the churches were once lively. It’s what we did. People attended church. It’s what we knew. Circumstances have altered that experience.”

“What do you mean?” I asked as she sat down at the table.

“During my era it was the availability of the automobile. Once we started moving our physical bodies in cars, it affected how our minds moved. When stores began opening on Sundays, we questioned our beliefs and superstitions and discovered God wasn’t going to strike us down for shopping on Sunday. We realized we could find God anywhere, not just in church.”

“But, you kept going to church,” I quizzed.

“Yes, and you will too for the same reason. Church can be a positive structure in our week, but there is more we need to do, otherwise we become ambivalent and church dies,” Olive said.

I made a mental note to look up the word “ambivalent” in the dictionary when I got home. “Keep talking,” I said.

“When I switched religions, I left behind some beliefs, but I also carried with me other beliefs that I didn’t know I had,” said Olive as she smoothed her short white hair around the back of her right ear with her fingers. “Church #212 today is a virtual ghost town, surrounded by residues of a once flourishing community, now abandoned because the natural resources of spiritual creativity and intellect are neglected.”

Silence. Her knowledge was a blur in my mind, but I caught a few details.

“It’s like people who migrate from one country to another. They want to flee poverty, conflict, or injustice, but they still have to deal with those components in some form or another because they really exist in the human mind,” said Olive.

“How do we get rid of the negative components and get the spiritual creativity back?” I asked.

“You aren’t the only one wondering that,” said Olive. “Even many medical professionals want inspired thinking. They know people are more than bodies of chemicals. Everett’s doctor was one.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“One weekend, I ran out of pain pills for Everett,” explained Olive. “He hadn’t needed the pills regularly so I lost track of how many were in the bottle. It was evening and Everett asked for a pill. Because he wasn’t his normal self near the end of his life and anything out of the ordinary would easily upset him, I told him I had more pills in the kitchen. I went to the kitchen where he lost sight of me and got a slice of white bread. I ripped a piece out the middle and rolled it up real tight, into the size of a pill and gave it to him with a glass of water. He swallowed the ball of bread and felt better within ten minutes.”

I smiled, having nothing to say.

“I told Everett’s doctor the next day, and the doctor agreed I did the best thing under the circumstances. He admitted that placebos have power at times. He wished he knew how the human mind and its beliefs worked so he could give people bread rather than some of the drugs that are basically poison,” said Olive. “But I think it was love from divine Mind, not my human mind, that gave relief to Everett.”

“I kinda see what you mean,” I said, and turned the subject to “How’s Jacqueline?”

“She’s doing well. Cheryl, I think I need to sell this house and move to California to live closer to her,” Olive said. “That’s why I’m cleaning.”

“I bet Jacqueline would like that,” I said, knowing I’d miss Olive terribly if she moved.

“Moving sounds arduous; however I know it can be done,” said Olive.  “There’s nothing new about moving.”

Olive did move within the year. She taught me that timeless ideas exist forever.  Olive reaffirmed that new ideas aren’t really new.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” —Ecclesiastes 1:9

Watch what I want

A short time ago, I wrote a post about wanting a new Bible. Because I sometimes get tired of reading the Bible we have, with its gore, lack of respect for women, and acceptance of slavery, I mulled over the idea of establishing a new Bible.

I know that the Bible, in and of itself, shows how humanity has progressed, and how our idea of God has advanced out of a punishing power into love. But surely, by the 21st century, we could find literature depicting even greater strides.

Then the other night, we watched the 2015 movie, “The Brand New Testament.

Director Jaco Van Dormael, also writer with Thomas Gunzig, tells the story of God, living in Brussels, Belgium, with his family. God is typified as a mean, irrational human being, directing a horrible history for humanity.

His son, Jesus Christ, aka JC, already escaped the household and the story follows how the younger daughter, Ea, escapes to rewrite Scripture and change history.

She gathers six disciples or messengers. We get a glimpse of their life and future as Ea intervenes with her special powers to promote compassion and a trust in good in humanity.

The film seemed a bit ridiculous to me. One disciple left her husband to partner with an ape, as if to show that some animals are better behaved then humans.

After making that mental calculation, I laughed at myself. I was trying to see the deeper meaning behind the story. Exactly what humans have been doing with the Bible for millennia.

There are thousands of Bible commentaries, books that explore the meaning, history, and context of Scripture. They are valuable as noted by Mel Lawrenz in his post titled, “How to Use Bible Commentaries.

Anyway, my desire for a new Bible has been tempered. I will continue to appreciate translations and revisions and commentaries that recover original meanings.

The one Mind’s communication

The idea of one Mind isn’t new. I learned it through the teachings of 19th century’s Mary Baker Eddy. In her writings, I also discovered the idea that all communication comes from this one divine Mind.

How does that help me?

When I feel as though I’m misunderstanding another person, I calmly remind myself that human minds don’t really communicate and that I can tune into divine Mind. Understanding flows easier when I do this.

In my prayers, I try to understand just what does Mind communicate? Because Mind is Love, it can only communicate loving, loveable thoughts. It can’t communicate fear and loss.

This helps when I don’t have a cell phone on me. For example, on March 24, I drove nearly 2-hours to get to the Rhinecliff train station. I entered an empty train station, ready to pick up our daughter and her family. The fact there was no one in the station was eerie. After about 4 minutes, a young lady walked in and asked if I was waiting for the 11:58 train.

“Yes,” I said.

Then she was curious because, “I heard the train was canceled because of derailment.”

I nearly panicked, but she added, “I don’t know who to call to learn if the train is coming.”

I told her, “If I can borrow your phone, I can call my other daughter at home and she will know.”

The young lady graciously let me borrow her phone.

“Yes Mom, the train was canceled and sister is headed to Grand Central Station to catch a metro train to Beacon. Call me from there when you arrive,” I heard over the phone.

We were glad to hear no serious injurious occurred and I got in the car and drove to Beacon.

After arriving, a nice young man let me use his phone to call home again. I heard, “Yes, sister will arrive at 2:09.”

I’m thankful that there is no interruption in the communication of divine Mind. I’m thankful there is constant reception between God and us, and our Father-Mother God’s communication is all done with love, grace, and simplicity.

Getting excited

It’s easy to get excited about certain things: new clothes, an upcoming vacation, a pay raise.

But I’m learning that “excitement” needs to be steered with divine Mind, rather than human mind, otherwise it can lead to disappointment.

The human emotion of excitement is dual. It can go in a positive direction and it can go in a negative direction.

But, we have the ability to steer excitement with divine Mind, with wisdom and integrity. Divine Mind’s influence has the power to prevent our human mind from reacting or overacting, due to excitement. It also keeps us and others from getting hurt.

We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “Calm the excitement sometimes induced by this mental reaction, on the grounds that it is Truth’s method of restoration and purification.”

The words don’t tell us we have to get rid of excitement, or stop ourselves from being excited. There is nothing wrong with excitement as long as it stays within the realm of the divine. We have the power to calm excitement and enjoy its restorative and purifying influence.

The excitement that comes with caring from baby chicks is under God’s control. Love is gentle and thoughtful.

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Don’t burden others with superficial

Religion has repeatedly cleaned its face after getting dirty by wallowing in creeds and dictates. I just read in the book Acts, when Christ’s disciples reversed the dictate to circumcise.

We have the mind to check our hearts. To purify our intents and image forth love and truth.

Acts 15: 1, 6-8, 13- 19-20

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me.

19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”

Quoting from science & religion to God:

Superficial loyalty is flawed.

Tyranny and arrogance need constantly to be cleaned out of church temples and codes. The vanity of superficial worship needs to be purged. It is more important to welcome the stranger at the church door than to build a fabulous edifice.

Spirituality isn’t in limited supply. It isn’t controlled by a person or organization. The spiritual idea and its healing power can’t be monopolized.

It is with spiritual sense that we discern the heart of infinity.”

This cleansing is happening. I reported on two women, from two different religions, who came together to host an event to provide refugee relief.

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