Author Archives: Cheryl Petersen

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.

A chapter from my new book

I’m writing and publishing a memoir. Find below a chapter titled, College:

College

I visited a Travel Agent and made a plane reservation to the Denver, Colorado airport and learned I could take a shuttle van to the campus in Fort Collins. Dad took me to the Pasco Airport and helped me check in two large suitcases. I requested to sit in the no-smoking section, clueless as to how profoundly pathetically grateful I’d be in the future to the people who fought for no-smoking flights.

Back before intense airport security, Dad walked with me to the gate. He carried my high school graduation present, a manual typewriter. I carried a purse and smaller bag full of backup clothes in case my suitcases didn’t arrive. We sat down and waited. Quietly.

A feeling of wonder emerged. Why wasn’t Dad hurrying back to the farm? My wonderment increased as it came time to leave. I gathered up my stuff and walked out to the plane. After boarding, I got seated and looked out the small oval window to see a silhouette of Dad standing in the airport, watching.

The only time I’d seen Dad watch me was during piano recitals, and even then he looked as though he was farming in his head. Although I was a cheerleader for two years, played on the volleyball team, and performed in school theater, I don’t remember Dad once coming to watch. But he watched, probably until after my plane left the tarmac.

Arriving at the Denver airport, I hauled my baggage through an airport and found the van that would take me to Fort Collins. The hour and a half ride came to a stop and I was dropped off near the CSU campus, with three other students. Before driving off, the van driver pointed and said, “It’s that way.”

The four of us stood there and started digging through pockets and purses for campus maps we’d received earlier in the mail. Staring at the maps, we were interrupted by a thin guy in a plaid untucked shirt, older than us but not too old, who ran across the street and asked if we wanted a ride.

Was this a joke? Absolutely not do I want a ride, I thought. I was trained never to take a ride from a stranger. Plaid Shirt didn’t even have a vehicle. How was he going to give us a ride? Was this a trick? Was he one of those guys who made a promise he couldn’t fulfill? Would he take us out to a deserted place?

“Yes,” blurted the tall girl with a massive pile of luggage. My mind stopped flying off on invented tangents. I was tired. Everyone else agreed to the ride, and I did too, figuring we’d all be together for safety.

Plaid shirt said, “I’ll be back in a minute. I have to borrow a car.”

A few minutes later, a station wagon rounded the corner and Plaid Shirt jumped out to help us throw our belongings in the back. We each told him the name of our dorm. He thought for a second, told us to get in and off we went. He said he was a graduate student.

Plaid Shirt drove around a campus the size of Burbank Farm, stopping at four different dormitories. I was the last to be dropped off and had time to mentally calculate that I would have been dead meat had I carried all my belongings to the dorm. Not that I’d make a practice of it, but taking rides from strangers wasn’t such a bad idea.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”— Hebrews 13:2

I checked in at the dorm and a girl wearing flip-flops walked me to my room. Flip-flops carried my manual typewriter. “That’s the cafeteria,” she said, after pointing to a large room on the other side of a windowed wall.

We walked through halls. “There’s the shared bathroom,” Flip-flops said as we walked past a swinging door. The dorm was cleaner than Mary Ann’s family’s dairy barn back home, but the layout was based on the same principle. Accommodations were specific to resting, eating, and getting milked, only I would produce knowledge.

Flip-flops unlocked the door to my room and said, “Your roommate moved in last week.” She put my typewriter near a student desk and I dropped my suitcases, purse, and bag near the empty unmade bed.

I dreaded having a roommate.

When sharing a room with my sisters, at about the time puberty kicked in and my face broke out with zits, their breathing (I called it snoring) put me on edge. By the grace of almighty God, when I was in junior high school, Mom and Dad added a second floor to the basement and gave me my own room. It was small, but heaven.

At college, we freshman had to live in a dorm, so there I was with a roommate because I enrolled too late to get my own private room. I unpacked my stuff and made the bed, thinking my roommate will probably come at a higher cost than the tuition, but it was a price I was willing to pay to get away from home.

An hour later, my roommate walked through the door. “Well, hi. I’m Leslie,” she said. “You got here. Good. I’m here early because it’s Rush Week.”

“I’m Cheryl,” I said and added, “What’s Rush Week?”

“During Rush Week, I visit all the sororities to see which one I want to join. A sorority is a house full of girls. They have lots of parties. We will be sisters.”

I nodded and smiled, threw in an “Ah!” My fatigued mind merely thought her chatter sounded suspect. A house full of girls sounded worse than a swarm of gnats on a blistering hot day.

Leslie told me about the sororities off campus and recruitment process. “Pi Beta Phi is the sorority I want to pledge to,” she said. I lifted my eyebrows as if the exercise would let the information into my brain. She continued, “But I don’t get the ultimate decision. The sorority girls pick who the new members will be.”

At the end of Rush Week, Leslie didn’t get into the sorority she wanted so she accepted membership into Chi Omega. Little did I know that later in life, I’d become a part of this screwed-up process of human approval, selection, and clique formation, not in college, but in church.

At that time though, I was weary and unable to carry on a conversation. Leslie then pointed to my Bible and Science and Health, which I’d placed at the bottom of a shelf in my desk and asked, “What are those books?”

I sighed, wishing I’d hid them better. “They are books I read in church, the Bible and Science and Health,” I answered.

“I go to that church, well not a lot, but my mom goes all the time,” she said.

Bemused, I found myself asking, “Where is the church, in case I want to go.”

She gave me directions.

Leslie was the best roommate I could have had. We got along, though we didn’t have much to talk about unless I wanted to talk about fashion and clothes. “I’d love to have your body,” she told me. “I’d buy all kinds of clothes, because any style always looks good on thin bodies.”

Her words fell to the ground like my bath towels. After living with Leslie for a couple of weeks, I asked, “Why do you hang up your bath towel in the room?”

Leslie looked at me and saw my daftness came honestly. “To dry,” she answered.

“Why?”

She said, “So I can use it tomorrow after my shower.”

“You don’t wash the towel in the washing machine?”

“Not after every shower. I reuse the towel, Cheryl,” Leslie explained.

The idea of reusing a towel was novel. I was raised to use a bath towel once and then throw it on the floor into a soggy heap. Mom washed every towel after one use. In a family of seven, Mom maintained stacks of clean folded towels from which we could pull a clean one to dry ourselves with after every shower. Mom sent enough towels with me to college so I could continue the tradition. I used a washing machine and drier in the dorm that required money. I did the math. Reusing a towel could save me money and time.

I observed Leslie. She did not appear to be suffering from the practice of reusing her towel. Her skin wasn’t falling off. Her hair wasn’t falling out. So, I began hanging my towel to let it dry for reuse, not in defiance of the family tradition, but because a better tradition existed for my new circumstance.

Who am I praising?

In Psalms 65 I read about giving praise to God.

I wondered, do I give praise to God? Or to a recipe?

Do I praise Spirit, or rituals?

Do I give praise to divine Mind, or human minds?

Verses 1 through 4 of Psalms 65 reads as follows:

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
    and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
    to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
    you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
    to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
    the holiness of your temple!

I keep reading and discover promises of wonderful results when praising God:

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
    O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
    being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

 

 

Dressing up in gladness

With freezing cold temperatures, I wear warm clothes. It can be a bit bothersome to bundle up. So, it was fun to read Psalms 30 and be reminded that God clothes us with gladness. I’ll post verses 11 and 12:

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

2014-snow-at-entrancesmall

Dropped thirty degrees in half hour

By mid-morning, Saturday, it was sixty degrees Fahrenheit outside. The weather report predicted snow Sunday, so I busily set about planting cold season herb seeds.

I raked back a layer of leaves, revealing delicious dirt. After tossing seeds over the soil, the dirt was raked again to cover the precious seeds.

Walking to the neighbors, I collected pine needles to use as ground cover over the seeds. All work was done by noon.

After lunch the temperature began dropping as a torrent of rain fell. Puddles turned into mini-lakes out in the pasture. I could visualize the seeds being washed away, though I tried to remain optimistic.

Rain turned into sleet and snow. By 3 p.m. it was a winter wonderland here.

The beauty of the outdoors overshadowed the feelings of despair over my mornings work, surely wasted.

It’s still winter wonderland outside. I won’t know if any seeds come up until spring.

I decided to go with God, who gave me patience and the ability to plant more seeds.

 

Uninterrupted love

Divine love can’t be interrupted.

The continuity of God’s love persists through time and change.

Here is an example:

Yesterday, I spoke on the phone with a friend I hadn’t talked to in two years. We both are busy in life, yet we think of one another often with thoughts of joy and compassion. Those memories and expectations are what keep love continuous.

The second we connected on the phone, our conversation was serious and happy. There was no discussion about weather, politics, or trivial tidbits. She told me about her niece, who is living with her and her husband now because the niece’s mother just never adapted to motherhood and moved to Mexico.

The niece had fallen back two grades before moving in with my friend and her husband. She is in sixth grade now and doing well in school. And playing the flute in band.

Love is magnified with gratitude.

Even though we don’t talk with one another often, our love stays uninterrupted, unbroken, and only gets stronger and clearer.

 

What to eat on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the second busiest holiday for restaurants, after Mother’s Day. The optimist in me sees happy couples lingering in the candlelight of love. The realist in me sees people eating. Love may make life worthwhile, but we eat food to survive.

And, the farmer in me knows that food doesn’t come from the grocery store.

Let’s take a quick look at fruit.

Fruit trees are planted. The trees require 5–8-years of growth before a commercial crop is produced. All the while, the trees and soil require care. Then, to harvest successfully, the fruit must be picked at a specific time of maturity, before being taken out of the field to be washed, packaged, and shipped to grocery stores.

Furthermore, if we expect to eat fruit in the winter, the produce is preserved either by means of canning or freezing.

Basically, a colossal amount of work, time, and thought goes into food availability. The elements of weather and the market are accounted for. And it’s the same for love.

When needing, or even wanting, love, I remind myself there is more to it than romance and eating chocolate. Many attributes and elements are involved.

To find elements associated with love, I plodded through the Bible and read this verse from Galatians, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

In other words, I read, don’t try to cultivate only love. The fruit of Spirit isn’t only love, but love, joy, peace, patience, yadda yadda.

Seemed acceptable. I couldn’t argue with the fact that the attributes on that list were things that I, well, like to experience. So, they all must be important.

However, I got a bit stymied by the word “Spirit.” I mean come on, what is Spirit? It’s unseen, indescribable, immeasurable, pretty complicated.

Added to the complication is bad timing. Just like on the farm, if fruit was picked before it ripened, it was sour. And, if we waited too long to pick, the fruit was rotten.

Sour or rotten love, is the pits.

Screeeeeech, that is where I applied the mental brakes to stop myself from going in circles around only love.

I broadened my diet, so to speak. I made, and still make, efforts to eat up joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

For example, while negotiating today’s societal culture of women working outside the home and men working inside the home, I exercised faithfulness and stayed married after telling my husband, “Please don’t ever wash my blouse in the same laundry load with the mudroom rugs ever again. Stuff doesn’t just come out of the machine, clean. The mud from the rugs got in my blouse and ruined it.”

Okay, I confess to selective memory and probably told my husband, “Start helping around the house better or we’re getting a divorce,” but we’re still happily together after 33-years.

As for the element of patience, this is very interesting.

For certain: I am not a source of patience.

And because of my bossy gene, I can’t help but admit that the source of my husband’s patience with me must be infinite.

The source of patience must be unending, why not call it Spirit.

I may not be able to see or measure Spirit, but I can know Spirit. I can know Spirit as source. The fruit source. Said in another way, when I stop believing and acting as though other people, or I, am a source of love, I’m in line to reap success in love.

We can reap success in love because love isn’t dependent on dinner or a personal relationship. Love is internalized along with peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, all of which we can get our teeth into this Valentine’s Day, or now.

 

Bio: Cheryl Petersen lives in Delhi. Her books are: “from science & religion to God,” and, “Zen Kitty: and other meows”, available on Amazon.com

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