Category Archives: Christian Science

Creativity

Creativity isn’t stuck in the past. It’s living now. It’s giving advantages to wisdom, wellbeing, and the future.

The human mind resists creativity by insisting on repeating the past, which is impossible because God, Life, is now, new, and nimble. Unfortunately, the human mind also is actively struggling to hold onto its mortal identity and insists it’s pure and right. Thus, ignoring creativity.

We just moved to a new house. Well, it’s an older house, but new to us.

And, it is the middle of a hot summer.

Sunshine heats the inside of the house in a blink. This house has old moldy, disintegrating curtains (I kid you not) and vertical blinds that only partially help the situation.

At first, I resisted the whole move. I was ready to move back to our old house which sits in a cooler climate and has efficient window blinds.

The resistance came with the insistence that the past scenario was best, however, it the past scenario involves material things.

And material things, whether buildings, books, or human bodies, can’t stop creativity.

So, I took what we had and used them effectively while ordering new blinds.

I removed the decomposing curtains and hung them outside to continue blocking the sunshine. I broke down emptied moving boxes and hung the cardboard on other windows. Yes, there are a lot of windows in this house, but I re-learned again that we don’t lack, and creativity is active.

The neighbors understand. Our children crack jokes. “Oh, just look for the house with the curtains hanging on the outside.”

Life goes on. Instead of bemoaning the decomposing past, instead of enabling a decomposing future, get with creativity. It’s here. It’s alive.

Quoting from science & religion to God

“Consider these factors:

  • The temporal never touches the eternal;
  • The changeable never touches the unchangeable;
  • The inharmonious never touches the harmonious;
  • The self-destructive never touches the self-existent.

Reproduction by Spirit’s individual ideas is but the reflection of the creative power, God.”

Advertisements

A Chapter from my book

A chapter from my book, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter

Keeping It Straight

The farmer’s market got a reputation. Officials from other markets, including from the Seattle Pike’s Place Market, visited Pasco to watch its operation. I’d give them tours and answered questions. They took notes. The standard comment to me was, “I can’t believe you don’t have theft problems.”

The comment tempted me to pat myself on the back. I diligently prayed for honesty and believed my prayers had positive effects. Cash was the main currency. In the crowded hubbub, purses were opened and closed. Pants pockets were dug through for money and dollar bills were handed to farmers, who threw the money in shoeboxes and crates.

In an apron tied around my waist, I carried thousands of dollars from paid vendor fees, even serving as the local bank for change. Theft was only mentioned once.

A vendor noticed a pair of handcrafted wooden earrings missing from his rack. Two weeks later he told me, almost incredulously, “Cheryl, those earrings reappeared on the table.”

My prayer for honesty was fine and good, but I knew the people and atmosphere had a lot to do with it. The customers genuinely appreciated the fresh produce, handed to them by the very people who put their hearts and souls into the products. The vendors were from family farms, not corporations. There was no middleman to dilute the authenticity. The good outweighed the bad.

Not that it was all hunky-dory. Irritation, jealousy, and plain old weariness crept in periodically to throw us off guard. Fortunately, we’d help one another get back on track quickly, even when we didn’t know it. Like the time a woman helped me correct myself.

It was a scorching August day when more than seventy vendors showed up. I wiped salty perspiration from my eyes and was menstruating, not always a trouble-free task for me. I moved cautiously so blood wouldn’t start rolling down between my legs. People kept asking me for help, keeping me from walking across the street to where the bathroom was located.

I watched three vendors walk up to me at once, all talking, or rather complaining. When they were standing within an arm’s reach in front of me, I held up my hand, palm out as a stop sign. They stopped and quieted. I pointed to the person I figured would be the quickest to deal with. “I need change for this $50,” he said. I made the change.

I pointed to the second person, who said, “I need plastic bags.”

“You can buy some bags at stall three,” I answered, and then looked at the woman who stood with an agitated, indignant expression on her face.

“You told me to sell from stall fifteen and there is no way I can get in that stall. Do you see all these people? I have a truckload of peppers and tomatoes and need to get them out of the sun. It’s impossible to get in stall fifteen. I’ve tried. There’s no way.”

In the middle of her verbal explosion, I saw a thought pass through my head that harkened unmistakably: Women like you are why we are considered the weaker, dumber sex.

Though feeling annoyed, I said to her, “Please take me to your truck and I will help you.” I followed and asked her if it’d be okay if I backed her truck into stall fifteen. She gave me her keys and within two minutes she was selling her produce, relieved and happy.

Oddly, I wasn’t happy with myself. I felt a bit chastened.

When walking to the bathroom. I quickly realized I’d judged the woman alongside the thought that some women feed male chauvinism. I’d spent my life dodging male chauvinism because plenty of men treated me with prejudice, as if I was weak and dumb. So, why would I entertain what amounted to a male chauvinist thought?

Later in the day, I took the time to answer that question the best I could. It dawned on me chauvinism wasn’t gender specific. It was simply narrow-mindedness, a laziness that doesn’t help others. I would be adding to it if I accepted that thought about the woman that had passed through my head earlier. I mentally re-routed my thinking to admit it was chauvinism that annoyed me, not the woman. I affirmed that I didn’t help the woman because she was daft, but because I could help her in a way she understood. We were equals.

It was an exercise in breaking apart thoughts and reconnecting useful thoughts to get a more inclusive picture. The exercise helped me later when reading the Bible at home.

I read the story about Elisha who met a distraught mother in debt. She was about to lose her sons as payment for the debt. Elisha asked, “What do you have in your house?”

The mother had some oil.

Elisha instructed her to borrow a bunch of jars. When she poured her little bit of oil in the jars the oil multiplied miraculously. She sold the oil and paid off the debt.

It was the question, “what’s in your house,” that shifted my mental strategy. Instead of thinking and acting from the premise that I lack, why not ask what I have?

I had food, shelter. I even had stuff in storage, nearly forgotten. We certainly had family love. And then whomp, the thought to foster children landed in my creaked-open mind. I needed to share family love.

I went to the phone and called the State Social Services Department. A social worker came to our house to start the process of licensing me and Doug as foster parents. She examined our house, nodding in approval. Where I saw puny, she saw modest. Where I saw ugly, she saw practical. Where I saw cheap, she saw affordable and clean. Within a few weeks, 2-year-old Junior came to live with us.

Leah and Carly didn’t mind a stitch when we moved their clothes dresser out of their bedroom into the kitchen so we could fit a crib next to their bunk bed. The girls had fun showing Junior the swing set and forts.

Unexcitable by physical color, shape, or size, Junior ambled as fast as his chubby legs could carry him to keep up with the girls. He adored hugs and book reading time.

Junior helped solidify in my mind the concept of a Father-Mother God that cares for us all. With a divine Parent, the temptation to condemn his human parents died off.

We continued fostering children for the next fifteen years.

I learned that I never lost what I didn’t have. I learned that I can increase what I have.

final book cover2018front cover image small

Refining our thoughts and words

Until human beings had words, nouns specifically, the ability “to think” was vastly limited.

The thoughts and words of our very far ancestors could have been: Get food. Eat. Ran away from scary thing. Find cave.

Time passed. Ideas came. Nouns were detected and identified and thoughts advanced, maybe to: Hey Rocky, you’re better at running and I’m better at aiming, so how about we work together to get food.

Today, human beings repeat this advancement process.

For example, if I see a child with too much screen time, my first reactions may be: Bad. Lazy. But, after a bit of contemplation and inspiration, new ideas and new words come to light. Maybe: Honey, there are better things to do, let’s go outside and pick up litter. You don’t want to lose your mind to what other people want you to think and do. We aren’t here for entertainment but for improvement.

In this process, no one is at fault really. Distant ancestors had what they had to work with and we have what we have. The key is advancement. Advancement out of thoughts and words that lead to discrimination and fear. Advancement toward thoughts and words that lead to scientific foresight and capabilities.

Therefore, my book 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, will constantly be revised.

You’ll see below, a recent revision I’m working on. To keep it in context, two paragraphs are included:

Eddy’s version:

“We need a clean body and a clean mind,—a body rendered pure by Mind as well as washed by water. One says: ‘I take good care of my body.’ To do this, the pure and exalting influence of the divine Mind on the body is requisite, and the Christian Scientist takes the best care of his body when he leaves it most out of his thought, and like the Apostle Paul, is ‘willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.’

“A hint may be taken from the emigrant, whose filth does not affect his happiness, because mind and body rest on the same basis. To the mind equally gross, dirt gives no uneasiness. It is the native element of such a mind, which is symbolized, and not chafed, by its surroundings, but impurity and uncleanliness, which do not trouble the gross, could not be borne by the refined. This shows that the mind must be clean to keep the body in proper condition.”

From 21st Century Science and Health:

“We need a clean body and a clean mind—a body rendered pure by Mind as well as washed by water. One says: ‘I take good care of my body.’ Physical care requires the pure and spiritualizing influence of the divine Mind on the body. The body is best taken care of when it is most out of thought. The Apostle Paul said he “would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.’[1]

“Take the hint from a combination of archival and experimental studies that shows links between air pollution and unethical behavior and anxiety. Experimental findings published in Psychological Science[2] reveals that increased exposure to air pollution, either physical or mental, accompanies increased crime and cheating. Hint: Align with divine Mind and strive to purify the environment, and human mind and body.”

Back to me, Cheryl and I conclude:

If you find yourself in a situation where communication with someone else feels blocked, it’s okay to give up on the human will trying to hard to get a point across, and its better to rely on the divine will which enables better thoughts and words that show truth and love has the final say.

 

[1] II Cor. 5:8

[2] Jackson G. Lu, Julia J. Lee, Francesca Gino, Adam D. Galinsky. Polluted Morality: Air Pollution Predicts Criminal Activity and Unethical Behavior. Psychological Science, 2018; 095679761773580 DOI: 10.1177/0956797617735807 (Accessed 4/13/2018)

History of women fades quicker

The attention given to women during March annoys me. It only takes half a minute to look back and see the future. A month of admiration given to women, then comes April Fool’s Day. Just joking, women are on the front line in the fight for equality and respect and our casualties outweigh the survivors.

A study on the 2017 state of women in corporate America reported that women, especially of color, remain underrepresented, hit low glass ceilings, get less support on the job, and then, 54% of them go home to do most or all the housework.

What are we up against? The human system. It’s rigged for inequalities by its very nature of diversity, yet we keep giving it power. And that power is abused.

Through research, social scientists find that when participants are assigned positions of power, they often willingly take candy from children or give near-lethal shocks to strangers for no reason other than being told to do so.

Professor of Psychology at University of California, Dacher Keltner reported last fall in Harvard Business Review, “These findings from laboratory studies tell us that abuses of power are predictable and recurring.”

I talk about recurring abuses of power in my memoir, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter. I also talk about stumbling upon better strategies to expand equality and respect.

First, I learned how to isolate the enemies.

The enemies aren’t men, they aren’t submissive women, and they aren’t nature or nurture. Whether believed or not, the enemies are inequality and disrespect.

It’s that simple and yet that complex. And to keep it simple, uncomplicates a better plan of action. An example from my memoir.

I grew up learning about Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) and about Christian Science as taught through her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

Christian Science is a divine system sourced to help improve the human system.

Eddy developed Christian Science into a religion by founding a church in Boston. Her accomplishments struck powerful chords early 20th century. Individuals were transformed, the church flourished, and then branched out worldwide, as successes far outweighed failures.

Mary Baker Eddy was a household name. Respected more than not.

By the 1980s, however, when I was in my twenties, her storyline backfired.

The backfire can be traced to contemporary controversies about the practices of healthcare and prayer, especially regarding children. Arguably, these sharp challenges are necessary to expose spiritual failures on the part of Eddy’s self-professed followers, but the result is Eddy’s original reputation and her accomplishments plummeting to obscurity.

Another female casualty. It’s tiresome, even if she’s used as a tourist attraction.

But, I uncovered and confronted my own guilt of being pretty proud of myself for admiring and following a woman. Basically, my arrogance pushed the limits of respect into a reverence for Eddy’s personality and her words. I admired the wrong thing. It was disrespect disguised as respect.

I pulled back to figure out a better plan of action: Use the power of admiration correctly.

The power of admiring women can’t go unchecked. What are we admired for? Sex appeal? Stop it now.

Intelligence and skill? Okay, but don’t let your guard down, because the power to approve of feminine intelligence and skill is limited and quickly slips into disapproval with any prodding from envy.

Are women admired for patience and empathy? Fine, but arm yourself, everyone, women and men. Arm yourself with better teachings and better learning, untainted by annoyance.

I just learned something.

Yes, the fight to give power to equality and respect is teachable and learnable. It means not trying so hard to give power to gender or positions in life. It means fighting correctly during Women’s History Month, instead of complaining about what I don’t like.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer and student of Christian Science living in upstate New York. Her books are: 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, and, from science & religion to God.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas article in newpaper

From The Daily Star newspaper in Oneonta, NY:

Bryan called this week to tell me that I have a new granddaughter. Her name is Aria.

New babies at Christmas time. It happens. And it’s simply amazing. Full of wonder and glory.

It makes me think, with due respect to Christ Jesus, that wonder and glory are not destined only to his birth in history.

But, I still celebrate the birth of Christ as a religious holiday.

In a Pew Research survey titled, “Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life,” it was reported that, “most Christians (72 percent) say they mark the day as a religious holiday, including 60 percent who celebrate as more of a religious holiday than a cultural occasion and 12 percent who mark it as both a religious holiday and a cultural holiday.

Religion is important to me because I need something that explores wonder and glory, rather than only studies the transient things we call physical realities. I need something more than blood to define family and love.

I remember 30 years ago, exactly. I was nine months pregnant. Most people saw my baby bump and were happy for me and my husband. But a couple of people scowled and told me having a baby at Christmas time is a horrible idea.

I discovered it wasn’t blasphemy they worried about, but that they had birthdays at Christmas time and felt cheated. They told me, “My birthday is always forgotten. And if it’s remembered, someone grabs a present from under the tree and gives it to me for my birthday.”

I didn’t ignore their comments. They had a point, or at least alluded to a point.

When we become mesmerized by an occasion, or by one human being, we lose sight of wonder and glory for all.

The intent of Christmas is not to depreciate others. So, 30 years ago, I began making efforts to appreciate all signs of wonder and glory, old and new.

Then came Christmas Eve morning. I checked into the hospital and lay in bed, trying to focus on something other than the discomfort that comes with squeezing a baby out between my legs. I thought about the nativity story from the Bible.

The storyline includes a part about a young woman, Mary, who hears an angel’s message of promise, telling her that she’ll conceive and have a baby and call his name Jesus. The promise was fulfilled.

Arguably, there’s the issue about Mary being a virgin or not, but it didn’t affect the birthed idea of a “fulfilled promise.” It did, however, gently persuade my attention away from the labor pains.

Our daughter was born quickly. We went home and she grew up.

As a teenager, this daughter met Bryan, one of her high school classmates. They became good friends.

It didn’t take long before we realized Bryan had a tough home life. His dad left the family when he was a young child and his mom had mental problems. Bryan suffered from verbal abuse, anger and fear.

He visited our family often.

When encouraging him in life, I had to be receptive to new ways of communicating because he came from such a different place than what I was familiar with. It was difficult, but we all made positive progress.

He was then accepted to attend the local college. Our daughter studied abroad for college and we let Bryan live with us the first year. After he moved out, Bryan hesitated to come visit us without our daughter there.

During the five years it took him to get his college degree, he found a girlfriend. We included them in family events. It was obvious, however, that the couple was falling into the pattern of arguing and compromising in ways that enabled mistrust rather than trust in goodness.

I reminded him we were his family. He didn’t believe me.

I told him, he can have God as a parent, with a family of useful ideas as his family.

He broke up with his girlfriend and spent a year alone, progressing in his career.

God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity: Psalms 68: 6

Then Bryan met and married a young woman who shines with wonder and glory. After they established a home together. We now have Aria.

Bio of author: Cheryl Petersen lives in Delhi. Her books are “I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter” and “from science & religion to God: A narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.”

Infomania doesn’t support women

How can we be more productive in conversations about sexual harassment and assault toward women? Don’t cater to infomania. And, do “be” the solution.

We need solutions, because sexual harassment and assault of woman is a problem, it’s been a problem ad infinitum. But infomania, or the desire to accumulate and process information, causes the brain to deceive us into working with the men who use their penis to think and act with.

How do we be a solution? Use information instead of letting it use us.

Contributing Editor at the Atlantic Emily Yoffe wrote for Politico Magazine, “This amazing moment has a chance to be truly transformative. But it could also go off track if all accusations are taken on faith, if due process is seen as an impediment rather than a requirement and an underpinning of justice, and if men and women grow wary of each other in the workplace.”

What is she saying? Take the time to give each accusation due process. Be just. Trust one another.

We can speak out for women’s progress and goodness, fully supported by divine Mind.

From 21st Century Science and Health

Civil laws are created to implement fairness and equity in our rights, but more progress is needed, to say the least. Civilization and Science stand strong on the side of justice and encourage the elimination of discrimination, however, every time an effort is made to remedy unfairness, we must make sure that the effort doesn’t encourage difficulties of greater magnitude somewhere else. Higher aims and motives, as well as improved mental character, must be considered as the feasible and rational means of progress.

Abstinence from debauched sexual activity leads to an advanced state of intellectual and cultural development in human society, marked by progress in the arts, science, and religion. Without integrity, there is no social stability and the Science of Life can’t be achieved.

Quoting from science & religion to God

We can spiritually discern and live by divine laws. We can outgrow false beliefs that work against progress. We can break barriers in ways that benefit humanity through an understanding of Spirit.

Get something out of surprises

Experts say, surprises are good for us. How can this be?

Research shows that surprises work on the brain’s dopamine system and allows us to focus our attention better. Data claims that surprises inspire us to look at our situations in new ways, to keep us learning, or bring satisfaction.

The problem with this data is, it doesn’t feel completely true. And experts even warn against bad reactions to bad surprises.

I remember being a kid and playing baseball with my siblings and cousins. My big cousin swung the bat and hit me smack in the forehead. The whack was totally unexpected. And not satisfying.

What typically happens after a bad surprise?

I’ve caught myself adjusting my expectations and training myself accordingly so as not to be disappointed.

I trained myself to stay away from baseball. It was my best effort to using that surprise-whack to my advantage. And so far, so good, I haven’t been hit in the head with a bat again.

Basically, I avoided baseball in the effort to avoid a disappointing surprise.

But think about this Cheryl, I tell myself, are experts telling me that, if I hadn’t avoided baseball, would I have become a star baseball player earning millions?

Probably not, I can’t even throw a ball.

But for this address, that incident hints at what experts warn against. Avoiding surprises. Experts gently encourage us rather, to grow benefits from surprises.

Which means, I can’t do its opposite of avoiding surprises. Avoidance is a short-term solution, similar to the option to lower my expectations in the hopes it will reduce disappointments when the unexpected comes my way.

Let’s take half a minute here though, to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic expectations. In regard to unrealistic expectations, yes, it is effective, it is to our benefit to avoid or lower unrealistic expectations.

But, when it comes to realistic expectations, expectations of bettering our world, we can treat surprises with more lasting answers or advantages. I think we do it already.

We’re learning about human nature. We learn how resilient and progressive we can be, while at the same time learning how destructive we can be.

We learn how to use reason and conviction, to strive to grow the good in human nature.

Because of my own limitations, I find having a power greater than myself helps in this effort. I call the greater power divine Spirit, or God. And remind myself Spirit is the source of benefits and satisfaction, not surprises. Which means therefore, that surprises can’t take away benefits or satisfaction.

I’ve also taken the time to observe. To look around and ask, just how many people get surprised?

Some people get surprised often, whereas some people don’t seem to get surprised at all. The older I get, the less I get surprised. Every time a surprise comes my way, I shake my head and think, doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Then I plow ahead through the situation, to grow benefits. For inspiration, I often look to others who have successfully grown benefits themselves.

There is the story of Joseph, in the Bible. He was thrown into a pit, by his jealous brothers. I can’t help but assume that the family dysfunction was a disappointing surprise to Joseph.

A tribe came by the pit, brought Joseph out and sold him as a slave.

Joseph’s owner learned to trust him. Until, that is, Joseph was falsely accused and so sent to prison.

Despite the surprise of prison, Joseph kept his God and believed in advantages, not only for himself but also for others. It’s interesting, because whereas Joseph previously worked for the privileged, he now had the opportunity to work for the underprivileged. And, he could, because divine Spirit is in force everywhere, designed to uplift and empower satisfaction.

A couple years after prison life, Joseph was remembered for his good skills, and released. Moreover, he was put in charge of saving the country from starvation, which included saving his immediate family.

In a contemporary book titled, “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,” authors, Tania Luna and Leeann Renninger argue that surprise, whether good or bad, brings vitality to our lives.

But what about the times when a series of bad surprises overwhelm the good and eat away at vitality or satisfaction?

This nearly happened to me in religion.

My religious background includes a religion associated with Mary Baker Eddy, born in early 19th century. She realized the value of applying the unseen power of Spirit, and taught it to others through a schooling called Christian Science. She wrote a book titled “Science and Health.”

A group of followers formed, and Mrs. Eddy later started a church. And, one surprise followed another.

At the turn of the 20th century, people were flocking to churches of Christ, Scientist, led by Eddy.

The institution gained in credibility especially when it came to spiritual health and healing. Christian Science was so in vogue that nonreligious and religious people clamored to be in her church.

Thousands of Jews left the synagogues in the 1920s to join her church.

Jewish leaders were taken by surprise by the migration, but used the surprise to a greater advantage by acknowledging their own access to mindful health. Morris Lichtenstein, wrote and published the “Jewish Science and Health.” He could, because the unseen force of Spirit, supporting Eddy was also supporting him. Jews began staying in the synagogues.

The Society of Jewish Science organized in New York City and is still there today.

Back to Mrs. Eddy, after she died in 1910, her church began losing leadership throughout the 20th century.

By the time I was born in 1961, the state of the church did not resemble the early history of Christian Science.

The church was in decline, and at that point, Christian Scientists were known as the people who never go to doctors. It was an accepted stereotype, believed by both admirers and critics of Christian Science. Even I believed it, until it became unpleasant and alarming.

I felt guilty when I went to the doctor. I also heard remarks that children’s health care was compromised by parents who were praying.

I heard people justify or debate this stereotype using one sentence from Eddy’s Science and Health. The sentence reads, “Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized.”

In efforts to discuss healing or benefits, that sentence was repeated as if it meant healing comes through radical reliance on prayers. But it doesn’t say that.

Reliance on prayer is not the same thing as reliance on Truth.

Sure, prayer is a big part of Christian Science, but prayer isn’t equal to Truth. Prayer is only a method of discovering truth, even discovering the proper use of medicine.

I also learned the definition for radical had, well, radically changed during the 20th century. The definition of radical found in a 19th century dictionary, was “pertaining to the root or origin.”

Today, radical means extremism.

So, the religion I was familiar with, did not condone extremism or fanaticism, but encouraged reliance on truth for progress and satisfaction.

In other words, religion has no power other than what human nature gives it. And human prejudices make mistakes.

Surprisingly, this conclusion made my mind more peaceful. It made my mind not so quick to link religion with radicalism.

Honoring that lesson to my advantage, I practice not judging a person by their religion, and not judging a religion by a person.

But I had to do more, because sitting around thinking I was no longer involved with the stereotyping and extremism, I was still indirectly letting the misconceptions carry on. To reverse this, I revised and published a revision of Eddy’s Science and Health.

In my latest edition of 21st Century Science and Health, the sentence I referred to earlier now reads, “Only by advancing from the root of Truth can scientific healing power be realized.”

Advancing from the root of Truth, realizes healing power.

Writing and publishing are only a few of many ways the force of Spirit encourages us to grow benefits, for ourselves and the world.

Now, I’ve noticed something else about surprises. They can be confusing. So confusing, that I forget to reap any benefits.

But can I reap benefits later in life? Yes.

In the 1960s, I was barely old enough to be amazed and confused at what NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency were doing. When the elementary school “emergency test” alarm came over the speaker system, we kids dove under our desks for protection from Russian bombings that never came. At home, I watched on the black-and-white television, American and Russian astronauts, respectively, escape the powers of earth, orbit in outer space, and return to earth. It all came with elements of surprise. But I didn’t reap any benefits.

And now today, outer space adventures are ho-hum. After five decades and spending a bazillion dollars, we have astronauts, today, living where we once thought no person could live. And they’ve been doing it continuously, since year 2000, at the International Space Station.

I later-in-life determined to reap benefits on a mental level. I used my memories to serve as symbols of our ability to escape physical limitations, orbit in freedom, and return with new perspectives.

We can, escape limiting thoughts, live in spiritual freedom, and share actively new perspectives with humanity.

A couple of weeks ago in the New York Times, American liberal journalist and commentator, Charles Blow, wrote an op/ed titled, “Checking my male privilege.” The author addressed the recent rash of high-profile accusations of sexual harassment and assault toward women. Blow confessed that he was shocked by these men’s vulgar behavior toward women, because he hadn’t and probably won’t harass women.

As a male outside the harassment issue, Blow admitted though that he still needed to check himself. He didn’t want to work implicitly, or indirectly, on the side of sexism. He wanted pro-actively, to stand on the right side of fighting for justice.

He also wrote, “There is no magical solution here for the infinite and permanent expansion of empathy and awareness. It is work, hard work.”

“The infinite and permanent expansion of empathy and awareness.” What a cool statement.

I believe, the force of divine Spirit, is behind this infinite and permanent expansion of goodness.

Spirit is in force. It’s universal. It attracts and surprises us with our ability to fight for justice and equality. And then, what happens to the sexism, racism, and fanaticism?

No, wait, that’s not the question to ask.

Here’s the question:  When we act with divine Spirit, what happens to justice, respect, and lasting satisfaction? They expand. As does our ability to face any surprise, and use it to benefit our self and humanity.

(Text above is sermon written and delivered by Cheryl Petersen at Unitarian Universalist Society in Oneonta, New York, November 26, 2017)

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: