Category Archives: Christian Science

A Formal Apology by an Informal Christian Scientist

New audio book released

Audio book available at www.Audible.com

from science & religion to God

A conversation about divine mind-healing at your fingertips.

This book, From Science & Religion to God, is a briefer, modern, narrative of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century.

Ideas in From Science & Religion to God discuss how to use timeless spiritual truths to filter information and discover spiritual knowledge. You learn how to give mental treatments to balance mind, body, and spirit.

©2016 Cheryl Petersen (P)2021 Cheryl Petersen

Changing characters, unchanging spirit of life

I spent the last year writing a historical fiction book. It was a self-imposed doable project that fit the time and space of Covid-19. The book’s setting is northeastern United States so, I could drive my own car, bring my own food, and stay at triple cleaned rentals for the night, while investigating the protagonist’s landscape. But I didn’t have to do much traveling, because most of my research was done from home through the internet. Let me say that in another way. It wasn’t the internet that supplied the bulk of my collected information, it was the services of historical societies and libraries.

Although I have memories of me walking through Saco Cemetery in Maine, last autumn, feeling embraced by the yellows, oranges, and reds of falling leaves while searching for the gravestone of my main character, Daniel Patterson, and memories of me getting lost while driving in circles looking for historical markers, I have a gazillion more memories of me standing in my office at my standup desk, with grandchildren bursting in the room and saying, “Grandma, I made this for you.” I have more memories of me speaking over the phone with, or contacting through a webpage, people who work at historical societies and libraries.

Although I used the internet, it was not the internet that supplied the historical information. It was the people who wrote history books, the people who worked in historical societies, the people who worked in libraries, the people who updated webpages with information who supplied what I needed.

It was the people who haven’t stopped thinking and working, simultaneously.

I know we all get excited over different things. I don’t get excited about shopping or eating anything else other than oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch, and potatoes for supper but get me on the phone or online with a historian and I get excited.

“Daniel Patterson, you say, when did he die?” asks Mrs. Elder from the Dyer Library in Saco, Maine. “I’ll call you back.”

Time passes.

But I get excited as I see in my head, Mrs. Elder walking pass the history section to the research department, closed to the public because of Covid, and making efforts to peruse microfiche or digital newspapers. While waiting at home, I write about something else or organize all the paper craft projects made for me by little innocent grand-fingers. Sure enough, Mrs. Elder will call me back with a found obituary that leads me to the United States Patent Department, where a Mr. Salis assists me. He emails me a court documents that sheds light on more of Daniel Patterson’s story.

Daniel Patterson was a man who grew up in Maine during the emergence of the industrial age. He became a dentist in New Hampshire, paid royalties on a patent for vulcanized rubber dentures (superior to wood or metal dentures), escaped Salisbury Prison during the Civil War and walked 400 miles during the night to safety in the north, married and divorced a woman who would later become famous for incorporating spirituality into healing.

What else did I learn? To always double or triple check information.

While most of the historians and libraries were smack-on delightful to work with and sharp-as-tacks, a few were lax and only repeated what they read on the internet, which I already could do from home with a grandchild sitting on my desk saying, “I’m drawing a fairy picture for you, Grandma.”

Although websites such as Ancestry dot com or Find A Grave dot com are amazing, they contain errors. Human errors. No biggie, mere reminders that human beings make mistakes, including the characters in my book. So, I politely thank and disconnect from the person who repeats what they read on the internet, all the while failing to countercheck the information on another website themselves.

Don’t bother getting disgusted, I remind myself. There are nearly three hundred thirty million people in the United States, someone else will make the effort to help me. And this is where I learned to use the internet to contact municipal offices for vital records. It was another place where I exercised my right to give people a break. Let me say that in another way. It was another opportunity to act on the fact that someone will help me, I just have to make an effort also.

I pretty much count on it because, if Covid teaches me anything, it is that the same spirit that motivated a Union man to escape prison and traverse his way over the Blue Ridge and Alleghany mountains, living off the land, wearing the same clothes he was wearing when captured seven months prior, is the same spirit that motivates us today. And I do see people helping people.

Dr. Patterson and his wife, Mary

Readers:

I purchased the book, The History of Franklin, by Alice M. Shepard, from the Franklin Historical Society in New Hampshire and read an interesting paragraph about dentist, Dr. Patterson, the second husband of Mary Baker Eddy. Below is a draft sketch of what I perceive an important part of history.

Summer 1854

 Flapping her hands and pointing around the kitchen, Mrs. Patterson said, “I wish you’d clean away all these dental supplies.” Daniel had just entered the back door and removed his hat to hang on a hook. He held a basket with more dental supplies he’d just picked up at the drug store, making Mrs. Patterson’s statement paradoxical. But he walked to his dental office, set the basket on the floor, found a crate, returned to the kitchen and collected his crucible, tongs, and instruments from the kitchen. He carried the crate to office and set it behind the door.

Daniel sat at his desk to pick up and scrutinize the mold he’d made day before yesterday. His plan was to pour silver into the template to form a plate to be used as a palate for the mouth of a little girl born with a hole in her upper mouth. Daniel fretted, was it the right size? Would the silver palate remain in the mouth if connected to her small teeth? Can I insert a thin wire into the cooling silver?

Imagination stirred into a whirlwind, Daniel found Mrs. Patterson and asked, “When can I use the woodstove to melt some silver?”

“Tomorrow morning. I will be meeting with the Ladies Circle at Priscilla’s home all morning and most of the afternoon,” said Mrs. Patterson.

This piece of news elated Daniel. The Ladies Circle put Mrs. Patterson in good moods. Not that Mrs. Patterson wasn’t in good moods other than the Circle’s twice monthly meetings, but Daniel’s newest project demanded an inordinate amount of inspiration and whether Mrs. Patterson knew it or not, her state of mind, in pursuit of betterment, augmented his inspiration.

Daniel attributed his deduction to living in the Franklin area where education was of great interest to its citizens. Not only was the education of children at the Academy highly regarded, but also the education and betterment of adults.

Church attendance was consistent. The men’s Lyceum Association provided public lectures and a place for literary advancement. As for the Ladies Circle, it was founded by half dozen women including Martha Baker, a sister of Mrs. Patterson, and Augusta Holmes, another childhood friend along with Priscilla Clements. The Circle mission to promote literary enlightenment and community generosity was genuinely inspiring.

And the frosting on the cake, “Priscilla’s home” was within walking distance for Mrs. Patterson. Daniel wouldn’t need to harness and return the horse and buggy.

Daniel had concluded that the women also knit hats and other items for people and especially children, more unfortunate, but Mrs. Patterson, not a knitter, gave little evidence to support this particular conclusion of Daniel’s.

He set out the door to find Mr. Bradbury Prescott, the recently established forge shop owner on Chance Pond Brook.

A mile or more in the west, the brisk walk urged Daniel with gladness for the breeze. Coming upon the forge, Mr. Prescott was soon found and pleased to show Daniel his newly added furnaces and machinery. He’d set up with business orders with railroad companies and locomotive builders.

“What can I help you with, Dr. Patterson,” asked Mr. Prescott with a loud voice. But he had to speak loudly to compete with trip hammers, thundering furnaces, and pounding of iron.

Daniel explained the need for very thin wire, amenable to bending but not breaking.

Mr. Prescott pondered Daniel’s request, body standing still but mind searching the piles of metals laying around the forge yard. “Follow me,” he soon said.

The two men walked the yard until Mr. Prescott reached under a pile to pull out a very thin wire, amenable to bending but not breaking. “Let me know if it works,” said Mr. Prescott as he handed it to Daniel, who promptly returned home before his five o’clock patient arrived.

That evening, Daniel again studied his drawing and measurements of the girl’s mouth. Mrs. Patterson wrote at the kitchen table when reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the assigned reading for the Ladies Circle.

Up early the next morning, Daniel lit the woodstove and stoked it until it was hot. He melted silver in the crucible atop the stove while studying his drawings and measurements of the child’s mouth. After pouring the liquid into the mold to cool, he cut two pieces of short wire and shaped them into loops. As the liquid began to solidify, he inserted the ends of loops into the sides of the plate of silver now resembling a palate.

He carried it to his office to let cool for another day. A few patients stopped by his office for some dental work and then Daniel boiled his tools and lay them to dry on a towel.

He could hear Mrs. Patterson entering the front door, returning from the Ladies Circle. Daniel gasped, looked around and gathered all the dental supplies in his arm. They passed one another as he was leaving the kitchen. “How was the Ladies Circle?” Daniel asked, slinking to his office.

“I know exactly what you’re doing, Mr. Patterson. The kitchen looked like a factory the whole time I’ve been gone today. Is that not correct?” asked Mrs. Patterson with a smirk.

In the morning, Daniel reviewed his notes again, unaware of the piece of bread Mrs. Patterson put in front of him.

“You need to eat, Daniel,” said Mrs. Patterson.

It wasn’t her instruction, but her use of his Christian name, Daniel, that touched and pushed his single-mindedness into something more.

“Excuse me,” he said.

“You need to eat. You’re ready for the Nesmiths,” she said.

Mrs. Nesmith came with her daughter. The brave girl sat in the dental chair, leaned back, and let Daniel insert the silver palate while hooking the loops around her tiny molars. Daniel was thoroughly relieved to feel the plate slip up snugly into the top of her mouth.

He felt Mrs. Patterson peeking inside the office door and turned to look. Husband and wife smiled at one another, then Mrs. Patterson took a step in and asked the girl, “Would you like a slice of apple or a piece of cornbread to eat?”

She answered, “Cornbread,” and her mother brashly exhaled a loud release of stored angst. If the child’s ability to speak more understandingly maybe she will be able to eat more than liquified foodstuff. The mother’s void of angst was instantly filled with empathy as Mrs. Patterson hugged her gently before going to the kitchen to cut a piece of cornbread for the child.

Dr. Patterson and the child’s mother watched as she ate with obvious liberation. Daniel told Mrs. Nesmith, “As she grows, this palate will need to be resized or rebuilt.”

Mrs. Nesmith, trembling and with a tear in her eye, nodded and said, “Mr. Nesmith will pay you shortly.”

Mr. Nesmith came by an hour later and paid generously. Daniel mustered the strength, not to refuse the generosity, but to humbly accept it.

After a supper of fresh strawberries, peas, fish, and cornbread topped with pure maple syrup, Daniel read to Mrs. Patterson from, Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott. Enjoying the story, Daniel instinctively began adding dramatic tones and nuances for about an hour, animatedly swooping his arm with a regal force when reading:

When Israel, of the Lord beloved,
Out of the land of bondage came,
Her fathers’ God before her moved,
An awful guide, in smoke and flame.

An August Birthday

It’s Mom’s birthday today. Although her deathday was nearly ten years ago, she still bustles with aliveness to me. Parenting isn’t easy, but along with Dad, Mom managed to corral five kids into a family nice to one another. The kind of firm niceness that pretty much kept us out of trouble.

After growing up and becoming a parent myself, it felt arduous to know or capture this kind of nice.

I get peek-a-boo insights into this knowledge. Even now as a grandparent. And more often since March. Since my immediate familial members and I have been very chummy and living together steadfastly. In the same house.

In the same house where I hear just about everything.

I can tune out most sounds, except stressed, shall we say, loud speak. Eh, I mean, yelling. It happens sometimes.

For example, a few mornings ago. Parental yelling.

After which, my daughter, on the cusp of bursting tears, came to me and said, “Oh mom, it’s exhausting to yell but how do I get the kids to clean their room without whining?”

She was pretty disgusted. Probably because I stood there looking as useful as a door to a cobwebbed attic.

But, and what I’m about to type, didn’t come by means of a thought-process. I didn’t reason or recall a string of logic. I didn’t give a pep talk. I didn’t ask her, how does this make you feel, because her feelings were plain and clear. I just knew.

Nice.

Niceness exists. It’s alive and multiplying. The seed within itself.

I admitted or knew, this niceness that Mom validated when she cleaned my room and did my laundry until I left for college because she knew I’d rather be working out on the farm with Dad. It’s the niceness that thrives on the power of teamwork. It’s nice to respect one another’s uniqueness yet require expanded talents, since somewhere along my childhood, Mom did get me to clean my room and do laundry.

I even sort of learned to cook, okay minimally, in between baling hay, training fruit trees, and graveling roads on the farm. But when home, I saw Mom cooking without grumbling, teaching me it was possible.

When becoming a mother myself, I put the mental plow to the ground and tilled the soil that let me take on this heritage of niceness when doing housework.

Don’t for a second think that my plowing came painlessly. We’re talking plowing a planet here. I whined, fumed at my husband, yelled, and made myself miserable for at least ten years, but one day while standing on a mountain of dirty laundry, sorting clothes and stuffing the washing machine, the word “infinite” knocked on my mind. I opened the door and snickered. Infinite laundry was translated into the possibility of infinity. Eternity. No wonder Mom is still alive to me.

As for my daughter the other morning, my response was, “Oh for Pete’s sake, I cleaned your room until you were fourteen years old.” Her children are six and three.

We smiled at one another and chuckled. Not because her kids are younger but because, it was nice.

Adjusting Effectively

Thirty years ago, in Washington state, one week before harvesting our sweet cherries, it rained. And rained. The cherries drank in the water, causing their delicate skins to burst and crack. Open to mold. For the next three weeks, I watched our source of income rot and drop to the ground. I cried and had nightmares. Yet I didn’t want to wake up to my feelings of despair, anger, and hurt.

Positive thinking? Useless. And ineffective up against my feelings.

I wrestled with the need to adjust. Do I adjust to a new normal based on loss? Do I adjust to loss as the new normal?

Answers to those questions were blurring. So, I backed up. To find a more effective way to adjust. But maybe, it’s the very act of adjusting, that packs the punch?

Looking to history for insight, I sat down and read a bit of religious writings for input and happened upon a story about a forlorn, destitute mother who was asked by a wise guy, what do you have in your house?

The question jerked my mind. From thinking about what I lost, to thinking about what I have.

I’ll be honest here; my mind wasn’t too pliable at first. I was scared. I begrudged our downsized house and reduced buying habits. I resented having cherry trees that brought grief yet still required our care and borrowed money.

That’s all the further I got in the thought process before our young children demanded my attention. Up I got to go give it, but with my newly jerked mind, I glimpsed an adjustment had been made in mind.

Instead of answering the demands of loss, I answered the demand of family love.

We had in our house, family love, and I could hold it tight by sharing it.

After discussing it with my husband, I picked up the phone and called Social Services. We became licensed foster parents. Not for everyone but fostering for our family worked.

Three years later, the cherry crop brought in a gain. Large enough to pay off the debt and obtain a house with windows that didn’t let dirt inside (sandstorms are popular in southeastern Washington).

And guess what? The gain had as much power as the loss. Brief power.

Life makes sense when I adjust to the knowledge that gains and losses don’t define me.

But the good I have in my house does. Even if that good looks puny. And growing family love proves to be an effective adjustment.

Christ’s love leads

Rose and Sam ate together silently in tangible peace. They talked together, walked together, and lived together. If Sam went on a brief outing, Rose paced perilously under the tall poplar trees that shaded their favorite meeting place, sweating profusely with impatience for Sam’s return, who seemingly brought back calm and relief. In other words, Rose was a sour pickle. Until after Ivan entered the picture as an uninvited visitor and some of that sourness went sweet.

Ivan was an orphan. Found and taken in for care by a neighbor of Rose and Sam.

On his own, Ivan soon discovered the buddies on the other side of the fence. Whether instinctively or guided, Ivan ambled, quiet as a feather to Rose and Sam, and contributed to the tangible peace.

Ivan always returned home for the night, staying safe and fed. His guardian of course, knew where he’d been during the daytime. She watched Ivan like a soldier, ready to protect and defend.

The guardian familiarized Ivan with his new household and carried him on a shoulder to introduce him to more neighbors, but soon, she had to admit that her method of watching was outdating faster than computers and she’d miss out if she didn’t transform for the better, her watching method.

Instead of watching to defend, the guardian watched to learn and organize what Ivan staged.

Ivan was indescribably respected by all, but then how could Ivan not be respected? He carried the formidable apparition of a mixture of gratitude, neutrality, worth, and forgiveness.

Counterintuitive to human nature, Ivan presumed living for life before living for himself. He approached others as if they were held in peace and purpose. In other words, Ivan didn’t approach others as if he had to give or get them peace. Ivan’s amazing approach sometimes mystified but also calmed and relieved me.

Yes, I was the guardian. Rose and Sam were horses. Ivan was a baby quail, weighing no more than a breath when found next to a dead mother quail. But Ivan took to his new home, cheeping furiously until I finally figured out the food he could eat.

He rode on my shoulder, or head, when I walked the orchard.

As for my riding, for years I’d been riding Rose in the Horse Heaven Hills of Washington state, and believe me when I say, Rose was sour, persnickety, with a nailed-in mindset that framed sweaty, precarious fear of the new, which made me afraid too since she weighed half a ton. Then I saw Ivan standing on Rose.

Do I laugh? Do I worry? Not really. I watch Ivan travel a trajectory of calm and relief. That watching inspires me to follow.

I Cor. 6, The Message, “When you think you have been wronged, does it make any sense to go before a court that knows nothing of God’s ways instead of a family of Christians? The day is coming when the world is going to stand before a jury made up of followers of Jesus. If someday you are going to rule on the world’s fate, wouldn’t it be a good idea to practice on some of these smaller cases? Why, we’re even going to judge angels! So why not these everyday affairs?”

Moving Our Stuff

Yesterday, I met a woman who recently moved to the Village of Florida. From Alaska. Next to my staying home, her action was avantgarde. But come to think of it, I also know of a young family who moved from New York City to Ireland. And two days ago, an acquaintance told me she’s moving to Hawaii. Well, well, a pretty much global shutdown means we can still be safe and move.

The movees have one thing in common. Downsizing. They happily left behind “stuff” to take on new adventures, new positions in life.

Twelve years ago, my husband, Doug, and I prepared to move from Washington state to New York. Exactly this time of the year. At the beginning of “garage sale” season.

“Hey, Cheryl, the neighbor is having a garage sale today. He said we could put some of our stuff on his lawn,” Doug told me, as I sat in my pjs, sipping from a coffee cup.

Doug took a few nick knacks from shelves and sauntered out the door to the neighbors. He returned for items from the kitchen, then stayed at the neighbors to help with his sale. While I finished breakfast and got dressed.

Soon, Doug dashed back into our house and said, “Wow, it’s busy at the neighbors. So many buyers. Come on, help me carry our sofa outside. We can just put it in our own lawn. The buyers will come over here.”

“Um, are you over doing it?” I asked as I reluctantly carried my end of our sofa outside. “Don’t we want a sofa in New York?”

After plopping the sofa down, I noticed the people. Garage sale lovers, galore. Wandering over the dewy lawn, searching and calculating and deliberating.

Doug and I hauled a few more things outside as requests shouted through the air, “Got some tools? How about an extra pair of boots? My kid needs a bike.” It got to the point where I just brought serious buyers into the house. One savvy lady, looked in on my unmade bed and said, “I’ll buy that bed and let you use it until the day you move before picking it up.”

Sold.

Needless to say, the three-thousand-mile move to New York occurred with a lot less burden.

In the twelve years since, we haven’t missed a thing. Except. Except, I’ve thought a few times about one picture. It was only a print but worth a lot in sentiment. It’s an image of Daniel standing serenely upright in a lion’s den. Each lion represents a character, of say, hate, fear, envy, revenge, vanity, cowardice, but all unable to move Daniel who is standing still, yet moving in a mind of a humble powerful truth of life, indescribable yet real.

That image shouldered me through a deeply troubling time of self-doubt and loneliness. I was going to bring the picture to New York.

But at the garage sale, I’d taken a woman into the house to show her a dresser. “Follow me, the dresser is in the back room. Sorry for the mess,” blah, blah, I blathered. Until I noticed that she had stopped in front of the picture of Daniel, hanging on the wall in the hall. I stopped. My mouth closed. I observed.

As she began deciphering the many meanings brought about through the image, her face showed a mixture of near-tears relief and recognition of a hope possibly regained after believing it lost.

“Would you sell this?” she asked solemnly.

“To you, yes, five bucks,” I said.

“I’ll pay your more,” she said.

“No. Our deal is to remember we’re not alone and we’re always loved.”

Looking Up

Blooming Dogwood trees. It’s happening around town. And for me, each tree causes a flush of memories and calm. I’m not talking about a calm that sits down with a cup of cocoa and good book to read. I’m talking about a calm that says, I know, I know, I don’t know.

The statement begins agitatedly, I KNOW. Then quieter, I know. Then in a whisper, admits, I don’t know.

I release all “my knowing,” look up and…calm. Even if for a second. It’s the calm of trusting goodness.

In Washington state, one Dogwood tree ornamented our orchard. One. One Dogwood tree on the outskirt of our forty-acre orchard. An orchard planted with about eight-thousand trees, all blooming delicate pinks and whites.

The one stood out.

While the fruit tree flowers came in bunches of nickel-sized florets, flailing every which way, the Dogwood flowers carried a look of independence. The Dogwood flowers were large, the size of saltines and they faced upward.

Each time this year, I’d walk to the one Dogwood tree and cut a few long stalks of flowers to take home, arrange in a vase, and put on top of the piano. The Dogwood flowers became my classic décor when hosting Easter dinners for family and friends and anyone else I previously bumped into in town to invite, no matter what their religious or nonreligious background.

We all had one thing in common, appreciation for, or at least getting a kick out of the dignity and uniqueness of the grandiose Dogwood bouquet.

But the next day, those flowers went to the compost pile, because they started stinking.

I know, I won’t be hosting a dinner anytime soon or bumping into people, because I hardly go into town and when I do, I avoid people.

I know, my typical way of seeing and celebrating this time of the year, full of renewal and friendship, has been contradicted and dashed.

It’s enough to make me look down and feel afraid, frustrated, weary. Apathy grabs me. But I shake it off and say, nope, I don’t know. Or rather, I admit that what I currently do know won’t last. I don’t need to hold onto what I know.

More knowledge will come. It is coming.

And every day of late, even when I’m not trying, glances of Dogwood flowers infuse me with increased knowledge of a trust in life and renewal.

I John 1:1-4
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

Something to do during COVID-19 pandemic

From the “Index” of 21st Century Science and Health, 6th edition, look up references to your choice of the following words, typed in bold font below. When reading the references, ask yourself questions.

Guidance.

How can we feel Soul guiding us through social-distancing, rather than feel the pull of emotionalism?

Angels are exalted thoughts that guide us, so what type of indestructible angels get us through chaos and vulnerability?

Divine Truth guides byspiritual rules, not human rules, therefore what human rules can we distance ourselves from? What spiritual rules can we live, move, and breath?

Environment.

How do we read human mind without fear, but with healing compassion, such as Christ Jesus did?

What other types of activities and ideas, other than “song, sermon, and Science” show trust in Spirit and spirituality and offer comfort to humanity?

How do we possess and reflect “God’s dominion to bless the environment” when using the internet?

Peace.

Staying on the side of “Science and peace” isn’t danger-free, so what errors of thought do we banish to stay protected and safe?

The “peace and order of divine Mind” doesn’t come by avoiding COVID-19, but by treating it with spiritual understanding, by respecting advanced thinkers, and what else?

Like a “dove,” how are we symbols of peace? Like “evening,” we can trust peace and rest to overpower mystification and weariness.

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