Category Archives: Spiritual journey

What I learn from others

Have you ever traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco? If it wasn’t for our eldest daughter, I probably wouldn’t have traveled to this imperial city, sometimes spelled Marrakech. But many years ago, our daughter wanted to visit Marrakesh. With me.

She was living in southern France at the time. I, in New York.

“After seeing some of France, we’ll fly to Morocco,” she emailed me.

Why not, I thought.

Before leaving New York, I went to the closet and pulled out the big green book. The World Atlas.

Thank goodness for indexes but searching and aligning cartography coordinates still required patience on my part to locate where I was going. France I could point to on the map but not Marrakesh. Not even Morocco. I learned its basically south of France, flying over the Alboran Sea.

Marrakesh sits west of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The description was vague. Words in my head. But off I went.

In southern France, we galivanted through historical spots for a few days then headed to the airport to catch a plane to Marrakesh. The particular airline we booked with didn’t bother to assign seats. It was a race of the fittest and the fittest got to the plane first and selected all the isle seats. The rest of us had to climb over them to get a seat. 

After arriving in Marrakesh, we took a cab but were dropped off in a tight spot and told we’d have to walk the rest of the way. A boy, looking about nine years old, confidently offered to lead us to our place of stay. We followed and gave him a tip.

I’ll add here that our daughters know how to travel affordably. We don’t go to touristy (read, expensive), places of stay. I’m the forty-, or fifty-year old staying at hostels with a bunch of young backpackers. Fortunately, they don’t give a hoot and we all eat macaroni and cheese together.

In Marrakesh, we stayed at a place in the medina, the older part of town with narrow, maze-like walkways paved in brick. The medina was built before cars. A long time before cars. Therefore, the reason the cab dropped us off outside the area.

During the week, we listened to prayers throughout the day, amplified over loudspeakers throughout the town. We admired gardens, palaces, mosques, and got lost while sharing walking space with donkeys and carts and vendors. We took a cooking class. The teacher made us go to the market to buy our ingredients and spices.

After forming bread dough, we carried it to the local baker. A man, situated down a few stairs, adeptly moving in front of a large stone oven. He wielded a long-handled paddle to put bread dough in the oven and twenty minutes later bring out baked loaves.

“Return in an hour, after cool, get loaf,” he said.

It was a community oven. One oven for surrounding neighbors.

Surely, it saves on air-conditioning personal spaces. Marrakesh became more than words in my head. It became a genuine place of interesting experiences, knowledge, and traditions. My souvenir? Images of hardworking, sincere people, willing to take stands for safety and understanding one another.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.–Ps. 37:3

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.

Piano lessons

Piano practice persists in our household. Daily, our adult daughter thumps out Mozart classics, ragtime, and a few songs from Star Wars. I don’t mind the noise, I mean music, even when the sounds curdle my brain. Imperfect practices lead to perfect performances, or so the cliché wants us to believe. But I do believe music encompasses more than sound.

When I was a kid in Washington state, piano lessons were mandatory for two years. Mom would shuffle me and my four siblings to Mrs. Courteau’s brick house once a week for lessons. My older brother and younger sister were naturals. Or they paid attention and practiced, either way, they improved to performance level, in front of people other than family and obligated parents of other students during piano recitals. When grown and married, each with two children, all four of my nieces and nephews became piano students also.

My younger brother unambiguously marked the calendar and quit piano on the 730th day after he started lessons. He hasn’t touched a piano since. “I’d never force my children to take piano lessons,” he told me years ago.

The middle sister and I quit piano lessons before we were seniors in high school. Probably because we’d rather spend thirty minutes watching Gilligan’s Island on television rather than practicing piano. Although, the change in activity didn’t require much thought. Whether watching TV or practicing piano, our priority was casual snacking. Piano keys jammed with cookie crumbs.

After I went to college in Colorado, I was shocked to find myself searching for a door to a large brick building, after hearing piano playing through an open window. After finding the door, I walked into the foyer and acted as if I was majoring in music. Not horticulture.

To map out the music building, I walked the halls and noticed small rooms, each room containing a beat-up piano and bench. This discovery initiated a quest to find piano books. A hymnal from church was a cinch to acquire, and thus I began what amounted to piano therapy for four years of college. Which in turn, after getting married, piano playing was my marriage therapy, then mother-calmer, then a tool for our children to practice on, then empty nest friend. Christmas carols always a favorite.

Middle Sister has pianos in her household also, however, it’s because she restores them to former glory after decades of neglect in a barn or storage shed.

I brought a used, dandy piano to Warwick. Our six-year old granddaughter and three-year old grandson sit with their mother and thump high and low end keys while she plays. Sometimes, our son-in-law takes his violin and bow out of its case and plays along with the piano.

No lack of wrong notes played. Timing nonexistent.

But they keep practicing, week after week, and I notice my ears slowly agreeing with my heart, which knows that harmony and order have never been broken or lost. Harmony exists, alive and well, and can be found in the slightest movements and tones.

Free audio book

To receive a free audio book, be the first person to click on a code below. The code is redeemed online at either audible.com/acx-promo or audible.co.uk/acx-promo

Codes for, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter:
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Codes for, Raising Children Without Church:
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HAPPY LISTENING

 

Provoking images

Cartoonist Bill Watterson.

I’ve never met the guy except through his comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. But his creative talent sure invokes images that still give me a chuckle today.

Calvin’s character portrayed a rascal, kindergarten age, who tussled with life issues in unusual ways that strike consciousness with new perspectives. Hobbes was his stuffed cat, a tabby. A furball of honest friendship and common sense.

When Watterson retired in 1995, we bought his books for posterity and found ourselves reading and rereading the Calvin and Hobbes comics. Within a few years, the pages were dog-tagged and blotched with jam or dry hot chocolate.

During our empty nest phase in life, my husband and I got a couple of kittens. A brother and sister. A tabby and a tuxedo, respectively.

Unable to come up with names we’d remember, my husband watched the kittens and said, “The tabby is Hobbes. Watch him. His attitude is Hobbes all over.” Sealed deal. Calvin and Hobbes became part of our family.

Along with a granddaughter.

Our granddaughter grew up getting to know and adore Calvin and Hobbes.

When our granddaughter was three years old, she went to the doctor’s office with her mommy and noticed happy, yet solemn attention was given to a big round tummy. “What are you doing?” she asked her mommy.

“There’s a baby inside my tummy. We’re checking to see when the baby will come out,” our daughter answered.

“What’s its name?” our granddaughter asked.

“Calvin,” her mommy said.

“Oh, we get a cat,” she remarked enthusiastically.

“Well, no, it will be a baby human.”

Slight disappointment.

No worries. That was three years ago, and our granddaughter took to her brother just fine. We do however need clarification sometimes, “You mean feed Calvin the cat or Calvin my brother?”

One day, I’ll introduce our granddaughter and grandson to Watterson’s popular comic strip. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of images they get from Calvin and Hobbes.

New Book: A Study Guide for Christian Science

I am thoroughly pleased and intrigued with this study guide for Christian Science. And now I am thrilled to announce, A Study Guide for Christian Science is published and available for the public online at Amazon.

This study guide roots in the Bible and includes twenty-four exercises that follow the pattern of instruction through questions and answers as presented by 19th-century spiritual leader, Mary Baker Eddy and found in the book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, both, the old version and new.

Eddy revised her Science and Health until she died in 1910 and Cheryl Petersen modernizes Science and Health today, titled 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A modern version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.

The Study Guide for Christian Science brings clarity to the application of spirituality, as it stays one step ahead of changing human history, language and technology.

newestcover

 

Mindful Bridges

Well I must say, the newly repaired bridge over Wawayanda Creek in the Village of Warwick is pretty dandy. For the month of July, the bridge was closed off and vehicles detoured around the work area. When driving, I didn’t mind. The detour brought to my attention offices and businesses only a couple of blocks off the beaten path and are good to know.

Nice work on the bridge though. Smooth groove now. And safe I’m sure.

I think bridges are one answer to the dares of water. Water dares us to cross its mighty power or use its motion for power.

As for bridges, I was dazzled by the book, The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge, by David McCullough. The bridge’s design was conceived by John Roebling and built late 1800s. The suspension-cable bridge spans 1,595 feet and opened in 1883.

When riding my motorcycle across the United States a decade ago, I drove over the Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Americas, spanning 8,614 feet. Its total length is 5 miles and links Michigan’s Lower and Upper peninsulas. The Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957. Another tribute to competence and command.

I can still feel the grooved surface and movement of the bridge under my wheels. And the height? Two-hundred feet above the water.

The bridge was built to flux with temperature, winds, and weight. The deck can sway right or left as much as 35 feet in the center. You get the idea. It’s a feeling that impresses the soul when hovering over the bridge, with nothing but farm boots between the surface and my feet, six inches off the ground. Forget the facts I had no seatbelt and balanced on two wheels.

That soul impression of competence and command ranks up there with the type of humanity that leaves me humbled. Like when I make a stupid mistake and my husband quietly helps me fix it. Compassion is a bridge.

The bridge over Wawayanda Creek is one of about 17,450 highway bridges in New York State. How many times do you cross a bridge?

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Fireflies, motorcycles, and Sacajawea

Eleven years ago, my husband and I rode our motorcycles into upstate New York. We’d driven about 3,000 miles from Washington state and were greeted by a species unseen in the desert region left behind, lightning bugs. Each year since, these fascinating fireflies gently, unknowingly, remind me that my motorcycle trip across the United States was amazing but not as amazing as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s trek, more than two hundred years earlier.

In 1804, Lewis and Clark and company launched their mission to map out land west of the Mississippi River, the Louisiana Purchase. After making their way to North Dakota, Lewis and Clark had the foresight to hire an interpreter and his wife, Sacajawea, a Shoshone.

With baby in tow, Sacajawea and the others traversed a segment of the northern Rocky Mountains now known as the Bitterroot Range. For more than a week, they carried gear while wandering through thickets and snow, suffering terribly through hunger, fatigue, and severe freezing temperatures. They killed a horse to eat for survival.

In comparison, on my trip across the states, I drove my motorcycle north of the Bitterroot Range over the snow-covered Glacier Mountain National Forest, on clear paved marked roads, in decent weather, wearing heated gloves, and stopping to eat a doughnut, with coffee, for a snack at a café. A leisurely day.

While living in Washington, I frequently crisscrossed the Lewis and Clark trail. I grew up learning and wondering about the human attitude that yields to majestic possibilities, rather than self-loss. Oh sure, those pioneers weren’t perfect and had inner demons to fight off, but they did and accomplished a noteworthy task.

With this knowledge, it felt natural for me to employ admiration for Sacajawea. Our family picnicked and played in Sacajawea Park, a land parcel where the Snake River flows into the Columbia River, seemingly losing its identity.

But the Snake River’s comings and goings taught me that identity isn’t lost because it isn’t gained as something to keep. Identity exists as a verb.

I’m not talking about identifying people and trying to be like them. I’m not talking about identifying with a career as if it’s our life.

I’m talking about identifying with life-giving attitudes and meaningful characteristics.

Sacajawea teaches me to identify with, and mirror, mettle and might. To identify with solutions, not problems. I learn from Sacajawea to identify with ongoing spirit, instead of a fear of life and death.

Thankfully, in 1898, the 1.6 million-acre Bitterroot National Forest was established, and in 1910, about 1,500-square-miles of wilderness area was established as Glacier National Park, to intrigue millions of visitors with its grandeur, daring, and lessons of promise.

And here I sit, experiencing floating bioluminescent lightning bugs in upstate NY.

The 2020 Farmers Almanac says that some fireflies can synchronize their flashes. I’ve never seen the phenomenon but try to imagine a species identifying with and mirroring light and peaceful movement.

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Reviewing Christian Science, Part 7

Christian Science Review, Part 7

Question: What is substance?

Answer: Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of disorder and decay. Truth, Life, and Love are substance as Scriptures use this word in Hebrews: “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”[1] Spirit, the synonym of Mind or God, is the only real substance. The spiritual universe, including individual persons, is a united idea, reflecting the divine substance of Spirit.

Think on this:

Because it’s difficult to wrap our heads around the substance of Spirit, we take it a step at a time. Or, I should say, we take it a thought at a time!

When I wake up in the morning, my first thoughts of substance would be my bed and the sunlight. After a few minutes, I may think hunger is substance.

But after eating breakfast, hunger is gone, and satisfaction feels substantial.

By then, I’ve fed and cuddled my cats.

When I sit for a few minutes of quiet time, I realize that all those thoughts are similar, not really new or different from one another. I wait for another thought.

A thought of Spirit.

As for my morning, I separate the thoughts of rest, satisfied desire (hunger), and love, from bed, food, and my cats. This doesn’t mean my bed, appetite, and cats are forgotten.

I take the thoughts of rest, satisfied desire, and love and attach them to God, Spirit. To give Spirit substance. And because God created everything, even if I don’t completely understand all that God created, I’m then able to circle around and apply the rest, satisfied desire, and love to not only the bed, appetite, and cats, but also the rest of my day involving my job, expectations, and family.

[1] Heb. 11:1 (NKJV)

Reviewing Christian Science, 4

Q. What are spirits and souls?

A. To human belief, they are personalities composed of consciousness and unconsciousness, life and death, truth and error, good and evil. Divine Science reveals how those contrasting terms don’t agree or conform to one another. Truth is indivisible; error is divisible. Truth is limitless; error is limited. Truth is intelligent; error is non-intelligent. Moreover, Truth is real, and error is unreal. This last statement contains the point you will most reluctantly admit, although first and last it is the most important to understand.

The terms souls, spirits, or human beings are as unsustainable as the term gods. Soul or Spirit signifies infinite Being and nothing else. There are not finite souls, spirits, or beings. Soul or Spirit means only one Mind and cannot be rendered in the plural. Mythology and human philosophies have perpetuated the fallacy that intelligence, soul, and life can be divided and confined, and thereby materialized. Idolatry and ritualism are the outcome of all human-made beliefs. The Science of spirituality comes with tool in hand to separate the chaff from the wheat. Science will declare God aright, and Christianity will demonstrate this declaration and its divine Principle, making humankind better physically, morally, and spiritually.

Think about this…On one side of the coin we have individual people. Everyone should have their own rights and life. On the other side of the coin we have humanity, the collection of all individuals. Getting along challenges individuals to act as a whole unit. But of course, we bump into problems because our diversity overwhelms unity.

For other solutions, let’s back up.

If we back up to the sides of the coins, it’s apparent each individual is assigned a different spirit or soul to make up the diversity and thereby make unity a super-challenge.

So, back up farther. Don’t focus on the sides of the coin.

Let’s keep the coin but start thinking with the coin itself. The coin is one Spirit. Now, move to the coins sides. Each individual reflects the one Spirit in their own way, plus as a whole unit.

Diversity isn’t different/separate persons or spirits, but diversity signifies the ever-expansion of one Spirit, the multi-color of one Soul, the ongoing proliferation of beauty.

Bing pink bush

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