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Cheryl Petersen goes over the six tenets of Christian Science as found in her book, 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A modern version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.
We did make it to the Blue Mountains, to my younger brother’s cabin, where we spent a few nights.
My brother inherited the family cabin from our parents and had retained most of the knick-knacks and cutlery and furniture, which brought up a lot of good memories from when we were kids.
Meanwhile, our older daughter flew from Tennessee to Boise, Idaho, met up with her friend since kindergarten, Nik, and they drove to the cabin.
Over the years, these girls came with us to the cabin, built forts outside our orchard, rode horses, and had sleepovers. She’s part of the family. But a few years back, Nik had a work-accident as a horse jockey and now uses a wheelchair for mobility. This cabin trip was the first trip she’d taken without her husband, who is a wonderful man and very able to help lift and get Nik around when she’s not in her wheelchair.
However, as good friends do, Nik and our daughter push boundaries with wisdom.
Before the visit, at the gym in Tennessee, our daughter practiced hauling heavy weight, with the idea it was Nik, holding on with her arms around her neck. And Nik increased her arm strength.
They arrived at the cabin, and we talked and laughed, all the while feeling genuinely grateful deep inside. That night, Doug and I returned to Washington and the two friends went on a “walk” from the cabin to the meadow, both women, capably and safely, maneuvering the wheelchair. They also “climbed” the cabin stairs together.
On the morning that the girls were to travel back to Boise, they expected Doug and me to come to the cabin, chit-chat some more, and say goodbye.
I woke about four a.m. We arrived at the cabin just after six a.m.
Some people could think 6 a.m. was early, but during the more than thirty years we’ve known one another, it was normal for me to walk into the small cabin kitchen and see Nik pivot her wheelchair deftly and crack, “It’s about time you got here. We’ve been waiting since four.”
Watching sun rises was one of the longstanding commonalities between us.
“Isn’t it amazing that a loyal friend is always beautiful!”—21st Century Science and Health
“The pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”—Proverbs 27:9
Driving to the Blue Mountains in Oregon, we came to a stop, behind a long line of vehicles. Temperature rising.
It was another, over one-hundred-degree day of the heat wave in southeastern Washington state.
We heard the pulsing pounding before we saw the helicopter fly to a distance in front. Whatever stopped traffic was down a hill and we didn’t see the helicopter land but figured it was time to turn around and return to where we came from.
Keeping my frustration at bay, I called and told the people, who we were going to visit, that we couldn’t make it. They said, it was better we didn’t come, because of the heat they were driving to Walla Walla for the day to find coffee shops with air-conditioners.
I touched off the phone and, knew.
“Let’s go see Roland,” I told my husband. Who snickered because it was early in the morning, not quite seven, and we didn’t have his phone number to call to see if he was home or awake.
Roland didn’t even know we were in town, three-thousand miles from our own home.
After driving ten minutes to his house, I knock on the door. I see him come to the door through thick glass. He opens the door, recognizes us immediately and tears come to his eyes. He said, “I’ve been trying to call you.”
He lost our phone number, but his mind was really on another topic, which he told us then and there because he wanted to get it out so he could move forward. His wife was diagnosed with cancer. We all went to the living room. Doug and I said hello to his wife who told us, “You came at the right time. We have to leave for chemo in thirty minutes.”
She went to get ready while we talked with Roland, a man who was also a member at the church we were when we lived in Kennewick. He and Doug played their guitars and sang at church together. Roland and I talked for hours upon hours about God, life, marriage, raising children. I remember getting an email from him with the question, “What is God?”
“Reality,” I replied.
Once, during our conversation on this trip, we each said, we couldn’t believe that we stopped by his house, when we did. It’d been years before we spoke last. Only once, because sitting in awe can be a distraction to getting done what needs to be done.
We reconnected for spiritual strength. We reconnected because it was in the plans for our trips, despite the fact we didn’t talk about it, outline it, or contemplate it.
We confirmed and talked about the available Holy Spirit, getting us through the diagnosis with grace.
“And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”—Isaiah 30:20-21
This is my personal reasoning and conclusion, which changes with new ideas:
My parents introduced me to religion by taking me to a church of Christ, Scientist. During the 1870s through the mid-80s, I began to feel barren. Although I experienced and prayed for others to experience healing through spiritual truth, I realized that my attitude was pretentious, devoid of true welcoming.
I realized the tent emptied.
After getting married, we moved to another city (Kennewick) and started a First Church of Christ, Scientist, approved by The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. We had a small group, happy, full of fortitude.
From the mid-80s to the turn of the 21st century, despite my happy demeanor and spiritual success, desolation stared me in the face.
I stared back.
Because I study history, I knew that Mary Baker Eddy’s requirements for church membership were to follow the six tenets listed in her Science and Health: The Bible is sufficient (not the only book) to lead to eternal life, strive to stop sinning, acknowledge one Christ, Jesus, have the mind of Christ, and do to others what I want done to myself.
But I learned that when branch churches formed, early-mid 1900s, some branches included in their by-laws, the strict requirement not to use medicine. It was a bad mistake. And we refused to carry the law into the new church we formed in Kennewick.
I can sympathize with those of us who didn’t turn to medicine first and experienced spiritual healing, but to force the cart before the horse lacks common sense. And to apologize or try to reverse that standing, does little good. And can even make me more pretentious, thinking I have something others do not and if they join my tent, all will be well.
The day came when I crawled out of that tent.
And I saw before me, what was always in front of my face. A large tent, as defined by Eddy in Rudimental Divine Science, “As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony.”
Open minded people are pursuing spirit, overcoming their fears with love, and experimenting with alternative, less intrusive, methods of healing. Doctors are acknowledging the power and presence of a good mind. People are striving, struggling to treat others the way they want to be treated. Many other faiths acknowledging God as a healing force and hosting prayer meetings. Physics standing strong on the power of love and life over fear and death. Young people use different terminology, i.e. the universe, divine energy, but it fits as squarely with a God of love and truth as Christian Science lingo.
Sometimes, it’s not easy to see this, amid the divisiveness of politics, disparity of economics, and vile human nature, but the Christ is more powerful than human will-power, and good news is happening, making history.
I see a tent, enlarging its borders, of people blessed by the law of God interpreting harmony. Despite my blind believing it was barren because its inhabitants don’t bear fruit that looks, talks, reads, and acts exactly like I do or because they didn’t work as hard as I did in my church.
Within this large tent, fruits of divine Spirit are produced.
People enlarge their vocabularies to reach more truth-seekers, they stretch their arms out to assist those who need physical, financial, and emotional support. They talk through their problems instead of sweep them under the rug with the hollow behavior that pretends mended ways.
God is interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony. Big time.
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.—Isaiah 54:1-3
Using Cle Elum, Washington as our headquarters, we drove to the near border of Oregon and visited family and friends. Many times.
It was easier for two people, me and Doug, to drive to see the family with parents who both work other jobs besides caring for the two children, a dog, and a house. And we’d crisscross the USA multiple times because we love this family. Along with Aunty, who lives down the road in her own house and has a full-time job and is earning her master’s degree, logging hours in her internship.
So, imagine to our delight when they all offered to come to Cle Elum to visit us. I felt so honored. Aunty brought her boyfriend, also earning his master’s degree and holding a full-time job.
Before they came, Doug and I went to the Ranch and Home store because my sister’s house had no children’s toys besides pots and pans, which will work in a pinch. But we had time and wanted a little extra for the four- and two-year-old coming soon.
I walked the small section of items designed for children and found a container of chalk for drawing on sidewalks, which my sister has, and playdough.
Indoor tents caught my attention, hanging from the ceiling. The choices were pink barbie or blue spiderman. Irk. I wanted Wonder Woman. Anyway, spiderman it was.
When our guests arrived, out of the car came the four-year old girl dressed in spiderman.
By time they left six hours later, the sidewalk was decorated lavishly, playdough circles and squares were cut out, and the tent was set up. The children coaxed the tall, hefty boyfriend to squeeze inside with them causing great volumes of laughter because he struggled to unfold and exit the tent.
We all, also went on a long walk and picked wildflowers for a large bouquet for the table at which we ate.
We gave them the tent to take home before they made the two-and-half hour drive.
The next week, we visited them in their own homes, we read, built blocks, played with her two-year old brother, went outside, planted cantaloupe seeds, pulled tack weeds, ate, and threw the ball for the dog.
The next week after that, we arrived at their home and the girl was dressed in Wonder Woman. I told her, “When I was in school, on dress up day, I dressed as Wonder Woman, who has wrist bands for protection.”
Her eyes got big.
We found paper and scissors, cut strips, and taped them together to make wrist bands.
She asked, “Can I have ankle bands too?”
Of course, I said.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”—Matt. 7:11