And have a peaceful day.
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Salem, the capital of Oregon, was our next stop, to visit an uncle and cousin, father and son. The father is in a senior center and has been required to eat alone in his room since March 2020. The son lives with his family nearby and shops for his dad and was able to visit when lockdown relaxed. We were able to meet in a room down the hall as long as we wore masks and passed a temperature test at the front desk.
As with many cities, Salem is challenged by homelessness. The covid epidemic makes homelessness all the more visible and demanding to remember we are all human beings working out the spiritual in ways we understand. A homeless individual is no less human than an individual who owns one, two, or three houses.
Houses don’t make or break us, hopefully, and we can use the situations attributed to houses or lack thereof, to demonstrate kindness and cleanliness and security.
Rather than sympathize with a physical situation and assume we know the answer to the problem, we can use our power to express, gracefully, the element of humanity that listens to meet immediate human needs.
I’ve found that when I house my consciousness in modest expectations, human needs are met more regularly, and grandiose, unrealistic expectations fade.
“During the sensualist age, absolute divine Science may not be achieved prior to the change called death, for we have not the power of demonstrate what we do not understand. The human self must be evangelized. This task God demands us to accept gracefully, and to abandon as fast as practical the temporal, and to work out the spiritual which determines the outward and actual.”—21st Century Science and Health
Road trip, 3
Corvallis, Oregon was our next stop, to visit another cousin and his wife. He is a professor at Oregon State University, and she works in the music industry.
When touring the University with my cousin, we noticed mini-robots on the sidewalks, used to deliver food, messages, and probably things I can’t imagine. I have to admit, the robots were a hoot. The programmed-wheeled contraptions travel the main campus and avoid people.
Because my cousin works in the agricultural research department, we drove off campus to “the farm,” which is up my alley because plants and trees have always interested me. He researches hazelnuts and it was fun to catch up on the latest discoveries.
After lunch, his wife took us to her work of business, dealing with sheet music for choirs. It was fascinating to hear how much record keeping and finesse is required to be a middleperson between singers and musicians.
If we had more time together, it would have been fun to get my violin and jam. My cousin’s wife is quite the singer and I’ve always appreciated her love of music.
They also had wonderful stories to share regarding their two children, both doing well despite covid. In fact, just before shut-down, their daughter, husband, and grandchild moved to Corvallis. So, we got to talk about how much fun it is to be grandparents.
“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“For centuries—yes, always—natural science has not really been considered a part of religion. Even now many people consider the conventional sciences to have no proper connection with faith and spirituality. However, mystery does not obscure Christ’s teachings. Truth’s instructions are not theoretical and fragmentary, but are practical and open to new discoveries that reveal ongoing completion and law. And being practical and comprehensive, God’s laws are not deprived of their essential vitality.”—21st Century Science and Health
Leaving Iowa and entering Nebraska, the speed limit increased to 80 miles per hour. The Impreza hummed louder on Interstate 80 and drove through congenial weather. Doug continued quizzing me on state capitals and I struggled most with Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
We arrived in Winston, Oregon to visit Etta, eight-four and still flexible and spry. She can stand straight, spread her legs two feet, and bend at the waist, back straight, to touch the floor with both her hands, nearly flat to the ground.
We’ve stayed in touch with Etta for decades, especially after her husband died. She lives in her own home within a treed area, and loves getting together because we talk freely about spirit and love.
Etta hopped in the car with us, and we drove up, up, up, to see Crater Lake, still surrounded by snow and magnificence. The English language has no words to describe the water’s superb blue color.
Crater Lake is one of 423 national parks in the USA.
For more than a hundred years, in the lake, floats a Mountain Hemlock tree trunk, dubbed the “old man.”
We had lunch under a blue sky.
“ And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”—Luke 2
After Memorial Day, with an old-fashioned map of the United States, that listed the capitals, populations, and distances of and between states, Doug and I got in our Impreza and left New York to drive west. Our goal was to stay in Washington state for a month and visit family and friends.
Times have changed since the first of June and I have no plans to travel now. So, I will write a series of blogs on our trip west.
We carried our covid-vaccination cards in our wallets to be on-the-ready to show and sooth concerns. Each state we passed through and each business we encountered had their own guidelines which were easy to respect and follow.
Iowa was our first stop, to visit a cousin and her husband.
We caught up on family news. Although the topic of covid came up, it wasn’t the highlight of our conversations. We compared and shared how we’re adapting to our world’s different circumstances and yet keeping our sanity and happiness.
Our cousin established a huge garden and opened it to neighbors. They also showed us extraordinary paintings, accomplished by our cousin’s husband and their daughters. They raised two talented, wise daughters who were living independently in nearby towns.
On the road again, Doug and I tested one another on state capitals.
Sometimes, Doug would give me clues, when I couldn’t remember a capital. “It’s a big river between Washington and Oregon.”
Columbia, South Carolina.
“It ends with furt,” he told me. Nope, I couldn’t get it. “It begins with Frank.”
“Admitting to our self that person is God’s own likeness sets us free to master the infinite idea.
“The less that is said of physical structure and laws, the higher will be the standard of living. The more that is thought and said about moral and spiritual law, the further human beings will be removed from imbecility or disease.”—21st Century Science and Health
My last week was a kaleidoscope of time periods, no one time period more distinguishable than another.
On a whole, it was a glimpse of eternity. A glimpse of, no time.
My husband and I traveled to visit family on the other side of the United States.
We stayed with his family most. Although we’ve been connected by marriage for thirty-eight years, I can’t remember a time without knowing and loving them.
My husband and I also stayed one night at a cabin in which I went to regularly on weekends with my family. Many of the old knick-knacks still hang on the wall and sit on the shelves. Weird hot-chocolate cups, still there.
With that sameness, came evergreen trees in the forest that have filled in and reorganized the scene. The spaces we used for sledding, walking, and corralling horses, we can’t so much anymore. Yet, it felt like yesterday when we were sledding on snow and walking and riding through the woods.
The potential to do that, and more, is still there.
Good memories, bad memories, mostly good memories. But it felt like one big blob. Is it a dream?
I guess it doesn’t matter if it was a dream or reality because all those thoughts together can glorify God, the love I have and do feel despite an inability to define it clearly.
When I watched the sun rise over the tree tops and felt the breeze that moved the tree branches, I could glimpse an unending life that survives my dreams and realities.
I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.—Ps. 34: 1-3
The snow is melting. Rats!
Snow has always been my favorite part of winter. I grew up sledding with my sisters and brothers, racing down the hill, through the trees of the Blue Mountains in Oregon. Sometimes, we ran smack into trees, but oh well.
When older and visiting Palo Alto, California, in the summer, on a gorgeous seventy-five degree day, the friend I was staying with, a permanent resident of Palo Alto for seventy years, said, “I love this temperate climate. I’d never move.”
I had to think about what she said.
First off, I was there in July, when it was one-hundred-five degrees back home in southeastern Washington State. The seventy-degree weather indeed tempted me to believe temperate weather had appeal. But to live in it, year round? No dice.
I like the four seasons to be noticeable. Clear. And snow in winter is clear. I love watching snowflakes drift. I don’t even mind when a howling wind makes the snow fall at a sideways angle. Give me a scarf to wrap my face in and I’m outside.
This year’s snow in upstate New York where I live now, has been superb. A blessing, after a year of lockdown due to COVID. Not that my year stopped or felt lockdown. It hasn’t. I’ve been practicing violin again and play duets with our daughter on the piano. We play sacred songs, country songs, and broadway songs. I also started writing a book about Daniel Patterson and am nearing the end. Just in time for the snow melt to show dirt. Where we will be planting more trees. How can we not plant trees after watching Diana Beresford-Kroeger in her tree documentary, Call Of The Forest – The Forgotten Wisdom Of Trees?
We’ll also be planting a garden according to Ruth Stout.
But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy the melting snow, keep praying, and clean off my desk.
From, 21st Century Science and Health: “Genesis 1:14. And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.
“Spirit creates heavenly or celestial bodies, but outer space is no more celestial than our earth. This text gives the idea of the diffusion of thought as it expands. Divine Mind forms and peoples the universe. The light of spiritual understanding gives glints of the infinite, even as black holes indicate the immensity of space. Mineral, vegetable, and animal substances are no more contingent now on time or material structure than they were “while the morning stars sang together.” Mind made the “plant of the field” before it appeared on the earth. The events of spiritual ascension are the days and seasons of Mind’s revelation, in which beauty, magnificence, purity, and holiness (the divine nature) appear in spiritual beings and the universe, never to disappear.”
 Job 38:7
 Gen. 2:5 (NASB)
A text from my sister asked me what childhood memory I have of Christmas. I remember receiving a bright, deep purple bedspread that resembled shag carpet of the 1970s. Two-inch long shag. Sounds awful doesn’t it? Well, it was.
I shared a room with this very sister and therefore, we had a bed each, meaning she also received an identical gift and we had not one, but two of these imperial purple beauties gracing our small abode.
Our family of seven lived in an old farmhouse in the state of Washington, built before wall-to-wall carpet was a thing. In other words, the place had old linoleum flooring. So, maybe the bedspreads were a form of compensation for lack of carpet.
That Christmas morning, we five kids sat giddily around the tree, unwrapping gifts.
When unwrapping the soft package, I noticed first, the purple. I like purple, not lavender or violet, to fluffy, but dazzling bold purple, so this gift was looking pretty good, until I finished unwrapping and stared at the hunk of shag material. “It’s a bedspread,” said Mom.
Mom was perceptive. I’m sure she heard me think, “What is this?” I’m sure she also knew my verbal, “Thank you, Mom and Dad,” was strained. But that could be because we all knew, every gift was purchased by Mom from the Montgomery Ward catalog. Dad did not shop unless it was for a potato harvester or pipeline.
I sweat under the heavy coverlet. But sweating under shag aside, this gift, I attribute to my present day attitude toward gift giving. Super nonchalant.
The attitude started as “helpful hints.” I’d tell Mom what I wanted. She abided and even made it easier by asking me to mark, a month before Christmas, no next-day delivery back then, my druthers on the Montgomery catalog pages.
After getting married, my attitude took a necessary diversion. It believed that I enjoyed the first year of selecting gifts for in-laws who I so badly wanted to be a part of. But, Christmas Eve, when the in-laws gathered, I could tell, the blouse I got my sister-in-law wasn’t what she liked, therefore the next year, I simply wrapped the gifts I choose along with the sales receipt, for easier returns.
The in-laws abided by doing the same. But “returning” items irked me. So, my attitude shifted to a protest. Hopefully, I said it kindly, but I said, “I don’t want to draw names anymore, thank you.”
At first, the in-law family was a bit curious as to my request.
Which by the way, my request wasn’t reversed by my husband, who himself has zero patience for shopping expeditions of any type. He did not offer to shop for his family.
But after a few Christmas gatherings, and the in-laws watching me nonchalantly, smugly, sitting in a chair eating Norwegian Lefse, not opening ridiculous gifts, low and behold, gift giving plunged in the important factor.
Did we notice? Not really, because my ever-growing family knows the best gifts are singing carols, saying grace with one another, and laughing until the cows go home.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
While our granddaughter walks a few feet, indoors, to her laptop, to attend virtual school, I remember walking a long driveway and riding the school bus 45 minutes to the nearest rural school. Eight hours later, in reverse. We each, however, have jobs to do after school.
In the fall, my job took me to the freshly harvested 400-hundred-acre potato field. The job required tumbleweeds, a pitchfork, and matches. Fire.
Southeast Washington state, where I grew up on the family farm, grows bounteous crops of tumbleweeds. Highly combustible tumbleweeds. Capable of igniting infernos especially when mixed with dry cheat grass and sagebrush, common vegetation on the west coast.
You can imagine, I was trained to apprehend fire. I don’t fear fire as much as anticipate the need for immediate action to make sure the good caused by fire outweighs the bad.
I appreciate cooked food, but I also follow Smokey the Bear’s instructions on proper fire handling. I support laws prohibiting celebratory fireworks. And it became natural to install solar panels to counterbalance climate change.
When a kid, fire was used to counterbalance the tumbleweed threats of fire and of barricading plows.
Because the weeds are round prickly conglomerates of stems that grow three to four feet in height and width, the bunches made it impossible to plow the ground. So, with pitchfork in hand, I’d walk the field, jab tumbleweeds and carry them to pile. Once the pile was fairly large, I’d strike a match and produce a bonfire.
Four hundred acres required a lot of piles.
To save matches, or rather, to save myself from getting frustrated because the match sticks kept breaking, I first built multiple piles of tumbleweeds and lite only one pile. Within half a minute the pile was in flames. I’d then jab the pitchfork into the fire and pull out a clump of burning weeds before running, carefully, with the clump to insert into the next pile to catch it on fire.
I came home smelling like smoke and with an appetite for dinner.
No longer a kid in the potato fields, today, the smell of smoke continues triggering an appetite for improved strategies to counterbalance devastations produced by fires. I keep an ear open to the genius-spirit that moves people, calmly, persistently, and solidly, to design improved strategies, despite the howling noises produced by blame and animosity.
When young, I learned to plow fire breaks around fields and houses to help reduce fire damage. It helped but plowing isn’t a cure-all, because of countless shifting variables, because of unknowns.
Unknowns exist, no matter how much human beings believe they can know or control everything. But unknowns aren’t as scary when we’re open to the genius-spirit.
Even in the face of today’s weirdness, practically mocking our controlled schedules, I see the genius-spirit moving people to develop approachable programs to fight fire damage or help children learn. It’s happening. And I can support its many forms by grabbing clumps of this enlightened genius, before leaving behind, and moving away from, my burning outgrown passions.
We read in 21st Century Science and Health: “Pay attention! Make sure that the motive for prayer doesn’t embrace the desire for human admiration and instead encourages pure sentiments. It is physical emotionalism, and not Soul, that triggers a nervous passion for God. Allow spiritual sense to guide your higher experiences, because fanaticism and self-satisfied devotion do not promote spirituality. God is not influenced by human beings. The divine ear is not an auditory nerve. The Divine is all-hearing and all-knowing Mind, recognizing and supplying our every need.”
The blackhole of Walmart is treated with humor in our household. It’s been treated with awe and disgust in the past but that’s not near as pleasant, so you can imagine the hoots and hollers when my husband brought home a package of 10 underwears. Not size large mens. But size large boys.
“You could lose weight,” said our son-in-law. “Or go back to Walmart.”
Losing that much weight is impossible but in desperation not to return to Walmart, my husband actually admitted, “I tried to put them on.”
Superstores have a place. If anything, the place of convenience. But convenient for what? Well, for me it too often meant the convenience to buy too much. Not thinking outside of the box, I finally saw that type of convenience was feeding the human habits of addiction and throwing away the future. Like eating or gambling problems.
The problem of getting sucked in. By so much stuff. And its promises of good deals and convenience? Lies. All lies.
First off, I don’t need near as much stuff as I believe. Second, if I do need something, I can mooch it off my daughters. Just kidding, but shopping for too much food leads to too much eating or rot. Bummer futures. Both.
Life isn’t about resisting hard work and inconveniences but about tackling them with a worthy future of balance and goodwill.
And because my husband lost his Trac Phone, purchased at Walmart years ago, and because I found his flip phone out on the deck, after it got rained on and wouldn’t resurrect, we made the decision to go to Walmart. Early.
While walking to the entrance, I got a brain flash. I’ve needed washcloths for about a year now, so I said, “Hey, I can get washcloths too.”
Yep, although I haven’t been to a superstore in half a year, I already began straddling the rabbit hole of consumerism. But after entering the store, I caught myself and said, “We have to stay together, or we’ll get lost or buy too much.”
Walking toward Electronics, I put myself into a mental straitjacket and gave myself lectures. “No, Cheryl, we don’t need another watermelon, or Honey Bunches of Oats, or toilet paper, or winter shirts, geesh, those donuts smell good, keep walking to electronics.”
But when passing a muscular bin of underwear, it grabbed my husband and yanked him in for a purchase.
Making greater efforts to stay on the straight and narrow, we then found and purchased the phone and washcloths before hightailing it out of the store.
We’re now waiting until our three-year old grandson can fit into the boys size large underwear.
“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!”– Philippians 4:4, The Message
“On our spiritual journey, if we sympathize with mortality, we will be at the beck and call of error and follow a zig-zag course getting nowhere. If we travel with the worldly minded, we get sucked into a nasty cycle. A good example of this is randomly walking around the shopping mall, making feel-good purchases and eating junk food with friends. We return home, thinking we had a good time and feeling satisfied. However, when re-thinking the situation, we realize that too much time and money was wasted. So, we repeat the trip to the mall but buy books on time and financial management, or on dieting.
“Our moral and spiritual progress is monotonously slow if we constantly bounce back and forth between futile habits and the hope of forgiveness. Selfishness and stupidity cause constant retrogression. We must wake up to Christ’s demand; however, the waking generally causes suffering. We may even feel like we are drowning and struggle to stay above water. Through Christ’s precious love our efforts are rewarded with success.”–21st Century Science and Health