All-wise, God. Healthy Mind of all.
Knowing presence that I seek.
Relieving, restoring. Receiving, giving.
Forgiveness, honesty, and trust in good.
After two years of limited public involvement because of covid, I attended two public events back-to-back. The annual conference for the Religion News Association (RNA) in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Broadway show, Hadestown, in New York City.
As a writer wanting to write more productively, the RNA speakers enlightened me on how the war in Ukraine is influencing the religious scene. Panel members also clarified why the word, cult, becomes an obstacle to spiritual solutions, and showed the importance of deep research as counter to repeating unresearched/shallow information.
Every speaker was on a panel of three or more speakers. Each giving their own perspective on a specific issue. In other words, they addressed more than the superficial aspects of religion that tend to divide, and addressed the deeper issues of religion that allows for the discovery of resolutions and meaning.
Panel members talked about how easily the human mind automatically stops discovering, just by hearing or reading, a word, such as Russian, woman, queer, Christian, atheist. Unfortunately, that is how the brain works. Too familiar of, or unfamiliar words, stop the brain, despite the brain’s self that believes it’s inspired or right.
Writers and readers want to discover. Most of us don’t want to write to justify an opinion. We don’t want to read to justify an opinion.
I interpreted what I heard as a reminder that writing and reading can be expansive, creative, profound, and inspiring because divine Mind is capable of imparting creativity, profoundness, and inspiration.
At this point, I was fortunate to be able to meet up with my sister. We drove to Manhattan together, where we met my daughters and attended the Broadway show, Hadestown.
Hadestown is a musical, with extraordinary choreography and acting. It proved creative, profound, and inspiring.
First of all, André De Shields was superb in his role of Hermes. The man is in his seventies! On stage. Singing, acting, standing, moving. For two-and-half hours. I sat on my bum the whole time, in awe but later forced my brain to discover, not a man with great genes but a man who apparently keeps discovering strength and power and joy.
The story-line of Hadestown follows the path of how mortal situations can bring us to hell on earth. And how imagination and trust-in-good brings us to heaven on earth.
The hubbub encircling Hadestown is that it is a sad story, but I see it as the story of mortality. Yes, mortality can be sad, but life/immortality goes on and compels us to discover the truth and love that explains a life of meaning.
Meaning and discovery require new stories, new words, new songs, and new choreography. But this newness is possible and it’s happening. Right before our eyes. We can’t stop the infinite from infinitely expressing truth. Otherwise, truth wouldn’t be infinite.
From Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
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.”
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.
I’ve never met a Roadkill Collector, but I know these workers exist in this world. I know all too well, and yet not well enough. It’s a weekly, if not daily, event for me to drive the roads and pass the carcasses of racoons, possums, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, and cats, recently hit by traveling vehicles. But soon cleaned up.
I’ll never forget the day I discovered my cat on the road, dead, after being run over by a car. I picked up and carried our cat home for a personal burial. Then I cried for three days. It was unfortunate, awkward.
Death and accidents are part of the human condition and I thank the individuals who treat them with care and realism. Your work pushes my mind into curiosity and wonder.
Curiously, while treating death, birth happens. Birthing occurs in the trees, under bushes, and in places around the world. I may not see or feel the births especially when avoiding or dealing with death, but my interest eventually piques, and I wonder, is it life and death, or birth and death? While life goes on?
I sometimes want to smack the adage, life goes on, especially when daily circumstances stink, are boring, or irritating. But, as my husband points out, I’m too easily irritated and should cultivate more patience. Of course, his “pointing out,” irritates me, but after more than thirty-five years of hanging with the guy I see tads of progress in patience. Like last week after the high winds.
Well, high winds, is relative. When we lived in southeastern Washington state, winds came rolling over the Horse Heaven Hills at twenty to forty miles per hour, bringing tons of dirt, for three days. So, a day of fifteen to thirty miles per hour of winds here is a breeze. But I wake up and go outside to flipped over patio furniture, thank goodness the glass didn’t shatter, and a damaged chicken shelter.
Irritation bubbles inside me.
“Come on, Cheryl, I’ll get a rope and we’ll flip the chicken roof back into place,” said Mr. Patience.
“That won’t work,” I retort, like an unfortunate accident.
He says nothing and we mosey out to the chicken residence, which by the way is luxurious because I demanded a commodious insulated hen house with double-paned windows, secure locking doors, and an outside roofed shelter with fenced in acreage for free-range. It took weeks for my husband to construct.
Anyway, working together after the wind, it didn’t take long before we flipped the cover back into place for my husband to re-secure. He also put away the patio furniture while I tried patiently to wonder. I wondered about life and death.
I used to think life and death were counterparts. But I don’t anymore. I think, birth and death are counterparts, and neither have bearing on the life that goes on. The life of patience, care, and realism. So, I’ll be more patient when driving and take care to watch for passing animals.
Introduction to my newly released book: Raising Children Without Church: Finding God in Everyday Activities.
Raising Children Without Church introduces children to God through everyday activities. It’s not a pushback on religion or a push-forward to raise trendy spiritual kids. It simply accepts faith and meaning as alive and everywhere, unconfined to physical places of worship or churchy systems.
Raising Children Without Church uses information you have, or can easily get online, and translates it on the side of God. It addresses the individual and social needs of children affected by stresses that come with the demands of relationships, work, nature, technology, and yes, religions of the world.
This book faces the fact that religion formed the past, influences the present, and will reach far into the future. We can deal with faith rationally and for the benefit of family. To get the most out of reading Raising Children Without Church, it may help to see religion as a method, used like other methods to discover and understand, such as the methods of science, art, mountaineering, and parenting. Who hasn’t learned from a child?
Raising Children Without Church focuses on skills that nurture and build reputable individuals and lifestyles. I didn’t invent these skills. They’ve been tested and modified for millennia and produce transcending results even when up against damaging forces.
Forces aren’t meant to dominate or scare us. They do, however, require a fight or at least an effort on our part to translate the forces to the side of divine purpose.
Topics covered in this book:
Raising Children Without Church carries the language of Christianity because that is my background. Don’t make it a big deal. You can adapt my words to fit your needs; for example, the word God can be replaced with Good, Truth, or Love.
Exploration takes time, just as it takes time to read this book. And because your time is valuable, I wrote concisely. When reading, highlight parts that speak to you and write your own thoughts on the pages. Cherish and grow meaningful thoughts right along with the children and family.
If you’re near Albany, New York, come on by the New York Women’s Expo. In its 10th year.
Cheryl Petersen will be selling her books as an exhibitor. Her books give voice to the bigger picture of woman as daughter, sister, mother, and grandmother, contributing value to society and enriching human history.
My friend showed me her new car. I was happy for her. She needed a reliable car. It was her car and my happiness.
As for my car, I loaned it to another friend. He was happy I loaned my car to him. To express his gratitude, he cleaned my car. I was happy to loan my car to him. I was also happy to make the clean car my own. He eventually got his own car and happiness was our own again.
When can we make something our own? What happens when we make a thing or a mental power our own?
We can make something else our own when we work for and earn it. As for a mental power, we can make it our own anytime. And yes, we can tell the difference between what to make our own and what not to. We don’t try to make someone else’s car our own.
But we can discover and make God-given mental power our own. If we don’t, we’re only being happy for or admiring other people for having the power.
Whereas God gave us all the ability to discover spiritual power and make it our own. Spiritual principles are ours. For example, in the 19th century, Mary Baker Eddy explained a spiritual principle, Christian Science, in her book, Science and Health. Christian Science is a thought process that starts and ends with God and healing. Part of making Christian Science my own was to discover the principle and practice it in everyday life. If I didn’t make it my own, but just admired Eddy, everything got weird. Christian Science got misunderstood and lost. So, to beat the weirdness, I kept discovering and making spirit my own.
When I revised Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, I didn’t make her book my own, I discovered and made Christian Science (a spiritual power) my own.
“Mentally and silently plead the case scientifically for Truth. You may adapt the reasoning to meet the peculiar or general symptoms of the case you treat, but be thoroughly persuaded in your own mind concerning the truth which you think or speak, and you will be the winner.”—21st Century Science and Health
The film, The Greatest Showman (2017) entertained me immensely last night. It was clean. It had dancing, singing, and a story-line that doesn’t match history.
The protagonist is Phineas Taylor Barnum, most familiar to me as the guy who operated P. T. Barnum’s Grand traveling museum and circus in the 19th century.
I remind myself, most movies aren’t real and writers and actors are paid to entertain. It’s curious to me however that fiction can generate real feelings and emotions when I’m watching productions. And The Greatest Showman brought out feelings of good-will, dignity, spirit, and faithfulness.
In the movie, Barnum comes out as a man who celebrated the diversity of humanity. Maybe so in real life, but I don’t know. History has it that Barnum started his gigs after buying the right to rent an aged black slave. He told his audiences she was the 161-year-old former nurse of George Washington.
I have no idea how many people believed the tale, but human mind is pretty good at believing what it wants.
Thankfully, we have divine mind and a spiritual consciousness to decipher reality.
Quoting, from science & religion to God:
“The ideas of Mind are real and tangible to spiritual consciousness. Mind’s ideas have the advantage of being real and good, whereas objects and thoughts of physical sense are contradictory and not absolute.
“There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth, matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal, matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and person is God’s image and likeness. Therefore, person is not material, but spiritual.”
At the Writing for Your Life conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, I attended a workshop led by Jeff Chu, author of ”Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America” It was top notch. An excellent speaker, Chu was honest and humble and helpful. He strove to take away fears that come with writing and to instill hope.
By this time, we attendees started opening up and getting acquainted with one another during “free time.” I discovered that although most of the attendees were pastors or preachers, they did not carry dogmatic attitudes. It was supremely refreshing. They left behind ministries and churches focused only on the opinions of leaders and outdated concepts and practices. They were willing to face their fears to learn how to write and join the conversations today meant to embrace diversity and unite and heal, rather than convert and make a homogenous society of believers, who ultimately portray an us versus them.
There was no us versus them at this conference, that I noticed. We didn’t use our differences as a means for demanding better treatment. The diversity was appreciated and combined to show a big bright picture of an infinite good God.
I barely could get to sleep that night. I was exhausted and riveted at the same time. Sleep finally came about 9 p.m. I woke at 12:45.
12:45 a.m., awake and compliant to get out of bed and start driving home.
Nighttime traffic was much easier than daytime traffic.
Five hours later, I was driving out of Washington D.C. and could see on the other side of the highway lane incoming traffic. I’d just missed morning rush hour.
I made it home just before noon. Dog-tired but delighted to see and hug my cats. Worn but calmed to see my chickens. Drained but filled with the desire to keep living that which has no end, creativity and the sense of belonging to an expanding and generous mind.
Arriving early in Raleigh, North Carolina, for the Writing for Your Life conference, I drove to St. Mark’s Methodist Church, host to the Writing for Your Life conference. The hotel where I was staying let me check in early.
The conference started with an amenable worship service. There were about 140 of us attendees. Then Barbara Brown Taylor spoke, giving us tips on writing based on Imagination, using the imagination to say what the reader wants to say, using body language to transcend the body.
Now, I never heard of Barbara Brown Taylor, but other people had. The woman sitting next to me shed tears after she got to meet Taylor personally. I asked the woman if she wanted me to take a picture of her with Taylor. Yes, she did. I took the photo with her phone and then thanked Taylor for her advice on writing. She really was a good speaker and teacher.
Workshops were attended during the day. I learned what I’ve been doing wrong. Ha, lots.
But, that night, I lay awake figuring out how to fix my mistake, or oversight is a better word.
Apparently, the title, subtitle, and back page are SUPER important. Well, on my memoir I don’t have a subtitle at all. Easy fix. I’d do it as soon as I got home. I slept a few hours.
The next morning Taylor spoke again but on provocation. The importance of provoking yourself as a writer to venture into new ideas. Take risks with creativity, work hard, and respect the “incubation” period. Sit on an idea and let it grow, before the illumination and translation processes.
More in a few days.