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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How Woodstock 50th taught me about togetherness

Unknown to me fifty-years ago, when I was seven years old, the anomaly dubbed The Woodstock Festival, made history. How was it possible that 450,000 people knew to trek their way to the town of Bethel in upstate New York? No internet. No cellphones. At a time when area codes categorized people by regions.

In 1969, I was living on our family farm in southeastern Washington state. Oblivious to the world.

Mom and Dad had recently bought a black and white television so we could watch men land on the moon. I observed and thought, “Hmm, that’s interesting.” But was more intrigued by the boxy gizmo sitting on an end table, showing me moving and talking images.

I was a teen before I learned about Woodstock. I learned the clean version. Self-caring musicians, well-behaved attendees, people picking up their own litter, standing up for what’s right, wanting peace.

I still believe the clean version but as is true to any human version of life, it comes with flaws, eventually exposed. Fame sometimes blocks self-care, bad behavior lurks in the background of the human mind, litter happens, and what’s right and peace aren’t always clear.

And yet, after all these years, it’s the clean version that receives the brunt of my attention and is passed along in conversations. Fortunately, I’m not alone. Last Sunday, Times Herald-Record ran an article, Spirit of Woodstock lives on in memories of historic festival, confirming the type of attention and communication that points to the good in humanity.

From Times Herald-Record, Steve Israel interviewed three people who were closely connected to the original Woodstock. They shared hindsight and deepened admiration to the festival.

The article also carries a black and white photo showing a long line of cars piloting, bumper to bumper and sandwiched between thousands of people walking side-by-side, to the festival.

That photo reveals an answer to my very curious wonder of how so many people knew to make their way to a dairy farm in Bethel, back in the day before the internet.

Despite the fact I avoid crowds like the plague, the photo asked me to admit that I’m still in close contact with people. Whether in a line at the grocery store or eating out in a restaurant. I may be sandwiched in with family members, co-workers, or strangers, but without hesitancy and without the internet, we can strike up a conversation and keep sharing the spirit of togetherness.

Weird birds and water

In a steamy kitchen, Mom busily prepares dinner for our family of seven. She simultaneously pulls quart jars of preserved peaches out of the canner while flipping potatoes on the stove. My younger brother walks in the kitchen and says, “Mom, I ran over a bird.”

“Ah, that’s too bad, it’ll be okay, I know it feels sad ,” said Mom.

“Dad will be mad.” said my brother.

Double take from Mom.

My brother answers her questioning look, “Not a feathered bird, a sprinkler bird.”

“Oh, I’ll tell Dad, he will fix it, don’t worry. Go finish mowing the lawn,” said Mom.

Living in southeastern Washington state, where grass and crops require irrigation to survive, we call the sprinklers, perched on irrigation pipes, birds. It worked for us, most of the time. My brother finished mowing the lawn. Dad glued a coupler between the broken pipes and the bird sprayed water again after an irrigation valve was opened.

We used the word bird, for irrigation, frequently. We got paid by the number of birds we moved. We moved birds every day. We unplugged birds. We took off birds with broken springs and replaced them with new birds. We carried extra birds around with us in the farm trucks.

Since moving to New York, the word bird has totally swapped over for me. It just happened. No effort on my part because we don’t have irrigation in Warwick. When I say bird, I’m definitely referring to feathered creatures. Blue birds, robins, blue jays, cardinals, swallows, finches.

Another word, however, took me about five years to swap out. Or unlearn. Or get. In a nutshell, the swap out took effort and understanding. I just could not figure out why New Yorkers looked at me funny when I’d talk about pop. My husband finally put it together and explained, “They say soda here.”

So weird.

Not weird that pop is called soda here and pop in Washington but it’s weird trying to remember to say pop when visiting the Pacific northwest and soda here.

Sometimes, I lack the patience and etiquette to bother speaking with appropriate words altogether.

Last week, I’m at the pool shop collecting my weekly pool care supplies and remember to say, “Oh yes, one more thing I need help with. The edge of the hose thingy broke off the thingy I hook it too and I probably need a whole new thingy instead of just a piece of a thingy.”

The pool specialists and owners, Pool Ladies, as I call them, did a double take, but within minutes I had what I needed and was headed home to swim in water instead of use it to irrigate.

Christian Science Review, 10

We read in 21st Century Science and Health.

Question. What is Mind?

Answer. Mind is God. The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind. To suppose there is an opposite to infinite Mind—called devil or mindless evil—is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality. There can be but one Mind, because there is but one God; and if human beings claimed no other Mind and accepted no other, all that opposes infinite Mind would be unknown. We can have but one Mind, if that one is infinite. We bury the perception of infinitude when we admit that, although God is infinite, evil has a place in this infinity, for evil can have no place where all presence is God.

We lose the exalted significance of omnipotence, when after admitting that God, or good, is omnipresent and has all-power, we still believe there is another power, named evil.  To think that there is more than one mind is pernicious, destructive to divine theology, and on par with ancient mythology and pagan idolatry. With one Parent, God, all people would be family, with one Mind, good. The family would consist of Love and Truth and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science. The supposed existence of more than one mind was the basic error of idolatry. This error assumed the loss of spiritual power, the loss of the presence of Life as infinite Truth without an unlikeness, and the loss of Love as ever present and universal.

Divine Science explains the abstract statement that there is one Mind by the following self-evident proposition: If God, or good, is real then the unlikeness of Life, Truth, and Love is unreal. Any unlikeness to God can only seem real by giving reality to the unreal. The children of God have but one Mind. How can good lapse into bad, when God, the Mind of person, never falters? The standard of perfection was originally God and God’s image, or offspring. Has God’s standard been lowered, and has God’s image fallen? Or did the human concept of God fall?

God is the creator of person, and because the divine Principle of person remains complete, the divine idea or reflection, person, remains complete. Our real identity is the expression of God’s being. If there ever was a moment when person did not express the divine, then there was moment when person did not express God, and consequently a time when God was unexpressed—that is, without entity. If spiritual being lost perfection, then God’s idea lost its perfect Principle, and our existence was a myth.

The relationship between God and person, divine Principle and idea, is indestructible in Science, and Science knows no drifting from or return to harmony but holds the divine relationship or spiritual law in which God and all creation is complete, eternal, and remaining unchanged in its eternal history.

The unlikeness of Truth—named error—the opposite of Science and the evidence before the five corporeal senses, offer no sign of the grand facts of spiritual being. But don’t fret, because even though our human senses feel no evidence that our earth is spinning rapidly through space, we still learned the truth through science and can understand the cosmos.

The facts of divine Science should be admitted, although their evidence is not supported by evil, by that which possesses mass, or by physical senses. The evidence that God and individuals coexist is fully sustained by spiritual sense. An individual is and forever has been God’s reflection. God is infinite, therefore ever present, and there is no other power, no other presence. The spirituality of the universe is the only fact of creation. “Let God be found true though every human being is false and a liar.”[1]

Think on this:

To understand divine Mind requires a shake-down. Mind can’t be understood intellectually, certainly not by the human mind. Knowledge and experience, whether asked for or not, inevitably spotlights the magnification of divine Mind and self-destruction of mindless stuff.

Reread Mark 15 and 16, John 19 and 20.

Read in Science and Health’s chapter, Glossary, the definitions for “Burial,” “Devil,” “Human Mind (Mortal Mind, in Eddy’s book),” “Matter,” “Mind,” and “Resurrection.”

Did Christ Jesus stay true to divine ideals, which in turn allowed dead-end ideals to bury themselves? Did Jesus’ perceptions of divine Mind touch and bless others? Now, let’s look at how divine Mind’s action is repeated today.

Take a few minutes to learn or refresh your knowledge of the Twin Towers 9/11 attack in New York City.

On a full page, write down answers to these questions. How has that horrible 9/11 event spotlighted the power of divine Mind? How can we let evil bury itself in regard to the 9/11 event?

Does divine Mind know evil? Or does divine Mind, expressed through un-lapsing spiritual power, replace the empty beliefs in human stereotypes?

We must put our weight on the side of mindful awareness and not join those who can’t divide Mind’s attributes and human mind’s reactions, especially its reaction to stereotype. The 9/11 event, hopefully, spotlights the poise and equilibrium of divine Mind while replacing the extremisms of human mind.

Now, let’s look at divine Mind’ presence in less extreme circumstances.

Read Harvard Gazette’s October 2018 interview of Professor Ellen Langer, titled, Ellen Langer’s State of Mindfulness.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/10/ellen-langer-talks-mindfulness-health/

Langer’s statements show a community willing to value mind as equal to body. And why not? Since human mind and body are one. Langer amplifies the ideas of equality and oneness by depicting a picture of people and health professionals working together equally.

Our own scientific experiences also can value oneness and health, in that, we judge rightly, with poise and equilibrium. For example, although God has empowered us to heal metaphysically, that doesn’t mean God empowered us to heal solely through prayer. Prayer is another human method like using medicines. Metaphysics involves intelligence and working together equally. Metaphysics involves divine Mind.

[1] Rom. 3:4 (Amplified)

Christian Science Review, 9

Question. What is intelligence?

Answer. Intelligence is omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. It is the primal and perpetual quality of infinite Mind, the all-inclusive Principle—Life, Truth, and Love—named God.

Think on this: Because we’re trained to believe that the mechanism of the human brain controls intelligence, we therefore experience not only intellect but also stupidity, since the brain runs extremes.

However, the view that recognizes intelligence as attached to the human brain is dying.

Animal and bug brains show intelligence. Moreover, people see intelligence expressed in the survival behavior of plants or in outer space systems. As our views of intelligence expand, we indirectly stop looking for objects resembling the human brain and increase the possibility of discovering intelligent life on earth and in outer space.

Time spent measuring intelligence, for example, IQ testing, will be replaced by testing thoughts, to make sure we employ divine thoughts and not human thoughts. Divine thoughts, grounded on infinite Mind and Love, result in a wisdom we can identify with and put to work in everyday life. Whereas, human thoughts, based on human history and wants, eventually find dead ends.

As for intelligence in the form of information or news, it is our right and responsibility to weigh the information with unbiased honesty and spiritual courage, the Christ-spirit. It is our right and responsibility to use our God-given courage to wrap our self in Truth, which comes with new truths each day.

Intelligence is knowledge, presence, and power. It has no beginning and no end. Spirit is intelligence and we Spirit’s image and likeness.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”—Colossians 3:1-3

 

 

 

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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Murphy’s Law and the measles

As printed in The Record, North New Jersey newspaper:

Murphy’s Law and Measles

By Cheryl Petersen

Word count: 402

At the same time New York City’s Board of Health unanimously voted to extend an emergency declaration ordering mandatory MMR vaccinations in four Brooklyn ZIP codes, I was driving to the nearest urgent care center for a titer test to determine the level of antibodies for measles in my blood. The test cost $29.15. The visitation took as long as it took to listen through office speakers to Barry Manilow sing Mandy, Elton John sing Empty Garden, and the Four Tops sing Ain’t no woman like the one I’ve got.

Sure, I’m not a super-fan of mandatory medical treatment but societal rules deserve thought and rethinking, whether rules come from officials issuing declarations for public health or from hands chiseling commandments onto stone tablets.

Filtering through the information, at this point, I agree with the emergency declaration. And to avoid rigid opinions as to why, I’ll defer to made-up Murphy’s Law, that if something can go wrong, it will.

Prime and heartrending example is found in The Washington Post article by National Reporter Lena Sun, who wrote about a recent traveler unaware he was carrying and spreading the measles virus. Even when the traveler became aware of the fact, he couldn’t believe it, until he finally conceded to the fact.

Sun quoted the head of Oakland emergency medical service, Steve McGraw, as saying that the traveler then “’put his head down and was very emotional. I could tell from the look on his face that he was devastated. He was doing the math in his head,’ counting all the people he had been in contact with,” wrote Sun.

Corrections were made. Corrections always need to be made.

I’m not afraid of measles or vaccinations as much as I’m afraid of human unawareness and feelings of devastations.

The titer test will play a role in awareness even though I’m not sick. I’m healthy as wind, but I’d quiet if asked my medical history of measles. I don’t know it and that unawareness adds to the problem.

Measles is highly contagious. Like gossip. And because I use public transportation and visit New York City frequently, I will not disgruntle vaccination for measles. If not for myself, for others, same as the thousands of people who have recently come forward to vaccinate their children in the hot spot of Williamsburg, NY, as reported by the health official at the New York City’s Board of Health meeting on Wednesday.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer living in Warwick and author of 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.

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