Everyday Spirituality

Read “Giving Voice to Quiet,” from The Daily Star newspaper, Oneonta, NY

Store-bought frozen chicken-nuggets and tater-tots. That was our Thanksgiving dinner, year 2000.

Carrying the bagged meal, my husband, our two daughters, and I mucked our way through deep snow to a cabin in the Blue Mountains in Oregon. Our decision wasn’t a protest to a gluttonous holiday meal. We weren’t broke. We weren’t mad at the extended family.

We needed quiet time together.

After starting a fire in the Franklin woodstove, we watched the crackling flames. We went for a walk and listened to the light wind blow through the trees. We talked about what we saw and heard.

When it neared time to eat, preparation wasn’t too intense. Directions: Set oven at 425 degrees, place frozen nuggets and tots on pan. Bake 40 minutes.

After dinner, we washed the plates and utensils and cleaned up after ourselves.

Did we have a long family discussion? No.

Did I give one of my “mom lectures”? No.

Did we have any screens or devices with us? Absolutely not.

We gave voice to quiet, accompanied by giving thanks. It was great.

Whether Thanksgiving this year is simple or hectic, we can follow the recipe given in Ecclesiastes, “Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Quietness doesn’t come easy. For help, I’ve taken the approach of prayer, found in the Bible. I learn from Christ Jesus, who rose early in the morning, “and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

But I remind myself that quiet and desolate silence are not equal.

Spiritual leaders admired today didn’t, and don’t, linger in desolate silent places. They were, and are busy, actively working, uplifting, feeding, and sharing good ideas that give voice to quietness.

Researchers find a correlation between quiet and the noise in our head.

Effects of internal quietness and noise were discovered accidently by Dr. Luciano Bernardi, professor at the University of Pavia in Italy, when he studied how the brain reacts to different types of music. Data showed that the two-minute silent pauses between the different types of music proved more relaxing on the brain than the relaxing music, as reported in the journal “Heart” in 2006.

I ask myself, can I hear harmony, instead of music? Can I see beauty, instead of food? Can I feel thanksgiving, instead of feel pressured? I’m willing to give it a try because I’ve tasted its benefits in the past.

Whether this year’s Thanksgiving celebration involves a trek to a remote cabin or wearing noise-cancelling-headphones during the celebration, look for the special guest of quiet. And listen up, because quiet can speak volumes.

Bio: Cheryl Petersen, of Delhi, is a freelance religion writer. Her books include “I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter,” and, “from science & religion to God: A narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.”

The internet shows that nothing can be hidden. It means that the people who hurt others can’t hide and will be called to justice; it means that the people who quietly help others, will be rewarded.

Before the internet, it was often one person’s word against another person’s word. With the internet, words are in text. Moreover, that text is stored.

Today’s media reporting on accusations of incriminating evidence that occurred in the past, interestingly is backed by substantial evidence from the internet. Websites collect data that can be retrieved and used for or against claims.

“In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:-1-3

The electricity went out for a couple of hours this early morning. Prayer in candle light, became the thing to do.

My prayers expressed gratitude, affirmations of good, and the determination to acknowledge that God’s promises are fulfilled.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103: 2-5

The electricity may have been cut off, but God never gets cut off.

Hasan Sidiqi serves lunch at Tulip and Rose Cafe in Franklin, NY

Hasan Sidiqi serves lunch at Tulip and Rose Cafe in Franklin, NY

Building mutually useful relationships between religions and their societies, involves the best use of language and good public relations. PR may not yet be possible between hyper-antagonistic individuals and groups however good public relations is possible between people holding informal attitudes sweetened with hope.

We can say hello to people who speak or look different. We can invite to lunch someone who holds differing thoughts on religion and share what we have in common.

A 2017 Pew Research survey reported, “Across the board, Americans express warmer feelings toward religious groups when they are personally familiar with someone in the group, consistent with findings from the June 2014 survey.”

Recently, in New York’s Delaware County, the Sufi Muslim community, Osmanli Dergahi, invited local officials and leaders to lunch at a café. “As Muslim-Americans, we wanted to host the lunch as an opportunity to offset suspicions surrounding Islam,” said Erdem Kahyaoglli.

The commonality? Standing for justice and freedom.

The Muslim community was founded in 2002 by Sheykh Abdul Kerim el-Kibrisi, the Worldwide Leader of the Osmanli Naksibendi Sufi Order. The Dergahi offers a peaceful, contemplative outlet for those interested in spirituality and a traditional lifestyle.

I wonder, as a Christian wanting to feed hope, what are we up against when building relationships? What needs countering to become familiar with the unfamiliar?

Arguably, there is a mountain of evidence suggesting human beings, lightning-fast, divide the world into us and them. The dividing is accomplished with not only religion, but also gender, race, ethnicity, and language.

Because language has shown itself inadequate to express reality, or God, or Allah, it isn’t good public relations to defend revered words as if they contain truth. It isn’t good PR to repeat language that no longer builds.

Building relationships requires innovation and vitality. Building is more than maintenance. It is more than trying to use the past to connect with new peers.

Good public relations include body language. I ask: Am I serving others, or myself? Am I fighting on the side of justice, or of bias?

Good PR is active. It helps firewall the brain from being hijacked by suspicion or terror, mends relationships, digs out fear.

Although fear related problems have been traced to physiological conditions like an overactive thyroid gland, or to psychological conditions like arguments between the head and heart, solutions are found when looked for.

And, for billions of people, the tool of religion has proven useful when facing fear. Many thinkers attest to freedom from terror, gained spiritually, on websites like One Beliefnet post offers 10 Bible verses to inspire courage.

Whether it’s the courage to smile at a stranger, have lunch together, or let go of language that no longer works, the courage to assert good PR, every day anew, can build relationships, by starting at home.


Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer and contributes to The Daily Star in Oneonta, NY. Her books are: from science & religion to God, 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter. Available on