Everyday Spirituality

My neighbor started fostering a cat from our local Heart of the Catskills Humane Society. Our grand-daughter visited and we walked over to meet Musafa.

What a charming cat. This blog is to encourage others to foster or adopt pets from local humane societies. It’s also to encourage walking when we can, rather than hope in the car and drive.

We can join those who are striving for “walkable” cities and villages. You can check you town’s walkability score online at:

“All of God’s creatures have access to moral courage. They move in the harmony of divine law. They are harmless, useful, and indestructible.” –from science & religion to God: a briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.

Adam musafa and j


One hundred and fifty years ago, a woman living in Swampscott, Massachusetts, had an ah-ha moment. She couldn’t describe the epiphany, but it resulted in an instant recovery from an injury caused a few days earlier that had left her bedridden.

The attending physician and friends of the New England woman called the recovery a miracle. She explained her healing as the “falling apple” that compelled her to learn “how” she was healed. It led her to discover a timeless spiritual force that she later labeled, Christian Science.

By the turn of the 20th century, Christian Science was all the rage in America and Europe, along with the woman’s name, Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910). She was a pioneer in mind-study, though not the human mind, but divine mind.

Eddy became a prolific writer on the subject of Christian Science, defined as a law of God interpreting a divine order. She taught classes on the power of prayer. She started a publishing house. She started a church, headquartered in Back Bay. She founded a secular newspaper. She revised her principal book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, continuously until her death.

Visitors today can visit the Swampscott house, along with other houses connected to the life of Eddy. The houses are maintained and open to the public by Longyear Museum, founded by Mary Beecher Longyear (1851-1931) and based in Chestnut Hill. Evidence from bygone days’ point to the historical environment from which Eddy plucked her ideas.

During the Industrial Age, religious and secular teachings received a good shaking, along with the belief that cultural standings and physical matter were fixed. Eddy began preaching that there is more to the reality than what we see with our eyes. She valued the systematic approach of science, using logic and inspiration, rather than belief, and applied it to her religion. Prayer became a tool for healing, not only sin, but also physical problems.

Christian Science went on to be chronicled by thousands of people as the power behind remarkable spiritual healings of hate, fear, addictions, depression, tuberculosis, and fatigue. Christian Science was noticeably celebrated more than it was satirized.

Today, Christian Science isn’t well known, or known well. It’s confused with scientology. In retracing the steps of history, one can learn that Christian Science now carries baggage, the heaviest burden picked up in the 20th century when it was nearly redefined by critics and admirers alike to mean radical reliance on prayer or sacred words, instead of relying on a spiritual understanding of God.

It is disingenuous to argue that committed prayer is divorced from Christian Science, as it is to assert that ritualistic prayer is synonymous with Christian Science. History shows, human beings make mistakes. Mary Baker Eddy made mistakes. But those mistakes could be learned from and rightness can reassert itself.

Visitors and enquirers may wonder, is Eddy original or a fraud? Is Christian Science Christian or cult? Is it’s spiritual healing genuine or bogus?

Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science will be any of those to different people at different times. Their accomplishments will always be up for debate. History shows however, that Christian Science challenged the old thinking that health is a state of physical matter. It challenged mass consciousness to examine and pursue mindful healing. It challenged thinkers to consider how spirituality improves approaches to health, science, and religion.


Bio: Cheryl Petersen’s book is, from science & religion to God: a briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health. Available at  Cheryl’s website is


First printed in The Daily Star, Oneonta, New York.

Death and dying

By Cheryl Petersen

With the advancement of medicine is coming an advancement in how we participate in death and dying. Five local professionals, served as a panelist at the Fly Creek Methodist Church, and brought discussion on the topic of accepting death and dying peacefully.

Dr. James Dalton, Director of Medical Education at Bassett, said “People actually restrict their lives when they don’t look at dying. Looking at death helps us realize what matters most to us.”

Dalton pointed out that death and dying aren’t medical question, but involve human talks.

The Reverend Betsy Jay, Chaplain, mentioned the benefits of talking about death in advance. “Before a crisis,” she said.

Dr. Chris Mulik, Hospice, said, “It’s a mental shift.”

Dr. Carol Beechy, Palliative Care and Hospice Specialist, highlighted the availability of Guides for people to follow. The Guides offer useful questions to ask about death.

Five Wishes, is a document designed to serve as a living will. It’s a way to open the door to conversations in regard to learning from others their personal, emotional and spiritual desires in the end, or expressing your own wishes.

Peter Deysenroth, Funeral Director, said, “People typically try to hide from death.” But, in his thirty-year career, Deysenroth has noticed an uptick in people specifying beforehand how they want to die, even following through on pre-paid funeral expenses. “It makes for easier days for everyone,” he added.

The necessity to unlearn the tendency to keep a person existing medically was discussed.

“I was trained to fix the body,” said Dr. Tom Huntsman, Chief of Plastic Surgery at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown. “After many years of service, I realized I can’t fix everything. At that point, I started learning how to transition from being a physician to being a human being.”

The feeling of failure oftentimes prevents honing the skill to transition. “I was able to make the transition when I realized that although I can’t help a person surgically, I can help humanly,” said Huntsman.

A book, “Being Mortal,” authored by Atul Gawande, American surgeon, initiated Pastor Sharon Rankins-Burd to host the discussion, April 11.

“I heard him speak and have read his book,” said Dalton. “He writes, not as a doctor, but as a person. We need to start the conversation about death and dying. We need to let others know how we want our last years to go.”

“I’ve discovered it’s a team effort,” said the Reverend Carol Jubenville, Director of Independent Living.  “When the patient, family members, physicians, and care-takers all work together, death can be beautiful.”


: Panelists: Peter Deysenroth, Dr. James Dalton, Dr. Carol Beechy, the Rev. Betsy Jay, and Dr. Chris Mulik, speak on death and dying at Fly Creek Methodist Church, April 11, 2016

: Panelists: Peter Deysenroth, Dr. James Dalton, Dr. Carol Beechy, the Rev. Betsy Jay, and Dr. Chris Mulik, speak on death and dying at Fly Creek Methodist Church, April 11, 2016


Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. A branch of this Christian ministry has been active in our community for 23 years. Last week, there was a ribbon cutting for a home that now belongs to a married couple and their young children.

“It took a lot of patience and faith,” said a local board member of Habitat for Humanity. “Faith made the impossible, possible.”

The project began nearly three years ago. An old cabin was donated to the Habitat organization. The inside was renovated and squared up. An architect drew up plans to add an extra bedroom to the cabin. Through many volunteer hours, the project was completed.

Philanthropy is a mean to nurture spirituality. We don’t want to do other people’s work for them, but as the board member said, “It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.”

Habitat for Humanity home in Delhi


Previous Posts