Everyday Spirituality

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

Looking down at Niagara Falls tourists

Looking down at Niagara Falls tourists

I get a kick out of visiting Niagara Falls in New York and Ontario, Canada. The Falls represent indescribable power. The Falls is actually a set of three waterfalls along the Niagara River: the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the Canadian/Horseshoe Falls.

The last time I visited was with Bryan. The frigid winter of 2014, when the falls iced over. Umm, it was a really cold tourism trip that we haven’t forgotten, but pretty amazing.

The power of water and force hints at the power of Spirit, divine Mind, Love.

Quoting from science & religion to God:

“Mortal human mind sees what it believes as certainly as it believes what it sees. And, when the human mind is forced to see its own falsities—through experience, science, or religion—it is being prepared to loosen its grip and allow divine insight.

“Divine knowledge exists, is in force, and has ultimate power. Divine thoughts are intelligent, fruitful, unified; they belong to us. As we escape from the claims of human mind, the whole human family is blessed and virtue is promoted in the community.”

Doug and Cheryl in front of air mist plume at Niagara Falls

Doug and Cheryl in front of air mist plume at Niagara Falls

“You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.” Ps. 77:14

Since year 2000, the International Space Station has been orbiting Earth. Astronauts switch-out living there. The station is used as a science lab for many countries. Currently, there are six astronauts living in the station, studying and performing maintenance.

October 26, 2017, European time, Pope Francis had a chat with the astronauts.

Because I understand English, the English-speaking astronaut was the one I’m quoting here: He said, “People cannot come up here and see the indescribable beauty of our earth and not be touched in their souls. As we see the peace and serenity as our planet goes around at ten kilometers a second, and there’s no borders, no conflict. It’s just peaceful and you see the thinness of the atmosphere it makes you realize how fragile our existence here is and that as we work here on the space station, and within our international partnership, we’d hope that that example of what we can achieve together is an example for the world and humanity, and maybe if we can get better access to space and for more people, our future will be better than what we have now.”

There is a lot of truth to this statement. Experience is powerful however experience is also measurable. A human experience that touches my soul may just as well frighten the bageebees out of someone else.

But I think the astronaut was talking about spiritual experience: peacefulness, humility, humanness, working together. And we can experience that in our backyards. People have been experiencing wonder, goodness, and love for a long time.

From Psalms 136:1-4

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;”

Something to ponder, appreciate, and know is ours. Now.

Quoting from science & religion to God:

“Prayer is the faith that all things positive and good are possible to God. Fed by selfless love, faith grows into spiritual understanding and reveals remarkable experiences.”

I just finished a 4-mile walk outside. Colorful leaves fell from oak and maple trees. Clouds moved away and there was the sunshine.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not stop the sunshine, I could not stop the leaves from falling from the trees. It reminds me not to try to stop old thinking from falling away. I can more than hope, even trust that soon new leaves and fresh new thinking will emerge.

Quoting from science & religion to God: A briefer version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health

Genesis 1: 14: And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,

This indicates the diffusion and circulation of divine thought as it ascends. The God-centered nature continues to appear. To discern the rhythm of Spirit and to be holy, thought must be purely spiritual.

Briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy's "Science & Health" available on

Briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science & Health” available on