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Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Ash Wednesday and Traditions

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Ash Wednesday brought me to a Taizé church service this year. Surrounded by candlelight, the pastor welcomed us all and explained Taizé is little village in the south of Burgundy, France. In this village, over 60 years ago, Brother Roger founded a community committed to prayer and reunion within the church and the human family. Taizé interjects short melodies in between Scriptural readings. Music laces together harmony with the intent to promote focus on God.

A cantor, violinist, flutist, and pianist centered our prayers. Although the beginning of Lent, we were reminded it is okay to cherish our joys while diminishing our backwardness.

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The Taizé style service is rather modern in context, started in the 20th century. Oddly, the popular Ash Wednesday took many centuries to develop and didn’t become formal until the 12th century.

Knowing the background of traditions keeps our brains from believing certain traditions are laws. We can break traditions or start new ones, it’s just best to remember the goal, to praise God.

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Hospitality in Religion and Healthcare

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Hospitality has become big business in the travel industry and the trend is appearing in the fields of religion and healthcare. Granted, the business of hospitality exposes the fact that we are hospitable when we are getting paid money. Not exactly heartwarming, but it’s a mark better than inhospitable conditions. Moreover, we can still figure out what hospitality is all about.

Hospitality is not a new concept by any means. We read in I Peter, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” We also detect the instruction of a friendly and generous nature in the Hippocratic Oath, “In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients.”

But quite often, human circumstances, beliefs, and cultures make it difficult to be genuinely hospitable. Doctors in the Public Insight Network said, “They need more time—time to talk with patients, time to think through difficult diagnoses, time to analyze data showing whether patients are doing better under their care—and fair compensation for that time.” This need will be met only when the mind makes room for new ideas on how to achieve the goal. And, room is made when old ideas are removed.

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A few old ideas being unloaded are the standard notions that religions and healthcare are supported by the fear of death or the quest to fight death. There are signs of religions and healthcare shifting to a more hospitable outlook of learning to focus on and live a meaningful life. We are admitting that the quest to prolong mortality is desolate. The Los Angeles Times reported February 5, 2013, “New research finds that the proportion of Medicare patients dying in hospice care nearly doubled from 22% in 2000 to 42% in 2009, an apparent bow to patients’ overwhelming preference for more peaceful passings free of heroic measures.”

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Humanity is not only bypassing aggressive healthcare treatments that extend a mortal life but also ducking the hard-hitting dogma in religions that provoke behavior out of fear of death rather than a love of love and truth. Within the last century, we’ve seen the pursuit of spiritualty bust out of inhospitable religious customs and healthcare strategies. We read in 21st Century Science and Health, “One moment of divine consciousness, or the spiritual understanding of Life and Love, is a foretaste of eternity.”

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Addiction to Assumptions

posted by Cheryl Petersen

If there is one thing I’ve learned after being married 30 years it is that my husband and I think alike, but not really. It appears as though we can read one another’s mind which is nice because we do little extra things for one another every day that make life much easier and more fun. The snag though is that I can out-think my husband. This is not to mean I am smarter, but that I think way more often and specific than him. His thought processing powers can slip into neutral at the sight of brownies.

This ability to think has been strengthened by my study of divine Science, a spiritual quest that involves reasoning and revelation but more so it involves developing thoughts from divine Mind rather than the human mind. Well, that is the intent, to respond to divine Mind full of health, strength, and wisdom.

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The problem is I sometimes don’t know the difference between a divine thought and a human thought.

Of course, if I’m going to respond to human thoughts, I hope to respond to the better ones, like forgiveness, patience, and practicality. But divine thoughts are even greater and they are extremely powerful.

Divine thoughts are not abstract but definitely metaphysical and they permeate the human consciousness to bring about spiritual development and healing. Many times, I’ve been healed or guided wisely by means of divine Mind but to be honest, I get snarky or pious, take your pick they are both unwelcoming characteristics, and worse yet, I start assuming everyone else should think like me. I expect things to be a certain way.

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This is where my husband comes in handy. He helps me break my addiction to assumptions because he isn’t all caught up in my smartness. How do I know it’s an addiction?

Addictions have been exposed and broken down. The signs are obvious:

  • I defend my thoughts to the point that I get on the defense too easily.
  • I blame others for the problems going on. The red flag here is that when the others are out of the picture, the problems still persist.
  • Secrets are kept secrets. Anything that might give my assumptions away is ignored or covered up with fluff.
  • I indulge in my assumptions. I justify my outgrown repetitive thoughts and behavior because they make me feel good.
  • I excuse the guilt and shame that are always hanging around. I stiffen my assumptions, and spend all my hours working hard to show my beliefs are valid and God willing, yet guilt and shame are still niggling in the background.
  • I become isolated from forward thinking people and only hang around those who think like me—a diminishing number.

Fortunately, taking on the task of revising Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, has really exposed assumptions. I laugh now, but it was a shock to learn that words in a book are not truth. Truth is metaphysical. Also, the human language is not a resource for knowledge, only divine Mind is the source of knowledge. I continue my journey and lessen my assumption that those really nice human thoughts are divine and focus on God.

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From the 4th edition of 21st Century Science and Health:

SCIENTIFIC TRANSLATION OF SPIRITUAL DIVINE MIND

GOD: Divine Principle, Mind, Soul, Life, Love, Truth, Spirit.

PERSON (man and woman): God’s spiritual idea, individual, perfect, eternal.

IDEA: An image in Mind; “Synonyms IDEA, CONCEPT, CONCEPTION, THOUGHT, NOTION, IMPRESSION mean what exists in the mind as a representation (as of something comprehended) or as a formulation (as of a plan).”[1]

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SCIENTIFIC TRANSLATION OF HUMAN MIND

First Degree: Spiritual unawareness.

PHYSICAL. Evil thinking, obsessions and negative appetites, fear, corrupt will, self-justification, arrogance, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, disease, death.

Second Degree: Disappearance of self-destructive thinking.

MORAL. Humanity, honesty, constructive inclinations, compassion, hope, faith, humility, moderation.

Third Degree: Understanding.

SPIRITUAL. Wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding, spiritual power, love, health, holiness.

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Spiritual universe

In the third degree, human mind disappears and man and woman as God’s image appear.


[1] By permission. From the Merriam-Webster OnLine,©2007 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated (www.Merriam-Webster.com).

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Heroes and Heroines

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Humankind has a history marked by heroes and heroines. Confucius, Ruth, King David, Christ Jesus, Mohammad, Sojouner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Corrie Ten Boom, the list goes on ad infinitum. We observe, study, and revere our heroes and heroines. Religions have tapped into this human tendency and applied it to God, even pushing us to have no other gods beside the one God.

I’m inclined to debate this religious ideal, not as an advocate for more than one God but as a realist that humankind needs their heroes and heroines. As a researcher and writer who has written material about the human nature and God, I think human protagonists inspire us to explore and experience spirituality (religions are optional).

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God is not all that simple to understand. Moreover, the religions that hype a perfect understanding of God—right…I don’t think so. God is infinite and although I’ve experienced amazing spiritual healing in prayer to the one infinite God, more progress is needed. I still study what can be chalked up as heroes and heroines. The key is not to adore the human protagonists to the point of idolization.

Human beings who idolize, also hate.

Anyway, a true hero or heroine does not want to be idolized or worshiped. Christ Jesus was remembered to have said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) Yet, Jesus told people to follow him.

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How can we have heroes or heroines without infringing on our love and respect to God? By applying the principles they stood for.

Protagonists who disregard their own life while taking a stand for the ideals of spirituality and equality are an inspiration. They show me how to choose empathy and altruism over the pursuit of worldly status or control. It takes a lot of guts to buck the human egos that pigheadedly take great pains to imprison the spirit in the letter, to defend a myopic human agenda, or to divide and conquer, but to know someone before me did it successfully, helps.

I’ll continue to observe the ideals of my heroes and heroines then translate those observations into experience that embody those ideals.

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