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Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Oat Grass for Cats in the Winter

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Our spiritual journeys can feel like one step forward and two steps back sometimes however quite often the one step forward is a magnanimous leap that adds to our spirituality.

I’m pleasantly amazed to see how non-intrusive answers come to my mind enforcing my conviction there is a Mind greater than my human mind. A few months ago, an image of my cats eating grass during the summer flashed through memory. We’ve had a cold snowy winter and therefore I went to town and bought some oat grass seed along with some potting soil.

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After arriving home, the cats and I planted oat seeds and began watching them grow in the house. No eating lessons were required. The cats go to the grass every morning and sometime in the evening and snack on the grass.

I’ve since learned a few theories as to why cats like eating grass.

  • Grass contains folic acid, an essential vitamin for bodily functions that also assists in the production of a protein that moves oxygen in the blood.
  • Because cats are carnivores and clean themselves, thus accumulating quite a build-up of hair in the digestive tract, they will eat the grass to assist in regurgitation thus helping them eliminate indigestible matter making them feel better.
  • Another theory is that grass acts as a natural laxative.

In line with the laws of nature, we don’t yet understand how we eat and live without agriculture. From 21st Century Science and Health, “Scriptures inform us that sin, or error, first caused the condemnation of humankind to till the ground.” But religion can also teach us that, “Scriptures indicate that obedience to [Mind] will remove the necessity to rely on material food, air, or technology.” The key is obedience to God, not trying to get rid of agriculture.

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Les Miserables in a new light

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Reviews of Director Tom Hooper’s big screen adaptation of Victor Hugo’s book, Les Misérables are almost as entertaining as the film. The reviews exhibit barbed, bazaar, candid opinions that human beings are vulnerable to express.

Last weekend, my husband and I ventured out for our quadrennial date and actually got in a vehicle and drove to the Walton Theater to watch Les Misérables.

For a little background, I read Les Misérables decades ago. Loved it. But clearly, I didn’t remember every detail therefore whenever I’m drawn back to the ideas in Les Misérables, through other movies or renditions, I learn something new about broken dreams, religious values, unrequited love, sacrifice, and redemption. The many versions of the book add to the scope of Victor Hugo’s donation to the advancement of humanity.

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I haven’t found a reviewer yet who echoes my impression of the 2012 musical rendition of Les Misérables.  I don’t lean toward the passionate exclamation, “Nothing short of breathtaking, triumphant and beautiful!” I also don’t lean toward the review quipped by Alistair Harkness who commented, and I’m abridging here, “Bombastic, overblown, overlong, needlessly convoluted…” His remark seems backward. The French to English language version of the book, Les Misérables, contains 530,982 words. The 2012 film, scripted by William Nicholson, Herbert Kretzmer, Alain Boublil, and Claude-Michel Schönberg, managed to effectively garner at least 250 pages into a 3 minute song. Bravo.

The 2012 Les Misérables impressed me with the fact that time/space and the human language are surmounted with the use of lyrics, music, acting, and visuals. All these layers together produced a grand effect that are provoking the human mind to grow out of its own codes, expectations, assumptions, and flawed views.

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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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