Everyday Spirituality

Everyday Spirituality

Wrapping the Brain Around Truth

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Brain plasticity was snubbed when first introduced to society centuries ago. Even modern Neuroplasticians with solid hard-science credentials coldshouldered the idea that brains are not hard-wired for life. Undaunted however, the brain gives evidence that when a person is motivated to learn, the brain will respond plastically. A learning brain can rewire and remap itself because the truth is material conditions are malleable, always in flux. Consequently, brain plasticity is now begrudgingly being accepted into society. But this new member of society is wearing an expensive outfit, advertising for a malleable relative truth.

Truth, more so than brain plasticity, is a prickly subject. The popular definitions of truth, such as “the quality or state of being true; or that which is in accordance with fact or reality,” are vague to say the least. Moreover, science and religion frequently show that what was true yesterday is not true today because our perceptions of reality are shrouded with unknowns and deception. Norman Doidge, M.D. author of The Brain that Changes Itself, explains to adults, “Our bodies aren’t changing as they did in adolescence; we’re more likely to have a solid sense of who we are and be skilled at a career. We still regard ourselves as active, but we have a tendency to deceive ourselves into thinking that we are learning as we were before. We rarely engage in tasks in which we must focus our attention as closely as we did when we were younger, trying to learn a new vocabulary or master new skills. Such activities as reading the newspaper, practicing a profession of many years, and speaking our own language are mostly the replay of mastered skills, not learning. By the time we hit our seventies, we may not have systematically engaged the systems in the brain that regulate plasticity for fifty years.”


Religious truths are evolving with social justice and with our ability to tap into discoveries and alter our material circumstances. It becomes apparent that Truth is available to everyone, not a chosen few. Dogma and DNA can be manipulated. Moreover, we admit the scientist, the religionist, and the common person have never fully explained a single fact in the universe. They only approximate. This fact however is not meant to discount truth but is meant to not allow human beings to try to lock truth into that which is malleable or always in flux. Christ Jesus’ statement, “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” confused his contemporaries because they assumed the truth of freedom was locked into national status. They rebutted, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone.”


Many of us don’t want to hear the truth. Or, we accept as truth that which justifies our own personal beliefs and agendas. Author Karen Armstrong, wrote in her book, A History of God, “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” But, we are bearing more and more. We are realizing that there is no blanket statement for truth. People can’t be “told” what truth is. A 19th century spiritual leader, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in her Preface to Science and Health, “The question, What is Truth, is answered by demonstration.” Interestingly, a review of what has been demonstrated throughout history leads the mind to believe the truth of hate is found to be self-destructive. The truth of self-control is found not to be pulled down with hate. The truth of neglect is that neglect is a waste of resources. The truth of love is that love is life-giving. The truth of health is that health is a right to everyone. Furthermore, the relativism of the world has not changed these manifestations but indirectly confirmed a resolved Truth.


The traditional definitions of truth that depend on the facts and realities of the relative world and human perceptions of reality do not alter Truth. The fixedness of Truth is in its self-revelation. Truth is constantly, reliably revealing itself, and we have the power and ability to distil what we absorb, observe, imagine and think, and consciously and logically demonstrate the truth of life, principle, and love.



Guest Blog by Julia Wade, Singer

posted by Cheryl Petersen

The Journey to Innovation


Julia Wade

 As the Soloist at the international headquarters of the Christian Science church — The Mother Church — I found myself in the unique position of bringing to the services all kinds of inspiring and innovative sacred music for the 21st Century. From 2005 to 2012, I performed several hundred sacred and inspirational songs in English and Spanish as well as in several African languages.

 It was a large part of my job to do this, and I loved it!  I loved it because it was natural for me to explore and expand my sense of music in church.   I was drawn to do it, and inspired to do it.  I simply had to do it!  It was my spiritual path to walk during those 7 years.


Over time, I helped to expand the instrumentation at The Mother Church beyond its grand Aeolean-Skinner organ.  Though much beloved and well used with over 13,000 pipes, we needed other instruments to express the more contemporary music.  We added digital keyboards, a computer bank of state-of-the-art sample libraries of orchestral instruments and an acoustic grand piano.  We regularly invited special guest instrumentalists to accompany me: acoustic and electric guitarists, keyboard players and programmers, a brass quintet, harpists, a violist, a clarinet player, a drum line of African drummers from Kenya and Nigeria, and more!  Occasionally, I sang a capella, and once I sang with a sweet harmonica as my accompaniment.  I also used professionally produced orchestral tracks as my band, which expanded the sacred sound landscape even further.


The expansion and innovation of the music in church always came from a deeply grounded motive to serve:  to serve the worship service, its congregation, and follow the inspiring messages coming to my thought.  My spiritual goal was to bless the service and congregation with music that would lift up, inspire, and heal, while supporting the main ideas of the sermon.  During my tenure, these motives and goals found their expression through the addition of instruments and instrumentalists mentioned above, different kinds of guest singers, a wide range of spiritual songs in many musical styles as well as my own evolving style of performance.

When I arrived at the beginning of my final year, I thought, well, it seems my work is done.  So, I asked, what am I supposed to do now?  Through prayer and practice, the answer came.  I was to go deep into Mary Baker Eddy’s prose text and sing her timeless truths straight from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.  “Wow.”  I thought, “Sing iconic statements from this seminal book!  What an interesting and challenging project to undertake!”


I took the idea to my principal composer and producer, Peter Link.  As a well-crafted lyricist, he was initially resistant to the idea.  It’s a whole different process to set prose to music than it is to set poetry or lyrics specifically written to be sung.  But Peter also loved so many of the iconic statements in Science and Health, so he was intrigued.  He went off to find out how this idea could take shape through his own creative expression.

The result is my new CD, Solos composed and produced by Peter Link.  The CD is comprised of 12 songs whose lyrics come directly from Science and Health.  One song, “Today,” was the first piece that Peter wrote for the album.  He took the opening sentence in the preface of Science and Health and he then expanded on that first phrase with his own lyrics.  The other 11 songs on the CD are all comprised of direct prose quotes written by Mary Baker Eddy.


The process of creating and recording “Solos” became a profound experience for both Peter and me.  We each discovered that the words and ideas came to light with fresh understanding when married to this original contemporary music.  We both felt that releasing this CD as I finished my 7 years at The Mother Church really served as a summation of that rich time of spiritual and musical innovation.  The CD also became a wonderful bridge to continue communicating inspiring truths through music as I go forward into the world.

I am so excited to share this CD of the innovative music of Peter Link with the timeless lyrics from a great spiritual thinker, Mary Baker Eddy.  She wrote Science and Health for the world.  She meant it to be shared, read, and used in every walk of life.  It is with that intention that we offer Solos to seekers of Truth everywhere!


“Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love — be it song, sermon, or Science — blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ’s table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty.” From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: 234:4 – and found in the song, “Footsteps of Truth” on the Solos CD.

Enjoy listening to songs from Solos at:

Listen to samples, download and purchase shippable copies of “Solos” at Watchfire Music:

Get the sheet music for Solos at

Connect with me at



Replacing Loneliness

posted by Cheryl Petersen

Internet users want to avoid being phished—or deceived into giving out personal information by a legitimate looking icon that will later cause chaos in their life. No one really wants to be phished because it makes us feel like a victim. This phishing tactic is nothing new however. The human emotion of passion sometimes poses under false pretenses and deceptively gets us to spill our guts only to create later a loneliness that can’t be shaken. The loneliness goes on to threaten the integrity of our self or our relationships and causes problems. Fortunately, these problems can be dealt with in an effective manner and we can further garner a spiritual arsenal that protects us from future phishing attacks.


How loneliness can fit into a world with 6.9 billion people is puzzling; but it happens nonetheless. More baffling is the fact that loneliness is so arbitrarily defined people who are lonely don’t even know it or people who think they are lonely are only bored or boring. But, personal information gets senselessly spread around and feelings of vulnerability, inadequacy, and spiritual emptiness take over in the thoughts of the victim.

Here are a few tips that can be tested to curb loneliness.

The first tip is to distinguish between loneliness and boredom. Loneliness is broadly defined as despair or isolation. Boredom is dull mindedness. Boredom is when our jobs, our everyday routines, or our expectations have become so tedious that our brain rewired itself not to notice the spectacular, hilarious, colorful, philanthropic, ingenious activity going on all around begging us to participate. We have become dreary. But steps can be taken to reverse this boredom. For example, pick up litter or wash a smutty smelly sidewalk area in the city. Not once, twice, thrice, or four times but until it is seen that pro-active positivity replaces negativity and there is no more lure to focus attention on that which is mind-numbing.


The second tip is to realize that loneliness can’t be taken personally. This is a doozy of a task because human beings adore discussing themselves and what they are doing even though a majority of the time it is uninteresting and irrelevant to the world or spiritual progress. But remember, phishers have no personal vendetta, they are impersonal. Loneliness is only out to catch the first fish that chomps on the hook. So, don’t chomp.

To feel pessimistic, unappreciated, and disliked is pretty much to feel lonely, which we can do in the middle of an exultant group of enthusiastic people. Therefore, the third tip is to do to others what you would like them to do to you. (Matt. 7:12) Be optimistic. Don’t automatically be suspicious of what others are expressing. Appreciate. Value the progress made by others even if you believe it is pitifully small. It isn’t. Everyone’s spiritual progress and goodness is huge in the eyes of an impartial mind. This brings us to liking. To like, takes some finesse. We must like the spiritual more than the physical. Happiness has never come from a good-looking body or cute hairdo. We must like honesty more than eating Twinkies. We must like helping our neighbor more than watching TV. We must like our partner as much as we love them. These manifestations take effort. Contentment with the status quo is unacceptable.


Successful follow through occurs when the goal is well-defined. The aim is not to get rid of loneliness, but to manifest optimism, appreciation, and likability, all qualities of God. We certainly don’t want to dismiss the validity of a solitude that reveals God-with-us. (Matt. 1:23)

For decades, researchers have been collecting data to determine how to control or treat loneliness but modern science is incapable of keeping up with the increasing claims of loneliness, and the resultant complications due to treatment of the symptoms, especially depression. Giving out personal information is not necessarily the answer whereas getting to know our own God-given capabilities to be friendly, helpful, and appreciative is more productive.


From 21st Century Science and Health, “Prayer can’t change the unalterable Truth, nor can prayer alone give us an understanding of Truth. Prayer, attached to an eager consistent intent to know and do God’s will, will bring us into all Truth. This prayer really has little need of audible expression. It is best expressed in thought and in life.”



A Gutsy Woman

posted by Cheryl Petersen

An outstanding community member died last week and I am in charge of writing a story for the local newspaper. Lois Ray grew up in this area and was a remarkable woman, I am finding. At one point, a local bridge was closed with no intent to fix or replace it. Then a second bridge was closed. Lois Ray was a member of the emergency squad and saw the value of those bridges so she went to the Town officials and expressed concern.

Bridge built in 1993


Lois was told, There is no money, just tough it out and drive around to the 1 bridge in the middle of town.

It wasn’t a matter of toughing it out. It wasn’t a matter of doing something the way it’s always been done. Lois was atypical. If the officials weren’t going to do the job, she would.

So, she figured out how to build a bridge herself. After investigating costs and structure, Lois gathered some friends and they went to work to raise money.

People made fun of them. They never heard of regular normal hard-working people building a bridge before.

Departments came up with every reason imaginable to stop them from meeting their goal.

Lois and her entourage kept moving forward, unoffended.

Both bridges were replaced within a few years. Paid in full by community members.

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